Thursday, August 21, 2008


The first week of the Dalcroze course is nearly finished. There are about 30 people taking the course with 6-8 people in the advanced group and the rest in the beginning. The numbers are a bit variable because the groups are fluid and people move around a fair bit. We start in the morning with eurhythmics- which is movement with music. Then we do solfege- ear training and singing, lunch, and improvisation. Te last 45minutes of the day we are all together and do classroom examples or sample lesson plans.

I've been in the advanced group which has been alternately lovely and frustrating. Some times the advanced class has wandered off on tangents where we argue for ages about whether or not a certain chord/pitch/etc. really counts as one thing or if it would be this other thing and if so what other contexts you might see that in blah blah blah. I follow it- but only theoretically and I don't get excited about it.

That being said- today during improvisation I was totally giddy. The homework was to build a "secundo" or second part of a piano duet- so the chords below the melody. I spent about two hours playing around on the piano yesterday and *finally* have a practical and aural understanding of plagal cadences. I've really been working in my own practice time on making musical phrases and then figuring out away from the piano (and without intellectualizing it) where the music wants to go. It's been fantastic. Like I said, after how many years of schooling? I'm starting to have a practical understanding of how the music fits together and what all that means. Super exciting. I want more.

I love the solfege and ear training aspects of Dalcroze. It works so well for me and helps with learning things that I have always wanted to understand and struggled with. Ann Farber, the teacher that I've been working with the most- is a small, feisty, gray haired woman. When you don't understand what is going on- all of her intensity focuses on you and her voice gets louder. When I first encountered her at Longy I thought she was terrifying and mean, but by the end of those three weeks two years ago she was my favorite teacher and the main reason I came to this course in NYC. She's yelling at you- but in order to make sure that you really understand. And once you do? The biggest smile ever. She's awesome and makes me laugh. And she keeps choosing me to do the exercises that scare me to death. Isn't she sweet?

So- I'm writing lots of melodies, learning how the fit together, and mostly ignoring the lesson plans and classroom things because it turns out that that is the least interesting aspect of dalcroze eurhythmics for me. I'm not terribly interested in becoming a dalcroze teacher for small children- but I'm VERY interested in how their teaching process can help me with ear training, understanding phrases, general musicality, composition, musical structure, musical cohesion, and basically lots of compositional tools.

I'm having fun.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

News, News Everywhere!

1. We have a flat in London! It is in Stamford Hill, which is north of Stoke Newington. It is on a bunch of direct bus lines that take us straight to Moorgate, Liverpool St., or Old Street (which is to say- straight in to school). There are three bed rooms and a living room we are converting in to a bedroom, a large kitchen with enough space for a dining table (and a gas stove!), *two* bathrooms- one with a shower and the other with a tub, and a garden that we have sole access to. Pretty sweet, huh? It is a bit far out, but that is totally doable- we couldn't have possibly been able to afford anything this nice closer in. "We" in this case meaning Latana, Moises, myself, and my friend Ella who is now a second year composer. We still have some issues like bedroom division and actually getting all of the payment things sorted- but basically we're good to go. Move in date is August 30th. 

2. I'm in NYC! The flight was delayed all over the place- we sat on the runway in London for over an hour due to some sort of issue with the baggage. Not really sure what that was. Then, when we were in NY there was a massive thunderstorm and they wouldn't let us land until that had passes so we circled for an hour and then ran low on fuel so we landed outside of NY, refueled, and waited again until the weather was better around JFK. 

This delay could have been a total pain, but it actually turned out fine because I ended up having a long conversation with the person sitting next to me about the Leadership programme and what can be done with that sort of training. It turns out that this guy is actually very in to video manipulation so we started talking about all the crossover opportunities and interesting things that he has been keeping an eye on that I should really know about and just basically having a really loud animated conversation in the middle of the aisle. We were having a much better time than the poor pregnant woman two rows behind us who just kept throwing up... 

Currently I am staying at Liz (Kent) Berman's in-law's apartment in the Bronx. I need to figure out how to get in to Manhattan to start the course on Monday. I'll get that all sorted out soon. So far I have been watching the Olympics and sleeping- I have a very painful ear infection that I am trying to get rid of. Grr. 

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The world is very small

Remember back at Christmas when Andy and Nancy and I went to Cambridge? This is Jess- she was another person at the party. We had a really nice time talking to each other and I think were both glad that there was someone else near our age there.

In any case- it turns out that it is her room that I have been subletting these past two weeks in Dalston...

I found the place through my friend Imogen who is also from Cambridge. The house is being rented by her friend Kanika, I think they went to school together. When Kani was trying to find a fifth person to stay in the last bedroom she called up her friend Jess who decided that she wanted to live in London this year. So there we go- way way less than six degrees of separation in multiple directions.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Happy Anniversary

Andy and Nancy!

My friend Ella and I just spent the day going to various estate agents around the city and finding out if they had any properties that might work for either of us. House hunting in this town is a massive pain. We did a lot of riding around in buses too- so we both have a better idea of what is out there, what the neighborhoods look like, and how they all fit together. That being said- we are both exhausted and didn't really find anything. 

Currently I am living in Dalston near Stoke Newington. I already liked the area because of all of the market stalls and 24hour Turkish restaurants and general interestingness of the area, but yesterday I took one of those city walk cards for Stoke Newington and discovered all sorts of things like Clissold park and Abney Park Cemetery which is a Victorian grave yard that was abandoned and so is now a nature preserve. It looks like the ravine with threes draped in ivy and blackberry bushes everywhere- but then in the undergrowth there are rows upon rows of headstones. Many times you can't really see the headstones, but they must be there because the ivy wouldn't grow like that otherwise. So now I am totally, irrevocably in love with the area. Today, however, I found out that it is probably out of my price range...cross your fingers for me, will you? Maybe something will come through.