Monday, January 12, 2009

Some things, and also stuff.

On Friday night I saw the first moon halo I can ever remember seeing, even though all the websites that tell you what it is claim it's a very common occurrence (caused by light refracting through hexagonal ice crystals in the upper atmosphere at an angle of 22 degrees). It pleased me inordinately, not only because it was beautiful, but I suppose because the whole week had been so freaking slippery and cold that it was nice to take pleasure in the outdoors. The moon obliged me the following night by being full, massive, and bright enough to cast shadows on the snow and give me a Cat Stevens earworm.

At dusk the rabbits come out and lurk around the bare bushes in front of the house where I'm staying. A friend of mine saw one scrabbling in the parking lot last weekend, trying to traverse the ice and not managing to get any purchase on the ground. I always wonder what these animals DO in the winter, and like what are they thinking when their little feet are moving on the ice and they're not getting anywhere? Last night I dropped my broccoli and carrot butts and peelings next to the porch where the rabbits loiter and today the evidence has disappeared. I now officially have a bunny bowl on the countertop and that's where my toothsome fruit and veg waste is going until I can carry it outside each day. Today they're getting apples and the rest of the broccoli.

I've gotten myself into a morning routine here, which is easy to do when you're in a small space and you work within walking distance. Up with the alarm, start the tea and oatmeal, open the blinds, make the bed (which I never do at home), write down some things I'm thankful for. I've been doing the latter before I go to sleep, too. I can't tell you yet whether it's improving my overall quality of life because there are too many variables here; since last week, practically everything about my day to day life is different. This is the first week of a full teaching schedule, too, so it's about to get different-er.

Have I ever explained what voice lessons are like at the college level? Oh I did, way back on the old blog, for the first lesson at least:
5-10 minutes of get-to-know-you chat, during which you try to put the student at ease and assess whether you are going to be able to get a grip on this personality. [eta: if the student is chatty or just has a lot of issues about which he/she is up front, this can go on for 20 minutes and involve disclosure of physical and mental health problems, medications, learning disabilities, etc.]

5-15 minutes of silly yet serious vocalizing, during which you assess the voice itself and what you're going to need to do with it and what, in fact, you'll be able to do with it, based on the personality and responsiveness of the student.

15-30 minutes of working on a song the student already knows, which for me means alternating between crapping all over the piano part (figuratively), listening, making the student repeat stuff, fixing stuff, picking stuff apart, coming up with weird images and metaphors to try to release the voice, and figuring out whether I can even speak a language the student understands.

10-15 minutes for everything else, including a second song, making assignments, fielding emotional breakdowns and administering kleenex and/or kindly advice/tales of my own lesson-related emotional breakdowns, busting into a jester routine in an attempt to loosen the student up or elicit some sign of a sense of humor, etc.

Also, you repeat yourself ad vomitum from lesson to lesson and even WITHIN a lesson, because constant reiteration is the name of the game with young students. It can make you feel like a blathering idiot. Some students bounce your energy right back to you, but some suck it up and leave you a crusty little shell of your shining morning self.
To that I'd also add that there's still a big range of ability level, preparation, aptitude, and plain old talent among voice majors, which means that no two lessons are the same. If you crossed your athletic coach with your therapist, you'd get a voice teacher. I'm anticipating some exhaustion.

In other news, I think my ear stopped ringing. In case you're keeping track, that's just about 4 weeks. I say I THINK it stopped because there is so much high frequency white noise in here between the radiators and the fridge and computer that I can't really tell. But in any case it's become much more manageable.


  1. Yay for the bunny bowl! I've only seen one or two rabbits since I've moved here. Maybe they're down by the river, or just avoiding the neighbor cat or my dog.

    I hope your booty will stay warm in the cold weather. Even with long johns my ass-leg is always the coldest part of my body.

  2. I like hearing about the lessons and the inevitable emotional breakdowns. And the bunnies.


  3. I also saw the moon halo! It was lovely from my vantage point in WI.