Sunday, May 10, 2009

The heart of the matter

As Rafi Zabor said, in the first article I ever read about Watazumido Shuso Roshi, shakuhachi master, Rinzai Zen teacher, and martial arts master, at least 20 years ago in the magnificent, much-missed Musician: Player & Listener, "there's nothing like a good standup mystic". He would practice in the middle of the busiest intersection during Tokyo's rush hour, to work on his concentration. He'd go out to the railroad yards and practice screaming louder than the trains, to work on his focus and breath control. And every few years he'd change his name and location, figuring that those students who found him after such a shift would be the students who really wanted to do the work.

It's fine that you are all deep into music. But there's something deeper and if you would go deeper, if you go to the source of where the music is being made, you'll find something even more interesting. At the source, everyone's individual music is made. If you ask what the deep place is, it's your own life and it's knowing your own life, that own way that you live.
Making a sound, you try to make various different sounds that imitate various different sounds of the universe, but what you are finally making is your own sound, the sound of yourself.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

One more receipted and filed

One more semester into the history books: all grades for Spring 2009 entered and "rolled" (gone into the database, now irretrievable in the absence of special paperwork). 4am in the States, 10amm in Eire: maybe I won't receive quite so many tear-stained emails pleading special causes/cases.

Nine hours of undergraduate trad music senior recitals yesterday: frightening level of technical facility in a lot of them, but the same old durable criteria hold true: what's the point? Why did you choose to play this tune rather than than, in this key rather than that, with these accompanists rather than those (or none)?

Youth is the time to acquire your chops--and certainly these youngsters have those, in spades--but artistry comes only rarely to the young. Artistry comes from deciding what not to do--and that usually requires a little (chronological and/or emotional) maturity.

Off for another 9 hours of it today. And tomorrow.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Ground zero

I'm home--except for Dharmonia's absence.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Blogger sign-in

Made it. End of semester yesterday--the first time in my life that it's happened on both May Day (ancient springtime holiday), May Day (International workers' day--One Big Union!) and my anniversary (26 big ones, baby).

The end of this semester, as I have told several, is like being shot out of a cannon: because the Uni is on a very, atypically early schedule, we both started back early in January and finished remarkably early: last couple days of April. It meant that I gave two 2.5 hour finals on Thursday (and graded them), had end-of-semester meetings and consultations most of the day on Friday, gave a 2.5 hour final Friday late afternoon, and then graded 50-some rewritten undergraduate research papers: fortunately, we use a fairly detailed first draft + reviewer comments + final draft + corrections tracking-sheet (so that the student has to tell us "here are all the things I was supposed to fix, and here is how I fixed each") sequence, so the re-grade goes really quick.

Still, I was up late grading.

Then I got up at 5am, to (not) make a 7:36am flight--because I'm so fucking stupid I grabbed the wrong person's passport as I left the house in the dark, and had to have the right passport brought to me--rescheduled for a 10:40am flight with a real photo-finish connection in Houston for Newark, where--if I make all the connections that, in my disorganization, I've done my best to screw up--I'll get on an overnight flight to Shannon.

In Ireland.

For a month.

With my treasured students and my gem of a wife, of 26 years.


This is the sound of me not complaining.