As I work on a full manuscript, and on a collection of essays (the Stuff Manager). I am going to pretend for a moment here that I have so many readers who are wondering what I’ve been up to lately, I must explain to each of them where I’ve been and what the heck I’ve been doing.
Consider these following posts a tour of where my brain has been these past few months. Unlike a formal journey, where the itinerary is plotted with concern for geographical direction or chronology, I will instead guide you erratically, because that is how I can find documentation that ultimately informs this post.
As you (my thousands of imaginary follower and bots ) know, I teach at the New England Conservatory of Music. It’s invariably funny when folks ask me, rightfully so, which instrument I teach, I’ll say “no, I teach composition,” which in itself is confusing because you know: music composing. Students at a conservatory have the option of working towards bachelor, masters, and doctoral degrees. Like in any other institutions, this means that a core Liberal Arts curriculum, along with languages, math and sciences are required to graduate. So I teach undergraduate courses in the Liberal Arts Department. Plus, I tutor graduate, undergraduate, and doctoral students at the Writing Center. This semester, which usually to be the lighter kind, I taught three classes, which meant that at any given time I was grading 48 pieces of writing, which included process writing, long essays, and research projects. Teaching at a place that cranks out virtuosos, and which just has inaugurated its first female president, is pretty satisfying.
Walking through our hallways, the lovely sounds of music practice fill the air. At times a jazz ensemble riffs together, and on the opposite side of the hall, students belt out their arias. If you walk outdoors on a warm day, students in dorms, with windows open are all in some state of practice. There’s a cacophony of instruments, none of them forming any melody, but you can hear them all individually through the cracked – open windows.
all classrooms have at least one piano and at times 2 or 3 for students practices during non-instruction hours.
When I am fortunate enough to go to Jordan Hall campus for anything, the melodies, I hear become more unified as students practice in their ensembles. We get to be at the sumptuous Jordan Hall for convocations and other formal events, and it’s always surprising to see all the new architectural details that I hadn’t noticed before. Recently, I attended the presidential inauguration in full regalia, and the ceremony was quite moving.
Though I can attend free concerts, I haven’t made it to one, because, you know; busy. So now I’ve strayed and need to get back to what I was telling you about back there. The teaching, which is my full-time job, took the most bandwidth. That, along with heading a literary project for the Liberal Arts Department, which I’ll tell you about as well.
The thing though is that it has been a tough semester with lots of interference from the universe, a whole lot of my messing with what should be a simple schedule by adding more things I am interested in, teaching in other places, leading writing groups, or editorial projects that come my way. Then, there’s just life which is continually finding ways to surprise me. Thanks, life! I am not facetious, other than the crapstorm brewing in Washington DC. I am genuinely grateful for what I have.
The 9th edition of NEC’s Liberal Arts Literary Journal
Wow, this project kicked my butt, but then I kicked the project right back into submission, which incidentally collected a ton of submissions so that my student editors, who I managed, had great material from which to choose. Sometimes we met as a group, students worked independently, and faculty helped proofread. Frankly, one, in particular, was so eagle-eyed that she was instrumental in genuinely getting the edition ready for primetime. For a while there I figured the 9th edition had to be cursed. Every conceivable thing that could go wrong with Hear Here! just did. The project took over my weekends, my evenings, and I transformed me into a crazed person every time I needed the group to comply with a deadline. The project start to finish took seven months in human time, but in worry time it took a million times that. I was spent when it was all done. I am still recuperating to enjoy how successful it was entirely. I am, however, documenting the experience because I want to present on the value of this project at a conference or two.
So there it is. Part 1 folks. Next stop? Who knows but it’s coming soon.