Archive for the ‘ Music ’ Category

SERVAL – Sun’s Out, Guns Out Dance Party

It’s been a tough month. I’ve been going back and forth about whether I want to post anything about it, but I’ve been on a bit of an emotional roller coaster since spring break, and my indecision resulted in nothing, at least as far as blog posts are concerned. I’m feeling a little better, so I want to get back into posting on here. Which brings me to this:

So I did a thing. I’m kind of a DJ now. I’d been thinking about trying my hand at it for a long time, so when my house decided to throw a dance party, I asked if they’d be alright if I DJed it. And I did. It took me a week to find time to put together a video of it on YouTube, but now it’s done (obviously, since it’s right there). So, if you’re interested, feel free to check out my debut performance. There are definitely some mistakes, but I’m pretty happy with it, and I’m looking forward to another opportunity to DJ again.

Happy Easter

He is Risen!

After a long and unplanned, but needed, break from the blog, I’m back. Towards the end of last semester I needed to take some time off of writing to focus on work and studying, and I never restarted as I meant to. I’ve been meaning to make a post or two over the last couple of weeks, but this is the first chance I’ve really gotten.

Anyway, here’s a really quick summary of this semester. I’m taking four academic classes: chemistry (thermodynamics and kinetics), chemistry lab (primarily focused on methods and instrumentation), modern physics, and ordinary differential equations for physics majors. Chemistry has been pretty boring, as it has been mostly a review of the topics covered in AP chemistry. I’m still not particularly enjoying lab (my summer job ruined academic labs for me), but it has been more interesting and less time-consuming than the two semesters of organic chemistry lab. The toughest class for me has been physics. The material we’ve been studying, including relativity and quantum mechanics, is very interesting, but it’s very difficult to grasp, and as a result I’ve been behind the class for most of the semester. Lastly, I’ve been really enjoying differential equations, especially after the difficulty I had with calculus III. I don’t really like it when my teacher decides to assign three problem sets due in a single week, but I’ve found the math itself to be pretty fun.

Musically, my semester has been pretty busy too. I’m playing in wind ensemble, which has been fun. My favorite piece we’re playing with the group is also the most difficult: “Tulsa: A Symphonic Portrait in Oil,” by Don Gillis. 32nd notes should be banned at tempi greater than 160 bpm or so… I’ve continued to play in orchestra, with Brahms 4 as the highlight of our most recent concert. I don’t like playing it as much as Brahms 1, but it’s pretty good. We’ve started rehearsals for our final concert of the year, Beethoven 9. At our last rehearsal, they announced the highlights of next year’s season, including Mozart’s 4th Horn Concerto, Beethoven 5, Appalachian Spring (again), Pictures at an Exhibition, and a couple of other pieces that I forget about. Unfortunately no Mahler or Strauss, but still looks like it will be a good year.

There are three and a half weeks left in the spring semester, and they’ll be busy. In addition to Beethoven with the orchestra and our normal wind ensemble concert, I’m going on a short wind ensemble tour to do a couple of concerts in another part of the state. It isn’t long, but it will still be fun. Between now and then, I have two chemistry group projects to finish. One is a presentation for lecture about the function of solar cells and how it fits into what we’re learning (salt solutions, electrochemistry and other things), and the other is a self-guided experiment into the composition of vanilla, using gas chromatography. I also have a chemistry exam, and I may have a differential equations exam, but I’m not sure.

Finals week will be a little strange again. My last day of classes is Tuesday, April 28th, and I have exams on Thursday and Friday of that week. If I have a chemistry exam final (we’re hoping that our teacher decides not to have it, but we’ll see), it will be Thursday morning. Chemistry is Thursday afternoon, and physics is Friday afternoon. And my differential equations final is Thursday, May 7th. I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself for 5 days, but hopefully it will be pretty relaxing. I will need to move my things to wherever I’m keeping them over the summer, whether that’s in the house I’m living in next year (with 8 other Chi Alpha guys), or with some family friends again. I take the train home on the 8th.

Well, I’m not sure what else I want to say in this post. I need to pick a major soon, as well as classes for next semester. I’m leaning towards biochemistry now, for a number of reasons that I may explain in another post. Hopefully my next post will be a lot sooner than this one was.

Also, I’ve been listening too…

Library Day

This week is finals week. Because of my class schedule, however, my first exam (orgo) isn’t until tomorrow morning. While I did a decent job of studying on Monday and Tuesday, I did next to nothing yesterday. So today I had to put my foot down and get a bit done, preferably with as little technological distraction as possible. So my day has consisted/consists of three study sessions, for three hours each, in three different libraries, getting as much review of my semester in organic chemistry as possible. In between the first two, I got lunch, and now I’m eating dinner after practicing horn for a little while. I’ve survived the first two sessions pretty well, and it’s been really helpful. The major annoyance is how slowly each chapter seems to go. I’ve gone over 3 1/2 chapters in detail, but have about 6 more that I could cover (from later in the semester, I purposefully went over the first chapters we studied first because they needed more refreshing).

The one exception to the self-inflicted ban on technology is my iPod, because music helps keep me focused. In my first session, I listened to Jumping All Over the World by Scooter, Night Visions by Imagine Dragons, and Christmas Songs, by Jars of Clay. Second session: Church Clothes Vol. 2 by Lecrae, Forget and Not Slow Down Relient K, and Maslanka 4. I’m trying to stick to whole albums or pieces of classical music so that I don’t need to change it often. I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to listen to for my last session, but I was thinking about Hillsong United’s White Album, or maybe some Tchaikovsky. Ironically, the classical music I think most people are able to ignore are the most distracting for me. Anyway, I’m going to go do that third session.

Tough Week Ahead

It’s December, which means I can finally let myself listen to and enjoy Christmas music. Not that I wasn’t allowed to earlier, it’s just a personal rule of mine. That being said, I don’t know how much Christmas music I’ll be able to listen to this week. It’s just that kind of week…

Today was pretty good. Normal lectures (physics and chemistry) in the morning, and then my last physics lab of the semester (on slit interference experiments) was at noon. Those all went decently, and I let myself relax for a little bit this afternoon. After catching up on my “I’ve Been Listening To…” posts, I watched YouTube videos for a little bit, and then had a horn quartet (one of four ensembles I’m playing in this semester, not counting basketball band) rehearsal from 5 until 6. And then I talked to my mom and dad for 40 minutes, just because. I ate dinner at N (French toast and fried chicken), and then talked to Grandmommy and Poppy for 50 minutes as I walked back to my dorm. So I hadn’t done any work yet when I got back to my dorm. Oops. At least it was a good day though.

Tomorrow is my last organic chemistry lab, and I’ve barely started my last lab report, which is due tomorrow too. After my lab, I’ll have a short horn studio combined class, playing my jury piece for the others in the studio to practice for the actual jury. And then I’m having “Hornsgiving” with the marching band mellophone section.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, this year I spent my Thanksgiving break with our family friends the Ks. Compressing 5 days into a couple of sentences, that was a much better decision than staying on grounds and sitting in my room for the better part of the break and getting all of my food from the one open convenience store on grounds, like I did last year. This year, I had a real surrogate family to stay with (rather than seeing fewer than 10 people on the way to scavenge for food), ate better than I have in months (as good as pita chips and nutella are, they don’t compare to homemade beef stew and biscuits for dinner), and had what felt like a true vacation instead of an extended weekend with no one around. I even ran a 5k on Thanksgiving morning, which went pretty well, considering I haven’t run seriously in several weeks. Besides actually going home, the only thing that could have improved my break would have been a win at in our football game against our rival school, which I went to with the marching band and didn’t get back from until 4:30 in the morning. Still recovering from that night…

Back to this week. On Wednesday, I’ll have normal classes and then my fourth and last orgo test, on catalysis, coenzymes and nucleic acids, before the final exam. We had a 3 hour review session on the test material last night, which was stressful because there was so much to go over, but helpful. I have some studying to do before the test, but I know what will be on the test and what I need to review, which is good. Just need to sit down and do it.

After my chem test, my week gets significantly more bearable. I will still have 2 orchestra rehearsals on Wednesday and Thursday, problem sets for chemistry and physics due Friday, preparation for my jury on Saturday, and other normal homework assignments and classes, but it shouldn’t be that bad. So maybe this post should be titled “Tough Two Days Ahead.” Oh well.

On another note, I just (well, right before I started this post) solved a tough light interference problem using calculus, which may or may not have been as exciting as I thought it was, but is pretty cool.

I have more that I could say, but I need to start a lab report. Silly lab report.

Sergei Prokofiev – “Troika” from Lieutenant Kijé Suite (Peformed by Arie Vardi and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra)

It’s a little bit early for Christmas music, and this is probably the least Christmas-y of the selections we’re playing for our holiday orchestra concerts. For imagery purposes, a troika is a Russian sleigh pulled by three horses.


I realized last night that there were a few things I mentioned here on this blog that I was waiting to hear about or get results from, and then never shared what those results were. So even though some of these are a little bit late, here we go:

  1. I didn’t get into NYO. I was a little bit disappointed, but not surprised. I know a couple of the other horns who auditioned and are doing it and how good they are, so I have a decent idea of the quality they were looking for, and I don’t feel like I’m consistent enough yet. I did get some good feedback on my audition (which was my first video audition), so it wasn’t a waste.
  2. I may be spending my summer with the NYO, but I got a job! I applied for a couple of research-related internships and was looking at a couple more near my home to have for the summer, and I was offered a position at one of them. So I’ll be doing experiments with molecular genetics over the summer. It isn’t exactly pure physical sciences, but it’s a lab job that isn’t far from home with some family friends, so it’s a real blessing. I’m looking forward to it.
  3. I was chosen to be section leader for marching band. I wouldn’t have been upset if I wasn’t chosen, but I’m really looking forward to taking more of a leadership role in band, and it brings a little bit of closure to my questions regarding the interview. S, another first-year guy, and I were chosen, which I think will be a lot of fun. That does mean that I’ll need to be at band camp early for leadership training, so my summer is a little bit shorter, but that’s just part of it.

I think that’s it for now. I’m feeling a little bit stressed because of all the things I have to do by the end of the week. This is the last “full” week of the semester though, so it’s good to know that it won’t continue after Friday.


Once again, I am finishing a post over a week after starting it, so I don’t remember everything that happened. Anyway, last Monday, the 24th, I had my interview for marching band section leader. It was a little longer than I expected it to be, and to be honest, I’m not sure how it went overall. I had a good bit of conversation with the band directors, especially Mr. P, and was given several compliments on my playing and character as well as constructive criticism about how I could be a better leader. But at the same time, my decision regarding wind ensemble came up, and while I may have been misinterpreting what he was telling me regarding leadership and loyalty to the band, it felt to me like my decision was a reason to not consider me for a position like section leader.

To elaborate, I joined wind ensemble this semester and went to the first two rehearsals before learning that the wind ensemble concert was at the exact same time as the final orchestra concert of the year (the one with Shostakovich 5). It was a hard decision, because I really wanted to play in wind ensemble, especially considering the pieces they’re performing, but I decided that I would regret not doing orchestra more and dropped out of wind ensemble for the remainder of the semester. I wrote more about that whole mess here.

So going into the section leader interview, that was probably the single thing I didn’t want to talk about, but it came up. Mr. P proceeded to go into a mini-lecture about how important it is to be involved if you are or expect to be a leader. Likening the band to the family (which it really is, although not biologically), he made some very valid points about how you cannot be a leader without being present and active within the ensemble. At one point, he asked me who I would choose as a section leader, someone who was devoted to the orchestra, or someone who was devoted to the band. Another time, he made a comment about he regretted not being able to take me to some of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament games. While I couldn’t have gone if I had wanted to because of chemistry lab on Friday afternoons, if I was able I would have signed myself up. I wouldn’t have any expectation of actually being picked to go, as the band is limited and they understandably favor upperclassmen, but I would have liked to go.

Anyway, I may have been misunderstanding what he was trying to tell me, but it felt to me that he didn’t think I was as devoted to the band as he would like. I would say that orchestra is my highest priority as far as music ensembles go. If I could only participate in one group, it would be the one I would choose over band, wind ensemble or anything else. However, I do not feel that this priority means that I cannot be committed to the band as well, and I think that is why I was so confused with what Mr. P said in the interview.

During football season, I went to both away football games that we took a band to. I didn’t miss a single rehearsal, although I did need to leave two early for orchestra dress rehearsals (orchestra takes priority for me). Even though I am not a basketball fan, I’ve played with the basketball band a number of times since November, anytime there is a weekend game. I’ll get into the games with everyone else, but I am primarily there because of band, and most likely wouldn’t have gone to any if there wasn’t a band to be in. I’ve also gone to things like the high brass spring training. Though not “official,” I went to almost all of the horn section dinners, and still spend a good bit of time with them when I have the chance to. Marching band was my first second family in college, and I identify very strongly with it even after only one marching season.

So I’m still not sure about the outcome of the interview. Talking to my parents about it, they said that I have simply misunderstood Mr. P when he was trying to explain the kind of commitment that is expected from a leader in the band, which I could see. Or perhaps he didn’t realize that I was there for x number of basketball games, or whatever. Above all, I hope that my decision to pick orchestra did truly damage my chances at becoming a section leader. I wouldn’t change my decision knowing what I do now, but it would be great to be a section leader. Whether I get picked as a section leader or not, I’m going to stay in the band and enjoy it, trying to lead by example even if I don’t have a formal role. We’ll just need to wait and see.