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Archive for October, 2011

Fall is here, and so am I

Dear Reader,

Nice to see you again. I have been meaning to come back here and update, but got a little distracted in my final projects at the end of the summer, in Bali, in Los Angeles and back in Vancouver again. I contemplated creating a whole bunch of entries before writing this one to recount my experiences on a time-line but I realized that it doesn’t have to be like that, and I can come back and tell you stories anytime… so I might as well start here.

I think that’s a good theme. We often wait for the right moment to do something and fail to realize that if we just did something, it would be much more productive, and consistent.

Speaking of production and consistency… I’m back in school, chipping away at the world of music from a sea-level view in Vancouver, BC, where I live and go to school. I realize this is obvious to many of you, but you never know when someone will be reading that will feel left out! 🙂

When I arrived home from Bali, I was still feeling quite bogged down in the lungs from the Typhoid. It was the middle of August and I had four days to organize things in Vancouver before heading off to a workshop down in L.A. on vocal pedagogy. After spending a summer singing Balinese music, it was neat to be inside other genres, comparing and contrasting madly in my head. Actually, this workshop was really fascinating and I enjoyed it very much. Lisa Popeil runs the program called “Voiceworks” which looks at several western genres and how the physiology of the voice differs when singing different styles, including: pop, rock, country, opera, operetta, musical theatre “legit” and musical theater belting. I am now officially a “Voiceworks Associate” and it has been really helpful, proving great success in my teaching methods. I had taken a shorter course earlier this year in February from her but this one was much more intensive… and unique: a week long on a orange farm, singing morning, noon and night. It was a bit of a challenge adjusting to western life again – more importantly… schedules. Also the time zone was difficult. I have NEVER had a time zone change affect me the way Bali did! It took me about 3 weeks to start sleeping normally.

It was also difficult culturally. At first I was glad to be back home. I was tired of the moldy, smoky, garbage-burned air, the noise, the insane traffic regulations, the toilets and the cold showers. But after about a month, and still, I felt a longing for the warmth I knew there. And not just the climate. It’s the people I miss. People are so damn angry here in Vancouver. I can understand it a little, but it’s sometimes like dealing with people that have been transformed into monsters. A few weeks ago I got incredibly sick (A Typhoid recall, perhaps) and was completely out for a few days (now a few weeks, lungs still recovering from the summer!!!). However, I had one engagement for conducting that I couldn’t find a sub for, and I dragged myself out of bed hoping that I could manage the half an hour of very excited, monstrous children. Unfortunately, when I left my house I realized it wasn’t a good idea, but by then it was too late. I made it through (with little memory of how it went) and made my way back to the main road I’d be taking the bus on. I came up to a street I needed to cross and because of the red light, there were several people crossing. When I reached the crosswalk, it had just changed to a blinking red hand from the white-outlined person (the go-ahead, start your journey across the street signal), and given there were people in front of me walking, I followed. I’m not sporting a cane or anything, so I figured it should be lots of time. Well… apparently I chose the wrong time and place to be a sheep. Or a human being, actually. A woman waiting to turn right decided that she didn’t want to wait for me to cross, and was quite pissed off that I was costing her 4 extra seconds of her life, and so she decided to try and run me over. I can’t even tell you how much my head was already spinning, or how insane she was, screaming with her arms up, revving her SUV towards me (so that it was touching my body and I had to jump away 3 or 4 times, further and further), but I was shocked, and almost in tears. (they came later). The best part of the story happened immediately after. The only fellow who seemed to care (besides all the others entertained by my misfortune), came up to me as I was walking away on the sidewalk and said, “Well, you know you’re not supposed to start walking on a red flashing hand… so, you were jaywalking”.

Ok, I shant put the words in this journal entry that sum up how I truly felt about this, or what I would have said to this man had I acknowledged him, but I can say that I walked away really missing Bali. How can we be so angry here? We are so stressed with work, responsibility and financial burden – obsessed with gadgets and superficial gain – that we become inhuman, and forget to acknowledge that we are living amongst human beings, with feelings, and complex life-situations and challenges. There may be burning garbage in the air in Bali, but when you walk down the street, people are gentle, they are kind, and they remember that they are human, just as you.

Perhaps this doesn’t seem like it has to do with music and ethnomusicology, but it does. These attitudes are what shape everything we create. 

There are not only monsters here, albeit my cynical perspective at times. It is not a case of, “White guys are assholes” and third-world countries are peachy-keen. As you know from my experiences thus far, it just ain’t so. I am happy to be home, mostly, and am having a blast in grad school, with my private students, and my three groups of kids I’m conducting for the Vancouver Children’s Bach Choir. Most of them are 4-5 year olds. We have so much fun. Last week I wrote a new song for halloween, set to the teddy bear’s picnic. I thought I should share:

When we go out in the streets tonight
Be sure of a big surprise…
We’re in our costumes made of fright!
You might want to close your eyes…

For every ghost or witch that there was
will gather there for certain because
today’s the day, the children turn into monsters… BOO!

So there it is. It has actions, too… incase you were at all disappointed. I am here: Ethnomusicologist, conductor, songwriter,  journal-writer, actress, singer, and goofball. All in a day’s work. And just as colourful as anywhere else in the world, I am living my adventure in my hometown, Vancouver. The leaves are changing as I transform into the next level of life, and beauty still exists everywhere, every day. Hope everyone is having a great week… I’ll be back soon!

Chelsea

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