30.3.12

dirty business news in the wind

it is middle of crazy recital season. by the end of this semester, i wouldve recorded at least 40 recitals.  i wouldve accompanied a few as pianist as well.  i have done some complicated or super simple backstaging works this semester and helped to produce numerous recording sessions.  and yeah, played on couple demos- whether for application purposes or teaching purpose.

it is a funny thing, trying to make a living as a classical musician. especially if one forfeits teaching option.  i do miss teaching the tiger cubs though.  however, teaching isnt the right option for me at the moment, as i have booked another summer ticket to head across the puddle for an extended period of time.  all the different things i get to do, i think not only it helps to balance the books, it helps me to be a reasonable human being.  especially from what i have heard in the wind recently.

this city has many pianists who earns through accompanying. some do it through music schools, some do it through dance schools (this is one of the many specialized areas).  some pianists are called vocal coaches, as they work specifically with singers for not only musical content but also of diction, interpretations, etc.  some are better known as 'reduction' players and often i am called upon to read 'open' scores, which means i read multiple staffs of music and reduce it to fit the hands. and there are many other types... (yes, musical theater would be an entirely different type from me, haha!)

however, i recently heard about a case where a person started to cold-calling people regarding their recitals and performances, asking them specifically about their accompanists: how much they are being charged and how one would be willing to undercut them by making a counter offer.

now, this is not only ethical but completely crazy.  i do understand that it is done more often than people would like to admit, but i cannot even begin to think about the guts that it would take.  i wonder if that person simply views the action as simple solution: to make a living.

it is a funny thing to talk about rates and other things among other pianists.  however, most of my friends/colleagues are honest and i try to be honest as possible. yes, it would be nice to work more, but no, i wont undercut your rate.  nor i would up my charge to simply make more money rather than coming up with a figure that seems reasonable for myself (for experience, etc).

i wonder if this particular person has lost sanity completely.  i wonder how many people have taken the offer and how many will be keeping the contact information to save a few bucks. i understand that as music student, one can be short of money but to directly offer to undercut someone else's rate?

i thought the life of an accompanist, unlike that of soloist, would be simple. but life says no.  how weird.

i suppose i am still going to continue to do all kinds of work to make the ends meet, however, once again, i am realizing the importance of keeping one's integrity.  and i hope that my colleagues will also keep their persons intact- yes, life is hard, but let's keep it together. we cannot be in arts if we are not proper human beings.  good wishes to all who works honest and hard.

29.3.12

look, ma (and everyone else), im practicing!

*busker performing in pike place market. i bet he practices at home.

this afternoon, 3rd floor lounge, faculty of music, university of toronto, a young guitarist is talking to his friend and  butchering the bach suite quite efficiently.  let's refocus on the fact that this is a lounge, not a practice room.  he's conversing with a friend: this is so hard (butcher), i donno, i think it may be alright (miss), man, bach was a genius (fail, tries again), and the 'music' continues.

monkey: hey, i have a question. what is with you guys always practicing in the public space?
dude: it's because we can, while others cant.
m: so that means you should practice in public?
d: well, yeah, why not?
m: because it's a public space, you should practice in practice rooms.
d: well, some people talk and do things here, don't they?
m: you actually like practicing and blundering passage in public?
d: well, how is it different from having conversations?
m: you should not practice in public but perform in public. practice should be done in practice rooms.
d: look, it's a hassle to take everything back to the practice room.
m: so you are lazy?
*dude makes big sigh, as he has been sacrificed to logic, i am flabbergasted in lack of logic.

because you are proud to practice in public and too lazy to bring your stuff to the basement, like everyone else, does not mean that a public space should be your practice room. no, it's not the same as people speaking or having a round of laughter- why? because there are areas designated to practice in this building. try that at your own home and see if all neighbours are tolerant, i bet they wont be.

but most troublesome is that  you cant take the idea of performance seriously and therefore i cannot take you seriously. you think it's being personal and perhaps being proud of your profession. i say it's lack of understanding, and actually detracting from your own profession- how is practicing in public space any different than grooming your pubic hair in public? especially your motivation is largely based on pure laziness and selfishness, which puts you in second-class citizen anyways (yes, that's correct, a person who is not able to take one's civility seriously).  even that dude on street busking (that you laughed at because '(he) cant even tune the guitar) is performing, not practicing in public (nor he should).

and i even like guitar music. but i do dislike guitar student like you. no, playing the guitar does not make you an artist. being a human being with respect to one's own context and others' lives make you an artist. you are just in school studying guitar, which makes you a student.

well, i suppose when the wedding gigs roll around, he'll be happy to play while others mingle around. all im saying is that i want to respect some people, and they make it impossible to be respected.  too bad there isnt a cure for self-centered dumbness.  may be the time will raise the issue for him eventually. but there's no need for you to praise and mutilate bach all at the same time, in sight of innocent bystanders. we know bach is great. we now know that you arent, that's for sure.

tell me if i am wrong, seriously.

23.3.12

a full bloom in borrowed summer day of march

past couple days been completely crazy- canada in march, pushing the mercury above 20'c. how did that happen? i have no idea, but seeing that the forecasters are auguring for dropping back to somewhat more reasonable temps (though depending on who you are looking up, the ranges vary from the low single digit to low teens), literally everyone has been out walking in the sun. with no jackets. no hats or mittens. even umbrellas, though the rainstorm has been promised (boo, it wouldve been a perfect ending to the day to have a proper spring night storm).

and this week has been the week of sanity- finally catching up time. i did the taxes, went to see a brand new baby of friends, one of my great friend came to stay overnight, and with all the empty times (yet to have another completely free day though- i had one since i came back in january), i wondered why i dont have anyone to call to go have a pint with.

oops. that's right. ive been working evenings the whole time. when people play (weekend and evenings), ive been not available.  having irregular schedule makes it a bit hard to sync the times with regular scheduled folks. well, perhaps it's that i do not have so many friends and they are scattered all over the place.  surely, i have enough interaction with people through work- but that's work, which puts the relationship in a different place altogether.

today was another irregular day (blame the strange weather! haha), it was the long-anticipated cardiologist appt for granny. this could tell either really good news or terrible news- well, verdict:

see you next year.
hooray for granny for doing well.

a small glitch in the day was that ive promised mom to get some silk flowers for gabe, to pass on to granny.  well, when i got there- the shop was gone! with a small poster saying: we moved!  oh well, suppose i will have to do it later...

with the sun eating down on the sidewalk, i did walk a bit in the unseasonal, nutty humid daylight.  found the shop. and started to pick up flowers. these silk flowers are the best ones in town, i think.  i did look everywhere to find the best ones, as the flowers are for mom. mom who has lost her little one. the life that will always miss a corner, the bit that cannot be refilled.

so i picked a whole bunch. dropped enormous ( ! ) (haha) amo. of money for them.

and i walked home.

through the silver-reflected sunglasses (so they cant see where i look!), i saw so many people break out in smiles as they saw these bunch of flowers.  5pm rush hour.  urbanites getting away from their daily grind. a small bouquet of flowers. small ripples of smiles.

i wondered what they thought of it. i wondered if they ever tried to guess what the occasion may have been. an old couple looked at me at a red light and said: who is the lucky recipient? and i said: my family.

my family that will always have one seat empty.

i came home and sat down. looked outside- the city full of unusual excitement over the glorious summer days in march.  i realized that we cannot bring the flowers till 1 april, the first day that cemetery re-installs the bronze vases for the outside plots.  by then, we may be back in cooler days.  but these flowers, unlike the early, busy growing ones on trees and greens, they wouldnt know about cooler days. they will still live in their eternal temperature-

i crumbled.

for the loss that is irrecoverable.

for the flowers that will pause in silence while the days and nights will constantly change around them.

an effort to heal and caress the wound that will never heal.  a mother with empty cornered heart. a family who has been shattered and now carries the crack deep within, like cracked and fixed porcelain.

the day continued into night and then now to another day.  silk flowers quietly waiting in the corner of the house, wondering what the fuss is about this warm weather. about the impermanence of this so called 'passing life' and things in life that will never change.

16.3.12

a dot in the flying times, just to remember

so many things have happened since last blogpost- i swear the little snippets of memories and events will be recounted and expanded, but meanwhile, i do have a recital tomorrow to play for, so i should plug self into bed. here are some photos i just cant help to post, as the weather has been absolutely glories.

in midst of personal loss of dearest friend who sent her mother to the next gate, many young musicians with years of preparation under a one single focus moment called audition, sudden spring that graced the once-frozen land, the tigercubs who now studies with another piano teacher, minnow's brief visit, lovely trumpet lady putting together a great first solo recital, little kiddie who i dear care for getting through sludge of end-of-semester, all kinds.

and though i have been defeated and elbowed into eyes, i do know that even the punchers didnt meant to get me on the eyes. haha. such is life. life is going to be alright. it doesnt have to be great now but over all, i do believe that it's on forward trajectory, not necessarily better but pregnant with possibilities of being anew and beautiful.

 little voyage into endless high c of this world.
someone had luckily left their kindersurprise toy to my joy.

 mad spring, bringing out unruly kids from the ground.
there's no way to keep them quiet now!

 sudden warmth is bringing out desire for nap,
stronger than physics. even the lamp sleeps in daylight.

 a small record of a dark night. what happened?

 the library washroom toilet rolls apparently had arguments.
and clearly, one of them won and other lost. haha.

 the first real grocery shopping in weeks-
i carried them home, happy mule,
pack full of veggies, veggies, veggies!

a great springtime dinner. i enjoy being a human being again.
laundry, cooking, grocery shopping,
soon may be i can add meeting up and catching up with friends.

from my biggest fans.
thanks minnow, for being the best friend i love!