18.1.17

end of chocolate dream

omg look at that shipment on left corner...
6-7 stacks high...

often i feel as if i have somehow extended my childhood right into the present.  despite of all that education (haha), i still dream about doing and learning something new, especially the things that you cannot and will not learn in formalized schools- such as stone paving/yard work, making pizzas at home from scratch, etc.

and this winter, i took a look at my life and thought:
1. i could use some extra cash for dental bill,
2. i never done retail work.

and as fall term tends to roll in slow (till point of avalanche in winter term), back in october, i dropped off my resume at lindt and a shop-display (like shopping mall santa display) building shop.

the building shop, i thought it would be super cool to go back to working with power tools and build something in reality. sturdy, heavy things.

why chocolate?

i wanted to learn something from immensely popular and successful international corporate. and in my mind, chocolate had much similarity to classical music.

1. no one really needs it.
no one will die because they dont have any.

2. not everyone likes it.
i dont like chocolate, for instance.

3. you can pay from free to expensive.
just like concert/record prices.

4. people do consume it quite frequently, for pleasure.
as no one really needs to 'buy' of 'need it to live.'

5. it does not last.
experiences, or ahem, a extra poundage might though.

on my interview date, i was totally sure that i totally bombed the interview. i was sure that when i got a call back, the only reason i got hired was that i 'seemed' punctual. HAHA.

working in retail industry during christmas high season may sound like a sadomasochistic experience. some days, it really was (mostly to do with people who forget that workers are also people with their own lives); some days, i dragged my feet to get to the shop for 6am call for shipments (did you realize those chocolates come in pellet packs, like kilos and kilos of them at a time? i didnt!). some times i was happy to make someone happy. some times i wanted to slap them on the face with dirty shoes (i managed not to).

i worked there for duration of 104 days, (first day on 04 october), and just had my last shift on monday, till 2017 holiday season (i wrote that i would love to come back, and they wrote to let them know once im back for the fall! yay)

i spent about 35% of my earnings at the chocolate shop on gifts for others. funny enough, that is also our standard rate of employee discount (35%).

i met a few lovely people who comes in regularly.

i also met a few super cheapos who demanded samples, pressured to make returns (because we sell food items, we dont do returns), yelled at our faces because of... something, and people who continued to steal stuff, day after day...

but the most impressive were my co-workers. their dedication to doing it right, really impressed me.  being on time, being responsible, being graceful in the face of self-centered-customer-melt-down.

in music world, i hear (including myself) often complaining about our 'values.' mostly about how we dont get paid enough.

most of my co-workers at the shop, im sure, of course, just like all of us, would like to earn more.  but i really did not see anyone with less-than-perfect dedication during their shift. this was eye opening, heart-touching. so many times, during my shift, i realized that it was me, who needed attitude adjustment- to be kinder, real and reasonable...

so much thanks to them.

im gonna visit them in near future with a few gifts i think. i learned a lot. and i got to practice what i learned. humility. grace. and toughness.

and their dreams, i hope all their dreams will grow one day, so that they may grow branches further towards the sky. they really are lovely people.

thanks, lindt. see you in the fall 2017!

8.1.17

practical suggestion: memorizing music


in less than a week, univ peeps are facing the annual event: concerto competition.

as i worked with many different people in different levels, the one common difficult that arise to the top (always) is 'memorization.'

i personally feel that the requirement of memorization is old and antiquated, but as it will stay probably for another long while, it would be foolish to talk about its de/merits... sigh.

however, about the memorization process itself, though there isnt a simple way that fits everyone, i do think there are certain principles that helps to memorize music. so here's a small architectural approach.

1. divide your music in large to small chunk:
so all music, like stories, will have sections and sentences. break them down and look to see what their 'forms' are.  if it is an allegro-sonata form, see if there's any extra bits, such as coda(s), or extended cadences in unexpected places; for instance, extended instability in development is expected. however, an extended instability before the coda or return of the counter theme may be a surprise.

look carefully when the structure involves medium-sized cells in quasi-repetition, something like a rondo, where each fragment(s) is recognizeable as their own 'chunk' (if you hum it and you think it feels like a verse, then it's probably a section.

then in any variations of rondo or small binary-composite work, check for regular OR irregular repetition of the chunks.  sometimes, things can be organized as composite of binary and tertiary paris ( AA BCB AA, which breaks our expectation of AA BC or AA BB etc)

when there are differences, figure out what exact difference there may be- for instance, if the 'same' bar was used first time to return to the same place, then it will HAVE TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT to go to a different place the second time around. what is it? is it harmonic change? or melodic change? rhythmic? rhythmic phrase change?


2. move away from your instrument and SEE if you have them memorized.
i advocate making a blueprint of the score. here's an example:

that is a super-detailed one, but you get the gist.
get a long sheet of paper and start diving it up structurally so that you can actually compose the time-dependent model of the piece. if it can be scaled to reflect the duration of the phrases, even better.

once youve done it, go back and compare with the actual score. get a different coloured pen and be ruthless. then construct a new improved version.

see if you can practice from it. while you do that, record it. then listen to it with actual score, mark the discrepancy and fix weird stuff.

3. rather than focusing on the 'start' of the new sections, practice the hell out of the tails of sections. we tend to remember what happened in the first presentation of a thing 'A,' but it's the end of thing 'A prime' that will get us to B, for instance. most people practice in sequence, so naturally, one's impression of original form of A is stronger than A'. so practice that. then practice how A gets into B. and these are going to be rather short units, may be 4 bars or 8 bars.
do them slower than you want to. do them slow that it feels even boring. if it feels boring, see if you could attach some sort of biofeed back (as certain intervals and chords, shifts and fingerings will feel different, try to remember the 'feel' of it).


*this is a super 'frou-frou' version of analysis i did for a class. it's bit flowery, but i can still play that section looking at this. AHAHAHA.

go back to the blueprint on no.2, and see if you can consolidate the different of 'reading' the section change and 'playing' the section change. make up connections if necessary.

4. if you have similar sections, especially in rondo form or small-cell-composites, do simple analysis of both. you could do this simply by photocopying the section, print them out, tape them side by side and mark exactly what's different (use colours if you want; i do).  see if practicing those sections as 'first thing' of practice be any use, rather than staring from bar 1 or cadenza. you are freshest at the beginning of a session. use it to advantage. if you have the time, put the metronome on 'stupid slow' and use it as warm-up (intonation, articulation, bowing, breath exercise, chordal practice, whatever)

5. practice on your non-specialized instrument; i highly rec on piano or singing. singing cuz you can do it without one more 'thing.' if you do have access to piano, go through the piano part slowly with metronome (once again, on stupid), and sing your part. playing all notes is not important, but knowing all 'direction,' especially regarding directions of melodic/harmonic intentions will help you greatly (and it will also help with intonation and phrasing, articulation in top of sheer 'memorization.')

or listening to a recording (if you are playing with piano reduction, i may suggest that you listen to a 'lesser' version with a reduction, as standard reductions will have 'certain details' put in/ommited). and mark on your score what you HEAR as a relevant key for your part. often people mark from orchestral rec for piano reduction and sometimes, it is of no use as they didnt make it, or is impossible.

6. pick a time in the day, play through your thing and record it. sing through* all your rests if poss. and if you CAN, play the 'lead in' for your solo entry (in time please), this will help you realize what you 'depends' yourself on for the entry, counting rests* is different than singing through it, because counting and playing music uses separate (yes related but separate) part of the brain, and you will lose time as it will take time to reconnect those junctions. it's much easier if you sing through or silently play through the rest sections (than dead counting), as you will 1. still be in music (which will eliminate the 'dead face' during a tutti, and 2. singing is easier than counting.

listen to the recording after you went and made tea. make pact with yourself to not be so unreasonably angry with self. after all, it's just music. calm down. no one has know anything that happened in your own private session.

listening, make notes. where is the inaccuracy? if you video-tape, it's even better, as you can 'read' your own body language of 'uncertainty.' where you trip up is very unlikely the actual place you tripped. likely, it happened a few instance before that, and that has pushed you into losing balance, then to the eventual fall...

7. be nice to yourself.
if you dont like it, why are you doing it?
memory is repetition game and it does improve.
but simple repetition is a low-return gamble. yes. gamble. you are hoping for everything to go right.  dont gamble, plan. it's safer, easier and you will therefore play better.

here's album of sample analysis from my past and hope that helps.











7.1.17

new year's musing

so the festivities has left us and the world already experienced fair share of faith-shaking- it's only 7th of january, too. barely a week-old new year.

there has been a few posts that i have started but have not been able to finish- as they meander.

and i wonder if that's the true nature of this world, anyway.

with the useful and familiar format of information packaging, writing guidelines and forms, outlines and limits of informatics, it is easy to believe that the world works in linear fashion and it's always between the opposing poles of some sorts.

which leaves us all the extra-dimensions beyond 2-D to be forgotten. click. just like that. on or off.

i am having a kinda nasty sinus cold and somewhat trying to ignore the voice of the 'ghost of the self.'   perhaps it's the diminished physical state that brings up the 'bad' psychological state. or they are not related at all. perhaps it's lack of 'running' that is accentuating my messy mind.

ive been reading posts about 'blue monday' and importance of openness towards mental health issues. many people have pasted the pro-talk status on social media, and states that they would gladly open doors and make time to talk, etc.

perhaps im cautious or jaded, as these statements tend to add further confusion for me.

im what they call chronically depressed. i had that label on as long as i can remember.  i have seekd solutions and most of the time, i can rig enough variables so that im highly functioning.

but when things do take a dive, then i lost, especially when there is no major change(s) that may explain the dive downward to the dark water with no sound.

then i wonder if that's the way everyone feels, and that it is normal to not be so 'elated' all the time, as we are led to believe in so many different projections of life.

do i have a dream? do i need a dream? do i need to be passionate? is it simply not enough to be tolerating? are we supposed to in endless and life-consuming pursuit of something? for whom and what, for why?

i should may be take up the blank offer of 'talk' near blue monday. but i highly doubt that

1. im actually abnormal,
2. it will provide (a kind of) solution,
3. what i perceive as reality is different than the average (ex. depression vs non-depression).
*though, this may be a greatly skewed view, as theoretically, i have a chronic condition.

in the past, when things get mucky, i sometimes resorted to cutting, because at such point when nothing makes sense, cutting made just as much sense and it did snap back my physical self into an immediate focus.

the downside of it is that the ritual does lose its effect and that every 'next' time becomes more physically damaging in order for it to 'work,' and that is unsustainable.  like all addictive process.  so that's a no-option. it took such a long time to get to this point and it is mesmerizing and stupefying at the same time...

perhaps it's the sinus cold. from what i read, the entire city of toronto is snooty and wheezy, so may be it's only fitting that under the big swingchange to start a new year, that one feels lost.

or like most of my own experiences, this 'episode' may just leave, one day, like that. it does happen as well.

my benediction to all creatures big and small, conscious and barely, capable and beyond capable, to stay safe and sane enough. winter can be tough, and our voices in the head can be so cunning, without reason.  long nights ahead.