Monday, February 25, 2008

Counting Down

Today I begin to count down the days for 2 big events in my life
1) Days until I leave for Texas (2) and days until my audition (5)
2) Days until I am DONE with this music and ready to start something new (also5)

I have to admit that I am a little bit sad to be leaving this pieces. I know it sounds weird. Why in the world would someone WANT to keep working on the same music they have been playing and hearing for years?! It is very strange but these pieces have become my friends....ok I KNOW that sounds corny! It's true though. When you really start to "live" with a piece of music, it starts to express who you are and how you feel, day to day. As my teacher says, "The piano is just a big mirror looking right back at you"

But on the other hand, I am excited to start new pieces. It's nice to feel like you are getting a "fresh start". A new chance to practice more effectively, ingrain only good habits, and see how quickly I learn the pieces with more consistent practicing. It also means getting 1 step closer to beginning the doctoral program.

So, next on my agenda: Choosing my doctoral program! I can't believe it's upon me already. I'm excited about it though. Here is how it works. I have to complete 20 credits for the "performance" part of the DMA program. This is in addition to about 2 years of course work and 3 or 4 comprehensive exams, plus the final defense and publishing of the dissertation...sounds painful, I know :)

For my 20 credits I have to use at least 2 for my dissertation. The remaining 18 will consist of recitals. As long as I give at least 2 solo recitals (4 credits each) I can use up the remaining 10 credits how I wish. I could do a 3rd solo recital, and 3 chamber recitals ( I think chamber recitals are worth 2 credits each, but maybe it's 3?) and I could give a lecture recital....Whatever I decide must be approved in it's entirety before my doctoral committee before I can give the recitals. Following their approval I have to perform a hearing for each recital in front of them, and pass it, aprox. 1 month prior to each recital.

I'm sure all of that was much more exciting to me than to my readers...sorry :)

Other events in my life! Well, here are some recent events
Sunday: I directed my church choir better than I have up to this point thanks to a woman who works at our church and sings in my choir who was a great help in helping me improve my conducting patterns. Also, I gave a recital at my former piano teacher's house for just her and my parents. It was actually a fairly secure and musical run-through! Then we sat down for tea with her and her toy poodle, Chloe :) She gave me her usual talk, as she does when I visit, on what I need to be looking for in music, career searches, how to get my name out there, etc. I am truly greatful to have this teacher still be a part of my life as my friend, and mentor. I would not be where I am today without her.

Saturday: My mom and I went to Morgantown and I had a 2 1/2 hour piano lesson!! I got a 30 min. break to go teach one of my adult students, but it was great to feel like we thoroughly covered the music and helped me feel much more confident to be "on my own" in my last week of prep. before my last audition. We were exhausted afterwards and went home and made chicken wings and junk food :)

Friday: My mom and I went shopping and she baught me a pretty black dress as part of my belated birthday present, to wear to my Texas audition. I also got jewelery and a new pair of shoes to go with it, which I've been wearing every chance I get at the piano to break-in before the audition.

Thursday: Not too much exciting news

Wednesday: I was up till 2am at my friend Sarah's house having a very interesting Biblical discussion/debate with her and her husband and his brother. All 3 are very intelligent Christians, so it was an enlightening conversation. What was even neater was that I got to see the lunar eclipse from their back-yard! Did you get to see it?

That's my update. Time to go back to practicing.

Oh yeah, one more thing. My former teacher informed me that I put her piano out-of-tune during my run through! She says this often and I know the piano tuner who tuned her piano, so I doubt it's really possible that I put it out of tune. (Tim, the tuner, is the man who trained Donnie, my friend who tunes my piano. Both men SLAM each key when it's tuned and really use all of the power they have in their bodies. So it takes A LOT of strength to un-due their tunings) Regardless, she said she would be sending me her bill for the tuning! I'm not sure if she was serious or not :) If you had a chance to meet this teacher of mine, you would know that she is not someone to argue with :) I will gladly pay her bill if she does send it to fact it almost seems like a twisted compliment that she believes I have the muscle to really put it out of tune! :)

One very last thing (I promise!) Would you please pray that I am rested, prepared and HEALTHY for this audition? I have been feeling the onset of a cold the past couple of days and all I need is for it to hold off 1 week...then I don't really care what happens after that!! Thanks so much.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Procrastination and Prayer

Today I discovered that there is a fine balance between "waiting on God" and simple procrastination. Let me explain.

Yesterday evening was a life-changing point for me. I received a letter from Cincinnati Conservatory. For the 2nd time in my life, I was rejected at the same school. At first, I already knew what the letter was going to say and while disappointed in the news, I was not really shocked. I was actually kind of proud of how I handled myself. I didn't throw a huge pitty party for myself. Rather, I looked at the facts: How I played, how I felt the day of the audition, how many others were receiving the same letter and feeling the same feelings as myself.

But today something different happened. I slept in, I avoided the piano, and eventually I actually "tried to practice". I had my devotions this morning (which to be completely honest, was the first really good devotional time I've had in a while). And I felt like I was doing my best to let things go and trust God. But somehow, God knew that I wasn't handling things as well as I thought I was, and He always knows the right thing to do.

I went back to the piano, and after about 40 minutes of letting my mind wander while my fingers tried to play, I just quit and started aimlessly trying to get a hold of a friend or 2 to talk to. Before I could reach any of them, a friend I didn't expect to talk to, Imelda, called me at just the right time.

I have been helping Imelda lately with her papers from Bibliography since I took the class 2 years ago. When she called me she thought I was sick because I sounded so down. Before I knew it, someone I didn't even consider a really close friend, was listening to me cry about how I don't know what I want with my life or where it is going.

It was so good just to talk. And because God brought me this special friend, at just the right time, I was able to experience letting someone share my burdens. Rather than rush me off the phone with a few "feel good" phrases, Imelda really listened. She understood what I was going through and made me feel like my feelings were normal and important. She will probably never know how much that phone call meant to me, but it helped in more ways than my homework tutoring has helped her.

I guess there is no realy profound message I'm trying to make. I just wanted to express how thankful I am that God always brings us someone when we really need it, and that He is always patient with our human doubts and fears. I just woke up from a nap and now I'm going to go face myself and practice. And no matter what happens with Texas next week, I'm going to trust that God is in control.

Please pray for me that my mom and I will have a safe trip to and from Texas, and that I will play with my heart, and open myself up to these strangers, holding nothing back and taking a chance. If I do that, I know I will not regret the trip, regardless of what comes out of it.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Turning Old

Today I blog as an old and wise woman...I am a WHOLE QUARTER of a CENTURY OLD! Ok, so I'm grossly over-exagerating things. However, I do have to say, in all honestly, it feels kind of good to be 25. Why? Well, I always hear people saying to me "Welcome to the real world" or "Welcome to adult-hood" as if I just arrived. Even more annoying to me is the frequent comment "Oh, you think THAT's BAD, just wait until you are my age!"

With all due respect to my elders I must say, getting old has a lot of advantages! I know I know, I'm still very young and really have no right to be talking about what being "old" is like, but I can speak with experience about the maturity I have seen in myself in the past two or three years. I see things I like about myself and hope will continue into my adult-hood. Some of these things include:

1) Learning to be more patient and forgiving of myself

2) Learning to be more accepting of others for who they are and patient with them.

3) Learning to see other's point-of-views and respecting them for those views without fearing a loss for my personal beliefs and values

4) Adding "enjoy life" or "breathe" to my endless daily to-do lists

5) Learning to recognize that when others try to make me feel insecure or inadequate, it's only because they feel that way about themselves

6) Realizing that the journey of learning, as a musician, Christian, person, whatever, is more important than the ultimate goal. And often times, leads to more rewards and joy than I originally expected anyway!

7) Beginning to see that not only am I not who I was, but I will not be who I am now, and by this knowledge, coming to a deeper understanding of the phrase "God loves you just the way you are, but too much to let you stay there"

Now. On the turn-side of things, my dear friend Jaime has "tagged" me. What do this mean? Well, first of all, it means I should say something nice about her blog-page :)

Jaime's page is unlike anyone elses I have been to for one simple reason. She doesn't just tell you about the day-to-day events in her life (although some are quite amusing and others are quite inspiring). She makes you a part of it so you feel like you are right there, experiencing it with her. Jaime, if I have not said this before, let it be said now. Your blog page always inspires me and makes me laugh and often times helps me see some aspect of life with more faith, because of the way you see God moving in your life and that of your families. It's more than a blog page. It's a ministry!

Ok, secondly, since I have been "tagged" I now have to give you all a few quirks that I have...I'm not going to ask you not to laugh, because I'll probably be laughing at myself anyway!

1) I am OBSESSED with to-do lists. I cannot go to bed at night until I write one for the next day. It is always very detailed. Right down to the 8:15am-Wake up, brush your teeth, make your bed, read your Bible, eat your breakfast
**To help you understand the depth of this addiction, one day, rummaging through my child-hood boxes and memoirs, I found a to-do list from when I was in elementary school! It looked very similar to the ones I write now, and even included, "Practice, Practice, Practice!"

2) I have this weird thing I do with my eyes sometimes, kind of like a nervous twitch, but it's not a twitch. Sometime during my teen-years I started squinnting my eyes ( I have no idea why) but now I catch myself doing it now and then, kind of like how I chew my nails (that doesn't count as #3) and have to tell myself to stop! It's not as bad as when I used to curl my lips too....that HAD to stop because every time I did it my mom started cracking up!

3) I am a super-duper neat freak. I have to have all my makeup organized, clothes in neat little piles or in categories on hangers, I have all my piano music alphebatized, spent an entire evening the other day cleaning the ENTIRE house (my mom started feeling guilty and cleaned the tub for me which was about the only thing not already clean). And one day, while living with a roomate in Morgantown, I spent 2 days in my room re-organizing my entire photo album collection, trying to remember every last detail, down to the pictures from when I was 7 years old in Disney World, trying to recall, "Does the Alice in Wonderland picture or Dumbo ride picture come first?" Yup, I have serious OCD issues :)

4) As a kid I had the worst hair imagineable. I got all kinds of weird nick-names like "Frizzy Lizzy" "Frizabeth" "Annoying Enoyer" (Yes, the t was left out of my last name), "Energizer bunny"...ok, so some have nothing to do with my hair...but the pictures (Which, NO I am not going to share with you) pretty much say it all

5) I keep a devout practice log. I can tell you almost any day, in the past several years, how much I practiced on that specific day, and how much I practice that week, that whole year, if I didn't practice, what I was doing instead, etc....back to the OCD issue...

6) I once got lost in Paris France, got into two very uncomfortable situations with two different men who were complete strangers (ok, it was bad but not as bad as it probably sounds), and lost in Rome, all in one week!!!...oh yeah, and got to see David Helfgott and chopped off all my hair in France by a French woman who dyed my hair blondish orange, due to a major miscommunication and then looked at me with a great big smile and said, "You look like sunshine!!" I also became completely broke and ran into people from my group at the Louve and was graciously given a loan to hold me over, and I saw the Pope as well as a Catholic church which claimed they had the manger of the baby Jesus, which I should mention was gold covered!...yes, all in one week!!

That is 6 probably don't want any more than that right now :)

Back to my 88 keyed friend! :)

Saturday, February 9, 2008

God Blesses Rest

It has been a couple of months (already!) since I last blogged...I apologize to those of you who care enough to visit my page and kept finding nothing new. My life has been truly crazy busy for a long while now. However, instead of telling you about all my business, I want to focus on now....Today is officially my first day free from my temp. job!! I cannot describe the relief I feel...and joy. It is a good feeling to know you did your best at a job (even if it wasn't your "favorite" job) and then to have the feeling of accomplishment of knowing it's finished. Now I feel like my days are so much more free!

Today we are going to have a really fun studio/surprise birthday party for our piano teacher, Dr. Amstutz at my friend Donnie's house. He has the most beautiful grand-piano. It is a one-of-a-kind Chickering that he himself was taught how to re-build from the ground up (or should I say from the strings-up). I am looking forward to a guilt-free day of cooking, playing piano, and enjoying time with my friends. It also feels good to do something nice for our teacher, after all he has done for us. If it wasn't for Dr. Amstutz, I'm not sure I would still be pursuing music degrees. He has really made music a joy for me...not to under-estimate the power of God at all..but I truly feel God has sent me Dr. Amstutz as a gift and it has been a great blessing!!

So, what now? Now I go back to my teaching routine next week, which I can honestly say I miss. I miss my students and I miss hearing THEIR my teacher gets his fair share of mine, it's good for me to be a listener too :)

I also go back to some accompanying, more time to prepare for my church position, and yes, much more time to practice. In 3 weeks I have an audition scheduled at the University of North Texas in Denton, TX. Would you please pray for me? I'm actually not 100% sure I want to go to TX. It will cost a lot of money and I'm just not sure I feel a leading to move there. But, I don't feel ready to throw in the towel yet. I have to admit, there is a big temptation here: If I don't go to TX, as of today I am FINALLY free to start learning new music!! That is the temptation to drop out of the audition...but I would also love to see TX for the first time in my life and see this amazing school (it is the largest music school in the US with I believe about 5 music buildings...each about the size of Carnegie Hall!!).

I must go now...time for just feels so good to be "human" again :) Thank you all for your love and prayers and support!! I hope with my new-found time, I will be in touch with all of you a lot more often! God bless!!