Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Organist?!?

So, tomorrow morning, I make my debut as an organist in our ward and I'm extremely nervous. You may think that's odd, that the guy who almost has his DMA in choral music is nervous about playing the organ.

Well I am. And here's why.

I am not really a keyboard player. Any one of my voice students can attest that the only way that we even SURVIVE lessons is by my drastic reduction of the accompaniment (which usually involves me using both hands to pull of playing the left hand part). When I auditioned/interviewed for the Master's program at BYU, they had me play a Bach chorale. The first one was in D-major, I failed it miserably! Then they gave me one in C-major, still failed it miserably!

So, I've worked LOTS to pull off playing the piano, at least to get the hymns to the level that I can play them. I pull that off mostly with LOTS of sustain pedal, and simplifying when necessary.

The Organ has no sustain pedal! Worse than that, it has LOTS of pedals that all make different sounds! I did play the organ for awhile at a Presbyterian Church in Salt Lake City, but that was way easy! I just had to play the melody in one hand and chords in the other, didn't even have to use the pedals!

So, tomorrow we'll see how it goes. I'm using pedals for the prelude, and the bass coupler for the Hymns. It should be fun, and hopefully it turns out okay!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

7 Pages Down

Got done with seven pages of chapter two.

For those of you who are interested, the former chapter two (regarding Imperialist Propaganda at the turn of the century) became chapter one. So now I am writing chapter two AGAIN (this time about Elgar's attitude toward's Imperialism). Hurrah for getting words on paper!

I read a very interesting chapter in a new book last night that attemps to refute all of the "feel good" self help books out there that base their advice on undocumented subjects. It even talks about one study that is regularly cited in self help books to encourage one to make goals. Interesting this is that the study never happened!

So citing some research, this book suggests that one of the best ways to move from a negative state to a positive state is through journaling. Processing the negative issues when necessary, but more importantly writing the things which you are most grateful for! Even better, it suggests that you not spend more than a minute a day writing in your journal (does this sound familiar?) So I'm trying it, again. I felt great last night with the huge wash of things that came to me. Hopefully I can keep it going!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

What a Weekend!

What a rewarding weekend! Good friends, GREAT music, great learning experiences. Lots to go home feeling great about!

Hopefully videos will follow soon! I have to somehow get from VHS to DVD to Computer to Blogger. We'll see how it goes!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Well, it probably won't be that much of a vacation, since I am conducting in the masterclass, but I do get to fly to Houston, where the weather is supposed to be rainy all weekend, but that's a step up from snow! AND, I get to get out of Provo

I am really looking forward to this masterclass, I haven't been critiqued in my conducting for a very long time, and I can't wait to work with great people like these folks:


I'm looking forward to it! Hopefully I have some great pictures to share with you!

P.S. I finished the second (or first) chapter this morning! There's plenty of room to improve, but at least its on paper! 21 pages!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


So today I wrote the first ten pages of my dissertation.

They need serious help.

But they are written! I have a goal of getting the first draft of my dissertation written by May 1st so that I can hopefully graduate by August. It is a relatively ambitious goal, but I am feeling like I can make it happen!

So, my intermediary goal was to have the first two chapters written by the end of January. They should be the easier chapters since they are both different aspects of literature review (one on the British sentiment towards imperialism, and one on the writing about Elgar and Imperialism).

The goal within that goal (yeah, my life is a whole world of interlocking goals) is that I write the first chapter (well, actually it'll be the second chapter, but it's the first one I've written) by the end of this week! On top of it all, I leave on Thursday morning for the Chorus America Masterclass in Houston, so I have to have the first chapter written by tomorrow!

I started writing today (I spent a whole week reading up on the last bit of the books I needed). I started off great! the first couple of pages turned out great, but as the day went on it just got worse and worse and it became more difficult to have something worthwhile to say.

BUT! The accomplishment is, I have 14 pages written! That's more than 1/10th of my paper! I'm all about that!

I'll finish up the first (er...second) chapter tomorrow, and hopefully it comes out better!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


I gave it up.

Perhaps crazy, perhaps not, but I think I got tired of being perpetually connected to a bunch of people who I don't really know. Anyway, this is perhaps my new place to post my stories. So follow me HERE, not on facebook!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Woodworking!?! many of you may have noticed, I have been in desperate need of a hobby. However much I love school, teaching voice lessons, and reading a lot of books every day in preparation for writing every day. (BTW, May 1st is my goal to have a first draft of my dissertation done! Crazy, you say? I agree!). I decided that I would probably really like woodworking, my grandpa on my mom's side made all sorts of awesome gadgets and gifts for us, and I would love to follow the tradition. So my big requests for this Christmas included tools. I got an awesome set of basic tools from my brother, and my father-in-law gave me some absolutely awesome tools. That, together with a great gift card to Home Depot from Santa, prompted me to use the rest of my break to start my (hopefully) long career as a woodworker!

We needed a shoe bench, particularly with the crazy snow and the salt that got tracked regularly into our living room. I decided that would be a good place to start. Its basically a one shelf bookshelf, right? It turned out pretty awesome, if I do say so myself. You can't quite sit on it, but it holds shoes fantastically!

The unfinished shoe bench

Another angle: I added a little lip halfway through construction!
(actually the result of my not being able to cut straight on the other shelf pieces)

After I had built this one, we decided that we needed another end-table/bookshelf typed thing to go between our new chair (purchased on New Year's Eve) and the couch. So I used the same
plans, made it about half as long and a 1/2 foot shorter.

The great story behind all of this was the things that I learned about staining. I only remember staining one other time in my life (I think it was a door with Dusty) and I'm thinking I wasn't very successful at it. So I was excited to try again with my new 28-year-old sensibilities. Turns out they're not all that sensible:

Lesson 1: No matter how cold it is outside - even if you don't have a garage, or a back porch, or a basement - DO NOT stain in your kitchen. Even with all the windows open, you and your wife will end up with really bad headaches and not be in very good moods. Your wife may even retreat to the bedroom, shut the door, and fall asleep for several hours. (You'll be glad to know I came up with a way to make our laundry room - a small hut at the back end of our complex - into a "garage" without causing too many problems for the launderers in our complex.)

Lesson 2: When the can says to wait until the first coat has completely dried before adding another coat, they mean it. I got a bit impatient with the shoe bench and did the second coat while it was still a bit sticky. We ended up with some REALLY uneven spots (see pictures below) and an overly dark color, but it still looks very nice!

This is a close up of the horribly uneven part of the stain. Looks pretty bad! Fortunately a pair of shoes is always on top of it!

The smaller one. This is how it should actually look when one waits the entire time before doing the second coat of stain!

I'm going slow, and doing things that actually make sense for us (seeing as we don't actually own a home yet), but I think I'm going for a kitchen table next! I've got some ideas for how to do it, and it doesn't seem TOO horrible! Here's hoping!