01 January 2013

Amazon Haul!! (Updated) + My First Recital

Hola, chicas y chicos! I'm pumping out the posts today :-)

Anywho, many of you know that I'm in an honors program at my CC. Well, our professors decided to give us homework over the break *le sigh* C'est la vie. Here are the books and movies we have to have read and watched by the time classes restart on 28 January:

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
Printed scholarly work focusing on the 20th century history of the country chosen for biography*
Rabbit-Proof Fence
The Lives of Others
Apocalypse Now

*The last book I listed is part of a second semester project. We all have to write a 20th century biography of a single individual from a country and move them through the historical, economical, and cultural events of most of the 1900s. Everybody chose a country; I selected Korea because I've been intrigued by its culture for some time, and I'd like to know more of its history and background and whatnot. The book I chose as a source was A Concise History of Modern Korea: From the Late Nineteenth Century to the Present by Michael J. Seth, associate professor of East Asian and world history at James Madison University. Other than the book being scholarly, I had no clue as to what criteria to look for when searching for a book to read over the semester break, so here's hoping I chose a good one. Lol.

So, on Saturday, around 8 am, I ordered 9 books from Amazon: The Metamorphosis, All Quiet on the Western Front, A Concise History of Modern Korea, Waiting for Godot (another honors program requirement), Steppenwolf (honors), Night (honors), The Curly Girl Handbook, Eat to Live and Better Than Good Hair (more info on this particular purchase mas tarde :-D) I have an Amazon Prime account, so I get free 2 day shipping on most items. I expected to get my books on Monday. Imagine my surprise when a box was delivered to my front door on Sunday morning! I didn't even know that UPS delivered on Sundays. It was a very pleasant surprise. I even have a little video about it:

Obviously, not everything came, but to have nearly half of my order delivered by the next day is impressive, methinks.

Ooh! I forgot to mention that Sunday (30 December 2012) was the very first piano recital that I've ever held without my piano teacher. Only 3 of my students could come (one was sick), and the recital lasted a total of 13 minutes, but all the parents and grandparents loved it. There were sugary refreshments laid out decoratively on the counter, and everyone bonded over chocolate mint balls and apple juice. I was able to talk to a few new parents, neighbors and classmates of my students, etc. I was a nervous wreck at first, but I felt more comfortable afterwards.

While I was proud of all of my kiddos for performing so well (and having everything committed to memory!), my oldest student nearly brought tears to my eyes. He has two older sisters (one of which is one of my closest friends), and since he's heard them playing different pieces, he can pick things up pretty easily by ear. He goes through his sisters' old music books and finds songs to play and then rewrites them. One such piece was from a book that his sister and I used when we were 12: Alfred's Basic Piano Library Lesson Book Level 6. The first piece, "Variations on the Theme from the Celebrated Canon in D," was one that he knew well. It's a 4 page piece, and would have been relatively simple for him to learn. Him being the perfectionist that he is, however, he began to freak out about how he couldn't learn it in a month, it was impossible, etc. I calmed him down, and we set to work, practicing one line at a time. He picked up the first 1.5 pages easily, but we hit snags once the fingering and variations became too difficult for his small hands. So, instead of freaking out (yet again), he did what all great musicians do: he improvised.

From those 4 black and white pages and that brilliant little mind of his, came a 10 year old boy's interpretation of Pachelbel's "Canon in D." It was marvelous, and he added a new element every time he played it. It sounded better at each lesson, so my hopes were high at the recital. Imagine my surprise when he shortened his already condensed Canon into an even more potent piece! It went from 4:30 to 2:00 flat, but in those short 120 seconds, he played with more musicality than I've ever heard him perform with before.  He improvised and added Alberti bass, broke the chords in both treble and bass clefs...things I'd never dreamed he'd do with the Canon. He went to new places, and my, oh my, was it a joy to listen to.

Here's to improvisational music!

Oh! I forgot to ask: have any of y'all ever seen any of the movies I mentioned above? What did you think? Did you like them? Were they thought-provoking?

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