3 down!

Sundays have turned into a cleaning and prep day. I rather like the ritual of it all.

Early in the morning, my partner and I glide through the house picking up our accumulated clutter, sweeping and mopping the floors, and unpacking a few more boxes- one day we’ll be completely moved in! Today was particularly productive.

At the point in which the house is ‘clean enough’, I tend to sit down in my office and take a look at my upcoming calendar, look at the assignments due this week, analyze my productivity data, reflect on last week, and clean off my desk.

So, as this week comes to an end I have about 100 papers left to grade, an assignment to finish, and a binder full of lecture notes to put together. As usual, I want to take a few minutes to recap the week –

  1. I’m not sure how this will work out, but in creating course binders as teaching resources I bought a package of insertable CD binder pages from Office Depot.  I’m going to create listening example CD’s for each chapter/unit, and include them in the same binder with my notes.   I don’t feel comfortable having only digital copies.
  2. I can’t believe how much I’m using my MacBook. I feel like I never close it.  This is such a change from last year when it was brand new and I barely used it.  It’s come to my attention that I should probably start backing up my work and my students’ files. I have hard copies of everything, but I am going to look into an external hard drive.  I have no clue where to start with that.
  3. This week I saw a fantastic photo-lecture on Bali, given by a PhD student who had recently returned from a 4-week intensive Gamelan program.  What struck me most were the similarities in the birth/death rites between Bali and New Orleans (and their musical rituals). Sounds far fetched, I’m sure… but I feel like every 45 seconds or so during the lecture I was able to make some kind of connection. There might be room there for a comparison panel.  At the end of the lecture, she gave us each a small book called by Nyoman Tantrayana –Storylines: The Guide to Balinese Arts & Culture Through the Stories That Inspire Them. Essentially, they’re folk tales. She was given several copies of it in Bali– I’m looking forward to reading it!
  4. In a class of about 100 students, almost all of them trace their development of musical taste in a chronological way, which maps significant points based on educational level and location. This is, of course, a ‘known’… but it’s never been quite so observable to me. Students changed their musical taste from elementary to middle school, and from middle to high school, all dependent upon what “everyone else was listening to”. One student in particular told a story about growing up in the rural south and being forced [by his peers] to enjoy country music. If he did not, he would have been shunned out of a particular sports team (This would be in the past two/three years).
  5. Alexander J. Ellis was “the Forrest Gump of ethnomusicology” (coined by a particularly insightful colleague).
  6. The phonograph was invented in 1877. (No kidding, you say?) Well – I’m adding it to this list because my mistakenly eager self answered 1891 and looked like an idiot for it this week, particularly because we were discussing an article that had been written in 1890 about phonograph usage. I doubt I’ll forget the date again.
  7. In teaching music to non-musicians, we become the lens through which they see music. This means that we have to carefully pick/choose the ‘elements of music’ that we teach them, and ensure that it doesn’t bind them into a box. For example, asking students to memorize basic forms in music is going to color how they hear music that does not adhere to any particular form.
  8. One of the problems with teaching ‘world music’ is that with one semester to cover the entire planet, we tend to teach traditional/indigenous styles rather than popular/current or, more recently relevant, world fusion genres.  It’s likely that all of our students will walk away thinking things like, “all music from Australia sounds like an aboriginal didgeridoo”.  The goal is to build the negation of this into our course materials.
  9. Justification for our jobs at colleges/universities includes that we teach, even if we’re hired as research professors. However, most college professors have never taken an education course, and therefore most have never been taught how to teach… doesn’t mean they don’t learn. So the question is, why isn’t there a push to teach graduate students how to teach? Well – there is (hence the program I’m in). I’m grateful for the push.


    an attempt to thank my body for keeping me alive

  10. Anxiety is an awful, awful thing. My blood pressure is through the roof (not completely caused by anxiety, but it doesn’t help).  However, I’ve been treating my body better these days. Today I made a delicious salad  for lunch with baby greens and seared scallops. Dinner with a bit heavier, but still low in sodium, which helps.

Starting tomorrow we have a Venezuelan Artist-in-Residence. This of course means that there’ll be several exciting lectures, concerts, and workshops. I’m looking forward to it! The music of South America is where I am weakest in acquaintance. I learned so much during Festival Brasileiro last year in New Orleans about the music of Brazil (and of course the NOLA connections there). I know this will be a comparable experience.

Here’s to week 4 and to 20% of the semester being behind us!


  1. Hear ya about the MacBook, and OMG 100 papers is a lot, but it sounds like you’re doing OK there — that’s great! A decent department really makes a difference in grad education. And as much as I bitch about teaching, I kind of did like interacting when the students when they had interesting stories to tell. Keep on keepin’ on 🙂

    1. Yeah I entered this program coming from an institution with amazing faculty who couldn’t stand each other.. this is a HUGE difference. 🙂

      p.s. I’ve passed your “teachers are administrators’ post around to about 30 people! 🙂

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