Side note: I saw the cherry blossoms at the tidal basin this week! Tuesday I took public transit to school and headed down on my way home. It was breathtaking. I'm so lucky to live in DC. What an amazing city.
Today, I drank coffee and finally finished edits on the article based on my master's thesis project. It's entitled The Influence of the Kalevala on Contemporary Finnish Choral Music. I absolutely loved the process of researching and writing my thesis back in 2011. Briefly, the Kalevala is a 22,000-line epic folk poem published in the early nineteenth century. It's a written transcription of ancient runic texts and melodies collected from Finns in the countryside. Finland needed something to unify its Finnish speaking populace as nearly seven centuries of Swedish and then Russian rule had nearly obliterated authentic Finnish language and culture. Several modern composers (as well as Jean Sibelius, Finland's most famous and well-known composer) have drawn on runic singing/poetry traditions in their modern compositions. The thesis (now article) explores works by Pekka Kostiainen, Jean Sibelius, Juha Hilander, and Einojuhani Rautavaara. This morning I submitted the article to the Choral Journal. I very much hope it gets picked up for publication.
Now onto find new topics for research and writing!!
I am a middle school choir and handbells teacher. My day is spent playing piano, waving my arms, and running around like a crazy person. I love my job. Here's an anatomy of a typical day for me:
6:50 a.m. Leave home. Commute to school via the George Washington Parkway, where I drive along the Potomac River and have views of the Washington Monument, the Kennedy Center, and Georgetown University.
7:15 a.m. Arrive at school. Check email, take care of last-minute details for Community Sing.
8:15 a.m. Community Sing. This event happens four times a year and involves the student body, faculty, staff, and parents all singing together. Yesterday I was the emcee. Great fun ("The Lion Sleeps Tonight" in three parts sounded amazing).
9:20 a.m. 7/8 Women's Choir. Among the pieces we're working on is "A World We Cannot See" by Jim Papoulis, a new commission we're part of through Chorus America. The girls adore the piece, as do I.
10:10 a.m. Fifth Grade Choir. These kids are hysterical. So much fun.
11:00 a.m. Check email, last minute preparation for the rest of the teaching day.
11:10 a.m. Lunch
11:15 Fire Drill (which just happens to be during the 15 minutes I have to eat lunch)
11:25 Quickly scarf down remainder of lunch.
11:30 Fourth Grade recess duty
12:20 7/8 Men's Choir. We're working on two Laura Farnell pieces (love her stuff!) including "She Walks in Beauty," one of the greatest pieces I've taught yet.
1:05 Sixth Grade Choir
1:50 7/8 Handbells. We're playing a transcription of "Clocks" by Coldplay. It's hip.
2:30 Check email, prepare for Music Man rehearsal
3:30 My colleague stopped by with her two year old daughter. So cute!
4:15 Music Man rehearsal
6:25 Depart Norwood
7-8:15 p.m. gym
8:30 Dinner/finish up re-arrangement of "Lida Rose" for Music Man
9:00 Catch up news and send a couple of personal e-mails
All in a days work! It is crazy to me how different my day is from someone who works in an office. I spend my day making music and laughing with wonderful, creative kids. I am an extremely lucky man.
This is the future home of my thoughts on various topics, mostly relating to choral music and music education.
Current projects you'll likely be hearing about:
-I'm adapting my master's thesis into an article I'll be submitting to the Choral Journal. It's about the influence of the Kalevala (Finland's 27,000 line epic folk poem) on select 20th century Finnish choral music
-I'm writing a response to an article in the December 2012 Music Educators Journal about El Sistema.
I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comment section of this blog. Thanks for reading!