Thursday, February 26, 2009

Anticipation Before the Romania Trip

Six fellow juniors and one senior will be joining me on a trip to Romania this March break. We all agree that the departure date, March 9, is rapidly approaching and that the pressure to complete and to purchase all the necessities is intensifying. We were provided with a list of important items that the Romania Children Relief (RCR) workers need. In the past weeks we have been struggling to find the time to meet as a whole group in order to assign jobs to each member. Our faculty leaders, Ms. McGee and Mr. McCartney, have been guiding us as we plan how to monopolize our stay in Romania. Essentially, our goal for the trip is to make the day of a Romanian orphan a little bit brighter, and to have fun while doing it. Hearing the stories from previous trips, it is clear that this experience can potentially change our lives. Personally, I anticipate learning from the kids just as much as I hope they will learn from me.
As a student going on the trip, one has to think of an activity for a variety of kids. The orphans we will be working with range in age from babies to pre-teens. We will be splitting our time at several different sites, including a hospital, an after school group, and a placement center. Some of the kids will have mental disabilities but the severity is unknown. All of us are anxiously awaiting our trip and are scared because we don't know exactly what to expect. Our biggest fear is communication: the children are unable to speak English. Despite this, Ms. McGee and Mr. McCartney have assured us that many of the RCR workers are bilingual and communicating with the kids won't be a problem. Although we are unsure of the internet access available to us in Romania, we plan on blogging about our experiences as many times as possible.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Before the Summit

This coming weekend will possibly be one of the most important in the history of the Rivers Jazz Department. From the perspective of a trombone player within both the Big Band and the Select Combo I, the date which was once only a speck on the horizon has become a palpable reality. This sudden change has been documented strongly in our rehearsals, as for the past month, we have doubled our efforts, our output, and our willingness to work with the music to which we have become inexolerably committed. I suppose it would be safe to say that by now, we no longer just play the music, but rather, we feel it. For a musician, this is the ultimate goal in the long process of learning and understanding a piece, a composer, or a playing style, and in the case of this competition, it is a very positive sign. This coming sunday, we will be going head to head with some of the finest youth jazz ensembles on the east coast, many of them from specialized performing arts schools. In all honesty, we have no idea how these groups will sound in relation to us. However, it can be guarunteed that they will all feel the music just as strongly as we do, and that they will play it with as much effort as we have ourselves. As the day of the competition draws ever closer, we find ourselves nervous with anticipation, but comforted by our work and our improvement in understanding the music of Mingus.

Mingus Summit Overview

In January, both the jazz combo and big band at The Rivers School were selected from a pool of more than 100 schools in the Northeast to compete in the first annual Charles Mingus Competition at the Manhattan School of Music (MSM) in New York. The two groups were each among the five finalists in their respective categories at the event, which takes place as part of a three-day “Mingus Summit” at MSM February 20 to 22, 2009. This blog captures the thoughts, views, and experiences of two students over the upcoming three days as they head to NYC for the competition.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Student Led Parent Conference

After all of these weeks of preparation,  I will finally have my student-led parent conference. Now that I have reflected, written about my reflections, and tabbed specific examples of work in my portfolio, I am completely prepared.  
There are still some things I am a bit nervous about. What will it be like talking to my parents about myself academically for a whole hour? I am afraid that it will be awkward, or that I will run out of things to say. I know I have a whole outline planned but what if my parents don't want to stick to it? Even though I have worries, I know that at the end I will be so happy, because I have accomplished a lot in this process. And I'm excited for my conference too, because it will be cool to look back through my portfolio at all my work and see how far I've come in the past three years I've been at Rivers. I hope everything goes well tonight!