Thursday, June 28, 2007

Advice for Listeners new to New Music

by Christopher Dylan Bailey, Composer, Visiting Professor of Music at the College of William and Mary

So, the situation you find yourself in is: for the next 10-? minutes, it's just you and some wierd, unfamiliar music. So how the @#$% are you going to get through this abyss of time?

First of all, you can learn something from the museum-going experience: relax. It's only music. Don't feel that you must concentrate on the music at all times, or that you are required to have some sort of ecstatic experience on the first hearing of a piece. Maybe a good rule to think of is this: try to have 5 seconds of "contact" with a piece for every two minutes. I mean, 5 seconds of time when you are "in" the music, loving those "wild, flashy chords" or that delightful pizz passage.

5 seconds for every 2 minutes: that's pretty @#$% undemanding. You have plenty of extra time to think of how you have to mow your lawn (if you're suburban) or the roach problem (if you're urban). And those 5 seconds will hopefully sow a seed of curiosity, which you will (maybe) act upon, by obtaining a recording of the work and listening to it further.

Once you have chilled out, de-intimidated yourself, relaxed, and opened your mind to whatever may come along, there are other ways to get yourself "into" the music. Trying to hum and bounce along with it can help (in your head, if you're the shy, self-conscious type). "But it's a new piece, I don't know the tunes; how am I supposed to hum them? Besides, it's new music, there aren't any @#$% tunes!!" This is all totally my point. I'll answer the second critique first: stretch what qualifies in your mind as a "tune." That's one of the points of "New Music," to stretch your mind and its conceptions and/of possibilities of what music can or could be. Now I'll answer this statement as a whole: by humming along, trying to "predict what will happen," you will find your "predictions" sometimes confirmed, sometimes denied; but the important thing is that a "dialog" is forming between you and the music. And that keeps you listening.

Read the Whole Thing!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart... try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.
~Rainer Maria Rilke

Friday, June 22, 2007

From the NY Times

The eldest children in families tend to develop higher I.Q.’s than their siblings, researchers are reporting today, in a large study that could settle more than a half-century of scientific debate about the relationship between I.Q. and birth order.

Full Article

* I * am the eldest child.
So why are my younger siblings so much smarter than me??

(That's a rhetorical question - smartalec younger siblings can keep their comments to themselves thankyouverymuch!)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Book List Update

Squirrel Inc. : A Fable About Leadership Through Storytelling Denning, Stephen
A nice little book that puts puts steps and processes to stuff that really ought to come naturally.

A white teacher talks about race, Julie Landsman
There are a lot of times this book ticks me off, but Julie is a neat person and tells a good story. If you ever have a chance to hear her speak, go listen!

Better, Atul Gawande
I usually avoid the best-sellers/hyped up books, but this one intrigued me and my perfectionist self. Notes will be posted soon.

Welcome to the Episcopal Church, Christopher L. Webber
I went to a local Episcopal Church at Easter, was intrigued by everything I didn't know, and wanted to learn more.

Bringing Down the House: How Six Students Took Vegas for Millons, Ben Mezrich
My roommate recently introduced me to the television show Numb3rs - which now has me fascinated with mathematical applications. This book is interesting (although Numb3rs has more explosions and gunfights).

Teaching genius : Dorothy DeLay and the making of a musician, Barbara Lourie Sand
This has been on my To Read List for ages. Dorthy Delay is the violin teacher who taught Pearlman, Sarah Chang, and other famous fiddle-jocks.

Father Joe: The Man Who Saved My Soul, Tony Hendra
I picked up this book expecting something along the lines of Cardinal Bernardin's Gift of Peace.
Alas, it is really a biogrpahy of Tony Hendra, and I felt a little cheated.

Girl Meets God, Lauren Winner
This was a re-read. I just wanted to look up one little quote, but then got sucked in and read the whole thing.

Dying for a Drink, Rev. Alex DeJong
This was an unlikely book for me, but I loved Rev. DeJong, and wanted to read his book. It was an interesting to read, and explains some of the attitudes and fears of those Dutch Reformed teetotallers.

Izzy Willy Nilly, Cynthia Voigt
This is a re-read from high school (or maybe even junior high). It's been years since I read a Cynthia Voigt book, and it was a happy reunion!

Wind in the Willows, Keneth Graham
I'm still working my way through this one. I'm not sure why it's difficult for me to get into it.

Locked Rooms, Laurie King
I love the Mary Russell novels!

The other bolyn girl, Philippa Gregory
A couple of years ago I had a boss I didn't like. She recomended this book, which I'd ignored until I came across it in the library. It's hard to like a book recomended by an unliked boss.

Artemis Fowl the artic incident, and Artemis Fowl the eternity code, Eoin Colfer
The Artemis Fowl audiobooks (read by Nathaniel Parker) are great for long car trips, and good bedtime listening. Everyone should go listen to all of the books RIGHT NOW before the movie comes out and ruins it

The Thirteenth Tale Diane Setterfield
I'm not quite done with this one yet. The first few chapters were really engaging, but everything after that is a chore (and perhaps a waste of time). I'm not sure that I'll push myself to finish this one.

Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers
While randomly reading blogs, I came across a recomendation for this book - which is essentially a cheesy religious romance novel. But the story is so well told that I forgot it was a cheesy religious romance. This is one to re-read

Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Robert A. Heinlein
Another re-read. I'm not sure why I love this book, but it has drawn me in - highly recomended!

Girl Scout Trainer

I'm teaching my first Girl Scout Outdoor Training tonight -
I'm nervous!

Here on Planet Julie there are three kinds of nervousness . . .
Good Nervous starts a few weeks before the actual event. Good nervous makes you plan practice and prepare. Good nervous keeps you on your toes and makes things go well.

Bad Nervous happens when Good Nervous doesn't - it's the kind of scared that comes from lack of preparation.

There's also Un-known Nervous which is the way one would feel before a blind date. No one knows what to expect or what's going to happen. Not knowing can be an adventure (but it also contributes to nervous-ness!)

I'm feeling all three kinds of nervousness
Having been a camp counselor/leader, I know this stuff backwards, forward, and upside-down. I've reviewed the objectives, typed up notes, and found the reference pages in Safety Wise. In terms of content I am very prepared.

But, I'm not really ready.

If we were doing things the "normal" way, I'd attend a "Train the Trainer" workshop and then apprentice with an experienced trainer two-three times before leading something on my own.

But they are short of Trainers
And because I know the material - and have experience teaching, they've asked me to jump in.

I can share everything I know, but I'm sorta of an imposter!
(An officially sanctioned imposter, but still . . . )

On a side note - I'm training at one of the nearby camps. I think the director at this camp is an anonymous blogger I've never met!) It would be neat to hve a blogger unveiling moment!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Bows on Planes

Exemption Approved for Travel with Bows
June 15, 2007, Washington, D.C. – Orchestras and individual musicians touring internationally may continue to travel with their bows, after winning an exemption during negotiations at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). The international community met over the past two weeks to determine whether to include the Brazilian pernambuco tree on the endangered species list. Most fine bows used by string musicians are made from pernambuco wood. Negotiators settled on adding the tree to the endangered species list, but applying the listing only to “logs, sawn wood, veneer sheets…,” specifying that finished bows that are transported internationally would not be subject to cumbersome CITES permit and certification requirements.

The American Symphony Orchestra League, in partnership with the American Federation of Musicians, met with officials from the office of the U.S. Trade Representative and U.S. Fish & Wildlife prior to the start of international negotiations, calling for responsible conservation efforts that would also protect the ability of musicians to travel and perform internationally with their instruments. In response to a League alert, and in partnership with NAMM and U.S. bow makers, orchestras filed comments directly with U.S. officials. The U.S. delegation to the convention spoke up for the interests of musicians and helped to negotiate the final agreement.

While musicians will continue to be able to travel with their bows, it is important to note that the issue of conserving the pernambuco tree remains. CITES will be closely monitoring the status of the pernambuco forests in the two years leading up to the next convention of international parties. To preserve the ability of musicians to travel with their bows – and to sustain the long-term viability of this important natural resource – orchestras can participate in the conservation effort. Visit the International Pernambuco Conservation Initiative web site to learn more.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Warm Weather Musings

I live in an area of the country that is famous for being cold.

But, even cold wintry states have warm summer days, and we are enjoying some 90+ degree weather around here. (At least *I* am enjoying it - native Minnesotians are wilting).

* * *

I made chocolate gelato today.
(Gelato is essentially italian ice cream, except it is made with milk instead of cream and has a more intense flavor).
Ice cream tastes good all year round - but it is best on warm days when it is a little drippy and messy!

* * *

When I was a kid, I heard the "Stranger Danger" talk more times than I can count. Tonight I finally had my first Stranger Danger encounter!

I was out for a walk, and some fella in a car stopped and shouted out the window that it was really hot. I agreed and kept walking.

Stranger Danger Man drove away and I smiled thinking that my first grade teacher would be so proud of me.

* * *

When I was a kid, I envied the rich people who had air conditioned summers. (The people who lived in an air conditioned house, parked in an underground garage, and worked in an air conditioned office building).

Noadays, I feel like summer is all about being a little sweaty. I much prefer sleeping with the window open (even if it means being a little warm). I bicycle to work (and ignore my air conditioned car). And will use any excuse to get out of the cold cold office (where the air conditioner keeps things at a chilly 65 degrees).

* * *

Thursday, June 14, 2007


The idea of an annual day specifically celebrating the Flag is believed to have first originated in 1885. BJ Cigrand, a schoolteacher, arranged for the pupils in the Fredonia, Wisconsin Public School, District 6, to observe June 14 (the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of The Stars and Stripes) as 'Flag Birthday'. In numerous magazines and newspaper articles and public addresses over the following years, Cigrand continued to enthusiastically advocate the observance of June 14 as 'Flag Birthday', or 'Flag Day'.
Learn More

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Best Project Ever

I have a work project I've code-named "The Best Project Ever"

There's no need to code name projects - except it amuses me.

"The Best Project Ever" might not be the most clever code-name

But it *is* The Best Project Ever!

The consultant/writer working with me on The Best Project Ever made REAL lemonade (with lemons and a touch of mint) for our meeting today.

And she is a fabulous writer/poet.

And I love working with her

I think she's Vicky Austin all grown up.

That's all

Monday, June 11, 2007

Dame Myra Hess

Around 11:30 my cell phone rang,
I pulled it out of my backpack, and checked the caller ID (Dad's Cell).

Dear 'ole Dad doesn't just call my cell on a Monday morning
If he had somehting to tell me, he would email; he frequently emails me during the day.
But a phone call would mean some sort of urgency.
I braced myself for whatever I was about to hear and answered . . .

Julie: Hello

Dear 'ole Dad Hello.


Julie: What's wrong?

Dear 'ole Dad: It's 11:30 (pause) on a Monday (pause) and Phil and I are in Chicago (pause) we're staying with Papa VW

Julie: (relaxing out of anxious-ness, but getting impatient) When I saw your number come up on my caller ID, I was expecting an emergency. But you are way to calm for this to be an emergency.

Dear 'ole Dad: No, it's not an emergency. I'm in Chicago.

Julie: (light bulb clicks on over head) Are you at the Chicago Cultural Center?!

Dear 'ole Dad: Yes, Preston Bradley Hall and I thought of you and decided call.

Julie: Do I hear a piano in the background?

Dear 'ole Dad: The Juilard Quartet is playing at noon

Julie: Are you crying?

Dear ole Dad: Yes

Julie: Me too. Are you staying for the concert?

Dear 'ole Dad: Yes

Julie: (tears flowing uncontrollably) I'll see if I can stream it online

Dear 'ole Dad: (voice cracking) I just wanted to call you and let you know.

Julie: Thank you. I love you!

Dear 'ole Dad: I love you too.

As you might have guessed, The Chicago Cultural Center has a special place in my (and in Dear 'ole Dad's) heart. I'm not eloquent enough to write those memories (and even if I were, I'm not sure I want to share them).

But I do want to remember today.
And the phone call
And remembering what it felt like to remember

Thank you Dad.
I love you.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Somebody left the door open and let the real musicians in.

Cellofourte, which now plays mostly original music written by its members, is in fact trying to distance itself from other all-cello bands . . . by stressing its adherence to the natural sound of the instruments.

"The thing about other four-cello groups [is that] they immediately go to the effects pedals and distortion," said Mr. Olsen. "We avoid that because we have worked many years to get a good sound out of a cello and why throw that away? And if you are good, you can get all the cello tendencies with the bow. Why resort to processing?"

Read the Full Article via ArtsJournal
Cellofourte website (and I would be remiss, in a post like this, by not linking to Rachel Barton-Pine. If you don't already own Storming the Citadel, come to my place, and we can have a listening party!)

Monday, June 04, 2007


I bicycled into work this morning.
It's a little silly that it's taken me this long to do it
Since it's only seven miles.
AND I save $3 in gas money every day I bicycle instead of driving!

Update I left work for my evening bicycle communte at 4:57.
At 4:58 it began to rain.
It rained the whole ride home (and then stopped!)

I'd forgotten how nice it is to be in the rain getting wet.
And I'd forgotten how much fun soaking wet (squishy)shoes can be.
I'm looking forward to my next bicycle commute!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Friday, June 01, 2007

A Reason to Practice

It's nice outside again.
Which means my windows are open.
And my smoking neighbors are out on the balconies puffing toxins.
And their second-hand smoke goes right into my open window.

I've tried a lot of things to get them to stop.
Sliently willing them to quit didn't work.
Baking yummy smelling foods doesn't overpower the smell.
And shouting "smoking kills people" as I slam the window shut doesn't work either.

* * *

Every few months someone writes an article about how such-n-such city is playing classical music to deter kids from loitering outside shops or in parks.

As a person who works in music education, I'm not particularily a fan of using great music to chase people away. But . . . did you know that if I open the window, pull out my violin, and practice the Vitali Chacoone, my smoking neighbors will go inside?!

(I usually use a practice mute when playing inside my apartment. From now on, I only mute when the smokers are inside!)