A while back my housemate described one of his choices for grad school as "a great place to think", and I think that's in many ways true. Sometimes that means being surrounded by intellect and an academic curiosity, and in a different sense I think it's being away from things which detract from one's focus.
My experience so far in grad school is that the information is there but it's often like buried treasure. To begin with, sometimes the goal of education in that of new knowledge isn't always in the form of new information. No - sometimes the goal really is new ways of looking at the same thing, in a word: perspective. Occasionally there's a literal way of seeking that - like video recording oneself to see me from out there. Other times it's just knowing when you actually come across something unusual that's of value and recognizing it for what it is - the other day I was deep in a off-tangent (but no less intriguing) conversation with a voice professor, and she was elaborating on the connections of biology and the voice, and the physiology of how babies can scream and cry for far longer and louder than most adults. And somehow in the middle of all this was a picture of posture and how if not only positioned right but conceptualized right, the violin or viola is really a voice, almost as real and with the right skill even more varied than one's comparatively untrained natural voice.
I've been neglecting this blog much - and as my friends remind me, emailling as well, and they're quite right to do so, and I'm quite honored to have earned the reminder. It's not really because I don't have the 15 minutes at the end of the day to type, but because my frame of mind after a 16-hour day is such that I don't want to sound like an idiot when I type.
Anyway, a couple of gems I've picked up over the weekend:
1. For Mac users: HandBrake, despite the loud design icon, is a pretty neat program for DVD ripping, which has allowed me to YouTube some of my older recordings like the 2006 recital and the 2005 recorded audition. What was it that was on Heroes the other day... something like humans are the only species to have memories and be concerned about the past.
2. For violists (and maybe violinists, I won't presume to extrapolate): I've just tried out the Shoulder Cradle shoulder rest - it's ugly, it's heavy, and it's too big to fit in most cases... but for some reason it's very supportive of the instrument. A real surprise, and I hope to get one soon - it'll be a genuine boost to playing, and especially shifting.
3. For all music enthusiasts: French violinist Augustin Dumay's official website is impressive and informative, especially some of his artistic insights on performance. Also, for those of you who found Plato and the Western Tradition interesting, I've put more of the videos on YouTube - link in the side bar.
All for now - and for now, here's to a little new perspective every day. Howling babies and all.