Archive for January, 2009|Monthly archive page

Writing progress

Today I have been preparing a paper for the ASME conference (Australian Society of Music Educators), which has to be submitted on Monday at 5pm. With my working title of How do newly arrived and refugee children perceive music learning? A summary of three children’s descriptions I have written around 6000 words. That might sound like an achievement but…. the maximum is 4000 words. And I haven’t even written my conclusion yet.

Still, it is a useful exercise. I was particularly happy with the way I shaped my introduction, or background comments. That felt like it had quite a nice flow. Anyway… a-chopping I shall go!

It is a little strange to be writing a paper when I haven’t even finished the darn thesis! But I do know where I am going with it all. It is now (hopefully) just a matter of working through it all systematically. Working on papers might even help me do that. Help me clarify my thoughts on the essential messages and narrative.

I am sheltering from Melbourne’s heat-wave (multiple days over 40 degrees… we are beside ourselves in shock, our water stores are emptying and the electricity grid keeps conking out) in my parents’ home in Brighton. It’s nice to spend a bit of extra time with them. And their home is air-conditioned. And the beach is a short drive away. So that’s been nice. This morning I swam around 9am before it got too hot (although it was pretty hot already, by that time). The water was still and clear and I did a ‘hand meditation’, focusing on my hands as they breaststroked their way through the water. Very relaxing focused way to start the day, hippy that I am. Tomorrow I am back in the city, leading workshops at ArtPlay.

Here is a photo of me meditating:

me-meditating1

That’s all for now. Time to take a break and eat some dinner.

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Two lists, and some photos

Dear readers, dear readers, have you missed me? I’m sorry for this long hiatus, with no warning given. I have been in a kind of self-imposed Lock-Down mode, writing my thesis, reading literature, writing Lit Reviews, trying to break the back of the thing.

I have been enjoying it, too. It’s been fantastic to be able to work in such a focused way. I am also proud of myself because let me assure you, it hasn’t been easy! It’s summer! the sun is shining, my friends call to tell me their Happy Plans for Weekends away, and I remain in Lock-Down, writing, writing.

But I’m making progress.

Still, I can’t resist offering a couple of lists as a way of reminding myself that I am still here and still present.

List No. 1 – What I am Working On and What I have Finished

  • Reading up on Vygotsky – it is a revelation. I love this stuff. All the things I am trying to do in my work, he is labelling and naming and analysing. It’s great.
  • Reading up on Artist Pedagogies. It’s so nice. Originally I thought I would have to include all sorts of writing on the psychology of culture shock, or language acquisition, or brain stuff… but in fact it is really important I look at things like Artist Pedagogies and student engagement (things I actually know something about). It makes the Lit Review so much friendlier, somehow.
  • I have finished at least 2 chapters, with some descriptive writing as well as summaries of each of my three ‘cases’ (the student participants).
  • I have finished a description of my own music teaching pedagogy. (I need to weave the Vygotsky references in there now).
  • Lastly, I am working on a paper to submit to the 2009 ASME conference (Australian Society of Music Educators). I’d love to have a bit more time to get my head around this task, when I am so in the midst of thesis-writing… but the deadline is Monday and so I must do it now.

So yes. things are going well. I have also been going into work at the Orchestra each week – but that is its own story. I’ll share it very soon. Most interesting!

List No. 2 – The Things I plan to do when I finish my Masters

  • Learn to tap-dance – how fun! I shall practise on my balcony and entertain my neighbours with my rapid progress.
  • Buy a smaller accordian than the one I currently have, and have some lessons. See if I can get a few Italian or Bosnian folk songs going.
  • Work much harder at my Italian – do more homework, chat with my Italian neighbours, listen to local Italian radio and rent more Italian DVDs.
  • Learn to play cello? I’d love to do this. I don’t even own a cello! But I could get one. I just want to draw sound out. I love watching people bow.
  • Play my clarinet a whole lot more. (I think that once I start learning other instruments I will miss clarinet. I will long to be able to play something well, and seeing as I already play clarinet well, I will be drawn back to it.)
  • Go on a holiday. Maybe back to Byron, maybe to Far North Queensland. Learn to surf.
  • Go on a Vipassana meditation retreat (you know, the ten day silence retreats you have probably heard about).

I think I will have to stagger the commencement dates of all these plans. I should add in there, find a new job. But more on that next post!

Lastly, it hasn’t been all work, cooped up in my little inner-city flat, getting hot and stuffy. I have managed to get away a bit. Most recently over the Australia Day Long Weekend. Lovely friends Victoria and Simon (who I sang carols with at Christmas time) invited me to stay with them and their friends and family. I did holiday things in the mornings, then worked hard at my reading and writing in the afternoons. I think it was good for me to have a change of scenery. Here are some photos, to close off this post.

The photo of the Mud Girls (looking like members of a long lost tribe) was taken after these two lasses had got stuck out in the marshy shallow inlet in their kayak, and had to walk it back into shore, waist-deep in mud. Half the town took photos of them. The local Anglers have apparently stuck one in their club house. The photo of the bright blue strip of sea is looking towards the inlet, across the marshes and wetlands. The photo of the broad beach is from one of our early morning walks with the dogs (accompanied by a swim).

mud-girls

venus-bay-wetlands

v-bay-morning-beach

Annual stocktake, looking forward… plus a bit of nostalgia

I saw in the New Year with friends down in Queenscliff, a pretty town situated on one of the two peninsulas that guard Port Phillip Bay. We cooked a feast, lit two sets of ornate candelabras*, and did a kind of ‘stocktake’ on the year that was. Questions included:

  • Film of the year
  • Soundtrack of your year (either the music you listened to, or the music that best depicts or describes your year)
  • Item of clothing acquired this year and worn most often (we all had something to nominate here, no hesitation)
  • Favourite recipe of the year
  • Happiest moment (for me this was SB returning to Rome for a further 22 romantic hours with me, back in January, after I managed to get myself on a flight leaving one day later. Oh, the joy!)
  • Biggest surprise or unexpected outcome (responses here included Obama’s win – would any of us have predicted that, two years ago? – and Kevin Rudd’s Apology to the Stolen Generation. We wouldn’t have predicted that in the Howard years either…)
  • Word/phrase/expression of the year (in the media or from your own mouth)
  • Words that sum up your year (we all seemed to offer words like ‘challenging’ and ‘crap’)
  • Biggest lesson learned

There were more… these are the ones I can think of now. Perhaps it is the research frame of mind that makes me enjoy looking back over things in this way and trying to put them in context. Or perhaps it is my determination to put all of the frustration and sadness that marked much of 2008 for me away once and for all. I am designating 2009 as my Year of Plenty. Plenty of what, I am not sure yet. Hopefully plenty of good things. That is the plan, anyway. Yee-ha!

But I can’t resist looking back either. This time last year… that is my current favourite phrase, because this time last year I was travelling, and having the most wonderful time. This time last year I was in Italy, in Lecce to be exact, the beautiful ornate Baroque city in Puglia in the heel of the boot that is Italia. Before that, I ‘d caught up with old friends from the European Mozart Academy in Paris, we’d given a concert in Armenia, I’d been back to Bosnia for the first time in nine years and celebrated a genuine White Christmas there. It seems longer than a year ago. It seems like another life ago. A different person almost.

But that’s the person I want to get back again. We are all at our best when we are travelling, perhaps. Nothing really troubles you.

So here are a couple of photos from this time last year. And if you visit the posts in the ‘Travel’ category you’ll find many more.

lecce

this-time-last-year1

* We sang Neil Diamond songs too. It was the only CD anyone had remembered to bring. We worked out ‘Solitary Man’ on the guitar (me) and bass guitar (Nina). And sang away without shame. Sometimes I wonder if I was born in the wrong decade. At least we sang with a sense of irony.