Counting the good stuff

Some weeks, it feels like you are just putting stuff out there, but nothing comes back, nothing gets resolved, and you end the week wondering if you actually made any tangible progress. Other weeks, you put stuff out there, and your efforts yield all sorts of interesting and valuable returns. This has been one of those weeks.

Last Friday night I went along to the monthly gathering of the Melbourne East Timor Activity Centre. I met lots of new people – Timorese PHD scholars, Australian supporters and longtime activists for Timorese independence – who offered me suggestions and contacts for my fieldwork in Timor-Leste, which starts in 10 days. I spent the week following up these contacts, and its been very satisfying to find myself running out of room in my diary in the ‘phone numbers’ section.

Saturday, I went shopping for a new mouthpiece to go with my new soprano saxophone. That was fun, especially because I found one I liked as much as the one I’ve been using up until now (and that I’d been reluctant to return to its owner).

On Sunday evening, Yumeros Cuban Salsa Band did a gig – our first for the year, and the first in Melbourne since Tony Hicks and I joined the group last year. Lots of fun – the venue was packed with dancers and listeners. It was also the first outing for my new soprano saxophone. I love playing in this band.  Things took a slightly dodgy turn on Sunday night when I realised that in the changeover to the new sax, the box of reeds had been forgotten. But alto sax player Susie came to the rescue with a couple of alto sax reeds, which worked on the new mouthpiece… in fact, they sounded pretty damn good!

On Monday I gave my last lecture for this semester, talking to first-year Music and Culture students at NMIT about the early days of the Pavarotti Music Centre. Talking to an interested audience about a subject I care a great deal for – it’s not exactly a tough gig! Nevertheless, the preparation took a long time, and I was pleased that it was well-received by the students and tutors.

From then on, the week was basically spent emailing – I sent emails in all directions, for hours and hours on end. Then replies came in – and I replied in turn, for hours and hours. Intense! But satisfying because I could see my East Timor trip starting to come together, where a few weeks ago I had been questioning whether I had enough contacts to justify going over. I also interviewed one of my Australia-based researchparticipants via Skype, which was an incredibly informative and free-flowing conversation. I hope all my interview participants have this much to tell me!

On Thursday I taught my young clarinet student, who had clearly done a lot of focused practice. Brilliant! I hope he was also satisfied with himself – we teachers always try to impress upon our students the difference that frequent, regular practice makes (as opposed to isolated but long practice sessions), but we need the students to actually do it in order to appreciate this difference!

Now it’s the end of the week – I have my Dili accommodation sorted out, I have a number of projects to go and observe, people happy to be interviewed, good students here in Melbourne, a new instrument that I love playing… tonight I will get to catch up with teachers and students from Pelican Primary School, where I used to teach, and who I still think about with great fondness… tomorrow I going to see the new film by Bosnian director Jasmila Zbanic, For those that can tell no tales in the Human Rights and Arts Film Festival… and next week is shaping up to be filled with more interesting people. Life is good!

Later addition: Oh! I forgot to add an extra piece of niceness – I got a grant to support my fieldwork in Timor-Leste! Yes, it was indeed a good week.

2 comments so far

  1. Jennifer on

    Good stuff 🙂

  2. Vinyl on

    Keep up the good work and thank you for being so positive in your writing

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