Archive for the ‘thesis’ Tag

Celebration at long last

I handed in my Masters thesis on July 23rd, but Saturday night just past was the night of my celebratory ‘handing-in’ party. It was Tiny who held things up – this was his first gig-free Saturday night since I handed the thesis in.

Parties are the best way I know for gathering all your dearest and most interesting friends together in a room. I have such a fabulous group of friends, all interesting and engaging in different ways. Lots of arty folks, lots of teachers, lots like me who straddle the two worlds. Family came along as well, and friends from my Italian classes, who I see every week and am therefore more up to date with than the friends I have known for years!

Tiny very kindly agreed to hold the party in his groovy bachelor pad-warehouse apartment just down the road from my little shoebox apartment. Saturday night was one balmy night, so everyone was there in the summer clothes and it really felt like winter has shifted along and spring has truly started.

Thanks to everyone who came along for making it such a fun night. A couple of people brought me flowers which now adorn my living room, along with an ‘award’ for my fine achievement in completing my Masters – here is a photo.

party flowers

Post-thesis world

Thanks to everyone who has sent their good wishes to me about the completion of my thesis. More than one has mentioned ‘rest’, ‘relax’ and ‘champagne’…. well, I’m not very good at rest, not yet anyway. There is still a bit of a backlog of projects to get through, and project planning for work coming up in August. But knowing that I have handed it in does make a difference in my mind, and while I might not have done any proper celebrating yet, I’m enjoying the space that has been created, both mentally and physically.

Mentally, it is just that it was a big thing that needed to be done. Everything else on my To Do list is small in comparison. When I took my three thermally-bound, single-sided copies (such a waste of paper! But those are the rules) to the Faculty Office to submit them, the staff there burst into a spontaneous round of applause.

“Oh I love it at this moment,” said one. “The sight of these three books, and the look of euphoria on the student’s face.”

I hoped I was looking suitably euphoric. Mostly I just felt tired, and distracted by a strange sense of  urgency to read through the copies one last time – which I knew I didn’t really want to do.

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I handed in my thesis today.

That felt pretty good. 🙂

Lots of writing still to do on related things – papers I need to write and get submitted, and a new research report to finish for ArtPlay.

But still. The big bit is done.

Back in the (blogging) saddle

It’s been a long time since I posted – I’m sorry, dear readers, I have been thoroughly entrenched in thesis-land, writing up, then writing some more… I am making steady progress, but it is not finished yet. Not yet. I am still to set the date for the post-submission party.

Meanwhile, work continues. It’s been busy. Back in the April school holidays, I had four great days at ArtPlay. The first two were working with this year’s MSO ArtPlay Ensemble, and the second two were with a group of primary school students who were coming to music for the first time. That was with a program called City Beats.

Here’s what we did:

The MSO ArtPlay Ensemble composed music inspired by Rachmaninov’s Rhapsodie on a theme of Paganini. We looked at the idea of composing variations on a theme, likening variations to musical disguises. I was particularly happy with my warm-up sequence for this project, which introduced a number of composition techniques that Rach makes use of in the Rhapsodie, but which explored them in game form. It was also interesting for me to observe my own role as the project leader, particularly on the first day, when the children spend a lot of time working with their adult musician (from the MSO) in break-out groups. (I’m paying particular attention to my role and pedagogy in this year’s project, as part of the large funded research project happening at ArtPlay). In the break-out groups, when I move from group to group, keeping an eye on how things are progressing, I was also able to spend time with individuals, sometimes because they needed a bit of extra support or direct encouragement, and sometimes because they needed challenging, and could be taken aside for a short time to develop solos or more demanding material of their own.

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Buried in books

I’m on holidays! Up in Byron Bay, where the rain is falling thick and fast in a way that leaves us Melbournians open-mouthed at the wonder of it all. It’s still warm and humid, so we can wear thong (flip-flops) so who cares about getting a little wet?

I’ve been relishing this break from thesis writing. I’ve been reading obsessively, and can happily recommend these books:

  • DogBoy by Eva Hornung. This was the first book I read on this holiday. Couldn’t put it down. It’s sad though, heart-breakingly sad, and it sat heavily in my head for a long time after. I went back to re-read certain sections (hoping to make it easier on myself, to no avail). The writing is beautiful. Just thinking about this book now, a couple of days after finishing it, I am again taken back into that world.
  • Things We Didn’t See Coming, by Steven Amsterdam. This one was also compelling. Lots of gaps that never quite get filled in. Such assured writing – he never lets go of you as a reader.  “It’s quite a ride,” was my first comment, when someone asked how I’d liked it. Fascinating, alarming, and compelling as you long for him to make more sense of things for you. A vision of an amoral, apocalyptic near-future that is quite imaginable. Last night at dinner those of us who have read the book wondered aloud how different it might have felt to have read it during the last months of Howard’s reign. Are we a littl more optimistic now? Or simply a bit worn down from the frustrations of the Howard era? Anyway, it was an intriguing thing to ponder. Striking cover art too.
  • Year of Wonders, by Geraldine Brookes. Oh, I loved this one too. I loved the heroine, and I loved the evocative, rich writing that created a whole village and community for me. Strange twist at the end took me by surprise, and the desperation and exhaustion of the community as they battle the Great Plague is palpable.

Right now, I have just got started on Linda Jaivin’s new book, A Most Immoral Woman. Jaivin has a cheeky, flirtatious, disarming way of writing, that balances out the pompousity of her main character Morrison (a man, not the most immoral woman of the title). I haven’t read any of her other books, but heard her speak about this novel (and read from it) a week or so ago on Radio National’s The Book Show.

Apart from the reading on this holiday, I have plans to go to yoga classes (have been to two already), and maybe, maybe…. do a surfing course. I’ve always thought surfing looked like the most amazing past-time. Devotees get a kind of glazed, evangelical look in their eyes, and they are so committed that I figure it must be a pretty addictive experience. I’m keen to find out for myself what joys it contains.

Next week, back to work. Four days of workshops at ArtPlay. And the thesis is coming along, coming along. I’m up to my conclusions now, so taking a bit of time this week to re-read everything I’ve written and ponder what my resulting conclusions might actually be.

Writing, writing, writing

I am making Thesis Progress. I sent a draft of my methodology chapter to my supervisor today. I am halfway through the Lit Review. I have written two of my three ‘findings and discussion’ chapters. So I am feeling pleased.

Can’t sleep though. My head is too full. I need something like Dumbledore’s Pensieve, to extract thoughts from my head and make room for new ones. Or just stop them crowding me when I need to rest.

Writing about writing isn’t very interesting – hence all the posts on non-work related things. Most of my time is taken up with the thesis (just as well I am unemployed pretty much, these days). And what will I do when the thesis is done? I’ll need to find a job. Where will that momentum come from? I hear from friends who have been through this process that there comes a point where you can’t really see or imagine anything beyond the thesis. You can pretend… but nothing seems real.

Certainly for me, with all that has happened over the last couple of years, the thesis is the last big commitment I have to see through. Once it is finished, my life and my days will be one big vaccuum, ready to suck in something new. I feel little rushes of excitement when I think about this. Trepidation too. It is scary to have everything become so open. But I have been restless in my life for a long time now, so any new direction will be welcome. I’m certainly open to considering everything. I figure the offers won’t start rolling in until I’m truly free, so for the time being, it is back to the writing, to getting the work done and submitted and finished.

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:


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