My Collegiate Close (for now!) + exploring the whole music world.

April 8, 2021, 10:16 AM · It's crazy how quickly these past two years of graduate school have flown by! Tomorrow I'm planning on finally filling out some forms for the School of Music and things about convocation, having a virtual slideshow to celebrate graduates, etc. I've also got my Master's exam to prepare for, which could involve a discussion of some of the violin pieces we looked at in my post-1945 music class, like John Cage's Freeman Etudes; also some electronic music ideas as well. I really feel I've grown in thinking about more contemporary music and am currently exploring some of these ideas in my latest solo harp piece, my new project. Due to the pandemic, I've also been doing a lot of exploring with music production, recording myself playing piano and violin, and bouncing files from one computer to my friend or colleague, as we work together to put together these projects. Just as I did as I was leaving Waubonsie and Augustana, I wanted to do a quick post here just on my immediate future, and some fun musical projects I have planned.

In terms of my composing, apart from my Reed Trio I wrote for Ritual Action, which they will be reading early next week; and my harp piece, which I am currently in an exploratory state working on - all of my pieces have been for or part of collaborations. (The Ritual Action piece is actually a theme and variations on the finale dance of "Muse of Fire", which was performed at my October 2018 composition recital!) I think this has been an incredible turning point, and has helped me keep these relationships with my colleagues going even though we are in a pandemic and are all online via Zoom. I have one more song to write for my Songwriting class; the second song I wrote I have not shared was more like a pop ballad, and I orchestrated out the chords for violin and piano. We haven't discussed this third song yet, but I'm looking forward to seeing the direction it takes: hopefully something different than the first two! In addition, for my ChoreoLab class, where we have been exploring gender identity with dance and music in an interactive VR space with several dance and music colleagues, I've been working from the same waltz as my part of the score for a while. It started out using electronic synths, then moved to a (synthetic) orchestra score, and now I'll hopefully be tweaking it slightly to get it how I want. We've also done a collaborative score for an overture or finale, where all of the composers include elements from their pieces to combine together. And finally, in my film/game music club, we are working on a fake game score, not unlike what I've done throughout the pandemic! So far I've written the main theme, an elf town theme, and a regular battle theme. It's exciting to see how everyone else adds their own spin on their parts of the score. We're hoping to release it as an album or YouTube playlist or something in the future, so I'll be sure to share that and more information later on.

We also have another Facebook concert planned for the end of May! This seems like the perfect time, because I can focus more on it as I am finishing up my time at UIUC in the early part of the month. I believe I am playing the violin part for a friend's piece, rather than composing for it, which is fine by me. I think having my harp piece be my main focus now will be enough - also, creating new composing strategies for myself that will hopefully all help me enjoy the process much more than I feel I have been! I can talk about these things separately in the future as they come further along, but in terms of planning and thinking about what's to come in the future now, I'm quite excited!

As for what comes next, I am definitely taking a gap year (at least) before potentially continuing on for a doctorate. During that time, I've been thinking about all the ways I've had music in my life. While I still have a dream of composing for professional films or video games one day and will of course never stop writing, I feel like these past couple years of desperately trying to find happiness solely through my composing have taught me even more about everything the music world is. It's also enjoying playing musical instruments, and teaching them as I took a couple summer jobs right before coming to UIUC. It's about the relationships, sharing scores amongst friends and discussing theoretical elements in pieces. It's about learning everyone's personal projects, and collaborating with other styles to make something greater. These are all values I want to take with me in the future. While my time at UIUC was spent more stuck in the house than on-campus, I still feel I learned quite a lot about the music world and am way more willing to explore new avenues now. For instance, I'm looking a little into music publishing for education books, and perhaps teaching more private lessons as a studio teacher. I could have fun hosting a podcast on new film music - revitalize my high school "SymphonicScore" show into a professional format! - or look further into the music production world, which I've started to get interested in through these past couple years. I really feel there are a lot of directions I could take my music studies, and as I continue to think about these things I will put some more posts here.

It's exciting to think about having an open future - and a little scary that things aren't strictly set! But I'm sure things will work out in one way or another, and I will find something that suits me. I think the future is bright for the world at large, with people getting vaccinated every day - I am getting my second shot next Friday, and it will be such a relief to have more human contact again! Still being careful of course, but I can finally play violin in-person with my friend as we start to seriously rehearse and record our musical album we've been planning and working on (off and on) since last summer!

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