Saying Goodbye

April 19, 2013

This may or may not be another drafted posted for a while….I do that more than you realize.

Over the past 5 or so years, it keeps getting harder to say goodbye.  It started out with easy things like going to honor bands and meeting some people and spending all day for the few days with them, then saying goodbye, adding each other on facebook and never talking again.  Then I went to different music camps and conventions, and saying goodbye to people sucks.  You spend all that time trying to make friends and have a good time, then you leave them.  I will always cherish those relationships, but it just sucks that they kinda end. 

I always wonder what it would be like if I could continue those friendships.  Now being in the army, I am always saying goodbye to people.  I had to leave my family and best friends with snail mail contact, and now I only skype and very frequently visit because they live 20 hours driving time away.  Besides my family and my few best friends, I barely keep in contact with past friendships, which at times makes me really sad.  I try my best to text someone from a while back occasionally, but it just isn’t the same.  We meet people, then move on when we have to go.  I don’t know if I am becoming less of an introvert, but I love meeting people (only under certain circumstances, where I feel like I can be myself and if I am feeling extra social).  I do really appreciate the past friendships I made, it has made me much more social than I used to be.  It seems really sad, but sometimes I wonder, what’s the point of making these friendships when you just say goodbye?  Discovering more about humanity and yourself?  Feeling and making other people feel good for the time being?  Sharing your adventures, struggles, and laughter – I guess that’s important.  We need relationships, we thrive off of other people, how crazy is that.  We all need human contact, love, and relationships.  How strange is that?

 

Well, this may have been a stupid post.  I’ll just leave it at that.

Later,

Kelsey.

Music.

February 4, 2013

I found this on a friend’s facebook, and I had to re-post it here, it’s too beautiful.

 This is the welcome address given to parents of incoming students at The Boston Conservatory by Dr. Karl Paulnack, Director of the Music Division.

 

“One of my parents’ deepest fears, I suspect, is that society would not properly value me as a musician, that I wouldn’t be appreciated. I had very good grades in high school, I was good in science and math, and they imagined that as a doctor or a research chemist or an engineer, I might be more appreciated than I would be as a musician. I still remember my mother’s remark when I announced my decision to apply to music school-she said, “you’re wasting your SAT scores!” On some level, I think, my parents were not sure themselves what the value of music was, what its purpose was. And they loved music: they listened to classical music all the time. They just weren’t really clear about its function. So let me talk about that a little bit, because we live in a society that puts music in the “arts and entertainment” section of the newspaper, and serious music, the kind your kids are about to engage in, has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with entertainment, in fact it’s the opposite of entertainment. Let me talk a little bit about music, and how it works.

One of the first cultures to articulate how music really works were the ancient Greeks. And this is going to fascinate you: the Greeks said that music and astronomy were two sides of the same coin. Astronomy was seen as the study of relationships between observable, permanent, external objects, and music was seen as the study of relationships between invisible, internal, hidden objects. Music has a way of finding the big, invisible moving pieces inside our hearts and souls and helping us figure out the position of things inside us. Let me give you some examples of how this works.

One of the most profound musical compositions of all time is the Quartet for the End of Time written by French composer Olivier Messiaen in 1940. Messiaen was 31 years old when France entered the war against Nazi Germany. He was captured by the Germans in June of 1940 and imprisoned in a prisoner-of-war camp.

He was fortunate to find a sympathetic prison guard who gave him paper and a place to compose, and fortunate to have musician colleagues in the camp, a cellist, a violinist, and a clarinetist. Messiaen wrote his quartet with these specific players in mind. It was performed in January 1941 for four thousand prisoners and guards in the prison camp. Today it is one of the most famous masterworks in the repertoire.

Given what we have since learned about life in the Nazi camps, why would anyone in his right mind waste time and energy writing or playing music? There was barely enough energy on a good day to find food and water, to avoid a beating, to stay warm, to escape torture-why would anyone bother with music? And yet-even from the concentration camps, we have poetry, we have music, we have visual art; it wasn’t just this one fanatic Messiaen; many, many people created art. Why? Well, in a place where people are only focused on survival, on the bare necessities, the obvious conclusion is that art must be, somehow, essential for life. The camps were without money, without hope, without commerce, without recreation, without basic respect, but they were not without art. Art is part of survival; art is part of the human spirit, an unquenchable expression of who we are. Art is one of the ways in which we say, “I am alive, and my life has meaning.”

In September of 2001 I was a resident of Manhattan. On the morning of September 12, 2001 I reached a new understanding of my art and its relationship to the world. I sat down at the piano that morning at 10 AM to practice as was my daily routine; I did it by force of habit, without thinking about it. I lifted the cover on the keyboard, and opened my music, and put my hands on the keys and took my hands off the keys. And I sat there and thought, does this even matter? Isn’t this completely irrelevant? Playing the piano right now, given what happened in this city yesterday, seems silly, absurd, irreverent, pointless. Why am I here? What place has a musician in this moment in time? Who needs a piano player right now? I was completely lost.

And then I, along with the rest of New York, went through the journey of getting through that week. I did not play the piano that day, and in fact I contemplated briefly whether I would ever want to play the piano again. And then I observed how we got through the day.

At least in my neighborhood, we didn’t shoot hoops or play Scrabble. We didn’t play cards to pass the time, we didn’t watch TV, we didn’t shop, we most certainly did not go to the mall. The first organized activity that I saw in New York, on the very evening of September 11th, was singing. People sang. People sang around fire houses, people sang “We Shall Overcome”. Lots of people sang America the Beautiful. The first organized public event that I remember was the Brahms Requiem, later that week, at Lincoln Center, with the New York Philharmonic. The first organized public expression of grief, our first communal response to that historic event, was a concert. That was the beginning of a sense that life might go on. The US Military secured the airspace, but recovery was led by the arts, and by music in particular, that very night.

From these two experiences, I have come to understand that music is not part of “arts and entertainment” as the newspaper section would have us believe. It’s not a luxury, a lavish thing that we fund from leftovers of our budgets, not a plaything or an amusement or a pass time. Music is a basic need of human survival. Music is one of the ways we make sense of our lives, one of the ways in which we express feelings when we have no words, a way for us to understand things with our hearts when we can’t with our minds.

Some of you may know Samuel Barber’s heart wrenchingly beautiful piece Adagio for Strings. If you don’t know it by that name, then some of you may know it as the background music which accompanied the Oliver Stone movie Platoon, a film about the Vietnam War. If you know that piece of music either way, you know it has the ability to crack your heart open like a walnut; it can make you cry over sadness you didn’t know you had. Music can slip beneath our conscious reality to get at what’s really going on inside us the way a good therapist does.

Very few of you have ever been to a wedding where there was absolutely no music. There might have been only a little music, there might have been some really bad music, but with few exceptions there is some music. And something very predictable happens at weddings-people get all pent up with all kinds of emotions, and then there’s some musical moment where the action of the wedding stops and someone sings or plays the flute or something. And even if the music is lame, even if the quality isn’t good, predictably 30 or 40 percent of the people who are going to cry at a wedding cry a couple of moments after the music starts. Why? The Greeks. Music allows us to move around those big invisible pieces of ourselves and rearrange our insides so that we can express what we feel even when we can’t talk about it. Can you imagine watching Indiana Jones or Superman or Star Wars with the dialogue but no music? What is it about the music swelling up at just the right moment in ET so that all the softies in the audience start crying at exactly the same moment? I guarantee you if you showed the movie with the music stripped out, it wouldn’t happen that way. The Greeks. Music is the understanding of the relationship between invisible internal objects.

I’ll give you one more example, the story of the most important concert of my life. I must tell you I have played a little less than a thousand concerts in my life so far. I have played in places that I thought were important. I like playing in Carnegie Hall; I enjoyed playing in Paris; it made me very happy to please the critics in St. Petersburg. I have played for people I thought were important; music critics of major newspapers, foreign heads of state. The most important concert of my entire life took place in a nursing home in a small Midwestern town a few years ago.

I was playing with a very dear friend of mine who is a violinist. We began, as we often do, with Aaron Copland’s Sonata, which was written during World War II and dedicated to a young friend of Copland’s, a young pilot who was shot down during the war. Now we often talk to our audiences about the pieces we are going to play rather than providing them with written program notes. But in this case, because we began the concert with this piece, we decided to talk about the piece later in the program and to just come out and play the music without explanation.

Midway through the piece, an elderly man seated in a wheelchair near the front of the concert hall began to weep. This man, whom I later met, was clearly a soldier-even in his 70′s, it was clear from his buzz-cut hair, square jaw and general demeanor that he had spent a good deal of his life in the military. I thought it a little bit odd that someone would be moved to tears by that particular movement of that particular piece, but it wasn’t the first time I’ve heard crying in a concert and we went on with the concert and finished the piece.

When we came out to play the next piece on the program, we decided to talk about both the first and second pieces, and we described the circumstances in which the Copland was written and mentioned its dedication to a downed pilot. The man in the front of the audience became so disturbed that he had to leave the auditorium. I honestly figured that we would not see him again, but he did come backstage afterwards, tears and all, to explain himself.

What he told us was this: “During World War II, I was a pilot, and I was in an aerial combat situation where one of my team’s planes was hit. I watched my friend bail out, and watched his parachute open, but the Japanese planes which had engaged us returned and machine gunned across the parachute chords so as to separate the parachute from the pilot, and I watched my friend drop away into the ocean, realizing that he was lost. I have not thought about this for many years, but during that first piece of music you played, this memory returned to me so vividly that it was as though I was reliving it. I didn’t understand why this was happening, why now, but then when you came out to explain that this piece of music was written to commemorate a lost pilot, it was a little more than I could handle. How does the music do that? How did it find those feelings and those memories in me?”

Remember the Greeks: music is the study of invisible relationships between internal objects. The concert in the nursing home was the most important work I have ever done. For me to play for this old soldier and help him connect, somehow, with Aaron Copland, and to connect their memories of their lost friends, to help him remember and mourn his friend, this is my work. This is why music matters.

What follows is part of the talk I will give to this year’s freshman class when I welcome them a few days from now. The responsibility I will charge your sons and daughters with is this:

“If we were a medical school, and you were here as a med student practicing appendectomies, you’d take your work very seriously because you would imagine that some night at two AM someone is going to waltz into your emergency room and you’re going to have to save their life. Well, my friends, someday at 8 PM someone is going to walk into your concert hall and bring you a mind that is confused, a heart that is overwhelmed, a soul that is weary. Whether they go out whole again will depend partly on how well you do your craft.

You’re not here to become an entertainer, and you don’t have to sell yourself. The truth is you don’t have anything to sell; being a musician isn’t about dispensing a product, like selling used cars. I’m not an entertainer; I’m a lot closer to a paramedic, a firefighter, a rescue worker. You’re here to become a sort of therapist for the human soul, a spiritual version of a chiropractor, physical therapist, someone who works with our insides to see if they get things to line up, to see if we can come into harmony with ourselves and be healthy and happy and well.

Frankly, ladies and gentlemen, I expect you not only to master music; I expect you to save the planet. If there is a future wave of wellness on this planet, of harmony, of peace, of an end to war, of mutual understanding, of equality, of fairness, I don’t expect it will come from a government, a military force or a corporation. I no longer even expect it to come from the religions of the world, which together seem to have brought us as much war as they have peace. If there is a future of peace for humankind, if there is to be an understanding of how these invisible, internal things should fit together, I expect it will come from the artists, because that’s what we do. As in the concentration camp and the evening of 9/11, the artists are the ones who might be able to help us with our internal, invisible lives.”

For a person who is going into music in the future (I am joining the Army Band), I really do not listen to a lot of music.  I always try to get into listening to new bands and songs, but I just cannot do it.  I always have this inclination that I have build a relationship with the band/singer before I can really listen to their music.  It took me over a year of listening to MUSE before I considered myself a genuine MUSE fan.  Their have been bands in the past that I will have a month obsession with, then realize how lame they really are and stop listening to them.  I always feel the need to love every song before I consider myself a fan.  There is a feeling of disappointment when a band I start getting interested in has a song that I do not care for.  It is like developing a new friendship with someone, and then realizing that they have some nasty habit of excessive drinking, it is just so disappointing.

I am not saying that I do not accept flaws of others, it is just always depressing to think you knew someone, but that is what you get for assuming, right?  Anyway, back on to music…

I can honestly say that I cannot find a song I dislike by MUSE.  I have my favorites, and songs that I just do not listen to as much, but I do not think I hate any of their songs.  Even if I were to find one that I do not like now, it is too late, I am already sucked into the MUSE obsession.

I am going to start with my beginnings of my MUSE obsession.  I mainly stumbled upon it when my brother in-law had me listen to a song of theirs.  He has a huuuge music collection that I am jealous of, but my relationship with music distracts me from creating that collection.  I listened to one of the songs, instantly loved it, asked the group name.  Thank goodness it was an easy band name, not some complicated lengthy phrase.

The next few days I started looking up MUSE on youtube (mainly because the lack of owning itunes, and not wanting to commit to buying something yet) and my very first song of theirs was Uprising.  I mean it is the first or second song when you search it in, so I thought I would try it.  I loved it instantly and I almost burnt it out now because I loved it so much.  I kept researching this band, and I knew it was for me.  It sounds stupid, but I felt overwhelmed at first, but I loved getting to know the band.  I looked up all their albums so I knew them in chronological order, I was obsessed.

I am obsessed Matt Bellamy, he has a voice like nothing I have ever heard or loved before.  Some people hate on his excessive breathing (gasping), but I feel like it adds passion to his performance.  Plus, I respect that he’s using as much air as he can get in order to sing.  I sound exactly like that (maybe not as gaspy sounding…) when I play french horn or sing.  I love that he played the piano, and he is frickin good at it.  I also love that his voice can be sexy and sultry but also sweet and gentile.  His voice can also sound powerful, tearful, hopeless, or passionate.  He is just so emotional with everything he sings.  And his range is insane.  Now, I am in love with low voices, basses and baritones, but I cannot pass up his amazing voice.

I love that their newer albums are adding in more classical influences.  I love their Rachmaninoff influences, the giant chords and intense passages.  I also love the Chopin inserts and influences.  In United States of Eurasia, they straight up put the Chopin Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2 in it.  It is kind of a cliche nocturne, but it is still gorgeous.  Plus, Chopin is inching as my favorite piano composer, Brahms needs to watch out.  The Exogensis Symphony is such an improvement from their punky rock days, which I still love listening to.  Considering it is the band’s first symphony, I totally respect them for it.  Not that it is Tchaikovsky, Rossini, or Brahms, but it is not like their are very many new symphonies being written by these guys….

My dream, (besides just seeing them in concert, I hear their unreal to see live) would to play french horn in their band.  Just during the orchestra works, then just listen to them the rest of time.

I cannot wait for them to release another album, I hope they do not disappoint.

By the way, if anyone wants to donate MUSE cds to me, I would probably love you for the rest of my life.

 

I could keep rambling forever, but I really need to stop.  This is what happens why I stay up late.

Enjoy one of their many amazing songs.

 

Later,

Kelsey.

Things I like.

March 31, 2012

A compilation of things I like.  Hey, maybe some of you like to do these things to, let me know.  Make your own compilation of things you like.  I find it quite relaxing and fun.  I will periodically keep adding to it.

Nostalgia critic videos

Watching beauty guru videos

Riding bikes around the neighborhood

Watching studio session recordings

Listening to soundtracks

Blogging, when I get around it and I am in the mood

Reading interesting books

Watching Glenn Beck back when it was on

Reading Harry Potter

Fixing my hair like crazy when someone attractive is around

Playing DDR

Watching the news when I am in a newsy mood

Playing Zelda with a friend or family member

Dancing in my room or house like a crazy person

Shopping with money

Sending and receiving funny picture messages

Warm baths

Waking up peacefully in the morning

Singing

Learning American History

Playing the french horn and getting better at it

Watching Disney movies

Talking about toots

Wearing my snuggie that my sister got me

God

When my hair looks good

Being in a good mood

Going to Village Inn with my friends and having my favorite waiter Collin

Tooting in secret places without people knowing

Putting on show choir make-up and doing show choir hair

Being in show choir

Writing on marker boards

Listening to MUSE

Singing in the shower, I have only developed this interest recently

Cleaning up the basement and finding cool photos and papers from forever ago

Spring time

Attractive men who are not jerks

My awesome church with awesome pastors

Playing music too loud

Putting on clothes that make you feel fantastic

Going to Disney World

Playing french horn with play-a-long books or Smart Music

Playing with symphonies

Taking walks with my mother and dog Snickers

Talking and hanging out with my sister

Playing upright bass  with jazz ballads because I love how it feels

Playing with my dog Snickers

Making fun of my dog Snicks while playing with her

Listening to music from the Disney Parks

Playing the electric bass guitar

Doing projects with my dad

My many creepy guy obsessions

Laughing about goofy things

God has blessed me with many great things this year and my whole life.  Those suckish insecurities, worries, and depression do not control my life.  I have grown up, I have learned to let God control my life, along with myself.  There’s no doubt that I will falter, that is called being human.  I try my best to be God-centered, and that is what God wants.

Senior year has really been great.  Yes there have been a few stumbles and falls (not literally, I did not slip at all this winter, that is two years in a row!) but in general, my senior year has been a great one.  Friends have been a blessing, senior stuff is really great, bonding with the senior class, show choir being absolutely amazing, marching band awesomenessss, my sister moving back home with my new niece, being accepted into the army, discovering myself, setting up my senior recital, being involved in my church worship band., the whole works.  I bless these peacefully bliss times greatly, and thank God for everything he has given me.  It is only fair that I have an amazing senior year, because I am sooo nervous for basic training in June.  I have a big feeling that I will be tested (physically, mentally, emotionally, and religiously) there.  I pray for God to be on my side, so it should be alright in the end, he has plans for me.

But really, I love not freaking out about things.  The middle school problems and issues are gone, and I avoid getting into them.  Yeah maybe I am not the cooolest person to hang out with or something, but guess what?!  The cooool kids that everyone seems to like, guess what?  They ditch people, create stupid drama (hate that word, I sound like a petty teenage girl), and always find a friend that is cooooler than you.  I sometimes fall into this trap of wanting to hang out with the cooool/fun/”accepting” people.  I have learned to stick to my guns and stay true to my friends who do not lie, back stab, or find coooler friends.

Another thing…guess what CHICAS!??! Stop throwing yourself at guys.  Gain some confidence, put on some decent clothes, be yourself, and stop faking in front of guys.  It is really frustrating, for both guys and girls.  It is corny, but…Moddest is Hottest, seriously.  A girl can look just as cute (or better) in slightly longer shorts, a not plunging neckline, not skin tight clothes, and cleavage everywhere.  Showing some leg and chest (not breasts) can be flattering and cute, and that is all it should ever be.  It should not be sexy or revealing.  I honestly do not know how girls feel comfortable in those clothes, I feel dirty and awful.

Yes, society makes it seem like guys are only these horndog pigs who want boobs, butts, and a tiny waist.  Guess what, it is not always about sexy?  It is about have a clean and presentable appearance filled with confidence and having a personality that you are proud of.  You will feel better about yourself in the end, trust me.  I have never dressed revealing, I do not flirt with guys, I am not fake around them and I still get asked to school dances and have guy friends.  It is really not a big deal.  I wish girls did not want constant approval from disgusting guys.

How you catch them is how you keep them, remember that.

Alright, that is enough for today.  I am finally getting back into the blogging mood, yay!

Later,

Kelsey.