Plans for the year

I probably shouldn’t write much now because it’s late and I’ve got a truckload of work to do on the merry morrow, but I’ve been meaning to update here for a week and just haven’t got to it till now.

The workload is proving as daunting as I thought it would – and I haven’t even started all my classes yet! Eeep! On the plus side, there’s no class I’m disliking yet – even Research Methods is interesting and enlightening, which it really wasn’t in my undergrad degree. It’s amazing me though how much things have changed since I did my BMus on the study materials front – back then, if I wanted to listen to something I didn’t own (which was most things) and it wasn’t on the radio, I had to go into the uni library and listen to it here. Now I scour Naxos Music Library (free through college) and Spotify (half-price Premium access via my National Union of Students card) and only the most obscure repertoire requires dealing with actual physical media. Back then, finding articles meant wading through issue after monthly issue of Music Index to see if anything was under the heading you were hunting for, and RILM was a directory of abstracts with no indication as to how we students, in Australia, could ever see the dissertations it referenced. Now, Music Index is nowhere to be seen – a quick search on JSTOR returns not only references but entire articles – and you can search the full text too, not just the categorisations they’ve been indexed under! RILM similarly contains full text of a bunch of things as well as the abstracts, and apparently we can ask for an inter-library loan for stuff that the library doesn’t hold.

I guess being in Europe is a help too – part of our Research Methods session this week (on using the reference resources, particularly the online ones) was talking about how to find things in various collections and libraries, which may be in other parts of the country or in other countries, and emphasising that we should call before we go. It probably seems a silly thing to people who’ve grown up here, but for an Australian it’s “OMG, you just call and then you get to see original manuscripts by people who’ve been dead for centuries??? OMGOMGOMG”

I am gradually whittling down a topic for Research Methods and reading the book recommended (but not required) for the course, The Craft of Research, is helping me so much. What a fabulous book! I highly recommend it if you’re researching anything in a systematic manner, and especially if you’re in the position of having to come up with essay topics of your own devising, at whatever level. The section on determining a topic to write about is unexpectedly brilliant.

My composing year is gaining shape too. My tutor seemed to like my one-note piece and has asked me to expand it into a 2-3 minute piece suitable to play in a concert for next week (I’m allowed to use another note or two, not just my D as in the first version). We talked about what I want to work on this year and have decided that in addition to the song cycle I’m planning and the harp project I’ve signed up for, I’m going to work on a 15-minute string quartet and seek out some other ensembles to write for too.

I’m having a little trouble mentally juggling the work too – There are so many bits that it’s hard to know where to start – between the slow bits of reading and listening and the urgent homework assignments and having to juggle things that need me to hear stuff (quite a lot, even some of the reading needs this) with when the builders are here or Djelibeybi’s doing something noisy on the house, as well as making sure I take some time off, but not so much that nothing gets done and still needing to finish off a couple of website projects I didn’t manage to finish before the start of term and so on, is rather doing my head in. I’ve booked an appointment with one of the Student Services people to talk about how best to manage my time so I don’t go completely mad or miss getting things done.

Tomorrow’s plan is to finish one of the websites, harmonise a bassline which I need to score for string orchestra later in the week (due Thursday) and do some reading and/or listening. Given that the last harmonisation took me 6 hours, I guess I should head to bed so I can make an early start tomorrow!

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