Life “Unplugged”

I recently read a blog post by Dr. James Frankel, managing director of SoundTree. Dr. Frankel discussed his experiences going to an “unplugged” concert, and how although the music was all performed without any electronic help (amplification, instruments, etc.), about everything else that occurred in his life that night had an electronic aspect to it, from the purchase of the tickets to creating dinner plans. It got me thinking about what life would be like “unplugged.”

We spend so much time glued to our electronics-computers, iPods, cell phones-that sometimes we miss the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of life. So many of us are so always plugged in that there isn’t a minute we’re not communicating with someone, usually electronically. So I got to thinking-would there be a noticeable difference in my life if I committed to taking a certain amount of time each day and having “unplugged” time?

By “unplugged” time I don’t mean just not using electronics. I mean literally unplugging them. Computer in the off position, iPod turned off and in the drawer, cell phone turned completely off (not just on silent). Thinking about it at first, I think to myself, “what would I do with myself?!” Then I come up with a few things I’ve been meaning to do for a while but haven’t gotten the opportunity to, because I always get distracted by a text message, Twitter update, or Facebook notification:

  • Read more articles from my Poppy’s book, Mosaic
  • Read articles from the dozens of music education journals I’ve received over the past year
  • Catch up on reading for some of my classes
  • Work out, in some way (walking, running, lifting weights, shooting a basketball… SOMETHING to get me off my lazy butt!)
  • Practice! (What a concept?!)

And the list goes on and on. So here’s my goal: thirty minutes a day, five days a week. My initial idea was to do thirty minutes every day, but after thinking about it and talking it over with a friend, I realized that it’s better to start smaller and work my way up. My ending goal will be something to the effect of a one-hour block each day, which may require some modifications to my schedule, but I’m going to try to make it work. For now, though, I’m going to start small, and during the school week.

I will, of course, keep you posted with updates on the progress of my journey into the land of the unplugged with (electronic) blog posts every so often! 🙂

Wish me luck!

Weekend from Hell

Well the so-dubbed “Weekend from Hell” is over, and I’m still alive! This past weekend, which really started on Wednesday, included:

  • Marching Band, Basketball Band, and Jazz Band rehearsals (Wednesday)
  • Trumpet lesson (Thursday morning)
  • Last regular-season home football Game (Thursday night)
  • First women’s basketball game (Friday afternoon)
  • Last volleyball game (Friday evening)
  • TBS Showcase (Saturday afternoon, more to come on this!)
  • First men’s basketball game (Saturday night)
  • Women’s basketball game (Sunday afternoon)

This was about as much playing as I’ve ever done in a 4-day span, except for the Illinois All-State musical my senior year (think 3 run-throughs of Les Mis each day, for about a week!). I’m feeling pretty good after it, though, and I had a blast! In all these athletic events this weekend, the ‘Canes went 4-1, with the only loss being Sunday’s women’s game (which the ‘Canes lost on a fast-break with 4 seconds left after they came back from down 13 to tie it). My voice is all but gone from all the cheering, though.

It was an awesome weekend, for sure. Busy? Yes. Tiring? You betcha (I took a 4 hour nap today)! But very rewarding and so much fun getting to spend the entire weekend doing my 2 favorite things: playing music and cheering on the ‘Canes!

Semester 2 Update

So I know I’m bad… and I thoroughly admit that 3 posts per week was a bit ambitious. But at least I tried. I’m going to try to keep this updated with maybe around one post a week from now on, as I don’t have as much time as I thought I would.

Anyway, on to the important stuff. I figured I’d use this post to serve as an update for the way the semester has gone so far. Classes are going very well, all in all. I’m taking 12 Classes for 14 credits. Before you freak out and wonder what the hell I’m doing, note that I have only three classes for more than 1 credit, and actually 2 classes for zero credits (discussion forums for brass/music ed).

Classes are for the most part very enjoyable. I’m taking Woodwind Techniques (like the brass course I took last semester), and am currently learning the flute. It’s harder than I thought it would be! I’m also in Percussion Techniques, so I’m learning how to be a crazy-good drummer (kind of…). Other courses include music theory, ear training, piano, and a computer science elective.

I’m also in three ensembles: the Symphonic Winds (the same group as last semester–this is “concert band”), the XJB (jazz band), and the University Band, which is a concert band made for non-music majors who want to keep playing their instruments. It’s also open to music majors who want to try other instruments, so I’m playing Euphonium (its a mini-tuba for those of you non-music nerds =D). The Symph Winds just had a great concert a few weeks ago, and now have turned our sights on a concert in April, which is looking to be fantastic.

Trumpeting has also been going very well this semester. I’ve taken on a new-found desire to really improve my playing, and I have definitely seen results even over the past two months. My tone has gotten a lot better, and I’m looking at doing an upgrade to a slightly bigger mouthpiece to allow that change to continue to happen. My lip flexibility, which was a very weak point in my playing, is still weak but very much less so than before, and I feel a lot more comfortable with my playing.

That’s about it for now, more to come later, hopefully! I’ve had a few requests from people to see some video footage of me playing trumpet or performing, so I’ll try to get some of that up soon.