musical milliner

April 25, 2015

Hostile Concert Venue: Green Music Center

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Note! Musical Milliner goes one a bitchy, divaesque rant. On reflection, I would have handled certain things differently. But the overall gist remains. It’s not so much that I expect exception. I do expect professionalism and reason from myself and others.

I was excited when, after many years of challenges which included at least one federal legal investigation, the new music halls opened. The music department relocated from Ives Hall, and the impression and hope was that the department could grow now that there were facilities worthy of the quality of musical education so thoughtfully and competently offered by the faculty.

:~:

From a colleague I heard that Green Music Center, and most especially Weil Hall, are really not part of the department, but under separate management. I’m told there is hostility between the two.

:~:

I had an interesting experience at Green Music Center via House Manager Ms.H.
:~:
I’ve been a performer or guest in many fine houses. Never have I been so rudely treated to the point of harassment when I observed a dress rehearsal to which I’d been invited, and in which two participants were my students, and two more were young people who received big scholarships from a recent competition I judged, and in whose future I am invested.
 :~:
This house manager came after me, smoke seeping from her ears and nose after noting that I had taken a sip of water from a stainless steel spout bottle. She told me she would have to take my bottle. I refused. But it’s the rules, she said. Yes. I  understand. I am a singer. I carry spill-proof bottles with me and sip constantly  to stay hydrated. Like my colleagues. I wasn’t aware of the rule. I put my bottle in my purse, and said, I promise, between one adult to another, that I would not open the thing in the auditorium. To me, this is just professional courtesy. Clearly, she didn’t care, and I sensed she wasn’t interested in nuances or how to approach someone in any way not hostile or aggressive  (And I kept my word. The bottle behaved.)
 :~:
This woman continued to aggressively harass me: what are you doing here; this rehearsal is closed (I was invited by faculty). I am a professional musician and teacher, but “nobody ever sits in on rehearsals.” This was the fourth rehearsal I’d been invited to attend in the past two years. This was NOT a music dept decision. It is the Green Center’s decision. The GMC is not part of the music department as one might assume. I did not know this prior to the incident. Music students are treated as a necessary evil. After the DR, I was asked to leave the building, and wait outside until the house opened. It was raining, cold, windy. It would be against the RULES to allow a middle aged, working singer who needs to be mindful of drafts and the rest, a seat in the giant lobby, in a corner, out of the way.
~:~
The whole question about rules and their application got me thinking. What is the purpose of rules? What does it mean to uphold them for their own sake? When can they be bent? When are exceptions made?  Are rules part of the overall social contract? Well, yes they are. In my experience, I get hostile when someone says that it doesn’t matter the circumstances, it’s a rule. I can take it as a dare. I’m trying to evolve.
 :~:
I went all the way around this massive complex back to the artist’s entrance where there was plenty of room out of the weather, bathrooms, and…water. I sat by the door in a corner far from the green rooms, far from people, et al. But this battle-ax  bully appeared again. There are cameras everywhere, so she saw me. Now, this was a big concert, but it seemed Ms.H’s mission was not to assist her confounded ushers, and help the guests and performers. No. Ms H had it in her head to hunt me down because I was not allowed in the building before the house opened. It’s the rules, you know.
 :~:
It was a wonderful performance!  Afterwards, I went to talk to some of the youth choir sitting in the house to congratulate them. Remeber, two in this group recently sang in a competition I judged. And…there was this same graceless  woman asking me why I was talking to these kids, and I needed to leave. Thank God one of the chorus managers spoke up for me and invited me to continue to talk to the kids. She later told me that for those two young ladies, I had “made their day.”
:~
My guess is Ms.H will not be around GMC too long. Not in a job which require diplomacy, and common sense.

September 22, 2014

Vivace!

Musical Milliner offers her kind regards to all of you who have hung in there with her the past five years as she has been circling the Inferno that was her life. She’s/I’m (changing tenses here) glad to be alive, and pleased to tell you that despite dedicated and focused attempts to dismantle my psyche and resources, I am well.

On this lovely atumnal equinox, I feel…balanced. I swear, I didn’t  plan that last sentence. Exploited the opportunity, certainly.images

My sons are thriving. I am rebuilding my business, and I am experiencing one of the most productive phases of my life in music.

Socializing is still a bit of a challenge. Ever the introvert when not performing, but I am taking steps to improve.

Here’s the thing: I recently heard a song which reminds us that after so many years on this journey we all share, comes a time to lose some of the load. Keep what you need or want, and continue in a leisurely stroll toward the sign marked “exit.” It takes so much effort to keep track of all the emotional hording, and is so unnecessary.

Who knows, I may even write an upbeat lyric or two. God bless the lot of you.

May 26, 2014

“Fallen”

  images The destruction of a long-term  relationship, leading to her hitting rock bottom.  She is sometimes delusional.  In her addled mind, she sometimes believes she’s lost all of her friends, most of whom were mutual friends of the partnership, her in-laws, her community.

This delusion is the result of wrong thinking. When she has a clear mind, she sees all the people who really care about her, and have been there all along, some since childhood. Once again , they are in the foreground of her life, reminding her of her value as a human being, as a friend, as a mother. Yes, she has lost some friends in the war. Friends who were there for a season, and have moved on. It’s not a bad thing. It just is.

 Back to the delusion, she knows it is all her fault. Of course it is. That is what he says.  His mental illness, his failures, all bad occurrences and recurrences would never be, but for  her decision to recind the contract.  She has ruined his life. Forever. That’s what his family takes as gospel. It’s a family of enablers.

Among tha many gems uttered by his mother was the following: “There is nothing wrong with my children, it’s just the people they married.”

Do you get that?

Aren’t we, as women expected to  keep our marriages together? If they fail, is it not, by default, we who are to blame?

Do you get that?

 What is this, the nineteen-fifties? The in-laws close ranks and believe whatever it is he tells them. And it’s always  the kids who suffer from the disconnection.

The same woman once said, “I like my children. I just don’t like other people’s children.”

Do you get that? Do you wonder why your many granchildren are not in touch? Do you understand that your own flesh and blood choose not to be around someone who tacitly disapproves of them because of lazy thinking?

Good tunes, thoughtful & personal lyrics, are one of the most effective therapies for hard times. That is, if you believe paying attention to the process will help you through the challenges. Here’s a good one.

Heaven bent to take my hand
And lead me from the fire
Be the long awaited answer
To a long and painful fight

Truth be told I tried my best
But somewhere along the way
I got caught up in all there was to offer
And the cost was so much more than I could bear

Though I’ve tried, I’ve fallen…
I have sunk so low
I have messed up
Better I should know
So don’t come round here
And tell me I told you so…

We all begin with good intent
Love was raw and young
We believed that we could change ourselves
The past could be undone
But we carry on our backs the burden time always reveals

The lonely light of morning
The wound that will not heal
It’s the bitter taste of losing everything that I have held so dear

I’ve fallen…
I have sunk so low
I have messed up
Better I should know
So don’t come round here
And tell me I told you so…

Heaven bent to take my hand
Nowhere left to turn
I’m lost to those I thought were friends
To everyone I know
Oh they turn their heads embarassed
Pretend that they don’t see
But it’s one missed step
You’ll slip before you know it
And there doesn’t seem a way to be redeemed

Though I’ve tried, I’ve fallen…
I have sunk so low
I have messed up
Better I should know
So don’t come round here
And tell me I told you so…
(c) Sarah Mclachlan (Tyde Music, Sony/ATV Songs LLC)2003



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(c) Sarah McLachlan 2003

August 27, 2013

The Grace of Suffering

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In high school, I discovered hatha yoga, which led me to the writings, and eventually the lectures of Ram Dass (Dr. Richard Alpert). I consider him my first spiritual teacher. He popularized the phrase “Be here now,” which later became the title of a fascinating book. Some recent drama has called me back to these teachings.

This excerpt is from a 1988 interview in The Vegetarian Travel Guide.

 

 

Ram Dass: “…that’s (suffering) the one that is hard for this society to recognize. That is one of the highest mystical teachings, that suffering is great. But who wants that? To hell with that…later, baby.

VTG: When one is suffering, it’s very easy for the heart to close down. In my own life when I’m hurt or feeling angry, it’s often an automatic response. What do you tell your own heart when you feel it closing down, when the stimulus is just too strong and you’re ready to run for the hills?

Ram Dass: When my heart starts to close down, first of all it’s incredibly painful because you get addicted to having your heart open and staying in that kind of liquid space of just being in love with the universe, like the divine beloved is just everywhere. When it closes down it hurts. What I do is I sit with it the way it is. I don’t try to push away my closed heart, that just closes it further. I just say, ah ha, my heart is closed, and I realize that what is closed will open and what is open will close so that I start to have a little patience about it. And then instead of trying to open my heart by thinking loving thoughts, usually what I do is go back into my breath because the thing that closed my heart was a thought that I had. It was nothing out there.

Nobody did anything. They just do what they do. It was my interpreting what they did that closed my heart. And so I can see that what I’ve done is get stuck in a thought form. And what I can do now is go directly into my mind and go back into the rising and falling of my breath until I get to the point where the thought dislodges and I’m just with the thought of the rising and falling, and then at that moment that whole constellation of thought that closed my heart isn’t around anymore.

EJR: Do you actually identify what the thought was?

Ram Dass: I used to do that. I’m an old psychotherapist so I would say, “why are you unhappy?” or “why is your heart closed and what caused it?” Now I’m not so interested. When you go into the causes then you move into the psychological reality. You’re treating it as real. That’s one strategy, but it’s only one strategy. Sometimes treating the psychological as thought and going back behind it is a much more efficacious manner to get on with it. It is a bottomless well of trying to figure out why it is you’re angry, why it is your heart closes. It just never ends.

August 6, 2013

The Singer’s Mind

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This is an informative article from a teacher’s blog. Lots to think about. The art of singing involves so many inter-connected systems. One’s psychological and spiritual state is a huge part of the equation, and technology is giving us answers as to how the musical brain functions.

Mostly, singers are bat shit crazy.

Read on.

 

http://www.singalexander.com/blog/2013/8/Training-the-Singer-s-Mind

http://www.singalexander.com/blog/2013/8/Training-the-Singer-s-Mind

August 4, 2013

Allattare tutti i bambini

wbw2013-flower-colorIt is our annual World Breastfeeding Week. In a former phase, Musical Milliner was a certified lactation educator. Because MM breastfed her kids to age two, the only singing was lullabyes for a time. We know anecdotally that </=5% of women cannot nurse due to medical conditions. That leaves 95%of us who can, with support systems in place, experience long-term breastfeeding.

We know that most breastfeeding failure occurs when there is a lack of education, family and peer support. The whole village needs to get on board. Support is crucial in the first few weeks, and peer support is one of the greatest predictors for successful breastfeeding, along with frequent consultation with a certified lactation consultant and a new moms support group as needed. Most medical insurance companies have seen the light, and knowing of the long-term cost savings, now cover lactation services.

Not long ago, WIC distributed vouchers to low-income mothers for formula, a demographic for which health issues are more common. We got the hospitals to stop distributing “samples” of artificial formula. These women learn that breastfeeding will lower their grocery bills and lessen their medical costs.

Yes, there are challenges for most women at first. Between sleep deprivation, and the social, relational and physical adjustments new moms make, things can be tough. Again, support of family, peers and lactation consultants, is key for long-term nursing relationships.

Mother-friendly policies in the workplace is another area in which we’ve seen progress. Having a dedicated space for moms to pump and store milk, or have places to nurse in privacy are important. We need to keep pressing on this one until it becomes the norm.

And while we’re at it, for those still-backward parts of the world where mothers are expected to go nurse their hungry babies in a bathroom stall? NOT okay. How would YOU like to eat your meal in a public lavatory?

All I can add is that my own children were obviously healthier than some of their peers. one child has never taken antibiotics, and the other had one ear infection at age three, when he began pre-school.

In addition, they’ve been raised vegetarians, and I believe this has contributed to their robust health.

Someone once said to me, “Breastfeeding is the first promise we make to our children.”
http://worldbreastfeedingweek.org/

(C)GoshGusPublishing(ascap)2013

July 14, 2013

Libri di Musica

imagesBinder notebooks in several widths. Check. Tape and a three-hole punch. Check. Recycling box. Check. Super cool labeling tape machine. Missing! Crap. Sheets of (interim) file labels, and file folders? Check.

And a fourteen inch stack of orphan photocopies of arias, songs, IPA and translation sheets, research, and the odd program booklets sitting on top of my piano in my music studio.

This is a project I’ve been avoiding for months. After I taught a lesson yesterday, and was unable to locate which binder or file folder contained the music I wanted to give my student, I went mad. Time to have a tidy.

Because this occupation is tedious, I enlisted the White Album to keep me company. It turned out that I worked my way through the last half of the Beatles catalog in the process before I was done.

Before getting to the main task, all the opera scores had to be organized (by composer, and order of composition, and publication for multiple copies). Mixed in were several super-title cuing scores, and directing/production copies. These found a new home on another shelf because the regular scores were offended at their unkempt qualities.

How to divide and conquer? Clearly sorting by genre makes the most sense. But it is trickier than that. There are further divisions. So far, this is how things are going:

  • Opera arias: past “unlikely to ever sing (Gilda, Juliette) again…”
  • Opera arias: Mozart
  • Opera arias, present/learning
  • Opera arias to learn if I live long enough
  • Oratorio arias: present/polishing
  • Oratorio arias: feeling guilty that I’ve not learned
  • Songs: Common Practice
  • Songs: Romantic (by composer and language)
  • Songs: 20thC (ditto)
  • New compositions: 21stC by composer friends
  • Audition pieces: opera and oratorio, ready to go
  • Recital program: two copies/two binders (one for accompanist)
  • Church/Wedding/Funeral: (ditto)
  • Teaching hand-out: (vocalises, information, articles)
  • Student pieces to hand out
  • Three thick binders of lead sheets: (pop/rock)
  • GoshGusMusic compositions (half-inch binder…may outgrow)

Should the reader think of something I missed, please speak up.

The piano pile contained copies of copies of copies. Much tossed into the recycle bin, as were dozens of cassette tapes. I was elated to find eight tapes my coach had recorded of accompaniments to entire opera roles for practice purposes. Lucia, La Traviata, Don Pasquale, and so on. Such generosity. New plan to get these transferred to disc before they degrade beyond usefulness.

As I go about flipping the house for summer cleaning, I will find the label machine, which will produce flouncy covers for the temporary file stickers. I’m thinking Help, Rubber Soul and Revolver should do.

July 8, 2013

Think For Yourself

Filed under: music — by SAMM @ 10:24 am
Tags: , ,

Image

I’ve got a word or two
To say about the things that you do
You’re telling all those lies
About the good things that
We can have if we close our eyes

Do what you want to do
And go where you’re going to
Think for yourself
Cause I won’t be there with you

I left you far behind
The ruins of the life that you have in mind
And though you still can’t see
I know your mind’s made up
Youre gonna cause more misery

Do what you want to do
And go where you’re going to
Think for yourself
Cause I won’t be there with you

Although your mind’s opaque
Try thinking more if  just for your own sake
The future still looks good
And you’ve got time to rectify
All the things that you should

Do what you want to do
And go where you’re going to
Think for yourself
Cause I won’t be there with you

Do what you want to do
And go where you’re going to
Think for yourself
Cause I wont be there with you

Think for yourself
Cause I won’t be there with you

(Harrisongs 1968)

April 5, 2013

SopranoAscends SINGS!

Filed under: music — by SAMM @ 7:22 pm

The Musical Milliner

#2, September, from the Vier letzte Lieder (Four Last Songs) of Richard Strauss, 1949. My accompanist is the sensational Daniel Lockert. These are orchestral pieces, but Strauss wrote the piano reduction first. Daniel is the closest thing in the world to an orchestra with 10 fingers. God bless him.

The pieces were written as Strauss was aware that his life was coming to a close. It is a story of that journey and full of gentle assessment and acceptance for the new life he was walking into.

The first three poems are taken from Hermann Hesse, and the fourth by Eichendorf.

I hope you enjoy! Texts and translation below.

https://mail-attachment.googleusercontent.com/attachment/u/0/?ui=2&ik=4751e7243e&view=att&th=13ddca4212cdbf68&attid=0.1&disp=safe&realattid=f_hf60l9gu0&zw&saduie=AG9B_P-TNpEJn01l2RaPDEPxzZ3e&sadet=1365214791308&sads=XhNeWkFHoRui0W16cpIsP1-T6M4&sadssc=1

2. “September”

(Text: Hermann Hesse)

Der Garten trauert,
kühl sinkt in die Blumen der Regen.
Der Sommer schauert
still seinem Ende entgegen.Golden tropft Blatt um Blatt
nieder vom hohen Akazienbaum.
Sommer lächelt erstaunt und matt
In den sterbenden Gartentraum.Lange noch bei den Rosen
bleibt er stehn, sehnt sich nach Ruh.
Langsam tut er
die müdgeword’nen Augen zu.
The garden is in mourning.
Cool rain seeps into the flowers.
Summertime shudders,
quietly awaiting his end.Golden leaf after leaf falls
from the tall acacia tree.
Summer smiles, astonished and feeble,
at his dying dream of a garden.For just a while he tarries
beside the roses, yearning for repose.
Slowly he closes
his weary eyes.

Composed: September 20, 1948

February 12, 2013

Stupida?

Filed under: music — by SAMM @ 12:54 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

imgresI have never felt more alone than when I‘ve been in a relationship.

Love makes me stupid. I have made a handful of life-altering decisions while in that initial giddy state of passion. Most of these were situations I came to regret. A few ended badly because I did not take time to consider the practicalities. This is an enormous, rather forceful instinct, a human failing of biology. Like other species, we have imperatives to attract and be attracted, to reproduce or have fun trying.

There were a few who got away and a couple with whom it ended gracefully. One I just ran from, only to rekindle later, then quickly recall why it didn’t make sense the first time. There is the one who was the man of my dreams who eventually dumped me in a hideous way. I wandered in a very dark and dangerous place for a time after coming unglued in the process. Finally there was the disaster of marriage between two people who were ill-suited, tried to pretend it was normal to be toxic, and lived with it for too many years.

The husband was my age, and far too young emotionally. The more successful partnerships were with men some years older.

But I am no longer a young woman. I am still vibrant and attractive, and capable of companionable behavior. But the reality is I am midlife, and by choice alone. Lately I have been considering if this isn’t the best way to live out my maturity. I have responsibilities. I have certain duties and projects to occupy me. At the end of the day, I no longer wait anxiously for the husband to come home, obligated to listen to his drivel and neuroses. He of all men I’ve been with had the most distinctive defining character of a high maintenance housemate. I feel relief.

I don’t ever want to feel that way again. I don’t want to live with a man who keeps tabs of my failings and throws them at me when he is upset with himself.

There are other considerations. Can I afford to live alone? Will I end up homeless and destitute. Not having supported myself (although contributing from odd jobs and volunteer work) in over twenty years, will I be able to carve enough of a living to make it?

When I become conscious in the mornings, my first thoughts are always a flood of anxiety and despair over these frights. It is the smell of fresh coffee, the machine responding to my programming, that breaks through the haze.

Do I believe in fate or chance or serendipity? Fairy tales? Not any more. For this reason, I am wary. Men always show up when you are not looking for a relationship.

I truly hope I have gotten over being stupid.

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