People have been asking how the big recital went. I enjoyed it, but I don't totally know, so let's come back to that soon and find out together. (Don't worry, you'll see what I mean.)
My first performance since high school doesn't of itself close a loop: I never wanted to be a performer, and still don't. But there are comparisons worth making. In those days, I suffered daily from the pleasurable torment of having some musical idea fall into my brain, unbidden, in the middle of whatever I was doing. When this happened, I couldn't resume concentrating until I went to a piano and improvised on the idea for ten or fifteen minutes. I had to know where I could take it, where it might go. This semi-mystical process of inspiration and compulsion went dormant in the years when I wasn't playing. When I started up again, thinking I wanted to compose, I assumed it'd eventually come back to life, but worried that it might not. Thankfully it has, in a more convenient form: when the idea comes, it's enough to record myself improvising for a few minutes, my brain accepts that it'll be there later, and I can get right back to my other work.
I never wanted to be a music major, either. The first time I went to college, coming from freewheeling lessons with a teacher who helped me play whatever I liked, I was afraid that overly rigorous training would destroy my love of music. Plus, I was happily obsessed with computers. I had to forcefully persuade my advisor (who was in the music department) to back off and let me take the engineering courses I wanted.
Times change. I've mostly learned enough of what I wanted to learn about computers. I've found that my musical limits, both as a pianist and as a composer, can be overcome with study. Where my love for music was once the motivation to avoid that training, it's now the motivation to dive in. For the past two years at Columbia, that's just what I've been doing. As of last week it's official: I'm a music major after all. I couldn't be happier about it.
I've also decided to try to squeeze in a concentration in linguistics, so this semester's courseload is heavy. My language- and linguistics-related courses are:
- Introduction to Linguistics
- Linguistic Theory: Syntax
- Linguistic Theory: Semantics
- Readings in Czech Literature
- Advanced Yiddish
And my music courses:
- History of Western Music: Middle Ages to the Baroque
- Advanced Composition
- piano lessons
It adds up to 22 credits, which sounds like a whole heck of a lot, but it's completely manageable. Somehow the schedule worked out really favorably, and there's no one class with a consistently frightening amount of work like math last year. (I think the secret is to take only liberal artsy-fartsy courses.) This courseload not only keeps me on track to graduate in May '09, but also — to close a loop from the summer — allows me to take a lighter load next semester in order to work part-time.