Saturday, February 10, 2007
Back to school...
Many of you have asked about what / where / why I am in school again. And you see, my friends, this is the perfect application of the blog! I can tell you all at once, seeing as the last five or six months have been somewhat of a blur and I may have missed telling you about it.
In the midst of the final stages of wedding planning last spring, I uncovered a Dutch gem: het Conservatorium van Amsterdam. Right in my back yard is one of Europe's most prestigious conservatories. In addition to outstanding classical training, it is especially well-known for its jazz studies.
Throughout my life, I had dabbled here and there with jazz...putting together an album of arrangements for voice/piano/sax, playing lounge gigs, and if I dig - going all the way back to junior high - putting together a jazz combo to play at my church. (As a funny note, the arrangements I wrote for that ensemble were not respective of the keys of the various instruments. I had a rude awakening when I first heard everyone playing their parts and it sounded like some kind of polytonal experiment gone horribly awry. Lo and behold, instruments are in different KEYS! Aha! Note to self...)
What an opportunity! A chance to learn more about my craft. Particularly in the arena of writing for orchestras and big bands. With the exception of history, classes have no more than 5 students in them. So I'm enjoying nearly private lessons not only in arranging, but also in classical harmony and analysis (the teacher and I have custom designed my track of study), classical orchestration, advanced jazz theory, improvisation, composition, film music studies and piano performance.
It's pretty amazing.
(And, I don't won't to be tacky by discussing price tags, but it's a fascinating (not to mention stunning) difference from American college tuitions...Being a full-time student here costs us 2000 euros a year. That's it. That's about $2400 in USD. I think Kennedy was president last time college cost that much.)
Of course, having a third music degree is really not essential - Most of the greatest musicians we know barely finished high school! But, during this time in Holland, I can focus on developing my craft. It's an amazing gift. Dave is incredibly supportive and often acts as a sounding board as I test out new pieces. And I think he's going to want to proxy my studio recording techniques class next semester!
So that's what school is about. A funny, unexpected, but welcome opportunity.