Lispector, Clarice. The Passion According to G.H. New Directions, 2012.
If you care about someone, ask to hold their hand. "Holding someone's hand was always my idea of joy" (Lispector 9).
Lispector, Clarice. The Passion According to G.H. New Directions, 2012.
Revised on April 8th, 2017:
The President wants to cut the arts funding. Does he dislike the arts so much? Creating "alternative facts" seems to be an art form in and of itself. We could say he is being artistic, bring it to his attention in some grand way, and maybe he'll hate that he is creating art and stop. Maybe it's not art if it's created to mislead or confuse or harm? But maybe art is only art if created to help people become less delusional and more empathic? Maybe it's created to make us more aware of ourselves. Maybe it soothes some souls, the creators' and the audiences'.
This man has made me more aware of needing to pay attention, to listen closer, to read closer, to think more, and also made me more aware of negative speech. In turn, he has made me think about history and want to learn more. However, alternative facts are lies for agendas created to mislead and deflect our energies. We have to constantly think about what the truth is and that depletes our energies for other positive helpful things we could be doing. And he doesn't soothe me.
Will I become more aware of my own speech, now? Will I become more aware of harm being done to others? Will I become more compassionate? Will I become what people call an activist? Will I become more aware of harm being done to me? Will I start speaking more negatively? Will I think negative thoughts? Will I create more art? -- Is it the intention behind the art that makes art art? Do artists think about their intentions? Can negative speech be art? Is it the reaction from its audience what makes art worthy of the classification as art?
Hold up! Artists, musicians, thinkers who believe he will cut the NEA: Maybe the news about cutting the NEA was put out to distract us, so we focus on trying to save it, spend precious time thinking about that, rather than using our artistic talents in ways to create change, create awareness of fairness, create beauty, connect to others in peaceful ways. -- Maybe we need to come together and allocate energies.
What is this man's motivation? All beings have the potential to do good; I suppose all beings also have the potential to do harm. Many Americans put their trust in this President to do good, not harm.
Programs such as operas aired late at night on PBS can bring joy. Consider that my all-inclusive statement of what the arts when shared do, because right now I have to go write part of my book and finish an essay for class. (Oh yeah, I do have a job, for those who may think I don't really work. --- Will need full-time job very soon when out of school. Might have to settle for more hours at two part-time jobs or three. These subjects belong in another post, not here, though.)
Well, this is the thing. Something came to mind per my last post. Endometriosis doesn't really "clear up." It stops GROWING when menstruation ceases. Actually, I'm not sure it does. I think I read that the doctors don't know if it stops growing when menstruation ceases. For it to keep growing after menstruation ceases doesn't make sense to me. Anyway, whatever endometrial tissue is stuck inside after menstruation ceases remains inside. My surgeon said he "got most of it" years ago. Then, he wanted to put me on Lupron, a drug that back then cost $900 per month for six months. The decent insurance I had back then only covered $100 of the $900 per month. I read about Lupron and decided not to take it. I'm glad I did not. I took birth control and paid for it, monthly, for years. I paid on average $75 per month for birth control to control the growth of the endometriosis. Birth control made my cycles shorter and lighter, which in turn made the endometriosis grow less. Anyhow, after menopause, which I have not gone through, yet, I will still have the endometriosis stuck inside that has grown since the last surgery, unless I have another surgery. I'm hoping it doesn't get so bad that I need another surgery in the next six or more years.
Oh, Obamacare made the birth control free for the last two years or so. I'd been paying for it since 2009. Yeah, there ARE diseases that birth control helps. It helps slow the endometriosis, less menstruating, less endometriosis. But, Viagra will still be free, eh, when they repeal the Obamacare? -- I took myself off the birth control a couple months ago, though, because when I switched health insurance carriers to go back to school, the company messed up my prescription. I was thinking of sorting that out, soon, finding another doctor, because mine retired. Yes, I had found the best gynecologist after going through about six of them when I was younger. I found him in Cleveland. He did my surgery. He retired, and I moved away for school.
Ya know what. I think in a couple days, I will post all the tests doctors put me through over the years before I ended up in the Emergency Room. I had TEN YEARS of lower back pain. It became excruciating. Ask my best friend. I used to bite down on a towel when I went to the bathroom, sometimes, mostly when I was menstruating. This is not a diary entry, but it may be a bit much.
Revised June 10, 2018:
Some writers and teachers say to Blog to attract attention. Ya know, that lady who Blogged about cooking a meal every day from Julia Child's cookbook had her story made into a movie. Well, I'm not an every day Blogger. And I'm not going to cook out of any famous cookbook and write about it. (I could sing Disney songs every day and Blog about them), BUT:
I just said to myself, “If I had children, I’d be normal.” That was after looking in the mirror for two seconds. But it wasn’t about being slightly overweight. (And who says women with children who are slightly overweight are normal, anyway? Are they normal as humans, because they have children? Is it acceptable that they are slightly overweight, because they had children? And who says women with children become slightly overweight, because they had children? And who says ANYONE with children are normal?) I'm not normal, because I don't have a family. (Who says? Oh. yeah, lots of people, or at least many of the pictures on social media and many of the commercials and sitcoms on TV.)
Would I be normal if I had a husband?
It’s okay. I’ll die alone. Technically, everyone dies alone.
Growing older alone is another thing.
(Is this a blog post or a diary entry that should be kept private?)
Have to practice music more regularly after finishing this MFA degree, because my mind is getting out of hand. Need to do meditation, too, RIGHT NOW.
I could blog about having endometriosis. Supposedly, it clears up after menopause. Well, that’s nice. It hinders getting pregnant and then clears up when a person can’t get pregnant, anymore. Of course it does. It grows BECAUSE of the menstruating. It IS the menstruation afraid to find its way out. Or it's the menstruation desperate to find its sperm. It was so desperate to find the sperm, it stayed inside and wandered, inadvertently blocking the next cycle's purpose. I’ve never tried to get pregnant on purpose, though. I never met a man that wanted to date me with good intentions. My fault. I wasn’t smart enough to ask, and I didn’t get out there and date after my couple of heartbreaks. This is a diary entry.
Wait. Now, I could blog about dating. Date for fun. Date for sex. Date to mate. Be up front. What about finding a best friend to whom you are actually attracted? Does attraction count after you can't have kids, anymore? (Uh, yeah, most men don't have to worry about the age thing for kids, but they may intellectually not want to have kids after a certain age.) -- Well, for me attraction counts even after probably not being able to have kids, anymore. And there are different kinds of attraction. -- But timing. -- I didn't ask intentions. Was it my fault, then? -- Now, I could say the couple of men I cared for didn't love me enough to want to stay. That's being harsh on myself. -- Timing. -- Goals. -- Age to date with said goals. -- There was a man in college who told me he couldn't have children. He told me why, but I can't remember what he said. I was studying in the hallway at Northwestern, and he came out and started talking to me. I didn't know I had endometriosis, and endo gets worse over time. But I knew I wanted to adopt. What a cute guy. I wonder if he ever got married? He didn't say, "Let's get coffee," and neither did I. Dating at that moment wasn't on my mind, really, when it should have been. – Stuck on old heartbreak. -- I never saw this fellow from the hallway again, and I can't remember his name. I hope he is living a happy life. -- Goals between people may be different, AND goals change over time. -- STOP, Hammer time!
So, I have or had the worst case of endometriosis my surgeon ever saw in surgery a bunch of years ago. He was nearing retirement, too, and had seen his fair share. And I have single-itis, inflammation of the heart. The heart needs to be normal to reach out, again. -- No. Nobody's heart ever becomes normal after caring for somebody. It has to readjust. This is a diary entry. Maybe that endometriosis could travel further upwards and patch the heart. That’s what it does. It stays in there and generally creates havoc. It should do me some good and help my heart. (This is not possible. I’m being facetious. It actually can damage not only the ovaries but other organs.) -- No, I haven't been drinking today for the Holiday. I'm just blurting. -- Do I want attention? Doesn't everyone want SOME attention? Doesn't a husband want attention from his wife? Doesn't a spouse want attention from their spouse? Doesn't an author want attention to sell books? -- Well, when I'm done with my book, I will want attention. I want a Publisher. I want it Published. I want people to care about the topic and try to understand the people in it. I want history of negative painful suffering to not repeat itself. We all need to care about our neighbors. And why get married if we don't know how to care for a spouse with empathy, if we are so selfish we hurt our lover, because we want what we want whenever we want it? Because our addictions to negative things and habits override how our actions and speech hurt our lover?-- I want to share my experience of being confused over the disappearance of my mother and growing up in a very not normal household. Maybe, I want to connect with others who may have had a very not normal childhood.
To attract attention, Blog some writers and teachers say. Well, my occasional blog post might prove to be an Essay Itch to develop further, or may be a heartfelt rant, or a draft of a poem. I’m not looking for fame as in becoming Shakespeare. I have been writing that Memoir for many years. It deserves some attention, if at least published one day. The opera… yeah, I’ll get back to it, too, as long as I have a piano to sit at. If it’s ever finished and produced even after I’m gone, that would be cool. I read that one composer’s opera wasn’t performed until seventy years after it was finished. It’s fine. My process is slow. My process is happening.
My wish is for all human beings to, when it is their time, pass away gently in sleep, with no physical or emotional pain. Be kind, Universe. May respite from the pains of living begin the end and carry us softly through with luck for suffering to never renew. -- Good Morning August 11th.
Whipped up on July 22, 2016 -- I saw a post about US leading a strike in Syria a couple days ago that killed many innocent civilians, and I wrote this, because I think too much: (MAY REVISE OR ADD TO)
If I truly believe in a Heaven
Do I need to be the most right?
If there is a Heaven, and I know I am going to it,
Do I need to fight?
A kind of Calm.
A type of Kindness.
If I am afraid I am not going to Heaven,
Do I use my weapon?
If I believe I am going to Heaven,
Why do I need a weapon?
If I feel a need to defend others from harm,
Do I need a weapon?
If the people with weapons use them to harm others,
Do they believe in a Heaven?
If I use my weapon against those who use them to harm others,
Will I go to Heaven?
If I use my weapon to protect some while harming others,
Does this make me the most right?
If I truly believed in Peace,
Would I stop trying to be the most right?
If there is Peace, and I want to be a part of it,
Do I need to fight? Do I need to defend?
A kind of Calm.
A type of Kindness.
If I am afraid of not living in Peace,
Do I use my weapon?
If I believe in living in Peace,
Why do I need a weapon?
If I feel a need to keep Peace between others,
Do I need a weapon?
If I use my weapon against those who use theirs to harm others,
Am I creating Peace and stopping even others from using their weapons?
If I use my weapon,
Is that Peaceful?
Does this make me the most right?
written December 2015
if after art -
if after music -
if after reading, writing, crying -
if after feeling -
There is no other with whom to be present;
the air falls
the lungs suffocate
(and you may forget yourself)
and you were the tree in the woods
and you never loved.
"The Noxious Ones" - written April 18, 2014
The noxious ones marched across my eyelashes
Laughing eerily, thinking they had won.
When my tears at last came flowing,
All were drowned but one, who hung on by a pinky,
Dangling in front of my eye.
Since I could see it clearly,
I flicked him away with a vengeance.
His trajectory mirrored my rainbow,
But landed him in a pile of dirt,
Where a red ant picked him up
And marched him down the ant hole.
written somewhere around 2001
Skin upon skin
Brush my heart with fire.
Caught up in haste
Dreaming of eternity
And what lies within.
Make it so.
Else, where have we been?
“Oh Glorious Day” - written April 20, 2012
Oh glorious day.
OH GLOOOrious day.
When to breathe and cry and then breathe, again
Connect with a heartbeat,
And the air feels like the hug of an angel.
This is that day.
This may not be the best Essay on Being a Music Guru, but for now, it is a first draft, and I need to share it.~
Playing an instrument well does not happen overnight. It doesn’t. A student will not play their favorite piece of music from the radio, or the original classical piece of many composers, or any original Disney piece, or many compositions after a few lessons. My job as a private music teacher is to provide information and tools to help my students grow with their instruments. This is what I do. With me, the student will be corrected. I stop students and correct their mistakes. I try to keep these corrections light-hearted most of the time, but when a student continually does not practice what I have already taught them, sometimes, I may get frustrated. This is because I believe my students CAN learn and do what I teach them, but after having to teach the same concept three, four, five or more lessons in a row, because the student doesn’t remember what I taught them the week or weeks before, because they haven’t practiced or done any music theory, my teaching may become a bit less light-hearted. I have great success stories, though. Some students named Ben, Carolyn, Damani, Emma, Emily, Isabel, James, Jenny, Lena, Maeve, Molly, Prentice, and Thomas to name only a few are sticking or had stuck with me for three to nine years in private lessons and realized the benefits of having a teacher who cares if they do well with their instrument. They all are becoming or became better players on their instrument. They all performed in one or more recitals and enjoyed them. I teach techniques with metaphors, analogies, stories, playing examples, and memories from my many teachers’ teaching styles to improve my students’ playing.
There is an article by Dr. Noa Kageyama called “8 Things Top Practicers Do Differently.” It states, “A group of researchers led by Robert Duke of The University of Texas at Austin conducted a study several years ago to see if they could tease out the specific practice behaviors that distinguish the best players and most effective learners. Seventeen piano and piano pedagogy majors agreed to learn a 3-measure passage from “Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No. 1”. . . . That led to a few interesting findings: Practicing longer didn’t lead to higher rankings. Getting in more repetitions had no impact on their ranking either. The number of times they played it correctly in practice also had no bearing on their ranking. What did matter was: How many times they played it incorrectly. The more times they played it incorrectly, the worse their ranking tended to be. The percentage of correct practice trials did seem to matter. The greater the proportion of correct trials in their practice session, the higher their ranking tended to be.”
This study validates my own practice strategies through my years of music making and my teaching style. I stop students and correct them so that they can practice it correctly at home, so that ultimately they become better at their instrument. If a student isn’t taught what to do correctly in the moment of learning something, they won’t be able to carry the concept correctly into the next piece they see. For example: rhythms. If a student learns a rhythm or technique incorrectly the first time, it will be difficult to change later what they think is right. So SOMETIMES when a student comes to me from a different teacher or from having no teacher at all, I have to be very repetitive in correcting technique or rhythm for years. Prentice appreciated this deeply. I thought he would quit after I worked with his articulation for a year. He didn’t quit. He played from seventh grade through high school with me as his teacher and went on to become an art teacher who then emailed me years later and thanked me for making him into a decent clarinet player. Every kid I listed has had me correct them. Every kid improved and enjoyed improving. When my students become better at their instrument over years, they appreciate my teaching, and their confidence in other areas of life flourish, also. They end up enjoying working hard to become good at their instrument, and then, they learn that working hard in other areas of life can be beneficial, too. Playing an instrument well does not come overnight. It may seem frustrating to have to be corrected and stop and correct oneself in one’s own practice room, but it’s the way to one’s potential.
In that same article, “there were three [strategies] that were used by all three top pianists, but rarely utilized by the others. In fact, only two other pianists (ranked #4 and #6) used more than one: 1. The precise location and source of each error was identified accurately, rehearsed, and corrected. 2. Tempo of individual performance trials was varied systematically; logically understandable changes in tempo occurred between trials (e.g. slowed things down to get tricky sections correct; or speeded things up to test themselves, but not too much). 3. Target passages were repeated until the error was corrected and the passage was stabilized, as evidenced by the error’s absence in subsequent trials. What’s the common thread that ties these together? The researchers note that the most striking difference between the top three pianists and the rest, was how they handled mistakes. It’s not that the top pianists made fewer mistakes in the beginning and simply had an easier time learning the passage. The top pianists made mistakes too, but they managed to correct their errors in such a way that helped them avoid making the same mistakes over and over, leading to a higher proportion of correct trials overall. And one to rule them all: the top performers utilized a variety of error-correction methods, such as playing with one hand alone, or playing just part of the excerpt, but there was one strategy that seemed to be the most impactful. Slowing things down.”
Some students do tend to play many exercises or pieces fast, believing that a faster tempo is more impressive to the teacher and maybe even a panel of judges at an audition. This is incorrect. A piece or exercise played accurately is much more appreciated by me as a teacher than anything played faster with mistakes. This is why, when a student does practice only two or three times in a week but comes in and listens to me, slows a particular assignment down, and plays nearly everything accurately or does play everything accurately, I do move them to the next piece or exercise in the book or on my mental list of music. I’m not looking for perfection. I’m looking to see if the student has understood and become better that week at the concept that was in the assignment. If the student has grasped it in a physically technical and mentally artistic way, I usually move them on. This encourages a student. They are happy to get a sticker for trying and learning. That said, the students that practice four or more times a week learn more music building blocks faster and get to learn more music and get to play more pieces they want to play, eventually. And if the student will be using the particular piece for an audition or an upcoming recital, then, we practice together until it is at the best the student can play or sing it at the appropriate tempo and beautiful level of artistry.
By the way, I don’t write note names under notes in the music the students are learning. I don’t believe this helps a student at all. Theory books are helpful, and writing note names in those books are essential but not in the music the student is practicing. Students will look at the letters under the notes instead of the notes themselves, and this defeats the purpose of having notes on a staff at all. There are many teaching tools to help students remember the notes on the staves, and I give them those tools. Once in a while, I ask a student to name notes, and if they can’t remember the notes, then, I remind them about the tools I have given them to help them learn.
To read the whole article mentioned in my essay, please go to http://www.bulletproofmusician.com/8-things-top-practicers-do-differently/
Ann Marie Falcone BM, MM
Circlesongs with Bobby McFerrin at Omega Institute is a Voice Music Camp for adults. Omega is a beautiful campus that makes one walk up and down hills to get to the Organic Food Dining Hall, the Dorm Rooms, the Café, the beach on the Lake, the classrooms, the Wellness Center, or the Ram Dass Library. I visited all of those places except the beach on the Lake. There was no time. My sister and I were scheduled from 8 am until 9 or 10 pm with classes, electives, and short breaks for eating. What is a Circlesong? A Circlesong is a group of people standing in a circle in their particular vocal parts who learn improvised parts from a group leader. The group leader was Bobby McFerrin in the Main Hall each night. However, his colleagues from Voicestra took turns improvising parts for each section, also. David Worm, Joey Blake, Rhiannon, Judi Vinar, and Christiane Karam took turns leading the Circle.
Each faculty member led a small group class each hour, also. In these small group classes, we played vocal ear training games, and people took turns leading a smaller circle, or we were asked to improvise out loud on the spot. I didn’t want to, too nervous. My sister did not explain to me what this was but begged me to go with her for the week for her 50th birthday. So, I did. My sister did this last year, had an amazing experience without leading a circle or taking advantage of some of the other things she could do, and so, she was determined to put her fright aside and jump in this year. She improvised in a small class one-on-one with Bobby McFerrin. She also led a small group Circlesong in Judi’s class, and then, on her birthday, jumped into the big circle with about 150 people in parts and led and improvised her own Circlesong. Bobby McFerrin let her go for a bit and then jumped in the middle with her. Then, he jumped out, and she improvised above her circling parts. That’s what I was there for, to hold the soprano part steady, which I was fine with. However, in one class, I had to sing something about myself on the spot, which I did and made half the circle laugh out loud with my improvised words about my pet cockatiel and my repeated lick on “Tweet, Tweet, Tweet.” I also had to improvise a few times in Rhiannon’s class, and that was very fun.
All of that said, there was an undertone of Gospel and religion that came out in Joey’s class and sometimes in the big group with Bobby, which I hadn’t known would be part of this camp. In any case, I met Amanda Powell, a Creative Workforce Fellow from Cleveland Heights, there. She was assigned into my small group, interestingly enough. She used part of her winnings to go to this. If I did ever go, again, I’d be sure to schedule some down time and try to make it somewhat a vacation. It was definitely camp with not much sleep in those Dorm Rooms. One night, at 3 am, I woke up and heard a bass singing “Boom. . . Boom. . . Boom. . .” at an andante tempo. I thought, “Somebody from my elective Funk Circlesong group is outside my window singing on beat one,” and then, I realized, it was the lady next door to me snoring quite loudly and very well in time. I didn't feel any peace. At times, it felt like organized chaos; however, I enjoyed going to the Ram Dass library at 10 pm when classes were over as there was no cell phone, internet or tv access, and I read a book by the Dalai Lama. I also really did enjoy the elective Funk Group class.
I serenaded my sister on her birthday with a new version of “Fifty Nifty United States”, called “Fifty Nifty Years on the Earth”, my lyrics, Ray Charles’s music. All in all, I was glad I did improvise out loud, eventually, and that I held Bobby McFerrin’s and his colleagues’ improvised soprano parts in the Circle. I’ve improvised with two students so far, and we’ve all enjoyed the minutes of jamming.
First of all, if you are feeling sick, I'd like to say please feel better. Please get some rest. Please take some medicine, go to a chiropractor, or see another doctor if it is time.
Now, I pose a question: How sick does one have to be for someone to say, "Feel better?" Here is a link to an article Toni Bernhard wrote about what to say to sick people - http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2012/08/helpful-sick.html.
Now, I'm sure she means people who are terminally ill or who live with chronic incurable diseases, right? Well, how sick DOES one have to be for someone to say, "Feel better?" My observances have been that people turn away and mind their own business, especially online. They don't want to hear that you have bronchitis, pneumonia, or plantar fasciitis, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, or let alone any of the terminal illnesses. Are we afraid we'll catch something if we say something nice even through the computer? Do we secretly think that the person should suffer in silence, because we all get sick at some point?
Mo is definitely trying to answer one of my questions in "Feeling the Pain of Others," http://scienceblogs.com/neurophilosophy/2009/12/17/feeling-the-pain-of-others/, on a Science blog. S/he says, "People with mirror-touch synaesthesia are known to experience touch sensations when they see others being touched, and this may also extend to pain in such individuals. There are also several anecdotal cases of patients who experience pain in the absence of noxious stimuli. And a new study by British psychologists now provides evidence that a significant minority of healthy people can also experience pain when seeing others’ injuries."
Uh oh, I'm sorry if I made somebody feel sick when I was sick. But isn't Mo's news good news? If we can feel somewhat what another is feeling without actually being sick, can't we then be nice and say, "Hope you feel better soon?" Mo goes on to say, "The pain responders were found to have a stronger emotional response to the images and film clips of injuries, and this was associated with stronger activation of the pain matrix components involved in processing the emotional content of the stimuli. They also reported higher levels of empathy with the people depicted in the photos and films."
Wow. Then, when finding a mate and some friends, find people who are pain responders? What if I'm not a pain responder? Is there any way to become better at that? There are probably articles out there that address that question, and this morning, I still have a sinus infection or tonsillitis or something, so, I'm not going to look them up right now. I've been writing and researching since for 3 hours, and I need breakfast = Veggie Broth and toast, LOL. But I've already written this:
The great thing is that personally when I am in the presence of somebody, and they notice I am sick, they usually do say, "Get better soon," or "Go home, you shouldn't be at work." The not so great thing is that I'm not around many people, except students and colleagues, so, I generally do not open my mouth and say I'm feeling sick. I've rarely posted it on Facebook and have come to realize people ignore those types of posts, maybe because of the reasons I cited above, or maybe they don't want to waste their time writing, "Get better soon." I've also noticed some other people post when they are feeling sick, and many people ignore them, too, so, I'm not alone in this. Maybe I'm the only one that doesn't have family who can run out and buy me tissues when I am too dizzy with a sinus infection to drive. That's silly. I know there are people out there who need help once in a while, too.
Which brings me to another link, http://www.lotsahelpinghands.com/who-we-help/, Lotsa Helping Hands. Yeah, I don't think anybody runs out for tissues from this link, but this is a nice organization helping lotsa people.
Oh ha ha ha, I just found this list of the top ten incurable diseases. Number one is the common cold. Say, "Feel better." It makes people smile.
Oh, I could buy some hankies and wash them. That's definitely a good solution to running out of tissues. :)