Saturday, June 13, 2020

We enjoyed a fabulous day of distraction yesterday. I spent the early morning doing some comp-work, responding to questions from performers preparing recordings of Anima/Animus (Chris Nappi, the marimbist it’s written for), and Six Humors for Shelter Recordings. The violinist working on Six Humors was someone I’d not known and, like Eliot and Ran who recorded On Balance, he’s just wonderful to work with.

When working with a performer on a project, it’s always via close contact. Together in a practice room or office; at the very least, phone conversations. But given that these are really introductions at a time of pandemic–‘shelter’ being the operative word in this project–the primary mode of connection is written via email. It’s so very interesting to limit communication to written form; as I’ve noted before, it’s a means that encourages (if not forces) focused articulation. In these email exchanges, which are essentially questions and comments, the performer needs to make very clear their question, and I need to do the same with my responses. Clarity, concision, unambiguity are the rules. 

Some of this experience will certainly become the basis of discussion in teaching.  We generally don’t find students coming to university classes with well-developed writing skills, sometimes those skills at a truly rudimentary level.  The university does offer writing tutors, etc., but students don’t understand the importance of their developing writing competence.  The experiences I’ve had over these past months have provided more examples of its centrality in communication, and I’ll bring up and share some of the exchanges I’ve had.

And to you, my dear sister, I must say that I’ve enjoyed our frequent correspondence, quite a lot.  I don’t recall ever writing with you so regularly, though it’s certainly no substitute for hearing your voice, mood, gift for expressiveness.  Thank you for this time of regular contact.

I have friends who detest email, preferring to send lengthy text messages.  Perhaps it’s a generational preference.  I don’t care for text messaging, except the briefest notes.  I get a kick out of the way different generations text, though, as well.  The older the generation, the more likely to use text with the same grammatical practices as other written means; the younger generation tends to abbreviate everything, and often the messages read like code.  To me, it feels more like ‘passing notes’ in class.

At any rate…Friday began with matters of music, and that was great.  Today will be the same, although I’m getting off to a much later start than usual, and I’ll try to squeeze in some writing on the ‘diversion’ for Jason/cello.  I know the ending, and just have to get there, write less than a minute’s music.  I owe Jason an email, and I’d like to get him a finished piece with that next note, if possible.

But the bulk of yesterday, and today, is about getting Surf City together.  I’m breaking up plumbing repairs with lots of other things.  The plumbing means the water needs turning off, so I have to plan around the need for water in cleaning (which is constant) or laundering (which seems constant).  But right now I’m sitting in the living room, which is 95% set up.  The tvs haven’t been mounted in the house, but as we’re not huge watchers, I’ll likely wait to get to that.  Cristin/Joe like the tv on constantly, for background, so I’ll definitely work on that next Wednesday, if not this weekend.  With Tim/Tara coming to visit today/overnight, we’ll make some good progress on a few things, I’m sure.  Tara will square away the kitchen with Pattie, I’ll give Tim whatever task(s) he wants to check off the list.  If they just want to hang and have a beer, that’d be just fine, too.  It’s always ok to just take a deep breath and watch the waves.  As it’s raining all weekend, there won’t be much deck-sitting or beach-walking, but that’s all ok.

Onward to making some music.

A view from our first ‘sit’ on the deck in Surf City