Once upon a long time ago, in a lifetime far, far away…I was a classically trained flutist. I was kinda good, and began auditioning for military bands out of college. I was starting to be noticed, and invited to auditions, when my low tolerance for bullshit flared up and I decided I’d rather get married and move to Iowa than deal with the US Army and it’s bureaucratic cranial-rectal inversions. Then Tom and I realized that living in the particular part of Iowa we called home was rapidly killing us, and we moved to Boulder so I could go to grad school at the University of Colorado.
That’s the short version of how we got here. The more amusing version was a Simpson’s episode. A margarita to the person who guesses the episode first, Melissa, you’re disqualified. You were part of that conversation last week.
I’ve been clearing out the house and this week dove into the cold storage under the basement stairs. Trust me when I say I’d rather hike barefoot over coals than go through those files. Trying to decide what’s worth keeping vs. what should be recycled vs. what needs to be shredded (oh, the good ol’ days of mailing me stuff with my name, address, and social security number all in one place!) vs. should I just apply keyboard to my forehead and forget this whole shebang is making me a little nutso.
And then yesterday I found the topper. The cherry on my insanity, the a la mode on the batshit crazy pie, the chapeau on the Mad Hatter.
I found my Qualifying Music Evaluation for my Master of Music degree. For starters, yes, I did pass. But the questions…the questions are still there, and then a stack of clipped papers: the essays. I’ll spare you those delights (my loved ones wouldn’t even want to sit through that crap), and just share the questions. And yes, my eyes crossed when I read these yesterday.
Open book – Two hours
1. Discuss avante garde techniques that are specified in two contemporary American compositions for the flute: describe the effect of each technique and the notation, explain how the technique is performed in a way that could assist someone else with the technique in pedagogical terms, and describe any effect the technique may or may not have on more traditional methods of playing.
Closed book – One hour
2. Discuss the use of the flute in chamber music from 1700 to 1900. Include all major genres and composers. Discuss in detail a work from each century.
Open book – One hour
3. You have been asked to teach a semester long course on flute for music education majors who at the conclusion of their degree programs will be certified to teach K-12. Develop a syllabus for the course. Be specific when referring to method books, solos, instruments, etc. Include approaches to achieving characteristic tone and technical fluency to achieve success with progressive repertoire. Include any other information that you think a public school teacher should know to assist them in teaching flute students in their classes or ensembles.
Hello? Helloooooo???? Oh man, I scared them all off.
Twelve years ago I could answer all those questions without taking a breath. Today? Well, let’s just say my diploma is just gorgeous inside the plastic tote full of my memorabilia. Pretty sure I couldn’t answer those if you offered me my own winery. Actually, I’m not sure those questions were in English. Yes? They were? Wow.
So where am I going with this? My happy place of relief that I no longer need this kind of information taking up valuable brain space. And the recycling bin. I don’t need this stack around anymore.