college · Music

Oboe Life: Take 27 – 1st year of College done!

School is finally over and I am back home in San Diego awaiting for my summer plans to get started. The last two months have been so busy that I didn’t have the energy or mentality to reflect on some of the things that I was doing at school. With some little free time I have now, I can go over how my last few months at BCCM/CSULB went for me and the things I’ve gotten to do.

ΣΑΙ – Sigma Alpha Iota

This past semester I decided to join a society of some sort. I knew I wanted to get involved in some kind of school organization whether it was cultural or something. The first semester I tried going for PAC (Pilipino American Coalition) but the meetings conflicted with my class schedule, so I wasn’t able to get involved this year. I thought about rushing for Sigma Phi Omega – the Asian American Sorority – but it seemed so busy and far away from the music building that I needed something that was closer to my major and classes. So, I looked into Sigma Alpha Iota – the Professional Music Fraternity for women. I got acquainted with them my first semester, but I was hearing about bad qualities about them here and there which made me hesitant. However, I decided that I shouldn’t step away if the values of the organization were what I was into and bad qualities can be fixed with the right people. Anywho, I went through the process of pledging and initiating and am now a member of SAI. I think the whole process was actually meaningful especially with the girls in my initiating class: Jade and Miranda. We are now known as the hardworking class because we actually wanted to succeed and show how much we wanted to commit to the organization. I was very fortunate to work with girls that I got along with, and we were able to just work together while getting to know each other. At first, it was odd to me that I wasn’t working with Music majors in my class, but their passion for music was more than enough to join this fraternity. The girls in the Gamma Pi chapter were very supportive in our class and I appreciate all of their love and support. For the upcoming school year, I will aid the fraternity as Treasurer and make sure that the fraternity grows to become successful the next few years that I am there.

 Librarian Schtuff

My librarian duties were not really what I had in mind. I spent most of my time during the semester cataloging band music and messing with some of the students in the locker room ( the majority of the conservatory still don’t know that I’m the one playing random instrumental music from behind the lockers hehe). It was fun and it was time well spent being able to report what was missing and what wasn’t. For me, the joy in being a music librarian is being able to see the various works written and seeing that it is preserved for generations to come, also cause my OCDness kicks in when things are out-of-order or misplaced. Hopefully, I’ll continue that work again next semester and have more responsibilities.

As for working with a professional organization and their libraries…yeah, nope. I don’t know, but I guess it’s just not the right time for me to get into that sort of thing yet. I’ll just continue to focus on my studies and add Music History as my major to complement those librarian skills.

Listener’s Approach To Music (The Bane of my existence…)

I think I speak for a lot of people if not all that have taken this one music class with me when I say this: I hate this class and I will never ever take it again with this one particular professor (no names). I’ve never had a bad experience before with a teacher in my entire academic career, but this class was so terrible and inconsiderate that it is the definition of the bad side of college. The ones who just don’t really care who you are or how hard you work on a project; just that every single aspect of the project is to a professor’s liking which in most cases is not even necessary to an assignment. I had such a terrible time in this class, but I followed every single rule and whatever shenanigans just to get an A. There was one project where everyone in the class had to make fake programs that would reflect a junior/senior recital they would most likely do later on. This project was such a nightmare for everyone, and not only did it affect the students doing the project, but it affected SAI and the Music Resource Center because of the amount of paper used to print from the computers and the ink which accumulates to a lot of money wasted, and many of the students who use these printers don’t pay back their fair share because it’s through an honor system via a jar next to the open printer. Of course, there was a lot of paper wasted because it was really hard for most students to figure out how to orientate the pages to be in booklet form and print all the same way. Fortunately, I was able to figure out how to format my Word document to complement the booklet style and print all the same way, and I was able to help out a few classmates too. However, I was docked 3 points because of a simple “you need to bold this heading because that’s how I like it” issue that wasn’t even in the requirements of the assignment! Not only that, but I guess the program notes that I wrote for the assignment was accused of plagiarism…what?! I have never in my life plagiarized anything because I knew I would feel so guilty. Also,  I wouldn’t even risk getting academically penalized because coming from an Asian family, the real fear is not from the school’s administration but from the flaming eyes of my mother. Anyway, so I was accused and I was so confused how I could have plagiarized something because I had written about the same piece in a report before, so I just copied that, but they were still in my own words. Either way, I didn’t try to argue with this professor because there are just people in this world who you just can’t convince no matter if you are totally honest, so I decided to just redo the entire thing without fighting it, and I still got the same grade for it (an A nonetheless, but that accusation killed my dignity a little bit). A friend once defended me in a small argument by saying “no, no her work isn’t for nothing. She’s such an overachiever that she was accused of plagiarism. That’s saying a lot”. Thanks Isaac. Long story short, don’t waste your time on stubborn people, especially bad professors. Fight them by warning your fellow underclassmen and writing a “great” review on ratemyprofessor (sarcasm intended).

Private lessons/Juries/Oboe

I feel very accomplished and proud of how much time and effort I was able to put in this year on just Oboe and music. When I look back to my time during high school, I felt like I wasn’t putting enough time on my practice sessions or giving enough focus to music itself even if it seemed like I was, but I wasn’t. I wish I spent Junior and Senior year just focusing on oboe lessons practicing those solo pieces for auditions I was going through because it would have helped me have the confidence to get into schools I wish I had gotten into, but I just wasn’t spending the time or effort to do so. Because of this, I came into college studying music with low self-esteem and questioned if I should’ve chosen a field in medicine instead. However, I came out of my first year of college feeling wonderful and more aware of how music is supposed to function and being comfortable with my instrument. I hate the word “potential” because to me it means I’m not doing enough, and that is the word I would always hear over and over, especially when I played oboe during high school. There was just this amount of potential that could have gotten me into some groups or some schools or scholarships, but I wasn’t able to unlock that potential with some many things that I was doing in my life. This past school year unlocked that hidden potential that I was seeking in my life and it feels really good to know that I could do a lot more with playing oboe if I can keep on having it as my priority, which it is now.

So, with that, I learned that I had so much time that I never had before to figure out my lesson schedules and practice sessions and reed making and studying that I was improving so much and learning all the things I wish I learned before. Well…I do wish I had learned a bunch of Baroque style music before getting into college because I don’t like playing Baroque music. A lot of oboe music written during the Baroque era consisted of no rests and basic melodic figures. I mean, I do appreciate learning it, I just don’t appreciate performing it. This past semester, one of my jury pieces was Handel’s Sonata no. 2 in g minor. For a wind musician, I have the hardest time figuring out how to breathe with no rests. I swear I have to be reminded to breathe or else my face will explode. I’m trying to learn circular breathing this summer, but I know that will kill my diaphragm muscles and air support that I’ve been working so hard to gain. I still need work… However, I got through the entire sonata during my jury; so grateful that I had a pianist who was able to just keep going and for me to start wherever he was playing. Thank you, Brian. With that said, straight A’s again for juries!

Sadly, I’m going to miss my time with Joe for lessons. It was really nice to be able to have weekly lessons because it kept me on track of reed making and getting through all the Barret Sonatas this semester. I do wish I worked on my solo repertoire because I only worked on the Handel and the Britten Metamorphoses. It was nice to gain a new perspective of oboe though. I tried asking him once if it was okay to study both with him and Jessica during separate semesters, but I guess it isn’t, so I’ll continue my studies with Jessica next semester.

Final Thoughts…

Well, like I’ve said before, I had so much appreciation for being able to just study music. I didn’t have to worry so much about my GEs because they’re so easy. I look back on the year and I made really good connections with people and gained a new perspective of the music industry, and I have such great respect for the school that I’m in and the people who run it. The experiences and expectations are what I need for a successful undergrad career. Hopefully, the next few years will assist me in being the best musician that I can be to get into my dream school, and just being the best person overall to the many people that I meet.

Next year will be a whole new adventure for me, and there will be new things for me to experience, new things to learn, new people and new perspectives. I’m excited and I can’t wait to get back to school.


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