Update on Music Theory Class–weeks 7 & 8

Let it be known, I have had my posterior officially kicked!  I’ve never gone into a Midterm exam before feeling so insecure about the outcome, and like I crammed for it, even when I got a lot of help. Anatomy, Physiology, Bio Chemistry and Organic Chemistry were never this difficult for me! Is it that I am old, and don’t learn like I did when I was younger? Or is it something more sinister? After all, I’ve now had at least 3 concussions since college, thanks to my ex-husband and a car accident. I don’t suppose there’s any way to know, and even if it was true, there’s nothing to do about it now anyways. Spring break is this week, so I will be catching up on dramas, especially my recaps on HITTG. Thankfully, my daughter has decided *not* to move in and go live with some friends, but the chaos of that, plus studying for the midterm, plus a bout of food poisoning and another missed day of work really set me back this week.

On the good side, I now have a nice young lady who is my regular tutor on Wednesday mornings and I can also go to drop-in tutoring for 2 hours (different tutor, equally good and patient too!) in the afternoon before class. With 3 extra hours of help, I ought to be able to do this. I was blown away by the help I got–how did I sit through class and not understand this stuff?  I think one part of the problem is this:  my Songsaenim is flat-out gifted when it comes to the piano. I figured it out the first night, and both my tutors have told me the same thing about her. Songsaenim even told the class she had perfect pitch from day one. I know that sometimes gifted people aren’t the best teachers–because they get it so easily, they can’t comprehend that others struggle with the same concept.  My former father in law, who taught Auto Mechanics at the same local college years ago told me that he struggled with this—everything seemed so obvious to him, and he had to learn (!) that it’s not like that for everyone. My youngest son, who now works FT repairing exotic sports cars (Hint–the Italian brand with the Bull Logo) says the same thing–he has a difficult time helping his friends with their cars, so he just doesn’t do it anymore. He gets frustrated that things that seem simple to him aren’t for them. So maybe having these tutors help me is really better in the long run. After all, I am not here to get a grade, even if my ego would really love an “A” in the class.  I want to learn the material. I know it will enhance my enjoyment of classical music, and make playing the piano an overall better experience.

It’s amazing that my local college offers all this help–for free.  Free, as in no cost to me, other than investing my time. If a student really wants to pass a class, there is so darn much help available at this level.  Community College is truly the ultimate High School screwup’s Safety Net, and yet it also serves someone like me–a member of the Community.

So I am taking the test, and I am working away…I remember Songsaenim passing out the test, and telling us to put the Concert Report, the 14+ pages of homework, and the test in 3 separate piles on the piano as we left. I remember her playing for the listening portion of the test…and then I totally went into my Zone. The next time I looked up, the classroom was empty, except for me and Songsaenim. Wait, when did everyone else leave? I never heard them leave, never saw them…It must have been at least a 30 minute blackout for me, where I was just concentrating on the test. I was shocked when I looked up, and realized I was the only one there..whoa! It’s been a while since I blacked out like that–it’s like a hyper-focus thing for me. I probably wouldn’t have noticed if the fire alarm had gone off until my feet started to burn!

To my surprise, as I went to leave, Songsaenim asked me about the concert I went to for the report! Stuttering at first, due to shock–I basically gave her a verbal rundown of my report; how the first half with the 2 piano arrangement of one Ravel and four Tchaikovsky waltzes was the best, and the second half with the poetry reading and the interpretive dance to Saint-Saens Carnival of the Animals was not my thing. We then ended up talking for almost an hour over various topics–she has a young student who (to me) is so obviously autistic and how she is dealing with him (quite well, I’d say!) and the dangers of medicating these kids–she is against it, and so am I. I have the added perspective of seeing what happens when they grow up (some of my older son’s friends come to mind), which she was interested to learn about. We talked about the college and how more night classes to serve community members like myself would be a good thing.  How awesome would it be to be able to take a beginning piano course from her! Even if I made her crazy with my exceptionally limited ability, I would still like to do it!

It was interesting how she led the conversation around to find out why I am in her class…she mentioned that sometimes she gets students who like classical music and take this class, thinking they will hear great music, find out a few more details….but then get overwhelmed at the work and bail out. I said no, I was under no delusions. I liked classical music, but since I am learning to play the piano, I wanted to learn more–and I knew it would be hard work! I had this idea that learning all these technical details would enhance both listening and playing.  She seemed somewhat relieved at that answer, and I was too–I was afraid she might tell me to drop the class!

I was also relieved that I didn’t blurt out all the other reasons I am here….like my love of SLA, and how that one show set off a cascade of events for me, from starting this blog, to writing FF, taking piano lessons, and now this music theory class.

There’s one more thing I’ve wanted to do after watching SLA, and it hasn’t happened yet, but it still may–contacting my first love–who is an ocean away. I’m still trying to decide if it’s worth it to finally deal with all the emotions from that relationship.

Depending on how badly I blew that Midterm, my options are to stick it out, take a D or F grade and retake it in the fall–but there’s no guarantee that it will be on a convenient night for me like it is now, or that Songsaenim will be teaching it.  Or I can bail out at the last minute, take the W grade (withdrawal) and retake it…I am going to go for the stick-it-out method, and see what happens. I think I am just too stubborn/hard-headed/emotionally invested to give up now. I am not going to care if there is a D or an F on my transcript at this point either!

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