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Senior year. Crazy, huh? 

So far, I adore it. I'm only taking classes I like- gov/econ, eng, jazz band- and my teachers are all really pretty chill. It’s great, I don't feel like I'm getting dumber in school, and I’m very pleased.

My English teacher in particular, who is notorious for his obsession with the Beatles, is absolutely off his rockers. He actually looks and dresses like a Beatles member- long, curly hair, blazer, leather shoes, and a flamboyant gait. There are no rules or tests in class and he lectures all period (with colorful language) about the oddities and ironies of human nature and American culture. He’s the type of teacher that doesn’t take crap from students and some of his goals are to share 60’s music with his students and free us from the credit-grubbing, politically-correct mentality that previous teachers have instilled into us. Sometimes I’m scared that an administrator will peek in and hear what he’s saying and he’ll get fired and not be able to impart his wisdom unto us anymore… It’s all very fascinating- let me know if you guys want me to share some of his rants on here, and I’ll be happy to take notes. Also, he has an upright piano and plays it during class at random intervals. I love him. :D

My favorite class though, is jazz band. What are you doing in jazz band?!, you might ask. Well dear reader, I wanted to get out of my comfort zone, and was inspired by some of Leland’s past jazz concerts, so boom. I can now play jazz violin?
Well, sort of. Jazz improvisation is a whole, new musical language/world to me and it was extremely tough to release myself from the conservatory-correctness of classical music, but it is so rewarding once you start learning and absorbing everything. There are so many new rules, and so many ones that are broken. This seemingly lawless music is all about creativity, imagination, good vibes, and everything else music should be about. There’s also a LOT of theory involved, but at the end of the day you play what sounds good. It’s so different from what I’ve been playing before, and I’m infatuated. I’m so in love with it that I’m considering taking it seriously in college, alongside my classical studies.

Speaking of classical music, I think I’m pretty good for my college prescreenings coming up. I got my Sibelius, Bach, and Paganini down for the most part. The technical bits in the Paganini caprice are tripping me up still, but it’s so fun to play so I don't mind. And I’ll be performing for Midori towards the end of Sept… nerve-racking but exciting! Will let you guys know how that turns out.

By the way, I miss you Arcadia folks a bunch. I’m still a loner here, but I’m working on it. You guys will always occupy a special place in my heart, though. Let me know how you are doing with life and school! 


What's happening to our live shows?

Why do we attend live concerts, when iPods and Spotify are readily available? Why drive to music festivals in the middle of nowhere or brave rush hour traffic to get to a concert hall, when a few clicks or taps can deliver the same music in pretty decent quality?
Seeing artists play live is a whole, 'nother experience. It allows us to experience the music more intimately and watch as the musician's godly skills unravel right before us. However, a shift in the music scene to EDM has also produced a change in the quality of popular live acts touring today. I recall watching Ratatat performing on the Coachella livestream a few years ago, as well as some other EDM artists. Now, Ratatat is one of my favorite groups of all time, and they're not even considered as edm, I think. Their live show was disappointing though, due to the limitations of the music. There are very little vocals (if any), and apart from some guitar solos- you don't have anyone on the bass or drums like a conventional rock band. You can't really have back-up singers or dancers because you don't really need them for this kind of music! (The dancing is done by the audience anyway, in the case of EDM. Besides banging on some drums to the predominantly prerecorded music, the duo didn't really do much onstage. What is there to do? All you really needed to do was to just press play... but that doesn't make an engaging show! I suppose that in the case of the dubstep and electronic music trend, you don't really go to shows to watch the artist fiddle around on a computer or mixer- you attend them to dance and jump repeatedly in place with a fist in the air. Of course, those artists are still great musicians, but their talent is mostly in the studio, not onstage. It doesn't take a lot of skill to operate a laptop or effect pedals.
When I first came to this realization, I thought that this was a really pretentious view to possess until I came across this post by Deadmau5. But maybe Deadmau5 was a little too harsh. After all, most of these really brilliant musicians- whether they play house, classical, or pop- all deserve to be recognized for their ability to produce tunes that people love and enjoy. Musicians that rely more on technology, like a computer, might just have it easier when performing. After all, they don't really need to worry about hitting the right notes onstage or staying in sync with the backup dancers or hoping that their voice won't crack on that high falsetto solo. Aside from the occasional technical issue here or there, there isn't really any improvisation or spontaneity involved.
I hope that this genre of music will undertake some innovation to make their performances more interesting. Not that the crowd will care anyway, while they're dancing and possibly getting plastered, but at least I'll feel that I'm getting my money's worth, and that the experience can't be replicated with a giant boombox and some blacklights at home.




The Cost of Growing Up

After receiving my first couple of paychecks, my dad decided it was time for me to open up a bank account. After checking out BoA, Wells Fargo, and Chase, we settled on the latter because they didn't charge a monthly fee as long as you remain a student with at least $500 in the bank. So it was free banking basically, and it felt pretty good when the brand-spanking-new debit card arrived in the mail. This was my money, and the realm of online shopping was finally at my disposal! No longer would gift purchasing for family members be a pain- a quick order online and all previous, stealthy ways of acquiring presents would be abandoned. Going out with friends will also be less embarrassing, as it has always been a terrible habit of mine to carry insufficient cash on hand (speaking of which, I'm pretty sure I still owe Tanya a dollar... or something). Best of all, I didn't need to rely on Eric's generosity and shady trades any more for buying PC games (that is, un-illegally-feasible multiplayer games. shhh).

My first purchase was a mini orchid for my former vln teacher's birthday. The next one was a slightly heftier purchase for Eric's birthday as well. Each succeeding order after that became increasingly painful though, as frequent monitoring of my balance and transfer histories caused my stinginess levels to rise, and rise. What was once the attitude of "just shut up and take my money, DICE" became "oh man, I could really use that $50 in the future for like, food, when I'm homeless." Maybe it's not practical to look so far into the future, but considering my dad isn't going to pay jack shit for my collegiate life (okay, insurance and phone bills will be covered) it's probably best to buckle down now rather than later.

Having a bank account has certainly taught me to not only be more frugal, but to value money. Forget what I've said about money earlier, because it does matter much more than any optimist would like to admit. It is shaping my next big decision- college- because attending some elite conservatory in NYC will probably result in a very debt-ridden kat with no job, while playing it safe and graduating with no job but- no debt! may ease matters from a long-term prospective. Getting a summer job is an option for me to start saving up now, but much to my disappointment, there's no time to do so. The best alternative at the moment is to work on presenting myself as a a totally viable candidate for scholarships by getting my repertoire together, and entering as many competitions as possible. My parents always remind me that the purpose of competing is to expand one's performance experience and to gain exposure, not win. It hurts to confess this, but I'm only in it to win- for the money.