Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hampson Master Class

On October 11th, Thomas Hampson, one of the most famous American baritones, is coming to CU to give a concert.  Hampson is most well-known for his renditions of American songs, and this concert, entitled "Song of America" features only American songs. 

The day following the concert, Hampson will be giving a master class.  For those who are unfamiliar with the term (I actually had to google it myself... I only had a general idea of the defiintion), in a master class, someone who is an expert (or master - get it?) in their field gives lessons (or a class - haha) to people who aren't experts.  It's basically a fancy word for a lesson, but with someone who's a genius.

I'm not sure how CU usually does a master class, but for this one, students must be invited to audition to have a chance at getting into the class.  I think that usually, anyone can audition to be in the master class, and the top 6 are the ones who actually get to sing for the master.  This time, one must to be invited to audition.  Crazy.

What's crazier yet is that I was invited to audition.  Next week Monday, I'll be singing for the voice faculty, and if they choose me, the following Friday, I'll get to sing for Mr. Hampson himself.  Wish me luck!  I'll let you all know how it goes.

For more information on Thomas Hampson, check out his website.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Quote of the Week: Homecoming

When I was reading this week's The Teller, I was scouring the pages, searching for something worthy of the Quote of the Week.  I had several options, and couldn't decide which topic would be best to write about.  Then, I saw an ad for Homecoming activities in Gwinner last week.  The ad, in addition to an article about the recent school board meeting, made me think about Homecoming, and what it meant to me. It also gave me inspiration for this week's quote of the week.

Nothing beats Homecoming in a small town.  Seriously. 

When I was in elementary and high school, I never really considered that Homecoming would be any different somewhere else, that it wouldn't include dress-up days, class competitions, and kangaroo court.  That was just how it was done, and I assumed that it was the same everywhere.

When my class was young, Homecoming rocked, and I remember looking forward to it as much as Christmas.  As we neared our final year at North Sargent, though, Homecoming activities started to drop off.  That, in our minds, was unacceptable, and during our senior year, we brought back some traditions that had disappeared, and began our own!  Lindy and I, with the help of our classmates, revived dress-up days, a change-collecting competition, a kangaroo court for the high schoolers who chose not to dress up, and an elementary pep rally complete with teachers showing off their butt-writing and worm-dancing talents.  We also organized the first ever high school powderpuff football game at NS, rooting the freshman and juniors versus the sophomores and seniors.  It was a blast, and most of these things are still done today. 

Homecoming in high school isn't really about people coming home.  I don't think I've been to Gwinner for Homecoming since my senior year of high school, 6 years ago.  But for high schoolers, it's an exciting week, filled with parades, pop (pppppp) parties, and a break from the everyday grind.  It's about tradition.  (Actually, it's supposedly all about football, but no one really remembers who wins the games, anyway.)

When I went to Jamestown, I wasn't sure what to expect for Homecoming.  For colleges, Homecoming is a better definition than it is for high schools.  In addition to the activities for current students, there are special events just for alumni.

Jamestown's Homecoming celebrations are pretty intense.  I mean, who will ever forget the "F U Mary" shirts that caused controversy during our freshman year?  Lots of daily activities, and parties, and a big football game.  But the atmosphere on campus, even on our very small campus, just wasn't the same as it was in high school.  There's no class competitions, and the Homecoming Court isn't your entire class.  Literally.  Still fun, just not the same.  However, I was lucky enough to see a bit of a Homecoming revival at Jamestown College while I was there, too.  We brought back a few old traditions like the burning of the J and a Homecoming parade.

Homecoming is about those traditions.  And school spirit.  And fun.  I'm friends on Facebook with a few of the students who are now upper-classmen at North Sargent, and I recently noticed them complaining online that the ever-popular Kangaroo Court had been eradicated from Homecoming festivities.  For those unfamiliar with Kangaroo Court, I pity you, but I'll explain it for you.  In Gwinner, every day is a dress-up day and if you're dressed up, you get a point for your class.  It's one of the competitions.  Class with the most points at the end of the week wins a pizza party.  But if you don't dress up, you may have to go to Kangaroo Court as punishment for letting your classmates down.  During Kangaroo Court, held in front of the entire school, K-12, you're given some sort of sentence.  Something funny and entertaining and embarrassing to do as punishment for not dressing up.  All in good fun.

Last year, an administrator at NS was worried that Kangaroo Court could be viewed as hazing.  I haven't walked the halls of NS in a long time, so it's possible that hazing happens there now.  It didn't when I was there.  Maybe it's a legitimate concern, but I doubt it.  Kangaroo Court was one of my favorite parts of Homecoming, so to hear that it had gone away was sad to me.

Luckily, two members of the senior class went to the School Board and pleaded the case for Kangaroo Court.  One said, "This is something we've loooked forward to since we started school here."  The other said, "We feel it's good for the spirit of Homecoming."  I agree wholeheartedly, and praise the girls for having the guts to go to a board meeting to talk to them.  I've done that, and it's intimidating, but if it's something that you believe in, you should stick up for it.  So what if it's just a silly ritual, a rite of passage?  It's fun, and encourages school spirit.  Ladies, your efforts brought back one of my favorite Homecoming traditions, much like we brought back traditions when we were in your position.  Congratulations.

North Sargent celebrated Homecoming last week, and Jamestown College is celebrating Homecoming week as I write.  I don't know why, but this is the first time I feel the urge to come home for Homecoming.  Maybe it's because I live farther away and going home would be more significant.  Maybe I am just longing for the feeling of a small town or campus community.  Either way, best of luck to the Bulldogs and the Jimmies.  To you current students, enjoy small-town Homecoming while you can, because there's nothing like it.


I'm going to have Korean babies.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


I got a job!  I got a job!  I got a job!!!

Okay, so it's not that exciting, because it's only work study, but it's kind of exciting! 

I'll be working as a receptionist in the Center for the American West during the afternoons here in Boulder.  Woot!

Friday, September 25, 2009


I had headshots taken today.  Yes, honest-to-goodness headshots.  Like, the same thing that professionals have taken.  Whoa.

I was super nervous, not knowing what to wear, how to do my hair, what jewelry to wear, etc.  And it was only a 20-minute session, so there wasn't a ton of time to do a lot of different stuff.

It turns out that there was no reason to worry, and it went fine!

It went well.  In a few weeks, I'll get a CD with all of the photos on it, and I'll post some here for you.  If I like them.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

All are ignorant...

I can't lie and say that when it comes to other states, I'm not ignorant.  Because I probably am.  And because I like to compare myself to others, I assume that others are also ignorant about the goings-on in other states.

On the other hand, though, I consider myself to relatively knowledgeable about the important things about states other than North Dakota.  Now, I'm not talking about random trivia like when the state was admitted into the Union, or who the Senators are, or the population.  I'm talking about BIG things.  Things like that the Grand Canyon is in Arizona and that Jack Daniel's is made in Tennessee. 

Maybe I'm asking too much to assume that others know these things about states other than their own.  Maybe I received an education about what I would call a state's defining features that surpasses the education of my peers.  Either way, I have to tell all of you this:

Mount Rushmore is in South Dakota, not North Dakota.

I understand that to people who aren't from the area, ND and SD are probably indistinguishable, and that no one really cares about us.  But the fact of the matter is that I feel that Mount Rushmore is one of those defining features that ALL people should just know about.  I mean, really, aside from Sturgis, what would South Dakota have without Mt. Rushmore? 

Don't get me wrong, now, because I would LOVE to have something like Mt. Rushmore in ND: something really, really famous.  Yes, we have Medora, and the largest buffalo in the world, and the largest Holstein cow in the world, and the geographical center of North America, but those things aren't (in my opinion) of the magnitude of Mt. Rushmore.  When people find out that Rushmore is in SD and not ND, they usually ask, "Well, what's in ND?"  And I usually answer, "Nothing," because I can't really think of something like MR in ND.  (If I'm wrong, tell me.)

If you are one of those people who didn't know that "the big rock with the Presidentss faces on it" was in SD, and not ND, I forgive you, and I won't hold it against you.  I'm sure there are things about your state that you feel everyone should know about and they don't.  But if that's true, you should tell me about it so that I don't have to be ignorant!!
On a side note, I've been writing an awful lot of stuff that's not really related to my schooling here. If that bothers you, let me know, and I'll try to write more about the important things in life.  After all, I'm writing this as much for you as I am for me, so I want to make you happy! 

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


When I first received my financial aid package from CU, I was offered zero dollars in scholarship. That's right. Zero. The goose egg. Nil.

You get the picture.

Then, I came and sang for my studio placement audition. Later, in a meeting with Professor Mason, I was informed me that they would be giving me $1000 in scholarship for the year. Hallelujah!

A few weeks later, I looked at my tuition bill, and suddenly had $1750 in scholarships for this semester alone, including a $500 "Adopt-a-Student"

The program is awesome. Patrons of the CU Music Program donate a couple (or a couple hundred) thousand dollars to the program, and their gift
is given to a student (or students) with similar musical interests.  We are expected to inform our sponsors of our performances so that they can attend. Sponsors, in addition to giving us the scholarship, can be expected to do anything from inviting us to an opera to letting us do our laundry at their houses. We are expected to do as much as we can at their invitation. I love the concept of having a sponsor who really cares a
bout students!  Some students really need that kind of influence in their lives!

Tonight, we all were invited to a dinner to meet our sponsors. Alan and Stephanie have donated $1000 to my education, and I had the opportunity to meet Stephanie tonight. She was awesome. Both Alan and Stephanie are retired and contribute to the Boulder community in many capacties. I don't think that I could ask for better sponsors.

Stephanie offered to let me wash laundry at their house, and invited me for lunch next week so that I can meet Alan. She also has asked me to accompany them to a broadcast in HD of a Metropolitan Opera production at the movie theatre here, and is very excited to hear me sing. Awesome, awesome lady.

I'm really looking forward to getting to know these people better, through this awesome program. The scholarship's value isn't huge, but the non-monetary portion of the program is going to be very rewarding.

Just another reason to love this place. And to be thankful.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Grey's... Running my life...

I love Grey's Anatomy.  It's one of the very few TV shows on that I actually watch and pay attention to.

I missed all of last season because I was always working.  I recently discovered that Netflix has the entire fifth season on its "Watch Instantly" section.

So I started watching the 24 episodes during the weekend and I haven't stopped.  I need to finish the season before Thursday, when Season 6 premieres.

I was up until 3:30 last night, watching Grey's Anatomy on my computer.  I had class at 8:00, and during my two-hour break from 9:00 - 11:00, instead of taking a nap I watched more. 

Then, I got an email that my 11:00 class had been cancelled, so I watched more.

And fell asleep.

And had to go to my noon class 20 minutes late. 


Dear Meredith,
You are running my life.

Without love,

Monday, September 21, 2009

Too many Teas: A night out in Boulder

Early last week, on maybe Monday or Tuesday, I was in my room, doing something on my computer.  Christina was standing in the hallway, and I looked at her and said,

"I need to go out.  It's time.  I haven't been out in Boulder since I got here over a month ago."

So she said, "Okay, well, let's go out this weekend." 

And so it was planned.  On Thursday, she talked to some of her housing staff people, I talked to Ken, and we agreed that a Saturday night at the Dark Horse was in order (more on the Dark Horse later, for my Medora friends who realize how similar "The Dark Horse" sounds to "The Iron Horse").

Christina drove Ken and me to the Dark Horse and dropped us off before going to pick up Jen.  We met Johanna there, and ordered a couple of long island teas.  The five of us had a good time chatting about life.  Before I knew it, two teas were down and I was pretty much really tipsy.  Or drunk... It was already a struggle not to drunk text at that point, and it was barely 10:00 pm.

During our conversation, I learned some things about myself that I never knew before... ask me sometime.  Not really fodder for a blog.  It's intense.

Oh, what the hell.  Here's some information that I learned about myself on Saturday night (but you should still ask me about the intense stuff):
  • I have a "big personality"
  • I'm not afraid of diseases that can be incurred from walking long distances barefoot
  • I'm especially not afraid of giving relationship advice, even to near strangers, when drunk
  • Drunk texting is bad
    • Okay, I knew that before, actually, but that night reiterated its badness to me
By midnight, Ken and I had each had four long island teas, and we wanted to head to downtown Boulder to check out the bars there.  However, neither of us had driven, and we didn't want to make Christina leave The Dark Horse any earlier than she wanted to.  Those ladies couldn't really come with us to downtown because of the nature of thier jobs, so we decided to take the bus from WillVille to town, and I had the perfect bus stop route in my head.

Well, we jumped on the BuffBus from WillVille to Main Campus, and arrived at the stop near my apartment shortly after midnight.  What we failed to know was that public transportation stops running at midnight.  But bars are open until 2:00 am here, so we still had some drinking time.

We decided to walk the 2 miles or so to Downtown, taking a short detour through The Hill District.  I had to take my heels off because my feet hurt, and walked the entire way without shoes...

Finally, we reached Pearl Street, and went into the first bar we found.  At that point, we didn't care about the bar, we just wanted to drink.  We took a shot and ordered yet another long island tea, and took this picture:

We closed down the bar, and walked back to my apartment, another 2.5 miles.  Barefoot.  Wasted.  We arrived at about 3:00 am.

I made toast and we watched some opera on youtube, then hit the hay.

Not a bad night for my first time out in Boulder.  Hopefully, there will be many more to come, with friends who visit me... (hint!) 

Saturday, September 19, 2009

"Teller-ing" It About

My grandpa loves me.  And I love him. 

He loves me so much that he pays for me to have a subscription to my hometown (well, home-county) newspaper, The Sargent County Teller.  I really enjoy keeping up on the important things that are happening back home, although not much really important stuff happens.

My favorite thing about small-town newspapers is the small-town news.  Usually, people submit "news" to the town's article-writer, who then compiles all of the information into a (sometimes) logical manner.  Take, for example, the "Brampton News" article in September 11th's paper, written by Marian Johnson: 

"Phyllis Dawson, Jennifer Walkins, Isabella, Braxton and Samantha Dawson spent Saturday in Aberdeen. Tammy Mathews, Phyllis Delahoyde and Megan Delahoyde spent Monday evening at a Card Stamping get together held at Oakes Grace Lutheran."

The population of Brampton, according to Wikipedia, is 66, so that probably explains why the author knows so much about its residents.  However, the authors also like to put their own tidbits of information and opinions into these "news" articles.  Another quote from the same article reads:

"Here is a little bit of info I came across among my accumulated notes.  Read and laugh or cry however it hits you.  The Four States of Man -- Believes in Santa, Doesn't believe in Santa, He is Santa and finally looks like Santa.
"Did you enjoy the long Labor Day weekend?  I certainly did but I am retired so every day is another holiday or vacation day.  Name it what you want.  My philosophy is what I do not get done today will wait until tomorrow or later.  Does that sound good or not?"

Yes, folks, this is a "news" article.  Very amusing. 

Anyway, the purpose of this post is for me to start a "Quote of the Week" from The Teller.  Maybe it will be something funny from a small-town news article, or maybe it will be something to live by, like this week's quote. 


"If you have time, be as strong as you can, for as long as you can."

The quotes comes from a front-page article about Paul Lundstrom, who recently moved to Gwinner and now works at Bobcat.  He suffers from cerebral palsy, which is caused by damage to the motor cortex during brain development.  Common symptoms of the disease include spasms, unsteady gait, toe walking or scissor walking, and problems with balance. 

None of these things have stopped Paul from modifying a three-wheeled bicycle to suit his needs.  He rides the tricycle in the evenings and on the weekends.  Despite his symptoms, he has ridden more than 1400 miles this year, and hopes to ride a total of 2000.  He is being as strong as he can for as long as he can. 

Kudos to you, Mr. Lundstrom.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Potential ND Visitor

My. theory. teacher. is. hilarious. 

I'm not sure what it is about him, exactly, but he's just cooky.  And hilarious.  I can't even explain it, so you can't really understand it.  Maybe someday I'll tape a class and post something funny so that you can try to understand...


I have too many shirts that say "Medora Musical," "Badlands Entertainment," "North Dakota," "The Greatest Show in the West," etc., etc., etc.  You get the point.

I chose to wear one such shirt to my 8:00 am Theory class last week.  We were going around the small auditorium, taking turns answering Professor Miller's questions.  When it came to me, he stopped class and said, "What does your shirt say?  Musical what?"

I smiled and said, "Medora Musical."

"What's that?"  He innocently asked.

I replied, "Medora is the number one tourist destination in North Dakota.  It features a musical review nightly at 8:30 pm June through September."

He got this really happy look on his face and exclaimed, "Are you from North Dakota?" 


"Oh, good!" he exclaimed.  "Now I can say I know someone from North Dakota!  Will you take me there sometime?  What is there to do there?"

"Umm... nothing, but sure I'll take you there."


The whole class was simply enthralled by this conversation, and it took up about 5 minutes of class time.  Totally worth it to advertise for my favorite place and to get more people to come to ND.

For the record, he's not the first person who's told me he wants to visit ND... WOOT!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

B = Bad

It's no secret that school is my "thing."  It's the thing that I do that comes naturally, even easily.  It's something I've never really had to work at.  And I enjoy it. 

Not anymore, friends.

Because CU transferred in so many credits, I have no generals to take, only music classes plus 10 credits of another foreign language and 1 credit of modern dance or ballet.  My current class schedule is 13 credits of all music classes.

Those 13 credits equal 20 hours of in-class time, plus at least 8 hours a week practicing for studio alone.  That doesn't include practicing for keyboarding class and homework/studying.  Basically, my life revolves around music and music theory.  I go to bed at night trying to figure out if the triad in my head is major, minor, dimished, or augmented, what inversion it's in, and what the figured bass symbol for it is. 

Music classes are completely new territory for me.  I have no background in theory or piano.  I just sing.  These classes are kicking my butt.  And I've gotten much better about not procrastinating, because I have to study to be able to do well enough in classes to keep my GPA up. 

The one class that I particularly dislike and have the most trouble with is Ear Training, or Aural Skills.  The class consists of listening to chords, rhythms, songs, etc., and being able to identify them by name and quality, or being able to write the rhythm and melody on a staff.  It's difficult, actually.  The class seems kind of silly to me, because I'm pretty good at sight singing, and as a singer, I can only sing one note at a time, not chords.  But every music major is required to take 4 semesters of it and theory both, and it's hard!  I've been working on it, and have a particularly hard time with the listening part.

Today, I had to do a recitation, which involved performing for my teacher.  It went okay, but not fabulously.  Following the recitation, I asked my professor (who is younger than me) how I would go about getting a tutor for the class. 

Him: "Do you think you need a tutor?  I think you're doing fine." 
Me (in my head): "B = Bad and anything other than A is unacceptable." 

I explained that I was having difficulty, and he said words that I didn't want to hear: "I think you're about at the top of the average group." 

That's right, he called me average.  Shame. On. Him. 

Me (in my head): "That's why I need a tutor.  Average is not good enough in my opinion." 
Him: "You have to have at least a C in order to get a tutor and not pay." 

Yes, a C.  If I had a C I would cry.  A lot.  How lame is that? 

He offered to help me during his one office hour every week, and offered to send me a list of tutors who I could pay $25 an hour to help me.  Umm... no.

So I'm justifying my potentially getting a B by saying that it's one thing to get a B while working hard and another to get a B because of slacking off, which I'm proud to say I'm not doing much of this semester.  Not cool, CU.  Not cool.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Are you sure it's not Finals Week?

Sometime during my first four years of college, I noticed a trend.  It seemed to me that all professors choose to give the first test of the year during the same week.

The trend continues.
  • Monday: Quiz, 2 Papers due
  • Wednesday: Quiz, Test, Quiz
  • Thursday: Quiz, Quiz
  • Friday: Quiz
Yuck.  I think that this trend needs to be examined more carefully. 

At JC, if someone had 3 finals scheduled for the same day, they were only required to take 2 and could postpone the other.  I wish that was true of my life right now.

Yet here I am, writing a blog...

Saturday, September 12, 2009

DJ in CO

Presently, my life is not too exciting.  Therefore, this blog is going to be mostly about someone who isn't me.  But it's okay, because I got his permission.

Last night, I had the pleasure of dining with DJ, a friend who I met during my summer soirees in Medora, ND.  DJ is the lead guitarist for The Coal Diggers (scroll to the bottom to see DJ), the onstage band that plays for the Medora Musical, a musical review that plays nightly at 8:30 June through September.  (Yes, that was an advertisement.  They should pay me.)  This summer was his ninth summer doing that gig.  Ninth.  And you people think I'm crazy after only having been there 3.

And if you're thinking to yourself, "Someone visited Cookie in CO?"  Well, that's right.  DJ is the first friend to visit me here.  The rest of you should be ashamed of yourselves.

Okay, that's not really fair, because DJ didn't come all the way to CO to see me.  He came to work for a few days. 

 "Work for a few days?" you ask?  "Just a few days? How is that possible?" 

 Well, my friends, DJ is a musician.  (A real one.)  His time spent in CO was mostly devoted to recording lessons for the online company  The whole purpose of jamplay is to teach people how to play guitar.  It's simple: pay a monthly fee to subscribe, and then watch as many videos as you want in order to learn at your own pace.  Then, voila!  You can play guitar with the best of them.  (Or something like that.)  The website features 20,000 or so minutes of online videos. 

Back to the story... 

DJ agreed to meet me in Loveland, CO for supper.  He had gone into Estes park for a few hours, and was staying in Greeley, so it was right along the way for him.  I was a little late in arriving at Arte Pizzeria because I may have been a little lost.  No worries, though.  I found myself. 

Arte Pizzera had read great reviews online, and I hadn't had a slice of pizza since I left Medora over a month ago.  It was time.  The pizza was pretty good.  Not exactly what I was expecting, but good.

We ordered, talked about Medora and CO, and then about DJ's big trip. He left for Yellowstone today, then is heading to the upper Northwest to hit up Oregon and Washington, then SanFran, LA, Las Vegas, Boston, New York, back to Vegas, and then to New Mexico, before headed back to Tennessee, which is where I think he now calls home.  Along the way, he's giving shows, so if you're in the area, you should see if you can find any info about it.  He's pretty good.

After dinner, DJ went on his way to Starbucks, leaving me with the leftover pizza to take home.  I left thinking to myself, "My, it was good to get out of Boulder and see a familiar face." 

Familiar faces are always welcome in my apartment.

Thanks for the visit, DJ!  I enjoyed your company mucho!

To learn more about DJ, you can check out

To learn more about his band, Brother Big Bad, you can check out, but it looks like it hasn't been updated in a while...

A Crumb-y Festival

I've been dreading writing this post, but I feel like I have to, because of the fact that George Crumb isn't kind of a big deal. He is a big deal.

Be warned that this may be boring to most.

Before I came to CU, I had never so much as heard the name George Crumb. When I got here, I saw posters and heard advertisements everywhere that had his name all over it. I still had absolutely no clue who he was. This week, I found out more than I wanted to.

George Crumb is one of the most influential American composers in the 20th century. He writes what I would call typical 20th century music. I don't know a lot about typical 20th century music, but what I do know is this: it's not what a person generally thinks of when they hear the word "music." It's just strange stuff. That statement brings about an argument about what the definition of music really is, but I don't want to get into that argument. ...Anywho...

Crumb taught at CU Boulder from 1959-1964, during which time, he composed a few of his most famous early works. In October, he turns 80. One of the staff in the College of Music Office is one of the foremost experts in Crumb compositions. All of these elements culminated in the "George Crumb at 80 Music Festival." It's been a 4-day event featuring master's classes, convocations, pre-concert lectures, concerts, musical premieres, and receptions, and the College of Music has been abuzz about it. Literally, you could not go anywhere without seeing or hearing about the Crumb Festival.

Overall, I'd say that the festival has had a mixed reception. The faculty has especially liked him, and there are some students (I would guess mostly theory and composition students) who were impressed (and maybe obsessed), but many people who I talked to were not, including myself. Why?

The music, in my opinion, is weird. It's very atonal (without a melody), and it's hard to find a beat. The scores are intense (here is an example, and it's relatively normal compared to some, like this one), and include pages upon pages of notes about how Crumb wants the pieces to be played and methods to use to make the 'music' sound the way he wants it. Oftentimes, the music sounds like screeches, or completely random noise.

That being said, there are a few good things to be said about Crumb and his music for sure. One is the thing that makes him most famous as a composer: originality. He was incredibly innovative in music-making methods, asking performers to do things that no one had before: whispering into their instruments, playing violins like guitars, playing cymbals with the bow from a violin, playing the strings inside of the piano, etc., etc., etc. And I must say, to see that type of performance in real life was very interesting to me. Also, seeing the concerts live gives the listener the ability to really see those innovations.

The thing that will forever grate me is that in my opinion, most of the music isn't that enjoyable. It definitely takes some getting used to, and I don't want to have to listen to enough of it to get used to it. It's just difficult to listen to an hour and a half of this stuff:

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Opera Theatre

Whew!  It seems like a while since I've written, and I have lots to write about, but not much time to write it in.  I'll start with opera theatre.
If you'll recall, last Monday, we had auditions for scenes opera theatre class.  I wrote a blog about it.  You should read it. 

The results of those auditions were posted on Wednesday.  I was cast in an amazing(?) role.  That I've never heard of.  What follows is true information.

The opera's name is Hansel and Gretel.  It was composed by Englebert Humperdinck.  I was cast as the mother.  My children are played by two Asians.  Girls.  Yes, that means a girl is playing Hansel.  You can't make this stuff up. 

I haven't been able to find a great recording of the song online, but if I do, I'll be sure to post it.

Monday, September 07, 2009

the apartment

When I found out I was coming to CU, I wanted to live on campus for a number of reasons.  I had had really great experiences living on campus at JC.  It's a great way to meet people, it's convenient to live near classes, you don't have to write a rent check every month, meals are 'free', etc. 

I applied for housing, and learned that I was waitlisted.  I freaked out.  I knew nothing about the housing situation in Boulder, so I immediately started searching craigslist, random apartment ads, and asked everyone I knew if they knew anyone in Boulder who I could live with.  I was quite unsuccesful, and I really wanted to live on campus. 

What I didn't know was that CU has 29,000 students, and about 6,000 live on campus. 99% of those people are freshmen. I lived with freshmen for 3 years, and I didn't want to deal with that again, so not living on campus would be a better option for me.

Finally, I posted a "housing wanted" ad for myself on craigslist.  I explained what I was looking for:
  • Rent between $400 and $600 a month
  • Walking distance to campus
  • Parking
  • Furnished
  • Laundry on-site
  • No smoking
  • An occasional party
You know, the important stuff.

I had way more replies than I expected.  Some didn't quite fit my description, and then I got one that seemed too good to be true.

A hall director in one of the campus dorms had a 2-bedroom apartment and wanted to rent one room.  It was fully furnished, had laundry in the apartment, cable tv, wireless internet, newly-renovated (3 years ago).  And rent: $450 a month.

I asked for pictures, and fell in love.  She then upped the price to $500 a month, but considering I have to pay for absolutely no utilities and it's fully furnished, it's still a steal for Boulder.

I love it, even though I still feel more like it's her apartment and I'm staying here.  I'll settle in eventually.  It's a pretty convenient location, and as I've said before, Christina has been amazing and very helpful.

Following are pictures that I took now that I'm more settled in:


Living room via entryway

Living room 2

Dining room and kitchen via living room



My room!

Shelf, desk, and "music wall"

Dresser and closet

Christina's room

Laundry room

So the place has bamboo floors, which are pretty sweet!

I do most of my studying at the kitchen table, because there's more space there than on my desk.  And Christina's boyfriend always busy her flowers, so I have a lovely backdrop against which to study.

The kitchen features everything anyone could possibly want or need, including a garbage disposal and dishwasher.
The walls in my room are kind of bare, because not many of my picture frames have the option of hanging them.  I'll be working on that when I get a job and have money to spend on buying things other than food and school supplies.
I think that's all. 

Come and visit to see the place in its entirety.  It's a very nice apartment, and I feel very fortunate to be living here!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

public transportation

Boulder's public transportation system is amazing.  Not just by my standards, because I don't have enough knowledge and experience with public transportation to be able to judge fairly. 

People here are known for their environmental conscientiousness, and partly because of that, they ride buses.  In addition, parking in Boulder, particularly near campus, is atrocious.  There are 29,000 students here, and there isn't enough parking nearby for all of the commuters.  

In addition to a local bus system in the city of Boulder whose names are fun (Hop, Skip, Dash, etc.), there's a system that runs the whole Denver metro area, and its routes include Boulder.  The are buses that run specifically to take people to and from Broncos and Rockies games, etc.  The system rocks. 

It is NOT cheap to park on campus, so I refused to buy an on-campus parking permit.  Luckily, I live near the edge of campus, and it's easy for me to park off-campus and then walk the half mile or so to my apartment in the dorm.  But sometimes it's difficult to find a parking spot in the area where I want to park because it is so close to campus, and lots of people want to park there. When I find a spot, I don't want to move my car just for the fun of it. 

If I haven't driven my car in a week or so, I go to wherever it's parked to check to see if it's still there.  And if it is still there, I have to make sure that's it's okay: no parking tickets, no windows smashed in, etc.  It's actually a pretty safe neighborhood (if you exclude the fact that JonBenet Ramsey was killed less than a mile from where I live, and about 4 blocks from where I park). 

Back to the subject at hand...
Rather than drive my car everywhere, which requires giving up my parking spot, I take public transportation.  Before last week, I'd never taken public transportation alone in my life.  A few weeks ago, I spent a good 2 hours researching the bus system and its routes, and found the best way to the post office to open a mailbox.  It took some nerve, but I finally convinced myself to actually do it.  It wasn't (that) hard, and everything turned out well.

I've taken public transportation twice since then, and have had no problems.  I'm learning little things each time.  If you want to stop, you have to pull the string so the bus driver knows to stop at your stop.  Have your pass ready when you get to the door.  Little things like that.

What I'm curious to know is if there is bus/public transportation etiquette that may not be so obvious.  If so, please tell me now so that I don't feel like an ignorant bus rider!!!

And, in case you're wondering, my post office box's number is 6110, and the zip code is 80306.  For you slower ones, that means that I welcome postcards, cards, gifts, etc., etc., etc. at the address listed below.  But you should probably tell me if you send me something, because I definitely don't plan on riding the bus for an hour every day just to get my mail (even though it's not that bad).

Raissa Johnson
PO Box 6110
Boulder, CO  80306-6110

Friday, September 04, 2009

So this is Boulder...

Last night, I was walking home from the music building after a recital, and there were some kids sitting on a picnic table near the sidewalk, smoking something.

For whatever reason, I thought to myself, "I wonder what they're smoking."

Then I walked through the haze, and I realized that it wasn't tobacco...

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


tutti: Italian meaning "all"

It's Wednesday.  a.k.a. Studio Day.  Not only is it Wednesday, but it's the first Wednesday of the month.  What does all that mean??  It means "tutti."

Here at CU - Boulder, voice studios meet every Wednesday, which means that all of the students under a certain professor meet and perform for each other, then critique each other concerning the performances.  But on the first Wednesday of every month, all of the studios come together (thus "tutti"), and a few people perform for the whole voice department.

Prof. Mason told me last week that he would love for me to sing this week at tutti, and I couldn't tell him no.  So, terrifying as it was, I did.  It was mostly terrifying because I'd never even seen a tutti, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect.

I'm really, really critical of myself, so if you ever get annoyed at me saying that I didn't do that well, too bad.  That's how I roll.  So the performance definitely didn't go as well as it could have.  Once again, I let my nerves get the best of me. 

The others who sang rocked.  I am still shocked at how many talented people are here.  It's unbelievable to me.  In my mind, I don't compare.  I realize they all have more training to me, and that that is where I'm heading.  I can't figure out why Prof. Mason wanted to me to sing on the stage with those other people singing, too, because it made me feel so inadequate!  Ack!  I didn't sing badly, but seriously, those girls were amazing!!!

Of course, I received compliments afterward, but everyone does.  It's a requirement.  You always tell people that they did well.  So of course, I got compliments, but I wasn't pleased with my performance.  I'm looking forward to a critique with Prof. Mason, so that I know what he thought.  Honestly.

In case you're curious what I sang, here it is, but this is Rene Fleming, and she's amazing.  You can get an idea of the song, if nothing else.  Maybe at some point, I'll post myself, but that day is not today!

On a completely different note, sad news in the NoDak today.  The Bobcat plant in Bismarck is closing, which will be a huge blow for the state's economy.  Those poor, poor people in Bismarck.  It may be good for Gwinner employees, because many who have been laid off will probably get their jobs back.  But it's just not a good situation...

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Opera Theatre Auditions

Well, folks, I had my first "official" audition at CU yesterday.  Okay, so it wasn't really official, because no matter what, I get a part, but it's just a matter of which part.  Here's the story:

During Orientation, there was an informational meeting for voice majors.  During it, the director of opera here at CU made an announcement that she was teaching an opera theatre class, and she asked all students there to join.  The other faculty were quick to correct her and say, "No, you don't want freshmen." 

[Side note: CU transferred in 134 of my credits from JC.  This is enough to obtain a degree, except that I need to have a major and take a certain number of local credits.  Credit-wise, I'm a super-senior.  In the College of Music, because I haven't taken ANY music classes, I have freshman status.  I introduce myself by saying, "My name is Raissa Johnson.  I'm a vocal performance transfer student.  I'm kind of a super-senior, but mostly a freshman."]

Well, because I'm kind of a freshman, but not really a freshman, I emailed Dr. Holman and asked if she minded that I sign up for her opera theatre class, without really knowing what I was getting myself into.  I wanted to take more credits, and considering what I want to do in life, it made sense to me to take the class. 

The first day was pretty intimidating for me.  All of the people in the class are people who have been here for a while, and have taken classes together, and they all know each other.  They all have taken private voice lessons for years and rock at singing.  Not to mention that I found out that being in opera theatre class is more than just learning how to act and sing in an opera for the benefit of your classmates.  The opera theatre class puts together a program of opera scenes to perform for the community. 

So, here I am, a kind-of-freshman in an upper-classmen class, shocked to find out that I'm going to have to perform opera scenes.  In public.  Nothing like diving right in without testing the water!

WHEW!  So anyway, yesterday we had auditions for those scenes.  No matter what, I get a part.  They can't not give me a part and kick me out of class.  I mean, I know I can sing, but I'm far less trained than all of the others in my class. 

I was way more nervous yesterday than I have been in a long time. I'm not good at singing in front of small groups; I hate it.  And somewhere in the back of my head, I knew that I wasn't performing for them and that I had nothing to prove, because I am technically a freshman, but my foremost thought was that I had to show them my stuff.  I had to be awesome.  I had to prove myself to them.  (Psychologically, that is one of the worst things that a performer, or an athlete, or anyone doing something in front of people can do. I have a degree in psychology.  I know this.  But that didn't mean that it didn't happen.)

I psyched myself out. 

I'm not saying that the audition went badly, because it didn't.  And I have lungs.  I definitely sang with more energy than the rest, but the quality of the audition may not have been as good.  And I swear I'm not kidding when I say this, but my knees were knocking the whole time.  I tried so hard to make them stop by doing everything I could think of: I took a few steps, I locked them... nothing.  And I was wearing a dress.  So everyone got to see my knees knock.  Thankfully, the knocking didn't spread to my voice, and I sang decently well.

Later in the day, a few of the girls commented on my "big voice."  One said that the theatre we sang in is notorious for having no life and horrible acoustics.  She said that I was able to give it energy and made it ring.  But she also told me that I have a long way to go.  Which I already knew.  I can handle constructive criticism (most of the time). 

So the results will be posted next week.  I'll let you know what I find out!