Tuesday, April 24, 2007

grad school - part two

The thing that probably stands out the most from my experience at the Conservatory, BoCo, as we called it, is the number of songs I had to learn. In fact, a more precise name for my masters degree would be Masters in Multitudinal Song Learning. That’s got a truer ring to it.

Every semester I had the following classes, among others: Repertoire, Musical Theater, Private Voice, Script and Score Analysis. These four required courses combined meant I was learning at least four songs a week. Think about that. 4 songs x 16 weeks per semester x 4 semesters = 256 songs. Now ask me how much money I make today because I know 256 showtunes.

And it wasn’t enough just to learn these songs. Oh no. You had to perform them in front of very mean people, people who never cared how many other songs you had to learn for other teachers that week. Forget about any pats on the back for actually remembering all the words. If you didn’t stir the soul of every man, woman, and child within Suffolk County, if the earth did not move, if Fran did not fall out of her chair and do that wistful, glistening stare thing which maybe happened ONCE in all my two years of singing my freaking guts out for her every freaking week of my freaking life, you might as well just punch yourself in the face and call it good, because you’re never making it to Broadway, baby.

One time, it was probably closer to the end of a semester, Danielle and I were sitting at her kitchen table in her apartment on Symphony Road. We had our music binders open, lyric cramming. No one spoke, there was just a lot of hand-patting in rhythm, head bobbing in timed beats, brows furrowing over long phrases on a page, and mouths mouthing words with no sound. At length we sat up for a break, and I remember a conversation that went something like this:

Me: Are you done?
D: With this one. For now. I still have to find a song for Rep.
Me: Hmmm.
D: Mar?
Me: Yeah?
D: Are there any more songs? In the world?
Me: Excellent question.

I distinctly remember how my classmates and I adapted to the endless and expansive demands of grad school. In the beginning, as assignments and projects were handed out right and left, we’d react with large eyes and animated responses of disputation. (No way can we do all this?! Are they out of their minds?!) Two-thirds into the first year, this softened to more of a numbed-out incredulity. (I have two songs, a scene, a monologue, a recital, and two papers all happening this Wednesday. Are my lips gently sliding off my face right now? Cuz it feels like they are.) By the month before graduation, you could have smacked any one of us over the head with a concrete slab and we’d probably stare blankly back at you waiting for you to say something.

A typical day would start with vocal coachings as early as 8:00 a.m., followed by a full day of acting classes, piano classes, theory tutorings, voice lessons, the four classes mentioned earlier, a dance class in the late afternoon, a quick dinner break, and then rehearsals for all the crap you were working on until you passed out around midnight. Mornings occasionally began with me screaming: IT’S JUST SHOW TUNES, PEOPLE! THAT’S ALL IT IS! SHOWTUNES!!!

To be continued…


Mar--I love reading these posts of yours. No, really! I love it!!! It's such a good remember that each person we know has a vast history and background we know so little about--until it's shared. I think you're GREAT! XOXO.
OMG!!! I LOVE IT. This is so much fun. I haven't really thought about this stuff in awhile. I think I may have officially gone crazy by the end of second year.
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