Tag Archives: School of Music Theatre and Dance

In The Green Room: Wow, I’ve Got Nothing…

2016 December Green Room coverThe Green Room is the University Center for the Arts’ online magazine. Click here to check it out and “follow” us today!

December 2016: As I put keyboard to paper this month, my first thought is “Wow, I’ve got nothing…”

As I stare at this practically blank page, I realize that this way of thinking is not only inaccurate, but diminishes the value of a whole lot of time and effort, both mine, and everyone else at the University Center for the Arts.

This semester, I’ve watched the comings and goings of over a 1000 students who spend a portion or most of their day at the UCA each week; I hear a satisfying cacophony holistically emitting from 50 practice rooms at the south end of the building, no matter the time of day; I smell wood being cut in the scene shop as that delicious scent wafts down the hall; I hear the crunch of the ice machine as a dancer fills an ice pack the end of a grueling rehearsal; I see Poudre School District buses pull up in front and little kids holding hands as they wind their way into the museum; and I hear the rhythmic chug of our large color printer churning out programs and posters for hours at a time.

I could go on and on…and easily fill ten pages, but that’s simply a glimpse into a few elements comprising the learning and creative process that took place at the UCA during the 2016 fall semester, and all the semesters before that. And it’s precisely the ten pages’ worth of activities, events, tasks, and exercises that initially left me with nothing to say.

Don’t we all do this though? Pour everything into our art, or whatever else we are dedicated to, until we are depleted and imagine that we have nothing left. But in truth, we have everything, it’s all around us, reflected in our satisfaction with a performance or research project, the photos, and videos taken at events, and in the memories our immense efforts created.

This issue of The Green Room shares some of those captured moments and foretells of projects that will be memories soon. After that, the UCA will pause and rejuvenate until classes resume later in Jan. Until then, we wish you Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!

Take care,
Jennifer Clary Jacobs
Director of Marketing, University Center for the Arts


metronome

Accuracy Is Everything In Practice

“Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything.” ~ Wyatt Earp

An interesting person to quote for today’s post, but very applicable to our lives as musicians because it relates to how we practice. How do we become accurate and consistent? It’s by practicing slower. Our brains and our muscles need time to process an activity, and time to build up speed and accuracy.

My recital is in a few weeks, and while my program feels secure, I still take one practice session a week to go through the repertoire at three quarters of my performance speed. There is always something that needs attention-a shift, a phrasing that can be clearer, an articulation that needs attention.

Now that everyone’s semester is in an established routine, take a moment to think about your practicing. Are you in a rut? Are you practicing carefully and being a mindful listener?

Until next time,
Margaret Miller
Professor of Viola


Through the Lens of Art

Today was a day off for Fortress Brass, so our host, Irina, sent a driver to take us to some of the sights in St. Petersburg that are not within walking distance. Before we left, though, we walked to see the Kazansky Cathedral. This massive Russian Orthodox church was built in the early 1800s to celebrate the Russian victory over Napolean. I wish I could show you how stunningly beautiful the inside is, but they don’t allow pictures. (Note the massive scale and beauty of the outside!) Marble and granite of all colors, gold and silver decor and paintings more numerous than you could imagine. And it’s also a functioning church. We happened to be there during a service and the chanting in Russian was sublime. It’s very easy to see how one could find solace in such a serene setting. And when we walked out, just down the street we could see another glorious church, the Church on Spilled Blood. If you don’t know anything about that one, look it up! The history is interesting and the artistic quality of it’s architecture is gorgeous!

  • Kazansky Cathedral

Next, we went to the Piskaryovkoye Memorial Cemetary where almost half a million Russian civilians and soldiers are buried in mass graves. These people died of starvation and the extreme cold during the German blockade of St. Petersburg during WWII. I’ve had the opportunity to go to many WWII sites around Europe and it’s never easy. I always have such reverence and appreciation for what occurred. The beaches of Normandy, Dachau concentration camp, and now this, among many others. You feel the residual weight of history. It’s overwhelming on a deeply emotional level, reducing you to tears. It really makes you realize just how important what we do is, how much more we have in common when seen through the lens of the arts…

In past years, we went to the Artist’s Cemetery on the outskirts on St. Petersburg. Here we had the opportunity to visit the grave sites of some of the most significant figures in the history of Russian music. Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, Borodin, Cui, Rubinstein, Glinka, and more. And in order to get to their graves, we had to pass that of Tolstoy. One could stay there all day paying homage.

~ John McGuire
Assistant Professor of Horn


Fortress Brass Returns to St. Petersburg

Well, here we are! Another year, another Fortress Brass tour! After a year off, we’ve come back to St. Petersburg, Russia as part of the Brass Autumn Music Festival.

  • First day in St. Petersburg, Russia. I am very tired from traveling, but had a good rehearsal with the orchestra.

It’s always so much fun to go on adventures, especially with this group. But, as enjoyable as a tour is, I always feel the hardest part is the initial journey to your destination. We flew for 24 hours, had two connections, and had to eat airline food for multiple meals. And the hardest part is that after all of this, we had to get off the plane and go directly into a rehearsal with an orchestra. My piece, the Concerto in E-flat by Christoph Forster, is hard enough when you’re well rested, but after a long travel day…oy!

That’s when you have to rely on your preparation and trust your training!

This particular concert involved each of the five of us playing solos with the orchestra and then playing several brass quintets for a packed hall. Having been over here before, we learned that with as much as the Russian audiences appreciate good classical tunes, they really are into jazz music, especially Dixieland, which happens to be a staple of our repertoire. They clapped along with several of our tunes and demanded encores! It was so invigorating to feel such appreciation for what we do! Afterwards, we signed a lot of autographs, took lots of pictures, and visited for a long time. Music really is transcendent!

More on some of our other experiences soon! Stay tuned!

~ John McGuire
Assistant Professor of Horn


Welcome Back!

Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. ~ John Dewey

Happy Labor Day to you all! I hope that you have had a restful weekend. As I told my studio this past week, starting tomorrow, it is a long haul until fall break, meaning Thanksgiving. Remember to take care of yourself during this fall semester. Tension issues can creep in without us realizing it, so if something hurts, tell someone! There is no need to suffer in silence.

Now, about today’s quote. Whether you are a freshman in high school or college, or a graduate student, or a working professional, we are always learners. Take advantage of attending concerts, lectures, workshops, anything that interests you. You may discover a passion for something related to music that can be advantageous to your career. One never knows…

For me, being a life-long learner means learning new repertoire, reading about topics that interest me, such as funding in the arts and what it means to have a successful career in the arts. There are many creative people in the world doing amazing things, search out a topic that interests you!

As always, I welcome your comments and thoughts for future postings.

Until next time,
Margaret Miller


Kids Do It All – A Beautiful Collaboration and Exchange

Gabriela Ocádiz, CSU Alum (’15), M.M., Music Education
PhD student in Music Education at Western Ontario University

My experience with Kids Do it All in Todos Santos has always been enriching in many senses, particularly professionally and personally.

The purpose of the program, in my own words, is to give opportunities for children to express themselves – their thoughts, feelings, and personal life – through storytelling, theater, music, and art. It is a different educational proposal because we take everything that the kids come up with and help them transform it into a play; we do not intend to teach them what to do, but we facilitate the space for them to build whatever they want. All of what they know, and who they are, is welcome, accepted, and applauded. The outcome, and the process, is different every time because neither the counselors nor the students know where their ideas are going to end up. Their imagination, their daily experiences with others, has the possibility to be recreated and transformed specially through theater, and this provides an amazing learning experience for all of us.

During my time at CSU, I discovered this way of learning, and it provided me with the opportunity to work on a program such as Kids Do It All (KDIA) in my home country. The ability to communicate with people, writing, and planning were skills that I learned through different activities at CSU. Leading this program helped me understand that nothing can be possible if it is not through the work of a strong community, in Colorado and in Todos Santos.

My experience leading the camp was challenging, but highly rewarding. There is always a feeling of accomplishment that comes from months of work, combined with the sadness of knowing that the days of playing, singing, acting, and laughing will come to an end!

If the program ends with children laughing and playing – dressed up like princesses, lions, monkeys, or kings of the world – the program has achieved the goals of helping kids realize that they can do, and be, whatever they want in life; that what they have to say is important; and that there are people who will love to hear it. As a music teacher and personally, KDIA helps me remember that there is still much more to do to give even more children the opportunity to have an experience such as this.

This program has the characteristic of being bilingual and bicultural. Mexican children share the experience with children from Colorado to achieve a common goal. Since last year, the program added one more level by inviting students from the Universidad Autonóma de Baja California Sur (UABSC) to work together with the CSU counselors, and I also lead those students; being originally from Mexico and having lived abroad, another level was added to this cultural engagement.

One of the things that spoke a lot to me this year was the amazing work, flexibility, and care that the counselors had with the children. Many of them did not speak fluent Spanish, but were willing to try the best they could to communicate with their groups. Communication is complicated when you do not speak the native language, therefore, communication comes in a circus of movements, drawings, signs, and sounds to be able to understand each other, and the outcome is beautiful to observe.

A story I can share is when a group of Mexican girls wanted to talk to an American girl. They asked me to translate to English several times and they were able to share a bit. Later, one of the girls asked me to read a letter she wrote in English (with the help of google translate) to see if it was good enough to give to her friend. I was moved by the way something that appears limiting, such as the difficulty of communication, was not a limit anymore. The girl who received the letter was really excited to know someone had such an interest in communicating with her, and said that no one had done something like that for her before.

We are living in a really complex world where difficulties and differences are not praised but diminished. This program is a combination of efforts between a colorful town in Mexico, and a mountain city in the United States, for both countries’ children. As a teacher, I believe it is a powerful program and proof of a different possibility for collaboration, communication, and sharing.


Welcome back, everyone!

I hope that you have all had a great summer; I’m sure you’ve returned to school with energy, enthusiasm, and possibly a little bit of anxiety. My summer involved coaching at the Lamont Academy, Just Chamber Music in Ft. Collins, and PlayWeek West at the University of Denver. I did enjoy some down time getting caught up on projects, gardening, and reading. Oh, yes, and starting to practice for my recital in Oct.

What are your goals for the fall semester? I’m sure that one of those is better time management. Speaking from my own experience, it’s a life-long process! We all change and have priorities that change as well. Number one on your list-and mine-is to take care of yourself. I find having a weekly and a daily list of items helps me plan my personal time, what I want to get done for my practicing, and what to plan for my students. Be thinking now of how you can best use your time so you can avoid as many all-nighters as possible!

Like last year, this posting will occur twice a month. I enjoy hearing from you, so if you have a topic that you would like to hear about, do let me know.

Until next time,
Margaret Miller
Assistant Professor of Viola; Coordinator, Graduate Quartet Program
School of Music, Theatre and Dance