In my lesson today Charlie asked how I was doing. I replied that I was feeling pretty overwhelmed, but that I try to start every day fresh.
"Well, then let me ask you this," he quipped, "Do you know the difference between a person who is sane--who's basically got things together, and one who is just off their rocker? There's really just one thing: the ability for that person to wake up in the morning and feel hope--'start fresh' as you say. So at least you know you're not insane!"
Though there have already been a few days since the beginning of school when I've felt so mentally and physically taxed by what I have to do (and what I worry I'll have to do) that I've gone to bed choking back tears, usually (and a big thanks goes out to Rob for talking me down on more than a few occasions) I have been able to pull myself up the next day and try to make the most of whatever time I have to work. And good things have been happening. I still worry that I don't have the chops to effectively practice everything I'm required to learn. There's just so much new and challenging rep to get under my belt and it all has to be perfect by next week...or tomorrow! Still, I've done my best to be efficient in the practice room and for the most part have surprised myself by what I've been able to pull off. For my lesson next week though Charlie's assigned me FIVE etudes, a bit of a solo, and a couple excerpts...all I can do is my best.
Yesterday was the first rehearsal of the Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra (NUSO). I have been assigned to this group for the quarter and am playing 2nd trumpet on Bruckner 7 for our first concert. We spent all of yesterday's rehearsal first running the whole symphony and then going back a little to touch up a few transitions. It's an awesome piece! A great showpiece for brass and a real chop killer. Bruckner always writes very lyrically expansive, beautifully rich, and massively deep brass lines that are reminiscent of his principal instrument: the organ. By the time we reached the end of the final movement there were drops of blood pooling underneath the back row of brass...well, not really, but after playing so hard it certainly felt as though there should have been.
I also spent some time yesterday trying to navigate the utterly confusing (but architecturally beautiful) NU Library. I have to do a report/in-class presentation on the American poet Wallace Stevens and needed to find some reputable sources (anything except wiki!). I spent some time on line, collected a few call numbers, and set out to track them down.
The library's main collection is divided between three towers that are connected by a large central area containing computer labs and some special collections. Once I figured out in which tower my call numbers could be found (the south tower), it took me a good 10 minutes to find the correct stairway that would take me there. It's one of those buildings where one stairway will take you up to the 2nd floor, but the one that will get you to the 3rd and 4th is in a different location entirely.
Once I made it to the south tower, the correct floor of the south tower, and then found the room containing the group of books I was looking for, I found that the stacks were organized, very atypically, like rays of a sun emanating from a small central circle of study desks and catalogue computers. It's aesthetically pretty to be sure, but trying to figure out how the numbers progress from one "ray" to another is definitely not intuitive. Once I found my books, my next task was getting back to the exit...which (as you can maybe imagine in a giant round room that appears to be the same wherever you're standing and is further obscured by oddly spaced metal shelves) was a bit of a task. Even with exit signs posted here and there I found it difficult to make it back to where I started.
I'm hoping that future treks into the library will prove to be a bit easier. NU's library has an exceptional collection (the 10th largest university library in the country) and it would be a shame for me not to take advantage of it just because I may require a topographical map, good shoes, and sufficient food and water in order to navigate its halls.