Sunday, April 27, 2008

Grand Pause

I had my last concert as a regular member of the UMKC Symphonic Orchestra last night. Seeing as how there's a new graduate student arriving next year, there's almost virtually no chance I'll be asked to return to play concerts next year. Though, the university did send me a scholarship agreement for 2008-09...

It's usually at times such as this that people get overwhelmed with bittersweet feelings. I expected I would, but I didn't. I'm not sure why that would be, exactly. Perhaps it's because I've only been in the group for two out of my four years. Maybe it's because I'll be seeing most of the people next week, when we do the finale of the Wind Band season.

Whatever the reason, I'm glad to have five hour less rehearsal time in my week!

I bet the main reason is because everything feels so unfinished. My comprehensive exams, supposedly entirely finished and wrapped up within 30 days of March, stretched long into April. A set of mishaps on the administrative side led to one of the exams never being delivered for grading to the appropriate professor. As a result, I still don't even know whether or not I've passed and am able to continue with my degree.

So though I'm being recognized at performances as an "outgoing graduate" who is moving on to other things... I'm not. I haven't been pursuing academic jobs, because my terminal degree is still wildly up in the air. It's one thing to apply and be "all but dissertation", which implies that one needs a good hard slog at books to complete the doctorate. It's another thing to let employers know that you are still waiting on the results of an examination that may prevent me from ever earning a doctorate. I'd probably go straight to the bottom of the pile.

And here I sit. I've been working on my lecture recital, which can only be presented after passing comps. I've been thinking about my research projects, which can only be presented after comps.

I had an interesting experience this week, which will no doubt make it into its own entry. One of the finalists for the local symphony came and gave a master class. As I was explaining my research ideas and directions, he cautioned me that those particular ideas weren't really useful for auditions. And as soon as he said it, I knew that he and I were on opposite sides of a large philosophical crack about what "being a musician" means. Luckily, they're not competing ideas, but it was still an "aha!" moment about what all this study means.

But right now, all it means is that when people ask if I'm graduating, I say "No". If they ask if I'm leaving Kansas City, I say "Maybe".

And when they ask if I know the final FINAL final results of my comprehensive exams, I say: "Are you kidding?"

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