Giving Thanks

I am so thankful to have God in my life, He has blessed me in countless ways…
He has allowed me to attend an amazing school where I have met so many inspiring people who have trulyDSCF0039.jpg
changed me. The opportunities that I have had at this school are one of a kind, I am glad He has guided me here.
I am thankful for all of the friendships that I have made this year, all of the people who have challenged, inspired, and have simply been a good friend to me. You all know who you are! Thank You.
I am thankful for my family; they are my support and comfort. If it weren’t for them who knows where I would be DSCF0032.jpg
right now. Thank You for providing a place of peace, where I am always welcome with open arms. Thank You for supporting me in all of my decisions, for your continous love and affection and the constant friends.
Because of all of this I am truly blessed…
This past weekend I drove home for the Thanskgiving weekend. It was nice getting away from all of the school work and to have a time of peace. We had around 17 family members drive in from the east coast for the weekend. It was nice being in their company, hearing their stories, and reconnecting with family members I haven’t seen in a while. My weekend consisted of competive games of scrabble, watching television, and sharing memories with each other. The thanksgiving dinner was amazing. Sweet potatoes, Collard greens, Ham, and of course TurkeyDSCF0018.jpg
were just a few items I got indulge in over the break. It was sad to see my family leave yesterday, but I look forward to finishing up these last couple of weeks of school and coming home for Winter Break.

Of Garden’s and Gratefulness

So, I’m doing a group project that’s focused on making the Belmont Community Garden a Sustainable effort. Many people actually don’t know Belmont has a community garden, and truth is, it’s just now beginning to take off after a slow start this past summer. I’m really excited. On my end, I’m doing some more logistical stuff, and drafting a 2 year plan for where the Garden hopes to be and accomplish by Spring 2012. In the meantime, we’ve had a big community service workday a couple of weekends ago and it’s shaping up to look really good.
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In other news, Turkey Day is fast approaching. I always enjoy going to Arkansas and visiting my dad’s side of the family and seeing my grandparents, cousins, aunt’s, uncles, and eating lots of good food. But, I don’t know how much rest I will get. I’ve got an 8 page paper to start on, a 10 page paper to start on, a 5 page book review, a 2000 word essay, and a 1500 word essay to write by December 7th and 8th. And I still have a lot of research to do on the biggest papers. That said, I’m really excited about both of the big paper’s. One of them is going to be on Toni Morrison’s Sula, and the other is going to be on Time, Narrative, and the (Re)Construction of History in Slavery and the West using Octavia Butler’s “Kindred” and Ishmael Reed’s “Yellowback Radio Brokedown” as my primary texts. So, those two things make me very excited.

A Look Into Silence

One of my favorite classes that I have taken this semester is my Music History class. Now, usually I am not a history person. I would rather take a math or science class. This Music History class has really drawn me in, and I have taken a strong interest in what we are studying. Currently in the class we are discussing experimentation and modernism while looking at composers such as Dmitri Shostakovich. Just last week, though I was spending hours in the library working on a large research paper for this class. Now this may sound weird, but I actually enjoyed doing this because I learned so much about my topic. In the class there is only one paper due the entire semester, but it is quite lenghty. The good thing about this is you can choose any topic, as long as it relates to music history in some way. My paper was entitled “A Look Into Silence: From Past to Present,” and here are some of the things that I have learned from studying this:
Now my entire paper was about silence. In the paper I define silence in music and compare the similarities and differences between how silence was used in the classical era and the modern era. For the classical era I looked at Joesph Haydn’s works and for the modern era i concentrated on John Cage.
The first I talked about was the function of silence in each era. Silence in the classical era was used primarily for structure. The silences between each movement of a Haydn Symphony kept the listener aware of where they were in the piece. The lack of silence in Haydn’s “Creation” allows the listen to not have as much musical clarity of the music. It keeps the listener on edge and uncertain of where they are in the piece. In John Cage’s modern work, he also uses silence as a form of structure. An example of this would be in his piece “Music of Changes.”Music of Changes.jpg The picture shows how Cage showed duration of times through measurement markings above each note. The measurements where centimeter markings and were to represent approx. how long each note was suppose to be held.
Another use of silence that I discovered is that it can be humerous. Haydn used silences in his string quartets to catcha listener off guard and to make them laugh at the melody. He would have his quartet play the entire melody through once, and then they would play it again with pauses. John Cage also used silence in his music, in fact he has a piece that is entirely silent called “4’33.” Cage did not mean for this piece to be humerous, instead he trying to prove that all noise is music.
Overall, this paper was very interesting to write. If you are interested in silence found in music you should look up “4’33″ (Four Minutes-Thirty Three Seconds) by John Cage and “String Quartet in Eb Major, Opus 33″ by Joseph Haydn.

Preview Day

Yesterday morning hundreds of prospective students and their families arrived at Belmont for another Preview Day. Each preview seems to be attracting more students to come to Belmont, the school has seen a huge growth over the past several years.
Preview Day has been very successful at showing students around the campus and giving them vital information about the school. From the moment they step into the doors of the Maddox Grand Atrium they are greeted by Belmont student recruiters and they receive a schedule of the activities throughout the day. In the morning, there is a co-curricular fair in which students can talk to representatives from the student organizations and clubs that Belmont has to offer. During this time, the families are free to check out Beamen and are provided with a good breakfast.
The next activity on the agenda is has the students rotate to different activities which include a counselor session, DSCF0007.jpg
dorm tours, campus tours, and a student life panel. For the dorm tours, there are several freshmen dorms that are open for the prospective students to look at. Each dorm has several rooms that are current student rooms that your free to look around. The student life panel is an opportunity for prospective students and parents to ask current students questions about what it is like to be at Belmont. During these rotations I helped with the counselor session for this preview day. My duties including pointing people to the admissions counselors and answering questions they might have about Belmont from a student’s perspective. I would have to say that this was my favorite part of the day. I got to meet some amazing people who shared many of the same interest I have. A
The final activity for the prospective students were the academic information sessions. For these, the students got to go to theDSCF0015.jpg
particular major that they were interested and they get a presentation but some of the current faculty teaching that particular subject. Many students find this particularly helpful because they can ask very specific questions.
Overall, preview day is a great experience not only for the prospective students, but also for the bruin recruiters because we get to share our experiences at Belmont.

Belmont students against modern slave trade

This semester I was blessed with the opportunity to intern with a local anti-human trafficking organization called Not For Sale for credit towards my English major. My official position is the Advocacy and Awareness Intern and I felt like this hands on experience has led me to not only gain important job skills, but started a burning fire in my heart for human rights activism.
If you’re like most people, you may not know, but there are over 27 million slaves (that’s 27 times the population of Nashville) in the world today and 80% of them are women and 50% of them are children. About 12 million of those slaves are sex slaves, again, half of them are children. As a Christian and an American I feel that my freedom is one of the things I cherish most in life and upon becoming more aware this issue I knew I couldn’t sit in silence while others lost their own. Human trafficking, or slavery, is the second largest illegal crime in the world (after drugs, before weapons) and brings in $32 billion a year.
Most people, when they think about this kind of tragedy, think it only happens in the far corners of third world counties, but perhaps you’d be surprised to know that this is far from true. Slavery exists in every country on the planet, even these United States–and in every state. I was personally shocked to learn that slavery exists right here in Nashville as well.
Because we are the state chapter of the national Not For Sale Campaign, our focus is local slavery. The State Director, Derri Smith, and I met once a week and mapped out my work and goals for the semester. Because I am a Resident Assistant here I already had a lot resources at my fingertips and decided to focus my efforts on the Belmont campus.
Therefore, I hosted two convocation events on modern day slavery and was grateful to have over 250 Belmont students attend. For the first event we listened to a lecture about the realities of slavery and for the second event we watched Taken and discussed the differences between the Hollywood-ized portrayal and the realities of human trafficking (there aren’t many.) I passed out brochures I wrote and made and got lots of positive feedback from students wanting to help.
However, as I began talking about the issue, I was not only surprised by the amounts of responsive compassion I found, but by the number of students already involved in other organizations working together to fight this injustice. Once again, I was reminded why I love Belmont and its students: On some level, so many of us are dedicated to changing the world and find opportunity after opportunity to do so here.
Check out the anti-slavery movement in your area by checking out: www.notforsalecampaign.org
Or learn about our movement here in Nashville at www.notforsaletn.org
I am not for sale. You are not for sale. No one should be for sale.
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“Nunca choveu que non escampara”

I absolutely love this expression. It is used frequently in Galícia, and when translated from Gallego to Castellano, it means: “Nunca llovió que no escampara.” In English: “Never has it rained without the weather clearing afterward.” Beyond the literal meaning, this adage also has a figurative meaning. While we may face stormy days in our lives, the sun always comes out. I love it! It’s such a hopeful and beautiful sentiment. Although the weather hasn’t completely cleared here in Santiago, it’s definitely getting better. The 7-day forecast on my computer is calling for rain on Monday and Tuesday, but Wednesday is supposed to be sunny! YAY!!!!!!! I will definitely be spending as many afternoons as possible outside.
Last night I went to a phenomenal concert. I had the honor of listening to/watching Ryuichi Sakamoto, a famous Japanese pianist. It was a much more tranquil concert than I anticipated. Not that I expected to rock out to Classical music, I just expected a little more loudness. Does that make sense? Anyway, Sakamoto was absolutely incredible – I was completely blown away by his brilliance. All of his songs are, as I said, fairly mellow.RyuichiSakamoto.jpgAt first, I felt a little uncomfortable sitting in almost complete silence while surrounded by 500+ other people, but after allowing myself to relax, I found myself in a tranquil oasis of peace. There really is no other way to describe it. Although Sakamoto never spoke once (I’m thinking he probably doesn’t speak Spanish), he honestly did not need to. The music said it all. One of the biggest things I’ve learned from living in a foreign country is that there are certain universal languages that we can all speak, sometimes without even having to utter a single word.ryuichi-sakamoto.jpg Music is one of those languages; it speaks to the heart, conveying messages that words alone cannot.
Throughout the performance, I found myself taking advantage of the tranquil ambient by praying and spending time reflecting on a few of my favorite memories. The first that came to my mind was, of course, the many years I took piano lessons. I pictured my piano teacher, Mrs. Mahoney, sitting next to me on the piano bench, counting aloud, “One and two and three and four, and one and two and three and four…” I remembered the Halloween recitals she held at her house, which always included brownies and cookies and sprite with marshmellows. I recalled my pre-recital nerves, my pre-competition nausea, and the sheer bliss of performing flawlessly. I couldn’t help but cry at the thought of such sweet memories.
All that to say, I’m treasuring this last month in Spain. I’m trying to not just taste the moments, but to savour them. I’m also counting down and really looking forward to the day I can run through the airport, drop my bags, and throw my arms around the ones I love the most. 36 days as of today. :)

Life as a Music Education Major

It is that time of the year again. Now that it is early November that weather has gotten pleasantly cool and the campus is colored with reds, yellows, and oranges. Life has truly be great for me, I continue to love every second at Belmont because of all of the opportunities it has provided me and the people that I have met. Being a music education major has been keeping me very active around campus.
This semester I am taking 18 hours including several classes that are zero classes. I get to take classes such asDSCF0003.JPG
Music Education Seminar where I get to do school observation and prepare mock lesson plans. The picture to the right are members of my music education classes at the local donut shop, “Donut Den” early in the morning after an observation. I am also quickly finishing up my Harmony and Ear Training classes. On several days of the week, I have classes straight from 8 am to 5 pm to accommodate the 18 credit hours.
Another class that I am taking is string methods class where I get to learn how to play and teach string instruments.DSCF0002.jpg
This is the second instrument methods course that I have, I took brass methods last year. One thing I particularly like about this class is we get to put on a concert at the end of the semester. The music education majors have to play the violin, viola, cello, or bass in the string ensemble. We also get to conduct one piece of our choice, though this is a Christmas concert so most of the students are choosing easy Christmas songs.
This semester has gone by really fast. Christmas at Belmont rehearsals have started and everyone has begun anticipating our performance next month. Also advising extravaganza is next week. This is the time we can meet with our advisors and plan our schedule for next semester. This semester has been great, next semester will be even better.

Escape in Nashville

Perhaps one of the main reason students come to Belmont is one of my favorite escapes from the stresses of class/life: the music. It’s the time in the semester where everything seems to be due all at once and I’m constantly in a scramble.
Thankfully, however, there are endless opportunities to “take a night off” and go to a show to escape from life for a few hours. This last weekend, in fact, I got to see one of my favorite bands, Paramore, perform at the Ryman. It was just an awesome and fun show.
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It was funny reading the tweets of the Paramore members and watching them on stage because they were very nervous. Performing at the Ryman, the former Grand Old Opry, is a huge honor and they were all well aware.
Perhaps my favorite part of the night was when Hayley and Josh unplugged everything (no mics, no amps) and performed an old Loretta Lynn song, You Ain’t Woman Enough. It was really cool for me to see and hear the way music was performed originally in the venue, especially at a rock show.

These Are the Days

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These are the days when I wish I could sleep in all day. Not only am I extremely tired physically, I’m honestly just tired of school right now. I need a little breather and Thanksgiving Break is not coming soon enough. Call it senioritis or stress, but whatever it is, I’m feeling like I need to make a break from campus and from homework right now (with the exception of Toni Morrison’s “Sula,” which is quickly becoming one of my favorite books).
Good thing I’m going out of town this weekend. In preparing for my future, I’m applying to Emory University’s Candler School of Theology for their Masters of Theological Studies program. As much as I’ve enjoyed my time at Belmont, I’m really very excited to check out what could possibly be the future of my academic life and take a breather for a couple of days. I’m also going to get to spend the night with one of my best friends who I have not seen in far too long, and I can’t wait.
I’m also trying to stay on top of my school work, I’m in the process of writing two essays (in my head right now) that have to be done by the end of the semester which is rapidly approaching. Man, the days are just going so quickly, but the weather is getting so beautiful. One thing I love around Belmont is all the leaves in the quad these days. It’s so much fun to kick through them on my way to or from class (I know, I’m not supposed to be walking on the grass, but sometimes it’s just too inviting!).

Rain + Movies = Perfection

Time flies so fast. As I plan my schedule for next semester and think about purchasing “souvenirs” for family and friends, it’s hard to believe that my time here in Spain is coming to a close. In just 40 days I will be boarding a plane to return to the United States… what a bittersweet thought that is! As anxious as I am to be reunited with my family and friends, I don’t want to wish these final weeks away.
I was fortunate enough to experience a very mild autumn here in Santiago de Compostela. There were several sunny, 70º days – which is pretty awesome for September/October! This week, however, the weather changed drastically. ateiandalex.jpg
Rain, rain, and more rain! The temperature has dropped to 50º (which might not sound that cold, but when you combine it with wind and rain, it becomes penetratingly cold). As much as the rain makes me want to stay inside all day, curled up on the couch reading a book, the people of Santiago don’t let it stop them from venturing out and participating in their daily activities…so neither do I!
I am really looking forward to spending a few rainy days at the theatre, watching some of the movies that are featured in Cineuropa, Santiago de Compostela’s international film festival. Every day from now until December 2nd, six different movies will be projected. Most of the showings begin at 8 pm and continue until 12 am. The best part is that each ticket only costs three Euros! I’m excited to see movies from Germany, Japan, China, France, Spain, and (of course) the US!!! Although it’s technically Cine (movie) de Europa (of Europe), there are still several American films in the program. I certainly don’t mind though; sometimes it’s nice to have a break from Spanish. :)