To Make a Journal

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So, I am the Co-Fiction Editor this year for the 2009-10 Belmont Literary Journal and I’m so excited. Last year, I had the privilege of having 3 of my submissions in the journal (which you can view here), and this year I get to be on the other side and help decide what’s going inside the journal. It is really neat to see all that goes on with the organizational side of the journal. There’s paper and fonts to be chosen, and covers, and not to mention the poetry, prose, and artwork that will grace the inside of the journal. It’s all a pretty extensive process, and we’re about halfway done with everything. I’m really excited, there’s some great writing in this years collection. It’s just too bad that we can’t put everything awesome inside of it due to page limits.

The Nashville Blizzard

The past week has been one of the most memorable most of my semester this far. On Monday I played in the band for the commercial showcase, which was amazing. My weekend was consumed by rehearsals in preparation for the showcase. I have also been busy studying for test and practicing for my applied lessons though. The highlight of this weekend was the snowfall or what people in Nashville called a “blizzard,” which took place on Friday.
Now, it very rarely snows in Nashville and when it does, the snow doesn’t stick to the ground. Last Friday it did,
several inches cumulated on the ground. Many of my teachers started cancelling classes not only for Friday, but also on Monday and Tuesday. This was truly a blessing!
It snowed consistently on friday and gradually slowed down as Saturday approached. Students were outside throwing snowballs at each other, sledding down giant hills in makeshift cardboard sleighs, and building snowmen. We also had a giant snowball fight at midnight on friday where over 60 students launched snowballs at each other.
Such an amazing weekend sadly came to an end when the snow began to melt and everything turned into sludge. Fortunately it is suppose to snow again this next weekend.
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Last First Day

Last week I had my last first day of undergrad… ever! It’s a bittersweet time! Much like senior year in high school, I’m painfully aware that not only I, but all of my peers, are on the verge of stepping out into the great unknown to further discover who we are as adults and in Christ. I feel excited and prepared, but that feeling of the unknown can, especially late at night, be rather frightening.
Right now I’m juggling school, work, job applications, and grad school applications, but I’m very glad I have all of my wonderful friends to keep me sane.
Here we go!
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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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Exordinary Piano Techniques

Last Friday, my friend Sara and I attended a very interesting music lecture in which some unique ways of playing the piano were demonstrated. Dr. Kevin Richmond, a piano professor at the University of Memphis demonstrated some modern and new ways to play the piano. Not only did Dr. Richmond talk about these different ways to play but he was able to demonstrate them using one of Belmont’s pianos. I could really tell that Dr. Richmond enjoyed teaching this unique form of music along with performing the actual music.
So you may be wondering what is so unique about the way Dr. Richmond studies. Well, he covered 5 different Tone Clusters.png
areas of modern music, the first being the cluster. Playing a cluster on the piano is when you play all the notes between two noted at the same time. A composer who uses clusters usually tell whether they want the pianist to play only the white keys, the black keys, or both by the color the of the note on the music. You can play these notes either with your fingers, knuckles, hand, one arm, or both arms depending on how many notes the composer wants you to cover.
Another area of modern music that he cover was sympathetic vibrations. Sympathetic vibrations are very cool, it is the technique of playing certain notes on the piano in order to hear other strings within the piano. The sound is completely different than just playing the note because the note isn’t really being played by the pianist but instead it is ringing because of the frequency of the actually note being played and its overtones.
Dr. Richmond also demonstrated how some composers even have a musician strum the strings inside the piano like a harp this creates a very unique sound. I really enjoyed the music lecture because it is music that isn’t heard that often. Next week, though, there is going to be several music presentations on African drumming that I am sure will be fantastic.

So Much Fun, So Little Time

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Wow, let me just say, it has been a whirlwind of a past few weeks. I started my final year of undergraduate school on August 26th, but about a week and a half before that, I moved into a house with 5 other people (and our lovely exit signs) as a part of Belmont’s 15th Avenue Community through University Ministries “Service Year” program. Basically, we all come together to live in community with one another, while also learning what it means to serve in the broader Nashville community. For me, that is doing after school tutoring at the Edgehill Public Library, just minutes away from campus. For others, it’s working with the feeding programs for the homeless around Nashville, and learning how those work, for some it’s being an urban gardener for a foodbank on the east side of Nashville. A lot of great things are happening in small ways around here, and I’m excited to be a part of it. So, not only have I had the pleasure of taking a bunch of classes I really like this semester (Yay for Gender Studies and Eco-Justice and Faith!), I’ve also had the pleasure of learning to live with 5 very different, but all very amazing, people. And we’ve only been at it for a few weeks now, but I already feel like I’ve learned a lot about myself and about community and what that means for Christians. In addition to serving the Nashville community, we also try to serve the Belmont community by having two nights a month set aside for discussions about issues: the Church, and it’s role in society and our lives; service and what that looks like and actually means; race and it’s pertinence in our lives, how it divides and how we can be reconciled; and whatever other issues may be on the hearts of our fellow students. Finally, we have a potluck once a month, where can all come together and simply celebrate being together in community over good food. I’m so excited for this year I can’t even put it all into words, but I will definitely try!

Warm Weather and Friends

We are heading toward the end of the semester now. It is finally warm outside, so many people are spending a lot DSCF0006_picnik.jpg
of time outdoors. On these warmer days, there are students outside relaxing in the beautiful weather. You can see people studying, playing Frisbee, or just taking a nap in between classes. Although the semester is almost over there is still a lot of work that needs to be done before summer can arrive. At the end of each semester the school work becomes very intense because of all the projects, test and finals that are quickly approaching. Here is just a small list of the stuff I need to complete before summer break:
1) FINALS in music history, harmony II, old testament, and brass methods
2) Presentation of the book of Ecclesiastes for Old Testament Project
3) Register for next semester classes which can be difficult because classes fill quickly
4) Ear Training Juries in Diction, Sight-Reading, and Rhythms
5) Piano Proficiency Exam so I can test out of piano class for next semester
6) Saxophone Juries- I am performing the Glazunov Concerto for a music panel
7) President’s Concert- the wind ensemble along with several other ensemble perform for Belmont’s president.
Although I have a lot of work these next couple of weeks, I really do not want the school year to end. This year has been significant to me because I have met so many people and have had opportunities that I will never experience again. Even though the students may be stressed about finals, I believe that everyone is valuing the time they have spent here and all that they have learned. Now that I am heading toward the end of the semester, I realize that I truly value everyone who has made an influence on me during my time here.
Photo: My friend John playing paddle-ball on a beautiful afternoon

Earth Hour

Once a year Belmont participates in an event called Earth Hour in which millions of peopleDSC_0012_picnik.jpgacross the globe turn off their lights and other electrical appliances for an hour. Yesterday, from 8:30-9:30 pm, Belmont turned off all of the lights on campus and encouraged the students to turn off the lights in their dorm rooms as well. For the most part, everyone on campus participated in the event so the entire campus was dark during the hour. Now I have never been on campus when it was pitch black but the entire experience was actually a lot more fun than I had expected. There was a live concert on top of the Curb parking garage in which acoustic instruments were used and there were opportunities to recycle electronics. Along with the great music, the view of the stars and the darkness of downtown Nashville made this a positive experience. The reason that Belmont participated in this event is because we are trying to make a statement about our concern for the planet and its changing climate.

Spring Break is Over, Here Comes Summer

DSCF0008.jpgI have reached the final stretch of the semester. Now that spring break is over, there are no more days off until the summer. I have already made plans to work at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp over the summer as a camp counselor. I am really excited to be working there. There was a lengthy interview process which included a phone interview and I also had to create a recording of some saxophone pieces that I had been working on throughout the school year. Although I am a little bit nervous about taking this job, I look forward to working in a musical environment and improving in my own playing. Now that I definitely have summer plans I am really focusing on my school work. A typical school day for me consists of many music classes, ensemble rehearsals, and meetings. For instance, on Tuesdays my schedule looks like this:
8:00-9:15 am- Music History Class. I am usually very tired during this class. I have 8′s every day, so I don’t get to sleep-in until the weekend. I try to sit in the front row and take really good notes because this class is very challenging, but I have learned a lot about the different time periods of music.
9:30-10 am- Jog/Run Class. Basically all we do in this class is run for a certain amount of time each day. We are also required to run a 5k by the end of the semester. I actually really enjoy this class. It is a great way to stay in shape and it is really fun.
10:15-11:00 am- After my Jog/Run class I head back to my dorm to relax. Usually I take a shower and then finish up whatever homework I have to do. I spend this time preparing for the rest of the day.
11:15-12:00 am- I head down to the cafeteria to grab something to eat. Most of the time I use the “Take 4″ which is a new feature of the cafeteria where you can get a really good lunch to go. I usually take the food back to my dorm room and eat while I practice my keyboard.
12:00-1:00 pm- I have Class Piano III in the basement of the Wilson Music Building. The piano classroom has about 14 pianos in it. Every week we have a playing test over the current repertory selections. I am determined to do well in this class because at the end of the semester I hope to take my piano proficiency test and test out of piano lessons early.
1:00-3:00 pm- I head back to my dorm and finish any homework that I couldn’t finish early in the day. Sometimes I take this time to practice my saxophone or to relax.
3:30-5:00 pm- I have wind ensemble rehearsal at Belmont Heights Baptist Church. I play the alto saxophone and I really enjoy being in the ensemble. We usually have really intense rehearsals because we only meet twice a week, so each person in the ensemble has to work on their individual parts outside of the rehearsals. Here is a clip from our fall concert: Download file
5:00-7:00 pm- Usually I am hungry at this time so I head down to the cafeteria right after rehearsal. After dinner I usually hang out with friends.
7:00-9:00 pm- I have Brass Methods at night. This is probably my favorite class of the day. I get to learn how to play the trumpet and trombone and I also learn how to teach the brass instruments to other people.
9:00-10:00 pm- My friend, Brock, and I head to the Curb after Brass Methods and get something to eat. Usually there is someone performing live at the Curb so we get to eat while we listen to some amazing songs.
10:00-12:00 pm- Practice, Practice, Practice… the majority of the time I spend practicing my saxophone in the practice rooms. I like practicing this late because most of the practice rooms are available and there are fewer people, so less noise.
12:30 pm- BED. By this time I am exhausted, so I try to get to bed so that I am ready for my 8 am class the following day.

In Defense of Children

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Last Monday Marian Wright Edelman, the president of The Children’s Defense Fund, spoke at Belmont. She was a beautiful woman with a quiet strength about her and I really appreciated and respected her advocacy on behalf of children everywhere. In her speech she talked about the pipeline that exist for many child from the crib to the prison. Being in an ethics class taht takes place in prison where inmates (whom we call insiders) are fellow classmates and learning more about the Criminal Justice system has helped me see in a clearer way the reality for many people and the lack of choices that exist for some children from the beginning. Free copies of her latest book, “The Sea is so Wide and my Boat is so Small,” were handed out after the convocation and I got one. I’m so excited to begin to read it.