Day 3 at CME

It’s been a LOT of hours singing since Monday morning. And we’re all tired because of that. The fun hasn’t diminished, though. The music is still great, except those few songs that I cannot sing for the life of me. I’m expected to just know the harmony, but since I’m new to the choir I have had to learn the songs quickly. If it wasn’t for my sight-singing ability I wouldn’t have survived the first day.

In terms of Jim Papoulis, I had another short conversation with him concerning chords and a few suggestions to the song that we were writing. He’s a great person to talk to: open to suggestions, friendly, and approachable.

Now I can’t wait until the concert on Friday!

Day 2 at CME

More Jim Papoulis music, more friend-making, more fun, and lots more singing.

Jim Papoulis held a song-writing workshop with our choir, and while it’s difficult to write a song with 90 kids, he was very inclusive with the singers. He made sure the song was about our own lives rather than his. While he figured out much of the musical aspects of the song, watching him work was inspiring, to say the least. Knowing that he created music the same way I did (but with much more adept skill and musical knowledge that you can only get from years of experience), it was almost as if he was saying to me, “keep doing what you do, you’ll be like me someday.”

Afterwards, I went up and had a word with him. He was a very approachable person, and seemed to genuinely interested in my wish of becoming a composer. One day, I hope to be the one leading the song-writing workshop. Hey, I can still dream, right?

Day 1 at CME

My first day at CME was nothing short of amazing.

To sum it up, it was a day filled with lots of singing, only interrupted by two 10 minute breaks and lunch. The song selections were composed of many of my favorite choral pieces, including many from the renowned composer Jim Papoulis. And that was the best part about the day: The Master Class with Jim Papoulis.

Our chorus is used in a master class for who I believe are graduate students for conducting. They each take a turn on the podium to conduct us, and it’s a learning experience for both them and us. Imagine this: a room with a chorus of 90 kids on one side, and a small group of conductors all sitting on the other. Imagine one conductor on the podium, leading us through one of the songs by Jim Papoulis. Now imagine Jim Papoulis himself in the back of the room. Changes things, doesn’t it? The master class not only allowed me to see how conductors are really taught, but also to see how composers interact with the performers to really get across their expression of the music.

As Janet Galvan, the clinician who worked with the conductors, told each of them what they could do better, I myself listened and learned much to improve my own skills of conducting (which are minuscule, believe me). Not only that, but I even got a chance today to go up on the podium myself as an example to show a student’s expression of the music and conduct. Needless to say, it was nerve-wracking to have the composer sitting behind me as I “conducted” his song, but nevertheless it was a once in a lifetime experience.

Off to a great start, CME is!


That’s right, the second instrument that I am learning over the summer is none other than the beautiful flute! And I say beautiful because over the past few weeks that I have been playing this instrument, I have fallen in love with its sound. The only other time I have had exposure to its sound is during band; unfortunately our school has a few too many flute players.

Actually, I mean WAY too many flute players.

Anyhow, the point is that you don’t actually learn the intimate sound of the instrument until you play it. The flute, for some reason, amplified that effect. The sound I heard while playing the flute myself felt so distinctly different than the sound I had heard in band.

In terms of progress, I’ve been playing music that fit the flute quite well, and I have been loving the experience. Ever since throwing down the beginner book after 3 days, I have been playing themes such as Gabriel’s Oboe, Concerning Hobbits, Angel of Music, etc.

Back to flute for now!

CME and Jim Papoulis

An exciting new opportunity has arisen for me: during the next week, I will be attending Choral Music Experience with the guest conductor Jim Papoulis!

Not only will I be doing a lot of singing, I’ll have a chance to participate in conducting classes and composing workshops with one of the best choral composers in America! If you have not hear his music, here are some of my favorite:

Hopefully I’ll get a lot out of fun and musical learning out of CME, and maybe even get to converse with Jim Papoulis! This is the first time that I’ll get to meet one of my “idol” composers in person, and I am very, very thrilled.

Clarinet Progress

It’s coming along very well, I seem to have familiarized myself with most of the lowest register and middle register fingerings, and I am starting to play the high register notes. Squeaks are mostly gone, it seem practice certainly does make better.

I must say, I’m surprised as to how difficult the fingerings are. I expected a much more linear fingering system such as the flute or saxophone, where it’s mostly lift a finger to move up a note, and press a key to change octaves. Not the case with the clarinet. It will certainly take me longer to become decent at the clarinet than it took to become decent at the tenor saxophone. However, I’m first and foremost a bassoon player (don’t get me started on bassoon fingerings), so I have no doubt by the end of the summer, I’ll be able to play some pep band material!