Of the time spent on my senior project this first week, more was spent at Catlin than at the actual project. However, I did learn the true meaning of discipline. Discipline is the ability to file music for hours on end with sunshine streaming in through the windows, a warm spring breeze flooding the room, and the sounds of music floating in through the open doorway. It's a virtue I lack somewhat, as I slowly lost steam throughout the 3 filing days at Catlin. However, I did move 3 large filing cabinets of music into alphabetically organized boxes, and organized boxes of string, vocal, and music history books. This consumed the majority of my 18 hours spent on campus this week, which were supplimented by helping the choir start on their new pieces, and sit in on some of Charlie's classes.
In terms of my original senior project, however, I am off to a great start. I had already attended 2 or 3 ILR rehearsals before actually entering this project, so I was already well acquainted with both the material we would be playing and the members of the group. 4 of the members of the group are legally blind, with one having very very basic vision (it allows him to perceive basic changes in light or the general size of objects around him). One of the other has residiual severe brain damage from a car crash, and the other has very high-functioning autism. For my first actual day, I worked with the high-functioning autistic man, Martin, on his piano and transcribing work. My mentor, Mike Van Liew, has been helping him learn to transcribe songs into sheet music and play the piano for 10 years now, and he's invited me to help out with these mentoring sessions.
For this first mentoring session, we hung out and rehearsed some very challenging jazz pieces that he was learning with Mike. He also showed me Sibelius, the music composition software he was using to transcribe. We also went over some jazz pieces that him, Mike and I could potentially play. Mike was actually absent for the first 3 hours of our first group session so it was kind of interesting hanging out with Martin not really knowing what to do. We found enough to do, however, and it was all fine in the end.
One of the more interesting experiences of my driving career, however, happened Thursday morning. Mike, although he drives, needed to have two of the members of ILR in his house Thursday morning to rehearse another piece. However, instead of using his vast driving experience on Portland's east side to get both of them, he decided to make me pick them up. I have been driving for 11 months, and although I am a confident driver, I NEVER drive on the east side. It was like something out of a black comedy. I picked up the two members of ILR, the one with brain damage, and one blind one, and tried desperately to get on I-5 North. It took me 2 tries, and I nearly gave up. I couldnt' make this up if I tried. The blind guy said, "I would sure help you if I could, ha ha!" at least 3 times. Only to be countered by the girl with brain damage, who said, "Why don't you just let me drive. HA HA! Just kidding. Already learned that lesson." It's not to say I don't love them to death, but it was neither the time nor place, nor was it the time or place the 6th or 7th time. Once I arrived at Mike's (30 minutes late), we reheased the piece, and headed off to our regular ILR rehearsal where we went over what music we will be playing for the different performances and how we will order the set.
Overall, I feel that I am off to a good start in my project and can't wait to see what next week holds.
For half of my senior project I will be working with Mike Van Liew as he helps a group of disabled people rehearse. They play music together already at ILR, a community center for people living with disabilities, but at the end of May the group will be touring Portland briefly. I will be the groups drummer, and we will be playing at several elementary schools, a high school, and possibly a performance at Edgefield. For the rest of the time, I will be working with Charlie Walsh on organizing files and other equipment for the new arts building on campus.