Hello everyone! I hope you’re all well.
This blog was due last Thursday. It is now a week late. To miss a deadline is poor form anyway, but to miss it by one whole week is really quite atrocious. I’d like to apologise. To myself, to the blog runners, to any disgruntled readers (of whose existence I am not convinced): I’ve let you down.
Though it’s absolutely no excuse, the reason why I’m running so behind is that I’ve had four assignments due over the past week. Four. They were all Music-related: most other people are long done with their assignments by now, but because Music courses often don’t have exams, these assignments are kind of our exam equivalents and are stretched out as long as possible (which is a double-edged sword).
Here’s a brief run-down of what each assignment involved:
- An essay for MUS 140 ‘Writing About Music’, worth 25%
- For MUS 110 ‘Composition 1’, collated reviews of all the weekly workshops in the course, worth 10%
- Also for composition, a Sonic Arts project involving the use of software to realise a score virtually and make it sound as realistic as possible (15%)
- And finally a portfolio of three piano compositions, each one- to two-minutes in length, two of which had to be written in a particular mode (30%).
Each has been, if not enjoyable, then certainly worthwhile. I feel I’ve learnt a lot about music and composition through these assignments and hopefully become a more well-rounded musician. In other words, while they mainly felt like a lot of work at the time, when I look back on them I’m able to say they were absolutely worth the effort.
But yes, they did amount to a lot of work. And for me, ‘a lot of work’ comes with the potential for an equal amount of stress. I would be lying if I said I breezed through this period like a fluffy white cloud on a summer’s day. I didn’t. If I’m honest I was probably closer to a cumulonimbus. It didn’t help that I kept looking at the planner my wall. I was counting down the days until the deadlines, a feeling of impending doom growing ever-stronger in my stomach. But – and this is important – I wasn’t as overwhelmed by it all as I have been in the past. I did retain a large degree of control.
There came a point where I realised, you don’t have time to feel sorry for yourself. You need to get cracking. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but you need to give it your best shot. And that’s what I did: the past week-and-a-bit has possibly been one of the most productive periods of my life. I think having strategies helped. I really like the study tips that have been suggested by my fellow bloggers – by Aisake and Ella, for instance. The specifics of it don’t matter as much as just having an approach and trying to stick to it. Music is really important to me, both when I’m working and when I’m trying to relax. Caffeine has been a life-saver. The hall’s study room has been a blessing. I reward myself with things I enjoy – lately I’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks.
It also helped me to realise there’s no point feeling guilty about procrastination. I am a human, not a walking-talking work machine. I am not one of the select few who can study for hours on end. I are going to procrastinate. That is a fact, and feeling awful about it isn’t going to help anything.
And, of course, it was really good for me to get out of my head when my parents came up from Christchurch and stayed on Waiheke Island over Queen’s Birthday. I visited them for a day: it was wonderful to see them, and Waiheke is just as beautiful as everyone says it is. I would really recommend having a look if you can rationalise the ferry tickets (it’s $36 for a return trip).
So, I managed. Kinda. I imagine – no, I know – that I was still quite difficult to hold a conversation with. I really struggle to be coherent when I’ve got so many thoughts whizzing around my brain; thank you to everyone for being understanding. During this hectic period I generally became more absent-minded, resulting in several embarrassing moments. One time I put water instead of milk into my cereal. Another time, I tipped my box of laundry powder into the dryer with all my clothes. The worst moment was undoubtedly when I used the communal shower, before realising that I had forgotten my towel… Yes. Hmm. I don’t even want to talk about how I got out of that situation! But despite these moments, I was OK. Where it really counted, I managed. This is an achievement I’m proud of.
I think we’re all guilty of forgetting how strong we are, how much we’re capable of when push comes to shove. Often we’re more able than we might realise. It is with this mentality, then, that I look forward to exams. Yes, they will be stressful, but they’re nothing we can’t handle.