Fourth Day at Grad School

As some of you may or may not know, I still have some knowledge gaps to fill hence my latest endeavor: going back to school. I attend school here:


This is the exterior of the Philippine Women’s University where I attend classes at the School of Music (a department which has been declared by CHED as a center of excellence for music) with the hopes of earning an M.A. in music education. It’s in Manila, not a pretty city by any stretch of the imagination.

The school building is pretty old, but I could imagine that it was a glorious place when it was built. It has this center, open-air courtyard, which I think is a good idea:


Anyway, enough talk about the school building. When I’m by my lonesome self, I tend to eat cheap, hence after my morning Intro to Grad. Studies and Ethnomusicology class I walked a few blocks to Pedro Gil St. and found myself at a street stall for my lunch which looked like this:


Filipinos call this thing “kwek kwek” or “hepalog” (as I’d like to call it). It could take the form of balut (duck embryo with yolk and albumin) or penoy (fertilized duck egg) deep fried in orange batter. With what seemed to be like an unlimited supply of chopped shallots and cucumbers, I topped it off with some chili flakes and some mystery sauce (vinegar based). It certainly looks ugly but I’ve always found this stuff to be delicious. I had three of these plus some water and a soya drink from the nearby convenience store.

Since I still had two hours before my piano class, I practiced in one of the practice rooms at school. Let’s say that the piano I got to use was less than satisfactory:


At the very least I am fortunate enough to be able to practice in one of these.

Anyway, 30 minutes before class, my piano teacher allowed me to practice at the school’s piano lab, which has an excellent upright piano. Too bad I was unable to take a picture of that. The thing that I am very grateful for in my piano class is that my teacher is very patient and I get to learn something new every meeting. I always receive tips on how to improve my technique and build precision. I still find the training to be difficult (having come from a background that relies heavily on improvisation), but I appreciate it very much. The kind of discipline you can get from classical piano training is something that I do think would help me take my skills to higher levels. I do think I am very much too old to become a concert pianist, but at the very least I know I can polish my technique as I attend these piano classes. It’s an effort to bring me closer to gaining the physical skills to bring my musical ideas to life in the best way possible.

Tomorrow is another day where I get to juggle homeschooling my son with schooling myself and working my ass off. I am very much grateful to The LORD for granting me such an opportunity.

Updates and Musings from the Last Two Weeks of September 2013

The past few weeks of September have been very interesting.

Last Monday, I completed my second day of school. I’m currently pursuing an M.A. in music education (applied music emphasis, piano) at the PWU School of Music. So far, so good it’s been very good. Despite experiencing anxiety (and messing up big time) when I played for the first time in front of my piano professor, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was. This is because my second day with her was fruitful. I got my assigned work (scales from C to E, some Czerny, Beethoven, Bartok, and Tcherepin) and, more importantly, I learned aspects of my technique that need work, something that I probably won’t be able to observe on my own. I think I’m in good hands since my piano teacher is the romantic period piano expert at the UP College of Music. With enough effort on my part, I guess there’s a lot of things I can learn from her. She says my legato playing, fingering and pedaling can still improve. I just hope that I can play my assigned pieces at a respectable level come Monday. Time to go back to the woodshed I guess.

Fortunately, I’m still working with Steve Nixon as his music transcriber. Working with him is a great opportunity to improve my understanding of what jazz is. Seems like I’m getting some jazz education with Steve while I go improve my classical at PWU. Tomorrow, I’ll be submitting a jazz scale guide.

I also managed to finish the “Eucharistia” songbook for Barbie Dumlao and Springs Foundation, Inc. It’s always a pleasure working with them.

I’m waiting for new assignments from GuitarZoom. I just finished working on “Real World Soloing” and that one turned out to be good as well.

The highlight of last month is probably the concert entitled “Musicalitea in Unity”. It was a concert organized by the UCCP-LCSMC Liturgy and Music committee. It was held last 09/28/2013 at the PCU Auditorium. I performed an original composition called “Promises” for solo piano as part of my set. Prior to that, I performed an old favorite, “Hesus”, with Pastor Chaz Romero on guitar and Chay Innocentes on vocals. It was very fruitful. I felt very honored and happy as well afterwards as Rev. Leo Eva Rempola, virtuoso pianist extraordinaire, asked for a sheet music copy of “Promises” after hearing me perform it. Like most of what I hear from my performances, I don’t impress myself. Matter of fact is that I could probably improve my performance next time. Nevertheless, I’m happy enough that I plan to share recordings of the concert via Soundcloud, so watch out for those.

Until next time, please stay glued to this page. Thank you and God bless!