Composing in India
I have about two weeks to get everything ready for my time teaching in India as well as having everything prepared and covered for the worship services at Christ Community. This is the first time in 25 years I have had the services planned 7 weeks ahead. I have one more Sunday before the adventure begins. The good news, I have all three classes outlined and almost all the lesson plans done. My goal is to finish those plans up this week.
Although I feel I do a good amount of teaching as I conduct my rehearsals, I am looking forward to being in a formal classroom setting and spending one on one time with students. As a composer, I am especially excited for the chance to do some writing and to communicate some of this experience through the medium of music. If you remember a few weeks ago I had lunch with Abe. He grew up in Thiruvananthapuram. I asked him if there would be Indian folks songs or sacred music that he thought I might be able to use to create new arrangements for choirs here. He suggested I look up songs written by Sadhu Kochoonju Upadesi. He was was a famous Malayali Christian preacher, poet and composer born in 1883 and was the leader of many missionary movements in Kerala. Upadesi wrote many songs that are now used in the churches in India. Much like the hymns of Wesley and Luther that we sing. I was able to find a website dedicated to his life and ministry with recordings of his songs. However, I could not find any scores for the pieces he had written. So one of the steps in the process will be to notate the songs I would like to use. I to translate them into English and create arrangements I can bring back for my choir. I will also be working on an orchestral work based of either some of the melodies of Upadesi or of Indian folks songs that I can program on the October concert for the Beatrice Regional Orchestra.
If you are interested in finding out more about Sadhu Kochoonju Upadesi, check out the website (www.sadhukochukunjuupadesi.com) and take a listen to a few of his songs.
Since this post already has a couple of unrelated subjects, I’m going to finish off with one more bit of information. Last Friday I sent off my piano books and the conducting books some of you helped purchase. The fee to ship a box of 25 piano books and 10 conducting books weighing 14 pounds was $90.96. I was thrilled I got off for less than $100.
Until next time!
Books, books and more books
How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop? Or should I say how many stamps does it take to get a book from Canada to the USA? I got this package in the mail Friday. I don’t think I have ever seen anything quite like it. Not only does it have a menagerie of stamps, it still had to have a postage sticker from the post office as well. I added everything up and it came it 8.23, I assume in Canadian dollars since that is where it came from. That is around $10 in US dollars. Anyway, this was book 9 of 10 so as soon as the last order gets here I can ship the books off to India.
Three weeks from today I will be headed to India. It doesn't seem possible. There are many things I need to accomplish yet but each day, I get a few more things done and I know it will all work out. Many of my evenings are spent on the computer working on lessons plans for the classes I will be teaching. My goal all along has been to have the course outlines and lesson plans all done before I leave so I can really focus on the students and my time in India. I don't want to waste a minute of the experience being stuck doing classroom prep. I am sure I will need to tweak lessons as I go but if the bulk of the work is done here, it should not take near as long.
Please pray for not only me but my family and for Tami. This will be longest time we have been apart. The last time was when Tami was in Africa for almost three weeks in 2013. I will be getting back on August 8th the day before our 30th wedding anniversary. Since we have each done a trip like this apart, I vote for the next one to be a trip we can do together. God is big enough to figure that one out, right?
Until next time!
Amal - A Movie Review
I have something a little different for you today. When I first starting talking with Chris Monroe (check this earlier blog post for how I met Chris) he suggested I watch the movie called “Amal” (2007). This would give me a overview of the Indian culture. I normally would not be drawn to a movie with subtitles but since I could stream it on Netflix, I was out nothing. The movie is mostly in English so you do not have to rely on subtitles for the entire movie but you will need them to understand everything that happens in the movie. It is an intriguing movie that has a twist in the end. I will not give it away in case you would like to look it up and watch it. Personally my favorite kind of movies have a twist in the end you don’t see coming. “Maverick” (1994) has always been one of my favorites because it had me saying… “WHAT?” in the last scene. “The Prestige” (2006) was another one of those movies for me. Now “Amal” doesn’t have quite the same impact and if you don’t pay close attention you may miss it so be sure you start this movie when you are wide awake and not distracted by the neighborhood kids or dogs. The main character of the movie is an auto-rickshaw driver who has an encounter with a wealthy customer who decides to leave his fortune to Amal. The story is the search for Amal before the deadline expires and the inheritance goes to the man’s family. I don’t want to give away any more of the plot so…
If you are looking for a good movie for the weekend, check out “Amal” on Netflix. I probably also need to mention this is not a little kid movie. It is rated TV-14. There are no terrible scenes in the movie but I am sure kids would get easily distracted and bored and therefore you may miss something that is crucial to the plot. I guess if you need a movie for the kids set in India you can always stick in “Jungle Book.” The original Disney animated version. I guess that is another tie I have to India. “Jungle Book” was my oldest daughter’s absolute favorite movie when she was two. We even all went as a family to the new 2016 version. I would give all these movies five stars.
Until next time!
T-minus One Month and Counting
One month from today I will be on a flight to India. It hardly seems possible and I can honestly say, at this point in time I am not feeling too anxious. This calmness is not due to the fact that I have everything done and am ready to go, I still have a LARGE “to do list” of things that will need to be under control before I head out. But God has been SO gracious in helping me see His hand in all of it. I have never had a doubt this is exactly what He has for me at this point in time. I am sure as the time gets closer, I will have a couple of sleepless nights. The actual flight will be a challenge for me. I am not exactly thrilled to fly. I fly out of necessity not for pleasure. I would much rather sit in a plane for 4 hours then to drive a car for two days. I will have three legs to my flight in July. The first is from Eppley Airfield in Omaha to Los Angeles. I will spend eight hours in LAX before boarding the plane to Abu Dhabi. The second flight will be slightly longer… it will take 16 hours to get to the airport in the Arab Emirates. The last flight will tale me directly to Thiruvananthapuram. I hear they have a beautiful international airport but I am sure my mind will not be registering much about it since I will have been traveling for approximately 33 hours. I’ll have to take a picture or two, just so I remember it.
I will be flying American Airlines and then from L.A. for the rest of the trip I will be on Etihad Airways. Call me lame but I signed up and paid extra money to ensure an exit row on the long flight to Abu Dhabi. I realize I am not super tall but this 6 foot 2 body gets a little cramped in an airplane. I have traveled to Europe three times with the Southeast Community College Chorus. I never worried about seating on those flights because being the director of the group and sponsor, I simply looked for one of the students who was shorter and got an isle seat or one with more room and graciously traded my seat for theirs. I know, I know, pretty lame but shouldn’t being responsible for 20 college students have some perks? Since I will traveling alone, I don’t see this as a viable option.
My next post is going to be about a movie set in India that was recommended to me. It’s on Netflix so if you want to try and search it out and guess which movie I am talking about, be my guest. Here’s a hint: It’s not “Jungle Book.”
Until next time!
Here is a quick update about the books. If you remember Lorenz gave me 25 copies of my piano book, "My Redeemer," to give to the students in India. I can not say enough about the company and the people who work for them. They truly have a way of making this farm boy feel like a VIP. The books came in the mail last week and I am getting them ready to ship. I also started a Crowdrise fundraiser in order to provide "Conducting Techniques" by Brock McElheran for the students that will be in my conducting class. The college does not have a text book and this little book is going to be a great resource for them. I originally requested $150 dollars thinking I could get the books I needed and then be able to ship those books along with the piano books from Lorenz. Well the conducting books are no longer in print and I can get copies but they vary in cost since I had to buy them from individuals selling them on Amazon. I did manage to get 10 books for $147. I put out a second plea for donations and raised the amount to $250. That will allow me to get the books and also get them shipped to the college. Well it only took about 2 days and I got $325 for the project. I can't thank everyone enough who donated to the cause. You all ROCK... and you know who you are! As soon as all the conducting books get here from Amazon, they will be on their way to the Asian Christian College of Music.
Please continue to pray as I am in the middle of outlining and writing lesson plans for the three classes I will be teaching. I am also getting excited to make the trip but a little nervous about being away from home for so long. I am also praying that I will quickly adjust to my temporary home so I will be effective as I teach and can truly enjoy my time there and my time with the students.
Until next time!
Shots & Lunch
Tuesday was my appointment to get the shots I need for my trip. It was an easy process and I ended up not needing many at all. The University of Nebraska Health Center provides the service and if you find yourself needing shots, I would recommend it. The real highlight of the day however was making a new friend and enjoying a great lunch at The Oven in the Haymarket in Lincoln.
I can't believe the number of people I have met that have ties to India. Some are people I met a few years ago and some are friends of friends or any possible combination you can think of. One of these connections was through a fellow piano player and writer that lives right here in Beatrice. Thank you, Barb! Abraham contacted me through my website email and he and I along with a friend of his had lunch before I went to get my shots. Abraham is a businessman in Lincoln whose parents live in Thiruvananthapuram in India. We truly live in a small world. It was a very easy connection and there was no lag in the conversation. I learned SO much about the city I will call home for three weeks. We shared a common faith and also a passion for music. The longer we talked the more excited I got about the opportunity that lies ahead. DISCLAIMER: (mainly for my mothers) The area of India I am staying is very modern, clean and similar to the large cities here in the USA. The biggest culture shock for me will be the number of people in one place. I have a feeling my personal space is going to get invaded. That is something I will have to prepare for.
This was only the second time I have eaten Indian food. The first time I experienced Indian food was on a trip to London with the Southeast Community College choir I conducted. When it came time to order, I was at a loss. Pat, Abraham's friend, that joined us for lunch suggested we just let Abraham order for all of us. I couldn't tell you what the dishes were but I enjoyed them all. Good news... for all you who know how adventurous I am when it comes to eating, I might not have to hit the Subway all that often.
I look forward to meeting with Abraham after the trip so I can share my experience with him. Here's a crazy thing... Abraham's wife will be in India but will be flying home on July 15th, the same day I fly into India. When I leave on August 8th, Abraham will be flying into India on a business trip. What are the odds? We couldn't even get a one day overlap? Maybe on another trip, huh, Abraham?
Until next time!
This blog will journal my experiences as I prepare to go overseas this July and teach at the Asian Christian College of Music in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala in India.