Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Because I Can

A Music History Meme.

Note: "genre" refers to the marketing/mainstream-media label that would be assigned to the band, not the label (or lack of label) that real fans or the band itself would claim.

1. What's your earliest music memory?
I have a synesthetic memory associated with Brahms' Lullaby: I "taste" some sort of rubber, probably the toy that played that song when I was less than a year old. But I think the question is about more traditional memories. "Take you riding in the car car" sung by Woody Guthrie or "Little Boxes" sung by Pete Seeger.

2. What's the first pop song you remember hearing?
"Don't you want me baby" by the Human League. I was already old enough to go to sleep-away camp. My parents were big public radio listeners.

3. What's the first rock song you remember hearing?
I don't know, but I expect it was something traditional. My dad is a big fan of the Rolling Stones & Janis Joplin, so maybe one of them?

4. What's the first classical music piece you remember hearing?
Hm. First? Well, I adored the Pirates of Penzance by the time I was 5. Let's go with that.

5. What's the first piece/song you remember that doesn't fit into those genres?
Well, it'd probably be the folk songs from when I was a toddler.

6. What's the first album/cd you bought for yourself/you asked your parents to buy for you?
Probably Arena by Duran Duran

7. What's a favorite song from grade school?
Careless Whisper by Wham!

8. A song that reminds you of school dances?
Rock Lobster by the B52s

9. Which genre do you listen to most now? ("Most" can mean you have one more song in that genre than in any of the others)

10. Which favorite song/album/piece from your musical history are your readers least likely to know?
Equinoxe by Jean-Michel Jarre or Scenes by Michael Galasso. Of course, neither one is quite as obscure as an album called Cicada, the performer of which I cannot even find. (It's not the new one by the band Cicada; it's at least 20 years old.)

If I still have any readers, I tag you all. Leave me a comment so I can come see it!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Forgotten but Not Gone

My semester is over.
Okay, it's not over. I still have one make-up to administer, then correct; another make-up to correct; and I have [x] students who will be completing the semester before the university's No-Really-Now-You-Have-To-Be-Finished date.
My subject is one that allows for multiple choice exams, and the university structure is such that encourages them. Plus, I find them helpful. There's a right answer and three or four wrong ones. If you pick the right answer, you win! the point; if you don't, you lose it. Why do I like this? Because there is no room for a student to say "You just didn't like me, that's why I have such a low grade," and there is no opportunity for me to say, even unconsciously, "Well, I do feel sorry for this person, I'll just grade them lightly." It's fair to everyone.
And yet I've spent the last week fielding requests for a better grade. "I'm so close, can you just...?"
I think my favorite is the person who threw in every single possible sob story you've heard or seen on blogs -- except illness -- into why s/he should get a better grade. This student came to meet with me after all the in-class exams had been administered, ostensibly for help, but said as s/he was leaving "Well, I just wanted you to meet me."
Oh, wait; maybe my favorite person was the one who demanded that I produce evidence that my grading system was comperable to the rest of the departments' grading. Because I'm the one who's supposed to run around and do all kinds of extra work to defend myself -- to the person who failed every exam and never came for extra help.
Did I mention I'm frustrated?
See, my university is a state university; while somewhere between a few to several of the graduate programs are among the best in the country, the undergraduate pool comes almost exclusively from in-state -- and therefore is highly non-competitive. I am well aware that there are good students here. We even have brilliant ones: one undergraduate alum went onto graduate school in a humanities subject, and landed a job straight out of graduate school with one of the most prestigious universities for that subject in the country. But such students are rare.
I love teaching: I love the expounding, but I also love helping people understand things, and I would love to inspire people with the love of understanding things too. But 95% of my feedback is from people who don't care about the subject, about learning, about curiosity.
So I'm frustrated.