This weekend was awesome. I got to miss school on Friday to attend a day-and-a-half conference for the South Central Society for Music Theory (SCSMT) in New Orleans with my friends from school and some of our professors. Actually, I didn't miss any class, because the one class I'm taking is a theory seminar, and the professor cancelled it because he was going to attend the conference as well. As it turned out, he had a deadline coming up for a book review he's writing, so he ended up not coming to the conference and working on the review all weekend, but he wouldn't have un-cancelled class at the last minute. As punishment for his not coming, the rest of the LSU folks nominated him to be on the program committee for next year, which involves reading the paper proposals, finding a keynote speaker, and generally shaping the theme of the conference. I think it's funny that the SCSMT members traditionally do that to people who miss the conference, so hopefully Dr. Peck will take it well. They nominated an alternate just in case, but they're not telling him that.

I was the treasurer this past year, and the officers usually rotate up through the four offices (treasurer, secretary, VP, and president) over four years, so I get to be secretary this next year! This past year, all I had to do was open a business checking account for us, reimburse people for conference expenses, and take people's dues and registration fees at the start of the conference. It's really not a big deal, and neither is the secretary's job, but those sorts of things will look terrific on my CV (the hoity-toity academic version of a résumé), which is a little short on impressive things at the moment. I've never presented at conferences or published anything, so all I have at this point is my teaching experience and these offices! I'm finally at the point in my studies where I feel comfortable submitting to conferences, and I'm thinking that if there's a Schubert conference, I'll definitely want to present what I'm working on for my thesis.

The process of presenting a paper can be daunting depending on the circumstances; regional societies tend to be forgiving, and there's a definite air of collaboration and a desire for the older members to help shape the younger members' scholarship. For example, the question portion at the end of each paper is usually filled with phrases like, "Thanks for this enlightening paper. I wonder if you've thought about looking at [insert obscure article or piece of music here]..." I'm definitely ready to start presenting at a regional meeting, especially since two of my fellow grad students from LSU presented at this conference and the pressure on me is building from all sides. However, the national conference can be the most intimidating place in the world, because if you give a paper, chances are good that at least one of the theorists you cite in your paper will be sitting in the audience. There are certain theorists I would never feel comfortable quoting for fear of angering them and thus becoming the victim of humiliation at the national level. I know that most of the people in this discipline want only the best for us newbies, but some of them seem to enjoy nothing more than appearing to be the preeminent authority by tearing everyone else down. I've seen it happen. It's an interesting dynamic to be faced with. Anyway, my fear of such a thing happening to me has kept me from presenting anything thus far, but after this weekend, it seems a manageable task. And I need to get my butt in gear and push myself to the next level.

Besides the really fun papers (and the few that were not-so-fun), I got to enjoy the company of people I normally don't spend much time with outside school. We four LSU students who attended the conference (Matt, Dave, Rob, and I) rode together both days rather than stay in New Orleans, and consequently we ate together and hung out at breaks. We went to dinner at a fabulous Chinese restaurant with two of our professors, a former LSU student who's finishing his dissertation and teaching elsewhere at the moment, and a random guy who applied for our theory position and wasn't called in for an interview. He was just weird and was rather belligerent about whom they had called for interviews, which I thought was unprofessional and simultaneously annoying. Anyway, the restaurant was the kind of place where they encourage the group to order a bunch of stuff and share it, so they had a large lazy Susan in the middle of the table (which Dr. Perry began referring to as the Food Centrifuge). We all got to try a bunch of great food and generally had a fantastic time. I sat next to the former LSU student, whom I'd heard a lot about but had only met twice, and he was really fun. He and Jeannette were at LSU for a year of overlap, so we talked a bit about her and her incipient baby boy (yes, Elvis is a boy!), and I also got him to tell me some really funny stories about traveling with two of our professors. He revealed to us that the they tend to act like an old married couple when they travel, each trying to convince the other that they know exactly where they are, and ultimately getting lost because of all their carrying on. He had me crying because I was laughing so hard.

This weekend was a welcomed renewal of enthusiasm for my chosen career path. I've been going through ups and downs this past year about whether I'm really cut out to be a music theorist and whether I really can finish a Ph.D., and being around people who remind me why I love it was exactly what I needed. The best thing to come out of the weekend was an idea by one of my profs to have all the theory grad students and professors get together on a bi-weekly basis to talk about some pre-determined piece of music or article that we want to spend some time hashing out. They're going to make a suggestion box for us, so we'll put in suggestions for things we want to discuss, and then everyone will come discuss whatever it is over lunch on alternate Fridays. This has the potential to become my favorite time of the week. I have incredible resources in these professors, and learning from them about topics we choose will help us fill in gaps in our knowledge, besides being a fun playtime for our brains that I think it can become.

Labels: ,



You've been having ups and downs!!?? Dude--I'm suffering here without daily treks to Highland to keep up with your life. Well, it's nice to know that I'm not the only one that has ups and downs...even if yours aren't Italian large sine curves.

Now I'm kind of sad I didn't get my butt over to see people at the conf. (It was really a too nice of a day to sit around hearing papers, though.)

Glad you had a good time.
I said the above
Horray for renewed enthusiasm! I know what you mean about needing it (see my post from a few weeks ago re: the imposter syndrome). I am looking forward to my conference (SRCD, Society for Research in Child Development) in April also. I hope it fuels me as much as yours fueled you!
Post a Comment

<< Home



what I read

where I go