About the Awesome

This blog contains the random thoughts of an 18-year-old vocal performance major. Proceed with caution.

About Eric

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Thornton, CO, United States

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Remember When I Blogged...?

So it's 11:29 pm on Tuesday, June 26, 2012. My last post on this blog was in October, and honestly I don't remember writing it. I must have been tired then too. Perhaps I won't remember this blogging experience either.

Anyway, I am now officially a sophomore at the University of Miami, where I had a very successful Freshman year. I managed to get Straight A's (though not a 4.0, due to a nasty little A- in Music Theory first semester), which sort of flip-flops my high school situation, where I never got straight A's, but, thanks to IB, managed to maintain a GPA above a 4.0. The irony is not lost on me.


And now this summer I am working at as a counselor for Camp Explorer, a childcare day camp that runs during the summers in the City and County of Broomfield. It's quite a fun job (and much better than selling knives... hopefully I never have to go down that road again.) There are lots of kids to look after, but overall they're all fun to hang out with and I occasionally have to remind myself that I'm working.

But anyway, I may or may not be working at Camp Explorer again next summer, because I may or may not be going on the UM trip to Salzburg as part of the Vocal Performance program. Nothing's set in stone, yet-- in fact, I don't believe auditions for the program will take place until the spring semester-- but if all goes as planned, that's what I'll be doing for half of next summer. What I do for the other half all depends on what I can work out.

And then, after that, I will be 21 and eligible to start drinking start auditioning for Young Artists Programs. Ideally, I can get a spot in the one at Central City Opera so I can stay in Denver for the holidays, but I'll probably branch out a bit and audition at a few places around the country. After all, I would not want to deny myself the luxury of visiting new places... especially when housing and food is covered and I still get paid. (Which is why opera is awesome!)

But anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself. I am still young. But for those who follow this blog but do not see me on Facebook, I will be performing in recital on July 14th at 2:30 at the Cross of Christ Lutheran Church in Broomfield. It will be mostly classical pieces, but if everyone plays their cards right there may be some other genres explored. I don't want to say anything right now. You'll just have to come to find out.

I'll try to get back into blogging. Because I'm super hipster and don't want to do what everyone else is doing, I am abstaining from getting a Tumblr, electing instead to remain faithful to the good people at Blogger, who have housed my random thoughts of spontaneity through the past few years.

That is all. Good evening.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Memory... All Alone in the Moonlight...

So, just so you're not disappointed, this blog entry is not about Cats. Even though it's a wonderful show, I just thought the title would be a good hook to get you in. Do not be entirely disappointed, however. I am in no way suggesting that there will be no future installments on the Blog of Awesome in which Cats is involved. However, for the purposes of this entry, there will be no Cats. Sorry.

(And if you're actually adverse to Cats and are happy that that is not the topic of today's entry, then congratulations.)

So, anyway, I've been studying for a Psych exam I have on Tuesday, and one of the concepts that we're studying is memory. (Intriguingly enough, another concept we're studying is the actual concept of the concept, but I won't spend too much time on that.) And, there are some eye-opening things as well as some blatantly obvious things that I'm reading in the two chapters pertaining to the, dare I say, memorable concept of memory.

(I'm sure I learned some of this stuff in IB Psych, but I don't quite remember. And now, thanks to this chapter, I know why. :D)

What I think interested me most is the whole idea of interference. Our long-term memory is essentially limitless, but we have memories both from before and after we learn certain things interfere with what we're trying to recall or recognize. For instance, when I take Italian next semester, I'm sure that my past knowledge of Spanish will interfere with my ability to learn Italian, since the two languages are so similar. This is what is called proactive interference, in which memories from the past are interfering with memories encoded afterward. The opposite can take effect as well. If I become fluent in Italian (and, as a Vocal Performance major hoping to pursue a career in opera, this is probably not a bad idea) and then my knowledge of Spanish diminishes, then retroactive interference has occurred.

Another intriguing concept is the idea of mood-congruent memory. If I'm happy while studying for this test, then I had better be happy when I'm taking the test, because that actually has an effect on my performance. Also, the setting should be similar. Unfortunately, that's probably unlikely, because my dorm setting is quite different from my setting in the Psych lecture hall.

And, of course, the one thing that I kind of already knew but never ever adhered to (as a result of confirmation bias and overconfidence, but, again, that's another chapter in my psych book), was the idea that things should be studies over a long period instead of cramming. So, really, I should have been studying this stuff as I learned it in class, rather than working the entire last weekend towards the test.

Which leads me to the point of this blog entry, which is almost in now way related to the title (ironically enough). Perhaps it's time to change my studying habits. I've already found that it is a lot easier to study and do homework at college than it was in high school, despite the fact that I have a TV, laptop, and various other means of distraction in my room. Perhaps I need to take more advantage of the situation I've placed myself in and study things more regularly, rather than just before a test. I know that a lot of you reading this are like "Well, duh," but this is somewhat epiphanic for me. Maybe I'm inspired to study more simply because dropping grades could bring an end to my scholarship and send me home, or maybe I'm a big nerd (probable), but this seems like a good lifestyle change for me. Especially if I decide to minor in Psychology, which requires a lot of memorization and consistence to master. (Or, since it's what I want to minor in, somewhat master. Haha.)

If you've made it this far and you're sad that I haven't discussed Cats, then I'll throw you a bone (which is more of a dog metaphor, but I'm sure you'll pardon it for now). The Rum Tum Tugger is the best character, possibly followed by Macavity, and Skimbleshanks annoys me. Also, I don't understand why everyone respects Bustopher Jones, Old Deuteronomy, and Gus the Theater Cat, but they (initially) deplore Grizabella. It just seems like there's not a theme. Grizabella is avoided because she is old, but so are the other three cats I named (though I suppose Bustopher could be interpreted as middle-aged). Still, though, that's really the only thing you should question about Cats, because it is an excellent show and no one can say otherwise.

Thank you.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

I have a new blog!!

Don't worry, Eric's Blog of Awesome isn't going anywhere. Wipe the sweat from your brow and take an Aspirin.

However, being the Vocal Performance major that I am, I have dedicated an entire blog to my musical career, which, of course, doesn't really exist yet. But for my own amusement (and perhaps your own), I have decided to keep a public electronic diary of all that happens to me musically throughout college, grad school, and an eventual career. God willing.

So please check out A Return to Bass-ics if you like. Or don't, but tell me you did so I feel like a better person. :D

Meanwhile, the Blog of Awesome will keep track of my day-to-day life, as well as reflections. If I feel a post belongs on both blogs, I can even publish it twice. How convenient am I?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The College Chronicles: Episode 1

So, obviously I've come to terms with the fact that this blog is sort of the window through which I can communicate to my friends and family back home in excruciating detail my personal college experience. So this will serve as a sort of transition post in which I will randomly reflect on several parts of my college life. These sort of aimless entries will be titled The College Chronicles, and are going to be raw and uncensored, not unlike adult films or a farmer's market.


From this point I will not be backspacing anything I write. I will just figuratively vomit onto the page and it is up to your brain's wiring to make sense of that which I write. (I do reserve the right to edit for grammar and mechanics, however, so please accept that. When I say that I won't change anything, I mean the content of the post. Essentially, once it's there, it's there forever. Pineapple. See. I can't un-say the word pineapple because that is content. If I had written the word "pienapul," though, I would reserve the right to re-write the word. Perhaps I'll establish a set of by-laws, and you, my faithful bloggees, may call me out at anytime if you feel I am not adhering to a College Chronicle general rule. You could even go as far to say that it was a College Chronicle Caper. Oh God, see, I can't un-write that.)

I've noticed that people stay up late. Like, really late. I, being a person who loves sleeping (but not sleeping around because I'm not a slut), do not always sleep. But when I get the opportunity, I take it. Now, granted, I understand that not everyone has an 8am class, and that a lot of these people are out on their own for the first time, and the fact that they can stay up late without purpose or direction means that they should. I'm a victim of this belief as well; please don't think I'm being hypocritical. I just find that sometimes, if I am tired, I should sleep. Natural human biological reaction.

Also, I've noticed that the toilets on my floor flush spontaneously. They are the fancy automatic flush toilets, which, given that some people in the world are incapable of flushing their own waste (people in general, not on my floor-- if you're on my floor and I'm reading this, I'm making a general statement. Same about the sleeping discussion you might have read earlier in this blog), I'm a strong advocate for them. However, they are super-sensitive, and more often than not, the toilet flushes twice when one flush would have been sufficient. And so then, I was thinking, certainly I can't be the only person in the world this has happened to. I hope not, because that would suggest some sort of inferiority on my part in my abilities of correctly using a toilet. If we are to assume that this happens to other people as often as it happens to me, then we can assume that the dorm is using twice, perhaps even three times as much water as it needs to. Perhaps this is why room and board is so expensive these days. Yes, I'm blaming it on toilets. Perhaps automatic flush toilets are the reason why we're in a recession (or are we finished receding? Certainly there has to be a point where we stop. But I won't talk politics). Perhaps, and I'm just spit-balling here, but perhaps automatic flush toilets will one day cause the downfall of humanity. After all, water is nothing to laugh about. If we flush it all away, we'll all die of thirst. I'm just saying.

Yes, I realize that I just spent ten minutes writing about toilets. But the joke is on you, because you just spent ten minutes reading about toilets. Or longer, if you're below level in reading. I should hope not. If you are, there are options for you.

Also, in writing this I've noticed that my mind moves a mile a minute. It's strange. As I gaze up through my hurricane shutter, the sun is creating a pleasant aura in this room. It's very good for good blogging strategy. What does that even mean? "Blogging strategy?" Why did I say that I couldn't erase anything I wrote?

Being slightly independent is a strange thing. Like, for instance, grocery shopping. Something that seemed so simple when my mom did it. But, when I go to the Target near campus, I end up hopelessly lost at times. For instance, I still haven't located the Ramen Aisle at Target, despite having been to the store twice now. And it's not like they have a little kiosk where you type in "Ramen." Though that would be ingenious. Like real-life search engines. On another note, why aren't there machines that tell me where the keys to my dorm are in times of crisis? What about my iPod? I can call my phone, but I can't call my keys. I mean really. This is the twenty-first century. Why am I even using keys? Why doesn't my door just scan my retina and let me in? I mean, really. That solves two problems with one blow: I can get into my dorm without worrying about a key, and pirates, who wear eye-patches, can't because their retinas are covered with an eye-patch.


Nope. Can't erase it.

Also, Skype. It's annoying sometimes. Like when I'm watching something and suddenly people are chatting and EVERY SINGLE TIME SOMEONE POSTS SOMETHING I get that little water drop noise. It's going on right now. Certain ethnic girls from high school are chatting right now in a group chat, and my Skype keeps making the little water drop noise. But what really irks me is that, for some reason, when I have my earbuds in, whenever the little water drop noise happens, it goes on the loud speakers, instead of into my earbuds. And that means that whatever is playing at the time is played out loud. This usually isn't too big of an issue, but it's sometimes very difficult to listen to Somebody to Love by Justin Bieber when people are judging you after hearing random snippets of the song.

Just for the record, I only own two Justin Bieber songs. Neither of them is Baby. Because that song is ridiculous. On a related note, I do own Rebecca Black's Friday, as well as the Glee cover of it. Yes, I did pay ninety-nine cents for it. No, I'm not proud of myself.

Oh. Another thing. The laundry room. I feel as if sometimes people have no regard for other people when it comes to laundry. It's like all morals fly out of the window and suddenly we're in a jungle setting. The laundry room is like the lion's den... in a jungle setting (SHUT UP) and I am a piece of meat. A sentient piece of meat who knows he's a piece of meat and who only wants to do one load because if he falls behind he'll have to do two loads and end up looking like a douche for using two washing machines when there's a limited amount. But anyway, I had to transfer my clothes from the washer to the dryer. I go in and there are like three dryers open. Suddenly, two girls come in and take two of the dryers. No big deal, I think, I still have this dryer left. Well, true story, there was a reason that dryer was open. It wasn't working. And so then I realize that one of the girls simply came in, put a single article of clothing into the dryer, and left without starting the dryer. Now, I'm sorry, but you can't just "reserve" dryers. It's a come-and-go process and you get what you get. Regardless, I still felt dirty as I removed the lone article of slightly damp clothing from the dryer and placed my own clothes in there. But it's a jungle out there, and it's survival of the fittest (or, if you prefer Creation, then it's like the Garden of Eden and I'm fighting with the snake for an apple or something.) I guess you could say I'd better "wash" up my act.

I'm not entirely clever when I'm simply writing what I'm thinking as I'm thinking it. And that's unfortunate.

Also, I have rediscovered the joy of orange juice at college. It's true. I bought a whole carton of OJ from Target and I've been enjoying it the entire last two weeks. I have a glass in the evening. It's sort of like having a glass of Chardonnay in the evening as you relax in a big dusty chair by the fire reading a Leo Tolstoy classic, except replace the alcohol with Vitamin C, the fire with a fan, the dusty chair with my beautiful futon, and the Leo Tolstoy classic with Facebook, Hulu, or a derivative of Memebase or Failblog.

Well, anyway, it's nearing 6:45 and I have my a cappella practice at 7pm, so I'd better bid adieu to my beautiful readers, who always remain faithful to me. God Bless You. God Bless America. And good evening to you all.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The One Month Mark

I actually have passed the one-month mark. As of September 17, I had called Florida my home for a month, and as of September 24, I had been in classes for over a month. So, really, it's been a month and some days, but The One Month And Some Days Mark just didn't have the same ring to it, so the name of this blog entry, simply for the purpose of poetic license, will stay as written.

Thank you.

So, you should know that I'm writing what will soon be a beautiful blog entry from the comfort of my dorm room, serenaded by the beautiful tones of Miley Cyrus's Party in the USA (which, for the record, is coming from my next-door neighbors, not my dorm.) I am lying somewhat seductively on my futon under my bed in a dimmed setting, next to two empty Coke Zero cans and a bowl that has already held plentiful amounts of Beef-Flavoured Ramen and Easy-Mac. I am also sitting next to a huge bottle of hand sanitizer, which has, so far, helped me through the epidemic of bubonic plague that has been spreading like wildfire through this campus.

In fact, I think I'm going to use a little right now. Give me a second.


Ok. I'm back.

For those of you who are new to my blogosphere and/or do not know me and are simply stalking me because my profile picture is unbelievably sexy (it happens to the best of us), I am a Classical Vocal Performance major. This means that I sing a lot of classical music, including a lot of opera. As such my classes (which you will get a full report on in due time) are mostly music-oriented (surprise!) Some are more enjoyable than others. All of them are, in themselves, intriguing to their own respective extents. That's a good thing, too, because if I dip under a 3.0 GPA, I'll lose my academic scholarship and either have to take out loans or say goodbye to my beloved palm trees. Which is something I don't want to do. Because palm trees are beautiful and tropical. Like me.


All of my friends who are Engineering or Pre-Med or Microneurobiochemistry majors (if that's a thing) may look at me and scoff when I say that being a music major is not easy. I am currently enrolled in no less than 11 classes, not counting my extracurriculars. I have 8am (6am MST, mind you) classes EVERY BLOODY DAY and minimal naptime, and it looks like that's not going to change much over the next four years.

My first class is Music Theory, which meets Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 8-8:50 am. And, just FYI, there's a lot more to theory than one might think. After a quick review of key signatures (which, due to my background in piano, I took to pretty easily) and different chords, we jumped straight into Bach Chorales. As in, creating chords with different voice types. At first, I found this extremely challenging, but I've reached a point where it is not nearly as difficult to avoid creating Parallel Fifths and Octaves (which are bad), leaving leading tones unresolved, and other fun things. It's definitely a structure that is kept very much inside the box, but we must learn the rules of music before we can break them. And, for the laymen reading this... there are a LOT of rules of music. And I know that we've barely scratched the surface.

My other 8am class (8-9:15 am on Tuesdays and Thursdays) is Skills Ensemble, or Aural Skills. Yes, we've already made a fair amount of "Oral Skills" jokes. Most of us are still fresh from high school, remember. This class involves ear-training- that is, recognition of certain steps of a scale, certain chords, improvisation, sight-reading, and pretty much everything else. And let me tell you. For everything that I don't know in Music Theory, there are ten things I don't know in Skills Ensemble. You could say I am aurally challenged. (Admit it. You laughed.) So, yeah, definitely a difficult class, especially at 8am, when my brain still isn't quite functioning.

After music theory on Mondays and Wednesdays I have Keyboard Skills. Luckily, due to nearly thirteen years of piano from the most awesome piano teacher in the world, I have a pretty good grasp of piano skills, so I placed a year ahead in piano. I would have placed out, but I didn't have a lot of basic technique (contrary and parallel motion two-octave scales and other such tomfooleries) that kept me in the sophomore program. The unfortunate thing is that I was recently displaced from my last keyboard class into one that is about a week ahead, so it's been a little weird catching up and adjusting to an entirely different class setting five weeks into classes. But such is life.

Immediately preceding Keyboard on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10:10-11:00 am is one of the highlights of my day, Symphonic Choir. This is the largest audition-required ensemble at my school, and is actually a lot of fun to be in. Right now, we're going in the opposite direction of any college choir that I could ever imagine and are singing excerpts from the Baseball Cantata (yes, there exists such a thing) called Casey at the Bat, based on the famous poem. Yes, they wrote, in essence, an entire opera out of a poem. Talent. And, for our first concert, we will be wearing t-shirts and jeans and be singing on bleachers instead of risers. #reasonswhymyschoolisprobablybetterthanyours. I'm assuming we'll be returning to my traditional choral music after the Casey concert, but I'm glad to see that the choral studies program here is so open-minded.

After choir on Mondays and Wednesdays I have a short break, after which I have my fourth class, English Diction. This is the class that I was placed in five weeks into classes, so it's been interesting catching up to the rest of the class. The main focus of the class is on learning IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet), which is, naturally, actually very useful for singers, but kind of a slow topic to learn. I do enjoy making sounds, though, so I'm making the most out of the class.

The final class on Mondays and Wednesdays is Opera Theater. In this class, we basically work on presentation from a singer's perspective. Essentially, acting while maintaining singing posture. Definitely a fun class. Mondays we are at the school wellness center for Movement with a dance professor (including a lot of yoga as well as some beginning dancing) and on Wednesdays we are in the classroom, learning about staging and other such trivialities necessary for an opera singer.

Also. Fridays. I have Voice Forum. This is "Listen to Pretty Music and Occasionally Hear Important Announcements From the Voice Faculty" Class, so it's fairly enjoyable. I'm planning on singing a La Bohéme aria as my first forum performance next Friday. We we we so excited. :D

Back to Tuesdays and Thursdays. After Skills Ensemble, I have Experiencing Music. I will leave it at the name. It definitely had a slow start at the beginning of the semester, but since then we have learned a lot of different cultural music, which is at least interesting to me. It's definitely a class I would take if it weren't required for my major, but since it is, it feels more monotonous to me. But we're starting some more classical studying, which pertains more to me as a classical singer, so I'm definitely looking forward to that.

And then... I have two non-music classes, both meeting on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Solely for my own amusement, I'm taking an Intro to Psychology class, which I'm enjoying very much. It's the one class in a lecture hall setting, so I actually feel like I'm in college when I'm in that class. And thanks for IB Psych, I'm finding a lot of this to be review, so I'm enjoying myself quite heartily. I then have my Intro to Acting Class, which also serves as my honors credit for the semester. It's definitely a lot more challenging that I would think, and the instructor definitely requires professionalism from us, so there's not a lot of fun improv moments in the class, but overall it's a good skill for me, as a performance career hopeful, to have.

And then, I have my private voice lessons... easily the highlight of my week. My voice instructor is absolutely amazing. My first voice lesson he already had me singing high G's and A's like no one's business. I'm already working on several different songs in multiple languages, way more than is required of a Freshman, and I'm enjoying every second of it. Every time I come out of a voice lesson, I'm on a high for the rest of the day. Which is good, because my lessons are on Tuesdays, which, being only a step above Mondays, are not great days for me as a person who enjoys his sleep.

In addition to this maddening schedule, I'm also in the chorus for the opera and in the university co-ed a cappella group, which still does not have a set name. I'll let you all know when it does. And it will be glorious. It's definitely interesting balancing the classical nature of the opera with the contemporary nature of the a cappella group. But versatility is beautiful. And so am I.

So there's my update on college. I'll try and blog more so that way not all of my blogs have to be so long. If you actually read to this point, I commend you. And let's play a trick on those who didn't. If you did read this all the way to the end, then write your favorite fruit as a comment on the LINK to this blog on my Facebook Page and see if some confusion ensues. Tomatoes count, but assorted squashes do not. Besides, whose favorite fruit is a squash? Gross.

(Also, if you are reading this and you understand what I mean when I say "plump squash," then you're cool. If you're from UM, you shouldn't understand that. So don't feel bad.)

So, to conclude. College is awesome. Much too awesome. I am eternally grateful to be given the opportunity to study here and am hoping to milk the university for everything it's worth.

♫ ♪ ♫!!

(In case your computer is dumb and is showing BOX BOX BOX, those were intended to be music notes. Sucks to be you. Thank you. Bye.)

Thursday, August 18, 2011




Music theory.



True story. I took my music theory placement tests today, which included both written and aural theory. Both of which were somewhat sucky. Now, I'm not saying that I'm some grand master of music theory, but I legitimately thought that I could work my way through a theory test and get maybe half of the questions right and then figure out the rest for myself.

But no. Because college music theory is much different from the rest of music theory that I've ever actually used. For instance, there are these things called modes, which are scales with different steps. I sort of learned them this summer but immediately forgot them upon returning to school. Basically, there is a mode for every note in the C-major (or A-minor!) scale, played on just white keys. For instance, a D scale played ONLY ON WHITE KEYS is a Dorian mode.

But here's what I want to know... WHY?!?!?!?!

I really doubt that there is a single song written with the Dorian mode in mind. Last time I checked, songs are written in major or minor keys. Nothing else.

Perhaps it's the frustration of failure talking, but I obviously failed both tests. Luckily, however, I automatically will default into Theory 101... there is no remedial class that I have to take... thanks to the good lord Jesus. So even if I failed every question (which I didn't... I did well on scales and basic chords... and maybe intervals), I won't have to pay. The instructor did say, however, that "basic theory" will be quickly reviewed in the first two days of the semester. Depending on what he defines as "basic," those two days may be stressful.

I'm beginning to think that being a music major is definitely not going to be quite as easy as I had anticipated.

Less Difficulties

Well, I'm all moved into the dorm. And now it's 7:35 am and I'm already getting up early for orientation shenanigans. Wait. LET ME TELL YOU OF THE CONFUSIONS OF COLLEGE.

So, I get an email from one of the music admins saying that they're looking forward to seeing me at the "Dean's Breakfast" this morning... which I assume is specifically for Frost School of Music students. But then I get my orientation schedule, and instead I'm listed as being at the BankOne United Center (basically their big auditorium... Obama apparently has spoken there) for something else Frost-related. Essentially, I'm hoping that they're the same thing.

Anyway.... moving in was fairly painless. We had to park a while away, but we managed to pile my entire life into one cart and drag it across campus. In the heat. And humidity. Which I keep telling myself I'll get used to.

Luckily, we were able to get our way in before my roommate, Dominic (who is actually used to Floridian heat) showed up, so we managed not to get in each other's way, which was probably good for starting a healthy roommate-ship.

(Is that a word? I feel like it is.)

And now I've woken up and experienced my first dorm shower experience. (There was like, no one in there... that was pleasant. haha.) And now I hopefully will find out if the Frost School thing is the same thing as the "Dean's Breakfast." I hope that it is, because I'm taking my roommate... and hopefully I'm not leading him astray. haha.