Thursday, July 8, 2010

In what time signature is static?

Thank you, sir, for everything you did.

Thursday is usually recipe-making and picture-making day in preparation for Friday posts. This week's Recipe Friday was going to be about making non-dairy milk alternatives (rice and almond) at home without special equipment or ingredients; however, it will now be a tutorial for making fresh strawberry pie instead. I already have it written and do not much feel like cooking or photographing anything today; both kitchens and cameras are difficult to navigate through tears.

I found out this afternoon that one of my most esteemed mentors has passed. There are three, maybe four people I look back on and think to myself

'That!
Yes.
That.
Right there.
That is what an educator should do!
That is what an educator should be!
That is part of who I want to be and what I want to bring to my students.'

It is nigh impossible to explain how much these few individuals have helped to shape my knowledge and habits, thought processes and personality, providing assistance and encouragement when it was most needed both academically and personally. I know, having witnessed comments and stories told by fellow classmates, that I am not alone in this.

I know I am not the only one that would not have received my degree without having had certain papers and waivers signed, without my knowledge, by a one Dr. Leonard Ott. There are several who remember an 8am rendition of the Beggin' Strips commercial as well as how we could easily stall for time if we as a group had not been able to complete our nightly assignments by asking about cats and how was his lately? We learned about rondo form, diminished sevenths, fundamental harmonic progression and the dangers of parallel fifths as well as how to read and use figured bass.

His greatest impact on me, personally, was 20th Century Music Theory. I distinctly remember him blaring static at the entire classroom, slowly turning the volume down, looking at us with the biggest smile and brightest expression imaginable to ask, with great merriment, "What's the time signature?" A close friend who also recalls this class period described him as gleeful. And I could swear he had danced as he asked.

That one question forever altered the way I think about and experience music. (It also subtly altered the way I see the world in general.) Sure, sure, music comes in two types; song and dance, whatever, but what time signature do you use for static? That I actually enjoy listening to Cage, Kirchner, Schoenberg and the Second Viennese School would not have been a possibility without Dr. Ott. The same class also furthered my fascination - then, near obsession - with the bizarreness and creative genius of Percy Grainger, but that's a story for another time.

I do not yet know if transportation and financial means will allow, but I would like very much to attend services; one does not gain or lose mentors like this every day.

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