Monday, April 27, 2009

The Week Gets Busy

3:00PM April 18

Tuesday was a very long day. I got back from Ferrara around 6:30 in the morning. It was a packed train, and when I got on, most everybody was sprawled out across two seats, encroaching on the aisles as they starved for some sleep. I eventually found a seat, but I was not willing to close my eyes, as I had my guitar with me. By the time I finally got home, it was close to 7:00AM, and I still had to be up for 10:30 Italian class. I considered staying up, but it only took me five minutes of watching "O Brother, Where Art Thou" before I fell asleep.

It was more of a nap though, as I got up only ninety minutes later to eat, shower, and head off to campus. I had to take my guitar to school too because it was my lesson day, an extra burden to carry up the hill. As soon as I checked my email on campus though, I found out my teacher could not make it that day, and we would postpone until Wednesday. I felt like I'd dragged my guitar up to campus for nothing.

On the other hand, the lack of a lesson meant I had about five hours on campus in the middle of the day in between my Italian and Politics classes, and I decided to use that time to go nap in the La Pietra gardens. I first resolved to take a bunch of pictures while the gardens were in full bloom. When I finally found a nice shady tree to take a nap under, I didn't find it so easy to fall asleep though. I listened to some music and tried to chill out, but of course when I actually wanted to sleep, my body refused, so I went to join John Spencer for lunch.

Pictures From The La Pietra Gardens:

Looking up towards Fiesole

When it came time for politics class, I was running on fumes, and our teacher decided to take us outside for the lesson. I had a lot of trouble trying not to fall asleep as the sun was in my eyes for the first half of class. Eventually, my teacher offered me his seat, where there was less sun. I did better after this, but my teacher kept making references to my condition throughout the class, often remarking, "so this is the type of question you ask on an hour and a half of sleep." We were discussing Eastern Europe that day, and at one point, while discussing their phenomenal success in the past at the Olympics, he quipped, "they used to dope, like Adrian should be doing now." It was a good class but a very long day, and I was happy to be heading home afterwards, where I might finally catch up on my sleep. In total, I was up for about thirty-six of thirty-eight hours.

Wednesday afternoon we had our last piano class because our piano teacher will be touring for the rest of the semester as a sideman for a semi-classical-pop singer. Unfortunately, this means that we have to play our final for a different teacher. I really like this teacher, and at the end of class, he told me to stay in touch. There's always a possibility that I'll have a gig over here someday, and I'll reconnect with him, or vice-versa.

After piano, I had my make-up guitar lesson in the grass out front of La Pietra. As we'd moved the day of our lesson, Antonio's office was taken by another student's composition, and besides, it was a gorgeous day to be outside.

My teacher is also the composition teacher for the two students studying film scoring here, and they were each recording a piece to accompany a scene from a silent film that day. I was one of the musicians for the session, so my teacher offered me a ride down to the studio early, so we might get a good amp sound and set up before everybody else arrived.

The recording was a little difficult for the first composition, as we’d never heard any example of what we were playing. Like real studio musicians, we had to create an interpretation on the spot, but we were creating the whole track with no foundation. To make it especially difficult, we had several time signature and mood changes, and the whole time we were playing along with a click track that appeared to accelerate over the course of each measure, never allowing the tempo to feel set. It was a difficult situation, and I don’t think any of us played our best, but the music itself was interesting, and I’m curious to see how it turned out.

School treated us to pizza, and we got a big enough order that the local pizzeria threw in a bottle of proseco too. The only trouble was, we didn't have a bottle opener. We pondered how to open it for a while. At one point, Adam tried opening it using his keys, attempting to hammer one end in the cork with an empty beer bottle. We all waited in anticipation to see if it would work, at which point John Spencer aptly noted, "you know you're an alcoholic when...." Eventually the engineer at the studio produced a bottle opener after watching us struggle for a while, and we all shared a toast before returning to the studio for the second student's piece.

The next composition was much more straight-forward, and it did not take nearly as long, giving me the opportunity to return home at a reasonable hour after another long day.

Thursday, in Italian class, we ran our children's music "specttacolo" for the first time all the way through, presenting it to NYU's Italian language coordinator here in Florence. She happened to love it, several times joining in with clapping or laughing at the hilarious sight of fifteen college kids dancing the "Hokey Pokey" and like-songs. After the performance, we still had plenty of time left in class though, and as it was Thursday, we convinced our teacher to let us watch La Vita รจ Bella. I had never seen it before, but I thought it was brilliant. Roberto Benigni completely reembodied Chaplin's "tramp" character, a role that all too perfectly fits an Italian. I can't wait to watch more.

I got to record the aperitivo for the first time that night all the way through, finally getting a documentation of our jams with Tryson, which we do every week at the end of the program. We played two of our usual tunes, "Summertime" and John Legend's "Stay With You," but we also encouraged Tryson to come up with a blues for a change. He actually did a really great job improvising lyrics, and the piece went somewhere without any extended instrumental solos. I can't say it was our most solid performance overall, which is unfortunate, as it was the final aperitivo, but I'm satisfied that I at least have some record of what we were doing each week.

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