20 May 2011

an education in jazz

I am finally, only through the grace of God, done with college.  When I say it like that it sounds like it was miserable.  It wasn't; in fact, it was pretty fun.  But it wasn't always easy, and I wouldn't make it through a day without his grace anyway, college or not.  I am also now unemployed, teaching music not being a lucrative enough venture to pay the rent (with my skills and limited experience, at least), so I'm moving back in with my parents (it's ok, they're cool, and when I say they're cool I mean they're nerdy like me).  I'll stay with them until I either go to grad school in the fall or get rejected from grad school, in which case who knows!  I have full confidence in God's sovereignty, so maybe I'm less stressed about unemployment than I should be.  I have roughly two weeks left before moving back home, and I must admit I'm relishing the wide empty TIME that I finally have.  Apparently, I like reading and music!  I noticed that it said so on my Facebook profile, so I tried them and I DO like both!  My parents gave me a Kindle for graduation, and even though my first love will always be crispy, age-worn sweet smelling tomes, the (near) infinite capabilities of the tiny Kindle delight my fondness for always having multiple reading possibilities with me.  And I've been learning jazz, FINALLY.

Jazz has always been to me the elusive domain of musicians far better than me, surrounded by a smoke of nonchalant genius and pure creativity.  My (former) boss is giving me a crash course in jazz, from progressions to modes and ninths and improvisation.  I never really learned how to improv in a band setting, like I do in the worship band; I kind of just tried and it happened.  Jazz seems like "anything goes," but the theory is endlessly complicated.  For the first time, I'm having to actually think about what notes I should play next.  I've started listening to more jazz, having been directed to jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli.  Jazz violin!  How cool is that!  Learning jazz has made me realize how much I love learning music, and how refreshingly challenging the puzzle of theory is.  It's been a bit of a reassurance for my decision to pursue a postgraduate music degree.  I'm glad I majored in history, but I miss music.

16 May 2011

Electric Tuareg

Tinariwen is a band of Tuareg musicians.  The founding member reportedly built his own guitar as a child; he used a tin can, bicycle brake wire, and a stick to make it after seeing a movie where a cowboy played a guitar.  The band was formed in the late 1970s, but when Muammar al-Gaddhafi (whom we all know from current news) gave illegal refugees in Libya the chance for military training, the members of Tinariwen joined the Libyan military.  In a backfire of Gaddhafi's plan for a larger Libyan military, Tinariwen joined with a Tuareg rebel group in Libya.  Later, they joined Tuareg rebellion in Mali that ended in the Tamanrasset Accords in 1991.  With their military endeavors over, they devoted themselves more fully to their music, and began traveling internationally in 2001.  
The band's distinct style mixes West African traditions with modern instruments, most specifically the electric guitar, giving rise to a new style often referred to as "Electric Tuareg."  Tinariwen means "The Desert People."

03 May 2011

Middle East, Episode II

I knew I'd go back - or, at least, I hoped that I'd go back, trusted that God wouldn't give me such a desire in vain.
In June I'm going back to the Middle East (though not Israel proper), if God wills.  We'll be doing a medical clinic and an eyeglass clinic, though I probably won't be much help in either of those.  We'll also be serving Palestinian refugees.
My heart has been breaking on a regular basis for Palestinians.
I wrote a (terrible excuse for a) paper on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict last week, and while the paper itself is just plain heinous, the research I did for it opened my eyes to a greater understanding of what exactly is going on over there.  Honestly, when I went to Israel I had next to no idea what all the conflict was about, or who did what, or why - I just thought, "So you guys don't like these guys, and those guys don't like you....right?"  Now that I at least have a basic sketch of its recent history (by no means do I fully understand it), I just itch to go back all the more.  I'm not sure why I care so much, but I do, and I think that since I don't know where this love for Palestine and the Middle East in general came from, it must not have come from me, but from God.

I'm exploring options for spending more time over there, but right now my official plans are for a 10-day trip in June.  I've never liked the idea of asking people to help out financially on mission trips, but a large part of that is my pride and my dislike of depending on anyone other than myself.  It's definitely more than I can afford, and asking for money has required me to swallow a lot of pride (I have a lot of it to swallow) and lean on God's greater understanding.  If you want to help me go, and part of the trip expenses will support the churches we will work with and pay for food distribution and other materials, let me know via comment or e-mail or any other way you have to get in touch with me.  Also, and probably more importantly, I fervently desire your prayers for this trip and the people we'll be going to serve.

02 May 2011

party time

This is the first day of my last week of undergraduate classes.