Lectures are going well (I’m doing a Freshman Seminar – The applied undergraduate physics research laboratory – on a project related to sound & music physics; Expository Writing; Computer Science; and Applied Mathematics) and on the music side, I am involved in the University Band and (one out of two) Jazz Band.
University Band is quite an interesting band – it’s basically a ‘scramble’ band – we play for various occasions, but the main thing are what we do for the (american) football games which occur on most Saturday. An average Saturday would consist of the following schedule –
8am – March on the streets of Cambridge from the band room to the Harvard Stadium about a kilometre away. 9-10.30 – practise our ‘halftime’ show. It is usual for the bands of the two football teams to take to the field during the halftime period, and in our case we ‘scramble’ about the field doing formations (mostly words and letters) and playing. We then play for the game, doing a couple of formations and pieces before the game, and during the game, playing occasional ‘fight songs’, ‘cheers’ and other short pieces, then doing our halftime show, back to playing in the stands. After the game we play about half an hour, before marching back up to main campus (Harvard Yard) while playing. And that is what I was doing last saturday, for 8 hours. Playing outdoors in the band is about playing really loudly, and is absolutely tiring on the lips (especially after playing for 4 hours in a row at maximum volume). But it really strengthens the lips, which is a great thing.
Jazz band is another story – much more subtle playing and sensitivity involved, and a lot more technical. I myself have no idea how I managed to get into the band, because all the other trombonists are much better than me. One particularly evil piece (called “Slide’s Derangement”) involves playing semiquavers at 216bpm, which is hovering on the brink of “impossible to play”, especially on a trombone! Jazz band is quite a huge challenge, with lots of high notes to play (I’m on trombone 2) and our 1st concert is in 2 and a half weeks, and I am no where near prepared to play for it. (The director of the bands at Harvard is a retired trombonist, Thomas G. Everett, also a past president of the International Trombone Association)
Other than that, things are going fine, things are forever busy over here. I am continuing to practice the piano although I am not currently taking lessons. Food at Harvard is really good, I must say, I guess the richest university in the world spends its endowment on giving us good food! We get pretty exotic stuff, almost every day. And we get to dine in a lovely looking dining hall
I guess that’s all I can really think of for the moment!