Blogging from A to Z Challenge: M is for… (#AtoZChallenge)

Welcome to my April 2023 Great and Powerful Blogging from A to Z Challenge!

I’ve revealed my theme (My life in first drafts), but this year, instead of pretending there were ever plans, I am unashamedly blogging my theme letters on the fly.  So, here goes nothing!

So, without further ado, M is for Master of Music.

See series on My Life as a Quitter (which I haven’t really started yet…)

After I finished my Bachelor’s of Music degree on bass (see B is for Bass), I moved to Ottawa to study with a bass player there, and a year after I moved there the University of Ottawa started a Master of Music program concentrating on chamber music. Or something like that. It was a special program from my recollection. Anyway, I got into the program and embarked on a Master’s degree journey.

I remember there was a small space where the 5 of us, I think there were 5, had a little office with library carrels to do homework and the like – the days before computers. There was also a board room space next door to the office with a CD player where we had classes and also were able to sneak in and listen to music and do work with light (that room had windows, the office did not).

I should mention that all this took place in a brand new building for the Music Department. I went back to Ottawa in 2017 (Kevin had a conference) and visited the building which was hard because I remembered it brand new, and when I saw it it was 26 years later. A weird feeling.

As I said, I think there were 5 of us in the program. Me (bass), a singer, a pianist, a cellist (or maybe it was her husband who was the grad student – can’t remember what he played), and a flute plater. I only remember a couple of names, Sean (the pianist) and Sarah (the flute player). I think the singer was Marie.

While I worked on my Masters, I worked in the Music Library. Because the University of Ottawa is a bilingual university, I had to learn French in order to take classes and work there. My French was pretty rudimentary, but I could get by. I think I must have been nice to people because the one professor who everyone knew as a hard-ass French speaker always took the time to speak to me in English, maybe he appreciated that I was trying.

I made friends with one of the regular Music Library librarians, and also with one of the office staff. We hung out a bit and went to parties and the blues club down the street a ways. It was in a basement and pretty sketchy, but the music was amazing.

I played in several orchestras while I was there. The school orchestra, the Ottawa Symphony, in he Nepean symphony, and even once in the National Arts Centre Orchestra. I lived in a sketchy area of town in a one bedroom apartment on the top floor of a building where only a few months before new management took over there were knife fights in the hallway.. Never had any trouble, but I was young and walked home through the dark streets alone many more times than I probably should have.

In my last year there (not the last year of the Masters as you will see) I moved into a residence on campus. It was a four bedroom unit so I had roommates, one of whom was the flute player in my program (with whom I did not really get along…don’t remember why not). It was SO much handier living on campus. When I went back to Ottawa I walked around campus and found that building (which was also new when I lived there) – the university is in the middle of some pretty sketchy areas with a lot of homeless shelters and the like, and security everywhere now. Times change I guess.

I don”t know what precipitated my leaving Ottawa and the program. I confess it was a bit of a breakdown. I was very unhappy and didn’t feel like I was able to keep going so I dropped out and moved back home. I don’t think people were thrilled with my decision, but they threw me a party (some friends of mine) to say goodbye (a party at which I got pretty wasted and made a bit of an ass of myself…ah to be young again and not caring about how much of a jerk you are). It was a surprise party, and I was touched though. I got to see the person who organized the party when I was back in Ottawa, another flute player who I lost touch with over the years. She and her husband moved to Costa Rica (retiring) a year or two after I saw her.

Well, I’ve gone on enough about this. I am sensing a lot of memories coming to the surface and considering writing more about these tales of Ottawa Masters in the future, maybe more a autofiction than true memoir cause I will definitely be making some stuff up from memories…funny how you remember things a certain way and feel like those memories are true, but your brain also tells you that they aren’t – perhaps it’s just the way we like to fill in the gaps or avoid what we prefer not to remember.

It was a good time in some ways though, and I learned a lot about myself, I don’t know that I would be where I am now without those experiences, as painful as some of them are to recall. All part and parcel of life!

Thanks for visiting my 2023 A to Z Challenge – Letter M.  You can find links to more blogs participating in this challenge at Letter A, A to Z 2023 Challenge Master List (Google Docs).

Guess I’m kind of a rebel too…although I do like using the “official” letters…

Posted on April 15, 2023, in A to Z Challenge, photography, Photos I took, Writing and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Pretty interesting reading of your time there. It is weird when we go back to some place we were so familiar with at one time, and it is just not the same years later, though in our memories it never changed. 🙂

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