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…