Sunday, November 15, 2009

An Incomplete Education ... or ... What Should I Know About and Why Should I Know it?

I love knowledge!  I love knowledge for knowledge's sake.  I admire people who are full of knowledge.  And there is a longing in my heart to have a lot of knowledge.

Or so I say.  Or so I think.

But if I really loved knowledge, I would have set myself to a committed task of acquiring it.  So, rather than "loving" knowledge, maybe it would be better to say that I'm someone who flirts with a love of knowledge, and dabbles in knowing a few things, but because of a lack of commitment to knowledge, I end up being someone who possesses very little knowledge.

A stay-at-home-mother now has such a convenient and tremendous source of being exposed to knowledge right at her fingertips with a computer and a browser to take her out on to the Internet.  There she can encounter lively discussions being held by people of knowledge in various subjects.  These discussions can point her to places where she can explore and deepen the beginnings of ideas she may glean from being exposed to these little fragments of knowledge.

Recently, on the NFCS message board, the subject of a modern composer was brought up.  A singer was discussing aspects of trying to learn a role that was atonal and based on the 12-tone scale.  I had never heard of the composer, nor the work in question, so I visited Wikipedia to read up on the subject, so I could follow the discussion the singers were having a little better.

When I got to Wikipedia, I at least got a handle on who the composer was and what the opera was about.  That helped.  There were really interesting links about tone rows (part of what was touched upon in the NFCS discussion) and 12-tone technique. I had a great urge to just plunge right in and study and study and study for hours, just immerse myself in the subject.  But after reading the Wikipedia article, based on duties and responsibilities I have in my life, I had really already spent more time than I had available for this kind of indulgence.  Hoping to continue later, I put the pursuit aside, having to content myself to know merely a little more than I did before I sat down.  Alas, today was not the day I was going to catch up with all the scholars in knowledge on the subject.

Then today, on Facebook, a dear friend of mine from high school posted a link to an exhibit by a modernist painter at the Guggenheim which she had recently viewed in person.  I clicked on the link and began to read about the painter, and look at his work, and have a virtual visit to this same exhibit.  I know nothing about painting, but as I looked at it, I linked it with the talk about the modern composer and I began to form some new-for-me ideas about how good it might be for a singer to look at paintings that possibly "matched" or at least were painted at the same time as a modern piece of music was composed.  I wondered if  visual aids like this would help singer's learn atonal pieces?

Well, the same thing happened with my virtual visit to the Guggenheim as my visit to the composer on Wikipedia.  I ran out of time.

Time, like money, is a budgeted item.  Time is even more budgeted than money, it seems sometimes.  Maybe ... maybe if we are clever and persistent and creative and cunning, humble, begging, industrious, or whatever, we can come up with some more money for a project.   We can do something like that with time too, by rearranging schedules and  adjusting priorities.  Time and Money seem to work together.  Time is needed to get Money.  Money can be used to purchase more Time.

At any rate, an artist must use to juggle time and money and make decisions about how they will be used as they proceed along the path of creative projects.  Because of these budgetary restrictions, choices have to be made.

How the choices about money and time are made will be determined by one's priorities, which will be determined by one's goals.  If my desire for myself is to merely pursue knowledge as a recreation and for my own enjoyment, something to spice up the dreariness of my days, and something to pursue besides watching television for recreation, and it doesn't really matter what knowledge it is as long as it is interesting to me, then spending the time on whatever interesting morsel presents itself to me might be fine.  If it's going to be my mere entertainment, then it doesn't matter where I go and what I study, so long as I enjoy it.

But, once I set other goals, the choices I make may change.  I must decide to use the time to pursue the knowledge that I'm actually going to use.

Everybody has to do this.  Everybody has the same lifetime to figure out where they will concentrate the expenditure of time.

But it doesn't last forever, and the task and choices will be different for someone who is young than for someone who is in mid life.

That's why mentors and advisers are very valuable to any singer, whether professional or avocational.  Someone knowledgeable about the broader picture.  Someone who has enough knowledge and expertise to have a bird's eye view of the whole scene.  Someone who can gently suggest that spending hours, weeks, or months immersed in 12-tone theory might not be the best way to spend one's time when one has a certain set of goals.

I plan to run things by my teacher at my next lesson and ask what she thinks about where I should focus my accumulation of knowledge.  She knows my goals.  If I ask her this specifically, she may be able to steer me in a good direction.  I really think that it's time for me to harness my love of learning and knowledge and make it do some work for me.

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