Upon moving here to East Tennessee State University, I have certainly been enjoying my time here. However, as I’m sure others do I sometimes feel a little homesick. While studying or playing music as I often do, I think of home and my family or old friends and what they might be up to. Though I’ve never really been one to want to stay home all of the time, when travelling I sometimes feel a great deal of homesickness. I think this must be because of how close my family has always been. We have always seemed to stick together in everything that life has sent our way. I am forever thankful for my family and how I have been brought up.
Whenever I feel homesick here at school I know that I can always call home or even go home some weekends but I made sure to bring a couple of things to remind me of home and to help me feel a bit more at ease throughout the weeks. The Item I brought was a gift from my grandparents a few years ago. On one of my grandparents trips to the mountains they brought back for me, a small box in the shape of a banjo. It is made of three pieces of wood that all fit together like a puzzle. At home, I would keep my picks there and it would sit on the piano at my grandparents house. I always love to hear my grandmother play piano and thinking of that really helps me on days I miss home.
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This semester I thought that I could record a collection of original music that I or my friends have written. I wanted to record it with a bunch of new friends that I have made in my first year at ETSU. Before attending ETSU I had a few friends that were around my age that I could play music with, but not many. Since starting college I have been able to meet a lot of new friends that are all incredibly talented and who share the same musical goals as me. Before schools was called out for the rest of the semester I was hard at work writing and arranging music to record and talking to the other musicians in hopes that we could get into the studio. With school closed down, we no longer have access to the studio. Fortunately though, I have found a lot more time to write music of my own and to learn new music as well. With this being said I think I will use this time to write as much as I can and see where it takes me. With the new music I write, I plan to record as soon as I can get into the studio at school. Since I am here at home I am planning to purchase some new audio equipment to record some demos of my songs at home. My friends also have this equipment that allows them to record at home as well. With this technology, we can record parts and send the files to each other and we could each play our part on them. I think this will be enriching for all of us as we cannot play music in person together at this time. We should be able to record some new original music together and some of our old favorites as well. This will get us familiar with the music that we can hopefully record in the studio this coming fall semester. I cannot wait to see what can take shape with this music, even if we are all in are own homes all around the country!
Since entering the Bluegrass, Old-Time, and Country Music Studies program at ETSU, I have had the chance to collaborate with a multitude of great musicians and people. I have been able to be to create and write new music with friends that if not for coming to ETSU , I maybe wouldn’t have made. For my project this semester I would like to record a collection of original songs and instrumental music that either I, or my peers have written. I would like to feature musicians on it that also attend ETSU currently. I think this will be a great project for me to think creatively about and it will show my progress as an artist when I look back on it later.
I often think about how much my community at home has done to shape who I am and how much they have contributed to my life. It seems like I stay pretty busy and I don’t get the opportunity to give back as much as I would like to. On this occasion I volunteered at Caris Healthcare, which is a home heath office near my home. They have a list of volunteers that do a number of tasks around the community like singing for elderly people who are sick at home or maybe just go sit with them and keep them company. When I volunteered I did various tasks around the office like organizing new equipment and taking care of recycling and things like that. I’m glad to have been able to volunteer with an office that does so much for our community members.
In my life I know what I stand for but I don’t always sit down to really identify things I value most. First of all I really value family. My family has always been close and we have always stuck together throughout anything life sends our way. I would never be myself without everything my family has done for me. Next, I value authenticity. I am myself due to my raising and all of my experiences I’ve had and and I know that I can’t be anyone except me. Life would be boring if everyone just acted the same! The next two things I value really relate to my career in music. Dependability and self-expressiveness are essential to me being a musician. If I prove to be undependable then that could lead to less opportunities to play music because no one would want to hire me. Self-expressiveness is a big part of my life too. I find that music is a great outlet that is fairly accessible for me to get my ideas out into the world. I try to play what inspires me and try to have my own musical ideas, and I think that goes back to authenticity too. Lastly, I value happiness. life is too short to be unhappy and of course I had some times of sadness, but I try to always look to the good times. I think this was interesting to sit down and take stock in what my values are, maybe I should do things like this more often.
I have a few goals that I would like to accomplish while I am studying here at East Tennessee State University. One being that of course I would like to do well in my classes. Being a major in Bluegrass, Old-Time and Country Music Studies, there is always a goal that I have musically. Right now my goal is to audition to be a member of the ETSU Bluegrass Pride Band. While I am in bands here at ETSU the ETSU Bluegrass Pride Band, I feel, would be a great experience that would really push me towards being a better musician and I hope that I will be able to accomplish that goal. Another goal I have is to prepare myself now as much as I can for a career after school. If I start learning as much as possible I should be able to transition smoothly into a career.
I am so grateful to be a member of the Honors college here at East Tennessee State University. The atmosphere is really conducive to learning and bettering myself as person ad in my art form. I thought the Honors Potluck was a great event for students to make new friends and to enjoy time together. It was held at the Honors House on campus and there were students there from all different programs in the Honors College. It was great to break bread with some new friends and get to learn more about what everyone is doing here at school. I thought it was a wonderful event and I am looking forward to attending more Honors College events like this one!
This semester at East Tennessee State University I have gotten to see a lot of new things. I have gotten to experience the arts in a way that I haven’t been able ti previously. There is always something going on or a performance to see, whereas at home the arts were maybe not so readily available. As I am a student of Bluegrass music I g=have gotten ti spend a fair amount of time in the Reece Museum as part of my Bluegrass Seminar class. As far as seminars go I thin the Reece is a great location to experience a seminar however they do regularly house some compelling exhibits. At the beginning if the semester they had an exhibit on soft drinks like “Mountain Dew” and Dr. Enuf” which were beverages that made a start here in the Tri-Cities area. I thought that was pretty interesting to see all the different bottle shapes and how those beverages have changed over time. More recently I got to go look at the “Fletcher Exhibit” which was full of socially and politically engaged work. While some of it was a bit jarring or challenging to look at, I can see that it was important work in response to the times and all of the pieces were very deliberate and they made their cause evident. I have gotten to enjoy spending time at the Reece Museum and I am looking forward to more in the future.
I love the arts and I am so pleased to be studying at an institution that values the arts so much. There are always a multitude of great performances and exhibits all throughout the semester for students to attend. As a major in Bluegrass, Old-Time and Country Music Studies, I get to see performances regularly and most of them performed by new friends I have made. However, on this occasion I got t see a performance that was outside of the bluegrass/country music canon. I went to see they schools performance of Waiting For Godot. In High School, I was a member of the Advanced Theatre Troupe and I got to learn a little about play production, lights and sounds as well as acting too. While coming from that background it didn’t necessarily prepare me for what a college theatre performance was like. I had not seen Waiting For Godot before but I was excited to see what was in store. Upon entering the Bud Frank Theater on campus I was intrigued my the seemingly minimalist set design. As the show began the actors were phenomenal. They played the part very professionally and it drew me in. I was excited to see a classmate of mine Ethan Harbin who I met in my Honors classes on the stage. While his character remained silent for the majority of the play he did deliver a very long and intricate monologue to the audience that was so impressive and well delivered. To me that stood out as a highlight of the performance and it was neat for me to see what other areas of the arts my peers have been taking part in. In all I thought the show was very well performed and I enjoyed seeing that performance.
I am always surprised by how many things and interesting events are going on here at east Tennessee State University. I have been fortunate to have attended a variety of wonderful seminars over the course of this semester for my Bluegrass Seminar class, however the university also hosts some that our outside of my class requirements and I am really glad to have attended those as well. One in particular that I loved was the Fairfield Four seminar. The Fairfield Four is an amazing gospel quartet that have been together in different configurations since 1921. The group has won three Grammy awards and the configuration that I got to hear, has won one of those awards. The seminar was held here on campus at the Reece Museum and when it came time for the seminar I made my way in and sat down with some friends who were also excited for what we were about to hear. The Fairfield Four came in shortly after and they began to sing with such emotion, power and feeling that I didn’t want it to end. Hey sang a few numbers and then they talked for a bit about their history and their careers. I was so blown away at their talent and their performance will be one that I won’t soon forget!