Author Archives: aaron

Hi! I'm Aaron! Nice to meet you!

ZMF Day 1 (-ish, 3-ish)

Hey. So… this has been an interesting few days. Mainly, I’ve been trying to adjust to life in a dorm after moving out of a dorm into an apartment, out of the apartment and back home, to now back in a dorm. Meanwhile, I’ve been playing for and talking to some wonderful percussionists and marimbists from across the globe. Also, I’ve had the chance to meet three world-renowned composers, work directly with two of them, and attend four masterclasses each of which has changed my perspective on percussion, life, and the various gibberish phrases useful for communicating about playing style.


Now, it’s currently 10:30 PM in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and I’d very much like to get to sleep, so unfortunately I don’t have much profound to say. I do, however, have several ideas of titles for profound things to say in the next few days (or whenever I manage to find time). They include:


– The Art of Feather-Ruffling


– Glug Glug, Bogadiga Bogadiga, and Paka Paka Paka: The Greatest Words of Great Marimbists


A very interesting few days indeed…


PS: I think I want to start a thing where I share cool stuff I’ve heard about/seen while I’m on my travels. A sort of suggested reading/listening/watching list. I’ve got two for today.

My Pretend Music School, by Ivan Trevino: A thought-provoking article posted on his website (he’s a composer) where he proposes his ideal music training program

Sosso-Bala, by Emmanuel Séjourné: Super groovy percussion octet just performed phenomenally en concert here at ZMF (this video is a few years old)

Back to the Grind

Dear Blog,

Well hello there! How’s it been? I feel like I haven’t seen you in a long time. That’s because I’ve been completely swamped…with…things. Like Facebook. And Minecraft.

I know, I know. I’m sorry. I cheated on you with Facebook. I shouldn’t have done it. But it happened. Now can we move on?

Okay. Good. Thank you.




What’s going on with me? A lot of things (including some Facebook and Minecraft). Classes for interterm have begun. Interterm is Chapman’s way of saying, “That class you never wanted to take but have to for a general education requirement? Yeah, we know you don’t want to do it. How about you just do it in a month and we’ll call it even!” I’m enrolled in an introduction to Ethics course and I am informally attending a class on Number Theory. The ethics class is a general education requirement. I think it’s fascinating, but there’s a certain undeniable dryness to philosophical essays. There’s this thing I do where I start reading down a page and I realize that all I’ve done is said the words out loud in my head without actually listening to myself. It’s really quite annoying when you get to the bottom of the page and realize you have no idea where the author went over the course of the page.

Number Theory, on the other hand, is pretty straightforward. And I like a bit of straightforward in my life now and then. Nobody asks whether two being a prime is in itself moral or immoral. Nor do people ask whether how 2, being prime, acts is moral or immoral. It’s just prime and that’s that. I know the world tends to not work like that, but numbers tend to, and for now, some absolutes in my life are pretty comforting.


I’m not going to lie, I feel really strange being back. It’s this weird fluctuating state where I’m not sure if home is home or if this is home. I know in my mind the very good reasons why I feel this way, but then at the end of the day, when I want to just relax and put my mind to rest, it’s really hard to figure out where to settle down. Do I long for the day I get to go home, or do I focus my efforts on building up what comforts I have here?


So anyhow, it’s certainly still an adjustment. Next month, when Spring semester actually begins, I think I’ll have a bit more to grasp onto in terms of constancy. For now, I just need to get through a bunch of Utilitarian, Kantian, Existential, and Non-Cognitivism essays and some divisibility proofs and I’m all set.


YEAH! First home football game tonight!

What has been interesting to watch is how much people came together today. I mean, yes—my superiority complex along with my stuck up, arrogant, judgmental side wants to say nothing good. It’s superficial entertainment and superficial bonding of a community. It contributes to a mass consumerism that downplays the individual and sells because it’s shiny. It’s dumb. That’s what insecure Aaron wants to say. All the while, about forty percent of the student body is out and about having a great time and I’m here in my dorm room wearing my shower shoes because I’m too lazy to get socks out and updating my blog with whatever I can think of at the moment. Whoopty freakin doo.

Ok. I’ll stop being sarcastic. It’s good for me to get it out once in a while.

I do genuinely think it is pretty cool that a group of people who have known each other for very little time have now come together to root on a team doing such an arbitrary collection of maneuvers. Why? I’m sitting here after two and a half weeks still trying to figure out how to adjust after twelve years of being in the same place. I’ve traveled. I’ve been thrown into new groups and been forced to adjust. But this time is different. Now, this is home. I’m still finding it hard to accept that fact. It doesn’t help that I’m taking classes in two majors and performing in three ensembles now.

Needless to say, I’m stressed. There are a million and a half details to worry about, and my mind which contents itself by worrying about way too many details is having a field-day. It may be counterproductive to stress-reduction that I’m currently listening to The Rite of Spring, but I’m not quite sure. What I’m hoping I can find, though, in the near future, is some setting—be it the cheering section at a football game or my General Physics III study group—where I can start to feel at home. What I can say is this: vacations get old, and some constancy is well needed after long periods of change. I’m looking forward to some dust settling here soon.

So, that’s the scoop with what’s up (down) in Orange. Concerning the football, we lost! Oh wait. You’re not supposed to get excited about losing. I’m still trying to figure things out. Give me a break. I’m new here.

The Amazingly Freeing Power of Good Enough – Part 1: What it Means

*Disclaimer: I’m not really this insightful. I’ve synthesized  this idea from a lot of sources very close to me. Bless you, sources. Blources*

I promised laundry room insights soon, and the weight of my hamper combined with the availability of washing machines (which I should have supposed would be a slight issue on a large campus) have determined that tonight is that night. Sort of. This was a big revelation for me, one that has been several months in the making, so I’m going to give it the due diligence it deserves. That, and I have a bunch of homework, a bunch of laundry, and a limited amount of battery life on my laptop. Therefore, this particular insight will come to you in a not-predetermined number of parts. Basically, I want to say a lot about this one. I also promise that this will eventually wrap up my NYO experience and tie in with college. Just bear with me. Like I said, this was big for me to figure out.

In music, one of the common themes I’ve seen taught is that performance demands perfection more so than any other activity. In school, you can score seventy-five out of a hundred and still pass. By quantitative standards, a ninety percent achievement in music would sound something like this

The sentiment here is well-meaning, but for perfectionists like myself, can have dangerous consequences.

Like most other people, I’d love to be perfect. I’d love to see the day when I wouldn’t make the more-than-occasional faux pas of failing to notice a friend’s new haircut. I dream of that day when I can motivate myself to run on a schedule—and keep to it. I hope and wish that someday I could figure out how to manage my mail and receipts and notes and projects and assignments in a decently organized fashion over long periods of time. But here’s the rub: that’s never going to happen.

I haven’t given up hope on making changes in my life necessarily. Instead, I’m not thinking about a day. I’m thinking about a goal. What never really clicked was that there will never be that ideal day. I’m not going to get all of it right, and it certainly won’t happen overnight. The trick is baby steps, and moderation.

Now, like a well-trained high school writer, I am going to stop my introduction there and continue on to my body paragraphs, in which I will use specific examples to prove my thesis. But due to a lack of time, battery power, and general will to do things after a long day of doing things, I think I’m going to instead go and fold laundry. See you in Part 2: Ironing the dress shirts.

I’ma Back

And I’ma learnin me some college stuff.

So this week has been one giant whirlwind (Well, let’s be honest: the past eighteen years have been one giant whirlwind). Move-in was last Tuesday, and before that was packing and lunching and saying goodbying. All sorts of fun. Actually, it was really hard for me to say goodbye to a lot of things and people (felines included), but I can say without a doubt that I am indescribably excited to be here at Chapman.

So shortly after move-in was finished, I got my first glimpse into the world I’ll be living in for the next four years: convocation. Lots of fancy people with fancy degrees and fancy robes and (as one speaker put it) giant muffin hats saying wise and profound things to the incoming class of 2014. It was like a nostalgia espresso. And come on. I just got here and I’m nostalgic.

I have to be honest with y’all. I’m writing this over a couple of days, not because I have any shortage of time (in fact this weekend I’ve done absolutely nothing so far minus practicing and YouTubing). Rather, it’s because writing more than one-hundred words at a time is a challenge of Olympic magnitude for me right now. Brain. Turn on, Brain. BRAIN. YOU HAVE CLASS IN TWO DAYS…..anywho. The reason I must admit my current state of absent-mindedness is that I happen to be sitting in the basement of my dorm building right now, directly across from the laundry room. I’m not in the laundry room yet, but my insights will be returning to a blog site near you in the very near future. VERY near.

Back to nostalgia. Whilst being wrapped up in all the pride/welcome/orientation events that have been going on, I find myself not-so-strangely missing a certain aspect of home: depth. I feel like I’ve met a lot of people in a short amount of time, but I don’t KNOW anybody. I just know faces and names. I’m not tremendously concerned. After all, I’ve got four years to figure this whole thing out. Nonetheless, it’s strange.

Now, I’m in my General Physics III classroom waiting for class to start in half an hour. Oh, the wonders of writing over several days as opposed to trying to cram everything into one daily post. By the way, I’m planning on updating with weekly posts on Fridays (I’m typing this particular paragraph on a Thursday, so hopefully that all pans out tomorrow.)

Well. Now it’s Saturday, and I obviously failed to upload a blog post on Friday. I think I’ve said most of what I wanted to say in my first update, minus a short list of very important things I have learned. So, here’s my official “How to Not Say ‘I’m in College and I Have No Clue What I’m Doing!’ List” (disclaimer: all evidence points to the conclusion that this list will never be complete but will instead approach an upper bound shy of 100% college certainty as the independent variable iterates to infinity [sorry, I’m enjoying being back in sciencey classes]):

  • On a campus with many locked doors, keeping track of your keycard is…key. Don’t forget about that one locked door going from Crean Hall to the percussion studio while your keycard is still in the percussion studio
  • Cafeteria food can actually be some of the best food you’ve had in your life. Or at least it probably tastes that way because for all intents and purposes, it’s free food (until the bills for the student loans come in)
  • Everybody loses their minds on Friday Nights. I don’t know what it is. It’s like the campus turns into one giant party for some reason. Weird…
  • If you bought a notebook of manuscript paper specifically for a class which specifically required that you bring manuscript paper, you should probably take the manuscript paper notebook to class
  • Southern California water tastes funny (This is just something I’m learning to get used to. It doesn’t fit the purpose of the list, but whatever)

There. A week (plus a bit) in the making and a day later than I had planned. A blog post. It makes no sense and is completely disjointed, but I did it. Hopefully I won’t have to write a lot of papers… I’m in college. What’s the worst that could happen?

Day 29: I know, I Missed a Lot of Days

Much has happened in the last few days, so I’ll condense it all into a list for light readers and follow-up with some detail in another post.

1. Wyoming

Beautiful trees, not much air, and an awesome mid-concert break on a gondola to the top of a mountain.

2. Airports

Evidently, when we were leaving Wyoming, we were dangerously close to a 3-hour delay because of too much traffic into San Francisco. The result: I checked my bag, walked over to security, was told to get in the “special line” for orchestra security, did not go through the (what I can only suppose was imaginary) orchestra security, and walked straight onto the tarmac. Fortunately, we made it safely to San Francisco without a 3-hour delay.

3. More Airports

Landing in San Francisco was super awesome because our chartered flights kept having us deplane on the tarmac. So now, I’ve been on the tarmac of two major airports. And that will probably never happen again. But still, I enjoyed walking down the stairs like some important person. I felt, for some strange reason, like I should have been waving at all of my raving fans as I was climbing in my limousine. Or charter bus. Right, this is reality, Aaron.

4. Dinner Parties

I thought I knew what dinner was. I also thought I knew what dinner parties were. I also thought I knew what being an introvert at said dinner parties was like. Turns out, I didn’t know any of those things. A dinner party hosted by Sanford and Joan Weill showed me the truth. It was amazing and terrifying all at once.

5. Concerts (and Concert Halls)

So the Weill hall we played at last night was modeled directly after Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood, the one we played at a week and a half ago (holy crap that was a week and a half ago). For some unknown reason, I felt a very strong sense of deja vu. I can’t explain it though.

6. And……………Even More Airports

Now, I’m finishing this list back in the SFO international airport. We’re waiting for our flight. Our flight which was scheduled to board at 2:25. It is now 1:15. We have been delayed until 4:50. I guess I’m starting to miss those chartered flights.

Day 23: Deep Dish Pizza

That is all.





Ok. I had some other pretty awesome things happen today, but I felt the pizza deserved some significant recognition. I mean, it was practically an inch thick layer of cheese sandwiched between the crust and sauce of the gods.


Now, concerning the orchestra which is sort of my reason for being in Chicago: our concert tonight was fantastic. I don’t necessarily mean that we sounded fantastic (though everyone I’ve spoken to said we sounded good), but more that it was the perfect follow-up for (what was for me) a somewhat blah concert. Boone was by no means a bad concert. I just wasn’t feeling a solid vibe, if you know what I mean. It was just this weird funk I was in for the entire concert. I felt too relaxed and let some silly things go.


But tonight, I felt the exact opposite. With one or two exceptions, I felt that this performance was the best I could have possibly done. That being said, I still have the minute details I’d like to fix before the end of the tour. Good thing I still have 3 more concerts!


So tomorrow, we’re moving again. Leaving Chicago in the morning, and landing in Wyoming in the evening. I’m not going to lie, the moving is really starting to make me tired. As such, I believe I’m going to take a nap. An 8 hour nap. That’s the best kind of nap.

Day 22: I’m Sorry Metropolises

I must admit that I gave big cities a bad reputation in my mind after only experiencing San Francisco. I don’t think it’s much of a surprise to people who know me, but I don’t particularly like San Francisco. Knowing that, I thought New York would be similar for me. I was wrong about that. And even more wrong once we got to Chicago.


I’m kind of in love. Not that love-at-first-sight that Romeo and Juliet thought they had. More like, “Right now, I could see myself trying out a committed relationship with you, Chicago. I’m not entirely certain you’re the one for me, but I’m willing to give you a decent shot to win me over.” I didn’t say that out loud, of course. People would have thought I was weird.


First thing I did in the city was a visit to Navy Pier. I was expecting something like Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterrey. It was more like a small city out over the water. I’m also ashamed to admit that I had a momentary lapse in my geographical intelligence. I said something to the effect of “Boy, that Atlantic Ocean breeze sure smells nice!” Yes, brain: Lake Michigan is the same as the Atlantic Ocean.


After walking the pier, a group of us decided to brave the *lakeside* breeze for some outdoor dining at Bubba Gump: Chicago. We sat down, ordered drinks, ordered food, and then fun happened. You see, the breeze was just an overture to the gale force winds and searingly cold rain. Once our food came, we promptly got to-go containers and finished our food inside the indoor, heated, and dry McDonald’s. I finished off the evening with a chocolate haystack and a bit of chocolate pecan fudge from a quaint little chocolatier in the mall on the pier. Three words are sufficient to describe my experience: well worth it. All I can say is that I’m looking forward to tomorrow with great gusto.


Also, if you are free around 8 pm Central time, you can take a listen tot he performance at Millennium Park here! Hope it’s a good one!


Hey y’all. I’m in the south!


How can I tell? I had cafeteria barbecued chicken for dinner. And it was amazing. As for the dorms and the concert halls, I can’t honestly speak as highly. In fact, both were kind of depressing, and frankly I won’t be sad to leave for Chicago tomorrow.


On the bright side of things, we had a great concert, in my opinion. At least for me, I felt Pictures was the most musical I have played it, even though there were several technical aspects I would have liked to execute differently.


I dislike the idea of leaving the post short like this, but it’s midnight, and I need my sleepy time. I’ve been a bit loopy the past few days, and signs don’t show any improvement. A couple of nights ago, I couldn’t count to three. Bus 1, then bus 3,  then bus 2, right? That’s how numbers work.

Day I Don’t Even Know Any More: My Brain Has Taken a Total Vacation

Hello All. Sorry I didn’t post anything for the past couple of days. The tour REALLY started when we began moving a lot. And we moved a lot. I’m kind of over buses right now. Planes, though, I can do. Especially when they look like this:


I also have many photos that I am beginning to fall behind on. So here’s a sneak peak of some of what is to come in the next few days. (I’ll have a lot of time to look through photos on planes and upload them on buses [that have WiFi! Yeah 21st Century!])


That’s where I spent most of my time last Tuesday and Wednesday. Now, I shall sleep, but more on my adventures will be coming soon. Quite soon.