At the beginning of this year, I wrote about a little experiment my colleagues and I conducted regarding professional dress. To recap, many of the graduate students in the University of Maryland’s ethno/musicology division have teaching responsibilities, and we were noticing an increased discussion about what we wear while teaching classes and taking classes. The idea of business-casual attire had come up a number of times, and I wanted to know what would happen if we all dressed in such clothes for two weeks, although some kept the experiment going a bit longer.
I can’t stop freaking out about my dissertation, and I’m starting to enjoy that fact.
Some of you may have noticed that postings on our blog have been a little scant recently. We sincerely apologize for that and are continuing work on many awesome projects. The reality of the situation is, however, several of us have just finished thesis writing or are currently in the throes of dissertation writing, and for me at least, this has led to some strange occurrences in my life. I mentioned in a previous post how I had become convinced I needed to shunt health and sleep to the side in order to finish the dissertation. I have to admit that as much as writing that blog post did help me get some perspective on what I’m doing and why, I still have days where I feel like I’m not doing something right if I haven’t had at least one nervous breakdown. And that has led to another problem: I’m starting to enjoy this process.
Liza, Ana, Jennie, Alice, and I are all very pleased to announce that the SEM SU Blog is now two years old! We’ve had a fantastic year and have many new awesome projects planned for 2016. Thank you all so much for your continued support! Thank you for letting us share our stories with you, and thank you most especially for sharing your stories with us!
One thing I didn’t learn in my now 20+ years of education was how to write a dissertation. Fellow students and professors have told me not to think of the dissertation as the end; it’s not my life’s work but only the beginning of my life’s work. I know they mean well, but whilst deep in the throes of dissertation writing—when my thoughts are sticky and globby, when I can’t understand the article I just read, when I’m not making sense to myself anymore—I think, “And this is only the beginning?!”
In a way, though, this kind of encouragement is misleading. The dissertation is an end of sorts. It’s the culmination of years of study, research, and fieldwork. It’s a liminal space (oh no, that word!), a place of becoming. One final rite of passage as a student. And as such, it’s freaking me out.
I like to jump into any opportunity that mixes the best of both academic and social worlds. You know, having some fun while filling up those CV lines. I decided in August that I would do a solid for IU’s Ethnomusicology Student Association and serve as the liaison between the ethnomusicology/folklore graduate and undergraduate student associations.
What did you wear today?
Maybe I should have expected it. When I get stressed, I tend to get sick, and fieldwork is a stressful time. Don’t get me wrong, fieldwork is awesome! I’m positive it’s one of the strongest reasons why we all got interested in ethnomusicology in the first place. The chance to see how people make and use their music. And we get to talk, play, sing, and dance WITH them! Where is the downside? Despite its awesomeness, however, fieldwork is always stressful for me, both physically and emotionally. I miss my husband and my family. I worry about making cultural faux pas even as I recognize that it is inevitable that I will do so. All my fieldwork has taken place in big cities, and I’m very much a small town girl.
For our first post of the new year, we are very excited to introduce Dr. Judith Cohen. Dr. Cohen is a Canadian singer and ethnomusicologist specializing in Sephardic, Crypto-Jewish and related music, and the editor-consultant for the Alan Lomax Spain recordings. She did her MA in medieval studies and PhD in ethnomusicology, both at the French-speaking Université de Montréal. Her daughter Tamar Ilana has a biology degree, but works as a professional flamenco singer and dancer, as well as in other music traditions. Dr. Cohen was very gracious in sharing some of her thoughts and experiences of raising her daughter while conducting fieldwork and finishing her PhD. You can learn more about Dr. Cohen’s work on her website and Facebook page.
I’m a huge fan of cover songs. I see a cover song as an immortalization of the original artist’s creative soul. When another musician revitalizes the poetry, whether verbal or instrumental, the interpretation ignites a unifying nostalgia between the performer and the audience. Yeah, I know that’s a pretty romantic way to put it.
For our last series post of 2015 (don’t worry! We’re continuing into 2016!), we thought we’d change things up just a little. Thus far in the Parenthood and Ethnomusicology series, we’ve heard from current or very recently finished graduate students. In this week’s post, Dr. David Harnish, Chair of the Music Department at the University of San Diego, shares his memories of having and raising kids while pursuing his Master’s Degree in Ethnomusicology at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa and later his PhD in Ethnomusicology at UCLA.