Sunday, February 10, 2008

2nd Semester

Since it's past the beginning of my 2nd semester of cantorial school, I figured it was time to give you all a rundown of my new schedule.  Last semester was a blast from the past, where I studied Bible, Nusach, and Jewish music history.  Now, we've returned to the common era, and we're talking more and more about contemporary worship practices and the music found today in Israel and in the American Reform synagogues.  I'm actually 100% excited for this semester, and the new set of challenges it will bring--I will be learning music by the bucketful, continuing my journey through classical Jewish liturgy, reading, writing and speaking modern hebrew, and gearing up for my adventures to Belarus and to Prague in the spring.  

My schedule is just as jam-packed and busy as before.  I'm still taking hebrew everyday, along with a Biblical Grammar class on Sundays.  This semester, I promised myself that I would really hunker down and try to give my hebrew the attention it needs and deserves.  So far, I'm staying on track...just keep reminding me to study my verbs and vocab!  I'm also continuing with Liturgy, where we'll be leaving the morning service and getting more and more into the Shabbat and festival services.  Also still on the ballot from last semester is Cantillation; I'm a little worried about this class, as we're going to be studying the other 5 systems of trope (there are 7 systems altogether: Torah, Haftarah, Esther, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs.)  I had plenty of trouble learning just Torah and Haftarah last semester, so I'm a little afraid about more than doubling my workload in this class in one semester.  But, Eli is an amazing teacher, and he'll work with me.  They might not all be perfect by May, but I'll be happy if I have a good sense of them all by then; thank goodness there's a table with musical notation in the back of my Cantillation books!

This semester I have 3 new classes, which all look fantastic thus far.  First I have Israeli Pop, Folk and Rock, where we'll study modern Israeli music and the social contexts that lie within it.  I'm actually pretty psyched for this class; I've been looking for ways to build my Israeli music collection and learn about the history behind it.  Our professor seems great--she is a doctoral student at Hebrew University, writing a dissertation on Z'mirot, or songs sung on Shabbat.  She's given us CDs and requires us to go to at least 3 concerts throughout the semester so we can experience modern Israeli music firsthand.  Cool, huh?

Then, on Tuesdays, we have what is called Cantorial Workshop, where we learn about the pieces used in the modern American Reform synagogues.  We spent our first lesson singing through pieces in Gates of Song, the musical companion to Gates of Prayer, one of the prayer books used in the Reform movement (that is slowly making its way out, thanks to Mishkan T'fillah.)  The music from GOS itself is still very relevant and useful to cantors no matter which prayer book your congregation uses.  We'll also be singing our way through The Complete Shireinu, the latest and greatest Jewish music songbook on the market right now, and a packet of other music Tamar has put together for us.  The goal of this class is to get us ready to serve our congregations next year, to give us the musical tools we'll need to survive our jobs as "real" cantors.  We're each responsible for learning 1-2 solo pieces a week, so my repertoire of Jewish music will grow and grow and grow, which I am excited and ready for.

Thursdays, we study Israeli Art Song (a fancy way of saying Israeli classical music songs.)  This course reminds me a lot of an American music history course I took my freshman year at Mizzou; we look at the history, structure, form, harmonies, etc. of the piece and try to get a deeper understanding of it in context.  So far, it's been very interesting, and the music we're studying at the moment ties into some Western music history I've studied in the past.  

Also this semester, I will be singing 2 services (or 3, if you count the Kabbalat Shabbat I co-lead last week), writing several papers, continuing with my wonderful voice teacher, gathering documents to give to the Russian translators before we leave for the FSU Pesach Project, fixing my resume/researching/phone interviewing for jobs for next year along with all of the other little things that I know life will throw at me.  It'll be busy, that's for sure, but I'm hoping I will grow and change and learn a ton in my last semester here.  It's scary to think that in 4 months, I'll be permanently back in the US and my year-in-Israel will be over.  I'll enjoy every minute I can of the time I have left, that's for sure!

Hope all is well in the U S of A.  Missing you all and sending loads of love from J'lem!  

No comments: