Saturday, May 9, 2009

Comprehensive Exams!

Finals are over! Yay! After 3 intense weeks of work, reading, writing papers and music curricula, and a plethora of other things, it's finally summertime!

Oh, wait. We're cantorial students. Scratch that.

Now that finals are over, it's officially time for comprehensive exams. What does that mean?

It means lots of this:

Yep, it's a large. 32 ounces of fat free, caffeine-y, iced latte goodness. You know how I roll.

And a lot of time with these guys:

The works of Adolf Katchko (dark blue), Israel Alter (light blue), and Noah Schall (orange). They wrote the books on chazzanut (literally--there they are in the picture!) and we use them to learn how to daven in the traditional manner. I've spent so much time with them in the last few weeks that I feel extremely close to them now. If the books were actual people, we'd probably be close to married.

Finally, you throw in a traditional siddur, one that is used in a Conservative or Orthodox congregation. To help with organization, I've tabbed each prayer I need to sing. The colors represent the different services we're required to know for this year's exam.

I jokingly refer to this as "Tracy and the Siddur of Many Colors." There are actually blue tabs in there too, but they're hidden by the others. And in case you were wondering:

Pink=Kabbalat Shabbat
Green=Ma'ariv (Shabbat evening)
Orange=Shacharit (Shabbat morning)

Basically, the gist of comps is to be able to pray from the siddur with as little music as possible. Most of what we have to sing is required from the siddur itself, meaning we have to memorize the melodies and sing from the actual text. We are able to use music for some of the longer, more difficult pieces, but they don't account for much of our exam. We also have to sing 2 contemporary pieces, one from our Contemporary Shabbat class last semester and one from our Contemporary Rosh Hashana class this semester.

The exams take about 30 minutes from start to finish, and are done in front of the Olympic judges (Okay, the entire SSM faculty.) It's more than a little intimidating and I am scared out of my mind to sing on Tuesday morning. Thank goodness we'll be well prepared (thanks to our classes and professors and the hours upon hours of practice time we've put into this) and we know everyone there is rooting for us.

And, the best part is that as of 11:00 Tuesday morning, it's officially SUMMERTIME!

Until then, send love my way, and keep your fingers crossed that my brain doesn't go to Bermuda when I'm on the bimah on Tuesday morning (it's only right to use a Steinsnyder-ism to end this post.)

Home to STL for the summer in 2 weeks!


Rachel said...

Good luck girly!! Call me when you're done, I'm off at noon-ish STL time this week 'cause of Morning Edition.

Dad said...

Are you busy? Just finish it all and come home. We can't wait to see ya!!!!!!

Carol said...

My watch says that you're officially on vacation! You are 40% of the way to being a fully invested cantor!!!!!!!!