So I’m back, and I’m, if not better, more determined than ever. This will be The Year, I tell myself, as I type this from my bed with a weighted blanket over my knees. I’m starting third year in my Music Education degree, I’m starting Honours, and I’m co-directing one of the Barbersoc (Sydney University Acappella Society) ensembles. Oh, and I’ve just come back from a three-week prac, immediately to be launched into a stratospheric amount of classwork.

How far can this kid stretch a metaphor? The air is thin, but I’m still breathing.

A new year calls for some reintroductions. I’m James, I’m twenty years old, and my interests include singing, decolonising music education, and Taylor Swift. This year, I’m taking the class Technology in Music Education (TME), and I’ll be blogging (or attempting to) every week as I discover a side of music I’ve never had a chance to explore fully. I’m very excited.

My brilliant partner, and also me, I guess.

Speaking of excitement, Honours! I’m equal parts keen and terrified. I’ll be looking at the Chinese-Australian musical experience, specifically how individuals react in adulthood to their (all too common) Western classical training. This is an issue very close to my heart, and one that I’m still trying to find my way around. I’ve read quite a bit of literature written by the likes of Brent Talbot, Juliet Hess and Ethan Hein over the past couple of years, and I was particularly struck by this article. Essentially, it proposes that teachers are obligated to decolonise education, because education is the tool through which the status quo – and all the racist and oppressive systems that come with it – is perpetuated. Obviously, I’m still trying to work out the how of deconstructing these long-held systems, but I think exploring and – dare I say – rejoicing in my own heritage is a good place to start. I’d be lying if I said today that I felt truly connected to my cultural community, or even that I knew what exactly that was. I’m taking it one step at a time.

A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. Funny that I know that saying in English, not in Chinese, isn’t it?

I’ll get there someday.

And finally, Barbersoc! I’m co-directing The Accidentals – one of two SATB ensembles – with my friend, and fellow music educator-in-training, Jay. This society is such a kind, welcoming place, and I’m very excited to try out new things with the ensemble this year. One of our first projects will be to arrange and perform a song collaboratively, and I don’t even know what it is yet! The choir will split into groups, each arranging and performing an excerpt from the song of their choice in 15 minutes. We’ll vote on our favourite of the songs, and then build it into a full performance over the next few weeks. Barbersoc is full of creative, talented people, and I can’t wait to work with everyone.

That’s what music is to me, deep down. What we build together.

One thought on “2021 (thank goodness) and a new beginning

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