All right, so I admit that the Starbucks pit stop was deemed essential so I made it late to the opening ceremony, just in time to hear the last two tunes played by the Berklee World Strings. What? Why didn’t I know they were playing? Why wasn’t this listed in the program book? I was at least happy that I didn’t miss them all together as they were amazing! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=msuIAjW2F9M
One problem I have with ASTA is all the great choices of sessions and that so many times I found myself wanting to be in two or three places at a time. This was the case at 9:45am on Thursday. Play in tune or plug in a realist violin? I went with David Wong’s gear class as I had googled him before the conference and landed on this and it cracked me up! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QKTpPyL33Uc
I was glad that I went to his session as it was based around cool things you can do with equipment and the twelve year old boy that has studied with you for a while, but is realizing that guitar is much cooler than violin. Well, after this session I have plans to blow some twelve year old minds with the loop machine and pedal I’m about to buy. They will have to get a cheap pick up to start, but after that we are going to be off and running into the world of cool, guitar shmitar!
The rest of the day was filled with inner battles as to which session to attend. There was free form improvisational ideas and spontaneous conversations passed around the room via instruments in form of telephone and hot potato a la Martha Mooke in room 550 versus Kreutzer down the hall. Ms. Mooke’s “Am I allowed to do that?” won my attention when competing against what could be called in my mind “Do I have to do that Kreutzer?” I attended Brenda Brenner’s session years ago in Santa Clara so I know that she is excellent, but the rebel in me chose “Am I Allowed?” I do wish I could watch a video of the session that I missed, hint hint. I think there are some available, but not all? “New Stylistic Ideas,” versus “Keys to Success,” can’t I have both? I chose new styles and will hope for the best with my success.
When lunchtime rolled around, I decided to miss “Five Minutes a Day of Composition,” with Nancy Conley and now I'm regretting that. Instead, I thought I would treat myself to a nice lunch in the foodie town of Providence. I walked about a mile with all my stuff (remember my hotel is ten miles away) to find a closed Cav restaurant. I hated them and their website for saying they were open for lunch and proceeded to have the worst food in a very long time at some Cuban place.
My afternoon continued in a session with Irene Sazer of the Real Vocal String Quartet, doing creative ideas like playing in a drone and layering rhythms in a small circle of players. Then she had everyone remember what we had for breakfast and play it, I was just relieved that I didn’t have to go into the requiem of my lunch. I closed the afternoon with Stringathon and then off to wander the endless aisles of music, violins, summer camps, and products to buy in the bottomless exhibitors hall. I was definitely losing steam when I stumbled upon the magic rosin table. Glitter rosin? What a perfect prize for the practice contest I’m having with my very young students right now. Thanks www.MagicRosin.com
Another obvious perk of the conference is meeting new people. Thursday night I was invited to a fun gathering at an Irish pub near the Convention Center. It was good times with new friends and the hardest part of the night was deciding which beer to order, especially since I am not a beer drinker. My only other difficulty was reading the menu in the dark setting until two of the Yamaha representatives whipped out their cell phones with flashlight apps, aww, chivalry is still alive!