09 September 2010

Do bugs think?

There is a giant bug flying around the apartment today. I'm pretty sure that it is one of those jumbo-sized bees because it has a sort of bee-like buzzing sound. The sun is out and there's the most lovely late summer / early fall breeze blowing through the leaves on the tree across the street. So I opened all the windows and am now enjoying the sight of my white sheer curtains billowing from time-to-time. I'm guessing the giant bee got in through one of the open windows, and since we have no screens here in Croatia, the odd bug flies in on occasion.

It isn't weird for a giant bee to be floating around here. What is weird today though is that the bee seems to be trying to get outside and it keeps bumping into the glass on the windows. I keep pointing to the open window and saying out loud: just turn left a little and then go straight. And this bee keeps following my instructions. It turns left, then flies straight out the window.

About three minutes later, he is back in my livingroom, bumping into the glass again. I've told him about five times now to turn left and get outside. It got me wondering about what's going on. Maybe it isn't the same bee each time. maybe the first one told all his buddies that my place is a great rest-stop. And maybe the original bee is a little dyslexic and told the other bees that to get out you need to turn RIGHT, then straight.

I'm going to go with that explanation. Because the other explanation (one with more of a Stephen King slant) involves giant bees that speak English and who have the ability to turn humans into their slaves. Or something along those lines. They could even be alien bees from another planet. Or tiny vampire bees. Or tiny vampire bees from outer space.

Or they could just be a little dyslexic (and who isn't?)

01 September 2010

New language vs Music Theory

It is September, and that means a return to some sort of Croatian language lessons. I'm searching, searching, searching for a class that runs once or twice a week, for maybe 1.5 hours per class (that means 3 hours per week), and a class that takes its time. I have no need or desire to learn ten new concepts per class. I have no need to rush. What I need is to be taught one concept at a time, thoroughly and given enough time to go home and practice before I come back to learn a new concept.

This is how most people, (who are not of the child prodigy or genius variety), learn to read and play music. Music is a language. A foreign language to everyone who comes to it. Music theory is much like learning grammar in that the rules and guidelines will enable you to read, compose and play more and more complex music in an eloquent way. And it takes time, lots of time to learn. Grade 1 piano generally takes an entire year to accomplish at a pace of one hour per week of lesson coupled with at least one hour of practice every single day (more of course is better). Lesson five can only begin if lessons one, two, three and four have been understood. Trust me, there's no use trying to learn to play with two hands at the same time if you still can't remember where the notes sit on the lines and spaces of the staff.

I vividly remember my first year of music class in highschool where I was given the clarinet to play. Without one word of exaggeration I will confess that it took 2 solid MONTHS for me to figure out how to hold the thing comfortably. Just to hold it. And balance it. The first entire year was clumsy. Year two was better. Year three was really good. Year four was pretty awesome; I could play Sleigh Ride like nobody's business. But even after four solid years of playing..I was nowhere near good enough to play in a professional orchestra. I probably would have needed another three to four years of full-time solid study to get good enough for anything beyond the basics. (check out this video on YouTube of Sleigh Ride. Pay close attention to the clarinet around the 2 mintue mark ;-)

Thus I believe languages all over the world would be learned better if the teachers and course writers were all forced to learn to play Sleigh Ride on the clarinet to the level of awesomeness and given a short time to do so. Like a month.

Hmmm, that actually sounds like it would be a pretty fun reality show to watch!