Day – 30 Reflections

I can’t drag out this project into the new year. I want it done by Christmas. I don’t mind editing typos and making small adjustments post Christmas, but I am that “ya know, it’s okay if you guys go ahead, take that extra walk up the Puy de Dome. I am perfectly fine down here. Send me a selfie! I’m heading down and outta town! I am ready for my next adventure!”

I can’t think about it until I do these rewrites. My supervisors have reassured me it’s not going to be that arduous a task. I am slowly immersing myself into it again. In the shower tonight I thought of ways I could incorporate one of the key theorists I have only mentioned in footnotes. I’ve done the academic thing and overcomplicated a taken for granted phenomenon, or at least that’s how it feels right now. Feels like I’m stating the obvious in too many words.

The thing is, everyone has told me it’s not a PhD. It’s a Masters, you just need to show that you can synthesise information and demonstrate you get the key theories. I don’t have enough words to work with. Arghh

Here’s what I’m going to do:

1) not think about it before bed – going to be hard if it drags into the holidays as night time is when I have time to self to think.

2) I will make the technical changes but run things through my supervisors before re-structuring.

3) remember that it is doable. I just have to force myself to sit there and write.

Which leads me to the question of why if I have discovered in middle age that I am more of an extrovert than introvert, am I still wanting to tell stories through writing when there are so many other ways and I am obviously more of a visual person. Am I just slack? Too lazy or afraid to step out of my comfort zone?

What I need is a holiday. I’m seriously considering booking myself a few days somewhere to write uninterrupted. I need to take this more seriously and it must be my priority after tomorrow until it’s complete.

I also need another blog to dump my other thoughts. This blog is solely a place to track my progress.

The plan for tomorrow – if I find the time.

1) read through feedback. It’s all in a binder now so I can easily flip through it. Make notes on the hard copy.

2) remember how good progress feels and picture end goal. Right now it’s about motivation.

3) do the easy parts first – eg typos, signposting diagrams etc this is the way into other work.

4) write down what I might want to restructure but don’t do it until I get the okay.

5) jot down the questions I have for my supervisors.

6) don’t overthink!!! Don’t focus on the two bad bricks.

None of the ideas I am playing with are alien to me. The theorists are. It’s not hard. It’s not Astro physics.

Okay now I’m all motivated but I need sleep.



Aye curumba! Garage Band saves the day

I went to the state library and got out the Doflein Method Book IV. I remember at 14 or 15 feeling a bit miffed that my new teacher had me go “back to basics” when I had already achieved AMEB Grade 7 with my old teacher.  I wish someone had explained to the teenage me that these are excellent remedial books for those who haven’t been taught the correct technique.  A musician friend suggested I re-learn using Ševčík’s violin studies book and another friend suggested Suzuki, but given the reasons why I’m re-learning (purely for pleasure) I think I’ve made the right choice. Each chapter in the Doflein books target a technique and it’s scaffolded in such a way that the learner does not freak out and they also get to play a two part piece with their teacher  As I’ve probably mentioned in an earlier blog the part I loved best about playing the violin was playing with others. Not only was a less lonely activity, I loved hearing the harmonies.

Unfortunately, I live too far away from any where where I can find like-minded musicians which is okay  because at this stage of my life I can’t commit to rehearsals. I’ve got too much going on (thesis writing…thesis writing…) and can’t commit to much. I had thought about taking some lessons to improve my technique but don’t have time for that either.

So here is where Garage band comes in.

I go through my Doflein exercises and preparation and then I play the piece. I record both parts with the metronome as different tracks. I listen to the tracks and note what I need to improve on. I can still tell when I’m out of tune and what needs work, and then I try again. I’ll need to get a real teacher at some point to give me some feedback on things such as posture, hold and bowing but this is okay for now. It also means that I don’t have to find another person to play with.

I need a hobby like this so that I an take time out from life.

Here is the first two recordings I made of the same piece. I can’t believe that it is only now as a 40 year old that I know how to practice and see that there are rewards from effort. I’ve compressed these files so the quality isn’t that good but on my iMac I can hear it well enough to assess tone quality. So I can tell from these two recordings that I am not ready to play the piece at the speed I attempt the second time. I cringe as I listen to the second recording as I can hear every wrong note.

When I have time I need to see how I can on the home computer just make sure I’m playing in time with myself without having to use the metronome. I find the beat really distracting, yet because of the gear I’m using I can’t really hear and follow the other part if I don’t use the inbuilt metronome.

I think I might set an afternoon aside to record a piece once a week, even if its the same piece. That way I can track my improvement.  There is much joy derived from  practice when you can hear the improvement.

AFTER I finish this thesis I might invest more time and resources to my set up, but my crude set up will suffice for now.


More about thesis writing next time around.  Can’t talk about it. Just gotto do it.

Mid-life or mid-winter

Thank goodness for smart phones. I would get very little done without one.

I’m still in bed because the kid is playing with the rescue cat we adopted. These days cat’s must be registered and sterilised, and be kept indoors! I get the feeling that I am not far away from becoming a crone like woman who goes on about how, “in my day…” 

In my day cats knew how to dig a hole in the garden and poop in it. This cat doesn’t seem to know how to dig a hole in the kitty litter and only in a box of newspaper so I’ve had to put away our open paper recycling bin! The cat is also afraid of the outdoors?!?!!!?! We don’t live in an apartment! I’m going to train it to go out, have a play and stay within the confines of our property. 

I haven’t had time to do much other than look after my child. I will probably not have a chance to see any friends who are not parents of my son’s friends until after the holidays. 

The thesis: not happening. I sent part of it to a PhD writer friend to have a read through and the whole mess to my supervisor who knows that I won’t have time to do anything until the school holidays are over. 

The paid job: something that is rare to come by apparently and I have been told that I’m silly to give it up. Maybe I am but I won’t finish my thesis I continue.

The violin: I still need to get replacement rubbers for my shoulder rest. I haven’t had time to go to a music store. I’ll try going over the weekend. I have found someone to duet with which is something to look forward to. I need to find time to print out some music at some stage. I haven’t been at my desktop either at home or in the office in ages. I might have some time towards the end of the week or the weekend.

So the plan is to:

1) Sleep

2) Stay sane

3) find some time in the next two weeks to not be around anything child related even if it’s two hours reading a trashy novel.

4)go to a music store

5) see at least one friend who is not the mother of my child’s friend. 

6)clean freezer so there is space for home pre-cooked frozen meals. Last minute meal planning takes up too much time!

7)chill out and plan to go on a retreat after submitting thesis.

8)don’t think too far ahead. 

9)remember that the unexpected and the unknown can be good.

10)buy more bamboo stakes to construct a structure to replace some eyesore makeshift barrier that’s been in my backyard for a year. I am so sick of half finished home improvement projects. It makes me feel as if I have been suspended in time for a decade.

11)get out of bed! 🙂 

12) read a chapter of a book

Day 0/ Day -70

It’s 2am.

Thank goodness I get to sleep in tomorrow.

I spent the last few hours putting together everything I have of my dissertation. I’m panicking. I really don’t know how I’m going to manage finishing this in the next 70 days. 50% is almost at final draft stage. The rest? Boy….I’m going to need a lot of time to focus and reference accurately. I’m with Socrates on this one. Writing makes you forget more.  I’m middle aged. I can’t stay up till all hours writing. I need sleep because I have to drive on 100kmph roads every morning. Well not tomorrow morning.

I made plans to go on a mini road trip to the country with a friend. I made 6 play dates for my son and I have to be at them. I guess I can ask a friend to take him one of those days and you know what, who cares about swimming. I should have suspended those damn lessons.

I did however just do what my supervisor said and sent her whatever it was that I had. I know what I have to do, but for some reason I just can’t seem to get started until the procrastination monkey starts screaming in pain.

The Panic Monster is dormant most of the time, but he suddenly wakes up when a deadline gets too close or when there’s danger of public embarrassment, a career disaster, or some other scary consequence.

But can good things come out of procrastination?

I think so. This whole rusty orchestra pursuit was born out of procrastination, as was my decision last term to take on an extra class, as was the Cousera intro course I took on Game Theory, as was several trips to a distant op shop, as was this morning’s brunch with a friend. Didn’t John Lennon say that “life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans?”

Who am I kidding. I need to just cauterise the thesis in 70 days. It’s not a PhD. I don’t need to come up with a new theory. I just need to show that I understand the theoretical framework I’m using and can reference.

“Those who can’t…..”

Must sleep.

I feel terrible submitting such a scrappy draft.  This is low stakes in that it’s not a matter of life and death, but high in terms of “EVERYTHING IS ON-LINE THESE DAYS!!!!” In the old days, you could write a mediocre thesis and it would not see the light of day.


Day -1: Where is the love?

(I tried finding a meme of an empowered older woman but alas I failed). 

I spent this morning feeling cold. It was grey and there was no sunlight.  I sometimes have big cultured city envy but when I think about the weather and the skyscrapers, I’m quite happy to be where I am. I sometimes wonder if I had stayed in the skyscraper city of my birth whether I would have adapted or simply gone mad and jumped off one.

I picked up a few black tops from a friend. As I drove back from her place I thought about how I’ve lived in outer-suburbia for so long that I have a concentration of friends out here. I read somewhere that if you know are in regular to semi-regular contact with 10 people within a 15 minute drive from you, your mental health outcomes are better. I know 10 people!  It felt really good to be able to drop in on a couple of friends this morning without having to commute to the city.

So other than having one of those, “Hey I’m okay with where I’m at” days because I felt the love.

[I had no idea who Ariana Grande was until the Manchester bombings. I really love her voice in this. Wow the Black Eyed Peas are also middle-aged].

In terms of playing.

I played a little just before I hopped on-line to sort out my bills, track husband and look at check-list of things I must do. I’ll have some time after school pick up or later this evening/early tomorrow. I’m more than a little nervous about this even though I made it through one rehearsal playing worse than I do today. It’s about judgement. But who is judging me? Not the person next to me. She doesn’t expect much and I probably make her feel that her job is more than secure (as opposed to the ones who are sitting next to unemployed professionals who’ve had to claim “amateur” status to have this opportunity. I learnt from Blair Tindall‘s book that it’s so competitive out there for classical musicians that community groups are their only option. I would imagine it’s harder for woodwind/brass players to find a job since there are only 2 of each in most orchestras).

I have accepted I’ve run out of time to play certain passages properly. I’ve got comfy clothes. I’m not going to kill myself in formal shoes so will just wear whatever black shoes I can find. I have a bad feeling that I may be in sandals. But who cares? I’m not a professional. This is a community event.

And just like that my blogging time is up. I may need to set myself time limits for thesis writing tonight.

The next time I write will be after the event! I can’t believe time has flown by.  More navel gazing on Sunday! Then it’s countdown to submission. Well in addition to all the other stuff…eg. being my child’s social secretary, chauffeur etc.. I should be able to put down the management skills I’ve picked up as a mother in a professional CV.







Day -3 – Yikes!

Hello my three readers!

[I am too old and too private to post pictures up of me. Yes I know there are three people in the photo who are possibly older than me but one is a man and the other have had work done or are heavily photoshopped].


I spent most of today being a housewife but gave up and will try again tomorrow. Tomorrow I’m going to take a trip to a department store and buy storage solutions for my pantry. It’s getting a little scary in there and I’m sure we have mice. The husband is going overseas for a month so I’m quite freaked out about the prospect of having to dispose of any mice I find in the traps. [Note to self – do not mention buying mousetrap to vegetarian friends].

I managed to spend some time on the four pieces I have to play. I’ve accepted I won’t be able to play every note and decided to look at the positives:

1)I can play every note – just not at speed.

2)John Williams is difficult to play. I have new found respect for the composer of Star Wars, Raiders, Harry Potter…and the people who play in film orchestras.

3) I managed to go from literally rusty to okay for an amateur who hasn’t played in over two decades. Technically I have as I pull the violin out every 7-8 years or so and attempt to play again. This is the first time I’ve gone beyond playing a few simple tunes at home since I quit in 1991.

4)Some of my closest friends are going to be at the concert as will my kid and some of his friends!

5)I’m playing well enough to join a mid-level amateur orchestra.


I’ve started reading Mozart in the Jungle after catching a  snippet from few episodes of it in which they play one of the pieces we will be performing this weekend. I stumbled across thisblog which made me feel better about how difficult I am finding the 1812 Overture:

10) No orchestra knows the 1812 overture by heart. Although it is theoretically possible that individual players may know parts of it, they could never just start playing without any kind of preparation.


Realistically, I only have about 4 practice hours left in me before the rehearsal. I have to submit what I’ve re-edited to my supervisor in less than 48 hours. I also need to send hubby off to the airport. But I wont’ think about the big picture now.  Oh dear, I think my son still has a cold.



Day -4 to Rusty/3 months to submission

Arghhh and just like that there are only 4 days left. If I were at the stage I’m at today two months ago I’d be feeling more confident about this. I mean I can probably get by and I’m pretty sure the professional next to me will see the sense of fun in the event.

I haven’t had a chance to practice much because of life: parenting and work mainly. The whole family has had the seasonal winter cold/flu. There’s a lot going on at the moment and I’m sure same time next week I will change this blog’s focus to the countdown to submission…..So close, yet so far. I’m looking at a chapter I’ve printed out that needs extensive edits. Blerghhhhhhh….

Had I gone down the music path perhaps my life would have been narrower and my ears deafer. I’m finding it all rewarding because I couldn’t play a tune when I first started this blog, but if I hadn’t taken a 25 year break  and didn’t see this as a diversion from thesis writing, would I enjoy it as much? [Cue: That 90s Aqua song that featured in Gwyneth Goop Paltrow’s “Sliding Doors”….If only I could turn back time……]

The thing is since I strayed off the path 25 years ago I’ve never had a thing that’s felt as familiar as music. Being a musician was central to my identity up until I went to university to study something else. I look back now as a 40 year old and can see things for what they were and I’m okay with the path taken [even though it was more a meandering through the woods and stumbling across that path].

I really hate this chapter I’ve written but I just want to submit so I’m not going to trash it. I’m going to edit it so it fits with the project. I’m not sure if I have a chance to update this blog before the performance. The next month is intense.