by Mark Shilansky, Assistant Professor of Ear Training
I’m telling lots of jokes here to keep this interesting, but really I am learning so much in this program and I wish I’d done it sooner. I hope to graduate before I am eligible for the AARP. It’s making me a better teacher, too. One day very few people in my NEC class were keeping up with the assignments well and the teacher read us the riot act in a very gentle way, was able to suss out the exact point at which he’d come off like a bit of a douche if he continued berating us. Then I went to teach my Ear Training 2 class and they couldn’t hear a door slam (I slammed it a few times too… I got that lick from Les Harris, Sr. See, I’m learning to cite my jokes instead of just plagiarizing them the way I used to), and rather than berate them for the rest of the class or hurl chalk at them like some Berklee teachers of yore used to do, or tell them they’d never work in the music business (when they are probably ghost-writing Beats for Kanye as first semester students) or staple a McDonald’s application to their mid-term before I hand it back, I gently urged them to practice harder and re-iterated the methods on page 11, asked them kindly not to write the solfege in their books (it NEVER helps and virtually guarantees they won’t learn anything), and we moved on to sub-dividing 6/8 or whatever the lesson was that day.
However, I have even less time to be present in my relationships with friends and loved ones. I have a new excuse with which to turn down gigs (recently my two excuses were “I would like to take that gig with you but I have not seen my wife in 2 weeks and she will leave me” and “I would like to take that gig but I have High Blood Pressure and I may die… make sure you package up my bandwiches I was going to receive so they can be served at my funeral reception.”), but I still do have to earn money. As it happens all the brainiac writing and reading and music study have inspired me to be a little more prolific with the composing, and when I play jazz now I brazenly try to stuff in all the new harmonic content I am learning, to the point where I am sure it is annoying to many. I understand why the best way to do this is probably to be a full-time student, but that is not really an option right now. It’s nice to be older and in school, because I really want to learn. I’m not trying to hang with all the professors so I can sub rehearsals for them and make the late night hang at Smalls and buy falafels for them and “hook up with the scene, man, and Brooklyn is fine but it’s also kinda played out… everyone is living in Jamaica, Queens now, man.” I don’t care about this. That train has sailed for me. I want to learn about figured bass and someday maybe own property.