I finished my third week of music school. Most of my classmates are on their fifth year. I have some catching up to do.

Like George Bluth, I'm having the time of my life in here. I'm in a jazz history seminar, a remedial crash course on theory and aural skills, a performance group, and regular private lessons.

The jazz history seminar is led by Richard Thompson. It's a relaxed environment in which the students discuss readings from Robert Walser's Keeping Time: Readings in Jazz History, among other sources. Last week, we were given a piano transcription of Jelly Roll Morton's "The Pearls" and each assigned a portion of the song to arrange for the class to perform. I had only used Finale once before, and I had only arranged for a group once before. I cranked it out in a day and a half, and was surprised at how good it sounded in MIDI playback (usually a bad sign). We recorded it Wednesday night. All the arrangements sounded great, but I got perma-grin during mine. I better start looking into the jazz composing/arranging course. I think someone will splice together all the different arrangements into a complete piece. I'll post it here if we decide to make it public.

My theory/aural skills course is taught by Brent Dutton and Todd Rewoldt. It's designed to prep the new grad students who didn't pass the placement exams in theory or aural skills. I passed aural skills and 2 of the 5 theory sections, but I'm still learning or re-learning a ton of material. The extent of my classical theory knowledge stems from one introductory course in college (colloquially known as "Clapping for Credit") and occasional reading on my own. I haven't studied counterpoint outside the Internets, but I'm getting it now. We have a 32-bar, two-part motet due Monday. On the aural skills side, I'm not bad with dictation and okay with sight-singing. Now I need to use solfege (which I've never done) while conducting (which I've never done) and playing a separate piano part in my left hand (which I've never done). It's a challenge, but I'm so bad at it that I see improvements every day, so it's exciting. We're also encouraged to use double-tonguing on fast rhythms, which I love. I get to say "caca" on consecutive upbeats.

I was placed in Jazz Combo 3 (of 5) after my audition. I had to switch to Combo 4, directed by fellow grad student Peter August, after a schedule conflict. I'm with all undergrads, mostly freshmen I think, but it's cool. I get to help Peter coach the less-experienced players on techniques, concepts, performing tips. We're working on Sandu, Triste, Blue Bossa, Scrapple from the Apple, Impressions, Bye Bye Blackbird, Goodbye Pork Pie Hat, Wave, Mr. PC, Lady Bird, Four on Six.

I'm also taking private lessons with Bob Boss. When I called him to schedule our meeting time, a woman's voice (which I later learned was Tokeli's) said seductively, "You've reached the voicemail of guitarist Bob Boss. Bobby's not here right now, but I know where to reach him. In the meantime, you can talk to me." I received this advice at my first lesson: LEARN TUNES. So that's what I'm doing. I'll elaborate later.

In conclusion, I love this.