Saturday, September 7, 2013

Weekly Interlude 14: Launching Headfirst Into Artistic Adventures

Musical Munchkins

Okay, now that that's out in the open, let me double back.

My first big mistake in last week's Interlude was writing, "The last 'first' of this week is happening tomorrow: I'm getting a roommate!" Not only did I get a roommate, I also went on my second job interview, got the job, signed my first contract, met up with a girl who is studying abroad here (kind of a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend situation), and researched banks. Then this week started off with a bang on Monday at 7:45 a.m. when I registered with the police to confirm that, yes, I am in fact living here for the next year. Tuesday, determined not to be outdone by Monday's events, saw me opening a bank account at 8 a.m. (now I have a place for my paychecks to go!). And every day, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., I have been holed up at Musical Munchkins for intensive job training, where I am basically trying to squeeze a Music Ed degree into one week.

Remember a couple posts ago when I discovered that I am a fundamentally stressed-out person? Well, the past week has just made that even more obvious!
Arrivals board at Vienna International

So here is the plan for the next year: I am staying in Vienna until December, when I will then come home for Christmas. Then I return right after the New Year and stay until the beginning of July. Which reminds me, I need to book my flights for 2014....

There was so much to deal with this week (registration, bank account, insurance -- which needed to be handled in a particular order and in a very short amount of time) that I didn't even have time to celebrate landing my first job. All I could see, especially over the weekend, was every negative thing: I need to register before I can open an account before I can sign up for basic health insurance, I'm not going to see my family and friends for a really long time, I don't have a Music Ed degree, I can't understand these bank account websites, I'm the most awkward teacher ever, I just want to sleep, I've signed away my life for the next year, etc. etc.

Friends from German class!
Now that this crazy week is over, I can say that the next year is going to be super hard, but (as my mom keeps telling me) I am capable. Plus, I have an amazing support system, both over here and at home. I was floored by the way people were so willing and eager to help me out. When I called my friend (who is from Vienna but studying in France this semester), freaking out about the timing of all this bureaucracy stuff, she immediately called her mom, who not only called different banks to ask them about their offers, accounts, etc., but also went with me on Tuesday morning to help me open the account. When I emailed my friend's brother, who lives in Germany, for advice about banks, insurance, etc., he immediately responded with loads of helpful information and advice. So even when I'm freaking out (which is often), I have a whole network of people on my side. That's pretty awesome.

Musical Munchkins mural
As for the job itself, I start teaching this Tuesday. I'll have three classes, with kids between the ages of 10 months and 3 years. I've been resurrecting all kinds of stories: The Lion and the Mouse, Three Billy Goats, Three Little Bears, Three Little Kittens, Rapunzel, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Little Engine that Could, etc. I'm also now intimately familiar with I, IV, and V7 chords on the piano, as I improvise simple boom-chick-chick and oom-pah accompaniments to songs such as "Old MacDonald," "If You're Happy and You Know It," and "The Wheels on the Bus." There are three other teachers, plus the director; the girls have been super supportive and very helpful. When I had to show up on Wednesday ready to teach one of the lesson plans, they acted as my students and created numerous scenarios for me: kid won't give marker back, kid rolls under the piano, kid doesn't listen -- what do you do? Basically, my biggest problem is that I use too many words, so I'm working on simplifying my classroom instructions. No need to say, "Everybody find your pointer finger and trace a circle" when teaching 2-year-olds about whole notes; just say, "Point! Circle!" and start singing.

Vienna Parliament
Roommate celebration dinner!
All in all, I'm living in a mild state of anxiety, which I'm hoping is normal for someone starting their first job. Last night was the first time I really celebrated this accomplishment (and the arrival of my roommate!). My friend and I made a delicious dinner: grilled caprese sandwiches, two kinds of savory puff pastries (hamburger and gouda, veggies and feta), and worms in dirt. Tonight, she and I are going to see Carmen at the Staatsoper, and tomorrow we're going to see Tosca!! (And Monday night, Jennifer and I are going to see La Traviata...three of my favorite operas in three days!)

As I learn to balance my new job and schedule, I need to bring my own practicing back to the forefront. Lessons with Jennifer are amazing, and hopefully I'll have more next week. I can't exist solely on classical music, nor am I completely fulfilled by teaching kids "Old Brass Wagon." You know? I need a little bit of everything.

Sticker on U-Bahn seat :)
So I won't make the same mistake this time and write something equivalent to, "Okay, I guess that's it for the week!" Because new things are happening all the time. Life and singing and teaching are all like that -- demanding, developing, dynamic. None of them are ever "achieved." In all three, it's the process and the discovery that matters, not the having.

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