Getting a First

Although the final grades are not out, the preliminary marks lead me to believe I will achieve a First Class Honours Degree from Napier University for my BMus studies. While the reaction from all those around me are praise and hearty congratulations, I am feeling a bit lost with marking it as anything extraordinary.

I do not want to put down the education I have received. I do not want to make little of my accomplishments over the past four years. What I am trying to say is, I do not think what I did was extraordinary for me. I do not feel, particularly in this last year, that anything I did was much of a stretch for me. I really wish I had done more, gone farther and done better. Yes, I (potentially) have First Class Honours Degree and it doesn't get any better than that. I guess it's just that I expect more of myself.

Does this sound egotistical? I don't mean it to.

Achievements this year:

  • Finished writing and conducted my first symphony
      Yes, I am very proud of that.
  • Wrote 30 minutes of a opera that has real potential (IMHO)
      Yes, I am proud of that
  • Wrote a complete string quartet (not just a short 5-6 minute string piece) that is being professionally performed (not just as a vanity project)
      Yes, I am proud of that

Things I didn't achieve:

  • Better understanding of what makes some composers music so intriguing.
      I'd like to study Mahler, (John) Williams, Corigliano indepth. I did study Holst, Brittan, Ferneyhough and Maxwell-Davis (and others), but there are so many more that I should also have gotten to and just didn't.
  • Better handle on the tricks in orchestrating for symphony orchestras.
      I am woefully lacking in knowing the tricks of master orchestrators. My first symphony does a number of interesting things - but there are still more out there (there must be) and I don't know them. It's like I am a painter who learned a couple of techniques, but then look at Monet and realise I have no business attempting water lilies at this stage in my development - and that's frustrating!
  • Better handle on sound mixing.
      I don't want to be a sound engineer, but so much of film music is done though computer generated sounds. I am not getting the clarity of sound I know can be achieved (even with generated sounds) so my works do not sound as good as they should.
  • Better understanding of Popular music
      I took a Dance Music class, but still just failed to grasp what it is that makes modern pop, hip hop, rock, drum&bass, club, house…. Music tick. I didn't take a pop degree, but it is so much of what is part of the musicscape of today that I feel inadequate in my knowledge.

The list goes on… Hopefully this provides some understanding as to why I'm not necessarily celebrating my achievement. Maybe I have just walked up a large hill (maybe even a mountain) but there so many more mountains left to climb. Taking time to celebrate climbing this one doesn't seem appropriate.


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