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November 18, 1983 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1983-11-18
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from Page 1
in the country and there are University
graduates in almost every major U.S.
orchestra. Students, however, are well
aware this does not guarantee them a
spot on any stage.
Instead of worrying about grades,
music students are concerned about
how they play, whether it's during a
private lesson, a class, a rehearsal, or a
performance. They often spend their
entire day-seven days a week-inside
one building, moving from room to
room with their flutes, trumpets, and
cellos. But it goes beyond lessons and

and forget the material, Ruple says he
works on a piece of music, then plays it
over and over again for himself, his
classmates, and finally his instructor.
Adds Laura Wyman, a junior
majoring in flute performance, "You
can't really cram for a music lesson or
a recital the way you usually can for a
Thus, to the music student, time is a
precious commodity. "It's not just the
time in class, it's the time you spend
getting ready for class or for rehearsal.
There's never enough time to practice
just for myself," says Wyman, who of-
ten has as many as five rehearsals a
day on top of her classes and private
practice time.
Some music students are so
desperate to get in extra practice time.'
they resort to sneaking into the locked


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'The students learn by competing, just as
they will in the real world.... The enormous
stress drives motivate the students.'
-Paul Boylan
Dean of the School of Music

Piano: The keys to success
What drives these students to spend
up to eight hours a day in
claustrophobic practice cubicles and
resort to breaking and entering to prac-
tice the same musical passages over
and over again? In one word, pressure.
Pressure that comes from all
sides-the other students, the
professors-but most of all, from the
students themselves.
"There's a lot of pressure on music
majors just because of the nature of the
performing arts," says music school
Dean Paul Boylan. "The school is built
on competition amongst one's peers."
"The students learn by competing,
just as they will in the real world," he
says. "The competition is fundamen-
tal. The enormous stress drives,
motivates the students."
Yet students differ in their opinions
as to where the competition really
"The only pressure I feel in music
school is self-imposed," said Jim
Walters, a junior majoring in music
education. "I compare my im-
provement against myself, my own
playing, instead of comparing myself to
other students."
Other students say the pressure
students impose upon themselves is
fueled by the competition that exists
among their peers.

"You want to play well when playing
with others, like an accompanist or an
ensemble. You want to be ahead of
everyone else," says Wyman. "But you
try not to be too competitive or be
jealous if someone else plays better."
"Competitiveness exists," agrees
Velich. "It's not vicious, though. You
work together and help each other out."
Still, for some students, the pressure
is inescapable. "You have to prove
yourself each time you play," says Paul
Hess, a graduate student in piano per-
"One lousy performance and it's all
over," he explains. "If you don't per-
form well it reflects poorly on you men-
tally, emotionally, and physically."
According to Boylan, music students
must learn how to deal with the
pressure that is a given for most
professional musicians before they
leave the relatively safe confines of the
music school.
Because of the fierce competition for
choice opportunities such as the lead in
an opera or the first chair in an or-
chestra, students are well aware of
where on the scale of musical talent
they fall..
"I'm not hung up on ranking-at least
I hope I'm not," says Velich. "But I'm
aware of our ranking. There's only
eight places for flutes in the top two or-
chestras and there are 30 flute majors,

classrooms. At the music school,
solitary confinement isn't a punish-
ment, it's a necessity.
"I practice a minimum of three
hours, but usually it's about five hours
per day," says Eric Ruple, a doctoral
student in piano performance. "I'm
here from nine until midnight every
day. I leave maybe for dinner."
According to Ruple, music is dif-
ferent from other disciplines because
"the work is never done. You don't just
take a test and it's over," he says.
Unlike academic courses in which
students can study for a test, take it,

building during the Thanksgiving and
Christmas breaks.
"One person will find an unlocked or
propped open door and we'll all break in
and practice," says one clarinetist who
asked not to be identified. "Security
eventually comes and makes us leave."
Says junior oboeist Vicky Velich, "I
have to practice between four and six
hours a day and I work at least as hard,
if not harder, than any other student."
It's not something you can put away.
All the other students may go on break,
but there's no summer vacation for a
musician or we'd never be able to keep

Midnight Oil
By Larry Dean
S NOWY WEATHER: great for lis-
tening to music. A sure-bet pleaser
is Peter Gabriel, who's wonderful in the
snow. Or Joy Division. How 'bout Keith
Jarrett? Yeah, real snowymusic.
So imagine my trepidation at having
to review this Aussie quintet Midnight
Oil on the first snow day of the year. No
promises here. Just me and my
Manufacturers Equipment & Supply
mug (gift from a wayfaring friend of
some years past) brimmin' full of hot
java, and the swirling whiteness of im-
pending winter to my right. All that,
and the music.
I'm a bit skeptical about Midnight
Oil. Not necessarily about their music
which has its good and bad points-but
about their politics, flaunted without
abandon. "Short Memory," in par-
ticular, drops quite a litany and
names-South Africa, El Salvador,
Hiroshima, Cambodia, and
Afghanistan-most for the sake of trite
rhymes, forced rhymes. Hey, it's one
thing to be politically aware, and
another when that awareness becomes
fashion. Midnight Oil are too new to the
scene to dismiss right away, but they
are fast headed toward entropical
10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 is a weird album.
Highly touted by megacorp Columbia
as the "next big thing," it hits a lot of
marks, but never quite booms like its
countdown-title would lead you to
believe. Like I said, too
premeditated-not enough. Starts
off on a promising note with "Outside
World," which is surprisingly subdued
and pretty (unlike the frantic XTC tune
of the same name). Lots of unshowy
synth, imagistic lyrics, and one solid
throughline- Leaving all my
problems in the outside world.
Maybe not your traditional opening
track at first listen, but it does set some
sort of precedent for the rest of what's
to come.
The one palatable thing about Mid-
night Oil 'is their music. Jerky, stop-
and-start, intricate, _ and often
energetic, their songs start with one
flavor and quickly shift to another,
sometimes a totally opposite one.

"Scream In Blue," for instance, begins
with a ruthless aural assault and halts
in mid-musical-orgasm, segueing into a
simple piano melody. An old trick, but
one that occasionally works. And while
the shifts are often complete tur-
narounds, there are times on
10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 when the songs
display both aggression and passivity
equally. "U.S. Forces" starts off with a
somber passage enunciated by syn-
thetic keyboard bursts and then kicks
into flagrant acoustic guitar strums; by
the time the tune is well-underway, it
is firmly situated in a vaguely
Latin/folk beat, complete with distor-
ted guitar breaks. The same is
basically true for "Only the Strong,"
which also kicks in after a slow build-
up, and "Read About It," with its
dreadful rhyme, The rich get
richer/The poor get the picture. Tell
me about it.
"Power and the Passion" has a killer
hook, bubbly quasi-reggae bass, and
the put-up-yer-dukes concluding line,
It's better to die on your feet than
live on your knees. (The old man in
Catch-22 would disagree.) The middle
section is a handclap-and-percussion
bop-off, neatly encapsuling the Mid-
night Oil call-to-musical-arms; at its
conclusion, a rousing horn section
comes in to carry the listener away like
a wounded soldier on a stretcher.
Musicianship is good in Midnight Oil.
Guitarist Martin Rotsey (ROTC??)
comes up with some interesting licks,
and most often puts himself in the role
of the guitar player, rather than a
straight lead or rhythm player. . . that
way, he doesn't limit himself, and the
music is all the more complete. Same is
true for keyboardist Jim Moginie (who
also doubles on guitar). The rhythm
section of bassist Peter Giddorf and
drummer Rob Hirst is kind of plain, and
Hirst occasionally plays in an an-
noyingly straight style; however, they
are tight and muscular. But my chief
complaint comes from possibly the
most important aspect of the
music-the vocalist. Peter Garrett isn't
awful, but he's so artfully tense that he
overdoes the expressiveness to the
point of wincing. .. not him, mind you,
but the listeners. Well, maybe time'll be
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on his side.
I am at a loss to either recommend or
blow off Midnight Oil. There's a lot of
nice things going on here musically, but
they're all drawn from obvious sour-
ces-the Boomtown Rats, XTC, and the
Who, amongst others. The ease of
discerning that lineage of influences
depletes the positives somewhat, but
it's not a total wash-out-I even find
myself putting 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 on the
turntable more often these snowy days.
It's just the damn pose-and while
this bunch is rather faceless to me so
far (the media hasn't gotten to them for
their hype-potential yet), they are
poseurs-that gets me. Talking politics
is one thing, and doing is another. The
visions on this debut are bleak little

are they
even botl
slator or,
And wha
An empty
where the
self. Mid
with the
their job.
A quot
seems to
was neve:

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