Ugh.

I remember taking one of those career aptitude tests as a student – remember those? Based on my results, I was told that I ought to be a historian . . . or a banker. Sometimes I wonder what Earworm the Banker would have been like. I suspect she would enjoy the figure-out-the-system aspect of banking. And she would not have to fail nearly half the students in her survey course, which Actual Earworm the History Professor will soon have to do, based on the results of the final exam. How do you teach people to retain information and think about the connections between things while also not lapsing into fuzzy generalities? (Then again, if I knew how to teach people to think both abstractly and precisely, I’d probably be making more than most bankers I am making now.)

This level of student failure is not unusual here, based on conversations I have had with colleagues. Still, part of me thinks there must be a way to teach this stuff so that I’m not dumbing it down (that would be unfair to the five or six straight-A students in the class, who do not deserve to be bored) but the students still learn more of it.

However, the exam that explained in great detail how Robert Owen invaded Nicaragua sort of made the whole thing worth it, at least for a few minutes. (I think the student got him mixed up with William Walker.)

The short version of all this is that I need some music that will cheer me up. I have begun with Rachel Podger and the Arte dei Suonatori Baroque Orchestra playing Vivaldi’s Op. 4 violin concertos (“La Stravaganza”) because Podger, who both plays solo and conducts, tears into these with an incisiveness and an energy that makes me happy that there are violins in the world. I think that from there I will proceed to Patricia Petibon Island, with a brief layover in Liederland, if only because the people in German art songs always seem to have problems that are worse than mine. (I read Dan Savage’s advice column for the same reason.)

Finally, I ran across a translation of the text of Brahms’s song “O liebliche Wangen” which rendered the title as “Oh, sweet cheeks!” which seems to not quite hit the mark, somehow.

14 thoughts on “Ugh.

  1. I like the idea of an army of Utopian Socialists sweeping Nicaragua with fire and the sword, leaving workers’ co-operatives scattered across the devastated countryside.

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    1. This was pretty much what I was imagining too. If it wouldn’t undermine the whole operation to give students partial credit for entertainment value, I would.

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  2. Oh, and I highly recommend Daniel Behle’s Schwetzingen recital for your Lieder fix. Most of them are familiar, so that may help. (Except for the Grieg songs, but they sort of sound familiar anyway.) (sorry for not shortening the link. And I haven’t figure out how to do any html in wordpress comments.) http://www.swr.de/swr2/festivals/schwetzinger-festspiele/sendungen/schwetzinger-konzerte-zum-nachhoeren/-/id=657016/nid=657016/did=8447896/ovoxhr/index.html

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    1. I need to go through that archive of Schwetzingen recital performances before they all vanish! Maybe this weekend. (I’m still working on that BBC broadcast of Tristan and Isolde.)

      The html for links should be the same as for blogger: the “a href=” code.

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      1. Yes, do it soon. They are disappearing fast, and being replaced by the new programs. At least three of the programs I recommended on my blog last week are already gone.

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        1. Listening to it now 🙂

          Also, unexpected musical connection made! There is a bit at the end of Gluck’s Orpheo, an orchestral intro, that I could have sworn up and down that I had heard before, but I couldn’t remember where: but it’s the little musical intro to the Schwetzinger festival’s broadcasts!

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          1. YAY! had the opposite experience. I kept hearing that when I click on the radio and wondered what the heck is that really familiar-sounding music??? 🙂

            P.S. I LOVE a tenor singing Schubert’s Shepherd on the Rock… NEVER heard that before, but it makes so much sense now.

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  3. Way back when choosing what to study I was faced with the sane choice: history or banking ( well, economics). I chose the latter, and even today I wonder if I made a correct choice…

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    1. Strangely enough I was faced with the choice between history or mathematics. In England as things then stood it was a choice I had to make at 16. I chose mathematics and I don’t regret it.

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      1. I was fully intent on Old Irish and got lots of economics lectures from my Dad as a result. But then my professor opted for prestige and tenure and all that, so he went to a proper school where he now gets to teach things like Tocharian and be paid in actual money. [sigh]

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          1. A lot of my fellow history majors at my undergraduate university went to law school, or into banking or consulting – the major was seen as a stepping-off point for that type of career. I thought about law school myself for a while. (My dad was like: “maritime law! you should go into maritime law!” but this was because he likes boats, not because he really wanted me to be a lawyer.)

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