November 24, 2008

day 2…

day 2…
I arrived at the College at 10 this morning, and met Zoe Smith (the person who wrote the email letter two entries ago), who was the assistant director of music at the college. She’s a real nice lady, but she always seems to be in a hurry – dashing off somewhere, rushing something. She was sweet enough to show me around the old building, and introduced me to some of the ‘important people’. She also wrote me a piece of paper which said something along the lines of, “Natalie Ng is an International Exchange student at the College awaiting her student pass. She should be allowed full use of the facilities here.” Nice! (: 
One of the professors commented that I spoke excellent english, and questioned where I learnt it. Of course, Singapore lah! He was surprised. Perhaps he thought that Chinese spoke funny english. Or maybe he thought I was from China. It’s so irritating having to speak proper english here so the people can understand. It’s like I have to put on a silly British slang! Shing Min’s the only one whom I can speak our national language (singlish) to, and it seems as though she’s happy that I’m around for the same reason.
Having an hour and a half to kill before meeting with my Oboe professor, I visited the College library today. It was exactly how I envisioned it to be – old, dusty, with a musty smell of books and yellow papers – and only much, much better. There must be hundreds of books and thousands of periodicals and journals! The shelves stretch from floor to celing, and there are little ladders and stools for us to stand on to reach the books on higher shelves. The collection of scores and audio-visual materials was fascinating too! Just the oboe books alone would have outnumbered NAFA’s woodwind books any day. There were books of prose, poetry, theatre plays and dance aplenty as well. I buried myself in Sir Charles Burney’s Music, Men and Manners in France and Italy 1770 for that hour, accompanied by the sounds of Bach’s Cello Suites. His music critiques were witty and entertaining, and such a delight to read. However, with every music critique he wrote came another 10 pages complaining of the weather, the poor food, court organists who publicly kept mistresses, and poor service. He complained so much that it got really irritating after a while. 
I got lost countless times before finally finding the room where my oboe teacher taught. He’s Murray Johnston, but we call him Sandy. My swab got stuck in the top joint yesterday afternoon while practicing, and tried as I could, it remained stuck. I took it to him today, and he spent close to an hour but it still didn’t budge! Cardiff doesn’t have any good woodwind repairs, and he almost sent me to another town by train to get it out. He took it home to see what he could do with it, and he lent me his new oboe, a Howarth XL (yes, THE howarth xl that Carolyn wouldn’t let me buy). It was a thumbplate system 🙁 Everyone in the UK uses a thumbplate, and he said that I was the first one he’s teaching to use a french system oboe. When asked what I should prepare for lesson, he looked through my books and said, “Let’s do the Mozart.” And so I had to learn the Mozart concerto on a thumbplate oboe! Getting used to the thumbplate was one very difficult thing to do. String players, just imagine that one string is tuned a tone lower or something. Or pianists, imagine that the F# key was switched with the B-flat. See what I mean now?? 
the view from the first practice room

the view from the second practice room. this time it’s smaller, but just as nice
The rooms here are lovely. We can open the windows for ventilation (natural fresh air and it’s like air-conditioning because of the temperature in winter), and the view outside shows trees with green leaves, yellow leaves, and brown leaves on the ground. Pretty!
I practiced until I got chased out of a practice room. Found another one and practiced more until my upper lip got cut (in the cold I think the skin gets more sensitive and therefore gets injured faster), then I decided that I’d go for a walk. 
Today’s weather was gorgeous – the sun was shining, it’s a lovely day.. (shuu- avenue q? =P) I walked from the College, past the back of the Cardiff Castle, and into town. Sandy says that the Cardiff Castle is a fake. It was built around 200 years ago, not like the others which were thousands of years old. 
the back gate to the castle. it’s surrounded by a moat!

closed. and locked. even Beep can’t get in.
The castle seemed closed (I only found out that it was the back much later), so I walked on ahead towards the town. Everything looks so neat and tidy, it’s as though I’ve stepped into a picture book. 
Rows of shops lined the streets, very much unlike Singapore where shops are stacked on top of one another in buildings. Checked out some shops with the intention of buying shoes, but haven’t found any suitably priced yet. I ate my lunch, consisting of a sandwich and an apple packed from home, wandered around a bit more, bought a hot chocolate from Starbucks and then headed back to school for practice until 4. The situation here is a little different from NAFA’s. The charts come out at 7.30am and everyone scrambles to book a room early. By 9am there’s almost no space left. 
Met up with Shing Min and walked back with her. Her hall’s much neater than mine because it’s a post-grad block. Post-grad = less rowdy and neater. I got to know her flat-mate, Michelle, and after dropping my stuff in my room we set out for school again, for a cello recital by Penny Driver, one of the faculty. It wasn’t particularly good, but it was interesting. The way back after the recital can only be described with one word – COLD. Freezing, in fact. 
Cooked a simple dinner of instant noodles, veg and sausages. A nice warm meal (: I’m meeting the head of woodwind studies tomorrow morning to get my classes sorted out, and then having an oboe lesson at 2 with Sandy. I’d better practise a little more before turning in tonight. It’s the Mozart concerto on a thumbplate oboe! *groan* That’s all for now (: 
ps. to all those who have been keeping me in prayer, thank you very very much! this morning’s bible reading and devotion stressed the importance of prayer, and how we feel uplifted just by knowing that loved ones are praying for us. thanks again, i love you all (:

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