everyday inspiration

A Bad Day with Beethoven

Everyone has a “horrible, first day of school” story. Except for me. Until today. My last, first day of school.

Let’s preface the real story with the fact that I practically poured coffee all over myself on my way to school. Thankfully, it wasn’t hot and it was on my coat. However, I should have taken this as a sign.

9:30 a.m. class- Honors Music Colloquium: Beethoven’s Symphonic Theory

I also should have taken it as a sign when everyone in the 10 person class knew each other… because they were all grad students… studying music history, music theory, tuba, piano, etc.

As we went around the classroom saying our name, major and what we enjoyed about Beethoven, I knew I was screwed.

Person A: I’m a graduate student in Music History and have also played the piano my entire life. Thus, I know all about Beethoven’s history as well as the way all of his symphonies are composed and could tell you about each them down to each note. Oh look, I also have all 3 of these books about his symphonies that I just bought for fun and randomly brought to class.

Me: Uh.. I’m an undergraduate Journalism student and I have always been interested in music.

It was a real shining moment for me.

It only went downhill from there as the Austrian professor lectured in a foreign language. Background: I’ve grown up in choir, can/could read music, have played the clarinet, piano and guitar, making me think I was qualified enough. The class was practically in another language. About the only words I recognized were Beethoven, Bach and symphony. But even then, I couldn’t tell you what exactly characterizes a symphony and the origins of it (which he asked.)

As he was writing notes on the board and drawing symbols that were far from anything I’ve ever seen, I was hastily taking down every word. (At this point I was positive I had to drop the class, but would rather be safe than sorry) “Now, this is review for all of you, correct? Because the entire class will be building on these concepts,” he asked in his too cute accent that made me all the more upset. I look around and not a single other person is taking notes.


Okay, 5 minutes left in the class. He will surely let us go early, because I don’t know how much more of this I can take. HA what was I thinking?

“For the last few minutes, let’s listen to Sammartini. Follow along with the score I handed you then we will analytically discuss his work- what form it is in (which I had just comprehensively taken notes on, but definitely wouldn’t be able to decipher the score with), how you can tell and what the anomalies with his other works are (who the heck was this guy anyway?!).”

I have never, ever, ever been more excited to leave a class than the moment we were released.

Editor’s note: I have officially switched out of that class into The History of the Book in Early America.

3 responses

  1. Avalon Gurel

    I want you to know that I truly empathize with your horrible first day. My first day of last spring semester I had been home from Austria for MAYBE a full 26 hours when my first class rolls along. 830 am French 1003. I went to the classroom only to find that the room had been switched. From the basement of JB hunt to what had to have been the top floor of Kimpell. So I arrive not to late but a little winded from sprinting up a gazillion flights of stairs and walk in late to class. The teacher, who is in full swing lecturing in french, turns to me and asks… something. I have never heard a word of french in my life that I was actually paying attention too. So I tried to tell her I didnt get it and she yells “EN FRANCAIS!” So I try to explain that I don’t actually know any, and she just keeps wildly gesturing and yelling in french. Finally I panic and yell back “I DONT UNDERSTAND YOU! I DONT SPEAK ANY FRENCH! NONE! NONE AT ALL!” Then I notice the room is very quiet, probably because I was shrieking at the professor, but then i realize that she looks really, really confused. Then I realize that I had been yelling. In German. At which point I picked up all my things and RAN from the room, never to return. So I want you to know that I know what its like to want to run screaming from a classroom.

    January 19, 2011 at 12:35 am

  2. Morgan Thomas

    Oh man… I feel your pain. I have totally been there and wanted to cry the entire class. Thank you for posting and sharing because it somehow made me feel better and laugh despite my horrible day at work. ❤

    January 19, 2011 at 10:35 am

  3. Mom

    I have heard every one of your first day of school stories BUT this one takes the cake!

    January 20, 2011 at 7:56 am

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