One Month (Give or Take a Day or Two)

Approximately one month ago, classes began at Belmont University, and thus began the chapter of my life we’re calling “Nashville Nancy.”1  A little over a month ago, my friends and I threw a few last items into a U-Haul, left Athens, GA, and drove to Nashville, TN. We  arrived around 10 p.m. unloaded the U-Haul, and almost died moving my piano in – the issue was primarily a couple of bad angles (coming down the U-Haul ramp & turning into my front door). After much sweat, anxiety (on my part), and thanks to Jonathan’s piano moving experience, all of us (including piano) survived relatively unscathed!

All of this made a bit of a negative impression on my new neighbor, who objected to our endeavors generally. Now that I’m moved in, I never see him, so I’m assuming our relationship is now fine. My amazing friends stuck around for a couple of days; we did some shopping for exciting things likes brooms and cleaning products; we unpacked some and poked around my new neighborhood. Then they loaded up and headed back to the best little college town in the world – the place that has been my home for the past 18 years. And I was left in my new quadplex (er, quadroplex?), alone with a bunch of boxes. The past month has flown by, and has for the most part been a bit like a whirlwind.

IMG_7796Belmont University is beautiful. Every day that I walk onto campus, I’m amazed at just how lovely everything is.2   I also love that I walk past the Bell Tower (and Carillon) every day (think the Arch at UGA), and not infrequently someone is playing the carillon!

I’m teaching four classes this semester: two sections of music history (a version of the class I taught at UGA in the spring) on Tuesday/Thursday, and music appreciation (with a different text book) and world music on Monday/Wednesday/Friday. Technically, world music is the only new class for me – although I was planning to teach a version of this class at UGA this fall, so the prep isn’t from completely from scratch, but is basically completely from scratch because procrastination. Classes have been going mostly well, and my students have exceeded my expectations. I have a student who already met with me because she is interested in ethnomusicology, and several students have visited me during office hours just to say hi. I’m starting to get to know my colleagues in the School of Music. I just signed up for a Teaching and Learning reading group, and I will be connected to a mentoring group soon.

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I’ve visited four different churches, and they have all been very, very different. There is certainly no shortage of churches in Nashville, TN! While this endeavor has been fun & fascinating, it does make me appreciate & miss Watkinsville a ton. I have one or two more mega-churches on my list to visit just for fun (research?) and then at least three churches that are in my neighborhood that I’m hoping one of which will end up being my Nashville church home.

I haven’t done much socially because I’ve either been unpacking or scouring thrift stores for furniture, etc. or trying to keep up with my classes. Also, AmericanaFest was a week or so ago, and I am just now catching up from that fun & seeing my Bloodshot pals! This coming week and next, I hope to start reaching out to Nashville friends & doing things like visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

I’ve already had several visitors from Georgia AND Kentucky, and after this weekend, I’ll actually have a (twin) bed in my spare bedroom. If you find yourself in the area, stop by and say hi!


1. I believe it was Wade who first used #NashvilleNancy.

2. And in the interest of transparency, every day I also wish that I could park closer to the School of Music.

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Moving updates

 

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The Fall Faculty Workshop for all full-time faculty members

Several folks have asked about my moving plans, so I thought I’d procrastinate packing update the blog & let y’all know what’s going on!

I spent the past few days in Nashville for faculty meetings, workshops, and trainings. I’ll admit that walking into the Curb Event Center on Monday morning for the Fall Faculty Workshop was intimidating. Imposter syndrome is real, y’all. We were assigned tables, and I was with folks from marketing, pharmacy, occupational therapy, and sports science. Everyone was nice, although one of the older guys was stereotypically & entertainingly jaded and cynical (so much so that one of the other guys at the table pulled me aside and said, “This really is a great place to work.” I wanted to tell them all, “You people have no idea what it’s really like out there!”), but I digress. Once things got going, it was as exciting as you might (or might not) imagine. It also helped that I quickly saw one of my sorority sisters who has been on the faculty at Belmont for over a decade!

Day two was the College of Visual and Performing Arts “Fall Retreat,” which was a much smaller group. This event was held in the room where the International Country Music Conference is often held, and felt much more comfortable. I met several School of Music faculty, and the high point was that we sang the Doxology for the blessing for lunch. The low (but necessary, I suppose) point was the active shooter training.

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The Belmont Bell Tower and Carillon – yes, there is a musical instrument housed in this structure!

This morning was the School of Music faculty meeting. I got to meet more of my colleagues and see more of the facilities where I’ll be spending my time. There are lots of changes afoot at Belmont and specifically within the School of Music, and everyone seems (mostly) excited about all that’s going on. Also, I’m encouraged by how nice the folks are, and how competent the administrators seem. If you’ve been in any educational setting, you know how important that is.

I am in the process of signing a lease, and am excited about living in East Nashville. I definitely felt judgment from non-East Nashville folk (Belmont & Vandy are on the other side of town), but I feel good about the decision. I’ll be in very close walking distance of a couple of restaurants, and practical walking distance from Five Points.

The plan is to finish packing and tie up loose ends in the next couple of days, load up the U-Haul on Friday, get my place ready to AirBnb, and then after church on Sunday, head to Nashville with a few close friends who are helping out! If you need me in the next couple of days, I’ll be sitting on the floor in one of the rooms of my house freaking out and maybe packing.

 

New and Different

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My first trip to Nashville was with Christina, Wade, and Jonathan, wayyyyy back in 2008. This is in front of the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum.

Here’s the short version: I am moving to Nashville to be a Lecturer at Belmont University. I will be teaching musicology and ethnomusicology classes in the School of Music to music majors and non-music majors. This semester I am teaching Music History, World Music, and basically Music Appreciation. It is not a tenure-track job, but it is full-time. Classes start on August 22, and I’m planning on making the physical move the weekend before that. I am not selling my condo in Athens – I can’t deal with that right now; it wouldn’t exactly be a good financial move; and most importantly, I plan on being in Athens not infrequently. In the meantime, I’m hoping to AirBnb my place while I’m away (hello, UGA home game weekends, please cover my mortgage). I’m working on living arrangements in Nashville, and would appreciate all your prayers & positive vibes on that front.

Here’s the long version: When I moved to Athens, GA nearly two decades ago (!!), my plan was to be in the best college town ever for just two YEARS. Obviously, plans change, and I believe God put me in this town & community for His glory & my own good. When my “year off” post-Masters turned into many years off (aka not in school), I taught piano lessons, worked at an office called Digital Insight, and continued working at and attending Watkinsville First Baptist Church. I built up my piano studio, was blessed with an amazing community & network of friends and colleagues, and eventually decided that if I was staying in Athens, I might as well go back to school at UGA for a terminal degree.

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You can see the Parthenon in Nashville! This was my second trip (I think) to Nashville for my very first International Country Music Conference, which is held annually at Belmont University.

As I remember it happening, I ran into David Schiller in town somewhere or the other.  And before I knew it, a few months later, I was in the School of Music office with him finishing up my application to the musicology program. I kept many of my piano students and stayed on at the church (which had become much less of a job as a part of my life), and began work on a PhD in musicology. A project on 14th & 15th century German keyboard tablature turned into research on alt.country in the 1990s, eventually becoming my dissertation, “Underground not Underexposed: Bloodshot Records, Alt.country, and the Chicago Live Music Scene” (see basically most of the earlier posts on this blog for more info about that).

Throughout my doctoral studies, I believed I would get an academic job and move to wherever said job happened to be. Cue maniacal laughter. Being “on the market,” as we say, was (and still is) anywhere from absurd to soul-crushing to often a waste of time & effort. For obvious reasons, I did not copy over all of my job letters to my new Mac, but I know that I applied to at least 150 jobs if I applied to one.1   One of the “best” parts about this, because the academic job process is a slow moving machine, was receiving rejection letters many months after applying to a job… “OH RIGHT, I applied for that job; thanks for reminding me.” Feelings of failure are a part of being “on the market,” as it goes.

I didn’t give up on the idea of an academic job so much as I continued to live my life… my awesome, fulfilling life in Athens, GA, that included amazing friends-as-family, a wonderful church family, awesome piano students, the opportunity to teach college classes at a variety of places, and a crazy schedule with some disposable income. Meanwhile, I prayed that I would use my talents to the best of my ability in whatever situation I was in, and trusted that God had me where I was supposed to be. I had come to realize that my musicological ambition was not greater than enjoying & living my life, and as I have said many times to academic friends, it was all working out for me pretty well in Athens, GA.

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One of my more recent trips to Nashville for the Americana Music Festival. This is the stage for Bloodshot’s Backyard Bash at the Groove.

I would still apply for an academic job every now and again if it seemed like a dream job or a job that was specifically describing me – even if I knew I wasn’t an incredibly viable candidate; after all, I was 0 for at least 150, and what could it hurt? Thus, in the past year, I’ve applied for maybe three full-time academic jobs. One of those jobs was a tenure-track job at Belmont University. I did not get that job, nor did I think I would/should; but again, what could it hurt? Later, I was contacted about the lecturer position at Belmont, and eventually applied. Even after the Skype interview, I was pretty sure nothing would happen there, and I made plans to teach at Georgia Gwinnett, University of Georgia, and Athens Tech again, while continuing the piano studio & church job.

Then I heard from my references that they had been contacted by Belmont about me & this position; and two days later I missed a call from the Dean of the School of Music at Belmont. I returned his call and was offered the position on a Friday; I accepted the position on a Monday. It was both a very hard and a very easy decision. How could I leave Athens, my friends, church, piano students, and life? How could I not accept a full-time position in a city like Nashville at a school like Belmont?2  

So here I am. I am so sad: to not be near my friends, to not teach my piano students, to not be working with Jason & our amazing worship team, to not be a regular part of Watkinsville anymore, to leave Athens… and yet, I am so excited about the new job. I know I am in denial about how hard this is going to be emotionally; and really, I’m probably in denial about how hard it will be to pack up my whole dang house & move to a completely new place. Thankfully, I’ve got quite a village around me (both near and far) and a lot of support. I’ve felt incredibly loved through this process to date, and I remain overwhelmed by how blessed I am.3   I consider leaving Athens/moving to Nashville as a “good-bye for now” because like I said, I’ll be back, and you’ll be seeing me whether you like it or not.


1. To be fair, in my last year of graduate school in 2014, I applied to any and every job that I was even remotely qualified for. From there, I applied to fewer and fewer jobs each year. Also, I know MANY folks who have applied to so many jobs that it makes 150 look like a small number.

2. It should be noted that Nashville is much closer to Kentucky. This is significant for a few people, including me. Also, from the moment I started my PhD (and probably before that), I have wanted to teach at a small, private, liberal arts school – a place like my alma mater, Transylvania University.

3. See also my acknowledgments from my dissertation where this is spelled out in a bit more detail.

Trade-offs

Something that I’ve come to terms with as an adult is that life is often about trade-offs. The freedom of (single, childless) adulthood is awesome, but often it comes at a cost. That is, awesome things regularly require an exchange for something not-so-awesome. The catch is knowing what the trade will be going into the situation, and accepting the terms. Time? Money? Relationships? Fun? Sleep? You gotta know what currency (and amount) are you willing to pay for the awesome thing!

As I mentioned in my last post (two in two weeks!), the benefit of having my four jobs is flexibility, while the downside is making up work and/or not getting paid. Next week, I’ll head up to Nashville for the Americana Music Festival, where I’ll get to see a ton of great live music, see a bunch of awesome people, and also help out with the Backyard Bash (sponsored by Bloodshot & Pandora).

I’m super excited about this, but it also means that at well past midnight on a weeknight, I’m putting together an online quiz for some of my Music Appreciation classes.1  

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However, it also means that I get to email (and receive email from) some really cool musician-types about the party next week.

I am totally willing to trade my “free time” to do work right now (even though it’s a little bit stressful, and honestly, annoying, and really, I’d much rather be in bed…) for the fun and freedom of heading to AMA next week. It’s an adult thing, I guess.


1. It also probably has to do with the fact that I have been known to put things off until, well, later.

Guitar Slide Wednesday: Grace Potter Version

I try to limit the current tv series that I DVR and keep up with. This is not a moralistic or legalistic kind of Limiting, but rather a practical-not-enough-time one. With the onset of college basketball season, there are at least two Kentucky basketball games per week that MUST be watched, plus being committed to plenty of shows (well, three or four), there’s just not enough hours. But a new show called Nashville? Featuring Tami Taylor? I absolutely cannot say no to that one.

I promise we’re getting ’round to Guitar Slide Wednesday, just bear with me for one more second. Since House ended last season, I decided to add one show this fall, and I really wanted the new show this season to be Revolution. But then I saw the preview for Nashville, and it’s my duty as an aspiring country music scholar to, um, DVR/watch this show.

OK, so here’s where we get to the song for today. At the recommendation of Tall Sound Guy, I listened to Grace Potter and the Nocturnals’ latest album The Lion The Beast The Beat (2012), paying special attention to a few songs, including one called “Stars.” Well, this song won a spot on the repeat playlist after just a few listens. “Stars” is a pretty straight-ahead pop-ish country ballad, full of sadness, and… slide guitar (I thought it was a pedal steel, but after my many listenings, I don’t think it is. But it could be. Either way, guitar slides happen)! This is most prominent during the verses (around 0:34 and 1:16).

I also really like the lead guitar hook at the end of the chorus (1:11 and 2:08, in thirds even!), but I’m not a big fan of the guitar solo (2:14) that ends with a seemingly interminable upward ascent. Perhaps it’s because I recently lectured on 16th century madrigal and madrigalisms, but I hear this as text painting… and I think it’s a little cheesy. Nevertheless, the song as a whole very much speaks to me. This video is a little wacky, but it’s the one with the album version of the song…

And one more thing… after probably 30 listens, I just knew this song had to be featured on a show or in a movie. It’s just too perfectly sad not to be… and I did some research googled it to discover that it’s on a current promo for Nashville!