About Rowena

Hello, my name is Ro, and I believe that it is possible for you to turn your ordinary life into an extraordinary life - to find true happiness, while remaining, selfless, mindful and compassionate towards other living beings. Here at my blog, I interview and post articles by musicians, writers, world travelers, humanitarians and other amazing individuals who are doing just that. I also share with you various anecdotes about my own totally awesome existence as a musician, composer, journalist, environmentalist, and compassionati. My hope is to connect with you, enlighten you, inspire you and lead you down the path to true happiness. Compassion is always in fashion and it starts with you loving that most important of people, yourself.

May 27, 2011

Rowena has Risen Part V: A Class Act

I'm not afraid of storms, for I'm learning to sail my ship.


My regular readers already know, that the purpose of Rousing Rowena, is to connect with you, enlighten you, inspire you and lead you down the path to true happiness.  I talk a lot about pursing your passions and firmly believe that it is never too late to reach for that brass ring.    I am living proof of it, again and again, and I hope you will be inspired to join me in achieving your own heart's desire, as I dive head first into the next chapter of my own extraordinary life. 

A Bachelors Degree in Music is something that I have always wanted, and in fact I have chipped away at it on and off over the years, with a number of hiatuses, due to babies, divorce, financial concerns and illness.  Heartened by the never ending support of my husband Tim, a couple of years ago,  I started taking some music classes at my local community college when I could fit them in around band rehearsals, gigs and various other musical projects. 

This semester I took two classes - philharmonic choir and voice.   I was not exactly sure what to expect, but both classes ended up being very, very cool.

The San Fernando Valley Master Chorale is not only a class, but a wonderful organization that has performed at Carnegie Hall and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.   The music ranges from classical to Broadway.  It has been a lot of hard work - a lot more than I anticipated -  but extremely rewarding.   Our first concert of the season, Bach's " Passion of Our Lord According to St. Matthew" went off without a hitch and was well received.   Our final concert is tomorrow night, and I am really looking forward to it.  A lot of effort goes into making these concerts a success, both individually and collectively.   One of the things I respect and admire most about the SFVMC, is the ability of such a large group of people, ranging in age from 18 to 80, consisting of students, members of the community as well as professional artists, to get together each and every Monday, plus Friday and weekend dress rehearsals, with almost perfect attendance.   It shows a tremendous amount of dedication and professionalism and makes me wonder why it is as difficult as it is to get a band of only four or five people to be as consistent.  

Voice class has been really rockin' as well.  Our grades are based on how often we perform before the class, how much we encourage and support each other, how much improvement we display, and of course there are both written and performance finals - coming up this Tuesday - yikes!   I have been greatly touched by the kind and encouraging responses to my performances by my classmates - most of whom are around the age of my own children - I really had expected them to look at me as if I were some kind of total dork.  I have also been greatly entertained by the performances of the other students.  We are an eclectic bunch and some have the kind of natural born singing talent that I wish I had.   We have developed an "we are all together in this attitude" somewhere along the way.   While I approach my performances with both enthusiasm and dread, I have been  brave about performing on a regular basis.  There are some people who have only performed once or twice, that I wished had not been so shy . . . well you know me, I want everyone to get a good grade.   Even with my experience as a performing musician, I still get very nervous when it comes to singing in front of people - so I certainly understand why they find it hard - but the more I do it, the more comfortable I feel.  I have gained even more respect for vocalists through this process than I had before.

When it came time to sign up for classes for the fall semester, I became curious as to exactly where I stood as far as achieving a degree.  At the suggestion of my adult children (who are all experts),  I gathered together my transcripts and met with my counselor.  This was an eye opening experience!   I found that a lot of my general education requirements had already been fulfilled, along with prerequisites and some required classes towards my major.   It was a relief to know that classes like biology, physical geography, oceanography, anthropology, archaeology, American literature and even modern dance, that I had taken 28 years ago still very much counted, and that classes I had taken since then added up to quite a bit.  With the counselor's help, I put together a comprehensive education plan, and was inspired to go from part time to full time.

My fall schedule consists of Choir as well as the next level in Voice, Philosophy, History, Piano and Health.   Not all of these classes have that "hell yeah" appeal to them, but I am excited about them anyway as they are stepping stones on the way to making my dream come true.   Next semester I will be faced with whether or not to go to the next level in Voice or the next level in Piano.  The classes are held at the same exact time . . . but I expect for that epiphany to arrive on its own.

While I'm on the subject of subjects, if you have an interest that you would like to pursue, but don't know anything about, be sure to check out the courses offered at your local community colleges, or college extensions.    It is an inexpensive way to explore without having to commit to a major expenditure, and in many cases you don't have to pay anything upfront, or can obtain a refund  if you sign up and then choose to drop the class within a certain time frame.  As an added bonus, some of my college instructors have actually confided that they charge hundreds of dollars for private lessons!  It is a great way to get a lot of the same information cut rate.

I will of course keep you posted as I progress towards my heart's desire, and encourage you as always to work towards achieving your own.
Just don't give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there's love and inspiration, I don't think you can go wrong.
Ella Fitzgerald
So go out and go for it!   You can do it!   Reach for the stars . . . knowing that I care about you and want you to be happy!

Love and light,



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