We’re Moving

June 7, 2013

movingI was beginning to feel like Sybil with 16 personalities. There are versions of me wandering all over the web at this point. I feel like it’s time to integrate some of my various personas. From here on out, you can find me at my new place. Click on the blog link to see what I’m thinking about and follow the other links to see the various  bits of research data that I have collected. It will take me a while to consolidate and organize so check back often.


The Wreckage

April 5, 2013
Car Wreck

(C) 2012 Paula J. Bishop

I am already behind. I could not seem to get any traction on writing a short (250-300 word) description of Chapter 2. I started with 51 words and got to about 84, after adding, deleting, moving, deleting, and adding. So I distracted myself with doing some work on the show I’m music directing and prepping for the classes I teach. At the end of the day, I felt defeated, like the abandoned and burned shell of the car above. I wanted to walk away, just like the owner of this car did.

But Thursday came and I got back on the road again. I slogged through my mess of thoughts and ideas concerning Chapter 2 and finally finished the summary. Now I’m on to Chapter 3. I’m a day behind and today is a short writing day because of rehearsals and other commitments. I’m hoping somewhere along the way I can make up some time.


A Baby Step!

March 28, 2013

As I said in my last post, my first order of business is to flesh out the proposal, in particular, expanding each of the chapter descriptions to about a page (approximately 250-300 words). I created a schedule that looks something like this:

  • Write description of chapter 1, 3/28/13
  • Write description of chapter 2, 4/2/13
  • Write description of chapter 3, 4/4/3

And so on.

Being obsessively ordered and rule-bound in the early stages of any project, I nearly stumbled and fell trying to write a description of Chapter 1: Introduction. Faced with the blinking cursor, here’s what I could come up with:

quote-marksChapter 1: Introduction

This chapter will introduce the book.




And that was after “thinking” about it (procrastinating) all day.

With the clock ticking, though, I finally pulled out the first chapter of my dissertation, reverse-engineered its outline (yes, it’s been that long since I wrote it), and mashed all of that down into an acceptable 251 words. The next thing I had to do was convince myself that 251 words is perfectly acceptable for a description of an introductory chapter in a book proposal that hopefully only 1 or 2 people will read. Sadly my type-A personality wants to go for 300 even when it’s unnecessary and meaningless.

A baby step. Busy weekend coming up, but I feel like I can make the next baby step.

The Planning Stage

March 26, 2013

I spent today trying to map out a plan for my writing. Then I distracted myself with searches for project planning software. I am ridiculously attracted to the idea of visualizing my progress (or lack of it) in Gantt charts, as if those horizontal bars represent the work itself. And I know from past experience, that all the pretty charts in the world never reflect reality when it comes to real projects. Sigh.


I have a long range plan for the Everly Brothers book, which is to finish a solid draft by the end of the year. I will devote one month to each chapter. I think this either is wildly optimistic or I’m stretching it out too far, especially considering it’s a repackaging and extension of my dissertation. So I will revisit this plan in a month or two.

The first order of business, though, is to flesh out my book proposal. I have a short introduction and paragraph for each chapter. I need to expand the chapter descriptions to one page. If I can complete a chapter description on each of my days off during the work week (I teach 2.5 days a week), then I can be done with this task by April 18. Again, I may be overestimating.

I am also developing a list of other tasks related to this such as determining if there are any additional research materials I should review. I searched through the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Archives online catalog. The material they have only amounts to 1.83 linear feet and only covers the period from 1973-1988, which is not the period I’m focusing on. I’ll have to think about whether I want to incur the expense of traveling or paying to have the materials photocopied. The Southern Folklife Collection at UNC-CH has a few folders that look interesting–not enough to warrant a trip, but the next time I go down to visit the family, I’ll spend a day there.

This train is leaving the station, so hold on!

Time for this train to roll again!

March 19, 2013

I’ve been quiet here for a while. Busy mothering, teaching, directing, and generally trying to keep my head above water. But now it’s time to get this train rolling again. I want to work on two different books (and a third one is swimming around in my grey matter), so I need to get serious about writing again. And two weeks ago, I learned some interesting things that have inspired me to restart this blog as part of my overall writing effort.

I attended the annual conference of the Society for American Music this year (presented a paper, but that’s a different post). Several of us tweeted during the conference, which was both interesting and frustrating (yet another blog post). I eventually met up with one of the tweetsters, academicronin, and had a very interesting talk with her. She blogs about her book progress, reporting on challenges, triumphs, the number of words completed and other details. Brilliant! Set a goal, put it out there in the blogosphere and somehow you now feel accountable for it.

Then I attended a session on music history pedagogy. One of the panelists discussed student writing and brought to our attention a study on binge writing vs. the slow-and-steady approach. The research of Robert Boice* suggests that the latter–regular moderate amounts of writing–produces better results and better rewards (tenure, article acceptances, etc.).

These two insights felt like the proverbial slap to the forehead for me. When I was working on my dissertation, I wrote every week day and occasionally on the weekends. Sometimes it was thousands of words and sometimes it was only one or two (regular moderate amounts). And for a number of reasons, I set a clear end date (goal).

I’ll be back soon with a plan.

* Boice, Bob. “Which Is More Productive, Writing in Binge Patterns of Creative Illness or in Moderation?” Written Communication 16 (July, 1999): 354-67.


August 28, 2012

Another guitar song, this one by the Zac Brown Band about my favorite brand of guitar.

He was born in the woods
Torn from his home.
Well, he was naked,
And destined
To be out on his own.
And he waited in darkness,
Hoping someone might see,
From something so rough,
What a treasure he’d be.

Stronger than steel and wood.
Seen me through the bad and good.
And when I’m hanging by a string,
Every little thing
Is understood
Between Martin and me.

Well he’s hollow in the middle
From the shape that he’s in.
He’s either filled up with music
Or locked in his shell again.
And it takes some fine tuning
To make him come around,
But he’s a huge piece of me
And I’ll never put him down.

Stronger than steel and wood.
Seen me through the bad and good.
And when I’m hanging by a string,
Every little thing
Is understood
Between Martin and me.

He is a good friend,
And he has his own voice.
And you get what you give;
Sometimes it’s just noise.
But if you treat him well
He will last your life long.
And if you’re honest and open
Well, he will write you a song.
(Write you a song, write you a song)

Stronger than steel and wood.
Seen me through the bad and good.
And when I’m hanging by a string,
Every little thing
Is understood
And when I’m hanging by a string,
Every little thing
Is understood
Between Martin and me.


April 25, 2012

Someone sent me a link to this incredible beat boxing site. I was instantly addicted! The (secretly) best part was how I instantly felt cool and hip.

One of my classes is currently playing with it and submitting their compositions to me for extra credit. While it’s not directly related to our topic (folk musics of the United States), it nonetheless engages them in the compositional process (on a small scale) and makes them think about the details of a song as well as the overall arc. For non-musicians, which means most of my class, this is sometimes a hard concept for them. As I demonstrated Incredibox to them today, I could see light bulbs going off all over the room.

Support the animals!

October 5, 2011

I love lip dubs and would love to do one. In the meantime, I enjoy watching them and thinking about their communal and participatory nature.

Here’s one from the Wake County (NC) SPCA. Great job by a dedicated group of volunteers. And I love the little pup at the end. After you watch this video, run right out and donate your time or money to your local animal shelter. I know from experience that many struggle to meet the needs of the animal community, especially at times like this when families are abandoning pets because of their fragile economic situation.

This Old Guitar

September 13, 2011
My Martin HD28 by pjbishop93
My Martin HD28, a photo by pjbishop93 on Flickr.

Dozens of songs have been written about guitars. Here’s the one written by John Denver.

This old guitar taught me to sing a love song
it showed me how to laugh and how to cry.
It introduced me to some friends of mine
and brightened up some days
and helped me make it thru some lonely nights. Oh
What a friend to have on a cold and lonely night

This old guitar gave me my lovely lady
it opened up her eyes and ears to me
it brought us close together
and I guess it broke her heart
it opened up the space for us to be
What a lovely place and a lovely space to be.

This old guitar gave me my life my living
all the things you know I love to do
to serenade the stars that shine
from a sunny mountainside
and most of all to sing my songs for you
I love to sing my songs for you.
Yes I do, you know
I love to sing my songs for you

Rock on!

September 10, 2011

This article in the New York Times (“Beyond Baby Mozart, Students Who Rock”) describes a program in which children learn to play music in a way that will have the elitists spitting out their hemi-demi-semi-quavers with their tea and crumpets. They will surely put a fermata on this idea and claim that what these children are learning is distinctly not music or musical skills.

And here’s why. It’s not classical music (or even good sturdy Sousa marches). It’s not written notation. It’s not rigid conformity to said written notation. Instead it’s popular music, songs chosen by the kids themselves. It’s learning by ear. It’s composition and song writing with a big dose of improvisation. And for many kids, that means it will not be torture.

This innovative program, Little Kids Rock, is intriguing to me. I believe that any educational approach that invites children into the world of music–any kind of music–and sustains their interest is worthy of our consideration and support. I don’t care if it’s Bach or the Back Street Boys or Boyz II Men. Get them interested, honor their choices and tastes, and allow their musicianship to grow from that.

I would be curious to know, though, if at some point in the program, Little Kids Rock begins to offer what we usually think of as the fundamentals, such as reading notation and understanding rhythm, meter, and harmony. Otherwise, the program could become a stunt, a cool trick to get 25 kids in a room to play a song together but not necessarily enough to create a lasting effect.