Ending the semester on a high note – world music choir

It’s that time of the semester again, where you look back and wonder how time has flown by so fast. Where you look ahead only to see that freedom is overshadowed by a string of exams.

Overall, the semester had it’s ups and downs – falling short of expectations here, achieving some others there. To be honest, university work was a blur of attending lectures, watching online lectures, typing notes and sitting tests. I think that during my anatomy practical classes, I spent more time talking to my prac partners than actually dissecting the cadavers!

With my cheeky prac partners:

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As for the medical school applications, I had a little issue with the University of Melbourne’s (unimelb) full-fee guaranteed entry pathway (directly from the university; outside of GEMSAS) and my GEMSAS preferencing. What I did was, during my GEMSAS preferencing I ticked the option for full-fee at unimelb. But then I received an email from unimelb after I submitted my GEMSAS application, suggesting that I shouldn’t tick the full-fee option, otherwise I may potentially get 2 unimelb full-fee places (one directly from unimelb, one through GEMSAS) and lose out on my other preferences below unimelb. I guess there’s nothing I can do about it now. I also applied separately for University of Sydney (Usyd), but I doubt that I’ll get an offer because they weight GAMSAT heavily and I’m just above last year’s offer cut-offs in terms of GAMSAT scores – hopefully I can get a practise interview!

Just like taking glee singing as a breadth subject last semester, one of the highlights this semester was taking world music choir. The weekly rehearsals as a whole were really laid-back and the songs we sang were really fun to sing. In terms of assessment, 20% was based off writing chords – free marks if you play an instrument such as piano or have studied music theory; 40% was a listening test on pop/rock and classical (Georgian or African) music – isn’t too bad if you are good at rote learning points; the final 40% is participation; and there’s also a final performance (hurdle). In terms of the chord writing and listening tests – Joseph (the lecturer) pretty much tells you exactly what you need to do during the lectures. Participation on the other hand is a little bit more tricky to do well in (or so I’ve heard) – apparently, even if you attend all the rehearsals, you may only get 25/40.

The songs we sang were:

  • Hallelujah* – Leonard Cohen
  • Can’t Stop – Red Hot Chilli Peppers
  • Tibie Paiom [We sing for you] (Russian)
  • Tsmindao Gmerto* [Holy God] (Georgian church hymn)
  • Sombamba* [Ban the apartheid] (South African protest song)
  • I’ve Got My Mind Set On You (George Harrison cover version) – Rudy Clark

*denotes a solo part

In an attempt to boost my participation marks, I strategically forced myself to be a tenor – because generally, they are rarer and that way, you can score a solo easier. Likewise for girls, sopranos are rarer than altos. I know some of you are thinking that solos are scary, but they aren’t real solos – there are soloists from the other parts and the other rehearsal classes singing with you during the final performance. Out of the songs we sang, only 3 of them had solo parts. Because there were 3 of us tenors in our class, we all managed to get a part. I originally had a solo for Tsmindao Gmerto and literally triple-dared my two other friends in alto and soprano to do it with me, but later on the semester, because the tenor singing the solo for Sombamba wasn’t too confident for his part, we agreed to swap!

Joseph also held a consultation hour where he literally told us you could ask him anything, from questions about the tests, to even asking him to teach you piano or guitar. Because no-one really went, I decided to take up on his offer and borrowed my friend’s classical guitar for a handful of free lessons from such an amazing guitarist. I was asking him if he could help me learn Coldplay’s Fix You, so I gave him a listen to the song and from that he could pick out what the chords were, how to play them, and where to put the capo.

As for the final performance, it was at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music (on campus). We got there and rehearsed our parts one last time. Right before we went out on stage, Joseph had the best idea. From the piano, he got us all to sing through the chorus of The Beatles’ Hey Jude in different parts, right before going through the whole song with the tenors crowding around the only sheet of lyrics singing the verses. It felt like spontaneous kareoke where you don’t know the melody, because Hey Jude repeats the chorus at the end like 10 times, it really got everyone hyped up! During our performance, the feels were real – it felt like we all somehow reached nirvana. But just like crashing from a high, it was bittersweet knowing that world music choir has come to an end. I’ll probably end up singing Sombamba in my head during my exams.

After our final performance with the choir crew and The Legend himself, Joseph Jordania:

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I can’t wait to take another singing breadth next semester. There’s an article on TIME that explains why ‘group singing has scientifically been proven to lower stress, relieve anxiety, and elevate endorphins’.

I’ve been spending way too much time on this post. For now, it’s time to hit the books and tackle these exams head-on – pun intended.

Cheers,
J

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2 thoughts on “Ending the semester on a high note – world music choir

  1. Hello there!

    I’m a undergraduate student from Unimelb.
    I’m facing dilemma in choosing breadth subjects right now.
    I’ll be doing Principle of Human Structure & Biochemistry this coming semester.
    I’m afraid that I might not able to keep up.
    Also, I’ve came across your review on unimelbadventures about Glee Singing (Level 2).
    Since you did both subjects, Glee Singing & World Music Choir, previously.
    I would like to seek your opinion. Which of the following subjects is recommended in order to work on boosting my WAM?

    Thank you so much for your help.

    Jaime

    Like

    • Hey Jaime,

      It’s nice to see a fellow Unimelb student 🙂
      You’re right in that Principle of Human Structure and Biochemistry are a little heavy and that choosing easier breadth subjects may lighten your workload.

      Unfortunately there’s no clear answer.

      When I did Glee singing, it was a laid-back subject and an easy low-H1 – good if you have a big workload. However, I’ve heard that the subject has changed a little since then, where you have to comment on the discussion board for participation marks, etc. There’s also 2 essay components so if they’re your strong point, then you might even score a high-H1.

      As for World Music Choir, you have the option of putting in a lot more effort (doing solos, even learn guitar! etc.), and by doing so you’ll have much more fun and do really well – good if you want to boost your WAM. If you’ve learnt music before and have a good memory, then the test components should be a breeze.

      If you’ve never done a singing subject before, then I suggest you start off with Glee Singing and if you find yourself enjoying singing/music work, then your way up to World Music Choir . To be honest, one subject only marginally changes your WAM. And if you’re like me, you’ll end up doing both and wish there had been more subjects like these!

      Cheers,
      J

      Like

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