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Cleveland State Film Students Committed to Excellence PDF Print E-mail
Written by Terry Smith   

I had the pleasure of acting in the movie 'Excellence Within Reach' last weekend. Cleveland State University film majors shot it at CSU's Natatorium and a student's apartment. Directed by Pieter Ritz, a senior from Florida here on a swimming scholarship, the crew did a great job putting it all together. Sometimes I'm hesitant to audition for projects whose subject matter doesn't interest me or I'm hesitant to spend a lot of time with people that don't have a lot of experience. I was pleasantly surprised by this experience, glad I gave it a shot, and grateful to have been given the opportunity.

The movie, which called for a swim team coach, caught my eye since I was a springboard diver on my high school swim team. Having performed in a number of stage plays recently, this was a good change of pace and allowed me to compare stage and film acting. Pieter did a great job of writing, planning and moving the shoot along throughout Saturday and Sunday filming. He was also very generous in that he encouraged the actors and crew to collaborate, receiving line changes or additions and others' ideas with enthusiasm. I thought this was great as an actor. A play's lines are pretty much set in stone, whereas in this project I could modify the dialog depending on what I felt the character would say.

Each crewmember concentrated on their respective tasks, yet there were plenty of laughs along the way. They explained to me how each senior majoring in Film must perform all the major jobs a movie requires. Each must direct their own movie, as well as do audio, lighting, and camera-work on classmates' films. Kudos to CSU for devloping such a fine Film and Digital Media program.

I was impressed with the program and the students, as well as the facilties at CSU. I never knew they had such a huge, impressive Natatorium. There was a polo tournament and a girls' volleyball tournament on the other side of the building on Saturday, so the place was jumpin'. Parking was free and closeby. As I drove home - thinking of the people I "worked" with, of CSU, wondering how the final product will turn out - I says to myself, "That was a pretty good way to spend a weekend."

A Fine Soiree Forsooth Thanksgiving Night PDF Print E-mail
Written by Terry Smith   

My siblings and I are having separate Thanksgiving meals this year. Here I invite them to join us for dessert.

Please find some time after Holiday Bird;
At six come hither, mix betwixt the herd.
There will be wine, and sweet dessert, it's true.
Yet I shall pine and long for all of you.

Ask Not What You Can Do With the Song PDF Print E-mail
Written by Terry Smith   

... but what the song can do for you.

By now the exhortation to make a song your own has become a modern day ringing platitude. After years of American Idol judges praising those singers, and rightly so, who add their own styling and innovations to a song, we should not lose sight of what a song, or piece of music, can do for us.

I was playing a Chopin waltz recently at the Holiday Inn, and I thought of applying the dictum of making the song my own. So I thought of some events that happened in my life, and I thought of action in nature such as leaves dancing in the wind, and I would try to express parts of these ideas in the music by changing the pace, volume, or emphasis on phrases here and there. And this was interesting for a while, but soon this effort just seemed lame. Making a little change here or there just to make it my own didnít seem very fulfilling.

Then it occurred to me to put myself into the role of Chopin himself and try to think of what he must have been thinking when he wrote it. Now as I went from one phrase to the next I felt as though I knew Chopin would have played this part more calmly, that he would have played another part with a little more thunder Ė not for some ostentatious display of power like a rock star may exploit, but because it followed naturally from meager beginnings to a more glorious ending. Even if it were Chopin who was thinking of leaves dancing in the wind, I can now think of my playing as a shared experience, I'm less alone at the keyboard, and I'm in good company.

Having lived after the time of Shakespeare, I was sure Chopin must have implemented the same iambic rhythms in his music, the alternating of stressed and unstressed notes. So as I applied these thoughts to the keyboard, I felt the music was making me a better person. I was discovering, I wasnít adding anything to it, Chopin and Shakespeare and the spirit that moved them were showing me what made sense. I felt I didn't add anything; however, it's somewhat paradoxical in that it's "me" imagining what it is they're showing me.

As I look back on it now, it seems Iíve only broken the surface. The few discoveries I might have made seem so elementary when I think of career musicians who have mastered technique and interpretation. Yet, Iím thankful that Chopin wrote waltzes within my reach, Iím happy Beethoven wrote Fur Elise and the Moonlight Sonata, that Debussy composed Clair de Lune. Pieces such as these lift a neophyte like me to places I could never reach on my own.


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