Adam Roberts: Kyoto University (KyoDai) Student Choir

As I wrote in my Japanese blog post, I decided to join the KyoDai Student Choir for my CIP. Having had sung in choirs for a number of years beforehand, I was excited to get back in touch with my musical side, as well as to become friends with Japanese students outside of the KCJS “bubble” and learn Japanese that is relevant to one of my interests.
As to whether or not I feel that I have become a member of the group, I would say that I am not sure that I have. This is not for any lack of trying on my part or friendliness on theirs, but rather the result of circumstances – I was not able to attend each of the thrice-weekly rehearsals due to other commitments. I feel that I did form a sort of bond with them, even if it was less a “true member” bond and more a “visiting participant” type of bond. In order to attain this bond, I made sure to participate fully in rehearsals I attended, as well as do my best to keep up with the technical instructions given – which occasionally proved more challenging than I had anticipated. In order to solidify these bonds further, I participated in cultural practices like otsukimi and giving omiyage when returning from trips in Okayama and Shikoku.
One of the first things I noticed about the choir was how eager some of the members were to greet Natasha (who also joined the choir) and during our first few rehearsals. Their patience with us was something I truly appreciated, especially when faced with a set of papers to fill out about myself which were replete with kanji I hadn’t learned yet! After the first week or so, communication became more difficult. I think that this is due to the nature of choir rehearsals. Usually the only person who talks throughout an entire rehearsal is the conductor – in our case, a junior nicknamed Pierre – and anybody who can quickly interject with a pithy comment. Because my Japanese isn’t quite yet at the stage at which quickly-interjected-pithy-comments become a viable method of communication, a great deal of my communication during rehearsals ended up being non-verbal. Written communication between the Top Tenor manager, Bibure, and I made up most of my active communication, as we discussed rehearsal dates and plenty of choir-related events.
My CIP taught me a great number of things – one of the most significant of which had nothing to do with Japanese at all. To put it clearly, I learned a lot about time and schedule management; not in the sense of making sure you get all of your work done on time, but rather in the sense of managing the things you participate in to avoid dead space in the middle of the day. Related more directly to the CIP, however, I learned that consistent and rhythmic participation can really help provide a foundation for potential relationships. One of the reasons I did not feel like a true member of the choir is because I attended irregularly, which meant that not only was I missing out on rehearsal for that day, but also I was missing out on any occurrences that might have furthered a sense of shared experience among the members. If faced with these sorts of situations again, it would be ideal to attend each rehearsal and a number of extra events; however, in the case that this solution is impossible, it would be better to set attendance dates well in advance, or very clearly state an anticipated schedule.
Looking back on my first CIP log, Fukai-sensei wrote “Before you visit, it’s probably a good idea to think about how long and how often rehearsals are” (in Japanese, of course). In order to get more out of your CIP, I would advise making sure that the baseline commitment for your CIP is not more than you can deal with. My CIP ended up being too time-consuming to be all that it could (and should) have been, which is nobody’s fault other than my own. However, if it is something that you truly have a passionate interest in, then do your best to make it work with your schedule in any way you can, because the personal and practical rewards will be much greater for it.

6 thoughts on “Adam Roberts: Kyoto University (KyoDai) Student Choir

  1. 確かに、課外活動は時間との闘いですね。特に音楽など、多くの練習を必要とする活動はそうです。日本人学生も同じような問題を抱えているでしょうね(私も大学生時代はそうでした。ロックバンドを2つやっていましたから)。授業よりサークル重視ならサークルの絆が深まりますが、成績に影響します。ロバーツさんは授業を優先すると決めて、それに従ったのですから、それでいいでしょう。今回ロバーツさんが学んだ時間の管理術は、きっと将来役に立つと思いますよ。

  2. It seems you enjoyed yourself for the most part. You mentioned that you communicated a lot of the time in writing. How did that work? Also, how did that Hungarian song you and Natasha were learning end up? Was it sung in Kanakangarian?

  3. Sorry for the late reply guys! I will answer in just a moment.

  4. にしまた先生:そうですね、1つに優先したくなかったんですが、決めてよかったと思います。そして時間の管理術が絶対役に立つでしょう。にしまた先生はロックバンドを2つやっていましたか?カッコいいですね!よく時間の管理術を習ったでしょう。

    Brandon: Yeah, for the most part it was enjoyable. Rehearsals got pretty interesting by the end of my time there, as more and more of the 2h block was devoted to exercises… Yes, I sent mail back and forth with びぶれ, the “newbie manager.” It was his job to make sure that I knew what was going on and could participate – he tried to keep kanji use down to a level that I could read, but in the end most of the mails I got from him were thorough explanations of the various extra-extra-curricular activities that the gasshoudan does.

    And yes. It was in Katakangarian. Part of the reason I wasn’t in the concert… I didn’t have the time or energy to memorize katakanized Hungarian (-_-;)

    Also, how did that Hungarian song you and Natasha were learning end up? Was it sung in Kanakangarian?

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