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Monday, July 18, 2016

Pleasant Valley Sunday*: What constitutes an entry-level position to the American Library Association?

Wow. Just Wow.

I'm spending my Monday morning catching up on email, and applying for jobs (yes, still in the library field). I checked my usual places--I Need a Library Job, state library associations near me (and not near me), and the old stalwart, the American Library Association.  I've had my beefs with them in the past, mostly about the exhorbitant cost of membership and attending conferences--not to mention the folly that is their "Emerging Leaders" program--but nothing prepared me for this morning.

I was on their JobList page, searching possibilities near me (I'm in SE Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia).  I've been applying for jobs that required experience for the most part because most ads want it in some form--"professional", "library", sometimes "customer service", or my personal favorite, "progressive responsibility", whatever the hell that means. For some reason I decided to take a different path.  Since I'm relatively new to the field, I searched using the terms "entry level" and "academic library", letting the chips fall where they may in terms of location.

I was amazed to discover that there was one opening in the entire ALA world, a social sciences/education librarian post at the University of Oregon. An outstanding institution of higher learning, in a wonderful area of the United States, but a little too far to move the family on short notice.

Undaunted, I changed the search to "Public Library" and "entry level".


"Government Library" and "entry level"


"School Library" and "entry level"


"Library Cooperative/System" and "Entry Level"


"Museums" and "Entry Level"


"Special Library/Corporate" and "Entry Level"


Are you getting the picture yet?

Are you getting the picture, ALA?

What does "Entry Level" mean in the ALA? Anything at all? When more and more job postings ask for professional experience, meaning they won't count paraprofessional or volunteer work towards that number of years, where does one ACQUIRE "professional" experience?  Does a candidate have to rely on an HR person or library director slipping up and giving the professional title to someone not yet qualified? Why doesn't the ALA make such specifications?

The term "25 years old with 30 years experience" never rang so true as it does in the rarefied world of Library and Information Science. What do you say in your defense, ALA?

*--Carole King, Gerry Goffin for The Monkees. First released as a single with Last Train to Clarksville, 1967.

Current CV for Daniel John De Kok Sr.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

And So It Goes*


I'm interviewing at the local upscale chain grocer on Tuesday.  I hope it goes better than the one with McCaffrey's HR department.

I have no idea where they'll place me.  I have a background in cooking, cookbooks, housewares.  I'd love to be doing prepared foods, but without the culinary arts shingle, that's not likely.  Even if I'm a produce clerk, that would be preferable to sitting home doing nothing waiting for the phone to ring/email to arrive.

I can't believe the way things have gone for me in the library world  Aaron Copland was right--"People want what they know or something just like it".  For a field that's 80% female, they sure are reluctant to hire strong men (sound familiar?).  The ALA's program for encouraging "diversity", Emerging Leaders, is, in my opinion, a big flop.  80% or more of the candidates are female, most of those women are white, and most of them come from pre-selected groups who "sponsor" places in the program. It's pathetically amusing to see the ALA try to trumpet itself as a progressive, modern, even edgy (think librarians with tattoos) organization.  Marian Paroo fit the visual mold, but she was a far more complex character then people gave her credit for.

Billy Joel, Storm Front, 1989.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

I Ain't Down Yet*

First things first: Welcome to my reader in the Sultanate of Oman! I don't get too many readers from Muslim/Arab countries, but you're free to leave your opinions, good, bad or indifferent, in the comments section.  Welcome, too, to Israel and to Mauritius! We're up to readers in 44 countries now.  Keep on plugging in, keep on commenting!

This will be brief.
I'm 2.5 years out of Library School. I've submitted nearly 300 applications all over the country.
I can't even get a job in my adopted home town of Norristown, Pennsylvania. What added insult to injury is that the woman in charge of hiring for that hometown position, where I started my career with five years ago as a volunteer, sent me an impersonal form letter stating that others with "lot of experience" (sic) were considered ahead of me.

A few years ago I purchased a 250-count package of coffee filters.  I remember joking at the time that if I didn't have a job by the end of the filters, I'd quit looking.

I'm not giving up yet. I'm not out of coffee filters...but the package is starting to look empty.

This will probably be the penultimate post, The last post on this blog will be entitled"Land of Hope and Glory", which as many in the English-speaking world will know as the opening line of the lyrics for Pomp and Circumstance March #1 by Edward Elgar, the ubiquitous graduation march. What I'm graduating to, who knows?  Stay tuned...

*--Meredith Willson, from The Unsinkable Molly Brown, 1960.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

You Can't Always Get What You Want (part 2)

As promised, here's that list of "Four-hymn Sandwiches" for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time through Christ the King Sunday.  If you order now, there's a bonus--a set for Thanksgiving Day (USA) which falls between CTK and the 1st Sunday in Advent.  Enjoy, comment, argue, but most of all--SING!!!

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

From all that dwell below the skies (DUKE STREET) (#502)
Be Thou My Vision (#468)
Taste and See (#396)
Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee (#504)

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

All Creatures of Our God and King (#499)
Beautiful Savior (#461)
What Wondrous Love is This (#437)
Love Divine, All Loves Excelling (#539)

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The King of Love My Shepherd Is (#440)
Prayer of St. Francis (#426)
Gift of Finest Wheat (#388)
The Church’s One Foundation (#436)

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

All People that On Earth Do Dwell (#372)
Amazing Grace (#519)
Cry of the Poor (#551)
Now Thank We All Our God (#456)

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

O God, Our Help in Ages Past (#528)
Alleluia! Sing to Jesus (#312)
Taste and See (#396)
For All The Saints (#306)

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

All Creatures of our God and King (#499)
We Walk By Faith (#507)
Taste and See (#396)
Love Divine, All Loves Excelling (#539)

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Come, Christians, Join to Sing (#498)
Holy, Holy, Holy (#295)
Pan de Vida (bilingual) (#398)
O God, Our Help in Ages Past (#538)

Feast of All Saints

For all the Saints (#306)
Blessed are They (#478)
What Wondrous Love is This (#537)
Love Divine, All Loves Excelling (#539)

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

The King of Love My Shepherd Is (#440)
Abide with Me (#565)
We Walk By Faith (#507)
Sent Forth By God’s Blessing (#548)

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

I know that my Redeemer Lives (#263)
We Will Rise Again (#523)
Eat This Bread (#400)
All People That On Earth Do Dwell (#372)

Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name (#315)
Crown Him With Many Crowns (#311)
At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing (#273)
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty (#487)

Thanksgiving Day

For the Beauty of the Earth (#457)
Beautiful Savior (#461)
Our Blessing Cup (#391)
 From All That Dwell Below the Skies (#502)

Again, I am not doing this for the purpose of tweaking my DOM's nose or embarrassing him--but because I'm tired of the disconnect.  I hope that he takes my suggestions and starts improving his choices for our parish. Rest assured that I will keep you abreast of any developments.


You Can't Always Get What You Want (pt. 1)

Note to self: Start a new blog on Church music.

I was beyond THRILLED when I checked in on PRISM's numbers for the last few days.  I've clearly been preaching to the wrong choir with the wrong message. That it took one slow-cooking rant to bring it on isn't important. What IS important is that I may have just found my audience.

To fill in the uninformed:  my last post described a scene and situation at my home parish.  I told my DOM that I would provide him a list of hymns I preferred to do.

Using OCP's extremely helpful (quit laughing, it is very helpful) Music Finder online, I was able to compile a "four-hymn sandwich" for each weekend, feast, and solemnity in the Heritage Missal between the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time and Christ the King Sunday. I know, ideally we're supposed to be using antiphons, chant, etc., but one step at a time).  In some cases , I was able to search by Scripture passage for the readings and responses; others, I had to take a more broad theme for the readings, Some weekends were extraordinarily difficult, others, not so much.

Here's 14 OT through 24 OT, inclusive. Tell me what you think.  I'm not going to get all thin-skinned on you; in fact I may even get feisty.

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

O God, Our Help in Ages past (#528)
When I Survey the Wondrous Cross (#262)
Taste and See (#396)
Sent Forth by God’s Blessing (#548)

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name (#315)
The King of Love my Shepherd Is (#440)
Pan de Vida (bilingual) (#395)
Alleluia! Sing to Jesus (#312)

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Church’s One Foundation (#436)
Seek Ye First (#525)
I heard the voice of Jesus say (#439)
Rejoice, the Lord is King (#308)

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty (#487)
Christ, be our light (#517)
Blest Are They (#478)
There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy (#438)

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

O God, our help in ages past (#528)
Seek Ye First (#525)
Pan de Vida (bilingual) (#395)
Praise to the Lord (#487)

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

I Sing the Mighty Power of God (#460)
Faith of our Fathers (#509)
Gift of Finest Wheat (#388)
For All the Saints (#306)

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The King of Love My Shepherd is (#440)
God, We Praise You (#480)
Gift of Finest Wheat (#388)
Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee (#504)

Assumption BVM (August 14/15)

Immaculate Mary (#320)
Sing of Mary (#326)
I Received the Living God (#383)
Hail holy Queen (#328)

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

All People that on Earth do dwell (#372)
Holy, Holy, Holy (#295)
I Received the Living God (#383)
Holy God, We Praise Thy Name (#482)

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

God, We Praise You (#480)
I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say (#439)
Lead Me, Lord (#479)
Praise to the Lord (#487)

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

I know that My Redeemer Lives (#263)
How Firm a Foundation (#303)
I Received the Living God (#383)
Praise to the Lord (#487)

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy (#438)
We Walk by Faith (#507)
One Bread, One Body (#381)
Rejoice, the Lord is King (#308)

In the interest of full disclosure, yes, this list probably sounds Lutheran because I grew up in the LCMS. We used the red 1941 hymnal (and the blue one before that).  You can take the boy out of the LCMS but you can't take the LCMS (completely) out of the boy--but I would sleep better knowing that I gave my fellow Catholics better music to sing at Mass.

25OT to Christ the King Sunday to follow.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Way It Is*

Many of you know that in addition to being a musician, teacher, and librarian, I'm a long-suffering church musician. Within the last year or so, I joined a Facebook page called "I'm fed up with bad church music" where contributors tell their own horror stories of bad clergy/parishioners/music/composers/etc. The current project that I'm completing for my DOM may present a microcosmic look into what we're up against:

I went up to my DOM Sunday morning after seeing what hymns he'd chosen and told him that I was tired of doing the same old same old, month in and month out. He complained to me that (ordinary time) wasn't a good time to introduce new hymns--as if Nicaea (Holy Holy Holy) Old Hundredth (All People that on Earth do Dwell), Italian Hymn (Come thou almighty King), St. Anne (Oh God, Our help in ages past), and countless others should have to be taught at this point in the church's life (at least this parish). The DOM tried to blame the pastor for what the he is "up against". I stopped that cold with, "Well, if the Pastor is the problem, I'll take it up with him". After he had a chance to recover from that shock, he told me to make up a list of hymns I wanted to do.

So, I'm in the midst of creating a set list for each service between the 14th in OT to Christ the King, based on the antiphons, readings, responses and themes, with the help of OCP's Music Finder, I've been able to find suitable alternatives to the steady diet of Haugen and Haas I've been subjected to for the past 12 years. There are some notable gaps, but for the most part I've been able put together a liturgically solid, musically sound list. One area had me stumped, though. Permit a brief explanation:

We have beautiful stained glass windows in our church, produced in France (or so I'm told), one of which depicts "The Church Militant, Suffering, Triumphant", a phrase probably more familiar to Catholics of a generation or two previous than to those today.We used to refer to it in the LCMS as Christian or Spiritual Warfare--fighting the temptations of Satan, the world, detractors from the faith.

So at one point I'm looking for songs on the Church Militant, or on spiritual warfare. I check the list of topics on the website. Nothing. I even emailed OCP (We use the Heritage Missal) and, in part, get this response:

...There are 9 songs under the topic Patriotism:
570   America
569   America the Beautiful
568   Eternal Father, Strong to Save 
567   God of Our Fathers
427   Let There Be Peace on Earth (really?)
451   Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory 
571   This Is My Song (FINLANDIA)
484   We Gather Together (Turkey and stuffing, anyone?)

Initially I was stunned. I had made it abundantly clear what I was looking for. When I wrote back and protested that Patriotism wasn't what I had in mind at all--even adding two links on the topics requested and giving two examples ("Onward Christian Soldiers", and "Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus"), they responded by quoting the two links I gave and basically dismissing my arguments.

So it's back to completing the list which I promised to give him next Sunday I can only hope that things change--or the cantor will--and I've told him as much.


*Bruce Hornsby, The Way It Is, Bruce Hornsby and the Range, 1986.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Hello Goodbye*

The 40th country to check my blog--Columbia--did so today.  Bienvenidos! (5/17/16) UPDATE: Welcome to my reader in the Turks and Caicos Islands--41 countries heard from!

I was a member of the University of Michigan Men's Glee Club during my undergrad days.  While I enjoyed singing the Michigan songs and classical repertoire put in front of us by our directors (Leonard Johnson (assistant professor of voice) for three years, Dr. Patrick Gardner (Assistant professor of conducting) for the fourth), one thing I did NOT enjoy was some of the nonsense that made it more closely resemble four years of "Animal House" than singing in a top-flight choral organization.

Don't get me wrong. I dearly love many of the men with whom I sung in Ann Arbor.  Many of them are brilliant, distinguished in their fields, and would ring a bell if I mentioned their names to you. You may be asking, "where was the director in all this?".  The Glee Club was the oldest student run organization on campus.  The School of Music (later, the School of Music, Theater and Dance) supplied a director to the club, and I would daresay with mixed results.

Professor Johnson was a highly successful studio teacher who took over the club from Willis Patterson, also a studio teacher but with extensive choral conducting experience.  I learned to love singing from Professor Johnson, but found his leadership and conducting skill set to be lacking; when he was denied tenure in 1981, I wasn't surprised, but was decidedly in the minority among club members who opposed the change.

On came Dr. Gardner in the fall of 1981. He had finished his DMA at the University of Texas-Austin, where his doctoral work included study of a piece for gamelan and male choir (or so I heard). He was only 27, and it was exciting to work with him from the get-go. Gone were so many of the Duey pop and light classical arrangements. In their place were actual pieces originally written for male chorus.  He got us in the habit of really studying the lyrics and finding out what we were singing about.  The pieces weren't always loud or boisterous or rich in harmony.  Some, like Song of Peace by Persichetti and Halsey Steven's setting of Christina Rossetti's Remember Me, were by comparison skeletal, their harmonies and melodies deceptively simple (but NEVER simplistic).  Wasn't everyone's cup of tea, but I thrived on it.

Fast forward about 30 years. I go to hear Measure for Measure at the IMC conference at Rutgers (which I did and thoroughly enjoyed) but before I left, I had the great pleasure of hearing an excellent high school male chorus from Pennsylvania.  They performed not only music from the western canon, but from non-western sources as well.  It was their last piece, an extended work on the subject of Nelson Mandela, with which I took issue, and what will be the heart of the second half of this post.

I've noticed a trend over the last ten years--it may be longer--of choral composers writing music for texts that are decidedly activist in nature. To wit:

1) a composition for male chorus called "Seven Last Words of the Unarmed". Movement titles include "Officers, why are you pointing your guns at me?", "I can't breathe", and "What are you following me for?", This piece was presumably meant to honor black men who were killed by police officers.

2) a composition for male chorus purportedly in honor of Nelson Mandela, the last movement of which includes singers holding signs and chanting for rights for various groups. The performance of this piece that I attended had the conductor encourage the audience to stand and sing along (to music wholly unfamiliar to us)

3) A composition by a world-renowned composer who, in his program notes, noted his disdain for former president George W. Bush

In all three cases these were school-related groups. I have to wonder if the students were given the opportunity to freely express their dissent on the content of these pieces to the extent of being able to opt out of performing these texts. Given what I know of these groups, I'm inclined to think that there was considerable pressure on any who dared express a minority opinion, be they students, parents, or others in the academic community.

The UMMGC, some years after I graduated, adopted a slogan--"Tradition, Camaraderie, and Musical Excellence". When I was in the club, we frankly nailed the first two, and the third, well, if it happened, it happened (the year with Dr. Gardner notwithstanding--he was a strong personality and an excellent conductor). We rested on our laurels way too much, and I feel like the music suffered as a result. If it were up to me, I'd reverse the order on those three attributes and let the last two appear as a result of the first--but that's just me.

plus ca change...

So why did I name this post "Hello Goodbye"?

Because at this point in my life I'm not certain that I want to continue my association with the UMMGC. That would shock several people I know to their foundation, but I need to know. Is this obsession with the current political correctness, progressive attitude, and social activism in choral music going to continue, where we engage in a pissing contest over who can be the most "daring"?
The mind reels.

Lennon and McCartney for the Beatles, Magical Mystery Tour, 1967