These episodes continued on until my seventh rehearsal. With only two more weeks until showtime, it wasn't hard to think that my perception of Monday afternoon change much. However, I was slowly moving out of the disintegration stage and into reintegration. The key trait that denotes this phase is taking the self-loathing that you felt during disintegration and redirecting it towards those around you (a.k.a the host culture, or in this case, my ensemble classmates). It's incredibly difficult to reach out to someone in this stage because they are hostile and antagonistic to you. While I have not experienced this very much, I highlighted two key events that contained elements of this stage.
Figure 1. Monday afternoon percussion rehearsals with other nonmusic majors. Photo taken at seventh rehearsal (week 8 or semester). Description: fun, surreal and (slightly) depressing.
The first was during our sixth 'gathering'. I say gathering because there wasn't an actual rehearsal that day. Louise had fallen ill that day and was unable to make it to rehearsals. Class was cancelled but no one was informed in advance. We all showed up normally only to be greeted by a short message at the door. My immediate reaction to reading it was shock and disappointment. I was probably genuine in feeling sad about the week's rehearsal being cancelled. In hindsight, that moment was pivotal in realising what my true feelings on the matter were. Yes, I actually like Monday afternoon percussion classes. Unfortunately, some of the remarks I heard from my peers were not too similar to mine. They weren't too happy about making the unnecessary trek all the way to the music school, among other things. It made me think that they didn't really care about music-making or anything. I was probably a little too harsh to think of them that way, but that was how I felt back then. While the musical and social aspects of ensembles were very much a black and white thing for me, I always believed that music was a non-verbal way of communicating with others. Those subtle cues that we were forced to perfect in order to make an ensemble performance work; I would also consider them a form of interaction within a musical setting. We listen for the signal, we check for visual cues, and we take in the myriad sounds that fill the air. When we do music, interactions aren't limited to words.
But I digress. Our viewpoints were clearly different, I thought. This was brought up again in our penultimate rehearsal. With only one week remaining, Louise briefed us through the schedule for the day - what to wear, what to bring, when to arrive. One question which hit me pretty hard was 'has anyone not seen the performance venue yet?'. Disappointed by the number of hands raised, I felt that my peers were simply not taking this seriously, or they just didn't have the interest to attend the weekly free concerts at the venue. 'How much are they actually interested in music-making? Were they just in it for the easy marks? What were their motivations for joining?', I asked myself. It looked like I was the only lunatic there who was actually finding percussion classes rewarding. Does everyone else see the marimba as just a piece of wood that makes sounds? Through these two events, I found myself growing antagonistic towards the other ensemble members, because it seemed like our interests and motivations differed.
Of course, with the power of hindsight, it looks a little silly to think that way. However, back then, these were my raw feelings. People fall into these situations all the time. They can't help it. That's why almost everyone suffers some degree of culture shock, no matter how hard they try. But I believe being honest and recording one's experiences in a journal can eventually help elicit these feelings and emotions. Stay tuned for the next part, finishing off the whole culture shock cycle with the autonomy and interdependence stage.
Listening to Kirifuda - cinema staff