May 23, 2009

How the U.S. Electoral College System Works (...or doesn't work)

During my year at Mount Allison I had some of my friends asking what the U.S. Electoral College is, why it trumps popular vote, and how it works. I generally answered that it's an out-dated and undemocratic system and what made George W.
Bush our president (among other things...but that's another story). He's a pretty good summary:

May 20, 2009

Boston in Pictures

I know I've done the whole tourist tour of Boston before, but it is such a beautiful city I can't help but show another batch:

Toronto-Based Four Seasons Hotel on Boylston Street overlooking Boston Common

Harvard T Station in Harvard in front of the iconic international newspaper stand Out of Town News...which doesn't carry Maclean's.

Berklee College of Music Twelve-Week Full-Credit Summer Program

As I wrote earlier, I am fortunate enough to be working at the Berklee College of Music in Boston this summer. I'm helping in organizing and executing orientation and summer events and activities for 12 and 5-week program students among other things in the Student Activities Center. Today was the first day of the Twelve-Week Full-Credit Summer Program. It is a full Berklee semester of core classes at Berklee available to those with years of formal music training.

One memorable moment so far was as part of the orientation team introducing myself...and having to admit I didn't actually go to Berklee (almost everybody else involved in orientation is either a Berklee student or graduate) which resulted in a pretty good laugh. I mentioned that I wish I had enough talent to go to Berklee... which earned a few more laughs. I really don't mind. I know what my talents/interests are and Berklee-quality musician isn't one of them. Berklee is a pretty amazing place...and it'll get even more crowded and interesting in the next month.

For anybody who is interested in attending next year here is the twelve-week information from the Summer Programs website:


Discover Berklee this summer
See for yourself what Berklee College of Music is all about. Develop your musicianship, make professional contacts, explore careers in music–all while earning college credit.

What courses will you take?
During the summer semester, your classes will include:

  • Private instruction (two credits, one 30-minute lesson per week)
  • Instrumental/vocal labs or ensembles (one credit)
  • Ear training (three credits)
  • Harmony (two credits)
  • Introduction to Music Technology (two credits)
  • Writing skills or arranging (two credits)

At the start of the program, you'll take the Entering Student Placement Assessment, which will allow us to determine your instrumental training and theory levels. This process will enable us to place you with students of similar abilities in order to maximize your musical progress. And, with almost 35 percent of our students being from countries other than the United States, you're sure to be playing and working with students from a variety of different backgrounds and musical experiences. This diversity provides a dynamic setting for an incomparable interchange of styles, ideas, and experiences–a great way to spend your summer.

Experience more than course work As a student in the Full-Credit Summer Program, you will have access to the college's many resources and facilities, including:

  • Career Development Center
  • Counseling Center
  • Ensemble rehearsal rooms
  • Jam sessions with fellow students
  • Learning Center
  • Practice rooms
  • Stan Getz Media Center and Library
  • Student Activities Center
  • Student clubs
  • Student discounts on tickets to Berklee concerts
  • Visiting artist clinics

What is Boston like in the summer?
The college's concentrated musical environment is well balanced by the relaxed pace of summer in Boston. The city offers a special array of concerts and cultural events throughout the summer months, many of them free to the public and within walking distance from the college. The proximity of Boston to the Atlantic Ocean and the lakes and mountains of New England provides a variety of recreational opportunities on weekends.

Limited on-campus housing is available for students attending the full-credit program. Once you have been accepted to the program and have submitted a $100 tuition prepayment, you will be sent a housing application, if residence hall space is still available (prepayments are deducted from remaining fees). Please be aware that students must be 17 years of age by the start of the program in order to stay in the Berklee residence halls.

2009 Calendar

  • New Student Orientation Begins May 20
  • Check-in May 21–22
  • Memorial Day (college closed) May 25
  • Instruction Begins May 27
  • Independence Day (college closed) July 4
  • Examinations August 10–14


Join music students from all over the world for a summer semester in Boston. In only 12 weeks, you will complete the first semester of Berklee's regular college-level Core Curriculum. The Full-Credit Summer Program offers you the opportunity to explore Berklee on a summer-only basis. Normally, you must be a full-time student seeking a degree or diploma in order to earn a full semester of credits. For admission into the program you must be at least 16 years old by the start of the program. You'll also need a minimum of two years of formal music training or experience on your principal instrument or voice, and good working knowledge/familiarity with the written fundamentals of music theory (including rhythmic notation, melodic notation in treble and bass clefs, key signatures, major and minor scales, intervals, and construction of triads and seventh chords). Because you'll be enrolled in classes with full-time students, it's important that your musical abilities and written theory and ear training skills are at a compatible level.

Would you like to enroll as a full-time student?
After completing the Full-Credit Summer Program, you may decide that you want to continue your studies at Berklee as a full-time degree or diploma student. To be considered for acceptance, you will need to submit a full-time application and all of the required supporting documents by November. If you are accepted, the credits you've earned during the summer will be applied to your program and course schedule. Should you decide to study elsewhere, you may be able to transfer your Berklee credits to that institution (depending on its transfer credit policy).


Tuition and fees

  • Application Fee (nonrefundable)1 $50
  • Tuition Prepayment (nonrefundable)2 $100
  • Tuition $10,960
  • Health Insurance3 $572
  • Accident Insurance $32
  • Tuition Insurance $140
  • Comprehensive Fee4 $350
  • Housing Deposit $300
  • Residence Hall Fees $6,408

*Please note: All fees are subject to change.

1The application fee is a one-time fee.
2Prepayments are deducted from remaining fees.
3Estimated fee, subject to change. Required of students not submitting an insurance waiver.
4Comprehensive fee for all full-time students.

Note: All tuition and fees are payable on or before registration day. Scholarships and financial aid are not available for the Full-Credit Summer Program.

Accepted Students
If you have been accepted to the program and would like to pay your tuition, housing (if applicable), or other fees online, visit our online payment website. Your Berklee ID number is required in order for the payment to be posted to your student account. Refer to your acceptance letter or tuition bill if you are not sure what your student Berklee ID number is. Please note: Only MasterCard, Discover, and American Express can be used when making online payments. Visa is NOT accepted.


Ready to apply?
Just download and fill out the application and music reference forms (please make sure to fill in every question as thoroughly as possible). The music reference form should be filled out by an instructor or other reference qualified to comment on your musical ability as it pertains to your principal instrument and your theory abilities. If you would like to submit additional references, please make copies of this form. The music reference form should be submitted with your application.

If English is not your primary language, you will also need to submit a copy of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores or a recommendation letter from a source familiar with your ability to speak, write, and understand spoken English (such as a teacher or academic counselor). Download the Berklee English recommendation form.

It costs $50 to apply for the Full-Credit Summer Program. Please submit a check with your application, or fill out the payment authorization form on the application to pay by credit card.

For more information
Write to us at: Office of Admissions
Berklee College of Music
1140 Boylston Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02215-3639, U.S.A.

Call us at: (800) BERKLEE (within the U.S. and Canada)
(800) 421-0084 (within the U.S. and Canada)
(617) 747-2222
Fax: (617) 747-2047

E-mail us at:

Visit us at: 921 Boylston Street
Suite 600
Boston, Massachusetts

International Students
International students are required to obtain a valid Form I-20 and F-1 student visa to enroll in this program. You may NOT participate in the program on a tourist visa. For information on how to obtain a Form I-20, please email the Office of Admissions

May 18, 2009

Such Great Heights- Iron and Wine (Postal Service Cover)

As my taste in music has expanded (from BNL, Fastball, Smash Mouth and whatever else my brothers were listening to) I've had more ad more of an appreciation for covers of songs. I really appreciate this more subdued version of the Postal Service single Such Great Heights.

May 17, 2009

Hot Summer Nights- The Aquabats!

I was first turned on the The Aquabats! about two years ago in Squamish, BC. I came across this song after a relationship ended at the final days of the summer. Listening to the song I couldn't help but laugh...that's one thing I've found about music...that across different genres of music there's something to connect with. It's really interesting to go back and listen to songs years later and think about how they have impacted me.

This summer I've been incredibly fortunate to be working at Berklee College of Music in the Student Activities Center. This fall I'll be carrying on my appreciation of quality music as your (The Argosy's, Mount Allison's Independent Student Newspaper) Entertainment Writer. For now enjoy Hot Summer Nights (Won't Last Forever) by The Aquabats!

Caffeine Withdrawal

So it's been about three weeks since my last exam...but I have not forgotten what the weeks of preparing and testing felt like. I got my grades back and they are a fairly good example of the hard work I did this semester. There's one thing that I do regret related to studying...and that's consuming so much caffeine. It's no secret that University kids drink a lot of coffee...and sometimes it's warranted...when it's needed to power through an essay or stay focused on a project...but there comes a time when it's gone beyond a pick me up to a dependency.

I first really started drinking coffee when I worked at a coffee shop...getting it for free almost went downhill from there...

Anyway...when you decide to let go of something you've been dependent on...there comes withdrawal. I don't think I need to explain how it feels to go through withdrawal cold turkey to anyone who's experienced it...but let's just say that "The potential for caffeine withdrawal to cause clinically significant distress or impairment in functioning is reflected by the inclusion of caffeine withdrawal as an official diagnosis in [International Classification of Diseases]-10 (World Health Organization)"

Here's a nice short and corny CNN clip about it:

How caffeine works:

You know you're really running on empty when caffeine has almost no effect. Or at least I did. Exhausted is really how you feel when you're dependent on caffeine...and you haven't had enough...and even more so the days after you decide to cut down/stop consuming it completely.

Which reminds me of a song...
Exhausted by the Foo Fighters:

P.S. I'm better now...but that's not something I want to repeat.