Performance 12- A Brass Quintet of Friends and Colleagues at a Friend’s/ Colleagues wedding 8/23/2023

I’m attending 25 Live Performances by the end of 2023!

This report was unexpected, but I am choosing to count it, mainly because it was a chance to support my colleagues in more ways than just attending a performance, and because there was a full-on performance of sorts at this wedding.

The friend that got married was Gavin Carney, a fantastic trombonist /fellow nerd/all-around great human who started teaching next door to me at the studio and sort of adopted me as his Friday morning duet partner sometime in 2022. Practicing with him has made me a better player and I’m glad that the universe introduced us. His now-wife, Taylor is pretty fantastic too!

The Friends and colleagues in the quintet were Lauren Husting – Bass Trombone ( I know her from Brass Chix stuff and running into her in the wild on Trombone) Lara Dietrich- Tenor Trombone (A friend/ colleague who gave me the chance to teach at Maestoso Music Studio, which she owns!), Ally Partin- French Horn ( I know her form Brass Chix and runnings out in the wild) Derek Thorsteinsson- Trumpet( Colleague at Maestoso and a great person to talk to in between waiting for students, and Gerard Ahlgren- Trumpet( I used to work with him at Maestoso and he’s a great player too )

They played a variety of pieces to add to the ambiance from your wedding standards ( classical/ rennaisaince brass mixes) to the unusual- I remember hearing Oh Shenendoah with some Juicy harmonies and modulations that stuck out from the usual fare. If this was not a musicians wedding, I’m not sure we would have heard this arrangement, but given the crowd, the variety was welcome. They also performed the entirety of Ralph Vaughn Williams Folk Song suite, which I happily hummed along to.

The highlight of the performance was a premiere from my colleague John Proper ( Last name is Pronounced like you would pronounce the “pro” in Professional because I believe he’s on his way to becoming a Pro!)

He wrote a suite based on a melody and variations for Gavin and Taylor as a surprise. It was well-structured and turned out marvelous!

Overall, I enjoyed the music and, although I didn’t expect anything less from Gavin, I’m glad they hired live musicians for both the ceremony and reception. It was totally worth it!

Congratulations to Gavin and Taylor on a beautiful wedding, to JP on the premiere, and to my friends and colleagues on a great/ successful performance. I hope you all get more gigs.

Performance 11 – Vanguard New Music Series –  A Musical Field Guide to Minnesota Wildflowers – Plumeria Winds and Reed⁵ (8/18/2023)

I’m attending 25 Live Performances by the end of 2023!

Back in late May, I was invited by my Fellow Twin Cites colleague, Jonathan Postuma, to compose an original work for Woodwind Trio, OR Sextet. Being the overachiever I can sometimes be, I composed a piece for both Woodwind trios AND combined Sextet, which became Not a Flower Suite. Thanks to this invitation, I was able to witness this colorful smorgasbord of Woodwind Trios and Sextets proficiently played by Reed ^5 and Plumeria Winds.

As Jonathan was the primary composer, most of the program was arranged to include his newest Flower-themed pieces. He has been composing “A Musical Field Guide to Minnesota Wildflowers” for quite some time and the program had a rich bouquet of his works. The pieces were richly varied and luckily I had a pencil to write down some thoughts.

The first collection was Trio No. 5 for Oboe, Clarinet, and Bassoon

“Forget Me not”- I love the conversations between the Oboe and Clrinet!

“Spring Beauty”-Playful but relaxing to listen to

“Virginia Bluebell”-Very different charachter than the last

“Virginia Waterleaf”- Those are some TASTY Bassoon lines!

The second collection was Trio No. 6 for Oboe, Clarinet, and Bassoon

“Hoary Vervian”- It was fun watching the Clarinet and Oboe non-verbally taunte each other. 🙂

“Showy Goldenrod” and/ or ” Purple Coneflower” (I’m not sure which this comment went to) – This piece reminds me of Zelda Oracle of Seasons

“Fragrant Giant Hyssop”- GREAT eye contact betwen the Players

The third was Trio no. 9 for Oboe Soprano Saxophone and Bassoon

The pieces were ” Marsh Marigold”, “Carolina Puccoon”, “Swamp Buttercup”, and “Golden Alexanders”. According to my notes this suite was very Yellow and I would love to see a slideshow with all of the accompanying flowers in the background if it’s performed again, or see it published in a guide with QR codes leading to a recording of the accompanying piece.

The fourth suite was “Trio no. 11 for Oboe, Tenor Saxophone, and Bassoon.

I enjoyed the Stravinski-esque textures in these pieces as well as the expertly executed use of extended techniques by the performers.

Bravo Jonathan! I would love to see a slideshow with all of the accompanying flowers in the background if it’s performed again, or see it published in a guide with QR codes leading to a recording of the accompanying piece.

My piece was Number 5. I felt that my piece was overall performed well and both trios seemed to be having fun, which is a win in my book.

Jared Coffin’s piece, Pulling up Dinosaurs, was next and made use of the type of extended techniques that reminded me of geysers slowly bubbling underneath the surface of the earth with their gas seeping out of the ground before a massive explosion. The piece was called Pulling up Dinosaurs and sounded just like a scene from Jurrassic Park to my ears. Jared did a fantastic job creating an atmosphere to be experienced and transporting us out of the concert hall.

The concert ended with thie GORGEOUS piece composed by Elizabeth King that combined the trios into a sextet. Emily’s beautiful melodies brought the hues of emerald green into my mind’s eye and reminded me of walking through an enchanted forest. This piece was Beautiful and the blend of the performers made it even more so!

Plumeria Winds includes Rachel Messing- oboe, Caitlin Beare- clarinet, and Scott Pool- bassoon.

Reed^5 includes Susan Miranda- oboe, Brian Handeland-saxophone, and Cody Hunter-bassoon.

Performances 8, 9 & 10 Bardic Circles and Pennsic Mayhem (8/2-8/11/2023)

I’m attending 25 Live Performances by the end of 2023!

This Summer marked the 50th year that the Pennsic war took place. What is Pennsic you ask? Well what it is, is a 2 week long camping event held by the S.C.A. where things like fully armored battles, classses in anything you can think of related to the middle ages (and ancient Rome) from the arts to history, merchants specializing in hand making and selling long forgotten crafts, performances, food, and the sharing of home brewed adult beverages happen on a daily, almost nonstop basis. I heard someone on TikTok refer to it as the Cochella of medieval enthusiests and, well, they’re not far off.

Although I went to far more performances,as I was surrounded by music and dancing, I limited this report to three distinct catagories of performance:

  1. Bardic Circles
  2. Highlights of campfire-centric music and dancing
  3. Stage performances
A hilarious sheet wall outside of one of the Camps at Pennsic.

1) Bardic Circles

One of the delights of playing a bard in the SCA is that you get to attend bardic circles. Some are announced publicly and some are invitation only. They may be themed ( as in sea shanty or songs existing in a certain time period only) or free form/ anything goes!

They are a chance for us to share stories and songs with other bards , and those who wish to listen for some entertainment.

By attending these you get to hear all sorts of talent around the kingdoms of the known world. This ranges from Storytelling (think engaging renditions of Norse folktales and King aArthur told by a human in a way the stories were originally meant to be shared and passed down, to funny :” no $#!% there I was anectdotes from Pennsics Past) and Filks ( parodies of existing music) – my favorite! to some absolutely gorgeous renditions of early folk music.

2) Highlights of campfire-centric music and dancing

One of the other adventures one can have at Pennsic is walking around to the varous encampments at night and witnessing all sorts of informal performances. Throug this practice, I saw some incredibly impressive fire dancing, drum circles, witnessed and all out middle eastern music jam session materialize in fromt of my eyes and ears at the Lost Boys encampment, and, through tagging along with some other bards, some soothing entertainment at a few smaller campfires. One particular experience ended at 3am with a bard performing an acoustic rendition of ” Buggar Off” to end the night!

3) Stage Performances

In addion to all of the ambient music happening around me, there were some formal scheduled performances as well.

One of the perofrmances I witnessed under the official performance tent was from a well seasoned bard in the Performing Arts Tent ( I wish I could remember his name!).

He sang some gentle tunes, and told some stories, and even invited who I think was a former apprentice and/or great friend on stage where they harmonized beautifully on a few tunes. She was fantastic as well!

My favorite song from this performance was Juniper, Gentle, and Rosemary. This song is on my list to learn for next year thanks to this bard exposing my ears!

To conclude this post, Please enjoy this rendition of Erutan’s the Wilow Maid, performed with a couple of very talented Bards I met in these excursions, named Ainsley (Main vocals and lyre) and Gryphon ( lute?) at 3 am one Pennsic morning! I Harmonized 🙂

Cover of The Willow Maid by Erutan, Performed by Ainsley, Eleri, and Gryphon at Pennsic L

Prerformances 6& 7- She Rock She Rock Showcases (7/14 and 7/21/2023)

I’m attending 25 Live Performances by the end of 2023!

Those that are subscribed to my newsletter know that I taught aspring young musicians at the She Rock She Rock Camp this summer, and had one of the most fun times of my life.

Photo by Matheus Bertelli on

I was one of the Keyboard instructors and also got to help co coach a band during the second ( Teen ) week.

In the week that each of the groups were at camp, we prepared them to be able to play cover songs with each other, and they were each assigned a band to be in. At the end of the week, each band premiered a BRAND NEW ORGINAL song that they created together, at the downtown VFW.

While I am having trouble recallig many specific songs (admittedly I didn’t get to this post right away as I meant to…oopse!) , I do remember eperiencing the joy and excitement on each of the camper’s faces as they got on stage for the first time and Rocked out in front of an audience. There was a wide variety of styles from a hard rock song about Randomness that was…. totally random, blending Emotional goth, Jazz and punk styles, to outright Rock Anthems. Some of the songs were so good that you might not believe that they came from kids as young as 9 -16 years old!

For me, the most rewarding experience from the performances was seeing some of the kids who came in unsure of themselves for one reason or another, finishing up camp enjoying themselves, confidently rocking out and making music!

You can learn more about She Rock She Rock by visiting

Performance 5 Film Score Fest ( 6/10/2023)

I’m attending 25 Live Performances by the end of 2023!

Since 2017, I have mostly had the opportunity to attend Film Score Fest as a participant. However, this year was different, as I was a spectator!

Film score fest is this special event hosted by MnKino where composers and film makers are paired together to make a film based on a theme that is assigned to all of the filmmakers. The thing that makes this event extra unique is that the film and score premier with a LIVE orchestra playing the music!

There were a total of 16 films, each with a unique visual style and equally unique scores.

As a member of the Minneapolis Music Scene, I recognized several of the orchestra players and had a blast saying “Hi, I know you!” to most of them. I also had fun supporting my colleagues and not having the anticipation of waiting for the film I composed the music to come on screen, so it was easier to enjoy all of the films this time around.

A few film scores really caught my attention. Radience, composed by Mitchel Dietz was gorgeous and the film by Chris Lange only Amplified how beautiful it was with the film’s colorful visuals. Ken Takata provided one of the most unique takes on a film score that I have witnessed yet on a mostly standstill film, Macbeth (5.5.22) by Tatjana Dankovic. He improvised a distal, yet pleasant score on the piano as the film played, displaying nighttime images of the city and text.

Although I appreciated each film and score, my favorite combination had to be the last film, Little Godzilla. Emily Boyajian’s score complimented Kat Aymeloglu’s film flawlessly and it was SUPER ADORABLE!!!!

If you want to see the livestream playback, you can catch it here:

Performances 3 & 4 at the MMTA Convention (6/11-6/13/2023)

I’m attending 25 performances by the end of 2023!

As this was a convention full of music teachers, there were plenty of opportunities to attend some performances.

For this report, I want to focus on 2 student performances that were memorable from the weekend.

The first came from the Music Bridges participants. Music Bridges is a program where students pick a theme that interests them and prepare 2-to 3 pieces of standard repertoire to perform. It is a nongraded performance, but gives the students an opportunity to share their creativity and music making, as well as get some performance experience in a less stressful way than a contest or formal recital.

The first performer looked to be in elementary school. She picked Movement as her theme and performed 3 pieces. I think one was titled Kangaroo Jump. She’s also an ice skater and dancer, so she showed a video of her skating to music and choreographed a dance to The Beatles “Twist and Shout” that she shared with us at the end.

The next was a girl close to graduating high school who picked the composer Aram Khachaturian. Before her report and performance, I only knew him for The Sabre dance due to it being played at Buffalo Sabres Hockey games growing up. She shared some wonderful waltzes as well as a duet with her brother. For the creative part, she reported on his history as a perceived “Soviet” composer and shared a photo that she recolored by hand to better reflect Khachaturian’s true nationality and political beliefs. She clearly took hours on this project alone. and played beautifully all the way through.

The second performance came from the guitar showcase.

Although most of the presentation was talking about the MMTA guitar cirriculum that they offer, there was a performance from a young student, probably only 11 or 12 by their appearance. This student came in from Wisconsin to perform for us. What inpressed me the most was how determined and focused he was during his performance, and it was a treat to hear him as well.

They ended the showcase with a trio of Latin American music shared between the student, teacher, and presenter. It’s not every day that you get to hear a guitar ensemble, let alone one that was clearly having fun in the moment of reading and performing this piece for us!

My only regret from the convention is that I forgot to write down the performer’s names in my program as I was too busy listening and enjoying their art. If they see this blog post someday, I hope they can smile at the fact that they brought me joy from listening to them and that I hope they continue making music for the love of it!

Performance 2 – Lady Band ( 6/3/2023)

I’m attending 25 performances by the end of 2023!

The Second Performance that I attended was because I had the privilege of performing in the Stravinsky Octet with this newly formed group, Lady Band.

However, as the rules are that the majority of the performance had to be given by someone else, I will count this.

This Concert was unique and rather intimate, as we were packed into Violet Wine Winery. Despite feeling a bit overwhelmed due to the tiny space and crowding from people, I soon felt more at ease as the first notes were played by the mini chamber ensembles in this group. Although I did not partake, the winery had wines and vodka paired with each of the pieces which added to the ambiance.

The First piece was a Woodwind Quintet titled Composition en Rouge, Bleu et Jaune by Tawnie Olson. This piece Transported me to a blue city scape and played with . I especially enjoyed the Timbre of all of the voices in unision rhythm toward the ending, as well as the playful, bouncy motif that occured a few times in the piece. The musicians appeared to be enjoying those moments as well.

The Second Piece, N.A.L.A. by Andrea Tarodi was my favorite of the program. The beginning especially reminded me of Gustav Holst’s The Planets with the harp and flute colors. The ostinato reminded me of Saturn, while the timbres and melodies were remeniscant of Neptune and Venus in my opinion. It was played Beautifully as well ! This piece soothed me from the claustrophobia I was beginning to experience just in time to perform the octet.

Overall, it was a nice concert, and the intimacy and atmosphere of the winery added to the experience, but I was definitely glad to be out of that cramped space!

Performance 1/25 St. Lewis Park School Band Concert (5/16/2023)

I’m attending 25 performances by the end of 2023!

The first performance that I attended on this endeavor was an off-chance intent to support my students.

To Preface, my other gig aside from composing and occasionally performing, is as a private music instructor. I teach many students in the St. Lewis Park school district.

It just so happened that one of my students canceled their lesson on the Tuesday evening of (one of) the end-of-the-year band concerts- as it happens to be a large school district. When I found out that they were soloing on their first Jazz concert, one of my other trombone students let me know that they were also performing- that day lol-and I had the time, I had to be there!

Normally I can’t make evening weekday concerts as I teach until 8 or 9 pm most evenings so this was a bonus.

While I knew that some of my students would undoubtedly be performing, I had no Idea that a grand total of 6 were playing. Those stinkers never told me when their performance was, hahaha!

As this was the first band concert I’d been able to attend, I had no idea what to expect. First of all., the auditorium was HUGE!!!! It made the auditorium that I attended convocation in as an undergrad feel small in comparison. I was amazed at just how nice it was, and how packed with supportive parents, family, and staff it was. A few teachers that teach at Maestoso were there as well to support their students. It was a heartwarming site, as there was not an empty seat in the room.

First, the Jazz Band performed and I learned of the Donut Bribery ( ok- it’s the volunteering of students to bring in Donuts every morning rehearsal) that fuels this group.

The piece that stood out was Moondance by Van Morrison. Several students took solos which, especially for 6-8th graders, is an extremely brave thing to do. I know several adults who refuse to even try, so Kudos to those kids. Also, not to brag- ok, to brag- my student played the loudest most confident sounding solo in that piece. I was one proud teacher that evening!

Then I got to hear the 6th 7th and 8th grade bands perform.

My favorite piece by the 7th grade group was Blinding Lights by The Weekend, because it had the most energy and you could see that the students seemed to enjoy performing it.

Despite the usual intonation issues that usually plague this age group as they are learning how to control their instruments and listen- a skill that takes time to build- you could really tell that they were listening and making an honest effort. They were experiencing Teamwork through the lens of a musical ensemble, and having taught several of students at one time or another, it was a treat to witness their growth.

It was also enjoyable witnessing the different groups of students announce the pieces. I’m glad to see that this district allows this opportunity for students, as it gives a chance to work on stage fright and/or shine in a different way. One duo was particularily hilarious trading off every other sentence and making back and forth jokes.

When the 8th grade group performed, the piece that stood out the most was a piece called Corinthium by Michael Sweeny. This was a full circle piece because I remember working with my first official trombone student on it prior to the pandemic, 3 years ago. The piece was deemed too difficult for the group and dropped ( Although I will tell you the then 5th grader was crushing it for her ability at the time). I then got to help her on it during the pandemic, but it was again dropped by the director. Once again, this piece made an appearance in November during this student’s lesson and I never heard anything about it again after that. What a HUGE surprise to get to hear this piece by this group that included my student performed it was, and they sounded GREAT!

All in all, I really enjoyed listening to what my students have been working toward and getting to see their surprised faces when Miss Sam made an appearance at their Band Concert. I would do it again in a heartbeat!

I’m Attending 25 LIVE performances before the end of the year!

people performing on stage

For the second half of the year, I am undertaking a bit of a challenge. I’ve resolved to attend 25 live performances before Midnight on December 31st, 2023.

Why am I doing this ?:

1) Seeing live music is good for me as a composer and performer and I don’t do this nearly enough.

2) I want to do a better job supporting my colleagues, as I’ve been a bit of a hermit for the most part for the better part of a decade.

3) It is my hope that by making this journey public, it will inspire other musicians to support their colleagues by doing the same ( let’s face it, we don’t do this enough for each other) Also, as a teacher, I am doing my best to teach my students add their families to support live music by attending concerts beyond what they atttend for school ensembles, and foster a more supportive community in the arts for the future of our field.

4) By comitting to this publicly, I’m hoping that I get more direct invites to events ( and not just facebook calendar invites as I tend to forget about those until it’s too late to decide to go) and occasional nudging to complete this challenge if I fall off.

Here are the Rules:

1) The concert can’t be my own gig. However, if the majority of performances were NOT by me and I stayed for the entire concert these can count.

2) Genre does not matter. Nor does the professional status of the musicians. I may report on a school band concert, and then a heavy metal concert in the next entry for example.

3) Each time I attend a concert, I will write a review on this blog. Most of these will be short and I may combine a few concerts onto one blog entry if I attend a bunch in a short stretch of time.

Happy Musicing and if you live in the Minneapolis Metro, please tell me about your gigs~ preferably at least a few days ahead of time please and thank you!

2023- Let’s DO THE THING!

round brown and black analog clock

Happy 2023!

This is the post where, every year, I usually list the goals that I intend to accomplish.

What am I doing to make things happen this year?

Well, I’m taking the lessons learned from the past few years and instead of posting goals like I have been, I am instead posting the actions that I am building into my daily and weekly routine to make things happen.

If you read the post from a few days ago, it was apparent that some of the goals that I intended to accomplish did not happen as planned. Instead, I am taking a new approach to accomplish the goals that were left, AND set myself up for even more success in the future, in whatever form it may come. Some things are going well, and I will continue to keep up the habits I’ve already established.

Action Item #1

Schedule Composing, Instrumental Practice, Gym, Meal, and Email time into my calendar at SPECIFIC BLOCKS OF TIME.

Sunday evening at 7:00 is when I have scheduled to plan out the week. My phone is programed to remind me to do this.

Every month, I have a concrete checklist of music business Items that I have to schedule on my monthly calendar before transfering to my weekly. These include things like writing the newsletter for my composing business, checking on contest info for students, and other specific communications and research items.

The 28th of the previous month is when I have scheduled to take care of this. However, getting into the habit of writing down monthly appointments into my calendar as they come up has helped with planning in the past.

Some of these are floating tasks that have to get done at some time on the scheduled day or week. Having a visual checklist helps me with this!

Action Item # 2

Replace Phone Screen time with the activities listed above.

Although the Tik Tok and Twitter addiction has been hard to break, I’ve been improving at using it as a reward rather than disassociating with it.

Also, my new rule is No Checking Email past 7:00pm! Otherwise, I have a tendancy to overthink about how to respond and agonize about it all night instead of sleeping, which I totally should do instead for health reasons.

Action Item # 3

Adopt a CONSISTANT bedtime and wakeup routine.

Although I do the expected things like showering and brushing my teeth every day at.. some haphazard time, my morning has only had one thing consistent up until now: Coffee. I do not wish to replace this wonderful to me beverage I lovingly call Godberry juice, as I genuinely enjoy the taste and it’s become a personal staple for waking up. However, every day has been varied and sometimes I forget to eat breakfast or shower and all of a sudden it’s 15 minutes until I’m supposed to leave to teach and I haven’t eaten lunch yet.

To start with, I will begin my day with showering, teeth brushing and a glass of water BEFORE Coffe. Coffee is a reward for taking care of these important things. Also, my second cup of coffee will be accompanying breakfast, which will not only save time but serve as a habitual reminder to eat.

At night, I’ve been winding down with Tea over the last month which has helped. I will also be replacing the phone habit with reading on time. Lately, I’ve been switching between the two. Leaving the phone downstairs has helped. Soon, I will NOT be looking at my phone past 9:00 and instead be reading physical books.

Action Item # 4

Add my original compositions 1 piece a day to my WOOCOMMERCE Store. ( 10 minutes/ morning) to start.

For now I will leave my stuff up on Sheet music Plus as well for a wider reach, as I’m still working to build an audience that will purchase my music and play it more often, funding my good habit 🙂 I am, however, changing each compositions individual page to link to my Woo Commerce Store Page, in order to get a better idea of who is buying my compositions, keep in contact in case they would like help from a living composer, and the added bonus of getting to keep more of the profit.

I’m starting with Digital downloads and then will add physical copy offerings as I learn more about how to run the storefront. It looks like it will also calculate shipping, even overseas, so that is a plus.

I also have it scheduled to publish on both my Facebook Business page and Twitter Profile when I add a new piece to the store for some added awareness.

Once I run out of pieces I’ve already added to SMP, this will shorten to 1/week or every other week as needed. Engraving and editing takes time.

Action Item #5

Form a habit of Posting 1x/day, focusing on no more than 2 social media channels at a time.

In order to succeed at this, I am going to post one time/ day on one of my channels as most of them are linked anyway. When applicable , I will repeat the post in a different format- i.e. Text converded to a 30 second Video.

(Note- I will be exercising Action Item # 2 to keep screentime from getting out of hand again).

Action Item # 6

Hold myself accountable for these items!

If you know me well enough, please don’t be afraid to ask how it’s going either. Let’s put that toxic guilt complex to good use!!!! lol

Realistically, integrating all of these steps won’t happen all at once or even ALL of the time. However, as I work on making this my new norm, it will be easier to get back on the wagon when I fall off, and continue making things happen this year and beyond.

I’ll start by scheculing checkin posts on my calendar.