Good News Everyone!

A few weeks ago I wrote a preview post of what I was currently working on and now have some news to accompany one of the projects.

In it, I mentioned that I was working on a film score that included 12 tone craziness among other things. Well, I’m proud to say that the film that Jason Schumacher and I have been working on the past few months was selected for the MnKino Film Score Fest.

This means that it will be screened with a LIVE ORCHESTRA playing the score simultaneously!! As a bonus: there is a theremin in the orchestra this year ( and yes I utilized it in the score)!!

The Event takes place at the Science Museum in St Paul MN on July 20th at 7:00 PM.

A link to the Facebook event page can be found here where you can reserve tickets. But, you’d better act fast because I’m told they go quickly.

Additionally, there is a pre-screening at 4:30 of the films that did not quite make the cut for the live orchestra to play. They are the product of months of hard work by talented collaborating artists of differing disciplines and deserving of viewing as well.

If you can’t make it because MN is a bit too far away, or have another reason (i.e. work and family obligations, or you couldn’t get tickets) I have even better news for you.

This event is live Streamed!!! Please make sure that you follow the Facebook page and click the “interested” button in order to get reminded of the event and receive a link to view it.

Additionally, if you got the Futurama reference in this post, we can be friends.

Hope to see you there!

#21 Days of VGM Days 4-6

Hello Friends and Fellow Music Fans,

Here are the next Three Pieces from this challenge for your enjoyment. Please feel free to comment if the inspiration strikes you.

Composed 7/4/2019
Today, I started with an uncommon interval to start with- a Major 7th. This is what became of it.
Composed 7/5/2019
I reached Level 2! Woo Hoo!
This was the Name game. I took my full name, only took the letters that were in the musical alphabet, and created a bass line Motive that the piece builds around. While composing I thought in layers, before putting this into the computer. There are several types of bells used for the accompaniment and Crystal Glass for the melody. It could probably be used around a shrine, oracle dwelling, or religious site in a game.
Composed 7/6/2019
I wrote a very short, loopable blues tune.
It is 7 bars long because I like messing with form sometimes.






Here’s My ” I Didn’t Cheat” Proof! ūüėÄ

21 Days of VGM Days 1-3

Hello Fellow friends and Music fans.

Every once in awhile, it is good to get out and try something new. In this case, it’s a challenge.

This summer, I am trying the 21 days of VGM Challenge in order to get back in the habit of writing every day.

As posting takes some time and realistically, I do not have time to write a blog post every single day this month ( July tends to be a heavy performance month) AND finish my writing goal, I can and WILL make time to write something for this challenge every day. That being said, you can expect a post about once every 3 or so days with new pieces attached from now until the end of the challenge.

Additionally, The Challenge officially started July 1st. I have been writing by hand every day in keeping with the challenge’s intent to compose every day. However, realistically , I do not have enough time to input my ideas into the computer as well most days, except for the weekend so today (Sunday) is the first day I have audio available. Just to prove that I have not been cheating though, here is a selfie with my notebook.

I did the Thing!

If you want to know what this is about (and possibly join now or in the future) please follow the link for more information, but in short, I will be following writing prompts that are sent to my inbox in order to write these pieces.

Here are the First 3:

Composed 7/1/2019
Today, I just came up with an 8 bar Melodic Idea
Composed 7/2/2019
For Day 2, I took the Write Something in Minor Prompt and expanded on yesterday’s Melodic Idea
Composed 7/3/2019
Day 3’s chosen prompt was Compose in a Compound meter. I chose 5/8 but did a time displacement in the baseline as well. It is what I would envision would play while talking to a giant owl or Fantasy creature (Griffin, Chimera, etc) in a game.

Enjoy!

P.S. Speaking of trying new things , here is a picture of me Jamming, on stage, in front of strangers, and with people that I mostly don’t know for the first time ever. It was fun, just like I hope this challenge will be.

Image may contain: one or more people, people on stage and people playing musical instruments
Me with the Rogue Jammers, June 29th, 2019
Photo credit Robyn Barziza Chargo

Music in the Wind

Hello Fellow Music fans and friends,

This is a short blog post where I wanted to share an experience from a few days ago.

Did you know that if you take the time to listen, you can sometimes hear music in the space around you?

A few days ago, I had the pleasure of visiting the Minneapolis Sculpture garden (the one with the famous cherry spoon and now blue cock) for the first time.

A typical touristy pose commemorating my first visit here. No trip is complete without it!

There, among one of the most eclectic collections of sculptures I have ever seen, they have an air sculpture in the trees comprised of dozens of wind chimes. The tones on the chimes were chosen from a John Cage chance music piece titled Dream (1948).

Standing a good distance away from the tree, it sounds like you might expect a typical cacophony of chimes to sound. When we arrived beneath the tree though, I could not help but notice a few low and mid range frequencies that appeared and produced a soothing yet eerie vibration. As these tones shuffled between each other, I could not help but feel the music that was being produced by only the wind and these suspended pieces of metal vibrating in my bones. The sound was beautiful. and not unlike Tibetan singing bowls in tone color. It was as if there were an invisible ensemble perhaps of faeries, improvising, creating this piece just for those patient enough to listen.

Though my phone did not do justice in capturing all of the colors, here is a video of the phenomenon to give you an idea.

A few minutes later, my friends and I took the opportunity to lay in the grass near the giant swing sculpture as it was a gorgeous day. It was there that I experienced a miniature symphony in the air. As the clock struck 6, the bells from multiple churches began to ring one by one and add melody to the gentle accompaniment created by the invisible faerie band in the wind-chime laden tree behind me.

Here is the video of this experience (and yes I shushed my very verbose S.O. so I could capture this magical moment of air music- ha!).

Though you may or may not not agree with me calling this music, I hope that you enjoy these sounds. Perhaps they will inspire you to create your own music in some way.

Composer Kitchen News May 2019- letting the cats out of the bag

Hello Friends and Fellow Music fans,

It’s time to let the cat out of the bag.

Couch Potato kitty!

No- Not this one!

Not this one Either- though he will be important soon!

I am working on not one, but two big projects.

The First that I am excited to tell you about is a BRAND NEW Horn Solo. This one is going to be very special when it is done as it is being written in remembrance of a very special individual who made a positive difference at the Dana School for several people and was loved by many, as he loved all of his students: Mr. Bill Slocum. Bill Richter commissioned me to write a horn piece for his Master’s Degree Recital (where he is doing something fantastic and commissioning and premiering several new works from composers). This was the perfect opportunity to write this piece and pay my respects to this beautiful soul and gregarious spirit. There are other reasons why this is going to be an extra special piece and I promise to post more about it at a later date. For now, here is a preview video of the first bit as I’ m working on it.

Next, I am participating in the MnKino Film Fest again this year. It is this fantastic event (that I missed last year thanks to Snowmageddon) where composers are paired with independent film makers and you make a film together. The added bonus is that live musicians play the score to the film at the premier.

Fortunately, I was paired with the infamous Jason Schumaker and he is kindly allowing me to bask in his awesomeness (seriously though, he is a very humble and kind individual in addition to being extremely talented). I encourage you to check out some of his films on his website (LINK)

At this point, we don’t know if our film will get chosen to be screened, but, I can tell you that there’s going to be a Birthday party, Human Fire, a giant cat (yes the one in the above picture) and some crazy 12 tone music action (and other music filled awesomeness). Heck, we don’t even know what it’s going to be exactly, except for AWESOMESAUCE of course!

Shot of the cast and crew of this film in progress.
I am not in this picture because my car died on the day of filming, but I hope it inspires you to go to the film fest on July 20th.

Till Next time,

Happy Musicing!

…….And now for my 2019 Music Goals

 

Hello Everybody,

Last year I set some goals and mini steps to work on accomplishing them, along with reminders to update on my progress and it actually helped. If you are like me and need some focus, I encourage you to try something similar. Even if you have just one goal, set a reminder on your calendar or phone to evaluate your progress periodically.

If you missed part one of my post from yesterday: The yearly review, here it is.

Now For the list:

Big Goal: Continue to increase income

Mini Goal: Set up the rest of my online store:

The official launch is still a little bit of time away, but, I have learned how to integrate Paypal and have started updating my site. Thankfully, taking this job allowed me that small boost in income to justify upgrading my site plan to the next level so that I could do this. Given time, it should start to pay for itself and help me with this Debt repayment plan. Also, eventually the financial cushion to be able to allow myself to invest in composition lessons would be nice.

I will be using most of my “free time” to work on this with an aim to finish by March.

 

Mini Goal: Sell more music

This is self-explanatory. I like to eat food, darn it!

 

Mini Goal: Increase my teaching studio size

I am hoping to build to 5-8 students by the end of next year. It is a small number, but, given that I am now working Full time and want to avoid burnout, I would like to keep the teaching schedule to no more than one or two dedicated evenings a week. I’ll be emailing a few teachers in the area and asking around in my social circles to look for students.

 

Big Goal: Get out there even  more than in 2018

Mini Goal: Jam More

Luckily, I have made some Friends who wish to play for fun through the various music groups I’ve been fortunate to be a part of. Periodically looking at this list should remind me to call these people once in a while to play duets or make some noise.

 

Mini Goal: Go to more music gatherings and concerts- that are not my own.

The aim is to attend 1 a month. This should be easy, right?. If I can attend more, that would be awesome but, based on last year, 1 a month seems like a reasonable goal.

Mini Goal: Get better at this Marketing thing.

The last few years have been a study period with listening to podcasts like The Portfolio Composer and The Entrepreneurial Musician to name a couple and reading business blogs and books. This year is the year where I will begin to put these things into practice more than In previous years. Step ONE: Finish the store and Launch it through Emailing and Social Media Posts, along with not being afraid to mention it when networking.  Step TWO: while doing step one,  work on the goal of getting out to concerts and networking events, along with interacting with more people in general, whether ion the internet or in person.

BIG Goal: Get healthier

I know that this does not seem like a music goal, but believe it or not, it is. I would like to play my trombone to the best of my ability and be able to think clearly more often so I can focus on writing and accomplishing tasks.  This past year took a small toll on my health, mostly from the stress and eating crud like candy and ramen noodles a lot of the time. My level of focus and energy has gone downhill and I generally do not feel like I am in good shape anymore. Thankfully, I am still relatively healthy, but will be incorporating more veggies, even if I have to increase the food budget a bit and cut back somewhere else. Also, I’d like to try the gallon challenge where you carry around a gallon jug and aim to finish it by the end of the day. Having things in front of me to remind me to do the things seems to help. Come spring, since my new job is about a mile from where I live, I will be walking to work every day that it is not raining as well.

As a mini goal, I’m going to start getting up an hour earlier on work days to take care of me, whether that happens to be exercising or writing down ideas.

Big Goal: Write More:

Based on past experience, I Know that I NEED external motivators in the form of “homework assignments” from other people to be able to compose in this stage of life. Composing for myself just does not happen- unless I’m mindlessly jamming at the piano. There has to be a giving element in there somewhere for my best work to happen. By getting out there and meeting more people, this will likely lead to some more opportunities to write for others and more inspiration.

Also, as the urge to write seems to happen most often at night when I *should* be sleeping, I am no longer going to fight this- even if I do have to get up an hour earlier now with this self-imposed schedule. Bring on the Insomnia!

 

What are your 2019 Music goals? I would love to hear about them, so please don’t be afraid to comment. Happy New Year, Happy Musicing and Good Luck!

2018: The Recap

 

At the end of every year comes the inevitable reflection of the immediate past. Last year, I outlined my goals for 2018, and wanted to take a moment (or hour +,¬† because that’s about how long it takes me to carefully construct, deconstruct, and reconstruct these blog posts) and evaluate my progress in the goals I set the last year.

This year was filled with many firsts and also a wholloping of forced changes, from an overnight move to a new job to name some.

Below are listed my goals from this past year and an evaluation of how I thought I did.

Big Goal1)-Create more income….

 

Mini Goal-Start Selling my Music

So, I technically succeeded with my first Official Sale! Fredonia Concert band was my first official patron and they premiered Of Wizards and Dragons in September of this year. Though I intended on pursuing this goal more aggressively, even taking part in The Portfolio Composer’s summer course on Copyrighting- until life got in the way of course- I fell short, simply because of my mental energy being spread in several different directions.

Did I Succeed? Kind of Sort of.

Mini Goal-JUST START TEACHING

……and I did just that. Though I did not get as many students in my studio this year as I would have liked (hey, maybe that’s a 2019 goal), I just did it. And you know what? I found that I actually enjoy it and might actually be somewhat good at it. None of my students have died from my teaching from the date of this post- though they do not always like it when I make them count rhythm-Ha!

Did I Succeed?:YES!

Mini Goal -Keep educating myself and pick up some side gigs.

I did keep teaching myself and learned…not very much. I learned what sorts of side gigs are available but, I ‘m still a bit too cowardly to try many of them- I.e. Craigslist. Next year though, I’ll have to employ these ideas. Anybody want to buy a custom Ukulele? Or- better yet, some new music?

Additionally, I did not do many paying side gigs, though I am starting to get asked to play my trombone more, which counts for something, right?

I did, however, put what little extra I made toward the student loan and FINALLY paid off my car. So, YAY!


Did I succeed: Not really, but at least I have some guidance for next year.

Big goal 2): Create More on a consistent basis.

Mini goal-Preparedness

I’m just going to put this out there. My life got crazy and borderline depressing at times. The calendar helped some and was a good reminder to get the important things done. However, the creation of new things on a consistent basis was more of creating things on a consistent basis for 2 weeks, stop for a month or 3 from a crisis, and repeat the process all over again until December 31.

Did I succeed?: In being better prepared: Yes. Creating more as a result: Nope-but It was a good try.

But….I did have more premiers of old pieces then I’ve had in a long time. Woot!

 

Big Goal 3) Work on anxiety issues associated with creating and becoming a member of my musical community.

 

Mini goal- Get over my anxieties related to looking for work

I am proud to say that I am breaking this shell. After being in denial for so long about needing to look for a new full-time gig, with full-time hours in an environment I can thrive in, I finally started looking. The fact was that, while I succeed in starting a teaching studio, I failed at building it quickly enough to justify staying at my old job. I brought home just enough on a regular basis to pay my share in rent and food and…not much else. Additionally, I was not growing much beyond the same skillset in my old environment, which, mentally, was not good for me.

Toastmasters helped with this. I promise not to go on like an infomercial- trust me, enough people in the organization do- I can tell you that practicing communication, improvised speeches and presenting on a regular basis gave me some confidence that was not there a year ago.

This coming year, I can continue this goal, and apply this confidence and newfound stability to my music goals.

Mini Goal-Get out and interact with the community more

Mission Accomplished!!!!

I started by playing in more groups like the Minneapolis Trombone Choir and GVO and by subbing in some Jazz bands and orchestras. While I did not make it to as many concerts as I would have liked to, mostly due to budget constraints, I did manage to meet some cool people and even write a couple of new pieces as a result. Luckily, I was able to attend one master class and concert from Michael Dougherty when he was visiting the twin cities¬† University of Minnesota and experienced an awesome concert. There was much networking to be had that day. Also, I’ve been a lot more active on Twitter with some awesome strangers (until I hopefully meet them in person someday at a New Music music gathering or Midwest clinic etc) in the music community and have learned quite a bit from them.¬†

Did I Succeed?; You Betcha!

To summarize, this year was a tumultuous one for many reasons, particularly from February to November. While the year did not go according to plan (ha ha- moving overnight for health reasons and job searching is never fun and tends to put a dent in things)¬† I did accomplish more as far as starting to get out there and MUSIC with more people. This year was about foundation building and next year will be more of the same with less drama–I hope. By June, I expect to be able to go from sauntering to walking, and finally running.

Also, while it is easy to dwell on the awful things, some successes did happen. Here are some recordings of three of them. I hope you enjoy!

How did your 2018 go with music goals go? I would love to hear about it.

 

 

 

It’s Only Hard While You’re Learning it…

Lately, my piano students have been running into the inevitable struggles of grasping a new concept. They’ve gotten past the point of learning the early basics of pitch and navigating the keyboard and are getting into things like scales, rhythms beyond half and quarter notes/ rests, and, the fun part of putting left-hand accompaniment together with right-hand melody.

Often one of them will gripe, “this is really hard!” when they try something new to them for the first time.

Usually, I find myself echoing a sentiment that one of my former teachers used to say A LOT.

“It’s only hard while we’re learning it.”

(Of course, the next lesson, these wonderful students will usually have the concept or exercise nearly mastered or on their way to doing so the next week. It’s amazing what practice does!) At that point it’s not so difficult- at least compared to when they were practicing, to accomplish the skill.

At our last lesson, to prove this when one student echoed that statement, I showed her the music at the front of the book she is working out of and asked her to play it.

After a flawless performance of “Ode To Joy”, I asked her, now was that so hard?

Student: No. That was really easy!” she replied.

Me: Well then, why do you think that was?

Student: Well, Miss Sam, I knew all of the notes and worked on this before (Back in March).

Me: that is a good answer.! Remember this the next time you are practicing and can’t seem to get it right away. … It’s only hard while you’re learning it.

Now, I don’t consider myself a master teacher by any means, but this piece of advice is a practical reminder for almost anything new that you learn in life. In fact, I think that teaching is something that can be hard at times, particularly as I am learning through experience and research how best to convey concepts that I know, to my students. Sometimes it doesn’t click after a few tries and mild frustration with myself (that I work to not show during the lesson) occurs. Why Can’t I figure out how to phrase it so that my student understands!?!?

But then I remember- It’s only Hard while you’re learning it. Teaching is a skill, just like playing the piano or composing.

When I was learning to drive, I did not find it terribly easy. Some crazy person let me operate this heavy motorized piece of machinery that, if I made the wrong move, I could easily be responsible for manslaughter. Additionally, my depth perception is not the greatest due to a mild case of strabismus, so learning how to safely operate the thing on the road was not only extremely nerve-racking but a bit more of a challenge than it might be with most people. It’s not only gas means go, break means stop, and keep your hands on the wheel. It’s learning road rules, figuring out how to control the rate of acceleration and stopping speed, how the vehicle responds to turning to avoid flipping over at higher speeds, and navigating this with my visual disability (which by the way, does not make it unsafe to drive, though, on days where I am tired so my eyes don’t work together as well, I try to find a ride just to be extra safe.) Also, I tend to leave a bit more space between me and the cars in front of me than might be necessary- while going the speed limit of course- just to be extra safe.  After a while though, I stopped hitting Mailboxes and cones so, it’s all good!

Heck, these days, I find the actual act of driving pretty easy, even with the strabismus, but the act of navigating is still a bit of a challenge. Guess I’m still learning!

That being said,  when you face a new challenge, and you haven’t quite figured out how to master it after many tries, remember…It’s only hard while you’re learning it!

Update Number 4 of 2018, and progress on my new year’s goals

 

Hello, Loyal Shogancomposer and Music friends,

2018 has been a whirlwind year, and it’s still not quite over!

Recently, at least in music, a few cool things have happened with my life.

First of all, even though I was not quite sure if I could or would be coming back (because, as you know life happens), I’ve joined the Golden Valley Orchestra as their Principal trombone this season. That’s right folks: A GIRL is playing Principal Trombone!- I can hardly believe it myself some days.

Anyway, I’m working on practicing the music as much as I can. Hector has certainly missed me (Though Glenn gets quite a workout in Swing band).*

Don’t worry though. I’m still in the Westwind Swing Band and keep¬† Musicing with these Cool Cats.

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*For those of you who are new, Hector is my Large bore Tenor and Glenn is my 1930’s Jazz bone.

I’ll also be subbing for a gig soon in the Swing Sisterhood Big band from the sounds of it-he he, music pun-, so stay tuned for gig details.

Plus, I’m going to work further on the Preparedness goal by posting concert invites and dates on my social media profiles as far ahead as possible, so that YOU might stand a chance at making them if you so desire.

Please follow me on Twitter or my facebook page (or both!) for concert date updates. 

 

Lesson wise,¬† I had my first Long-term Trombone student this summer and the lessons went extremely well. My student was looking to transfer instruments for their next year in Middle School band and they were able to do so with flying colors by the end. They even developed a good sound through their hard work and helped me realize that I’d like to teach more often- Hopefully, even more on trombone. My piano students are doing well too. I love teaching them as well! I’ve also learned a lot about teaching through this endeavor that I hope to share on a future post. That is if I remember. Life has a tendency to distract me.

Admittedly, I’ve¬†had a few setbacks with getting this studio up and running, mostly due to not having an adequate space to teach at the moment, and moving this summer. Right now, it’s mostly in my small but shared living space, and I am working on getting into a store or church on the weekends and/ or an evening or two to continue this and give my students an even better learning environment.¬† For now, I make due with what I’ve got, and my students don’t seem to mind.

 

Now For Composition News! If you haven’t been spammed by following my social media profiles with this news, The Band Version of Of Wizards and Dragons was premiered by the Fredonia Concert Band (Raymond Stewart, Conductor)¬†this past September, and it was Live Streamed. It was a great concert that I got to watch from the comfort of my own phone (Because Modern Technology is awesome sometimes) and they played my piece well.

 

You can listen to the recording and view a sample score on THIS PAGE.

 

Also, a piece that I worked on a few years ago will be heard in the Twin Cities Film Fest. Beth Peloff submitted our film, Blob’s Adventure,¬† to the festival and it was accepted. Congratulations Beth!¬† It will be screened THIS SATURDAY, October 20th, at 9:45 am and officially 11:30 am. Beth and (possibly but most probably I) will be in attendance to answer questions.

The location is:

1621 West End Blvd St. Louis Park, MN 55416

Please visit twincitiesfilmfest.org for more information

 

Freewill Fanfare was also recently played at a trombone choir concert and I got to conduct it, once again. This time, It sounded even better- even though the group hadn’t rehearsed together since March, and there were some new faces. If you are looking for a trombone choir piece for any reason, I may have one for you folks!

 

Lastly: in case I haven’t already given enough of a plug, Please check Samantha Hogan Composer on Facebook and/or Twitter periodically. I’ve got some things planned content-wise, in addition to posting performance dates, that will be arriving in the upcoming months.¬† I am also looking for ideas for what you would like more of from me (blog post Ideas, piano covers, recordings, etc )as time goes on. If you have any Ideas, please post in the comments or Contact me through this website or message me through my pages.

 

Stay tuned, because Update Part 5 will inevitably be written at the end of December, and I can’t wait to start a new list for next year!

 

Happy Musicing!

Freewill Fanfare- for trombone ensemble

Hello Everyone. After months of anticipation, we finally have the video up from the 2018 Minneapolis Trombone Choir Concert!

This was my first year joining in this experience and my first post-college conducting opportunity.

The opportunity came about because Jim Ten Bensel- the director- invited me to write something at my first rehearsal, and of course, I said yes. Little did I know that I would be receiving a phone call 24 hours before the next rehearsal expecting a new piece…whoops!

In the span of a night before our next rehearsal, and many cups of coffee later I had this full-fledged piece ready to go. Did I mention that I was also asked if I¬† would be conducting it (to which I replied.uh.. sure! I’ll give it a try.-not having conducted in a public setting before mind you)? Mozart level 1/100 completed!

The name comes from the Rush song Freewill, in which I quoted a line from Geddy Lee’s melodic bass playing. It is hidden in plain sight. If you know the song, see if you can find it! The form of the song is a metaphor for life, the greatest test of free will. An ostinato that carries throughout the piece starts with only the first trombones. Eventually, you meet other people and influences that begin shape who you are, which is why the remaining trombones add more musical ideas as the piece continues. The middle section fluctuates between time signatures and tone colors (confusion, emotions) and the ensemble and conductor choose how the tempo ebbs and flows. It is never played the same way twice. Eventually, everything comes together at the end, which is why the ensemble ends, with the original ostinato, together.

The experience of performing with this group, conducting, and getting to play on a few new premieres as well, was a fantastic experience and I can’t wait to do it again next year (now that I have more notice of course :P)

Bits of the concert are being posted as well piece by piece (thank you Glen Newton), so I encourage you to take a listen to the rest of the concert in the next few weeks.