Spring Cleaning Show and Tell !!!

I Hate Cleaning!!… Or more specifically, I hate the process of getting motivated enough to go through my things and- as Marie Kondo says (In a paraphrased form) Get rid of “What does not spark joy”.  You Know what I hate more than cleaning though? Feeling Claustrophobic because of having too much stuff around. Needless to say, I’ve been doing some heavy duty picking up lately. As such, I’ve unearthed a few treasures, and as this is a blog written by a music composer, I’m going to share some of these with you before I either get rid of the physical object or talk myself into putting it into a Save to Digitally Archive pile only to be burned a few years later.

1.) Old Forgotten Pieces

If you’re a composer (or even if you are not and dabbled for one reason or another) did you ever listen to a piece that you wrote eons ago, maybe for a class or just your own enjoyment? Here are some of my fabulous blunderous Musics.

This Beauty is Something that a piano player friend of mine dubbed “The Drunken Belly Dancer song”. It was my first Notated piece, after my mom got the free version of Finale notepad while I was in High School and I started experimenting. Take a look at THIS Masterpiece!


What Makes it “Bad”?

At the time, I had no idea what most note values meant, much less how to count (Thanks Pepperoni Hot-dog syllable method of teaching rhythm!). As such, I could only conclude that smaller looking notes sounded faster so I sounded out what I was hearing in my head, experimenting until it sounded “right” on the playback. Notation was a mystery to me. Unfortunately, there is no playback, but trust me, it sounds hilarious- and did when James played it for me to hear 11 years ago- after hours of course. Note the Gorgeous trills notated with 64th notes.

EDIT: I FOUND MY OLD LAPTOP AND GOT ONE! Here you go.

Also featured, for your enjoyment is something I wrote when I finally upgraded my finale a couple of years ago and wanted to experiment with the pretty new sounds and instrument options. Don’t ask me why it’s called Sandwich Dream- I honestly don’t remember.

2) Pieces and Arrangements Written for Classes

Most students of music theory probably have at least one of these projects floating around from an old class. I went to YSU, where the written theory program was excellent in that you would end up with at least one for each semester of written theory. The thought was to reinforce the concept that you were studying. However, as we know, forcing creativity does not always work.

Ironically, this was not always the easiest project wise for me to do. Take a look at some of these masterpieces.

For one Music History Class, a a couple of classmates and I teamed up. I arranged Korobeiniki (aka the Tetris Theme) for us to report on and perform. I’m particularly proud of how this arrangement sounded when we performed it live- on La’s of course. Neither one of us could pronounce the Russian properly so we decided to play it safe .

Also, my theory professors had some sick fascination with Radio Head. At least three semesters had a unit focused on examples from their songs and there are at least two of these projects floating around in my hard drive. Nice Dream is sort of Nice so I’ll share the first page.

3) Pieces that are not  really MY style. I.E. pieces written to please the professor you are studying with

Needless to say, when a grade is held above your head for a subject as subjective as sonic art (aka composition), you want to keep your professor happy.

There are several examples of pieces that have chords and voicings that don’t sound like me. I came from the sound world where videogame music,church choir, concert band, and rock music were part of my steady diet. As such, my natural tendency is to write melody and lots of it! Sometimes “gouche” harmonies and parallelisms would find its way into my music. Sometimes it still does- though I’m much more cognizant of it now thanks to theory classes and my professor scolding me on a constant basis until I picked up on what he was talking about. Usually, I kept the “corrections’ because I did not know any better, and over time, some of these sounds and concepts crept into pieces. For better or for worse, they are still there though, there was a period between my Jr. year and about a year and a half out of school that my music did not sound like me. Case in Point!:

I wrote this about 5-6 months out of school. There are bits that sound like me, but a lot of one of my teacher’s harmonies and chord voicing made it into this piece as well. I was a bit depressed and almost forgot how to write as me during this time.

4)Virtually Unplayable Pieces

One thing that I pride myself on is asking players whether something is possible nor not an the instrument and checking on the practicality before making an educated decision on whether to include it in the piece. That being said, I do occasionally make mistakes too. We all do (don’t deny it- unless you are a robot. Then I might believe you!).

5) One or two pieces that were actually Quite Good , even Beautiful

It’s always good to land on a high note. While searching through my archives I found my first attempt at a band piece composed during my first year at music school. Despite the timeline of creation, it’s surprisingly not bad. I never did get around to refining it, but maybe it’s time. Please enjoy the midi.

You know what? I guess some of these things do “spark joy” after all. Maybe I’ll keep em!

Podcasts I like

*DISCLAIMER- This Blog Post was written before the Covid-19 outbreak and subsequent quarantine.I tend to write several posts at once and have them timed to be released periodically these days. Please keep this in mind when reading this. Also, for those of us quarantined with not much to do and those of us who are working WAY too much overtime ( I was actually part of the latter camp until recently) and don’t have much “me time” but need to temporarily escape pandemic focused news and conversation for mental and emotional clarity, hopefully this list comes in handy.

Hello fellow Music fans and friends.

Sometimes I like to listen to podcasts for the sake of learning and/ or laughing when I’m er- on the -er- job, because who has time to read books these days, amirite? In actuality, my time for reading tends to be scarce these days, and while I miss it, the sound of people edu-taining you through a speaker that can be run on a website while you do mindless tasks in the real world in order to multitask and get more out of the limited time we are privileged to exist, has added a lot of value to my life.

Here is a list of some of the podcasts I’ve gotten a lot out of- both music related (actually mostly) and not, in no particular order.

  • 1. The Entrepreneurial Musician– I have gotten a lot out of Andrew Hitz’s (the host) constant yammering and interviews of people in the music industry. He prioritizes pointing out Actionable Advice, and will take the best advice from the previous interview and expand on it with his TEM shorts. Although my own journey has been slow, listening to this podcast has helped keep me motivated over the last few years.
  • 2.The Brass Junkies– There is a podcast for and by Brass Players run by the Cheekiest Brassholes I’ve ever heard. Lance LaDuke and Andrew Hitz (yeah, the guy with the more serious music business podcast I just got done writing about) hosts this podcast which gets released bi weekly on average. They’ve interviewed a lot of famous people in the Brass world and, as is typical for brass players, they all pick on each other. There’s also this long running joke with Jenz Lindemann ( don’t ask, you’ll just have to listen to a few to get the gist) that they refuse to let die. IT’S BEEN 6 YEARS!!!!! The interviews have useful information as well, but the conversations may or may have caused me to choke on coffee, get a few weird stares from coworkers, and bruise a few ribs in the process.
  • 3.The Portfolio Composer– This is the first Music Business related podcast ( I started when it was still called Composer on Fire- before it was cool :P) and one I still listen to thanks to my friend and fellow composer Sakari. Garrett Hope, a composer who wanted to figure out how to make a living doing the thing he loves – composing- started interviewing composers who have made it and some music business professionals to figure out how this is done in today’s world. His generosity in sharing this information and these interviews with the world has helped a lot of composers.

Fun Narcissistic Fact: Once, My question was featured on this podcast and answered by Alex Shapiro!!! (this is the closest to radio fame I’ve ever gotten folks.)

  • 4.Composer Quest– One other Podcast that Sakari introduced me to and, although it ended a few years ago , it is still one of my favorite podcasts I’ve listened to. Charlie McCarron, Composer, Producer, and Minnesotan, started this podcast by interviewing friends as just a way to start doing something with music, and grew to interviewing all sorts of musicians in almost any style imaginable about MUSIC (my favorite subject in the whole wide world if you couldn’t already tell). Nearly every episode had a new theme composed by the guest, new music from Charlie in some capacity (the Patreon Shoutout Jingles were a scream), and even featured quests that other composers/ listeners could participate in. Unfortunately, I started listening too late to participate in many of them, but I did get to participate in the last Quest- The Composer Quest Olympics- which you can read my series of blog posts if you have time . Or, you can listen to the last few episodes of this podcast. I warn you though, it is a bit long.

This podcast is also what informed me of the MnKINO film fest which is a great experience and has led to a lot of other opportunities. This was also the podcast that helped me get out of the non- creative depressive funk that my factory/ reception job had me in.

  • 5.The Everything Band Podcast– This is a podcast hosted by Composer and Music Educator Mark J Connor. He rotates between interviewing composers and music teachers all for the benefit of the music education community on a weekly basis. Although I admittedly started listening solely for the composer interviews, as a private music teacher, I’ve gotten some valuable advice myself that I’ve effectively used with my students. For example, to paraphrase one episode “when possible, limit instructions to no more than 7 words when possible when teaching kids in their beginning years”. I’ll have to come back and cite it once I find it for your benefit .

  • 6.Listening to Ladies-Although I’m not sure if this podcast will continue or not, this is a fun one to listen to, being a female identifying composer myself. This podcast is a series of interviews, hosted by composer and artist Elisabeth Blair, that solely focuses on woman composers and their lives. In fact My good friend Sakari Dixon-Vanderveer was featured on this podcast. You can find her interview here. Even if you are not a female identifying composer, this is a great podcast to listen to to get exposed to new music from living composers and, if you are a person interested in the different paths people take to get to where they are, a great listen for that reason as well.
  • 7.The Nerdist– Back in 2015-16, I worked a factory job that took up all of my time and numbed my brain. Therefore, I needed some brain juice that could inform me of what was going on in the real world and be funny and light-hearted as well. That’s where the Nerdist came in. They would invite celebrities and talk about anything from pop culture to sciency stuff. I stopped listening regularly around the time I left factory work, but it’s still a fun one to come back to from time to time.
  • 8.The Billy West Podcast– Boy, I wish he’d return to this podcast. Although it is only a few episodes long and features Billy’s acrobatic voice talent in the telling of stories, it had me rolling on the floor while working my mundane factory job ( hey, one perk was that they would let you listen to the radio though so it wasn’t all bad ūüôā . I especially enjoyed the song dissections, especially when he commented on every line of Piano Man.
  • 9.Nobody Listens to Paula Poundstone– My friend Bo Recently introduced me to this podcast. It’s like listening to Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me on NPR but with more questionably useful advice with occasional swearing and conversation that would probably be censored by public radio. That’s probably because it is hosted by the usual hosts of that radio show and they are real people. You have to start from the beginning though because it evolves as you listen. Also- be very cautious if listening out loud at work. You’ve been warned.

Happy Listening!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

A Well Traveled Rhapsody

Mr. Slocum was a wonderful human being. He was the one professor who, no matter who you were, would cheer you on and always have encouraging things to say after brass juries. It did not matter if you were in his horn studio or not. He always seemed to care about the students. Mr. (Bill) Slocum always took time out to talk with anyone who would listen to his recollections of his remarkable past, and he had a plethora of stories to tell from his experiences! It was through these recollections that I learned of his past performing summers at Tanglewood (under Leonard Bernstein!), his time with the Cleveland Orchestra, and his connection with my Hometown Orchestra of Buffalo NY, the Buffalo Philharmonic, having performed in this organization as well as several others. Sometimes these stories would trail into the next hour when you were trying to leave for class. You’d try to say good bye but somehow could not, as his stories always left you hanging on for more.

He also took time out to help me in a way that I’m not sure the other professors knew how. Although he was not my composition professor, he would give me helpful advice as to which pieces to study, and what I should try next. He also took me aside after a class once and did what most do not do: told me to my face how much potential I had, the good things he had heard around the building, and how he recognized my work ethic. (Sadly Mr. Slocum, I could not afford to go to the festivals that you advised me to go, but I promise to keep my promise to you to keep composing). Somehow, he knew that I needed that confidence boost.(Thank you!)

When he passed away in April of 2015 , I was heartbroken. I can only imagine the grief his students and family must’ve felt upon hearing this news.

At the time, shortly after graduating, I had reluctantly moved to MN to live at my Dad and stepmom’s home, and was broke, car-less and jobless. That day (April 15th), after taking the bus to the next town over to job search for the afternoon, I had some time to burn while waiting for a ride back, so I stopped at a Perkins for some coffee. It was there that I received the news.

Shortly after that bombshell, a theme in 6/8, distinctly played on a horn appeared inside my head. It was a theme fit for a hero! Thankfully I was prepared with some scrap staff paper to scratch it down, and fatefully place my coffee, leaving a ring- or “seal of approval” over the new melody.* This melody would remain untouched for about four years.

*This is also the origin story of how I came up with the coffee seal of approval and why I call my self publishing business Coffee Seal Music, summed up in one sentence!

This past Summer, Bill Richter, who I hadn’t heard from in almost 3 years, contacted me asking if he could commission me to write something for his Master’s recital. This came as a surprise, as the last time I had heard from him, he’d left YSU and transferred schools and as far as I was aware, was studying something completely different. At the (no doubt incessant- he had an almost magical way of making his thoughts and intentions known ) urging of Mr Slocum, Bill had returned to school to study the horn! In a stranger twist of fate- call it serendipity if you will- Bill had requested that I put the ending to Mahler 1 in the piece as this was the last piece that Mr. Slocum had coached the YSU Horn studio on, and, this melody that had been sitting there since Mr. Slocum’s passing fit PERFECTLY alongside Mahler’s melody.

A Well Traveled Rhapsody starts with the hero’s theme, where it morphs into several references to many famous horn lines and solos, of which I am told Mr. Slocum enjoyed on his time on earth. Some of these you may catch are a reference to Holst’s Jupiter (as he exuded Jollity), Mozart’s Jupiter (the piece he advised me to study as it has everything I’d ever need), variations of the opening to Strauss’s Horn concerto and Wagner’s Siegfried Call and , of course, Mahler 1.

The middle section, while not a direct quote, alludes to the melodic horn writing of Jerry Goldsmith as heard in the Star Trek the Motion Picture Soundtrack. As the piece seems to wrap up in the last third, I tried to emulate the feeling of listening to his stories and trying to leave his office, but truthfully wanting to hear more as he’d trail on with his wonderfully interesting recollections. Finally, the hero’s theme rises up gracefully in the piano, octave by octave just as his spirit, as far as I can tell, may have risen towards the heavens upon his departure from this mortal realm. It ends on a plagal cadence because, well, of course it does!

Mr. Slocum with his Students at the YSU Horn Studio Pumpkin Party circa 2008

Bill Richter will Be premiering A Well Traveled Rhapsody at his recital on April 19th , 1 PM at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. This piece is written in the memory of William (Bill) Slocum and his gregarious, giving, uplifting, musical spirit.

2011 Mr Slocum and his last horn studio class before retiring.

My 2020 Music Goals

As is now the tradition for me, I have written down my music related goals for this coming year.

The reason that I do this is because it gives me something tangible to periodically look back on and remind me of the things that I set out to accomplish. As a person who is very focused yet paradoxically gets distracted easily, this is very helpful to have when it comes to staying on track.

BIG GOAL: Pay off the last of my student debt

As of December of 2019, after years of sacrificing 90% of of my “fun money” (the little bit left over after bills and minimum payments are made) , I am down to my last 5K. Though there is far more debt to tackle (mainly the mess that is my SO’s student loan and the last bit for the used car that we purchased after their’s died), this will be a huge load off my back. The bit of anxiety I’ve felt since starting college because of this will finally be gone! Additionally, though much of my “fun” money will still go to start helping with my SO’s loans, I can start saving for things like buying scores, taking colleagues out for coffee more often, and grad school applications (if that is the road I go down for sure. This year will be a big indicator if/ when I can or should do that).

Mini Goal: Actually get better at marketing

I am going to start by aiming to get something out at least once a week. This may be a piece, a blog post, or (ghasp) a youtube video. Stay tuned for more on this one.

I will also make more of an effort to be more interactive on social media by either posting or commenting at least once a day.

Mini Goal: Finish setting up the store and sell some gosh danged scores (at least 5)

This is self explanatory. 2020’s the year it’s going to happen.

Part of my plan is to contact some music distribution companies to help get my music electronically accessible as well. (As of now, I can only offer physical (but personally autographed) copies as I lack the funds to pay for the technology that would help me prevent electronic file theft at a level that I’m comfortable with.

Mini Goal: Increase teaching studio numbers

My goal number for 2020 is 10 students. I am trying to keep it to no more than 3 evenings to avoid burnout as I already work 40 hours a week at my day job. This makes it more difficult, but, I am determined. Also, this will certainly help me build up the wealth I gave up by committing to paying these loans. The ultimate goal though is financial freedom.

Marketing with social media posts, hanging posters for my teaching business, and handing out cards for those who can help me with the word of mouth factor should help.

BIG GOAL: Be more giving/ pay things forward more

Though there is a long way to go to get where I want to go, I am thankful for where I am in life and acknowledge that a big part was because of the help and kindness I’ve received from strangers, mentors, and friends.

As soon as my 5K is done, I am going to begin donating a portion of what I used to have to pay on a regular basis. I am going to pick a couple of the helpful podcasts I’ve taken advice from or gotten enjoyment out of in an otherwise bleak existence over past years, and join their patreon pages. I won’t name which ones I’m going to pick. But, I have an idea for a future post where I outline my current favorites and you can speculate from there if you’d like.

I also aim to help out with a charity at least once (preferably more) this year by giving back some time.

My last part of this goal is to treat at least one person to lunch and/ or coffee per month.

BIG GOAL: Participate in at least 3 speaking, conducting or solo performance opportunities

As someone who wants to do this for a living, I need to get out of the Toastmaster’s training grounds and start putting these skills to use in the outside world. This is the bare minimum and I will do my bet to list them in next year’s follow up post.

Mini Goal: Participate in at least 1 Collaboration

Assuming that participation in Film Score Fest works out, this goal should be no problem.

Mini Goal: Finish all Current Works in progress and don’t add any new ones if you are over 3.

As of now, I’m finishing up the last Painless Parker’s Giant Bucket of Teeth (for Concert band), the electronic piece that my Composition Mentor has me learning with, and this year’s Minneapolis Trombone Choir Concert Piece.

Once one of these is finished, I’ll begin work on a Project that I cannot talk about….yet, and brass band piece.

BONUS: As this is a special year being the beginning of a decade, I thought I’d list a few things I want to accomplish in this upcoming decade that are music related. These may have to change, but for now I can dream and begin aiming. At the very least, I have this list to refer back to when making future goal posts.

  1. Go to Grad school- FOR MUSIC-and not go into debt to do so
  2. Pay off All Debt
  3. Attend some composer retreats and workshops
  4. Teach at a high profile event or music camp
  5. Be able to travel a few times a year for my Ideal music “job”
  6. Write my first symphony and compose at least one Big piece a year (with premiers and commissions of course)
  7. Be able to make my living composing, teaching, and performing/ occasionally conducting by the end of this decade

Thanks for reading!!!

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

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!

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.

How to Plan a Compositon recital….and avoid the stress that can come along with it

As just about  any music major can attest to, planning a  recital is a lot of work. As a Composition Major at YSU, I have had the required opportunity to plan two of them (so far) in my academic career. Recitals in general will always require some type of assessment usually known as a jury/ hearing, that must be played in front of a committee as  a preview of the recital before permission is granted to go ahead and plan the main event. The experience can be nerve racking for any musician. However, the Composition recital is unique in that, not only does the student composer have to make sure that the scores are pristine when  presenting them to the jury committee; They must rely on others to play their music at an acceptable level and coordinate the musicians by themselves. In short, when in this position, you not only compose the music but you become a  concert manager, secretary, and presenter and advocate for your own music. Depending on the nature of the pieces, you as the composer may also become a performer of your own work as well.

Step 1: Start Early

What I mean by this is do not procrastinate when planning. As I’ve stated before it is a lot more work than it may seem at first. Get the deadline dates of latest possible jury and recital dates and the number of days that you have to submit program info between the end of the hearing and recital and WRITE THEM DOWN IN A CENTRAL LOCATION that you can refer to. Don’t forget to get names of people that you may need to submit this information to as well. I advise getting a binder to keep all materials such as jury paperwork that may need to be signed at the hearing by the jury, dates, and eventual schedules. If you can, get this information¬†the semester before your anticipated recital date.

Step 2: Read all paperwork for requirements and begin selecting potential pieces

Keep in mind how long the program needs to be and how long each piece you have in mind is.

Step 3: Begin selecting players

I advise to write down all instruments that will be required in each piece in a list format. For example:
Bastet’s Lullaby:

1Harp

1Piano/ Tambourine (I put these together  as one person who could play both)

1Voice

Then begin by listing potential ¬†musician friends that would work together well on your piece.If you can, try to keep it limited to as few actual personnel as possible. (in this last experience, I had the situation where, due to musicians’ busy schedules and realizing that it would be unfair to ask any one person to learn more than two of my pieces along with their other degree requirements, there were 23 people involved in my senior recital and it was a nightmare to plan). Keep this in mind when selecting pieces.

Step 3: Contact the potentials

If they say no, do not hound them. This is one of the fastest ways to annoy and loose the respect of the musicians who very well may be the ones who could recommend or hire you in the future. Remember, they are busy people too. Please allow at least a month before the hearing to give them ample time to learn your music.

Tip: if you have ensemble pieces with standard instrumentation, ask the ensembles¬†that are already set up first as they probably already have set rehearsal schedules. This worked very well for Matt’s Music (a brass quintet).Also, it helps if the musician has played your piece before.

Step 4: Get Everyone’s schedules

….and keep them on file with the ensembles for your pieces that they are in. This comes in handy when scheduling rehearsals. It is likely that you will have to organize them and keep them in communication with each other so that rehearsals happen. Also, don’t be surprised if it is you who has to ¬†reserve the room they are to rehearse in. After all, they are doing you a favor.

Step 5: Select potential dates for the hearing and Recital

Doodle polls work great for this. I had 5 dates and multiple potential times picked for each and had everyone involved fill out when they would be able to make it and went from there. The potential times and dates were picked out of the results of examining all schedules for free times. However, how you do this is up to you but always double check with everyone involved before scheduling anything.

Step 6 Find Venues and select a Jury

After you have your potential Hearingdate figured out, find an acceptable committee and ask them which out of these times they can make. Then, reserve the space well ahead of time so there is no last minute fumbling for a location. Do this for your Recital location as well (not forgetting to allow at least an hour of time before and after the concert to allow for setup and the reception/tear down). I advise allowing at least 3 weeks between the Jury and Recital date in case something happens at the jury where you have to do something over again in order to pass.

Step 7 Contact all players again

Let them know these dates times and places and KEEP REMINDING THEM. Do this for your jury committee as well. If you wish to have it recorded professionally, you will need to contact these people too.

Step 8 Print our all scores- at least 1 copy of each for the jury committee members.

It also looks better if you have a set plan and put the scores in the order in which they will be heard.

If you can, keep extra parts on hand as well as you just never know when music can get lost before a performance. Assuming that you pass (which you probably will if you took the time to get all ducks in a row), the fun part begins.

Step 9- plan the program and submit information

Keep in mind length of pieces and what feels natural to a concert flow. It helps for stage setup and tear down if you can put pieces together that have the same players or stand set up. Also, decide if you want an intermission and where to put this.

Pleas from a brass player: If your recital is particularly long and there is no intermission where a brass player can warm up. PLEASE avoid having us play toward the end, as the chops don’t always respond at their best when sitting for long periods and there is no guarantee that your piece will not be effected by this fact. Though warm up time¬†is also helpful to woodwind players, they have the advantage of silently soaking the reed in their mouth where as we can’t warm up much more quietly than making fart noises through our mouthpieces.-end rant

Step 10: Advertise

Make recital posters with all information- Date, time, venue,and if you plan on having a reception (free food draws crowds). Post them all over the music building and anywhere else that is appropriate. If you want a bigger crowd, ask friends to advertise and hand out posters as well.

Making a Facebook event page and inviting anyone you can think of is a great way to get the word out as well. After all, the people who have seen you progress will want to know so they can come out and support you.

 Step 11: Have the recital

Congratulations! You have made it to the ultimate prize.

If you are comfortable talking about your pieces, great. If not, program notes are a big help. A friend can take on the MC duties as well if you prefer.

On recital day, make sure that there are enough stands for your players and that the programs have been picked up. Arrive early and bring your extra parts. prepare for the worst, and expect the best.

 

Final Advice: While all of this planning is going on, try to find time to thank the musicians for working on the music and encourage them. Also, if questions come up from them, mark them in your scores and make sure they are corrected before the hearing. Don’t forget to have fun, be flexible and keep a sense of humor during this process. Refer to Step 1 to keep stress minimal. Happy planning and Composing!

 

What’s New in the life of Sam?

Well, lots of things as a matter of fact. First of all, I applied to be accepted to a 12 day Summer Composition intensive in Indiana and….I GOT ACCEPTED!!! This is an awesome opportunity as I will get to study with professional composers such as Zae Munn, Michael Schelle, Kristin Kuster, ¬†Jay Batzner, ¬†and Joshua Marquez,¬†meet and network with other young composers who have¬†similar musical goals in mind, and learn some new techniques to broaden my horizons. I will also be working my tail off in the near future to save for this learning experience (though I will also be gratefully accepting donations so that I can justifiably afford to eat).

Secondly,I’ve recently heard back From Avguste Antonov concerning the upcoming CD with Cumulus Humilis on it and that is nearing it’s final stages. As a contributing composer to his Debut album, I am both honored and excited.

Thirdly, for your playing Pleasure (or agony), several new Scribbles and Doodles have been released. Please feel free to investigate these and if you wish to perform any of them, they are free of charge, though it would be appreciated if you would send a copy of any programs.If your instrument is not there, do not worry. It will likely make it on there in the near future. Also, any recommendations or requests for a new scribble are always welcome.

Fourthly, I wrote a new Band Piece! This one is very different from most other works I’ve produced as of yet due to its placid simplicity. It is called Reverence and was composed with a young or small band in mind. The profound Fraggle Rock quote from Cantus the Bard ” There is Movement in the stillness just as there is Music in the silence.” was the main inspiration for the mood of this piece (as well as the 2 night long bout of insomnia and boredom from not sleeping). I tried to Follow Steven Bryant’s advice that he gave to me during a very fortunate meeting at Midwest last December, which was to build off of a simple motive rather than be programmatic, and kept the lessons that were learned talking to music educators teachers about needs in repertoire and what would help their students in mind. Hopefully, I’ve succeeded…or at least come close.

Fifthly, life has been a whirlwind of musical performance meeting real life lately. A midst preparing to move out into an apartment¬†this summer and searching for¬†a new job (as sadly I must leave my library campus job when I graduate), life has had an interesting way of creating musical opportunities that present themselves to keep one busy. Since February, I’ve been singing with ¬†the Youngstown Trinity United Methodist Church ¬†on a regular basis (my first full time church choir gig since 2008), performing in several concerts (Trombone day, ¬†The C.P.E. Bach premiere, ¬†multiple recitals and others) writing essays, and working on Scribbles and Doodles to keep myself composing on a regular basis. Any spare time has been spent organizing, practicing and rehearsing groups for an upcoming recital.

Speaking of which, the planning for the Sr. Composition recital is well underway. This will take place April 25th  5pm at Trinity United Methodist Church in Youngstown. thanks to 23 willing Victims  musicians who graciously volunteered to play my music. Stay Tuned for an update on the program.

 

 

Highlights from the Last Month

So, it’s been awhile since I have had time to post anything on here. 1 month in Internet time is equivalent to “like forever” in real world time as we all know. In order to make up for that time, I will attempt to explain the highlights ¬†in a nutshell:

1) Cumulus Humilis was performed 3 times by Avguste Antonov the week of the New Music concerts at the end October. In that time, he was approached by Hartshorn record company in NY to record a cd of New piano works. To make a long story short (too late) he chose my piece to record on the Cd and I am still ecstatic!!!

2)New Pieces have been written- As an added unexpected feather in my cap, I was asked to write music for the upcoming Worlds Quest browser game. This was my first official video game related project and I am elated to say that my first attempt was a success .To sum things up, they liked it-a lot and I am grateful. The game will be released  on December 20th.

Also, I have been working on a new experiment at the request of Scott. I will be writing a blog post about it shortly. Other plans include creating a  collection of one page solos for  from all of the 8 bar excerpts that were composed for Instrumentation class this semester. I am debating calling the collection Doodles and Scribbles or something to that effect.

Desiree Carrion and I after Carols and Cocoa 2013

3) I played my last Carols and Coccoa concert of my undergrad. This was a surreal experience as it is hard to believe that the time has flown that quickly. Kudos to my friend (and soon to be SAI sister) Desiree Carrion for having her first arrangement for Trombone ensemble performed. God Rest Ye Marry Trombonists was a ball to perform for a last hurrah ,and I especially cracked up singing the Lyrics “to save us all from Schoenberg’s Music when we’ve gone astray”. For a three hour plus long annual concert that we all complain about, I’m sure going to miss performing in it-sort of.

4)¬†In November, I helped premier ¬†a piece for Trombone quartet by fellow composer Richard Zacharias called Pardon My Slide with my friends Mariah Bailey, Bo Violette and Andrew Stamp. I also had the honor of Performing The Dance of Spring for Yanda Zhu’s Graduate Composition Recital. If you haven’t heard of him, you probably will soon.