2022 Music, and Life, Goals.

The last few years I have been psting my goals for the coming year in order to look back at periodically and hold myself accountable. Here is this years list of goals in their respective catagories.

Composing

FINISH the projects from last year that were started.

  1. ) Enter Spirit- Flex band score. I am currently working with a band director to have it read and finish the graphic score element. This should be ready for the public by May if all goes according to plan.

2) Painless Parker- Band Score. I need a few volunteers to read the piece and give feedback for the final score. I aim to have it available for purchase asap.

3) Continue my editing of past works. – I got a litle more than halfway through, and then I lost my productivity streak. By the end of the year I aim to be finished with all prior pieces. It will help that I’ve gotten better at engraving for anythihg that I write this year, so lots of time will be saved!

4) Documentary Score- Almost finished. It was postponed due to covid and a big life transition for the director. I just need to touch base with the director a few more times to get this done.

5) Vocal and Instrumental piece with a Librettist- I started this one with them as a new type of collaboration for me. Most of the Ideas are in the germ phase, but this will get done by the end of this year at the latest.

Sell at least 1 score a month

I will be ramping up advertising on Facebook as well as taking the initiative to contact more musicians and directors directly. I’ll also be adding lots more pieces and arrangements to My website store and on Sheet Music Plus.

Start Making some Money from Composing

Eventually, I’d like this to make up the bulk of my livelihood along with performing and teaching. Luckily it’s looking like at least one paid commission is shaping up with a fantastic Trombonist.

I can’t wait to share more of these details with you in the coming months.

My one Resolution- normally I don’t do these but I’ll make an exception in this case- is to Share more of what I am working on. Please follow me on Instagram or TikTok @shogan_composer to see more of my process this year.

Lesson Studio Goals

Build studio up to 30 students.

Have at least 2 big recitals this year ( With at least one being in person, Covid Pending), and generally find more performance opportunities for my students.

Host A Quarterly Studio GET-TOGETHER via Zoom with Games and playing opportunities for peers only.

Have more students participate in MMTA contests and festivals.

Increase educational content on the studio YOUTUBE channel. (sorry, as of now this is for MY STUDENTs only, although I may make some of the videos public eventually). Every other Friday, I plan on recording a short video and UPLOADINg it.

Continue to become a better teacher for my students.

Musicianship Goals

Play an EtudE Every Practice session

I’m starting with the good Ol’ Rochut book 1 and will work my way through the book one etude at a time. When I’m done, I’ll look for a new book to progress to. It is my hope that I will become a better player by making this commitment to my practice routine. It should also help me……

Improve my sightreading on both Piano and Trombone

Establish a functional practice routine and schedule a time to practice every weekday.

Life and Relationship Building

Continue to improve my health and stregnth.

I started this last year in 2021 and began strength training with Barbells as of June.If I can keep with the schedule of 3-4 days of stregnth training and eat well, I’ll be well on my personal goal to be able to squat my body weight by June as well as do 1 unassisted pullup by then. Maybe I’ll even surpass it! Although My goals here are not asthetic, I am looking forward to see how things change here as the year progresses. The reason for this is that it helps my mental health quite a bit and I’d like to remain as healthy as I can to do thie things that I love- Mainly Make Music! Also, as I am now in the dirty 30’s, I’d like to not be complaining about back problems like so many of my peers are already.

Continue to Volunteer at leAst 4 times a year

I am excited to see what opportunities 2022 brings, especially with MMTA. Assuming things keep opening back up, I’d also love to have a recital or perform at a nursing home.

Plan monthly phone calls and emails, Aim for 1 New person per month to start with in this list.

This may be a lofty goal, since being extraverted in this capacity takes quite a bit of uncomfortable effort on my end, but I’m going to try by listing a set day on my planner calendar to do this. It wil be at the end of the month too so I have that long to come up with someone.

Support fellow artists through Album/ music PURCHASES and RECOMMENDATIONS, and email them with compliments.

Attend at least 3 newtorking events or festivals.

Next Month, I’ll be attending Brass Chix as I have every year, and in March, the MMTA convention is in Minneapolis, so I’ll be attending at least 1 day of this as well.

2021 Goals- How did I do?

It’s that time of year- The end of the year where I give you my report card and evaluate the goals that I set at the end of the previous year.

Here is what happened:

BIG GOAL: Make More Money/ Be able to solely do MUSIC to survive.

Update: Success! I am surviving. As of June, I was able to just teach and complete an engraving project to make the minimum that I neded to bring in to justify being my own boss. Next year I will set my goals toward Thriving… and then some.

Mini Goal: Sell 10 scores of my own music. My goal is a minimum of 25 total including arrangements.

Update: I sold 12 total. Yeehaw. It looks like I’ll have to evaluate and revise my strategy.

Mini Goal: 15 students by June

Update: I have since surpassed that goal and am up to 20 students!

BIG GOAL: Get to know more people

Update: I didn’t meet as many new people in person as I was hoping to ( thanks Covid) but did meet some. I talked to Alex Gardner and Matthew Driscol via the magic of zoom and meet a few local musicians and composers through a Monthly Composer Meet up and throught the Z festival, both of which met online. I’d really like to actually get to know more people this next year beyond briefly meeting them.

If you count it though, I did get to meet some awesome new students and their wonderful families πŸ™‚

Mini Goal: Contact 2 new people in music/ month minimum

Update: This fell by the wayside but I did manage to average 1-2 every other month. Next year I will schedule monthly phone calls and emails in my planner.

Big Goal: Write 3 hours minimum of music

Update: If you count all of the unrecorded improvising I did, I ….probably?… reached this goal. However, my composing focus was nonexistant most of this year and getting things written down just did not happen.

Mini Goal:Create more creative opportunities

Update: I did it- but via a different avenue that I set out to follow. I am now part of a trombone trio called The Trifore Trombone Trio and got to exercise my creativity by making marketing content for the Twin Cities Brass Band. I also participated in Z-Fest this summer which provided some interesting ppportunities as well.

Big Goal: Be even more giving and spread more JOY

Mini Goal: Send more notes in the form of cards and emails

Update: Success. I’ll keep this goal active for next year too.

Mini goal: volunteer my time in a musical capacity at least 4 times

Update: This happened exactly 4 times. I volunteered at an MMTA event this Fall, helped out with a large music sorting project, and helped a few friends with their musical projects a few times this year. Next year, I hope to help out at more events because helping is fun. πŸ™‚

Throwback Thursday September 2021 Recap

September 2nd 2021

This Week’s #throwbackthursday piece is related to the event I’ve been excited about that is happening this weekend: MNKINO Film Score Fest!(BTW- It’s this Saturday at 8 In Mears Park, St Paul MN if you can come).A few years ago, in 2017, I wandered to an event that I had heard about on a podcast called Composer Quest called the MnKino Film Score Fest Meetup. It was at an underground bar in the middle of Minneapolis- or was it St Paul? As is tradition for me with trying new things, I had no idea what I was getting into. Also, meeting new people in groups still terrified the bejeebus out of me, but there I went. At the time, I was starving for creative opportunities outside of my mundane day job and, although it scared me, I reasoned that the best way to make this happen was to step out of that comfort zone and talk to strangers. Somewhere in the large crowd a, talented yet also introverted and kind animator named Beth Peloff talked to me and decided that I was going to be her composer (YAY!).Together, we created a little film called Blob’s Adventure. You can watch it here:https://vimeo.com/218081763

September 9th 2021

Do You remember looking up at the sky on a carefree summer day, imagining the pictures and scenes in the clouds? Today’s #ThrowbackThursday piece was written on such a summer afternoon. When I used to work at a printer factory, I’d come home and need to decompress. Being that the job left little time for much else between driving home, eating dinner, and sleeping to wake up early and do it all over again, there was a 30-minute window that I’d have to myself. I chose to walk from my Dad’s trailer home to the end of the road and back most evenings after scarfing down my meal. That day in 2010, I admired those picturesque clouds in the sky and imagined what it could sound like. At the time I was listening to a lot of Debussy piano music as well. Cumulus Humilis- The scientific name for the type of clouds that I saw that day- is the name of this piece. It was premiered by Jimmy Knezetik- a pianist I knew in undergrad who has the most sensitive touch of any pianist I’ve known. Listeners enjoyed it because it is easy on the ears and my theory teachers loved it because it uses something called Locrian Mode. (Note- I did not do this on purpose. It was a happy coincidence). A few years after composing the piece, Avguste Antonov recorded the piece and did a wonderful job. It is included on his debut album, An American Journey.https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/…/cumulus…/21854853…#pianomusic#newmusic#solomusic

September 16th 2021

In 2009, around this time, I started my undergrad degree at Youngstown State in Ohio. At the time, I had just met my – unbeknownst to me- future husband. He took me to one of Youngstown’s greatest hidden treasures, Mill Creek Park, as part of a tour of the area. We walked around on this adventure for a while when a rather large tree branch suddenly snapped, and almost beamed us in the head on the way down from the fall. Me being me, blamed it on the trickster Faeries that obviously got a laugh at almost killing this intruder, .and yelled something unintelligible back at them. Darko laughed, I laughed, and this whole near-death experience is now immortalized in a Trombone and Euphonium duet. Today’s #ThrowbackThursday piece is dedicated to these Wood Nymphs who happened to give me the inspiration to finish the duet I was writing for fellow composer Dan Brandt and I, just in time to not get scolded by our studio professor. #Brass#BrassDuet#Trombone#Euphonium#WomanComposer#NewMusichttps://www.sheetmusicplus.com/…/meliae…/21816732…

September 23rd 2021

Who Likes Thunderstorms???…….. Actually, not me. In fact, I sometimes find them terrifying! This week, we had a fairly loud one that kept me up quite late. The loud sound of the thunder hurts my ears and seeing a Lightning strike victim in the ER when I was little because my mom used to work nights and sometimes had to take us with to her job, may have contributed to this uncomfortableness. Thank goodness though. MN needed the rain. That brings me to this week’s #ThrowbackThursday piece.https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/…/reign-of…/21833455…Reign of Thunder is a flute solo and one of my first pieces that premiered at YSU. However, it was written it in the summer before starting my studies Shanyse Strickland , a Fantastic Musician known for her Horn playing and Composing these days, was the Flute Player! Cory Davis did a wonderful job accompanying on piano and I took his suggestion to double the octave in the left hand, thus improving the piece. #Flute#Flutesolo#piano#womancomposer#newmusic

Life Update- Summer 2021 Recap

Just a heads up- the TLDR version for this is going to be: I’ve been VERY busy.

If you stick to the end, Great! Thank you!

If not and you decide to move on, that is ok too. Thank you for clicking and helping the algorithm !

So, what have I been up to this Summer?

Well,

  1. I took a 2 week trip/ honeymoon around Minnesota and Wisconsin with my Husband.

We went all over Minnesota and Wisconsin and did the low cost things that most people who actually live here seldom take time to go do. Some highlights were Duluth, Splitrock Lighthouse, Itasca State Park, Gooseberry Falls, The International Wolf Center In Ely, Crane Center in Baraboo, and Eagle Center in Wabasha, The House on the Rock, Seeing friends and Family in Lacrosse and Baraboo, and Axe Throwing in The Dells. Also, Pantsless Paul Bunion- Seriously- He has no pants!……. Probably No Chill either…. Or maybe he does?!?

2 I’m Back to In person Teaching and have actively been trying to recruit Students.

If you know anyone interested in Studying Piano, Trombone, Composition or Music Theory, please send them my way!

I’ve also been spending time lesson planning and creating videos for students to play along to.

3) I’ve been working on Lots of Projects:

  • This last week, I was finishing the edits on the first incarnation of Painless Parker’s Giant Bucket of Teeth. Now I’m looking for a couple of bands to read through it and receive some feedback before officially releasing it into the world.
  • I’m also working on wrapping up the Mill Creek Concerto Edits….Finally!
  • Finished Edits for The MnKino Film Score Fest. By the Way , if you are reading this before September 4th, and will be in the St. Paul Minneapolis area, you should come. It’s going to be fun.
  • I’ve been working a private editing project….I can’t say much but it has a lot of fun campfire songs in it!

4) I participated in a new to me composition festival

Check out this post on ZFest to see what I did

5) I’ve been Composing!

I only have some sketches at this point but with the busy summer wrapping up, I should hopefully have the time to get more things done!

6) I’ve been creating content.

On my Facebook page, I’m posting a memory a week on #ThrowbackThursday and a piece of mine that is connected to it. I’ll also be combining these into a recap at the end of the month on this blog. Let’s see how long this lasts.

I’m also working on being more active on SM to get out there in general.

7) I’ve been in talks to get my music played more.

It looks like I’ll be working with Calypsus Brass a bit more in the future! Stay tuned for details.

8) I’ve been learning new things!

This summer I made it a point to learn a few new things.

At Z fest I learned a bit more about how to use microphones and work with people across the country. I’ve also been making more of a point to stay healthy and in that journey I’ve been learning how to properly lift barbells at the gym and I’m having a blast. Watch out world!

I’m also learning how to program using a music program called Chuck. It’s been interesting πŸ™‚

9) I got to be a Guest Clinician at YOUth Can Compose again!

10) I’m back to playing in some ensembles–YAY!

Check out the Twin Cities Brass Band website for concert info

I also went to a Swing Sisterhood Big Band Rehearsal and that was fun!

If you made it this far, again, Thank you for reading!

ZFestival- a July 2021Adventure!

This past month I participated in the first Composition Festival I have in a long time- ZFestival.

I first heard about ZFestival from a fellow Twin Cities Based Composer, Johnathan Posthuma. When I first applied to participate, as per usual fashion for me, I HAD LITERALLY NO IDEA WHAT I WAS GETTING MYSELF INTO! That was on purpose. πŸ™‚

So what is this festival you ask? ZFestival is an online month long festival where they pair you with artists, composers and musicians from all over the world ( but mostly North America) and tell you to go create something.

They also have workshops and talks with guest artists and It’s all online. That’s right. I didn’t even have to leave my house or wear pants to participate in this event. ( I mean, I did wear pants except for that one time I wore a skirt. It’s just that it wasn’t required.)

Also, unbelievably, it’s FREE to participate.

They had 3 tracks this year for composers to participate in. The one I was chosen for was a multidisciplinary track.

The group consisted of Clarissa Littler, Timothy Leimu Sillman Walters, Tyler Katz, and Myself. So, a group of composers, multi instrumentalists, an amatur watercolor artist , and a computer programmer (Their instrument was listed as Math) who may or may not have doubled on these skills with prior knowledge that that was what they were going to do.

To create the project, we decided to trade pieces and record and engineer them from our own homes. A lot of Trial and Error on my end was had.

The final Gala Took place on July 31st and August 1st 2021. It was amazing to see what all of these groups came up with and celebrate their creativity. Our Project, which resembles a Prog Rock Space Opera with improvised live visual programming , was on August 1st and is the second one on the program.

As a BONUS and for your viewing pleasure, please watch the product of the 48 Hour Challenge I did with Tim, along with the rest of the projects. The prompt was…interesting to say the least. XD

You can learn more about ZFestival by visiting zfestival.org

Happy Birthday To Me!!!!!

This weekend My birthday is coming up. In addition to asking you all to do something nice for someone and spread kindness, I’d like to ask for something extra this year. I’d really appreciate it if you help support my efforts to build towards doing this Music thing for a living by doing one of the things on this list.

Most of the ways you can help with this are FREE. That’s right. It won’t cost you anything except maybe a few seconds of your time!!!!!!

  • Visit My Website and leave a comment or like a blog post ( it helps analytics)
  • Leave a review of one of my pieces on Sheet Music Plus
  • Recommend me to your band or orchestra director ( I am actively seeking commissions and love to write new music !!!)
  • Recommend one of my pieces to a colleague
  • Help Me find more students by sharing this flyer and telling a friend about my services!!!!
  • Listen to one of my pieces on Soundcloud or Bandcamp. Bonus points if you also leave a comment!
  • BUY SOMETHING from me on BANDCAMP. I’ve got 2 albums out so far and they both cost less than a Starbucks.:)
  • BUY A SCORE!!!!!!
  • If you want to go the extra mile, record yourself playing one of my pieces and post it. I’ll probably share it allover too and include it on this website if you’d like.

THANKS A MILLION AND HAPPY MUSICING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My 2021 Music Goals

If 2020 was a year of dismantling and destruction, 2021 will be a rebuilding year. This coming years resolutions have a lot to do with this, and I aim to rebuild my existence into the individual I’ve been aiming to be since starting this musical journey over a decade ago.

BIG GOAL: Make More Money/ Be able to solely do MUSIC to survive.

I’m sure that this seems like a lofty goal, but the years preceding this one were the steps on the ladder to that loft. Thankfully, I am used to being frugal and making a little go a long way when needed, and am LUCKY to have my SO around to help these days. Don’t worry. I still aim to do my share financially. We aren’t the Rockefeller family after all πŸ˜‰

One of my reasons also has to do with my desire to work for myself and control my schedule. I am much happier when I don’t have to ask permission from someone else and can control my own schedule. Yes I know that to make a music career, it requires more hours than the typical 9-5, but I’ve tried that several times, and found through trial and error that I am much happier immersed in music. That, and I’m wise enough to know that I need to keep variety within the spectrum of music activities to avoid burnout and know the signs much better now.

Mini Goal: Sell 10 scores of my own music. My goal is a minimum of 25 total including arrangements.

For me, joining SMP was a good move in 2020. This has allowed me to start selling some of the arrangements I’ve had sitting on my hard drive for the last decade and allowed me to offer digital downloads. This was something I had been trying to figure out how to do, but the start up cost far outweighed what I can afford, especially given I’m not quite at the point where I can confidently say that my sales would recoup the cost. Originally, I joined because 2 distributers I had contacted in January of last year decided I wasn’t for them but ironically recommended each other for me to contact. I guess I’m ……unique?

So far, I’ve sold far more than expected, but because most of my sales have been arrangements, I’ve made just enough to afford 4 cups of Starbucks coffee in commissions. It’s definitely a start though!

In 2021, I’ll be updating my FB page weekly as new arrangements and pieces come out. If you have a request for an arrangement and it’s on the SMP list, please contact me and let me know.

I’ll be curious to see how this pans out as I add more.

Mini Goal: 15 students by June

While I don’t like putting a number on people, this is the realistic number I’ve calculated to be able to pull my weight financially and still be safe on average. This is of course after calculating taxes and rent.

As of now, thanks to a Festivus miracle, (actually some amazing people providing referrals) I am only 5 away from this goal.

Ultimately, I hope to grow this number a bit beyond 15. This is my benchmark for the moment.

BIG GOAL: Get to know more people

Mini Goal: Contact 2 new people in music/ month minimum

As an introvert, this is not easy to convince myself to do. I often think about it and even draft emails in my head but never get to it for whatever reason. 2 people a month is manageable. I might even surpass it if I can safety attend some music gatherings in 2021 ( and convince myself to do so of course :P). I’ll be keeping a checklist in my journal to remind myself.

Big Goal: Write 3 hours minimum of music

In my journal I will have a thermometer and every time I finish a piece ( even if it’s something that might not see the light of day), I will color it in. If I remember, I’ll even update you on my progress at every check in post.

Mini Goal:Create more creative opportunities

Talking with more people will hopefully help with this!

Big Goal: Be even more giving and spread more JOY

Mini Goal: Send more notes in the form of cards and emails

A few months ago I started picking a composer on my social media friends lists every few days and listening to their music. In 2021, I will continue this as I’ve gotten to hear so many wonderful creations and gotten to know my colleague’s music better. I will be letting composers know I listened to their work and send more encouragement in the form of DM’s and emails.

Mini goal: volunteer my time in a musical capacity at least 4 times

Time will tell how this shapes up. Maybe I’ll perform for a charity event or just for my community. Or, maybe I’ll be able to help out a fellow musician some random way. Who knows.

One of my goals for my teaching studio is to have at least 3 recitals this year and am hoping to stream at least one to a retirement community. Fingers crossed this works out (and that I have some willing fellow volunteers).

So, what are your 2021 Music Goals? Please let me know in the comments and may 2021 be a WINNING year!

Happy Musicing!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

2020 Goals – How Did I Do?

It’s that time of year again; the end of the year review where I scrutinize my goal list from the beginning of the year and give my performance review. Boy was 2020 quite the year for this! Let’s look at the list, shall we?

BIG GOAL: Pay off the last of my student debt

Did I succeed?- HECK YES, and just in time for the pandemic to hit and rendered me jobless for a bit. This goal has been 6+ years of sacrifice. I’d read these reports of people paying off their debt on “just 30K”- Which, congratulations to them. I’m not knocking them one bit. But to give you an Idea of what I’m used to living off of, I just topped 25 K for the first time in my life last year and before that was working lots of hours ( more than 40 most weeks) to bring in 20K or under most years, , and overpaying on the minimum of my student debt every chance I could. Maybe I’ll have to post about the journey sometime.

All I have to say is that I am grateful for my SO splitting rent and putting up with my frugal ways. Now we get to tackle THEIR debt together !!!!!!

Mini Goal: Actually get better at marketing

This is still a work in progress, but I will say that I’ve been improving. My Facebook Page saw a lot more activity than the previous years combined.

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

Did I succeed- Yep πŸ™‚

A few months ago, I bit the bullet and began selling on Sheet Music Plus, as well as setting up separate pages for each piece to sell both physical copies via this website and digital downloads via SMP. These pages are still a work in progress what won’t likely be 100% finished until May of 2021, but they are all set up and ready for a preview of each piece. Now it’s just a matter of adding freshly edited perusal scores and store links once they are done. I’m about 75% of the way there so far.

Ironically, I’ve actually sold a lot more arrangements of other people’s compositions than my own works so far, and made just enough to buy 2 cups of Starbucks coffee in the endeavor, but it is definitely a start!

Also, in the beginning of the year, before the pandemic hit, a couple of people bought some Trombone works and I got to send them physical copies with the Coffee Seal of approval.

If we count arrangements and compositions I’ve actually tripled this goal. Now to raise it for next year!

Mini Goal: Increase teaching studio numbers

Thanks mostly to Laura Dietrich of Maestoso Music referring me to several new students, and a few others found through Toastmasters, I’ve succeeded. Next year the bar is raised further because I’d like to be able to add this to my portfolio career and be able to teach enough to make a full time income from it. Also, I’ve found I honestly love it and, as evidenced by the progress and enjoyment of all of my students, am pretty good at it too.

BIG GOAL: Be more giving/ pay things forward more

Did I succeed?- Yes, but not as much as I would have liked. The pandemic threw a bit of a wrench in things for obvious reasons. I did my best to spread joy in other ways, like sending notes, stickers to my students, and making more phone calls. While I still feel that I fell a bit short, particularly remembering to get to everyone, at least an attempt was made. Next year I will try to do better.

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

Did I Succeed?- Um, maybe? Before the pandemic, I was slated to conduct the Minneapolis Trombone Choir again and at least got to rehearse with them. Back in July, Sakari had me guest speak/teach at YouTH Can Compose. Also, last January, I was invited to speak at Brass Chix . That counts for 3, right?

Mini Goal: Participate in at least 1 Collaboration

Well, I got a horn piece composed this way with Bill Richter. Once the premier happens officially next year, We’ll get to share it with you all! As an added bonus, I’m working on my first flex band piece and collaborating with a local band director and his students to write it. It involves a bit of aleatoric percussion. More will be posted soon!

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

I finished all but 2 but have not released them yet. 2021 should have you see a lot more piece releases from me- more than I’ve had since my college days.

I also inadvertently stuck to the guideline, mostly because for awhile I had lots of time. When the motivation was there, I was able to get a lot done in a small amount of time, because I tend to get in “the Zone”.

BONUS: Last year, I set decade long goals. Here is the progress:

  1. Go to Grad school- FOR MUSIC-and not go into debt to do so- N/A.
  2. Pay off All Debt One Check. Check two will be when we are finished with my SO’s.
  3. Attend some composer retreats and workshops– I attended one hosted by Alexandra Gardner and Meghan Ihnen last month online focusing on Music Business stuff. More will be added to this list. Hopefully I have the privilege of attending at least 1/ year.
  4. Teach at a high profile event or music camp– N/A, at the moment. YouTH can compose was definitely a start and may become ” high profile” in the future. You never know. Sakari is pretty amazing at what she does.
  5. Be able to travel a few times a year for my Ideal music β€œjob”– N/A
  6. Write my first symphony and compose at least one Big piece a year (with premiers and commissions of course)– No Symphony , yet, but I finished a band piece and a half. This year made premiers darn near impossible so, check mark with an asterisk- kind of like those years in baseball records where everyone was making historic records but there’s an asterisk because all those players were taking steroids.
  7. Be able to make my living composing, teaching, and performing/ occasionally conducting by the end of this decade– N/A but I am absolutely working on this.

To Summarize, 2020 was an unusual year to put it lightly, but at least some good things happened. With any luck, this test will have shaped me up for the coming decade. Only time will tell.

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 πŸ™‚ . 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!

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