Extra-musical Effects: What are they and how can we use them?

Recently, my friend and fellow composer Sakari invited me to guest teach her class “YouTH Can Compose.”

For the focus on the class, we talked about Extra-musical effects and discussed how they can make their way into our compositions.

So, what are extra musical effects? The Definition that we came up with together was “Anything that isn’t the music itself that can influence our compositional decisions.”.

Some examples might be:

Elements from nature like wind or the sound of flowing water

People

Memories

Sound effects- like those in Cartoons

Places

Colors

And even in some cases music.

In the class I had them listen to Of Wizards and Dragons and we listed and discussed extra musical influences in the piece. Wind- which one student mentioned before we started listening- found its way into the enchanted forest section and was illustrated by windchimes for example.

Another Student mentioned that thinking about their family when they write helps them create. That is another Extra Musical influence for sure!

Tying into this insightful comment, I talked about how Bernard, who used to teach African Drumming as a way to bring people together and was a great human being, was added into the piece when Fredonia wanted to premier it. I added a Djembe part that was not there before to honor him.

We also watch and listened to Blob’s Adventure, a film that I scored and I talked a bit about the process of receiving the film with no sound and having to draw on extra musical influences to score it.

The Students observed some of my tricks of “Mickey Mousing” – for example using dissonance on brass instruments to sound like car horns, and using the bass drum and melody direction to imitate what was happening onscreen. I also showed them the part with the bicycle and explained how the Queen Song Bicycle influenced my decision to use a rock drum beat and repeated scales.

We discovered how we can use timbre and various instruments and their abilities as a tool to illustrate what we envision sonically.

For their project, I read a short story (I Wish I Were A Butterfly) and they each picked a character to write a theme around.

Their pieces illustrated the way insects flew by having the melody hover or flutter, or echoed ( in the case of the Frog and the Cricket echoing his ugly thoughts). The colors of laughter or mud were illustrated cleverly through timbre as well. Some drew on the illustrations themselves to create their pieces.

Overall, this was a great experience sharing this technique with these aspiring composers and I hope reading this helped spark some new ideas for you.

So, fellow composers, what are some extra musical effects that you can think of and how have they found their way into your music?

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.

2019 Goals- How did I do?

Big Goal: Continue to increase income

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

Did I succeed: Ha Ha. Nope. This is still a work in progress. But, I did manage to find a friend who is helping me set this part up-FINALLY!

Mini Goal: Sell more music

Did I accomplish it: Yes- I sold one score and even got my first concert music commission (Thanks Bill!). That’s one more than last year. Woo hoo!!

2020 is going to be the year where I aim to sell at least 5 scores- but hopefully more. Actually setting up my online store will probably help this goal come to fruition ūüėõ

Mini Goal: Increase my teaching studio size

Did I succeed: Yes! I am now teaching at Maestoso Music studio and have a total of 2 trombone students and 3 piano students. I am also, teaching a couple of ukulele students as well. That’s up from just 2 last year!

Big Goal: Get out there even  more than in 2018

Mini Goal: Jam More

Did I succeed: Yes!…sort of. I managed to get together and play 4 times this year with friends.

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

Did I succeed: Yes, but barely. This summer kicked my butt when the swing band went a little uh, gig happy, a relative passed away, and life once again happened. Summer was when I had hoped to go to something every weekend as summer tends to be more relaxed schedule wise yet filled with a plethora of free concerts to listen to. This did not happen as planned, but I averaged about 1.5 every other month, which is way better than it could have been.

Mini Goal: Get better at this Marketing thing.

Did I succeed: I’m going to have to say no. Other life things took priority this year. Next year though, this is going to move more toward the top of the priority list. I do like to eat food ya know! (also, getting paid to perform and write is nice too.)

BIG Goal: Get healthier

Did I succeed: Yes- but mostly during the spring and summer. I sort of fell off the wagon once it started getting colder as far as exercise is concerned. Excuses- excuses, I know. But, I do eat a lot more veggies than I did last year. Now to see if I can drop the sweets a little. My miserly tradition toward buying new jeans before they have irreparable holes in them depends on it! (also, cavities are expensive and painful as I’ve come to find out.)

Big Goal: Write More:

Did I succeed: Yes- please see my final thoughts.

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!

Final Thoughts:

I did manage to accomplish a few things this year that were not goals. For starters, this has been the most productive year composing since graduating from YSU in December 2014. This was not only in terms of volume but in variety as well. New pieces were written for a church brass gig, trombone choir, the VGM challenge and a brand new film score. I was able to put on a successful concert of newly composed and arranged works with my friends from Coffoa Brass in October. Also, thanks to my wonderful mentor, I am now beginning to explore the world of electronic composition. All it took was someone patient enough to show this technology illiterate, broke, and frustrated person how to steer the ship.Overall, 2019 was a step in the right direction.

~Tomorrows post will consist of 2020’s goals, but please feel free to comment with your accomplishments this past year. I would love to hear about them!~

Thanks for reading!!!!

#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

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.

 

 

My Latest Expirament

Thanks to my composition inquisitor (aka teacher), I have been working on a piece completely unlike any other I have attempted as of yet. Scott challenged me to  abandon my usual frame of having a story to compose  and instead  write what is called a Visual-Spacial notation piece. Basically the piece does not have bar lines to designate strict meter subdivisions. Instead, it leaves it up to the performers to designate where the musical figure is to fit within where the designated time specifies. It calls for ordered improvisation with a demand for the group to play as an ensemble.  So far, the piece looks like this:

(Click picture for a larger view)

Composing this piece has forced me to think more freely about musical lines and textures and to consider multiple possibilities for the building blocks of a work.  Along the way, my teacher has had me looking at various scores with non-traditional notation by Cage, Varese and others I may not have picked up otherwise and we have discussed them in our lesson. Many Cagian  ideas such as indeterminacy have made it into this piece as a result. For example, I got the idea for how to break up the time by rolling dice except for the 30 second section, where I anticipate the performer to successfully make a sandwich with the ingredients already set (mainly because I timed this myself at home).

Other than the fact that I am using kitchen percussion and adding the humorous element of a musician making a sandwich for no other reason than to add improvised non- traditional sounds, this piece lacks a preconceived story and instead has its own underlying framework. Although I anticipate that the piece will sound “wonkey” if and when it is performed, I have enjoyed trying to think within this loose structure.

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.

Update on Summer Vacation ’13 and Goal list

A while ago, I posted a blog entry which outlined my intended goals for the summer of 2013. With the Summer drawing to a close and the beginning of the last  year of my undergrad swiftly approaching, I feel that this is a good time to reflect on what I have done  and still need to accomplish before school starts.

Goal number one: Compose/arrange twenty minutes of music

Mission Acomplished! However, the pursuit of this goal had some mixed/unintended results.

1)Orchestrating the rest of Of Wizards and Dragons For Wind Ensemble-and in the process learning how to orchestrate- This piece is now about 65% done. In the process of playing with this piece and having received valuable guidance From Scott Pfitzinger this summer, I have learned so much about this process, but there is still so much that I want/ need to learn still. There are  so many possibilities that I want to exploit before releasing the final version.

2)Working on Music for The Adventure Path series, and hoping to write a blog post about it soon-More Music has been written. However, before I can post a blog entry, I must get permission and clearance from the producers. Development for the series is now in progress and it sounds as though it will be awesome when it’s done. If you are interested in learning more about the series,¬†click HERE for a link to their Facebook page.

3) Writing an accapella vocal piece per request of my teacher– This work is now in progress!

4) Correcting old scores, touching up Hoover’s Paradise,¬†and finishing my just for fun band arrangement of Ghostbusters– Hoover’s Paradise has been improved/ reworked ¬† (and will hopefully be premiered this School year!) However, I have yet ¬†to finish the rest of this goal¬†due to some of the pieces that have popped up. To Elaborate:

a) A¬† Fanfare that¬†I had hoped would¬†be played¬† sometime during a YSU Football game this season. It blends elements of YSU’s Alma Mater ( a melody from Brahms Symphony no 1) and the Fight Song. There is also an audience involvement cheer as well. At least¬†the experience of having written it will hopefully help prepare me for¬†if I ever¬†get a commission to write something akin to it in the future.

b) Characture, a woodwind quintet that I had begun in early spring has been expanded an completed (outside of the edits that are sure to appear in my lesson). The piece illustrates the situations and people that one may encounter on a daily basis.

c) A just for fun brass trio about ¬†cloud-sailing pirates. This has been put away for the time being but will likely be picked up on a day when ¬†the orchestration for¬†‘Dragons¬†isn’t flowing.

d)The Essay-UPDATE: due to a last minute situation with personnel, we were unable to perform it as planned. However, the professor has offered us the chance to come in and perform it in one of his fall classes. Sometimes things don’t work out as planned but I am elated that he is giving ¬†us this chance. I am currently in the process of negotiating a time/date for the performance. Also, if anything, the piece will be performed live at my upcoming senior ¬†composition recital (Date TBA).

Goal Number Two: Get as much trombone performance and practice in as possible

This goal is a never ending work in progress. Currently, I am working on the audition excerpts even more so after a lesson that turned simultaneously into  a confirmation that the work has been paying off and a wake up call that I need to learn the excerpts much better than I felt that I had them.

YACCB Trombones 2013 playing the National Anthem at the Scrappers baseball  game  August 11th.

YACCB Trombones 2013 playing the National Anthem at the Scrappers baseball game August 11th.

I feel that joining the YACCB for the summer was the best decision I made for improving my playing because of the ample performing opportunities and, the commitment that I had made gave me even more incentive to pick up my horn and practice. Also, as an added bonus, the Trombone section had the privilege of playing the Star Spangled Banner at ¬†a Scrappers baseball game this past Sunday, This is an opportunity I would have missed if I didn’t join.

Goal number Three: Learn something new

I have definitely accomplished this goal and then some. Camping at Pennsic was the best thing that I did for this.  During that wonderful week in the current middle ages, I was taught (rather unexpectedly) how to tell a story as people might have done back then (and told to stand up and do it myself- and I enjoyed it too), the history, identification and application of henna, tips for performance in front of an audience, the art of filk and folk songs of the SCA, and a host of other miscellaneous facts.

Also, I learned that:

Tomatoes are a member of the nightshade family

Pirates and sailors  used limes, not usually oranges, to treat scurvy.

Pirates would use rum for a variety of things, most notably to sterilize water (or to drink instead of water because alcohol kills germs and was deemed safer than water) and to get a person who needed a limb amputated , possibly from gangrene, so drunk that he wouldn’t really care that he was ¬†in immense pain.

There is a proper method to choosing and tying a leather belt.

The Ghostbusters theme matches the medieval dance “Black Nag”.

Celtic/ Indian history fascinates me.

Goal number Four: Make sure that I spend some time with Friends every week and do something non music related with them (at least 3 hours per week).

I feel that I have done a good job in holding this goal up. Also, in keeping with learning something new as well, I have begun taking  weekly driving lessons.

Now my new goals to accomplish before I run out of time are to send out the rest of my letters, get the rest of the portfolio ready to send out, and to get some new music posted to the site for some feedback.

Matt’s Music

I know this is old news but it is also good news. Back in early February 2013, my mom approached me over the phone and asked me to write a brass piece for students to play for the 50th Anniversary Celebration of Matt’s Music Store in Tonawanda NY. Gladly I obliged not knowing what I was getting into. For this piece, I got to practice writing music for a student level ensemble for the first time. This is something that I hope to do many more times in the future and this was a great opportunity to do so.

While I was beginning to construct the piece, it was requested that the piece be fun, attention getting, and that it include some of the music that students studying their instruments would be practicing and subsequently, the staff at the store would hear on a constant basis during student’s lessons. I then came up with the Idea of beginning with a Fanfare that made use of common chord structures and melodies like Do a dear. I then decided to make the piece go into a Polka that includes the infamous “Hot Cross Buns” because Mr. Matt is an avid accordion player who has appeared on the Lawrence Welk show. The piece then evolved into an eclectic style medley of swing (referencing the fact that the Store has a Jazz band) pop songs quotes that you may hear through the walls,and other typical lesson book songs.

All though composing this I had to keep the ability level of the players in mind and there were some things that initially did not work because of this. However, it was the process of changing things to make them more idiomatic for the students where I learned the most from this piece (thank you Mom for the guidance). Even though I was not able to be there for the premiere, I am told that the students had fun playing it and that Mr. Matt and the Audience enjoyed it. Also, it helps that those kids did a fantastic job, and my mom did great coaching the quintet, Without them, this would not have happened. All in all, it was a very rewarding experience that I am proud of and I had a BLAST doing it.

P.S. if you read this whole post and watched the video, you are AWESOME! Also, remember, Feedback is always welcome and much appreciated.