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 ūüėČ

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 ūüôā

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 ‚Äújob‚ÄĚ– 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.

I’M TEACHING AT A MUSIC SUMMER CAMP!!!!!

EDIT: Due to the recent events in Minneapolis and the importance of allowing the voices that need to be heard in this moment to have the full attention they need , we have decided to postpone the camp . These specific classes may still happen whether through the camp or by my own offering in the future. Please stay tuned for updates and thank you for your understanding.

Hello Fellow Music friends and Fans,

I am excited to announce that I will be teaching some courses for a Summer Music Camp offered by Maestoso Music Studio. The best news is, that it is online so YOU- and/ or, your students/ children, can participate in real time, without having to leave your front door. There are lots of other quality courses to choose from, but these happen to be the three that I am excited to teach.

Session 1- June 8th- 30th

THE COMPOSER IS ALIVE!

This will be a listening and discussion based course where I will expose the participants to music they may or may not have heard before by LIVING COMPOSERS, written within the last 30 years, give or take, in several genres spanning from wind band and orchestra to jazz, and video game music. The purpose of this course is to open up the ears of the participants, expand their minds to musical possibilities and show them that composers are indeed real people who are alive and creating as we speak. We will discuss the pieces, how to find new music, and the class will conclude with a creative project

This class may include a meet and greet with a living composer- who is not me by the way- but you’ll have to participate to find out!

Age Range- 8th Grade – Young adult (though adults are welcome too)

When-Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2-3

Session 2 July

PRACTICAL THEORY

I will be teaching a bare bones introduction to music theory suitable for those who are curious about the world of theory and how to use it. I will also be sprinkling in some examples and instruction of how to use theory to improve your sight reading ability and learn parts of that solo on your own.

Some knowledge of theory is recommended but is not necessary for this course.

Age range- 8th Grade- Adult

When-Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2-3

Session 3 August

COMPOSE FOR YOU!

This will be a course for those looking to get their feet wet in the world of music composition and arranging. One class will be spent introducing the free software MUSE SCORE – though if you prefer to use another Music Notation Software, that is ok too. At the end of the course, each student will have composed a short solo for their instrument and a duet.

Some theory knowledge is necessary for this course. Might I recommend taking my Practical Theory course?

Age Range- 8th Grade- Adult

When-Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2-3

If you are interested in signing up for this course or any of the other courses in the Creativity Club Music Camp please follow this link.

I Can’t wait to see you there!!

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!!!

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!

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

Hello Friends and Fellow Music fans,

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

Couch Potato kitty!

No- Not this one!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Till Next time,

Happy Musicing!

…….And now for my 2019 Music Goals

 

Hello Everybody,

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

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

Now For the list:

Big Goal: Continue to increase income

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

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

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

 

Mini Goal: Sell more music

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

 

Mini Goal: Increase my teaching studio size

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

 

Big Goal: Get out there even  more than in 2018

Mini Goal: Jam More

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

 

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

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

Mini Goal: Get better at this Marketing thing.

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

BIG Goal: Get healthier

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

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

Big Goal: Write More:

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

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

 

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

JUMP

Jump vimeo from Beth Peloff on Vimeo.

Hello, Fellow Music Fans. It’s time for Show and Tell!

A while ago, I participated in the MNkino Film Score Fest 2017 and had the opportunity to work with a wonderful Individual, Beth Peloff of Green Jeans Media. After the successful premiere of “Blobs Adventure” in July,¬† we spent a lot of time trying to get together to celebrate this fact.

Fast forward to December.: After a bit of a creative rut on my end, and lots of reasons involving life happening, Beth and I finally reunited. When I discussed my problem with her, she offered to send me a short film she had worked on to give me a worthwhile (and fun) project to focus on.

This is the finished product. I hope you enjoy!

What I took away from Composition Intensive

Recently, I had the magnificent opportunity to attend the St. Mary’s 2 week long composition Intensive, and boy was it Intense. It was a fantastic experience overall, and I got to learn from the likes of Zae Munn, Michael Schelle, Kristin Kuster, Jay Batzner, David Murray, and Joshua Marquez as well as the 16 other talented composers who attended (see the bottom of the page for links to some of¬†their pages) and even participated in most of the masterclasses offered. As describing the experience could get extremely jumbled, I have decided to provide a basic list of what I was reminded of and remember learning in the two week session.

Most of the St .Marys group
Most of the St. Mary’s group. Top Left to right: Samantha Hogan, Zae Munn,Cody Kahul, Evan Jay Williams, Daniel Ang, Sakari Dixon Middle: Tori Orvil, Robin McLaughlin, Lam Khoa, Jay Batzner Bottom: Gil Dori, Jeffery Nicholas, Joshua Marquez

1) The World is much bigger than we realize. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the protective bubble of where we are used to (for example the university). However¬†there is so much more to do as well as territory to explore in the world¬†composition than I was previously aware of.

2) The World is much smaller than we realize. Case in point, some professors knew my teachers as well as the other participant’s teachers. Also, some of the participants knew each other from attending other¬†composition festivals.

3) Lugubrious is a fantastic word and is not only used by YSU’s trombone studio, but by fellow composers as well!

Composers at work
Composers at work

4) How to network better.

5) Things I should be doing that I wasn’t doing before concerning advancement toward my desired career: Entering more contests, applying for residencies and attending more festivals, and researching certain grad programs that I was not sure of where to look before. Also, I need to be recording my pieces more often. The suggestion to contact the music ed department to ask for placement to get experience¬†working with students and teachers in clinician type settings was also suggested for me to try (Thanks Robin!).

6) How to go about the things I wasn’t doing before.

St Marys 2014 Site specific
A Site Specific Piece, “The Island” by Lam Khoa being performed at a masterclass.

7)From Michael Schelle: You can still be your- (eclectic, unconventional, cat loving) self and still be a successful composer(Yes,there is hope for everybody who really wants this) what a site specific piece is, and new methods to include extra musical influences in my music like theater for example. Also, don’t trust the Dining Hall’s grilled cheese.

8) From Kristen Kuster: How to interact with an audience professionally and in a way to avoid boring them when you talk about your piece. This was needed as my experience talking in front of large groups is limited at this point and I can use this. In accordance with her valuable suggestion, I am going to try laying out my pieces horizontally in a time line format to get a better sense of what I am doing as far as building up pieces and refining their form.

9)From Jay Batzner: It’s ok to focus on writing for young groups as a composer (even needed) and that I am going in the right direction with the piece I brought in for our lesson (Reverence). Moreover, I was enlightened in the ways of electronic composition and how to go about trying this cheaply. The possibilities excite me and I cant wait to get started on exploring this “new” world.

St Marys 2014
Michael Schelle Master Class        Pictured: Nathan Brown, Lam Khoa, Samantha Hogan, Michael Schelle and Robin McLaughlin (piano)

 

10)From Zae Munn: “The Big Permission slip” solves any doubt about what you “shouldn’t” do in composition. Also, the lesson she gave me¬†provided¬†a better understanding of how to use text to shape a composition and how to set text.

11)From Joshua Marquez:¬†He introduced me to the “over bowing triangle marking” and I’ll¬†probably use it the next time I attempt to write a string piece. Additionally,¬†he showed me how to better use Audacity to clean up audio.

12)From David Murray: A thorough understanding of how string instruments work. Also, he is a beast at sight reading! His recording of the techniques I attempted to employ in the bass piece sketch will serve me well in a future piece.

13) Squirrels can make Kicka** mascots. Ours was eventually named Cheeeeezy when Whiticre Whiskers and Berkowicz was eliminated.

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14) Most importantly, I learned that I ¬†have a fair shot at getting to do what I want ¬†as a career for the rest of my life and that it is not a mistake¬†to chase my dream. Additionally, I should and will keep playing my horn (thank you for the encouragement everybody) as it is important for a composer to keep a musical and personal connection to the performing world and I am not the only one to hold that view. (Also,unexpectedly performing ¬†for nuns is fun and oddly satisfying).In the mean time though, it’s Bach to composing to hone my craft, and working on life one step at a time.

Here are some  links to my new friends and future colleagues sites/sound cloud pages. Please check them out as there is a large variety of music to explore composed by some talented people who are certain to go far.

Adam O’Dell¬† ¬† ¬†Robin McLaughlin¬† ¬† ¬†Jeffery Nicholas¬† ¬†¬†Sakari Dixon

Andre Codeco    Kevin Wilt     Tori Ovel     Nathan Brown

 

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.