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!

Throwback Thursday August 2021 Recap

Hello Music friends and fans,

If you’ve been on Facebook page at all you may have noticed that I’ve been posting memories associated with the pieces I’ve written or arranged over the years on Thursdays. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them just as much as I have writing them.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about how to add more content here and how to prompt myself to write more, as creativity begets creativity in a lot of cases. At the endo of the month- or the beginning of the next month, I’ll be copying those posts from Facebook and archiving them as blog posts.

August 12th 2021

It’s #ThrowbackThursday! YAY!- So I will be resharing an old memory and a piece attached to it.This past week’s new moon had me thinking bout this piece.https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/…/lunar…/21815638…I wrote Lunar Tides while I was thinking about my grandpa and how he made sure I got piano lessons when I was a kid after I was figuring out my younger brother’s lesson songs and movie songs by ear. It is because of him (and my piano instructor πŸ™‚ ) that I was eventually able to articulate the music that I was hearing in my head and start the journey to becoming a Composer. Lunar Tides was written under the moon and the underlying broken chord accompaniment flows, much like water. A friend and fellow composer, Carol Ann Smolka once called it “spa music”, which made me chuckle, but I must say the description fits! Give it a listen and you’ll hear what she meant. #newmusic#vocalmusic#solomusic#composer

August 19th 2021

Aah, August: The perfect time to walk into a store and see all of the……Halloween Decorations?!? Not that I necessarily mind of course πŸ™‚This #ThrowbackThursday had me thinking about my favorite holiday and how it was the only time I was allowed out after dark as a kid and could dress up as one of the creatures of my imagination. It was also the time that Mr. Adams, my Elementary Music Teacher would break out the Halloween music and I’d delight in singing the songs that sounded nothing like the cheerful happy songs we sang the rest of the year. Have you seen the Ghost of Tom/ John? My Old Black Cat and You Better Watch Out! are the ones I still sing, sometimes in August, to this day. One year he had a whole assembly/ party where the entire elementary school showed up in costume and sang Halloween songs together. I was a sleepy soccer player ( I wore soccer pj’s and carried around a soccer-ball-shaped pillow- being inventive with cheap to make costumes was something I had fun with), but I specifically remember someone dressed up as the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz completely with a metal garbage can body and full metallic makeup.Anyway, enough rambling.Here is the piece/ arrangement that is associated with this memory. Please enjoy, or purchase for your own Halloween-related #Brass shenanigans!https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/…/this-is…/21874496…

August 26th 2021

Happy Thursday Friends and Music Fans,Today’s #throwbackthursday piece brings back memories. When I needed an escape growing up, my way of dealing with emotions like fear anger, and sadness, and needing to feel protected was to find an instrument, usually a piano but in this case a PINK guitar, and just improvise. To this day, I still don’t understand exactly what I am doing on the guitar beyond the names of the basic chords, though maybe someday I’ll take lessons. πŸ™‚Anyway, this was created with a vamp of 2 chords that I would play, and I’d imagine a jam over it.Fast forward to the end of college where I was asked to provide music for a game, but that is a different memory for another day.πŸ™‚ Using Finale, I created an ending theme using this vamp and the jam I heard in my head for all of those years. Although the notation is atrocious, the sonic result is delightful and sounds pretty close to my imagination.https://samanthahogan-composer.bandcamp.com/…/mellow…

Bittersweet Covers!

Sometimes, when you write music and release it into the world, you never know the path that it will take and who is going to find it.

Recently, a fellow composer discovered one of my FREE pieces originally written as part of the VGM challenge and transcribed for piano, and took it into his own hands.

Michael Chadwick, aka known as Nebyoolae , covered Bittersweet Memory not one, but TWO times.

This first is with him playing solo guitar:

The second, where he brought the piece to his band is a FULL ON JAM!!

Additionally, a THIRD performance was realized on Piano by Michael Calabris. His Beautiful interpretation of this melody is on YOUTUBE.

This all came from the original which can be heard here:

In my opinion Its an honor when someone takes the time to learn your music at all, let alone cover it!

I hope you enjoy these covers, and that maybe it will inspire you to cover either one of mine or a colleagues melody.

(Reminder: Always ask before posting though!

Michael Chadwick’s Website and BandCamp can be found here:

https://michaelchadwick.info

https://nebyoolae.bandcamp.com/

or you can follow him on Twitter

@mjchadwick

Michael Calabris’s Music can be found at his website

https://michaelcalabriscomposer.com/

Youtube Channel

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuBG_L8w8ntMIt3Htjz6Qng/featured

or you can follow him on Facebook at

https://www.facebook.com/michaelcalabriscomposer

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

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?

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!!

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.

Edit: The Premiere is on Sunday, April 25th, 11 am Central Time ( Noon Eastern Time).

The Link to watch it is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHi8I9kBjeY

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

Staying Healthy at Brass Chix 2020

It’s that time of year again. The mid winter shuffle of Fellow Female identifying Brass Players to the once a year event we like to call, Brass Chix.

The theme this year was Women’s Health as it pertains to brass playing. This year was a bit different for me as well because I got to help plan it!

Before I yammer on about the event, if you are wondering what the heck Brass Chix is and why the fish would woman Brass players gather for this seemingly “girls only” club, please refer to last years blog Post , where I explain it all.

When Sarah Schmalenberger and I met to begin planning this a few months prior, we realized that there were many facets to women’s health that go beyond just the obvious physical aspects. We could include spiritual health, emotional well being, instrument health, and go well beyond the usual advice of exercise, eat and sleep well.

The day started out with a Mindful Start, led by Sarah where we focused on breathing together without a conductor and thinking about our awareness as musicians. She led us in another mindfulness exercise where we assembled into two circles and were instructed to face one another. Upon the resonant cue of Tibetan singing bowls, we were to introduce ourselves on one tone, and silently looked each other in the eyes for a brief moment, before rotating the circle to introduce yourself to the next person on the next tone. It was an effective way to make each other aware of the other’s energy and existence as well as help break the ice among these multi generational women.

We then broke into our usual instrumental groups. The low brass session was led by my Colleague, Lara Dietrich. She led the low brass in some warm-ups, talked about preventing injury, and thoughtfully ended with a reminder that, for emotional well being, it is ok to say NO to things.

After concluding the session, we scuttled down to the presentation room where Sarah shared a fascinating lecture which featured her and Dr. Patricia Maddox’s research on Women’s Health and brass playing- The Brass Bodies Study. She and all of us had a candid discussion about how our bodies at different stages of life- down to years weeks, and days, can and do effect our brass playing due to our unique physiology. Rather than complain that “the men just don’t understand”, she opened up the discussion to encourage women to help each other and shed light on the realities that exist. An article featuring her research can be found here and is well worth the read regardless of how you identify.

Lunch was a fun bit of show and tell.

(a bit of backstory……During our planning session, we came up with an idea to showcase both Brass chix Business owners, who run their own repair shops on opposite sides of the cities; Laurel Chapman and Melanie Ditter. In order to do this, the suggestion came up to make a video that they could also use beyond this and would give them a chance to show off their shops, skills, and teach the Brass Chix how to better care for their instruments. Thanks to my coordination skills (learned in Toastmasters), my friend and talented Filmmaker Jason Shumacher’s assistance (ok, he shot and edited the whole thing πŸ™‚ ), and the amicable agreement of Laurel and Melanie to allow us into their shops and interview them, two videos were produced and shown at lunch. ) People now know about the crud that lies in their instruments if you don’t clean them regularly or eat a hamburger before playing- tee hee.

The after lunch session was a split of two types of networking events. We had the younger (high-school and college aged) group, talk about healthy networking -led by Emily Green and the “Mature/ Experienced” group speed dating activity where we mentioned what we needed and what we could offer. It was fairly helpful and I even met a fellow SAI sister.

The penultimate event was a talk led by a panel of Women- who also had a part in planning this event, and of which I was invited to be a part of as well. This consisted of Me, Lara Dietrich, Allysin Partin, and Tina Cavitt, and each of us talked about an aspect of life that we overcame – or at least learned how to better manage. The subject that I was requested to speak about was…being different. I will admit, while I was humbled yet excited to be asked in the first place, the topic left me initially taken aback. After all, other than being a composer, how am I different enough to justify speaking about this?

My approach was to talk about how I, like everyone else, took my own path, and how due to my circumstances and personality which does not quite fit in with the norm of my chosen field (I’ve always been a paradoxical free spirited introvert, too humble for their own good at times), I had to find other ways to get to where I am today and learn to accept myself just the way I am. I tried to help my audience realize that everyone has things that make them unique which is a beautiful thing in and of itself, and that they should love themselves just the way they are, akin to what Mr. Rogers tried to teach in his lifetime. It must have worked because several of the young (high school aged) girls surprisingly opened up after this. This was the highlight of my day.

Lastly, we ended the day with a good ol’ session of brass choir experience and the Brass chix salute. Overall, it was a good year and I feel that a lot of good will be carried out beyond this day.

If you are a fellow brass Chick , I hope to see you next year where we meet at Schmitt Music in Brooklyn center to focus on……..Gear!