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!!

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 ūüôā ), 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!

The art of Improvisation at Brass Chix 2019

Every year since 2014, Woman Brass players from the Minneapolis-St Paul Metro have been gathering at the end of January for this annual one day conference.

I have been attending this amazing shindig since 2016 (having moved here in March of 2015) and have had the opportunity to see it grow. This year was easily the best program that I’ve attended.

So, What is Brass Chix?

It is a once a year event where woman brass players of all abilities from High School age all the way to Seniors come together to learn from presentations by professionals in the field, and by talking to each other about issues ranging from performance on their particular instrument of choice, to the social aspects of being a woman in what traditionally has been a male dominated area.

Why do we, a group of Women from multiple generations who just happen to play brass instruments, gather for this event every year?

Sarah Schmalenberger puts it best when she says that what makes us unique is that “We as women, never have a straight path”. Because of how most of us are conditioned by society , we are more prone to sacrifice for others before our own needs and desires, and are expected to take a back seat instead of fighting for what we want, whether that be to stay home and take care of the family, or back down and compromise in order to keep peace when faced with conflict.

Men (in general) tend to plow through obstacles hard nosed while women, tend to go around these obstacles. It takes a bit longer for most of us to get where we are aiming to go as a result.

It helps to have this event to discuss these issues and remind ourselves that we handle things differently and are all very capable and powerful in our own ways. Empowerment builds confidence to work towards success. Also, there is just something very special and healing about getting together with others TO MAKE  MUSIC!

My own journey has been a roundabout way of getting to where I am and continues to be this way- but that is a topic for a future blog post or possibly a book someday. For now though LETS GET TO THE BLOG ENTRY OF THE DAY OF BRASS CHIX 2019!!

The day started at St Thomas Student center where I Got to help at the check in table with Sue ( a trumpet player) and noticed a few new faces. When someone asked Where the Horns were rehearsing, without a beat, Sue Responded, “OUTSIDE!!”- the lol moment of the day. (Note: remember, this was in the middle of MN winter, where the temperature outside is easily below zero).

We soon gathered in our respective brass subgroups; Horns, Trumpets, and Low Brass (aka the coolest chix who play Trombone and tuba respectively*).

*This is my opinion that may be a more than a little bit biased

Becky Haines, trombone superstar,  led us in a warmup and reading session, providing excellent advice on breathing exercises and focus techniques.

Lunch was filed with more conversations and LEGOS, meant to be a part of the improvisation theme.( Or maybe a ploy for advertising the then new Lego Movie ha ha). Some lunch conversations ranged from trying to figure out how Legos fit into the music theme to how our every day lives tend to be improvised, especially when trying to fit our passion of music into everything else that goes on around us. Our path around life obstacles tends to be improvised after all.

After LEGO LUNCH,  we gathered in a group and were treated to a Masterclass workshop on practical improvisation advice, led by Local Brass Superstars .

We talked about how jazz improvisation actually works, ways to do it effectively, and learned a little about Judy Gaunt’s (trumpet) experience going through University among some crazy analytical, genius jazz cats. When the presentation was over, several volunteers attempted to do a group improvisation with Oh when the Saints Go Marching In- with some live coaching of course.

After this we separated into our respective subgroups to put this advice into practice. Lauren Husting led the low brass session and introduced us to easy backing tracks with chord changes on YouTube.

ALL of us tried our hand at improvisation and by the end we were all sounding fairly competent. I even managed to “improv” Smoke on the Water when it was my turn during the Dorian chord changes. Thankfully, this got a laugh.

Then it was picture time for our annual group photo.  Heidi, Laurel, and I shared a special moment when we reprised the Oh When the Saints improv. exercise while riding on the elevator on the way down to this part of the shindig.

Our Grand Finale of every year is where we play pieces in a massive brass choir, and share the experience of Making this Music Together. This happened once again, but with the most amount of vigor I’d heard coming from this group since first attending. We always break from the day by reaffirming our bond as Musicians and Women, by doing the Brass Chix Salute.

Next year, the topic of focus will be….WOMEN’S HEALTH as it relates to brass playing. If you are or know a Woman who plays a brass instrument, please spread the word about this event. We learn something new every year, it’s a ton of Fun,  and we have a great time experiencing it together. I Hope to see you in 2020!

PSA: The Importance of Cleaning your Instrument

As I sit here staring at this winter tundra and trying to keep warm, I’ve been daydreaming a lot to keep myself occupied. One thought that randomly popped into my head this morning is that it has been awhile since I’ve cleaned Hector Lannible¬†(my trombone), and by awhile, I mean almost a year ….oops!

I am posting today to remind you of why you should clean your horns and why winter may be the best time to get any adjustments done to keep your horn in top shape.

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When I went to clean Hector, (not to be too graphic),¬† a lot of green coppery residue¬†(along with some other gross things that have been growing in there, I’m sure) came out. Once, a line of what looked like black mold came out with it after a particularly¬†long hiatus. Thankfully, I had the sense to clean it before resuming my old practice regimen.

While actual deaths from playing a contaminated instrument have been rare (though here is one documented case), you have got to remember that this is the time of year that people are most vulnerable to respiratory illness and breathing in mold that may have taken up residence in your instrument is not going to help you stay healthy. In addition, not cleaning periodically is going to make cleaning in the future that much more difficult and can add undue wear and tear to your instrument.

 

If you have a brass instrument, a chem clean (a sort of deep clean that will help rid it of chemical deposits that will not come out with just soap and water and may obstruct the air column and in some cases effect valve action) along with an adjustment may be in order. Believe me when I say that it makes a difference when you are blowing through a squeaky clean pipe rather than a stalactite of lime that has grown in the dark cave of metal tubing over time.

If you can not clean your horn yourself (or after reading tutorials for your instrument are still afraid to try it yourself), please consider bringing it to a specialty shop to get it serviced. If you are in the Minneapolis MN area, here are links to a few good people and places that I know of that specialize in instrument repair and maintenance.

Laurel Chapman

Services Woodwind and Brass

Hours: Made By Appointment

Location: The Ivy Building, Minneapolis (Map)

Contact/Website :http://www.chapmanrepair.com/

 

Melanie Ditter

Services Woodwind and Brass

Hours: Made by Appointment

 Location: East St Paul

Contact/Website:https://www.roguerepairs.com/

612-382-0661

 

Twin Cities instrument Repair

Services Woodwind and Brass

Location: the downstairs corridor of Schmitt Music in Edina (Map)

Hours: Monday ‚Äď Thursday: 10:00am ‚Äď 5:30pm, Friday: 10:00am ‚Äď 5:00pm
Contact: (612) 238-9930 Ext. 3

 

If you do not live in this area, ask around for recommendations. Those in your instrumental circles will know who “the Guy or the Gal” is, so don’t¬†be afraid to ask for several opinions.

One last thought: If you need a chem clean or refurbishments, taking care of these needs during wintertime could help you avoid the rush that comes just before and after marching band season, so your horn is more likely to come back to you sooner. Remember though, that demand at shops varies so if you need your horn back in a hurry, always ask the shopkeeper for a rough timeframe and be upfront with what you want. They need some flexibility to make sure that you are getting quality work done right the first time. Or better yet, bring it as soon as possible to allow plenty of time to get it back before you need it!

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