Friday, December 28, 2012

State of the Art

A few days ago I stumbled across an article in TOPS magazine about a woman who stated the obvious. She doesn't particularly enjoy going to her kids band concerts.  She gives various reasons like poor acoustics (we all know how fun it is to play in a gym) repetitive repertoire (how many times have you heard a 6th grade band play the same thing) and so on.

I happened to agree with her statements, I don't enjoy going to those things either.
Naturally, I start to catch heat for my words, but my friends are polite enough to accept my difference of opinion.  BUT I did notice a trend.  The people that were so disgusted by her article, were people from the Lexington Louisville area.  These areas have great band programs with great things coming out of them each year.  SO naturally, those people are disgusted by the thought that someone could talk so badly about middle school "squawkers."

I know the woman is a member of the board of education... I don't see why that matters
I know she is a daughter of a musician... I don't see why that matters
I know she has several children go through that schools band program... I don't see why that matters

I agree with her statements in a different light.  I think the state of public education as a whole is way out of balance... but particularly that arts programs.  Yes, I know there are several statistics that say art makes for a well rounded person, but that isn't the issue to me.

There are too many mediocre "teachers" out there.  I've seen MANY friends barely pass through theory I that are now teaching kids.  I've seen people who can hardly hold up their instrument to play a jury walk across the stage to receive a teaching degree.

So back to what I feel the issue is... how can you be pumped to go hear a middle school band play... when the person in charge can barely spell a C major chord in 2nd inversion.  Fine, we aren't going to hear these kids play to inspire us or shock us... we are their to support and encourage... I refuse to encourage mediocrity from the teacher... by showing enthusiasm for a poorly played tuning note.  This kind of encouragement projects onto the kids that mediocrity is ok in this industry.

Look around now, do you see how saturated the arts industry is with bullshit?  It's because at some point, half of the "artists" that are out there were told, "Oh that's great sweetie, keep it up" When really, it is no better than that drawing your mom put up on the fridge when you were in kindergarten.

We live in a society that fears failure so much that we allow bullshit to lower our expectations.  AND YES, I do believe it starts at a young age, like the middle school age.

I think the worst part about this whole situation is that the author of the article will be forced to apologize to the few people who even READ this damn magazine.  She just stated her opinion and many people disagreed... via SOCIAL MEDIA... apparently that is enough to warrant a boycott anymore.  This woman is allowed to voice her opinion about anything at any time about anyone.  If there were restrictions on that... then what is the purpose of the first amendment...

If we don't have rules, then we are nothing more than savages.

I've said this before in some past blog about how I feel about arts funding.  I know many of my friends disagree, but I say cut it all.  When you look at the times in history when people stopped funding the arts... incredible works came out.  We were forced to look inward without the help of finances and all of the mediocrity was pushed aside.  Artists have higher standards when there isn't that cushion backing you up.  WHY? Because it is OUR livelihood... when have to be servants to the people because that is what society is... goods and services.  We connect to people through various mediums, and if we can get paid from it because it connected deeply... the so be it.

Though that last rant had nothing to do with middle school band programs... it has everything to do with it... One last note... they say that those who can, can.... and those who can't, teach.... well what happens when those that can't, fail?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Silence is deadly

Taking a break from practicing and composing and thought I would blog.

I'm in my last week of Texas for the semester. No finals or anything, just needed some time to gather my funds to drive back home!!

Yeah, it's been a rough semester money wise, but shit happens.

So what do I do to not think about the lack of cash flow right now?
I practice and compose... and perform occasionally.

Maybe it is just me, but this place is dead right now... the small group scene is happening for sure...
but large ensemble stuff is lame.  I don't want to play "In the Mood" one more time.

Right now I have Pandora playing "Mostly Others Do the Killing" and that is what I want to play right now... this Don Cherry style composition mixed with different flavors that each musician brings to the group.

And then I think... there are so many performers out there today that will ever appreciate the longest second of their life... that moment of finishing a piece of music that no one has heard... and the audience not knowing if it is over.... and if they should applaud.. or if they even liked it...

That moment of silence is amazing.  It is deafening... that is the job of the performer... to convince someone into liking what you have to say

I think most artists are afraid of failure, and that silence is failure to them.  Innovators are the ones who don't have time to look up to see "failure" (JK).

Moral of the story, keep going, failure is relative.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

I'm mobile

I decided to download the blogger app. So now I can blog whenever. I'm sure I won't spam it up too much, that's what twitter is for.

The only thing I'd like to say right now is that I've started a soundcloud which you can find a link to on the right.
The majority of the art work is from my good buddy Joe King.

Enjoy the sounds, comment freely etc.
I'm sure ill be updating it regularly

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Recitals, Auditions and more

Felt I should do a quick update. Through the massive amount of preparation I've been doing these past few weeks, I forget to just sit down and type.

I successfully completed my DMA Chamber Recital a few weeks ago.  By far one of the more challenging experiences I've had but my teachers and friends all helped pull it together.

I've gotten great comments from people ranging from "Thank you for playing things NOT in the standard repertoire" to "that piece pissed me off, you'd play something really pretty and then you'd go left"

I don't really care what the reaction, I just want a reaction.  I think some of us have gotten so into perfection, that we forget about the audience.  And if someone in the audience has the balls to tell you how they really felt, then you've done your job.

It wasn't a perfect recital, but it was engaging. I feel comfort in that.

AT the same time, I passed the pre screening round for the Airmen of Note Bass Trombone spot.
Though I would love to get the gig, I don't know if the military will have me.

I've gone through this before with The Jazz Ambassadors, but because I am deaf in one ear, they had to turn me away.

I could have gotten a waiver, but the turn around wasn't quick enough for the audition. Now I know better, but I also have a lot more tattoos now and I am still deaf.  I just feel like I would be too big of a project for the Air Force to take on, and therefore not let me audition.

But I am hoping for the best.

At this point in the semester I am just going through the motions. I'm acing all of my classes and doing well in my playing. I am broke, but it is just that time of the year.  Basketball season is back, and the Patriots are winning their division.

On an artistic note, I am back to composing new material.  I found myself hunched over the computer this weekend writing an 8 movement Suite for 2 saxes, 2 trumpets, tenor and bass bone, bass and drums full of colors and effects.  (Should get a rise out of some folks)

Oh, and one last thing. I have started applying for college teaching jobs. Currently waiting to hear from one out in East Washington.

Back to the Shed

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


It has been awhile since I sat down and listened to this piece.
Based on a play by Georg Buchner, it is an intense story of a man and a woman, and oddly enough their child.

The man, Wozzeck, in my opinion is a victim of the typical story of jealousy. He has horrible nightmares and suspects his wife, Marie of being unfaithful.

Marie is devout in her religion and is in fact having feeling for another man... and everyone knows about it.  Wozzeck's rage takes over and is about to beat her. She then says, not even her father laid a hand on her, and that she would rather have a knife in her belly than a hand on her.

That is exactly what she gets later. Wozzeck murders her with a knife... his guilt consumes him as he is trying to wash the blood off and throw the knife away in the pond.  He drowns himself.

So what happens to the kid?  In this story, who is the hero? Some say it is the kid, because he witnessed all of this and did nothing.  He was never in any harm, physically.  

Or is this one of the first instances of the "ant-hero"

Amazingly enough, this whole opera is about the state of women in Europe at the time. How they suffered in many aspects of life, and in the end, the children were left motherless or fatherless.

Without discussing the harmonic and melodic complexity of the music, it should be noted that MUSIC has a social responsibility.  It isn't always meant to be beautiful, or to make you feel some variation of happy.  Sometimes it is political, or racially driven.  In this case, "sexually" driven, in the sense of male and female. 

So I come back to my point of who is the hero?
I say it is Wozzeck. Not because of the underdog effect, but because he gave into what we are as humans. We are jealous individuals, and fighting nature like that is ... well unnatural.  Yes, I agree that this is tragic... but I obviously see a correlation between this and Fight Club.

This sort of quasi- person you want to be but society has the thumb on you- kind of character
The anti- hero that the audience eventually wants to win.  But he never does. We look at entertainment as something to remove us from our own shitlives.. but we NEED that part to make the rest look great.

Works like Wozzeck force you to look and listen to how the human experience can be a dark and brutal bitch.  But it's ok... we need that to put the rest of our life into perspective

Friday, October 5, 2012

Because I'm getting old and crotchety

Received an email today.

Here was my response:

I feel like I am just a number with a dollar sign in front.  I don't feel like anyone in the graduate school cares enough about individuals education so much as they care about their own reputation.

There are high school kids taking AP courses and retaking the ACT and SAT to get higher grades so that schools will HELP pay for tuition. (not including the various fees)  Let's face it, its the United States Education System. When GRADUATE students come in, bright eyed and a little nervous to take the entrance exams to hopefully place out of remedial courses, our education and hard work still isn't good enough for you.  Therefore, we have to take the remedial courses before we can take our major classes, thus keeping us here longer and making us pay more and more each year.

As a DMA student, not only do I have to PAY for the recital credits I am required to do (12 credits total) I have to pay for accompanying and recording fees which can add up to $300 more.  I am paying more for my degree by the semester than most other majors are.  This is unfair and is indicative of the education system.

If you simply told us that you are a business, and not an institution that is meant to expand our knowledge, then perhaps I would be happier.  At least then I wouldn't feel like a victim of a ponzi scheme.

"The only thing that interferes with my learning, is my education" - Einstein 

Let's see how this goes.

Monday, September 24, 2012

One month in..

"I am happy to express from this darkness and draw a true picture of the condition in which I exist. I am moving towards a dark cave and a dark life in the shadow of a dark prison. This is a prison that does not know humanity, and does not know anything except the language of power, oppression and humiliation for whoever enters it. It does not differentiate between a criminal and the innocent."

As a precursor to my semester so far, I feel that quote to be fitting. Google it and you will see the horrible circumstances in which is was written. 

As it stands, this semester is of to a great start.  


Because I am playing the game for once. I'm traveling down that path where I bow down to power, and bring myself "below my pay grade"

Regardless, rolling over does make life a little easier.  But at what cost?

Without getting too dark, (or darker) I'm working on some great music, and making a lot of progress.  
The only thing that scares me a bit is.... this time next year... I'll be in my last year of school ever.

This must be how my friends in my Master's felt... the ones that didn't go on... 

Other than a slight hiccup at the beginning of the semester (no need to go into what happened), it has been great to be back.

Now, time to shed, because there are gigs out there to be won!