Friday, December 31, 2010


Here is some inspiration for 2011.

Every musician has nightmares and conversations about not being able to play anymore.  There is an ongoing conversation about focal dystonia or failed dental work.  In these cases, some musicians admit they would stop playing or teaching and some simply state they would learn the piano and stay in the industry.  What would happen if you went deaf?  I do not mean loosing a little bit of hearing from playing in front of an over zealous bass trombonist.  I mean deaf.

During my usual morning NRP listen, I came across Mandy Harvey.  Ms. Harvey lost her hearing while at music school in 2007.  She took a year off, then while playing the guitar with her father realized she could continue to perform.  She briefly describes her fight to perform in the interview of Colorado Public Radio.  Most of the article deals with the production of her second CD.

If dealing with deafness is not enough to motivate you.  Ms. Harvey is only 22.  How about that?  We all hate to see incredible musicians younger than us, but younger and deaf.  Wow.  I need to practice.


Three weeks off the blog since my last regular post.  As most of you know I was quite busy for the first two weeks and visiting my family back east for the last week.  I performed seven concerts and taught in two states over an eight day period.  This was a fun way to end 2010.

My first stop in Columbia was teaching for Michelle Ortiz at E.L. Wright Middle School.  After only four hours of sleep I was in for a day of hard work and pleasant surprises. When I entered the office, I was greeted by Zach, an extremely outgoing sixth grade trombone player, he was my tour guide and helped me find Michelle's room among a campus of a few buildings.  Teaching at E.L. Wright was truly a pleasure, Michelle's students were more advanced and much better behaved than I was expecting.  My goal for the day was to teach her students a better air stream and a better approach to practicing.  We spent time breathing through phrases, play without tongues, articulating on an air stream, and finally playing the exercise.  Hopefully I caught a few of the harder works early enough to make their lives easier.

I also had a chance to play with an old friend Cori Cooper.  The two of us played a Christmas concert in Camden, South Carolina.  The music sounded more like a musical instead of church music.  There was a ton of brass playing and some fast harmonic progressions.  The two us were ready play.....loudly.  Cori and I spent six years together at school playing duets and in ensembles all the time.  We were probably too comfortable with each other, but the constant banter was the only way either of us made it through this gig.

My last visit in Columbia was playing quartets with Brad Edwards, Katie Thigpen, and Ryan Tinker.  The four us rotated throughout all four parts and read music spanning the baroque through contemporary music.  Lesslie Bassett's Quartet turned out to be a fun little piece.  Imitation and homogeneous music interplay with each other giving way to solos in all four parts.  The piece is highly rhythmic and intoxicating.  Altough, there is a slower section in the middle. Check out these guys.  Personally I would like to hear it a little faster.

The importance of listening hits me harder everyday.  This break I added, Pavarotti and Jorgen van Rijen to my daily listening, while Rostropovich made a reappearance.  I think the key is listening to people you want to sound like.

Monday, December 20, 2010

And Then I Turned the Corner

       The last week of my life has been incredible.  I had the opportunity to perform seven concerts, teach at three schools, play a solo with a band, perform several different styles in a number of roles in the section, and I did all of this in two different states.  To top of the my musical year, I played quartets with, Dr. Brad Edwards, Katie Thigpen, and Ryan Tinker.  The reading went well, and making music because we wanted too was a great reward for several years of hard work.  Apparently, my blog is usually too long and a pain to read.  So I will leave you with this interview with Sir Simmon Rattle.  Look for riveting full length entries after the holidays.

Suddenly, (after blogger's stats counts were down) the blog is over 1,600 views. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

YouTube Orchestra

      If you have not heard about the YouTube Orchestra you should check it out.  The group asked musicians to post audition videos on YouTube.  Now, finalist videos are posted on the orchestra's channel.  Anyone can vote on finalists.  (Please vote for McKenzie Allen for oboe please.  He is a fellow gamecock.)  The orchestra is scheduled to play in Australia under Micheal Tilson Thomas.
       When you get to the channel check out the Experiment tab. The YouTube Orchestra has designed a new instrument that uses your webcam to produce pitch.  This is probably good for a few hours of entertainment.  Even if you are not a musician or if you had to pawn your trumpets, you can now have a free instrument that is easy to play right at the end of your iPhone.  Check out other instruments, vote for lots of people, and have fun with their instrument.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Entrepreneurship and Creativity

     Again this morning I woke up and started listening to the Entrepreneurship Thought Leaders podcast out of Stanford. Tina Seeling who normally runs the course was giving a talk, What I Wish I Knew When I Was Twenty. Most of the podcast was retelling stories about her entrepreneur creativity class.  In this class she gives her students problems to solve.  The first problem, make as much as you can off of $5.  The winner of the competition sold their three minute class presentation time to a company eager to recruit Stanford students. 
       The next semester she gave all of her students ten paperclips and four hours to get as much as they could get.  This problem was inspired by a man who took a year to trade a red paperclip for a house.  The winner of this challenge made a sign, Stanford Students for Sale, Buy One Get Two Free.  After talking to people they managed to move up for taking out recycling to leading a brainstorming session for a small company.  They were payed with three computer monitors. Ten paperclips to three computer monitors, nicely done.
     In my current live I feel much like these students.  I spent six years in education only to win three pieces of paper.  My challenge, how do I turn this paper into a freelance trombone career?  For starters I upped the value of my degrees by moving to Colorado.  Here, there is hardly any competition.  In Cincinnati, everyone has a degree from the conservatory, here no one does.  However, this is only a very small part of the solution.
    Ms. Seeling's advice, you need to be able to make your own luck.  "If you go into a room and do not meet someone new, at least you missed out on learning something or making a friend, at most you missed out on a million dollars."  She then told a great story where she started in a grocery store and explained to a foreigner how to make lemonade from concentrate. Turns out the man was to inherit his family company in Chile. When she was in Chile, the man gave her a helicopter ride for the afternoon.  She turned lemonade into a helicopter ride.
     I am reminded about a conversation I had with Nate Siler and Ben "Honeybutter" Clymer about talking to people.  The trombone choir at CCM had played for an art opening, a gig that Nate got for the choir.  The only payment, free food at the reception.  The choir was thrown into a room full of community leaders for about an hour.  Already half the work was done, we were in a room with people who had money and connections, and we were the feature of the evening.  What did we do, talked to ourselves.  Some of the older students did start talking to some of the patrons but not much and not with business cards.  Learning to chat with people is key to getting the next gig.
     I have found every gig leads to the next one.  In my current state, I will get a phone call or email from someone I just met offering me a gig.  The answer is always yes before I ever find out the specifics.  After I make sure I prepare the music I make sure that the people at the gig would want to work with me again.  This means showing up early, chatting a little at the break, and going to the bar afterward.  Sometimes it is hard for me to go to a bar with a bunch of retired band directors, but after they hear a little about what I am doing in town they ask for a business card.  Most of the time this does not lead to a gig, but sometimes it does.  The more business cards I can get out there the more gigs I will get.  My advice, start talking to people, and print some cards.  Get out there and make a opportunity to play.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Ghetto Blaster and New Music

     A lot of discussion is going on about the plight of classical music.  Weather audiences are really attracted to the same boring classics and if "new" music is to far beyond a common audience. Recently, I have been preparing for my solo debut with the Rocky Mountain Brassworks Brassband and many of my friends are asking about the concert.  Trying to explain a brassband to someone who's idea of music is listening to jam bands and dancing all night does seem a little boring.  However, I believe there are a few composers out there who are trying to solve this problem.
     The use of prerecorded sound is nothing new in music, Milton Babbitt pioneered the technique in the 1960s.  Pop artists and classical composers have been sampling a verity of sounds for decades now.  You could even trace early attempts at sampling to pieces like Copland's Lincoln Portrait, a piece that samples speeches made by the 16th president.
      Today with all of the technology available composers are doing some really cool stuff.  Check out Jacob ter Veldhuis.  I first came across JacobTV thanks to some saxophone friends at the University of South Carolina.  They were consistently talking about this piece for saxophone and ghetto blaster.  The piece was Grab It. In my junior year the New Century Saxophone Quartet gave a concert of JacobTV's music as part of the South Exposure New Music series at the University.  NCSQ gave the American premiere of JacobTV's Heartbreakers, a piece that samples both sound and video from the Jerry Springer Show.  The work is very touching, using jazz as the genre, JacobTV samples the episode on crack addicted prostitutes.  The concert was amazing.
     JacobTV's work is highly political.  Take a listen to his trombone piece I Was Like Wow. (This is a full recording played by Keith Jackson of West Virginia University). The piece samples interviews from two Iraqi war vets.  The piece also has video to go along with it; the video is incredibly difficult to watch.  Apparently audience members were weeping openly at the premiere in Holland.  You can listen to Jorgen van Rijen talk about the premiere and watch some of the video.

      There are some younger composers that are currently writing for ghetto blaster.  Inez McComas actually wrote me a piece for prerecorded sound earlier this year.  A Quick Trip with Lots of Baggage, uses recorded sounds of luggage, car horns, and trolleys to create a sound one might find on a street corner in San Francisco.  The work is a good length clocking in at 5 minutes and incorporates aspects of melodic content and minimalism.  I performed the work twice, however the piece has already been performed by Dr. Brad Edwards and by Kelly Jones.
     There are some great composers writing in genres that everyone can enjoy.  Listen to people like Steve Reich, and Louis Andriessen.  The key is getting music to the general population.  Projects like Classical Music Revolution are performing music in bars to provide a wider audience with great music. Everytime I hear a recital that uses prerecorded sound, the concert is talked about for some time.  I know my friends who are not musically trained prefer this in contrast to works with piano.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pierre Monteux School for Conductors and Orchestral Musicians

      Please it is pronounced Pea-air Mon-Teu.  I attended the Pierre Monteux School in the summer of 2009.  The experience was nothing short of inspiring.  Nestled away on the opposite peninsula across the Frenchman bay from Bar Harbor the school can claim one of the most beautiful landscapes for a music school.  Monteux is certainly the most remote in the small town of Hancock, Maine.  Monteux makes for the perfect summer get-a-way.

       For anyone who has never been to the Maine coast, I truly recommend it.  The winding coast lined with jagged rocks, covered with fog makes the perfect setting for all those New England fishing stories.  This also makes for really calm mornings, walking through the fog to get to rehearsal.
       The daily life at the Monteux is pretty relaxing with the exception of rehearsal.  The orchestra is made up of about 60 musicians, there is a full wind and brass section leaving a smaller string section.  Some of the musicians are also student conductors.  The conductors are required to play in the ensemble so they can actually see the results of their stick waving.  The only source of authority, the Maestro Michael Jinbo, sits on a huge throne, once occupied by Pierre Monteux* and Charles Bruck, at the rear of the ensemble.  The orchestra starts and does not stop until the repertoire of about 70 pieces is finished.  There is occasional and insightful instruction for both conductors and musicians from Maestro Jinbo.
        On top of weekly orchestral concerts, there are weekly chamber concerts as well.  Chamber music, as well as most of the school, is run by the students.  Chamber music is all voluntary with music coming from individuals or from a small music library in the area.  If you can convince a pianist to play with you, there are great solo opportunities on the chamber concerts as well.  There are also opportunities to play the occasional church gig.
       Everything is run or at least helped run by the students, from cleaning the hall to the school t-shirt to the yearly pig roast.  The board of directors and the executive director, Ron Schwizer take care of everything important and they help out with the extras organized by the students.  The year end banquet is attend by the board and orchestra, even thanksgiving cannot hold a candle to that feast.

      The festival holds true to the Maine lifestyle.  There is no television, limited Internet access, and limited cell phone coverage.  There are plenty of hiking paths, kayak trips, and relaxing afternoons.  Being away from the distractions of normal life you can actually enjoy your time in Maine and get to know everyone in the orchestra.  There are plenty of parties, quiet lunches, and croquet matches.
     I recommend the Pierre Monteux School to anyone who wants to play huge repertoire, practice their ensemble playing, and meet some excellent musicians in a low stress environment.  At the Monteux school you will have the opportunity to play rep that you have always wanted and you will find some real gems that you have never heard of.  During my summer I had the chance to play Appalachian Springs, Sibelius 2, Dvorak 7, and Chausson's Symphony in Bb, along with a ton of other great music.  The lack of individual lesson teachers allow you to actually practice your skills and gain confidence; no one is helping you out with that clarinet solo in Brahms 3.
     I had the time of my life at the Pierre Monteux School.  I met some really awesome musicians and hopefully some life long friends.  I have already recommended the school to several of my friends, but more should go.  Check out the list of alumni, truly impressive.  The concerts are recorded and broadcast on Maine Public Radio throughout the year.  Check out on December 15, at 8 pm est for 2010s performance of Bizet, Hindemith, and Kodaly.

*Pierre Monteux never sat on the 'throne' (he sat on a chair in the back of the viola section, sometimes w/ his instrument in hand.)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

160Project Turns 40

    I have been thinking all day about what I wanted to write about in my 40th blog post.  I know since I have only been writing for 10 weeks 40 blogs seems like quite a lot and not so much like a major milestone.  But for some reason, I have it in my head that 40 blog posting is a rather large deal.  I have had the motivation and dedication to actually keep writing.  I think the only thing I have willingly dedicated more than 10 weeks to is my trombone.
     I also spent the better part of the day doing some last minute recordings for ITA.   The recording did not go so well; I will be doing some ultra last minute recording tomorrow morning.  Recording for ITA has brought back some memories from over the years.  The first tape I sent anywhere was of the University Blows Trombone Quartet, my undergraduate trombone quartet consisting of Alex Manley, David Dodgen, Zek Wardlaw, and myself.  That very long weekend was probably the best cooperation the four of us showed each other over the three years that we play together.  We had a couple of late nights in the recital hall at the University of South Carolina.  The best part was the fake tape we recorded for Dr. Edwards, we took the Locus Iste at 35 bpm (the slowest my Dr. Beat would go) and we played the Bach fugue as fast as we could go without stopping.  Well when Doc heard the tape he just smiled with that goofy grin and asked if these were really our best takes, he had no idea we were kidding.

       Another great time we had was working up the Ben van Dijk Wagner for 5 Bones the first time.  The four of us and alumnus Dan Hine were going to play the van Dijk for trombone night.  Dr. Edwards kindly agreed to stand in for Dan during rehearsals.  The five of us (Quartet + Doc) were tuning the Ride of the Valkyries when a squadron of helicopters flow by Doc's office window.  We immediately played the ride as loud and as fast as we could, to this day that is probably the most fun I have playing the ride.  Of course coming that close to recreating the scene from Apocalypse Now is probably the closest any of us will ever get to war.

       Throughout my studies at the University of South Carolina, I had the chance to correspond with Tom Everett.  Mr. Everett is one of the founding members of the ITA and compiled the complete annotated guide to bass trombone literature.  Mr. Everett did a great deal for the trombone and is directly responsible for dozens of premieres. Mr. Everett is the director of bands at Harvard.   Most of our correspondance was about is contribution to the instrument and the steps he took in talking with composers.  I had the idea to ask him what his most cherished musical memory was.  I figured I would get some story about some famous musician, instead I got a very insightful and humble response.

"My most cherished musical moments? I.... a chord played balanced and in tune...there's nothing quite like it! Keep talking with composers. Get out there and play...make opportunities to play. Follow your goals and dreams with commitment and passion!"
~Tom Everett

Hamburgers and Quality

     It is no secret I am in love with the quintessential American cuisine, the Hamburger.  This succulent treat was in fact the first food I ever developed my own recipe for.  My burger has been through several manifestations and now has jalapenos and bacon in the meat, the patties are blue cheese stuffed, their are fresh vegetables for toppings, a fried egg, and the buns are homemade.  I have sampled several burgers from all over the country many of which are marketed "famous" or "best burger in town."  Most of the time I am disappointed.
     Yesterday, while I watched some not so great football, I sampled two more burgers.  The first burger was from the Choppers near my apartment in Cherry Creek. The Flanagan was alright, at the time I was pretty satisfied.  The patty was thick and designed well, the bun was a little small, the egg was overcooked, and the lettuce and tomato a little old. The patty had a lot of attention and really made up for the rest of the burger. The second burger was at Jackson's in Lower Downtown, Denver, I was surrounded by Colorado Hokies.  The Spicy Cabo, left me a little disappointed.  Everything about the Cabo was better than the Flanagan except for the patty.  The bun was huge, the veggies were fresh, and the jalapenos were deep fried.  The patty was bought frozen and thin.  The burger at Jackson's was cheaper and came with fries, I would actually consider both of these burgers above average, however I will not be eating either again.
      Now that you are hungry and want some addictive fat in your diet, what does this have to do with my quest for the perfect sound?  In this context perfect means versatile.  Take a second and think about all the components of both of these slightly complex burgers.  Neither of these are bun + patty, in fact most burgers you will actually pay for at least have veggies.  Of course the bun, patty, and lettuce have to be perfect in order for the burger to succeed. On the other hand if the onion is to heavy, the burger is destroyed.
     Now think about your trombone playing, is versatile in your vocabulary?  Can you play ultra high, ultra low, can you play technical passages, and lyrical passages. This is the easy part, most musicians get to a point where these are solid, except sometimes tenor players whine about low notes and basses complain about high notes.  Now think about your role in the section, can you play principle, second, third?  Do you know how to tune a fifth, a third, and you play with the same style as the trumpets?  A lot of musicians never learn this, most of the time, players in schools get stuck in one of the roles and rarely perform one of the others.  Now think about genres, exactly how comfortable are you playing jazz?  What about lead in a gospel orchestra?  What about soloing, or sharing a bass part in brass band, or supporting a trombone choir.
      For all of you still in music school, what do you think you are going to do when you graduate?  Most of you will say oh I don't play jazz, or I am classically trained.  I have some news, No One Cares.  Freelancing can work, but you cannot be picky.  Someone says you want a gig, you say, "Yes" then ask specifics.
     A colleague of mine, whom I was teaching with, and had never heard me play ask if I wanted a gig, then asked if I am comfortable playing tenor parts.  Yes, of course.  Well, when I saw the music my jaw dropped.  Lead on a jazz chart, awesome.  Yesterday morning was the rehearsal, the gig is for a large church south of Denver.  There is an ad hoc orchestra and a very large choir.  We played everything, hymns, huge orchestra works, baroque, and the dreaded jazz chart.  And I did it all on my huge Shires bass trombone.
    Now I want to look at next weekend, this gig is only one of the three I am playing.  The other two, the Rocky Mountain Brassworks, and a trombone choir.  All three of these have very little rehearsal time and I will playing in no less than seven different styles.  How many of you do that in less than 48 hours?
    The moral of the story, take care of your bun and patty.  Make sure you can play your instrument, then make sure you are comfortable with other styles.  Can someone dress you up with some jalapenos or a fried egg?  Making music is the goal, playing trombone is how you make music, make sure you can make a variety of music.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Once upon a down beat

     The role an instrumentalist plays in a piece of music is often over looked.  Occasionally a conductor might ask someone who else is playing the same line or adjust for balance.  It is imperative that an instrumentalist uses his ears to decide what his function might be. 
      The surface level is to determine who you are playing with.  Are you part of the trombone section? Are you playing with the tuba?  Are you simply the resonator for the timpanist?  Are you playing with the string basses?  Are you sharing a line with the third trumpet.  All of these questions should be answered by the end of the first rehearsal, or even before you arrive.  Knowing this will help you determine how to function within the ensemble.
      The next step is to determine if you are support or melody.  This again should be fairly easy.  Once you realize you are playing a supporting line determine how you can make the melody easier to play.  Focus on the harmony, as supporting personnel it is your job to provide direction. If the melody is gone the music should still be interesting to listen to.  Make the harmonic progression painfully clear.
     The hard parts are the hand offs.  Transitions are often overlooked.  These moments are what make a performance incredibly special.  Ask yourself, where is this line going.  Prepare the next entrance.  Where did you start?  Make sure you enter exactly where the ensemble is.  Transitions are energy building moments, help your colleagues know where you are going.
     Today I was rehearsing a High School brass section.  I have use telling a story as a technique with this band several times.  My favorite is using the Once Upon a Time technique.  More often then not in a transition a group of instruments are preparing for another section to play.  In these couple of measures between phrases if there is no energy building, the music is going to be boring.  Today the entire brass section had a four measure transition into a trombone feature. 
     Sections like these are frustrating for young ensembles.  I spent a great deal of time working with the trumpets, horns, and low brass to get these four measures exciting.  Only after I told them they were preparing for a trombone section did one of trumpets say, "Oh, once upon a downbeat."  Yes that is exactly it, you may feel stupid building a huge crescendo only to stop once the phrase actually begins.  However, this set up the trombones perfectly and allowed these musicians to play with the confidence they needed for the phrase.
     These moments are easily overlooked in the absents of rehearsal time.  Warren Deck, "would tell you it's time to be a grown up musician and actually have an idea."  If you go, your colleagues will go to, but always remember where you are going and where you came from.

New Music

     The next email comes from my friends Marc Williams.  If you do not remember Marc is the conductor I stayed with while in LA.  Marc conducts new music concerts in New York.  He is a great musician, great guy, and is hopelessly in love with "modern" music.  Marc sent me this article, Why do we hate modern classical music? The article is an interesting read.  I am listening to some beloved modern music, Johan De Meij's Symphony No. 1 The Lord of The Rings while I write this post.
      Alex Ross, the author of the article, is pointing out the huge failure of "modern" music.  He discusses performances of the second Viennese school, John Cage, and Benjamen Brittin. He sights examples of mixed response from the audiences and mixed reviews from critics.  Ross spends a great deal of time comparing modern music to modern art and complaining of the success of great modern art museums while modern music has trouble being performed. 
      Keep in mind Alex Ross knows a lot more about music than I do.  Ross is the critic for the New York and has been publishing reviews of music for longer than I have been alive.  He is also the author of two acclaimed books, one of which, The Rest is Noise, I have just put on hold at the Denver Public Library.  Ross would probably laugh at me choice of music as an example "modern" music.
      The examples the Alex Ross provides us with are not "modern" music, some of the music has actually been around for almost 100 years.  None of the examples are from the past 40 years, in fact only some of the barely mentioned composers wrote piece while Mr. Ross has been alive.  More over the main composers he mentions do have a place in the performance repertoire. Also these composers have been devoted a great deal of study in ever music school across the world.  To toss them up as under appreciated is asinine.
      As for the issues of audiences, before I attend a concert I learn as much as I can about the works being performed.  I even listen to the works as many times as possible.  The first concert I heard was the Chicago Symphony playing Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra.  When my teacher found out I had never heard the piece, he made me listen to the concerto and Shostakovitch's Seventh Symphony. (Both of which would fit Mr. Ross' time line for modern music and are performed quit frequently). I have noticed when I hear a concert if I am familiar with the work I enjoy the concert much more.  The general public probably thinks this as well which is why performances of Beethoven and Tchaikovsky are always well received.
      Premieres have always been a sticky issue as Mr. Ross points out.  There are not many ensembles that perform new music and even less that perform new music exclusively.  But there are some, in fact I would venture to say a lot more than Mr. Ross points out.  I think the big issue with premieres is again how familiar the audience and the orchestra is with any given work.  Premieres usually are performed drastically under the ability of the ensemble, simply because the work is new, no one has ever played it before.  Phrasing is usually weak and balance is usually off.  Second and third performances are usually much better.
     To borrow from a teacher of mine, Chris Dudley, cream rises to the top.  If the music is good, there will be a second performance.  There will also be room for good music.  Quality music might take some time, Strauss had to rewrite Le Bourgeois Gentlehomme 11 times before he came up with a piece that is performed only rarely.  The first performance of great music received luck warm receptions.  Le Sacre Du Printemps was booed off stage.  Mahler's and Beethoven's Fifth Symphony writen off as long and boring, the reception of Roth's First Symphony was so bad he committed suicide.
     As for the acceptance of modern art vs. modern music.  Visual Art has an unfair advantage, it is a tangable thing.  People can look view the work for as long as the like.  Once a piece of music is over, it's over; at a premiere there is no getting a second listen unless you know someone who can get you a recording.  I would like to point everyone back to the post about Ratatouille, listen to Anton Ego's monolgue.  The danger of a critic comes at the defence of the new.  The New takes time to catch on, and in a world driven by profit, the new often takes a beating.
     Good music will always have a place in performance.  Shocking music will even have a place in performance or at least study.  New Music will even have a place in performance, but only once or twice if the piece is not good.  So support composers, give them time and a chance to produce quality music.  Perform their music...twice.  I have found premieres to be a great selling point on recitals, some people really like the fact music is new and refreshing.

What, what, Da-email.

     As the 160Project enters a new month, I am starting a new series.  I have started getting comments and emails from across the country in support of the 160Project and my life in Denver.  I am going to join the ranks of internet legands like Strong Bad.  I would like more input from my readship, so if you would like to email me for some advice, an article you find interesting, or simply to show your support I would like to post it on my blog.
Whatever misspellings and bad grammar happen to be present don't detract 
from the message. Sort of akin to cracked notes in a performance!      
As far as staying motivated,  I recommend lots of listening and trying to perform in 
any capacity possible.  As far as my own personal experience goes, not being in 
school has motivated my practice beyond anything I experienced in school.  
Not having a concert every week really driven me to work harder in hopes that I'd 
one day have such an active performance schedule again.   I hope to get up to 
Denver to play with the symphony again in the spring.  If so, we'll definitely hang!   
For now, more audition prep.  LA is in a month oh boy!    Take care!

Steve Kilburn

    Steve thanks for the advice.  Right now I am listening to Shostakovitch's second piano concerto. The piece is quickly becoming one of my favorites, sorry I know you probably prefer the first. (Shosti piano no.1 has a sick trumpet part).  As for performance, I am really busy this month.  Right now, this ITA tape is giving me a headache.  Milwaukee at the end of January, hurray for playing the samething everyday for six weeks. Thanks for the advice Steve and thanks for reading.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


   Apparently, My brother, Bobby, did not like my last post about perfection.  I should be more clear, of course the term perfection is undefined.  Only because we all have our own interpretations, what defines perfect for one person is not perfect for another.  And more over perfect technique does not make perfect art.  I guess I mean the term perfection to be synonymous with Art, Inspiration, Divinity, Sublime, that which defies defining.
   This is a difficult task to discuss and has frustrated philosophers for hundreds of years.  Artists have a way of defining it, with their medium.  Not much art is easy to define because it was produced in an attempt to define that which words cannot define.  So tonight, I will use a medium that we can all understand to help me define the
    As many of my friends know I have a soft spot in my heart for film.  In this case I want to discuss a scene from what I think is one of the ingenious films of all time, Ratatouille, the animated film from Pixar.  I think this movie is great because of the depth of the villain, Anton Ego.  Ego is not the main villain but he is the most interesting. Ego is a food critic that loves food so much he eats very little.  When Ego is presented he is very cold and evil; to me he seems like a man who has lost his inspiration for being a critic.  A character that fell in love with food long ago and has forgotten why.

In these 45 seconds, Anton remembers exactly why he loves food.

    Anton Ego is changed for the rest of the movie.  He has a great little speech in which he explains a lot about himself, food, and perfection.  Again I must reiterate, the quest for perfection is the quest for inspiration, thought, and the sublime.  I hope this bit of film with help clear up some of my clumsy ramblings.