2017

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Probably the last post of the year. It’s been a crazy semester. To be honest I think I missed a few of these biweekly posts due to the fact that time just seems to disappear. On the bright side, I now know how to write lesson plans and a complete unit, I can play the french horn, the string instruments, and my piano chops are getting better. CFON had a great semester with the new group. I was nervous for awhile that we weren’t getting through the arrangements fast enough, but as always I was surprised to see that we pulled it together and had a great concert with four new songs. Finals are… as expected. My most difficult one will probably be conducting, at least as far as I can tell based on the rubric. Lots of things to worry about. Western final went well; it was nice to find out that it was mostly multiple choice. Honestly everybody in that class crammed before every major test. I think if we had more periodic assignments, we would internalize the information better. Just a thought. Nevertheless, I still learned about 700 years of music history I knew nothing about before this class, even if I only remember the baseline techniques and composers. I look forward to winter break. I don’t like to just do nothing, so I usually spend the month learning things I WANT to learn, rather than what I’m told to for my major. I also spend the time practicing piano and trombone. Not so much euphonium, but I work the euphonium chops in the process of playing trombone. My goals this break are to arrange a new song for CFON, record a couple covers (possibly one on guitar), and do some reading. I never get to read for leisure during the semester, and I look forward to tearing through a bunch of jazz history books. That’s the one thing I wish they taught here at Keene State. The jazz history class got canned after Baldini left, but I took about ten of his personal books on the subject when he cleaned out his office.

2017 was quite the year. It’s not over yet, but I doubt anything of note will happen between now and January. Between going to Africa, traveling with NAFME/Chamber Singers, and moving into my own apartment, this has definitely been a year of firsts. See you on the other side, hopefully with some more songs under my belt and plenty to talk about jazz history.

Almost done?

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Concert band is over. It was a great concert. The best concert. Probably the best sounding one since I’ve been here. But all great things must end. Moving on with the semester, I took a trip last thursday to Connecticut with the Chamber Singers (plus the Conducting I class), to do a choral exchange at two high schools, Middletown and RHAM. I really enjoyed one of the songs they sang at Middletown High that mimicked a thunderstorm with body percussion. That night we went to an open rehearsal for the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. It was definitely a new experience for me. It’s an entirely different sound when the theatre isn’t full of people. They were more in tune than any other ensemble I usually hear. The floor shook when the basses entered. The massive viola section sounded like just one voice. I was thoroughly impressed. Another thing I thought was neat was just seeing all the players in every day clothes. They’re no celebrities, but usually the players are only seen in tuxedos and dresses. It was a nice reminder that despite how good these players are, they are still normal people and came from a similar path to me.

I tried to stay in Connecticut at my hometown for the weekend to work on a paper for my Western Music History class and write some lesson plans for Curriculum and Assessment, but a tree fell on the power lines down the road from my house, shutting off the power and WiFi for two days. So much for that. I went back to campus Saturday morning and camped out in the library. Got about half of the paper done. My “chosen” topic is the usage of secular Cantus Firmi in sacred music of the early medieval era, however there is very little accessible info on this. Most articles I found had to be rented for WAY more than this paper is worth.

CFON had their Fall Invitational about a week and a half ago. We debuted a couple new songs including Believer (Imagine Dragons) and Gravity/Run to You (Various Artists, Pentatonix). The concert went well, and one other group came to perform too. All in all, a good concert.

We have more orchestra rehearsals, now that the brass have to come on Mondays. So that’s another hour and half spent sitting there. But the pieces are really coming together; the string sections sound more and more in tune, and the pieces are starting to tell a story. I look forward to the rest of the concerts this semester, ESPECIALLY jazz band. We are starting to sound like a professional group. It’s almost like we go to school for this or something.

Anyway, the semester is coming to a close, and just about every class is throwing everything it has at me. I heard this year would be the hardest; didn’t believe it until now. I mean, it’s not like it gets easier from here. Wish me luck.

10/21

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The semester is definitely getting busier. I’ve had to learn six instruments in about two months, and am currently working on repertoire for my senior recital. My workshop recital is next Wednesday, and I am performing Reflective Mood by Sammy Nestico on the euphonium. In voice lessons I’m currently working on 5 songs, in about as many languages. French has proven to be the most difficult. Keene just hosted the Cantate! choral festival, and I played in one song with the brass ensemble and sang a few with Chamber Singers. Everything went well, and I think the high schools that came seemed to have a good time. Next week Chamber Singers is singing at a nursing home. Soon we’ll be touring around Vermont/New Hampshire.

The students I tutor are all taking their first aural skills midterm, so that last 2 weeks have been filled with study/prep/review sessions. I think all of them are going to do well, it’s just a really nerve-racking test when taking it for the first time. The professor changed up his curriculum, but I think its for the better. More students require tutoring, but it’s not a bad thing at all. I feel like there are more first year students that are going to stick with the program. Aural skills is always a roadblock for a lot of people, and in many cases they end up dropping the program entirely because of it. I stress the importance of having these skills as a musician, and once students stop thinking about the class as test after test and focus on the skills they’re learning, it becomes more enjoyable and even easier to progress in.

In CFON news, we learned my newest arrangement, “Believer”, by Imagine Dragons, in only a few rehearsal. We’re singing that as well as a few old songs at an acapella contest in Boston at Faneuil Hall. We don’t go to win, but it’s always a lot of fun. Some groups from the Sing-Off always show up, so there’s really no chance for us, but it’s great to hear the other groups and get ideas for future arrangements.

Pumpkinfest is here. Today there is one at the Cheshire fairgrounds, and next week Keene will finally host it again after a few years off due to “riots”. Hopefully there isn’t anything of that sort this year. Stay safe, owls.

Things Are Picking Up

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Now that we’re about a third of the way through the semester, I have a few exams this week. Today I have sort of a mid-term exam in conducting. I prepared well for it, but I feel it could take years for this to become natural. It’s honestly almost like dancing, another thing I’m not good at. I never got to actually conduct the class prior to today, so it’s definitely going to be surprise how this goes. In terms of my Western exam, I feel like everyone is a little unprepared. This is probably because we had very few class meetings, and covered about 400 years of history, as well as some info on Pythagoras and Boethius. It’s a lot of information, but I find its a little easier when I group things together. History is a story, not a list of facts. It’s very interesting, I just wish I had more time to learn about it.

In CFON news, I finished arranging and recording two multitrack covers: Madness, a hard hitting pop/rock song by the English band Muse; and Believer, an eery song by Imagine Dragons. In both covers I applied some new techniques for acapella I always wanted to try out. Because I upgraded to Logic Pro X, I was able to use some handy editing tricks. In Madness, the bass drops down an octave on the second half of every measure. It’s definitely not possible to sing, but as far as cool sounding covers go, it works perfectly. In Believer, I didn’t use any editing to get the low notes, I instead used some throat singing techniques to get powerful bass drops on the chorus. Both covers are on my Soundcloud. We spent a full night of rehearsal showing off what everybody arranged, and I have to say, it’s going to be a good semester for CFON. There are some really talented musicians in the group, as well as some new arrangers.

In the methods classes I’m taking, we finished up the first set of instruments. Trumpet has made way for trombone, and starting on Monday I’m now learning the viola. I think we’re moving a little quick, but as far as having enough skill to teach the instruments, I guess I’m alright. I’ve also learned some good techniques for teaching brass, even though I already knew how to play the instruments.

I picked my classes for next semester and I’m taking exactly what I’m expected to take. No choices this time. I’m a little behind on my ISP’s, so I’m looking into making them up at a community college this summer. Graduating on time would be nice.

Overall, it’s been a terribly busy two weeks, but I’ve learned a lot. I’m looking forward to getting over with today so I can go home this weekend. We have a Collegiate Retreat on Saturday for NAfME. That should be fun, but honestly I’m getting in my car and driving back to Connecticut as soon as it’s over.

Blog Post 9/14

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Third week of classes. Finally getting into the swing of things. Notable new things include a string methods class, which I just joined late. Violin is easier than I thought, and I look forward to practicing it more. Chock Full O’ Notes, my acapella group, held their yearly auditions on Sunday and Wednesday. Less than 20 people auditioned, but we don’t really need the numbers. We were on the lookout for male singers, considering most of the men we had in the group left for various reasons. However, we weren’t as lucky as we hoped and only had one guy that we decided should be in the group. We chose three new women as well. Should be good semester, even with the new sound we have with a soprano-heavy group.

This website is coming together. I ran into a few issues with the text formatting and some useless buttons, but they’ll get worked out soon. I wrote a lesson plan for elementary school that involves students creating music on incredibox.

I look forward to making more progress on this blog/portfolio, and generally getting better at some things throughout the semester.

Site Creation

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Welcome to my new website! This will serve as a blog for a music technology class, and also as a portfolio of my work. Feel free to check out the music page for a few selections of my compositions and arrangements, and links to to my social media.