Weekly Round-up 2/1/16

Performances: As always I keep a calendar updated on this site.

Monday, 2/8 12pm- Hamline University Lunch Recital. More info to come! These are short, informal half-hour recitals and I am happy to be the featured artist for February. I’ll be playing the David Concertino, selections from Bach Cello Suite No 2, and the first movement of Red Dragonfly by Amy Mills.

Rehearsals: Metro met last night for a solid rehearsal. I’m really excited to be playing a piece called Tientos y Danzas, by Gareth Wood. Here’s the first movement as performed by Superbness:

Practicing: It’s audition week! I’m focusing on small details, ‘nailing the changes’ as it were, and trying to iron out a few inconsistencies. On Wednesday I’ll do my last real day of prep- and Thursday and Friday I’ll run my pieces a few times throughout the day but in general taper my practice to make sure I feel fresh for Saturday.

Listening: Not much. Trying to keep my head clear.

Teaching: Air articulations and bopping- steadying the tone and hearing the heart of the note.

Studying: Scores for the David and Red Dragonfly.

Relaxing: Comic books!


Congratulations are in order!

I have a few shout-outs to give to students today, because y’all are awesome and are doing great things.

Firstly, to Bjorn S. for making top orchestra in Minnesota Youth Symphonies- his first audition for the group and he’s already in the top spot! Well-deserved, too.

To Henry O. for making it into the Minnesota Junior Winds for the fall, plus participating in South High Summer Jazz Camp- truly a trombone superstar this summer.

To Maddie R. and Matt W. for their spots in Edina High School’s top band in the fall, and to Amanda M. for making section leader.

To McKenna R. for snagging an alternate spot for the All-State Bands in August.

To all my other students, who work hard and consistently surprise me with their newfound musical strengths. Keep practicing! Good things are coming to you, too.

Weekly Roundup 4/21/15

Reading: Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain, Oliver Sacks

Arranging: Charts for The Satellites are almost all done! I have two more to do: I’ve Never Found A Man (Lavelle White) and I’m Not The Only One (Sam Smith). Never Found is actually done- but our previous arranger wrote a different horn soli that isn’t as hip as the one on the track. So basically I’m just going to redo that part of it.

Practicing: Red Dragonfly, Annie Laurie, chromatic scale patterns, lip slurs up to the 9th and 10th partials.

Rehearsing: Midnight in Moscow this week!

Performing: No gigs currently booked until May.

Listening: Went to see the University Opera perform Marriage of Figaro on Saturday night. My friend Sophie was singing Susanna, and she was incredible! I’m also giving the new Sufjan Stevens album a spin.

Teaching: Lots of folks prepping for auditions. And it’s time again to do some serious intonation/tone production work. Sit tight for that.

Relaxing: 21 days into #30daysofbiking! Doing great so far- averaging at least 5 miles a day, 25 at the most! Also, reading some excellent non-music related fiction and non-fiction.

Weekly Roundup 4/14/15

Reading: Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain, Oliver Sacks

Arranging: Da Pacem Domine, by Arvo Pärt. Originally for choir, I am transcribing it for Metro Brass’s 11-piece lineup. We will be performing it on June 4th. Concert Details.

Practicing: Red Dragonfly, Annie Laurie, chromatic scale patterns, sight-reading

Rehearsing: Metro Brass had a great rehearsal Sunday night.

Performing: No gigs currently booked until May.

Listening: Have had a little break from consuming anything new, musically. Taking in the sounds of spring as it develops instead.

Teaching: Preparing folks for contest performances as well as upcoming auditions.

Relaxing: The Garden is open again! For those who don’t know, I volunteer at Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden in Theo Wirth Park. It’s my favorite place on the PLANET (besides my bed) and you should defintely come visit if you haven’t ever been, or if it’s been a while. Right now, the spring ephemerals are coming up- don’t blink or you’ll miss them!

How to practice for Solo/Ensemble competitions

For my Minnesota-based studio, many of my students are preparing to perform at their regional solo/ensemble contest in March. We’ve picked out pieces, done our research, and are ready to dig in. Although preparing a contest piece shouldn’t be much different than your normal practice, I thought I’d give a few specific tips on what solo performing means in the practice room.

1. Pick a piece that will stretch your talents a little farther, but won’t be so hard you can’t get it prepared in time.
2. Start by listening. Find a recording of the piece and note what the instrumentation or accompaniment is. Think about how you’ll perform it.
3. If your piece has multiple movements, choose the ones you’d like to perform. Consider your order. For example, 3 movement suites don’t have to be done in order if you’re doing, say, the Allegro first movement and the slower second one. You could flip them if it makes sense musically.
4. Start with the big picture. Play along with the recording and note where you may need to spend more time, but get a feel for the piece as a whole.
5. Make your musical decisions early. It’s easier to learn notes and rhythms sometimes when we have a direction for the phrase we’re working up. For example, a fast passage with lots of sixteenth notes also crescendos or has lots of slurs. Sing it the way you’d like to play it, then work it up slowly utilizing all the components.
6. Practice bigger chunks once you’ve got the technical stuff smoothed out. Pieces always feel differently in our hands when we see how the whole work fits together. Breaths may be different, or you may notice that one phrase is hard to get into from the previous one. Work out those new kinks.
7. Practice performing. At least once or twice a week in the beginning, practice running straight through your work as if it were a performance. As the contest draws closer, you should be practicing performing more than you are practicing individual sections.
8. Perform for your friends and family! Play along with the recording again so you can understand how the accompaniment fits in. Count count count your rests.
9. It sounds obvious, but when you get to the performance- have fun! Nerves are a part of performance but remember that your jury wants to hear you do well. No one is out to get you or judge you as a person. Let your musical soul shine through and above all, don’t worry about the parts you think you messed up. They’re gone! End strong.

Good luck, students!

Minnesota Youth Symphonies mid-season auditions

Students and Parents,

I recently received word that Minnesota Youth Symphonies (MYS) is looking for trombonists to audition for their Repertory Orchestra for the 2nd and 3rd trimester of their 2014-15 season.

Audition Requirements

Auditions will be held before November 15.

I currently have one student in MYS, starting his second year. I encourage all my students to seek extracurricular performance opportunities whenever possible!

Another great local youth orchestra is the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies (GTCYS).

As always I am happy to help my students prepare for auditions!