Monday, July 31, 2017

KarlaLied 1st movement

Here's an attempt at doing a video with the score and then putting on YouTube and then embedding. Been so long since the last, and there have been changes in the how to. This is the first recording of the first movement of KarlaLied.

(After posting) Well . . . seems to work OK.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Fun Factor

In the same conversation mentioned in this post, the importance of having fun with music came up. The music educator talked about how most, if not all, high level students and performers go into music in the first place because it's fun, but somehow along the way that can get lost. That really resonated with me because:

1) - I started the Fun Band because so much of the therapeutic value of music making can come from simply having fun doing it, especially with others. Working with easier material and exploiting what technique is already there can yield out sized therapeutic results.

2) - One problem I always had with community band was we never completely "owned" a piece - it was always "mostly" getting something and then moving on to something else and rarely, if ever, coming back and polishing it up. That's a great way to proceed if your aim is improving technique and nothing else, but I always felt interpretation and self-expression got short shrift because all of the grappling with technique left no room for that side of music making.

3) - Part of the problem brought on by recorded music is that before it came along, people could have fun making music and could only compare themselves to others making live music. Now there are always numerous examples of every piece of music recorded "to perfection", making home made music sound rough around the edges in comparison. If you're making the music yourself, though, and having fun doing so, it matters less in the moment how close it comes to error free recordings.

4) - Lack of fun can have a negative effect on the impact of very high level music making on the listener. My cello friend Dr. Andy loves the joke of someone coming up after a performance and telling the player, "I never knew how hard that piece was." Sometimes it sounds as though high level players get so caught up in the technique of it all it seems they forget there's more being a good musician than simply having killer technique.

5) If the Music Room succeeds, both players and audiences need to be first of all having fun, which can then lead to other benefits. The first step of music therapy is engaging the client, and keeping things fun has a lot to do with that.

ADDED 7/25/17 - One thing I meant to mention and forgot is that over the years I've been caught off guard several times by very high level players being the ones the most enthusiastic about my easy, but fun to play part books. I'd assumed that being able to play at a high level was something of it's own reward, and surely it is (though there are people who burn out). My guess is that playing music not full of technical challenges lets high level players fully unleash the interpretive and expressive sides of themselves that grappling with technique issues can push to the background.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Performance Diary

     Here are some pics of the Kenwood Players last month at the Art Center In Orange's 20th anniversary. We did one set of standard Dixieland and one set of big band tunes I've arranged for our small combo. The pics are especially good because 1) they were taken by Jeff Poole, who is a great photographer as well as putting out the local paper and 2) the lighting and the decorations had us feeling we were in a fishbowl, because at the first meeting to start the Art Center 20 years ago, all the donations were put into a fishbowl. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Instrument Petting Zoo and Beyond

There is in the works a non-profit aimed at nurturing music making here in my hometown of Orange, Va - and once the details are more settled, there will be posts on what it is and how it will work. For now there'll be a few posts like this one thinking through various aspects of such an undertaking, and the tag for these posts will be "The Music Room".

I'd seen on the FaceBook page of the Charlottesville Municipal Band that they often have an instrument petting zoo before concerts, where members of the band let all comers, mostly children judging from the photos, try out various instruments for themselves. 

Then, in conversation with a high level music educator, he suggested something similar to that at The Music Room as a way to draw in people to the possibility of making music themselves instead of just being a listener. Hearing the idea in that context reminded me of something I often noticed back in my private practice days, that people with zero experience in making music are very often drawn to a very particular instrument and if you can work with them on that instrument, their progress and joy in music making seems amplified.

There's also the idea I came across back when researching a music program for Montpelier - that back in James Madison's day, taverns very often kept instruments on hand for patrons to use extemporaneously. 

Then that led to the idea that if there were instruments on hand, maybe some of the many people who played in high school band, and then gave it up, could play along with easy Fun Band tunes arranged as they are for beginners.