Over the past several years I’ve noticed a fair amount of discussion about the relevancy of a college education, especially one in the arts. And this post by Ivan Trevino echoes many of the concerns recent graduates are having about their college music degree experience.
I was asked recently to serve on a committee of faculty from the College of Fine Arts at UT to look more closely at the offerings, or lack thereof, of our current curriculum and to suggest changes and/or additions to better help students cope with life after school.
I’ve been writing and thinking about these things for quite some time and I’m excited about the opportunity to help our college adapt to the changing needs of our graduates. So, the purpose of tonight’s post, is to try and get a better pulse on what we, the protectors and directors of higher education, need to be aware of as we develop our offerings to become more relevant to today’s college music student.
To that end: whether you are… [Continue Reading...]
In his recent post, Tom Burritt asked us (percussionists) “Are we there yet?” I think that he brings up some very interesting points, and they perfectly set the stage for a post that I have been working through in my mind for the past few weeks. So, a big thanks to Tom for asking the right question at the right moment!
When we’re asked “Are we there yet?” my first response is “Where are we going?” If we don’t know what our destination is, then how can we possibly know if we’ve arrived? Using Tom’s post as our point of departure (no pun intended), it seems that our destination is “recognition” from the people and institutions who are the elite of “classical” music.
Of course, convincing ourselves that we need to be legitimized by those institutions or individuals is a slippery slope. That would imply that what we do, the art that we all love, is somehow lacking. Steve Schick recently said that for so long percussionists have felt as though they were “standing… [Continue Reading...]
How many times have you stepped up to the marimba to work on a passage and it seems like you have never seen the music before even though you spent hours practicing the day before? Well guess what? This happens to everyone including me. It is frustrating and makes you want to throw your mallets across the room. If this sounds familiar, I want you to start incorporating block chords into your practice routine.
If you think about it, we use block chords in our warm up routine (or at least you should be). Block chords allow us to warm up our big muscle groups and work on accuracy. So why do we only use them in warm ups? Here’s are some tips on how to use them on your next difficult marimba and/or vibraphone piece.
I have been working on Vignettes by James M. Stephenson for an upcoming recital with trumpeter Rob Frear. (BTW, this is a great piece if you are looking for some… [Continue Reading...]
Recently, as I was putting the finishing touches on the University of Texas Percussion Group Fall 2014 Concert I discovered a connection between the composers; all had recently won Pulitzers.
2014 – John Luther Adams
2013 – Caroline Shaw
2012 – Kevin Puts
2011 – Zhou Long
2010 – Jennifer Higdon
2009 – Steve Reich
2008 – David Lang
With the exception of Puts, I had works by JLA, Shaw, Long and Higdon all on the docket. That represents 4 out of 5 of the last Pulitzer Prize Winners in the music category. Most of us are more familiar with the works of Reich and Lang than the previous 5 names on the list, but it was, in the end ridiculously easy to make an entire program of works who’s genesis began with a prize winner. And, Puts for what it’s worth, has several very nice offerings for percussion as well. So, what does this mean?
I believe we are living in an important time for percussionists, especially for those who play… [Continue Reading...]
Today’s guest post is by return contributor Ben Wahlund. Ben is a percussionist, composer, and educator based in the Chicago area and earlier this year shared Of Drumming and Farming (his PASIC Manifesto) on DrumChattr. He returns today with a great article that I think most of us can appreciate and hopefully institute into our daily lives. If you have something you would like to contribute, please send it us and we will be glad to check it out.
Musing on a Career Teaching Music in the Private Sector
By Ben Wahlund – Black Dog Music Studio
These are ideas that I’ve compiled in no particular order while sitting in a comfortable chair at the end of a long day. I may change my mind tomorrow, but these are the thoughts at my fingertips now (BW – 11/12/13).
Your career is only that – a career. Life is much bigger than your career. Invest time and energy appropriately.
Band Directors hire you… [Continue Reading...]
Don’t underestimate the importance of understanding the problem at hand. In our “neurotic” (obsessive) percussion culture we often concern ourselves too much with playing the geekiest, nerdiest, and most expensive gear. While this obsession isn’t necessarily a bad thing (and often is the most important thing) there are some instances, especially for younger players, where it can throw us off course.
As usual, I like to take things I learn in life and apply them to my teaching and playing. I recently got back to water skiing. And, as is often the case, I was reminded of something I learned way back in my skiing hay-day (too long ago) that applies to my profession today. You see, I learned to slalom ski (one ski) on mediocre to good equipment. After several years of experience I was invited to try a top of the line, very expensive ski. I got up, hit a cut as hard as normal and the next thing I knew I was eating serious water. I learned the hard way that… [Continue Reading...]
One final article. Have a great beginning to your year! (Originally posted on August 26, 2013).
For most of us in the college ranks, school has started or starts soon. I had orientation meetings on Friday as well as large ensemble audition placements with my students at CSULB. When I got home today, I received an email from the new Director of the Bob Cole Conservatory, Dr. Carolyn Bremer. She has been the chair of the Cole Conservatory for the past three years and was just elected Director over the summer. Below is the email she sent out (posted with her permission). Some of it is specific to to the BCCM, but a lot of it is applicable to music students everywhere. Have a great year and please add your thoughts below.
It’s All About How You Spend Your Time
By Dr. Carolyn Bremer
One of the most difficult aspects of life as a music major is managing your time. We put a lot of demands on you in ensembles, academics, lessons,… [Continue Reading...]
Here’s another article that I hope will help to inspire you as you begin the next school year. (Originally posted September 13, 2001).
Over the summer, I came across this speech that Dr. Karl Paulnack delivered to the parents of the incoming class at The Boston Conservatory. The speech is a thoughtful justification for studying music and the arts. If you have never read this speech, I would recommend that you sit down and take a couple of minutes to read through it. I hope it inspires you to forward the link to your students and make some comments below.
Check out Dr. Karl Paulnack’s website for more information about him and his studio at The Boston Conservatory.
Karl Paulnack Welcome Address
One of my parents’ deepest fears, I suspect, is that society would not properly value me as a musician, that I wouldn’t be appreciated. I had very good grades in high school, I was good in science and math, and they imagined… [Continue Reading...]
Summer is almost over (Boo!) and this week, the Director of the Bob Cole Conservatory, Dr. Carolyn Bremer, wrote another great opening article for the department’s blog. Everyone should take some time and read this now!
Time Management 101
By Dr. Carolyn Bremer
Opening speeches (notes) are meant to instill inspiration for the coming year but I can say quite honestly that inspiration is encountered every day at BCCM. Instead, this is about how to accomplish what you need to do, maintain your sanity, and reach your potential.
One of the most difficult aspects of life as a music major is managing your time. We put a lot of demands on you in ensembles, academics, lessons, classes outside of music, concert attendance, and learning from your peers. The theme of this missive is:
Time Management 101
You’re a Music Major. You have classes, you have to practice, you have rehearsals, you need to learn music for ensembles and for your lessons, you have theory and history and general ed homework, practice sight singing, practice for class… [Continue Reading...]
The Concord Blue Devils won their 16th DCI World Championship on Saturday night in Indianapolis. The Blue Devils scored a 99.65 (the highest score ever in DCI) in their final performance. The Bluecoats (97.175) won 2nd place and The Cadets (96.875) placed 3rd. The Blue Devils had an amazing year, winning every competition leading up to finals. The Santa Clara Vanguard placed first in percussion for their final performance.
For complete results and recap analysis, check out DCI.org. Congratulations to The Blue Devils.
Were you there or did you watch it live? What were your favorite moments of the season? Leave a comment and let us know what you thought of the 2014 DCI season.
Here’s the Blue Devils show from Salem, VA on 07/29/2014.