Long overdue update

Good morning, and Happy Easter!

It is amazing to me that my poor neglected blog is still here after all this time.  It just goes to show that nothing every really goes away on the internet.  So much has happened since my last update!  There has been a wedding, and a new job, a hard drive crash, and even a little bit of music sprinkled here and there.

The hard drive crash was particularly devastating.  I did not lose everything, as I had a backup from about a year before, but I lost a lot of my new work and all of the electronic files of the project described below.  It took place a week before the wedding, so needless to say I am still rebuilding the files and archives as the wedding was my first priority!

I have continued on a project started many months ago with an artist in the Boston area – we have been working steadily for almost 8 months now and it is nearing completion!  The artist I’m working with is an inspired visionary who strives to bring to the stage an Oratorio based upon various religious figures and happenings.  His first work, Behold, shows the Passion of Christ from the view of the women in his life.  This new work shows the first Christmas Nativity from the visions of St. Francis.  We hope to have the work completed in time to perform it this December!

This project, along with the new job and adjusting to married life, has taken most of my time lately.   I am very pleased to say, though, that a piece I composed for our wedding turned out spectacularly and I am looking to send it to a publisher as soon as I can choose a few other pieces to go with it.

I write this with the hope that I will actually remember to continue sharing my thoughts and experiences with you.  It is too late to be my Lenten Discipline, but it is never too late to start again!

Cheers, and thank you for reading.

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Summer time!

It officially feels like summer here in Boston, so that means it is time for another update! I am pleased to say that the choir tour went spectacularly. If you have not checked out the blog I highly recommend it. There are new pictures and recordings up!

With the end of choir starts the beginning of my summer courses, and I am being very ambitious. After many talks with other composers it was clear to me that trying to get a piece published was akin to herding cats uphill, and then having them do the hokey-pokey. Thus, I have decided to take a course that will hopefully teach me enough to be able to self-publish. Not only will this save me headaches and hassle, it will allow me ultimately to keep more control over my music, and thus keep more of the revenue.

I will also be taking an orchestration course – this is the first step in my journey towards being able to crate full-scale mock-ups of my compositions using MIDI. Eventually I hope to be able to write for visual media, whether it be film, tv, or games.

In the meantime, I have projects to do! One composition project is specifically overdue, so I had better get on it. Here is to picking up projects that we had almost forgotten about.


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Choir Tour

Another month, another update! I’m so pleased to be writing this one week before I travel to England on a choir tour.  One of the balancing acts that I have been doing these past few months is participating in two choirs through my church.  While it has been incredibly time-consuming, it has also been very rewarding.

A lot of hard work has gone into making this tour a reality, and there is no doubt that the preparations have stymied my creativity a bit.  In fact, I have had to put on hold my composition that I’m working on for the church’s 250th anniversary.  However, it will all be worth it as we step into the ancient cathedrals across England and experience singing in these wonderful spaces.  I have set up a blog that I will be updating from the road, so do follow along!  Here is the link:  http://cccevensongtour.wordpress.com/

In other news, I have begun investigating the possibilities of my own website.  For any artist out there reading this, it is true that creating a website has never been easier.  I’m discussing the setup with a friend of mine who knows code, which will definitely help expedite the process.  However, you don’t really even need to take that step!

The most difficult thing about creating a website, I have found, is organizing your information in an intuitive and concise manner.  It also involves prioritizing your goals for your website, and for you as an artist and business.  You can read more of my thoughts on what an artist should consider here at MicControl: http://bit.ly/knaJml

I appreciate you taking the time to stop by, and I hope you enjoy the tour blog!

Posted in Composition, Musings | 1 Comment

Small Steps

Well, it’s April, so now it’s time for an update! There have been many things taking up my attention lately, but I’m starting to make progress towards my goals of incorporating music more into my life. It’s not quite on par with the outline I presented in my previous post, but like this title suggests – small steps!

I’ve become more involved with the miccontrol.com blog – I just posted a new blog up there earlier this week. Feel free to head on over and check it out! You’ll have to head pretty far down the page to find it, but it contains my thoughts on the many hats musicians must now wear.

I’m encouraged by the fact that my goals with Twitter are starting to be met. I initially joined to gain an education in the music business and make connections. Now that I feel more knowledgeable, I hope to start collaborating with others to bring this knowledge to classical musicians. More on that in a future post.

Another small step has been taken with regards to meeting my goal to be able to set music to visual media. My gathering of the technological resources is almost complete – I’ll be ready to begin my courses this Summer, which is very exciting!

With regards to composition, I will have a piece premiered this Sunday, April 17th at 3:30 at the Lilypad in Cambridge. I’m very excited – the Pictures on Silence duo will be performing. They are a unique, very talented pair of musicians with Jacqueline Pollauf on Harp and Noah Getz Saxophone. I’ll definitely be making a recording! You can read more about the duo here: http://www.picturesonsilence.org/index.html

I really appreciate all who are reading – I’m in a brief lull before things get crazy again. I have one more commission on deck which needs to get underway rather quickly, along with a new chamber music performance to prepare for. It’s a great time to be busy with music, though – I’m starting to feel like a musician again!

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A tale of two blogs

So this must be a record for me! I’m trying to make up some ground for completely missing February. I’m going to essentially be keeping two blogs now. This one will remain focused on composition and my continual struggles to balance music with my 9-5.

The other blog will be over at miccontrol.com. This is an excellent community of musicians who are interested in marketing and the current music business landscape. The more I become involved, and the more I learn about what is available, the more I realize that the classical music community is missing out. Sure, most of these posts are geared towards bands, touring, and managing fans, but I am starting to realize that all of these strategies can be (and SHOULD be) applicable to all music organizations.

So, for the sake of shameless self-promotion, check out my thoughts on Fan Fatigue over at miccontrol.com – if you like what you read, keep digging. There are tons of excellent articles by some very knowledgeable people!

Until next time, thanks for reading.

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What do I want to be when I grow up?

As promised, here is my attempt at figuring out what I want my music career to look like

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Quick update from the front

Greetings! This is the long-awaited blog post that I promised to do last month…and promptly skipped. I know I promised an update on my organizational endeavors on how to go from 9-5 to full time musician. I have the document, and will try to post it after this blog is finished – wish me luck!

What I discovered is that there are a few things I could do immediately to try and get my career up and running. The one that can translate into getting paid involves piano – specifically, accompanying ballet classes. I have some prior experience in this field, and there seems to be a market for it. I plan on beginning the hunt this Summer!

In the meantime, there have been many, MANY new developments. Aside from the personal realm, I’ve been a guest blogger on FanBridge, in communication with members of MicControl, and generally interacting with some amazing people in the music blogging sphere. Here is a link to the FanBridge blog I took part in:

Lastly, go check out miccontrol.com – they’re a fantastic community of music bloggers, who focus on the current music business landscape. I know that most of the information out there is geared towards bands, but I think the classical community desperately needs to immerse themselves in some of these new techniques!

Thanks for reading, and I’ll be posting a blog through MicControl soon!

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The Importance of Planning

To be honest, I am probably not the best person to be speaking on this subject.  In fact, planning is something I do so rarely, it’s probably under the ‘endangered species’ category within my skill set!  However, during the craziness of the holidays, with all the relatives and old friends needing to be caught up on my latest activities, it got me thinking: how exactly am I going to get where I want to go with my musical career?

I assume that I am typical of most musicians – I have a vague, half-formed notion of wanting to make a living doing music.  However, I’ve never actually sat down and written up a job description, or even a goal, of what I’d be doing to make that living.  For instance, I’ve thought a little bit about teaching, I’ve thought a little bit about accompanying, or writing music for film, or maybe specializing in the composition of choral works.  However, I’ve never actually sat down and figured out which parts I would enjoy more, or what percent of my work should be directed to each area.

Without this defined goal, it makes it nearly impossible to plan the steps needed to get there.  For each career aspect mentioned above, there are multiple steps that I would need to take to make myself marketable.  This is  complicated by the fact that I, as well as most other musicians I know, am working a full-time job while trying to develop this musical career.  This also does not take into account any other activities outside these realms including collaborations, commissions, choirs, etc.  Because of the time limitations involved, it makes planning even more essential – I will need to prioritize which skills to acquire first, which aspects of the musical career to pursue first, and which activities I will need to sacrifice to make this happen.

My strategy will be to first stage a reckoning – it’s time to figure out where all my time is going.  Only then will I be able to figure out how much time I really have, how much time I can recover by changing my behavior, and how many outside activities need to be curbed (or cut) to accomplish my goals.  The next step is to sit down and really think about what I want to do to begin making a living through music.  The final step, as I mentioned above, will be to prioritize – what skills do I have that I can immediately leverage as a source of income?  What skills do I need to develop before I can begin earning money in one (or more) of my desired areas?  How much time should I allot to skill development vs. pursuing musical opportunities?

Of course, all of these steps require time, which as we all know is a precious commodity.  To keep myself honest, then, I pledge to have my time reckoning and goal list completed before my next post.  In fact, I’ll even post them next month here on the blog – who knows, maybe there are some of you out there that are in the same boat, or who can apply these techniques to your own careers.  Give me a shout, let me know how your process is going, or throw out other process that have worked before.  Good luck, and happy planning!

Posted in Composition, Musings | 1 Comment

Learning Music Technology

For those who know me, it’s no secret that I’m currently working on furthering my knowledge of music production and MIDI.  It’s been a truly eye-opening experience, even though it has put a major drain on my composing time.  However, that’s another blog – today, here are a few observations about what I’ve been learning.

1. This stuff is important.  I don’t care what type of music you’re writing, or what your professional goals are.  Having a rudimentary knowledge of a Digital Audio Workstation (i.e. Garage Band, Logic Express/Pro, Sonar, Pro Tools, Cubase) is critical. Whether it is basic editing of a performance recording or MIDI mock-ups of a new piece, you are sure to find these tools useful.

2. Knowledge is time. Yes, it takes time to acquire this knowledge. No one knows this more than I, having not written a note since beginning my course. However, sometimes it is worth investing in yourself, and taking the time to learn things properly. I still remember teaching myself Finale (music notation) – had I invested the time at the outset to learn the software properly, it would have saved me hours of frustration and trial-and-error. This initial investment will continue paying dividends for years to come in the form of both better quality music/productions and more diverse career opportunities.

3. You don’t know what you don’t know. Yes, yes, very existential and all that, but it’s true. No one has been more surprised at what these things can do than myself. Had I been told on the first day everything that these Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) can do, I wouldn’t have understood half of what was being said. Each new piece of technology brings with it its own unique vocabulary (i.e. tweet, blog, friend are now verbs!) – until you educate yourself on the functionality, you will never quite understand the lingo, and by the same token, the possibilities various software programs offer.

All that being said, there is still so much I do not know! That is why there are professionals who make a career mixing, mastering, and producing with these DAWs. It really does take years to learn, and to adequately develop the skills needed. However, these software programs have been made incredibly user-friendly. For my purposes, these 12 weeks have given me a solid foundation for future use, and musical development. What could you learn in 12 weeks? What piece of technology would serve you best in your career? Odds are, there are people out there ready and willing to teach you, should you be willing to invest the time.

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A use for Twitter

Well, I’ve done it. After months of neglecting my Twitter account, I have found myself drawn to it like a moth to a flame. I have broken down and become a Twitterer. But wait! Before you close this window in disgust, take a moment to hear me out.

In one of my previous posts, I discussed my views on technology and developing an online presence. I had assumed in that post that all social media was one-way.  I was viewing these resources as a chore, a massive time investment with intangible results.  In the past few weeks, though, I have been discovering how to make social media work for me!

The biggest takeaway from this post should be: figure out what you want you social media to do for you.  Are you in a place in your career where you are looking to connect with fans? Are you looking for professional connections? Are you trying to get your music out to the world? Until you define you goals, social media will be like tools and lumber: a pile of crap, with lots of untapped potential.

My goal now with Twitter is, believe it or not, educational! I have always known that there is a plethora of information for artists out there. The problem is finding it – it would be a full time job to sift through everything. Well, I’ll let you into a little secret: there are people who HAVE that job! They are also happy to share, and I have tapped into that resource through Twitter.

To get you fellow artists started, I recommend following one of my favorite posters: ‘digipendent.com’ aka Danny Dee.  He is always finding and tweeting articles about effective social networking, new business and marketing models for bands, and the future of the music industry. While not specific to classical musicians,  I feel that I have been getting a free education by reading these articles. It is also not difficult to figure out how the ideas and strategies could be adapted to any style of music.

I will leave you with this thought: Twitter is like any other tool. Learn how it works, decide what you want to use it for, and make sure you tweet and retweet responsibly – you never know who is listening, and which comment could lead to a career jump-start!

Posted in Composition, Music Education, Musings | 1 Comment