Sunday, October 4, 2009

Summer and the Start of a Series

Greeting to all, and a belated happy start to the school year!

The past several months found me with another year teaching beginning summer band, which was by far my summer's highlight. I had the rowdiest group of trombones I've ever had, but they did great and learned a lot. I'll tell more tales as time wears on.

For the time being, I want to announce a series of posts for people either looking at becoming music education majors or early on in their undergrad. Topics include:
  • Why the piano is important
  • What to expect (and not to expect) in your first couple years
  • How to stuff 30 hours into a 24-hour day (kind of)
  • Why instrumentalists should learn how to sing and vocalists should learn how to play
  • How to pass Music Theory I and why that's the hardest class you might take
'Til then,

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Off the Cliff

I've said before that coming into a vacation can be like those moments in IMAX movies where they have a helicopter going over a cliff - at first, there's ground rushing underneath you, but then when it goes over the edge, "FOOSH!" You're flying, the panorama stretches out before you, and there's hundreds of feet of nothing below you.

Finals finished several weeks ago, and I'm finally getting over the feeling of having nothing beneath my feet. Thankfully, I've survived this one pretty well; there have been times in the past where, in going over the cliff, I tripped and faceplanted in the scenery below, so to speak, but I've had to hit the ground running this time for a number of reasons.

First, housing has been keeping me on my toes; due to circumstances out of my control, I found myself in the situation of having five days to find a place to live for the next 12+ months (this was during finals week, by the way), but because I put out so many feelers, I've become somewhat of a real estate agent for other people in my situation. Since everyone I'm working with is a friend, or at least a good acquantence, it's rewarding to know that good people are getting good prices for good housing and good roommates.

Second, reentry into real life has been mitigated by the fact that I'm working three jobs this summer. More on this in another post.

Finally, I'm living on my own now! I've got a nice apartment in a nice neighborhood, and even having to cook for one's self keeps a person connected to reality and unable to just slip into a post-finals catharsis.

So, I'm back in the game, and I've already got a bunch of posts that I'm excited to post and share with the community. Major congradulations to this year's graduates, sure to do great things in their futures; I'm honored to know you all.

'Til next time,

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I know college kids need energy...

I just finished a recording session, number 5 out of 6 for the band this year, and as I was walking back to my dorm, I happened to see something through someone's window. The scene was this: two guys, sitting at their respective desks, looking like they were in for a long night of paper-writing or study. One guy is on his computer, and the other is (and I am not making this up) drinking honey out of the bottle.

Well, that's one way to pull an all-nighter without caffeine.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Second-Graders, Teachers, and Rock Bands

I picked this up on the ASCD SmartBrief today - an article on second-grade classrooms using Twitter. Two thoughts jumped into my head right away: first, my teachers always encouraged us to "write long." I know that I may tend to do this too much in my blog posts, but have you ever tried limiting an idea or two to 140 characters? It's tough! Second, I'll bet you dinner that if those kids thought Twitter was "cool" or "hip" to begin with, they sure don't now. Imagine this scenario:

Guy: I've been working out...
Girl: Ooh!
Guy: ... for gym class.
Girl: Oh...

Magically, the mention of class, a teacher, or an adult makes the once-cool action remarkably less so, and I wonder if rock band classes have the same effect. I know that this isn't always the case - in high school, we loved when our director would jam with us after school - but showing kids that adults are okay with the internet almost seems like the best way to turn kids off from the idea.

Happy weekend,

Monday, February 2, 2009

Reflection in Music Engineering

I have about a month left to finish my work on Concordia's Beat, which, now that everyone's been recorded, involves the mixing and mastering all 14 groups. I've already made seven pretty good rough mixes, and hopefully, the patch bay I installed this weekend will help with the other half.

As part of this, I went and revisited some old mixes I had made as I was first recording these tracks and was surprised at how much I had learned in just these last couple months. I was using compressors and limiters in very strange ways, I wasn't using the better of the plugins we have, I was cranking the gain in odd places, and overall, I was complicating the overall work flow. Not surprisingly, simplifying that made for an overall better sound - punchier and more natural.

I've also been happily using an old Aphex Aural Exciter that the project supervisor found at a local music store for cheap. The difference in my mixes when I use it right is like listening to a group live or with my coat over my head. I'll have to post some before-and-after demos some time.

'Til then,