And…We’re Back!

"Would I chuck this wood?" - Mr. W. Chuck

“Would I chuck this wood?” – Mr. W. Chuck

Hello. Remember us? Do we remember ourselves? Who are we? Is this real? How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

That’s right, we are trying this again. It has been over 1 year since you have heard from mda and RBD. We are still alive and kicking. Well I still kick, but RBD probably doesn’t kick as much as I do. I don’t really know why. So what should we write about? Baseball, music, books, kicking, beer, the Aristocrat, all of the above?

RBD: Well mda, it’s true we haven’t written for a long time, but not because we didn’t WANT to write. We haven’t written because we both are busy and are on different life trajectories. I think we should kick off 2013 with a slew of new blogs covering ALL of the topics stated above. Our first blog should be about the books/reading that we have been doing.

mda: Reading is fun and enjoyable and good food for the brain, in my humble opinion. I wish I had more time to read,

The book mda is trudging through these days

The book mda is trudging through these days

but work and other life experiences tend to get in the way. However, I still make time for reading whenever I get the chance. Lately I have been reading quite a few magazines as I purchased subscriptions to National Geographic and Smithsonian magazines on my iPAD. It certainly is fun reading those magazines. In addition, I keep up with a variety of cycling magazines because…you know…cycling has become a passion of mine for some reason. Other than that, I tend to stick to my ‘favorite author list’ and read – sometimes trudge – through their books. Currently I am enjoying Haruki Murakami’s magna-opus 1Q84. It is an impressive book and I still don’t know where the plot is going even 1/3 of the way through. How about you?

RBD: Well fancy pants has an iPad. Way to drop that in. So subtle you are. I too have some magazine subscriptions that I am working my way through. I subscribe to The Paris Review, and get the Audubon and Sierra Club Magazines. So far, I am 5 issues behind on the Paris Review (that translates to 16 months behind) but only a couple months behind on the Audubon and Sierra Club Magazines. I love reading and wish I had more discipline to read more often. There are a lot of distractions that sometimes keep me away god-delusionfrom my reading material, but I’ve been trying to change that this year. I currently am reading The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, and working my way through the Collected Works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I’m diggin’ the Sherlock Holmes stories! I plan on reading in 2013 biographies on Abraham Lincoln, Beethoven, and J.S. Bach. What is it about trudging through a book that is so rewarding?

mda: I do not know. Maybe it goes back to college days of learning new things and the enjoyment of accomplishing said ‘new information’ that feels so rewarding. Now that we are both out of academia (well, you still flirt with academia…I just stare longingly from afar) we find that thrill/reward of accomplishment through the trudging of a book. Or maybe we are all making it up. So I have never read any of the Sherlock Homes stories. What do you find so intriguing about them?

sherlockRBD: To be honest, the new show on the BBC called Sherlock is so good, I thought I should check out the original material. I did just that and I wasn’t disappointed at all! Most of the stories are quick reads which I can do easily during the day, or before I fall asleep. The new show on the BBC does an excellent adaptation of the stories. Some dialogue and speech patterns are taken word for word from the original stories!

Well, mda, what shall our next blog post topic be?

mda: I know what you mean about quick reads. Those are always fun. I have the complete works of Mark Twain and it is fun to just pick it up every once in a while and read a few pages. More blogs….well it’s almost baseball season. We could start our preseason predictions. By the way, April 1 you are required to join me at the Crat for opening day. Yankees play at 1pm. I’m taking the day off. Or we could discuss the difficulties the ISO had last year.

RBD: Let’s blog about baseball next, then after we hear a great ISO concert tonight, we can blog about the ISO woes over the past 6 months. By the way, you have a date on April 1st mda! Surprise, it’s me!! See you at the Crat.

mda: I’ll make sure to wear pants on that day…

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Expanding on the Jazz vs. Classical Worlds

Duke Ellington

Ludwig von Beethoven

Beethoven

I hope the title above doesn’t sound contentious. I truly don’t believe that there is a battle between the jazz and classical worlds. However, I believe that many musicians do believe that one must make a choice between playing jazz or classical.

Let’s make it very clear here that playing jazz and classical well takes years of practice and devotion. One is not easier than the other and just because a musician can play jazz doesn’t mean they can also play classical and vice-verse. I have one foot firmly placed in the jazz world (I do have a Masters degree in Jazz Studies) and my other foot firmly placed in the classical world (I sub quite often in the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra) and I work hard maintaining a high playing level in both fields and I never take that for granted.

As I have been traveling down both paths, the more I realize how similar the paths are. When I think about how I want to play jazz, this is what I think about:

1. Playing with a good sound (ALWAYS!!)
2. Playing with good time
3. Playing stylistically correct
4. Playing with good technique
5. Playing with good and clear articulations
6. Playing with a studied knowledge of the music
7. Being a nice person to those around me (so I get hired again!)

The above list are the exact points I think about when I’m playing classical music! So, yes, there are differences between jazz and classical styles, but there are more similarities and those similarities are what I have been working on. And that work has paid off. I do several gigs a month with one of my various jazz groups (Standard(ish) Jazz Trio, Trombononymous, Elevator Up!) and I have won a bass trombone position with the Sinfonia da Camera orchestra in Urbana Illinois.

In future blogs, I will go into detail of what I am practicing for each classical, jazz, bass trombone and tenor trombone. These topics can be useful to musicians on any instrument that want to make themselves as marketable as possible to work as much as possible in these hard economic times.

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A New Chapter

The page has turned.

RBD and mda have both moved on from our untimely departure from our previous jobs (read our blog ‘Struggling Arts Hits Home’ directly after we lost our jobs). mda has found a great new home with the Percussive Arts Society or PAS, where he is now the Director of Marketing and Communications. Congrats to you mda!!

I, however, has gone a slightly different path. Instead of hitting the pavement and going out and looking for another job (hopefully within the arts industry), I decided that since I had enough gigs and money saved up to pay bills through the calendar year, I would invest my time into the bass trombone, tenor trombone, orchestral trombone and jazz trombone. My goal was (and still is) to become a solid player on both the bass trombone and tenor trombone in both the jazz and classical worlds. No small order to be sure.

I’ve always had one foot in the classical world and one foot in the jazz world. I work in both and have been successful in both. But I wanted to be the best all around player. I wanted to be able to go do a small group jazz gig on my tenor trombone, and turn around and win a bass trombone orchestral audition. Well, five months later, I’m getting closer and closer to my goal.

I recently won a position with the Sinfonia da Camera out of Urbana Illinois, conducted by Ian Hobson and I am also on contract with the Anderson Symphony Orchestra in Anderson Indiana conducted by Rick Sowers. These are two small orchestras with a grand total of 12 concerts I’ll play, but its a start and I’ll be blogging about each orchestra as the season unfurls. Each orchestra has a good brass section, clear and easy going conductors and are playing good repertoire so it should be a fun season of playing!

Later this week, I’ll be blogging about working within the Jazz and Classical world and expanding on how I am practicing for each genre!

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A Concert From Last Night

So last night I went to the symphony orchestra concert.  It was certainly a nice program with Beethoven Symphony 8 and Beethoven Symphony 9.  A night of Beethoven…what could be better?  I mainly just want to touch on a few aspects of the night and leave it at that.  It will be a short post.

1. The tempo a conductor chooses is very important and really can make or break the performance by the musicians.

2. Soprano Sara Jakubiak and Tenor Sean Panikkar both have extremely strong voices and were quite impressive.  Best part of the night was certainly each of their performances.  The future is bright when there are vocalists out there like these two!

3. Just because it is a popular piece and there are a lot of people on the stage (orchestra, soloists and choir) does not mean the performance deserves a standing ovation and about five callbacks.  I know this has been a discussion RBD and I have had many times in the past and maybe we should revisit the discussion once again.  It could start by reminding everyone what a standing ovation is meant to signify.

-mda

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The Current Relationship Between Jazz and Classical

So this is nothing new at all.  This has been happening for a very long time.  If you want a history lesson, I will let RBD give the history lesson.  He would be better at that than myself right now.  What am I talking about?  Well that would be musicians crossing over between jazz and classical.  Again, it has happened and will continue to happen.  Heck, RBD does it all the time!

However, I want to touch upon one young composer and jazz musician.  Steve Lehamn.  He, like other young composers, have begun really looking at more of the ‘avant garde’ side of each discipline and how to connect them.  *note: I am not always a fan of the term ‘avant garde’ and yet I find myself using it quite a bit.  Too late to change now…*

And yet, I feel Lehman’s music is still very accessible for people.  There is still an underlying ease of groove, for lack of a better word, whether you are listening to his jazz compositions or contemporary compositions.  It’s people like Steve Lehman that still gets me excited about new music.  Granted, it’s not hard to get me excited when it comes to new music pushing the boundaries of the jazz or classical world; however, this music is even better.  That’s how I have always been, whether we are talking about music, art or literature.

The first video will give you insight into Lehman’s work within the contemporary classical world.  Four great compositions by Steve Lehman. The second video gives you insight into Steve’s compositional process and his work within the jazz world.  I will put in a plug and strongly urge you to check out his album Steve Lehman Octet: Travail, Transformation and Flow (the second video is a live show of music from that album).  It truly is a great album to listen to and feels just as fresh today as it did when released in 2009.

ICElab at LPR | Impossible Flow: Music of Steve Lehman from ICE on Vimeo.

Jazzlink# 8 : Steve Lehman from Josselin Carré on Vimeo.

So take the step and check out some of this new music.  Find these musicians who are pushing the boundaries and making new things.  It really is exciting and there is so much to take in.  It shows that the arts, although not supported like it should be, is still trying to move forward and be a force within humanity.  If enough of us check it out and support it, maybe things will change.

~mda

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Struggling Arts Hits Home

"Did we blow something up?"

mda: As we all know, these economic times have been quite hard for the arts as orchestras declare bankruptcy, funding dries up and schools end arts education which is killing the future supporters.  Yes, this may become somewhat of a doom-and-gloom post, but we feel it is still important to discuss.  It may not be a new discussion out there, but RBD and I now have first-hand knowledge of how it is as we both find ourselves without employment at this time.  Now I know I can say this for both of us: we are not bitter about losing our positions.  It happens and we must move on and we will grow from it.  Plus, I know both of us are quite intelligent and we will find bigger and better opportunities very soon.  So let’s start a discussion here, why don’t I let RBD start it off.

RBD:Yes, there are lots of people out there that have lost their jobs and we join a rather large segment of the population who are looking for jobs. However, being in the arts, the jobs we are looking for you won’t find in the

Connections are important. Don't burn bridges...

paper, or job boards on the internet. Being in the arts gives us unique connections where we can begin looking for new employment. As this discussion takes shape, our journeys will differ as I have a foot in the ‘industry’ side of the arts and another foot in the ‘performance’ side. As we document our different (and yet similar) paths, we hope that other people can learn from our failures and our successes. (emphasis on SUCCESSES!) So, mda, what have you been doing to find new employment?

Mind your CV

mda:Well I must say the most important thing that has been beneficial is the connections I have made in the Indy arts scene over the past 6 years or so.  The most beneficial aspect has been talking with those connections and keeping my ear to the ground for any positions that may arise.  As RBD mentioned, my journey is a little

Have we mentioned that Connections are important? They are!!

different as I find myself more on the ‘industry’ side as my performing career is not as extensive as my compatriot.  So the most important thing I have found as my search continues is to create a well-written cover letter, know your material and be able to speak properly and knowledgeable.  Now that might sound like easy things to do or ‘no-brainers,’ but I do believe people don’t really pay attention to the details.  Details is what can separate you from the competition.  It’s true…deal with it the right way!  How about you, RBD?  What do you think about the connections you have made and how has that helped with the performance side?

RBD: Compatriot? Well, okay, I’ll accept that. Yes, mda, details and words matter and they are important. Don’t forget that. To answer your question about connections, I would have to say that, YES, connections are very, very important. When we were ‘let go’ from our illustrious record label positions, I immediately had a beer, then played a gig later that night. Soon there-after, I created a list of people I have played/worked for in the past and people I have gotten to know through the job I had just lost. My list ended up being around 45 people long. I called and/or emailed almost all of them in the first week and have heard some very positive responses. The one things I haven’t done yet is to create a couple versions of my resume and create a CV (kind of a long-form resume). I have a nice resume now for performance, but not the business/industry side of things. I think now is the perfect time to (for me at least) to set a goal, maybe even an outlandish goal, but really set up a clear and functional direction I want to take for the future. This is what I believe right now: I don’t want to take any job, just to take a job. I also don’t believe there is a ‘perfect job’, ‘out there’, ‘waiting for me’, like some golden goat waiting to be milked. This is the perfect opportunity to reset and figure out what will ultimately make me happy in the long run. Am I being too selfish? Is this even possible? What do you think mda?

mda: I think you are on to something there, my friend.  We are both “at that age” where it is nice to think of stability (whatever that really means) and not just settling on a ‘job’ certainly doesn’t allow for that stability.  It really is about happiness at the same time.  However, unfortunately it is also about paying the bills and paying for the outlandish gas prices right now.  There is that fine line one must walk to make sure they do not find themselves in trouble.  However, that being said, I do not believe either of us will fall in that.  The thing about resume/CV that I have found interesting throughout this process has been things I have done in the past that I either forgot about or did not look at it as ‘worthy to mention’ until my friends and colleagues looked at my material and showed me my mistakes.  So Rule Number ‘Whatever Number We Are On Right Now’: show your material to as many people as you can before you submit.  They almost always will see something differently than you and it will ultimately help you out.

RBD: Yeah, never underestimate the power and knowledge of your friends in and out of your professional area. It’s easy to get dark at a time like this and no potential employer wants to hire a dark/depressed person. We both have to be upbeat and positive and know that we are a valuable asset to any future place of employment. What do you see, mda, as a rule about what to put on a resume and how to word it? Let’s take for an example your occasional co-guest-hosting of my radio show ‘Have You Heard’? How do you make that sound as best as it can be?

mda:  Well, I talk to the actual host and see how he would like me to word everything.  But I remember when we were discussing this, it became more of a conversation and we mutually came up with the correct wording of how to describe the show.  One thing that came up that we didn’t remember beforehand was the fact that there are interviews with national and international musicians on the show.  This was and important fact that obviously may present the show in a different light than saying it is just a local radio show.  You know what I mean?  I remember while I was working on my resume/CV, another friend felt it might be better to display a certain committee work I have had in the past as a separate area than placing it in my ‘Additional Experience’ section.  I didn’t even think of that, but it certainly makes sense.  Again, it’s the finer details…

Aldi is Awesome!

RBD: Yes, it’s the finer details that matter. Details matter. Words matter. The correct definition of words matter and the correct speling of words matter too. My advice to myself, you and anybody out there looking for a job is this: Create a community of people in your field, don’t be ashamed to tell them of your predicament, have them review your resume/CV and never give up. Also, start shopping at Aldi‘s, get another roommate and find out when and where the beer/drink specials are. You can thank me later.

mda: Hey, buddy….check your spelling.

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Opening Day Baseball 2011

Here we are, March 31st, 2011, sitting at The Aristocrat Pub & Restaurant watching a couple games for the beginning of what looks like will be an incredible season.

Currently we are watching the Detroit Tigers take on the New York Yankees in the Bronx. We also have the Cincinnati Reds game on as they take on the  Milwaukee Brewers in Cincinnati.

mda: Oh it is great to have baseball back.  No talk of player lockouts or any of that junk.  Baseball is in a good position right now and life couldn’t be better.  The Yankees are really looking good right now.  Sabathia with a decent outing and Texiera and Granderson each with monster homeruns.  The Brewers are lighting up the Reds with homeruns galore…I am sure that makes you happy, eh?

RBD: Indeed. Being a staunch St. Louis Cardinal fan, I have to say that seeing the Cincinnati Reds struggle isn’t a bad thing! That being said, I do love the game of baseball and can appreciate the fact that the NL Central is going to be a tough division. The Brewers are playing really well and are  making an already tough division even tougher. The Yankees are doing what they normally do, play good consistent baseball. There are really no bad players on the Yankee team, anybody at anytime can be the ‘hero’ of the game. They spread the love around. Baseball in that regard is a pretty democratic game, which makes it fun, fun, fun to watch!

mda: Yes sir.  The defensive plays in these two games have been top-notch!  I think that has been the most exciting part of the opening day for me so far.  So shall we make some predictions for the MLB Season?  I’ll start.  I have to go with my Yankees winning the AL East.  AL Central I think will go to the Twins.  AL West is a little more of a toss-up…I think the Oakland A’s will surprise the Rangers and beat them out.  Boston will finish up with the Wild Card.  NL West will go to the Giants once again.  NL Central will be crazy close between the Reds, Brewers and Cardnals but I have to think that LaRussa will put the Cards on top.  And my surprise pick will be the Braves over the Phillies in the NL East.  Phillies will have to live with the Wild Card.  World Series:  Yankees over the Giants in 6.  (sorry RBD, if Wainwright would not have gone down for the season, I think they would have made it).

RBD: Well, certainly losing Adam Wainwright hurt the Cardinals outlook this season, but I do think they will persevere. Predictions? OK, I got ’em. Starting the the NL West, I believe the Giants will once again take the division. The NL Central will be tough, tough, tough, but I do believe the Cardinals will surprise a bunch of people and take the division. The NL East is also going to be a tough place to play, but I agree that the Atlanta Braves, if they can stay healthy, will win. The Brewers in the NL Central will take the Wild Card. Yeah, I said it. Moving to the AL West, I’d like to think that the Angels will win that division, yeah. AL Central will be taken by the Twins. They have a new park, lots of talent and good energy. The AL East, will more than likely be the RAYS!! Yeah, the RAYS! The Yankees will get the Wild Card. I’ll have to predict the Cardinals making it all the way to the World Series where they will meet the Twins and win in 5. BAM!

mda: If either of us are right, the other must buy a 6-pack of the winner’s favorite beer.  Deal?

RBD: Dude if either of us are right, we should get some national attention, besides, just a 6-pack? Let’s make it interesting. How about  if either of us are correct, the other buys the beer throughout the World Series. Now THAT’s a bet! As we’ve been writing all of this, Mariano Riveria has entered the game. He’s 42 and easily a first ballot entrant into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He’s looking good so far!

mda: And Granderson with an amazing catch…his third of the game!  And your deal? That’s a deal.  If there are any patrons out there on the web-o-sphere who would like to purchase World Series tickets for us if the Yankees and/or Cardinals make the World Series, we will gladly accept your patronage.

RBD: Indeed, in fact ANY tickets anybody would like to buy us for any Yankee or Cardinal game, we’d take ’em! Now we’re moving on the St. Louis Cardinals game over in St. Louis as they take on the San Diego Padres. Should be a GREAT game! GO CARDINALS!!

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