Blog

Ideas for a Recording

I’ve had ideas for a recording for some time now, and I’d like to be able to actually follow through with it. I know that it is a time-consuming and expensive process, but it’s totally worth it. I made one as a member of the Sax-Chamber Orchestra when I was just starting my doctoral work at USM, and I recall how intense the process was, and how much preparation was needed.

I’d like to record music that I truly believe in and can play well, not just anything that I can put together on short notice. I have several pieces that I’d like to record because of their artistic quality, as well as my joy and fulfillment when playing them. Works by my colleagues would make up a large portion of the recording, if not all of it.

One thing I’m not sure of yet is whether I should record only works for alto saxophone, or include works on the other saxophones too. Since 2008, I’ve worked with several composers and many have used the alto saxophone, but some have used the soprano saxophone, including Jim Willey who wrote a fantastic piece for me called “Mood Swings” for soprano saxophone and piano. Currently, I’d like to have a variety of works on the program, including unaccompanied works and works with piano, by a variety of composers. I keep vacillating between some choices on the program, but the core pieces have not changed.

I think that the recording may have to be produced in stages – that is, recording a piece or two in one location at one particular time, and then recording another piece or two at another time in another location, etc. This may be the best solution overall, but certainly not the most cost-effective. Finding a pianist is also a challenge – some of the pieces are very demanding. I know a few fine pianists, so I’m going to start with them.

This dream of mine to record music written for me has been in the back of my mind for many years, and I’m hoping to finally produce it and be able to share it with my colleagues, students, and other saxophone enthusiasts. If anyone has any thoughts or ideas that they’d like to share with me, please feel free to contact me.

 

The Inevitability of Failure

Failure is a part of life.

Now, I know that sounds bleak and discouraging, but it’s true. Whether it’s in the practice room, the classroom, on stage, or in daily life, it’s a part of our being.

I see it with my students every day and I also see it within myself: we are afraid to fail. We live in a society that praises success and shuns failure–failure is seen as something that we should avoid at all costs. But the truth of the matter is, we all fail at some point.

Failure is a great learning tool. Overcoming failure is what allows us to succeed. Take this as an example: we are preparing for a performance and there’s a passage in the music that we are not comfortable with. We practice it, over and over again, until we think we have learned it correctly. Then, in actual performance, when we come to this passage, we don’t play it correctly and make some mistake. This is a type of failure, albeit, a very small form of it. It teaches us to try a different strategy next time, to avoid the pitfalls that we stepped into.

The same is true of teaching. We don’t prepare well for a lesson and it shows in our performance. So the next time we prepare more intelligently, more diligently, to avoid these mishaps.

Failure is our way of learning how to become more successful, in whatever endeavors we pursue. Perhaps we shouldn’t be so afraid to fail–after all, it will make us stronger in the end.

 

 

 

New Article!

My latest article about composer Stephen Dankner and his saxophone music is now available from thesaxophonist.org. I am posting a link to it here on my blog page for viewers to have access to it. It was a great experience getting to know Steve and perform some of his music. Saxophonists, if you haven’t looked into Steve’s music, you’re really missing out!

https://www.thesaxophonist.org/what-s-new

Enjoy!

Mouthpiece refacing

Since my first collegiate saxophone teacher, Dr. Laurence Wyman, refaced a mouthpiece for me back in early 1999, I’ve been fascinated with mouthpieces and how they work. I’ve read several papers and articles on the subject (including Wyman’s doctoral dissertation), and in the interim I’ve had several more mouthpieces refaced by him and others. Now I’m finally taking the plunge myself: I recently bought myself some tools to begin measuring and refacing mouthpieces on my own.

Armed with some knowledge and experience playing all the various sizes of saxophones, I’m hoping that I can turn this into an interesting and enjoyable project. My goal is to become as knowledgeable and proficient as Dr. Wyman and Joe Giardullo, both of whom have years of experience working on mouthpieces and whose work I admire.

I’ll be posting some pictures of my mouthpieces and measurements in the near future. Stay tuned!

Autumn is the busiest time of year

Autumn is the busiest time of year for teachers and, as it turns out, for many musicians as well.

Since September, I’ve been playing in rehearsals and/or performances almost weekly, ranging from jazz to wind ensemble. This will continue until Christmas, when my last official concert of 2017 with the Hudson Valley Saxophone Orchestra takes place on December 17th.

January is also looking to be busy, with the Navy Saxophone Symposium on January 12-13. After that things will slow down a bit, but they will inevitably pick up again in the spring for musical productions and the NASA Biennial Conference.

I’m lucky to be as busy as I am, because I know of many musicians who are not so fortunate. Time to get practicing!

A New Chapter

I’m starting a new chapter in my career next month as the new elementary music teacher in the Ellenville CSD. I’m very excited to get to work with young musicians and assist them in taking their musical skills to the next level. I’ll also be teaching some general music classes, in addition to band.

As far as my professional playing opportunities go, I will still be active with the Big Blue Big Band, the Swing Shift Orchestra, the New York Wind Symphony, and when needed, the Greater Newburgh Symphony Orchestra. I’d also like to perform a solo recital this year somewhere in the Hudson Valley.

I have some ideas for upcoming conferences, and if they materialize I’ll be sure to post them here.

The article project of this site is still in progress, and I hope to have my analyses uploaded shortly.

Articles to be Posted

I have written a series of articles for Saxophone Today, a journal that just recently ceased publication due to financial constraints. Since these articles won’t be available once the online versions of the journal are taken down, I’m going to set up a page on my website that contains the articles I wrote for them. These will be in PDF format for ease of downloading. I will post the page and links for the articles soon.