Monday, December 28, 2009

Chicago-The Midwest Clinic (part 2)

One of my favorite things about The Midwest Clinic, beside the great Paige's Music party in the hotel, was my discovery of The Hindsley Transcriptions. While walking through the chaos of the many exhibitors and trying to converse with people while drums are playing, cymbals clashing and trumpeters trying to see who can be most obnoxious, I came across a wonderfully orange booth. Literally, it was all orange...everything, even the lovely gentleman who helped me had a nice bright orange sweatshirt on. None-the-less, what caught my attention was the rack of scores, each cardboard score with an orange cover. Those scores looked just like the wonderful transcription I found of The Nutcracker Suite just a few months ago. I loved that transcription! I quickly glanced over the scores searching for The Nutcracker Suite just to make sure I had the right place, I didn't want to celebrate to quickly and since I couldn't remember the name of the publisher. There it was, all in it's orange glory, standing next to dozens of other orange scores.

For those of you who don't know me, I am not a happy customer when it comes to finding reputable transcriptions of great orchestral works for band. There are many good arrangements of a snipit of this with a snipit of that...but very rarely a great arrangement or transcription that really does the great work justice...until now. I had hit the jack pot! The lovely gentleman in the orange sweatshirt was Bob Hindsley, son of the late Dr. Mark Hindsley and standing behind him were dozens of incredible transcriptions of orchestral works for band. Oh, my heart was content. I found Strauss' Don Juan, Beethoven's Leonore No. 3, Tchaokovsky's Violin Concerto, Bruckner's Violin Concerto, Tchaikovsky's Capriccio Italiano and so much more!

After a bit dreaming about what our library could have and of the repretoire my students could be introduced to, I finally did purchase a few great additions to our library. My librarians will have some work to do when they get back to campus from their Christmas break. I didn't make the purchase just yet, however headed off quickly to find room W 190 to see Michael McIntosh's premiere of his latest piece "Bloom". Spring High School (TX) performed superbly and put on a terrific concert at Midwest performing Michael's new work and other newly commissioned pieces, including a work with percussionist She-e Wu. All together, a fantastic performance-bravo!

Before heading back to Indianapolis and continuing a week of crazy travels, I found a booth that was willing to try to replicate my baton. It is a beautifully balanced and crafted wood baton, not solid wood, but it is seemless from the bulb to the shaft, crafted by Charles Olson. Apparently he sold his business and I was fortunate to find the people who make his designs. I'm excited to see how close they can make it to the original. I love my original but have had it for years and it's starting to look like it.

Next posting I'll have to update you about the new music building...we're so close to being done!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Chicago-The Midwest Clinic

So, day two of The Midwest Clinic out in lovely Chicago, Illinois. Since I've found a quick moment (waiting in The Pavillion at the Hilton for my lunch to arrive) I find myself actually missing writing on my blog. I've, in all honest, never really looked forward to it all all, it was all a Marian University Marketing Communications department indea. I didn't even know what a blog was...tells you how behind the times I must be. Anyways, I wanted to get back in the habit of updating my blog, and not do it every two months.

The Midwest Clinic is a nice event, the wonderful people at Yamaha and Paige's Music have very generous to provide me with registration and a hotel for the conference. The whole trip started out leaving quite early from my home in Fishers to drive up to Chicago Heights, IL to make a visit to Marian Catholic High School. As most of you already know, Greg Bimm (band director) has a phenomenal program with very hard working students. I headed up to Greg's program to do a few auditions. I believe I did 6 or 7, not to bad for a days work. The best part of that trip was the actual audition, each student did a great job, some with INCREDIBLE potential to be very solid professional musicians-but get this-almost all of the students that auditioned for me all want to major in something outside of music, many of them seeking careers in medicine. How awesome is that! Greg, you're the man.

Ok, back to Midwest, after leaving MCHS, now with 2 of my current students who are former MCHS students (they met me for breakfast at Egg and I-great food for an even better price) in my car, we headed to find my hotel at the Hilton on the Magnificent Mile in downtown Chicago. My two students were so great to help me carry my luggage and tons of music to my room. So, after checking into my room I headed out to the McCormick Place (can't remember if it's north or south, but it's the new one) and sat on a nice charter bus for 15 minutes to get there from the hotel. Arrived at the beautiful convention center (although I think Indianapolis could do it soooo much better!) and walked around for about 45 minutes. Lots of vendors trying to speak to potential customers over the constant crescendo of screaming trumpets and cymbal crashes-quite the site...a little irritating after awhile, but then you can just walk to another side of the room. I feel a bit bad for the vendors who have to sit through that for entire days...yikes.

So, headed by to my hotel room to meet with my grandfather, who lives only about 30 minutes from downtown Chicago, for dinner. That was nice-we talked for a long time and I was able to see a deeper and more intimate side of a man I greatly admire. Afterwards I found myself quite exhaused from the day and finally fell asleep with the tv on. No worries, I definitely awoke at 2am to a very warm and stuffy room so I could lower the temperature and turn off the television. Unfortunately, I was now awake. I think I finally fell asleep about an hour later.

I'll write about day 2 a little later, my panini and fries are getting cold.

A presto!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Keeping Busy

Hello again!

Well, I believe it's safe to say that we keep busy in the music department at Marian University. The newly named Steffen Music Center is bustling with students, music and the sounds of construction.
As many of you already know, we are currently in the last stretch of Phase One of the Steffen Music Center expansion and hope to begin soon on the fundraising of Phase Two which will add more practice rooms, offices, studios, classrooms and more. Phase One is 6,500 square feet which includes a large rehearsal hall, practice rooms, uniform and instrument storage room and percussion studio. If all continues to stay on schedule, on January 1, 2010, Phase One will officially be open and ready for use by the many instrumental ensembles and music department events.

The MU Bands has also been keeping busy with the bands with recent performances at home football games, celebrating Band Day 2009 (Band Day 2010 is scheduled for September 11, 2010-mark it down!), drumline performances and run out performances with the Marian University Wind Ensemble to Oldenburg and Mishawaka, Indiana.

The photo to to the right is an arial view of the Marian University Wind Ensemble warming up before their performance for the Sister of Saint Francis in Oldenburg, Indiana.
If you're interested in seeing more picutres of our trips and many performances of the MU Bands, I encourage you to check out our Facebook page under Marian University Bands!
I'll see you next week!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Distinguished Lecturer in Music Series 2009 - 2010 Fall Lineup

Hello again!

It's been too long since I've last written on my blog, but there's just so much to do and so much to tell you about! I hope you'll also look us up on our Facebook page (under Marian University Bands) for construction updates on the wonderful Phase One of the Steffen Music Center. It's sooooo exciting around here! The next blog posting will FINALLY give you a little peak into our new Marian University "Marching Knights" Marching Band uniform!

I am also very excited to officially announce the fall semester of the 2009 – 2010 Distinguished Lecturer in Music Series at Marian University. Each event is free and open to the public.

The Distinguished Lecturer in Music Series (DLMS) is designed to create awareness of the wide array of opportunities in the careers of music and beyond. Our lecturerss come from many backgrounds that have crossed in the pathway of the arts, particularly music. From local educators to CEO’s of large institutions, the DLMS is a great opportunity for students and professionals alike.

Each lecture is approximately 1 hour in length and begins at 7:00pm in the Steffen Music Center, room #2, unless otherwise noted.

Marian University Distinguished Lecturer in Music Series-Fall Semester Lineup

September 10, 2009
Fran Kick, international motivational speaker and former music educator

October 29, 2009
John Wittman, Director of Education and Artists Relations Manager-Yamaha

November 5, 2009
Simon Crookall, Chief Executive Officer-Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra

December 1, 2009
Michael McIntosh, Composer/Percussionist and Marian University faculty member

We hope you will be part of our fantastic series-you’ll love it!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tremendous Growth in the Arts

This is an incredible time to be involved in education and the arts, and what better location to do this than Indianapolis, Indiana? There has been tremendous growth in the arts not only with organizations such as Music for All, Percussive Arts Society, Drum Corps International, and more relocating to our city, but also on our very own campus. If you have not had the chance to see the Marian University campus in the past month, we strongly encourage you to stop by the music building and see the physical transformation of our music program with construction of phase one of the Steffen Music Center.

We have also added a new member of the Marian University music family. The Department of Performing Arts is pleased to announce, after a very extensive national search, the addition of Dr. Sidney Hearn as assistant director of bands. Hearn comes to Marian University from Auburn University in Alabama with a detailed background in the marching arts with schools of all sizes and abilities, with a strong emphasis in the drum and bugle corps arena. We are very excited to have Hearn join the Marian University bands program.

The 2009-10 academic year brings many exciting events including an invitation from the Mexican Consulate for a performance by the Marian University Wind Ensemble, Band Day 2009, Distinguished Lecturer in Music Series, Conductors' Workshop, Composition Workshop with Kevin Kiner (composer of CSI: Miami and Star Wars: The Clone Wars), and much more.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Indianapolis Invaded by Music-AGAIN!

March 23, 2009

I think that's a great title and wish I could see it on the front page of a major newspaper. It's so true. Indianapolis is quickly becoming this national hub for music. This past week has been quite a whirlwind, I'm not complaining-just stating a wonderful reality. At a time when the global markets are suffering with needs of job cutbacks, Indianapolis continues to host amazing events such as the Music for All National Music Festival, presented by Yamaha.

Yamaha has also been very good to the Marian music program and, in partnership with the Indy Flute Shop, brought the amazing flutist Mimi Stillman to campus for a masterclass this past week. Holy smokes...what a phenomenal musician. To add to the fun and exciting activites at Marian's campus is the continuation of the Distinguished Lecturer in Music Series with the brilliant Zach De Pue, concertmaster of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. Check us out on Facebook under Marian University Bands or visit us at for more upcoming events!

Bis bald!

Monday, March 16, 2009

West Side Story Tips

March 16, 2009

Well, it's been a little while since I made a post on my blog, but I've been a little busy with multiple rehearsals and performances of West Side Story with the Indianapolis Civic Theatre. The extent of my West Side Story knowledge comes from reading about it, seeing the movie and studying the famous vibe excerpt from "Cool". My appreciation for the music has definitely changed now being in rehearsals for about a week and end the first opening weekend of the show.

My colleague, Braham Dembar, played the symphonic suite to West Side Story late last month with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and did a terrific job playing the multiple mallet parts, with such ease walking back and forth to play each intricit mallet part. Bravo Braham!

I only wish that the same experience of playing in the concert hall to playing in the pit was the same. However, it's definitely not. The version that the pit orchestra is playing is a considerable condensed than the orchestral suite, however it is still very demanding. This show only allows for 1 drummer and 1 percussionist. As you can see, there's a lot of stuff going on with the set up. So, I thought I'd offer a few of my thoughts on playing the percussion parts well, since I know that you or someone you know will be encountering this wonderful music at some point in your career.

  • Before your first rehearsal, if you can, stop by the pit and see how much space you'll have to work with. This is a very valuable time that you can save now rather than later by coreographing your setup before you even start your first rehearsal.
  • Come to your first rehearsal EARLY to work on your setup and come PREPARED. Know your part(s).
  • Use a trap table that you can easily access for your tambourine, claves, ratchet, woodblock, castanets, etc. On my table, I have a lighter for the tambourine (in case it were to loose too much tension), woodblock, claves, finger cymbals, slide whistle, castanets, ratchet and guiro with stick. For the most part I keep my whistle around my head at all times and my triangle beater in my pocket. It sounds like much, but it's absolutely necessary for the immediate segues from one scene to the next.
  • Position your music stand in the best way possible so that you can see your music, your instruments and your conductor. Those 3 items don't always line up, but find a way to make it work.
  • I can go on and on with each different song, but the last major suggestion-KNOW WHERE IT'S AT! Know where your xylo mallets are, know where your hard, medium and soft mallets are at all times. You will RARELY have the luxury to take more than a few seconds to grab the next thing and play.

I hope some of these thoughts help you out one day. There could be an entire book about this, but it's best to just take a lesson with a professional who has played this show before. They will know the in's and out's of how to make it work. That's the key, we work so hard on getting the gig, but we need to focus on how to keep the gig. Make it work. Work hard. Always be prepared.