Da Musically Inclined Bomb

DePauw University's First Year Seminar on Writing about Music

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Titles are over-rated (that's just temporary)

Once again on this cyber coil known as blogger, I feel inclined to chose Die Schone Mullerin for my next endeavor. The recital given by Tom Cooley, Tenor and John Clodfelter, piano was nothing short of amazing. With a beautiful voice and heart-felt expression, Mr. Cooley ignited the stage. The true value in this recital is the absense of over singing. In many of the softer pieces, not only sustained great pianissimo, but just caressing the notes ever so tenderly. Mr. Clodfelter played with great versitility, playing gentle where needed and intense as needed.
The value here is that music is not about playing notes on the page, but giving character and life to each note played.

What Do I Value in Music.....

So, this week the blog is on a live music review, which I find very interesting because I have seen more live music this week then I think I have in my entire life. Thursday night there was the Chamber Concert, Friday the Lotus Festival and then Saturday night the guest artist Thomas Cooley. Now I am left with the dilemma of which to write about....

The Lotus Festival is an International Music Festival held in Bloomington, Indiana annually. This year, as seems to be tradition with the School of Music, a group of students attended. At first I was reluctant to give up my Friday night to an event that at first glance didn't seem all that appealing, then I changed my mind and I am so glad I did. I was able to see three amazing shows, well two amazing shows and one really good one. The first venue my group visited was called VIDA. VIDA is a group of former IU School Of Music students who formed a group while at school and then continued to tour after graduation. It is a group comprised of four females who sing a cappella music from all over the world. I simply sat in awe during this concert. Not only did the group have amazing talent and harmonies, but the range of the singers was unbelieveable. This brings me to the actual topic of what do I value in music. I don't know exactly how to answer the question. I can find an answer to what do i value about a live performance or what do I value about a certain type of music, but this question seems a little too general, but I will try to answer it. This concert was absolutely wonderful. There is something about being in a room completely filled with the sound of beautiful harmonies that can literally take your breathe away. This is something that I feel can only be experienced with live music. Now, don't get me wrong, after hearing this group I felt compelled to buy their cd, however my bank account did not agree with me. Anyway, there is something wonderful about a recreated sound that you can listen to repeatedly, but for me it will never compare with that first experience of feeling the music of a live performance.

This idea leads me straight into the next group of performers of the night. They were the group that Dean Johnson kept stressing for us to see. The group consisted of two violon playing brothers, an accordian, drums, bass and guitar and had a style that was described as French gypsy and yiddish based. To say the least if I had heard the group before seeing them perform I don't think I would have enjoyed as much as I did live. There was a kind of energy that the audience was able to thrive off of that could not have been experienced from sitting down and listening to the music on my iPod. Yes, the talent of the violinists was amazing but I feel like I would have felt like something was missing if I just listened to it and did not feel the beat of the drum in my chest and wasn't surrounded by bunches of crazy dancing folk.

There was another group, but I think you get the picture. I value the heart of music, and in my opinion it is easist to feel the heart of music when it is performed live and you can see the emotion and excitement that is conveyed through the perforemers. I do have to admit, however, that there are somethings that I simply love to listen to on my iPod and I am almost nervous about seeing live because I am afraid that I will be dissappointed by a live performance. There are some musicals that I have listened to so many times on my iPod that when I finally heard them performed I was actually dissappointed, mind you some of the performances were high school shows and might have just been bad, but still. Overall I value the expression that music takes on in live performances. Hope that answered the question.....

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Hmm... Should I talk about Blue Man Group?

A couple of years ago my parents bought my brother and I tickets to go see Blue Man Group perform live at the local concert center. We were way psyched to attend one of our first concerts ever! I personally, hadn't heard any of their cds but had seen clips of their acts on the Tom Green Show, late at night. My brother, on the other hand, listened to the Blue Man Group regularly.

As we sat in our seats waiting for the show to start we made casual conversation with the people in front of us. They had traveled from Vegas to see the tour again. They said it was the best concert they had ever seen. We were now very anxious to see this show. Finally, the group came out and began their set.

The point in me telling you about my Blue Man Group concert expierence is to express what I valued in that show. First, is was very audience involved. Members of the audience were often taken from their seats and asked to perform a simple task on stage, such as beating a bass drum. In one of the songs, "What is Rock?" the audience is asked to do simple movements such as jump up and down, yell, fist pump, ect. The entire audience was laughing and getting involved... a very interesting concert it prooved to be!

The other thing I enjoyed about the live show was how the audience was focused and paying attention to the group and nothing else (as much as possible). The group could express themselves more musically because they were able to take as much time as needed to get a musical idea across. For example, one of the guys hit a bass drum over and over and slowly other parts were added to form a song. But, if you were listening to the exact same thing on your car cd you probably wouldnt listen to a bass drum sounding for five minutes due to distractions.

Sometimes live music sucks, I will admitt. But, I know, when I'm listening to a cd, my mind begins to wonder how it would sound if it were a live performance, and you begin to miss the things you value in a concert.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Who's listening?

I added a viewer counter to the bottom of the blog, which keeps track of unique views and referrals. You can click on it to get details. Of the last 100 views, two were me, five were visitors from my blog, and eighteen were the result of searches on Google or other search engines. 37% of the visitors were not you authors (the counter does count each of your visits as well). Here are the search phrases that brought people to your blog:
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Author=Emily
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Note that many people want to know what "musically inclined" means. Perhaps one of you could work that into your next blog.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Have you ever heared something so beautiful you were encouraged to recreate that sound? That happens to me all the time and I think it's the basis of my success as playing trumpet. When I was at the end of fourth grade I heard a beautiful saxophone sound echoing throughout the local mall. It was the first time I had ever heard a professional instrumentalist that caught my attention. Kenny G was my first inspiration to make music.

Later that week, I went through "instrument tryouts" for our 5th grade band. I knew as soon as I got there I was going to be bringing home the instrument that would lead me to Kenny G's success! But I was wrong! Turns out, I couldn't even get a noise out of the saxophone. That's when I decided to test out the trumpet.

My first years playing were at Mills Lawn Elementary School. It was a very small school. As beginning students, it was our decision to play in either the orchestra or the band. But, either way, you were guaranteed to be the only one in your grade, on your instrument.

Competition between instruments took place on a grade level. As a fifth grader, I couldn't wait to play with the 6th graders and show off my talent. My brother was a 6th grade trombonist and he kept me "updated" with the latest repitore. I remember practicing "Go Tell Aunt Rhodie" several hundred times with my brother in the freezing cold garage before a 6th grade rehersal. At Mills Lawn, you were pushed to learn your part inside out and always play at your personal best.

A move in the family eventually caused for transferring schools. Attending Indian Valley Middle School posed a drastic change for me. There were 4 different 5th grade bands! Each with 10 or more playing trumpet. But, because of such advanced playing at Mills Lawn I was still able to outplay them all! I'm almost certain I didn't improve much as a musician at Indian Valley because I never had any one to compete with, or any beautiful sounds to imitate.Throughout my 3.5 years there, students expierenced three different changes in directors. Many students dropped out because the couldnt rely on the stablilty of the music department or because they just weren't inspired. My parents were the only reason I myself, made it to high school band.

Wow! My first day of high school band camp I was so impressed! I arrived and chairs had been marked off as a result of the auditions earlier that week. I walked along the back looking for my chair. It wasn't anywhere around my freshman friends! I must have looked confused because my band director approached me and took me to my chair. I was sitting 2nd chair next to the junior section leader! I remember his words exactly as I sat next to him, "So you're the girl who sits here? We'll don't get your hopes up.... your first chance at section leader won't be until your senior year when all of the upperclassmen have filtered out!" Typical statement of a trumpet player. It didn't bring me down though, I had work to do... there was someone better than me. I had a challenge!

I worked very hard that year and it paid off. The audition results were posted at the beginning of the next year. I had outdone every trumpet player in every ensemble in high school. It seemed great... until I realized I no longer had challenge. For the majority of the rest of high school, I did the minimal work to keep my spot as a section leader.

My senior year was the only exception. I had to work harder, practice more, join ensembles outside of high school, take extra music classes... all because I wanted to "spice my application up," as my high school guidance counslor said. My college selection process wasn't hard at all. I applied and auditioned at one school, DePauw, and here I am today.

Over my 8 years of playing, I don't feel as if I got the musical expierence every child deserves to have. My fellow students and I had five different band directors. I witnessed many students dropping music because of poor instruction and lack of dedication. It is now my desire to improve instruction in districts where music is a crumbling subject. The arts are an important part of elementary, middle and high school curriculum. Students at least a teacher who cares!

bio 3rd edition

My musical history is far from ordinary. I didn't see any inspirational concerts, get forced into playing, had older sibling influence. None of that. When I was in seventh grade, all my friends were in some cool punk rock band, and of course, if you were in the cool punk band, you got all the ladies. And so ii wanted to start a cool punk rock band. I told everyone in school that I played drums and how awesome I was. But the truth was, I had never held a drum stick with the intent to make music. I went home and told my parent I needed a drum set so bad, and that I really wanted to play. I took some lessons, and my teacher said I had potential. Hearing from an expert sealed the deal for my parents, and I got a used Yamaha stage custom for Christmas 99'.
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Thats the earliest picture I have of me playing drums.

in January I started my first band. We called it "Jumbox," and it was so bad. I mean, we were terrible. But we were so cool at the same time, so it didn't matter. We would spend half the "practice time" dissing other bands and taking pictures, and listening to NOFX, rancid, link 80, T.S.O.L., and all sorts of other punk bands. In eighth grade I changed schools, and the band fell apart. But it only took me a couple months to join the next one.

2001 was probably the most explosive year for music, until recently. I started my classical training in percussion, did my first recording sessions as a drummer, and took kit lessons with dashboard connfessional's, and Miami native, mike marsh. This band was called "piece of mind." don't laugh too hard. Anyway, we were so good for 12 year olds. We played at a bar every Thursday night, for a bunch of drunk old people, who might I add, LOVED US! We played Jim Hendrix, and Jefferson airplane covers, with original tunes as well. We also acted as a studio band, and recorded for who ever wanted to record with us. The best gig was when we got paid to record at criteria recording studio. Artists who recorded there include the bee-gee's, R.E.M., Jennifer Lopez, etc. It was so awesome. I remember going to the bath room and thinking "j-lo was in this bathroom!!" anyway, that band was so much fun. We went through like five bass players, but me and Jessie(guitar/singer) always remained. The band lasted 2 1/2 years, and me and Jessie are still best friends. I have like 3 recordings so come to my room if you want to hear it.

in sophomore year I started two bands. "terry and the tourettes," and 'our last days as children." The first one was a blues band. We had mild success. Our biggest accomplishment as playing in the legendary "Tobacco Road" venue in downtown Miami. Are only song recorded an be heard here.
We broke up because Terry was a jerk.

my next band was "OLDAC." this band definitely got the most attention. We started playing in fall 2003. We actually met while I was recording with terry, so as soon as that door closed another opened. We had over three different recording sessions, and had planned on recording in New York, but our budget wasn't big enough. We played as far away as north Carolina, were in national indie music news papers, have been played on Miami radio, and were on an Oregon based radio/internet show. We were influenced by the likes of cursive, Owen, the agency, bright eyes, jimmy eat world, etc. Earlier this year, I left the band, because, here I am, writing about them, in college, a million miles away. All the recording they have are still me playing drums. That's Dennis fuller drum ideas, not the new guy. Just know that. But I do love this band and we till talk and hang out. They're looking to tour up north, so maybe they'll come to Indiana? Anyway, that's "our last days as children," by far, my most successful band endeavor. This is their current myspace page with music.
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Our first show =0
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promo pictures =/

And for my last independent band, "Highway." Highway was the most craziest hardcore band ever. With myself on drums, Joey, a University of Miami medical student on guitar, Mike who is a nurse on vocals, Romy, whose got everything you can possibly get pierced pierced, on bass, and the ever awkward peter Allen on guitar 2. This band was semi serious. we palyed a good amount of shows last year, but that was that. They still practice in Miami, but with they're songs constantly changing, and never staying solid, I doubt they'll ever play another show. Our recordings can be heard at myspace.com/highway.
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Peter and Romy of the old Highway.

In the midst of all this, I was also performing in musical theater. I did over 10 musicals in two years. my first was "Joseph and the amazing technicolor dream coat." I met many other students from music schools and expanded my musical network. I also learned how to improv on music, becaus e sometimes we had no time to rehearse.

I also attended cannon music camp in north Carolina for two consecutive summers. This was probably the best thing I have done to improve myself as a drummer, and as a person. I learned so much about my instrument, and it also prepared me for college, staying in a dorm for a month. Definite recommendation to any younger musicians looking to improve their skill in a focused environment.
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That is the 2005 Percussion Ensemble at Cannn Music Camp.

In case you're wondering, there is more to my musical life, but I won't go into detail about it. I did a lot of musical theater, for the Miami Children's theater Compny, and I played in the Greater Miami Youth Symphony. Two season ago we went to Carneagie hall, with some other orchestra from Hawaii. We played Bartok, Stravinsky, Wagner, and Bernstein.

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This was taken during one of MCT's performances of Sondheim's "Into the Woods." That was my favorite musical to perform.

To wrap it up, I just wanted to say that, those guys that I first started playing music with in seventh grade, no longer play music. I see them every now and then, at a party, wasted or something. And I think that its sad that the people that I was so fond of, and influenced me to play, no longer do. Like the inspirational speaker said on Friday night, "show me your friends, and I'll show you your future." I guess it is somewhat true. Because, as far as I know, Jessie and myself are the only ones pursuing music as a profession, and life style. We're all here for the same reason, because we love music. And sometimes you have look at your past and see the road you've taken to know where you want to go, or, in my case, where you don't want to end up.

Indeed, I am Still a Self-Proclaimed Musician

Musician
According to legend, I started my musical life in first grade. The director of the “young strings” program came to class one day and described her orchestra program for students in elementary school. Well, I was pretty excited. Both of my older sisters played violin, and I always wanted to play like them. I went home that day and asked my parents if I could join the program. My parents finally decided I was too young to begin such an expensive undertaking, especially if I would just get sick of it and give it up in a few days.
However, I have never been one to listen whole-heartedly to my parents, and in this case the benefit was immeasurable. I singed myself up for the class at age six. I remember my teacher, Mrs. Farlow, handing me a small, hideous sounding school instrument every other day, and she always asked, “Emily why don’t you have an instrument of your own yet?” I usually made up some lie because I didn’t want her to know that my parents were unaware of my activities.
Eventually, she called home. I remember my parents’ shock at my determination to play the violin. They agreed if I wanted to play that badly, they would buy me an instrument. I was ecstatic. I have continued playing violin ever since, and I still do. I even brought it to college with me.
My foray into orchestra led me to want to be involved in music forever. In fifth grade I entered the ISSMA contest for singers. I had never sung solo before and I was terrified, but despite my doubts I learned the piece, “Getting to Know You” and won a first place ribbon. It was then that I discovered how much I truly loved to perform. I loved to portray a character through song, and I placed first in the contest the following year as well.
Once again, I took matters into my own hands. I decided that along with violin lessons, I wanted to have private voice lessons. I had to sign myself up for lessons again. This time, my parents trusted my judgment. I began lessons with Barbara Horine, at my school, in seventh grade. I tried really hard. However, I never felt like I was enjoying my singing. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong. My improvement was inconsistent and I knew I had not found my niche. Then, I tried out for the junior high school musical, Oliver!. I received the part of Nancy, and it was a huge scandal. A seventh grader getting the lead in the musical! The student body was really mad.
When I performed that role I realized what I had missed in my singing. When I was onstage, the music came to life. The music and I became one in the same. I loved the expressiveness of the theatre. I loved entertaining the whole auditorium. The musical was a huge success, and I managed to make a name for myself before entering high school. Since then, I have performed in many musicals at school and in the Indianapolis community.
The theatre made me relate and embrace the passion found in music. Suddenly, I wanted to do everything. I started to play the guitar, and later the piano. I couldn’t, and still can’t, get enough music in my life. Whether it is just sitting in my room listening to rock, or attending an opera, I love the concept of performance. I love being part of a room full of people who are all swept away by the beauty of music. To me, music is truly a way for souls to connect.
It was very hard for me to find the “right” school for myself. I had a great difficulty with many college's programs because the university or conservatory predetermined the kind of performing done. During my senior year, I auditioned at ten different schools, which meant I missed a lot of school. In retrospect, it is very funny that I auditioned at DePauw first and ended up doing a complete three-sixty and coming here in the end.
I was convinced at age seventeen that I belonged in a conservatory. I wanted the best vocal training, in the classical technique, and I wanted to really zone in on my music and perfect it in everyway possible. I was admitted to all of the conservatories where I auditioned. But, I came to find out that conservatories only give you, at best, an incredible teacher with amazing connections. In general, productions were for graduate students, their facilities were pretty run down, and they had this strange claustrophobia hanging over everyone.
I then decided to look into the universities with conservatories and see if they could offer more. I ended up narrowing my decision to SUNY at Purchase, NYU, and DePauw. Honestly, for a while I didn’t even consider DePauw an option because it was so close to home, but I kept it at bay for my parents. It was not until I visited all three schools again that I realized why I was going into college in the first place. I was eighteen, and I was trying to figure out what to do with my life. I thought that since I knew I wanted to perform that I had a leg up on everyone else. I might have had a toe. When it came down to it, I was going to school to figure out how to channel my passions. I could not go to the SUNY College because it was strictly opera, and what if I decided after four years that I wanted to do musical theatre? I would be out of luck. I could not go to NYU because their classical voice program was lodged between theatre and opera so really neither was experienced. DePauw, however, was not a conservatory or a university with a renowned theatre program and an obscure music program. Instead, it was just a place with opportunities. It did not promise connections or immediate results, but it did promise that I would be sure of my place in the music world.
Admittedly, I received a lot of grief from my high school about picking DePauw. They thought I had wasted an entire year. However, I came to realize that my place as a musician was blurry. I was not mature enough to dedicate my life to one for of the musical arts. All I knew then, and what I know now, is I am improving, immersed, and eventually my place will come.


Some of the best experiences I have had as a musician are playing live in small venues. When I was about eleven, I used to visit my sister in California and her husband played every week in an open-mic night. I thought it was so cool to see a vast array of such unique performers in one coffee house. Eventually, my brother-in-law, Ryan, convinced me to sing a few songs with him. When I was that young, I couldn’t accompany myself and sing at the same time, so he played guitar and I sang. We performed “On My Own” from Les Miserables and “Scarborough Fair.” It was so exhilarating to share music with complete strangers, and to have them appreciate it.
When my sister and her husband moved to Boston, I was sad because I thought the music was over. However, Ryan soon found a different open-mic night in Boston, and began to record his own music. When I visited them most recently, we recorded a few songs, and we both m=played guitar and sang. It was really fun. Later, I joined him at the open-mic bar and I sang “Jolene,” which is a Dolly Parton song, and I performed “Zombie” by the Cranberries. This venue was bigger and more daunting, but the fear left me after the first song and I realized that the love of live performing, not matter how good the person is, is appreciated by all artists.
It is really important for me to find small ways of performing, like open-mic nights, because it personalizes performing, and takes it down to a smaller scale. Sometimes, I feel like performing is an impossible lifestyle. However, every time I think of those nights, with all of the strangers, I realize performing isn’t a lifestyle, but a life choice. One can choose how thy want to perform, and sometimes it is important to accept and appreciate the intimate, non-paying, gigs that are all about the music, and not about the career.


The Previous One!

For as long as I can remember, I had wanted to play violin. As soon as I could talk, I asked my parents to let me play. For years I asked, over and over again. Finally, when I was six, my parents decided it was time to let me try.

Unlike many beginners who start with a cardboard violin, at my first lesson, a real instrument was placed in my hands. I stared at it lovingly before carefully placing it under my chin. I learned to play "See Saw" that day, and practiced it over and over that week in anticipation of my next lesson. I was so excited to play new songs, from the beginning, I fiddled around with the notes and taught myself pieces I knew by ear.

Around the time I was in third grade, and had been playing for about two years, my teacher decided to put together a string quartet. She had a cello student, and three violin students at about the same level. I was the youngest of the group, so I got to learn and play viola. We were called KEEP the Quartet, Kathryn, Emily, Emily, and Paula. We played together for years to come, sometimes we were payed to play weddings, other times we went to music camps as a group to improve our playing together.

In sixth grade I joined a violin group at Wheaton College called Vivaldi Strings. I was the youngest member of the group at the time. It was coprised of mostly high schoolers and we performed at weddings, nursing homes, and many other events. In addition to performing at events around the area, we would go on tour each year. We went to Disneyland, Michigan, even Canada. On tour we played for the groups in that area and did performances for money. I was in this group until I graduated this summer. By this time the group was mostly middle school kids and the level of playing had dropped significantly.

My sixth grade year, I auditioned for the DuPage Youth Symphony on violin and viola, I ended up sitting principal viola in the less advanced orchestra, ahead of my older students. The next year I played violin in the advanced orchestra, and french horn in the lower one, needless to say, it was a long Monday night. Then, my eigth grade year, I only played violin in the top orchestra because playing in both orchestras was taking up too much of my time. I stopped playing in the Youth Symphony at the end of that year so I could play in my high school one.

High school orchestra ended up being a mistake. Most of the members had only been playing for a few years and had never had private instruction, and the director had no string experience whatsoever. All of the pieces we played were arranged and they were too simple and did not challenge me to improve. I only played with them for that year.

My freshman year I also joined the DuPage Symphony, of which I was the youngest player. We played full Symphonies, not arrangements, at monthly concerts. I loved the director and the orchestra. Unfortunately, I had to quit after that year due to some psycological problems.

Throughout high school I continued to take private violin lessons and teach them. The summer between my junior and senior year, I went to a music camp in Kansas called Sound Encounters. Brian Lewis, Michael McLean, and many other professional musicians taught at the camp. I was placed in a violin quartet under the instruction the viola professor at a college in Utah. Through her instruction and playing, I realized how much I love the sound of the viola. I immediately told my violin teacher, who was at the camp, and we discussed the pros and cons of switching.

My parents were not at all pleased by my decision, but they decided to let me try to get into a music school on viola. I worked very hard my senior year to keep my grades up and get my viola playing as advanced as possible. I auditioned at three schools and knew I wanted to go to DePauw. When I heard I had gotten in to the school of music I was very excited. All I needed now was a scholarship. When I got the letter from the financial aid office, I knew my dreams had come true.

I am at DePauw studying viola performance. My dream would be to one day become a member of the performing group Barrage. I would also love to teach private lessons and be a member of a professional symphony. Although many of my dreams have come true, I still have many more to come.

Original
1st edit

Bad A$$, Certified

Take #2

My beginnings started humble enough. I had no great desire to be a musician, and back then if you had asked me what was meant by being a musician, I probably could not have told you. My dad was the General Manager of the South Bend Symphony, so music was nothing new. Fourth grade had rolled around; this meant that the students of John Marshall elementary school could join orchestra. I do not remember being forced to join, but I believe there was an understanding that I would join orchestra. The teacher brought all the shiny new instruments and we ooed and awed at them. The teacher played the theme from Jaws on the double bass and I was hooked. This was to be my faithful steed into the world of music.
I quickly became immersed in music, but the shine was beginning to come off the apple. Needless to say music school was not looking anywhere near in my future. I was bored. The trivial bass lines made music drab and uninteresting. Keep in mind I was in fifth grade or sixth grade at the time. The solution became for me to take private lessons. This made no sense to me. Why should I do something for an hour in my house that I did not want to do for thirty minutes while getting out of class? The big reason to do orchestra was that you got out of class a few times a week, even this did not sweeten the deal.
I had a friend who played cello and around this time we would play for our church. Now this made a lot more sense to me. The music was much more challenging due to the fact that we played a duet; we both had to pull our own weight. This was no problem for my friend, but as for me, my technique and familiarity with my instrument had become quite foreign to me. My skills were greatly below my friend's.
I asked my dad repeatedly if I could quit. The answer was a resounding no. So I did what any kid would have done, I faced the facts. In middle school and high school I became interested in theatre. I wanted to be in all the plays in high school, so I was. The summer before however I played in a summer production of The King and I. The pit was a lot more fun than I thought, but the real treat was getting to see the rehearsals. I decided next year I would be in the production.
The next spring I was set to audition, I remember being so nervous that I thought I was going to vomit, although when I was on stage I was unusually comfortable. One thing I can say about me is that I have always felt a little awkward in my own skin, but on stage that went away, much like rinsing shampoo out of my hair. I left the audition humming the songs and was eager to find out the results. I am not quite sure what I expected to get, but all I know is that enough time had passed that I really wasn’t thinking about it anymore. In fact I remember my parents bringing me my tie because I forgot it for my youth symphony concert when they told me. I was so frustrated that I didn’t really think about it, but believe it or not I had a lead. The rehearsals started and I felt right at home. I did not even go out at night so I could go to bed and the next day would come. I was in love. Not only that, but I could sing. So much so that people who had studied for years were asking me how long I had studied to which my answer was never.
A friend of mine encouraged me to take lessons to develop my talent. I listened and the rest is history. I was developing at a staggering pace. I, of course, had to be told this by my teacher, because I had no way to tell, I was still very new. I went from simple musical theatre pieces to Il lacerato sprito and Madamina, il catalogo e questo.
Music however was not always my friend. Even though music is very fun, as soon as you let on you are enjoying it, someone will inevidably ask you to perform so much that your love becomes a chore and not your passion. My junior year had come and I was hot off of summer shows and getting right back into more plays and intense study of music. I was always good at balancing what I wanted to do and what others asked me to do. I would not be fortunate for very long though. The perfect storm was upon me. One day in class I had a thought that would not leave my head. A thought so miniscule that I shouldn’t have given it the time of day, but for how ridiculous it was, it would not leave me. Day after day, month after month, pounding in my head, back and forth trying to put logic to a thought that had no logic. (You will have to excuse my being vague, but I WILL NOT TELL YOU WHAT IT WAS! So please don’t ask.) But I digress. To make a long story short, I became depressed. I didn’t want to do anything anymore. Music did not bring me joy anymore. Music was a reflection of what I thought I used to be. I could not enjoy anything like that anymore. Even though, that time has passed I feel it every now and again. Much like the family member no one likes, but still shows up at Thanksgiving. In these times in my life is when I realized that music has a life too. It will be there in the good times and maybe not in the bad. I thought music was my I thought I did not care for music much anymore, it turns out I was just to upset and mad to realize that my love will always be there. I sincerely hope that none of you lose hope in music like I did once. Happiness with music from happiness from your own life, you must want to do it. I wish I had a happy ending to this tale but I don’t, because the story isn’t over yet.
That was the sad part of the story, but the truth is music is just music. You can hate it, enjoy it, love it, want it, or whatever and what makes it special is that it can make you experience all those feelings, and no matter how much you try to deny it music keeps on playing. What helps me is to keep a sense of humor. You don’t need to make anyone else laugh, just yourself. Every time I think of that, the music plays a little louder and a little prettier.

Draft 3: Tom and his bass fingers

I know as much as some of us might not want to admit it, we were all forced into an electric bastarting off, whether it was taking Suzuki violin, private lessons, or just starting off through the school - not many kids wanted to be the "band geek". I grew up in a very non-musical family. My father was the jock/prep in high school/college, and my mom was the farm girl that didn’t go to college. They both were very regretful that they never had learned an instrument, and more or less forced piano lessons on all three of their sons.
I always hated practicing, and would always argue with my mom about it. All I wanted to do was go outside and play with Scott and Kyle, because it was always such a great day out. My mom kept me going though - a half hour per day before I could do anything else. Eventually, I got into fifth grade and had to choose a band instrument. I chose to play the bass line on the keyboard, because I didn’t want to pick up another instrument, and that would just mean I would have to practice more. I was a pretty decent piano play for that age, and when my parents saw the first school concert it sickened them that I was wasting years of practice playing simple bass lines with one hand on a keyboard.
One day, when I was 12, I came home and there was an upright bass in the middle of the floor.

My mom said that it was my new band instrument. This thing was so big! And it looked so cool! Who wouldn’t want to play it? I started going through books and got a private teacher eventually. After a year or two, my mom finally allowed me to buy an electric bass, which in her mind was the “devil's instrument”. I started getting into a few rock bands and that, but still definitely did not give up the upright.

I finally quit piano lessons sophomore year. I took a few years of orchestra, and then junior year joined a college jazz band, which I enjoyed much more than orchestra. I have been in six or seven different jazz groups and have played gigs anywhere from farmer Joe’s market to riverboats and business meetings on Michigan Ave. I have been to All-State both for Orchestra and Jazz. I have won the Illinois State Fair Talent Competition and the "Best Teen Performer in Springfield" this past year, and played a solo electric bass rendition of "Pomp and Circumstance" at my high school graduation. I played tuba in my high school marching band, and play acoustic guitar and sing for church services now and then.

When I say I was forced into music, it may seem somewhat silly and unbelievable, but until that bass showed up in my living room, I really had no passion for music. Don’t misinterpret me though, I do really enjoy playing music now, and am always up for learning new instruments, ideas, and anything music.
My mom always said I would thank her someday. I hate to say she’s right.


my first blog -
http://musicalbomb.blogspot.com/2006/08/forced-into-music-tommy_25.html

Autobiography NUMBA 3 YO: Ideas

As of right now, I can't find anything to add to my musical autobiography, at least nothing that fits in with my story. I kind of like the way it is now as well. So I'm not going to edit anything I have down already. For this blog, I'm going to write a few paragraphs that will probably have nothing to do with each other. They are ideas or notes that I might like to include in my final autobiography. I'm not going to add them yet however, because I want all of your imput on what would and what wouldn't be a good idea to include.

A few years ago, I discovered music. Yes I have been playing music since the second grade, but I had never actually realized what feelings can be triggered by music. Certain events in my life created a special place within myself for music. Since then, nothing else can release those unique thoughts and feelings. Sometimes when I listen to music, I feel this physical feeling that is quite indescribable. It is a high; one of ecstacy and pure delight that makes every nerve in my body tingle and my stomach flutters with enjoyment. When these feelings came about, I realized that music had to be the most important thing in the world.

I was talking to someone the other day about music and how it makes me feel. I told her about that wonderful sensation I get all over my body when I listen to Pink Floyd or Dvorak's New World Symphony. I asked her if she ever felt that way and she looked at me as if I was crazy and said, "I've never felt anything like that when I listen to music." I was stunned. I had nothing left to say to her and I left. How can anyone go through life happily and call their life complete without ever feeling music?

When I was little I used to go sit in my grandma's living room and listen to one of her many music boxes. It was always the same one. It played the theme from the musical Cats. I don't know why I liked it so much, but I could sit and listen and watch those cats go round and round forever. Even from a young age I showed signs of becoming a lover of music.

Link to FIRST DRAFT
Link to SECOND DRAFT

A new angle... Week 6

Prologue, if you will...

Okay kids (and Dennis): the question we are being asked is, "Who am I as a musician?". I have spent the last couple drafts focusing on this question in terms of "Who have I become as a musician?" and "How do I define myself as a musician?". This week, I'm going to answer this question from a new angle. This week, I'm going to consider "who I am as a musician" in terms of "What does being a musician mean for me?", "Who am I, if I am a musician? How does it change me?" and "What does my being a musician mean for the world?". Bear with me as I attempt to find deeper... whatsit... meaning in this entry.

So, "Who Am I As A Musician?"

As we all discovered this past fortnight, through last week's blog posts and Edburg's inspiring rotation, musicians are creative. Whether we believe this creativity is our own or the result of our "addictions" to the art form, music is a living, ever-changing, ever-creating force that works in each of us. In the words of Matthew Fox, (thanks, Dr. Edburg!) "We are creators at our very core. Only creating can make us happy, for in creating we tap into the deepest powers of self and universe" (28). These words ring true for all musicians, I would venture, but particularly for me. From my youngest days, I was always happy to create; whether it was the right string of words to form a sentence, the right mix of colors for a drawing, or the right notes in time for band, my joy sprung from that transformation of little or nothing to something. It reaffirmed and changed who I was. 'Look, mom! I played a scale on my flute! I'm a musician!' Some might say one scale does not qualify me as a musician, but in my creation of that scale, I was a musician.

Now, music is my life. I can't imagine I'd be half as talented a musician without that creative drive. More importantly, without creativity I would not understand my passion for music. I know that if it weren't for music, I'd probably have no clue what to do with my life. After this week, I think I'm not the only one of us who feels that way. The joy of creativity and the self-fulfillment of good performance are the best aspects of music - the proverbial chemicals that make me high, if "music is a drug". And even though we are a society of addicts, no other "drug" I know of has the same overwhelming effect, not to mention no negative side effects.

To once again quote Matthew Fox (also a blogger... does anyone else notice a trend?) from his blog, "Creativity is both humanity’s greatest gift and its most powerful weapon." So if I am a creative musician, what does that mean for the world? How will my creativity change my community? In class on Thursday Dr. Edburg asked us what we saw our talents doing for others. Many of us admitted that music was mostly a selfish pastime, and I would be guilty of that too. But after giving this some thought, I can see that music is not just a private indulgence. As a singer, especially as a singer with a future full of potentiality, I will have so many opportunities to turn my selfish passion into a enlightening gift. Whether by interpreting others' works, educating the next musical generation or producing music of my own, my world will profit. In a more spiritual analogy, the Bible states that God blesses us with gifts, and we, to show our gratitude, must use them to brighten our world. Indeed, it would be wrong for me to keep my talents to myself.

Now I'll close, not with Disney, but lyrics from a song most of you know. I am a musician; therefore I am creative, talented, and willing to share my passion. I am part of something larger than myself, I am an instrument of creation. If all this is true...

My life flows on in endless song;
Above earth’s lamentation
I hear the clear, though far-off hymn
That hails a new creation:
Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear that music ringing;
It finds an echo in my soul—
How can I keep from singing?

autobiography take 3

I'm the only musical one in my family, which can sometimes be difficult. My dad played clarinet for a while and my older sister played it in middle school, but neither one of them took it really seriously. My mom did some shows in high school and danced, but she never took it seriously either. We're a big sports family-ESPN and FSN are the T.V. favorites in our house. However, I can thank my dad for bringing me up on jazz-I lived off Bette Midler, Louis Armstrong, and Frank Sinatra in preschool. I even sang Bette Midler for my preschool talent show. Kind of ironic since she's an alto and I'm a soprano...
Anyway,my acting debut came in 2nd grade with a class play at Thanksgiving about some kids and a magical scarecrow; I was the scarecrow. But those ended with the progression to 3rd grade, so I started singing at Mass, since I had to go to liturgical music as a class, I figured I better put my knowledge of the music to good use. I learned the extreme basics of music in music class and got to sing a little in that-I loved it. I picked up handbell choir in 5th grade and really started to learn how to read music through that. Even though I had to give up my recess time nearly everyday to practice, I didn't care; I loved playing and learning the music. Finally the music department started an actual choir and I did that in 6th grade. Sadly, not everyone was interested in bettering their musical skills.
Thank the lord my mom found auditions for the St. Louis Symphony Children's Choir and talked me into trying out. I made it directly to the second level, Chorale; pretty good for someone who never took singing seriously.I dropped chorus at school and dedicated my time to SLSCC. I LOVED it! My director was awesome and I was thrilled beyond belief to find so many other kids who actually WANTED to sing. Plus, I found people to compete with, and being a very, VERY, competitive person, that was pretty sweet. Back at school, the sixth grade play rolled around: Little Red Riding Hood. Being one of the only ones in my class who could actually sing, (that and being the shortest one) I got the title role. Even though the show itself was awful, I thrived being on the stage. Not so much with the acting, but the singing. I knew I wanted to be a singer, but I didn't know how much.
My life pretty much changed in seventh grade. At the end of my first year with SLSCC, my director kept me behind after rehearsal one day and asked me to sight read a piece. Even though I had never done it before by myself like that, I somehow just knew how far up or down to go by looking at how far apart the notes were. He told me if I was willing to take a music reading class, I could move up to the next level choir since my voice was already there. (side note:SLSCC is REALLY big into being able to sight read music-even more than vocal ability alone) So my mom agreed to let me take the class and I got to progress. One of the best decisions of my life. Not only did I love learning how to sight read music on solfege and all that jazz, but it has helped me SO much I can't even begin to tell you. Then, the greatest thing ever happened: my choir and the level above me were chosen to participate in the National Children's Choir Festival that April. Okay, here's what that meant-SLSCC-NEW YORK CITY-CARNEGIE HALL. Carnegie Hall!!! I couldn't believe it-my parents said I could go if I paid for half the trip. So I did everything I could to raise my half of the money. So in April 2001, under the direction of Henry Leck and Malcolm Daglish, I performed in Carnegie Hall. Words can't even describe what it felt like. Sure I had been performing in Powell Hall in St. Louis several times a year, but it has nothing on Carnegie. The 11 1/2 hours of rehearsal in 2 days kind of sucked at the time, but looking back, it was all worth it. I loved rehearsing with choirs from all over the country. There's something about a huge group of people coming together with the same purpose-to make music.
When high school came around, I auditioned and made it to the highest level of SLSCC, but I couldn't do it because of softball. I loved singing, but sports have always been a huge part of my life and I'd dreamt of playing varsity softball, so I chose that. But I did have freshman chorus and music class where I learned the recorder and basic piano. Christmas time came around and I got a solo! I was the only one not taking voice lessons that landed one. I also managed to get one in the spring concert as well. That summer I was going to take violin lessons because I didn't have time for them in grade school with sports-and I had secretly dreamt of being a musician. But I knew I wanted to audition for my school's chamber group that fall so I asked my teacher what a good song to prepare would be. He asked why I wasn't taking voice lessons and talked me out of violin and into voice-I owe that man so much.
I made it into the St. Joseph Academy Frontenac Voices as a sophomore-a big deal at my school because the vocal program was such a big deal. We met an hour before school every day to practice and I loved every minute of it. The waking up at 5:45am to get there didn't bug me after a while. I was happy to get up and start my day with singing. I had found my place among the upperclassmen. I auditioned for All District choir and made that as well. It was my favorite thing to do-mostly because I got to sing with boys, which is a nice switch from all SSA pieces. I competed in Solo/Ensemble and got an Excellent II rating. But I wasn't happy with it. I wanted to be better. So I continued with Frontenacs and district choir and voice lessons. I was robbed of my Superior I rating Junior year, but I finally got it senior year. By that point, I was the Soprano section leader in both chorus and Frontenacs, one of the top singers in my school, and in the state of Missouri-I had made All State and received a Superior I rating at State Solo/Ensemble.
I realized singing is my passion. Whether it's cantoring at my church or singing in the shower, I can't live without it. So here I am, at DePauw University majoring in vocal performance. Quite a stretch for my family-my dad thought I'd be playing college softball at a school like UCLA. Every now and then I still feel out of place since sports have ruled the majority of my life and I really didn't get into the arts until a few years ago, but that just pushes me even farther to become a better singer and musician. After all, I like being different.

An Ordinary Life Take 3

When I was young, I did all the normal kid things. I starting dancing at age three, and I started playing softball and soccer when I was five. I played with barbies and I loved to watch cartoons. But there was one thing missing.
My mom sang in the church choir for as long as I remember. I would live for Thursday when I could go to practice with her. I loved being there and hearing the music.
Finally, in third grade I started taking piano lessons from a lady from my church. It was great for awhile, but eventually I wanted more. I went to a private school, so we didn't have band or orchestra, but my mom had a clarinet, and in fifth grade, after a while of me scaring the animals with my squeeks and squawks, she asked her friend's daughter to teach me. I loved it from day one!
Elementary school came to an end and my parents sat me down and told me I had three choices- I could continue with sports, dance, or music. The choice came easily, I had to go on with music. So I enrolled in public middle school and joined band and choir for the first time in my life. Half way through the year my friend convinced me to start cello, and after the first playing test I seated first chair, ahead of people who had been playing for years, but all obviously hated it. I did my thing for awhile, joined jazz band to play piano in 7th grade, and continued on with that and all three ensembles until I was done with middle school.When it came time to try out for marching band, it just kind of seemed like it was already set in stone. I had been planning on it, along with my parents, so I tried out and got in. It was probably the best choice of my life. I had a whole new group of friends before highschool even started. We bonded quickly and it was like we had always been friends.
Freshman year started and I joined orchestra, chamber orchestra, jazz band, and pep band. Marching season ended and I was one of a few freshman placed into our highest band. During Christmas break, although it was two months after marching season, we travelled to Florida and got to march down Main Street at Disney World. It was one of the most amazing experiences in my life, seeing the castle in front of you and knowing all these people are watching I you. At the end of freshman year I was selected for pit orchestra, which meant I was now in all the ensembles I could possibly be in. I was THE band geek. But it didn't bother me. People would call me one, and I would say "Yeah, so?". I had found my passion.
I continued on with all my music through highschool. I went through some private teachers in the area, eventually quit taking piano lessons, taught myself saxophone and bass, and then it was time to select a college.
I knew I wanted to continue with music, but I had no clue where. Luckily, I did know that I did not want to be more than 4 hours from home and that I wanted to study music business. I did some research and found there was really only five or six colleges that fit that criteria. I had three in mind-University of Evansville, Elmhurst College, and Millikin University. I visited all three and was set on Evansville. I was going there, no doubt about it. Then one day my mom asked why I never looked at DePauw University, since they sent me mail about five days a week. I said I didn't know and so she decided we should just go look at it and I could just use it for a practice audition if nothing else. I got here and something just clicked. It seemed to be so much more welcoming than anywhere else. Almost everything here looked well kept and up to date, whereas even the buildings Evansville claimed were newly renovated looked like they were still in the 1970s. Plus there was a pond! Then I found out the pond was going to become a moat as soon as the highly expensive addition to the music building was done. On my way home I knew it. I informed my mom that DePauw was my new number one. Of course I could not fully decide until the financial aid information came in, but when DePauw blew everyone else out of the water, I knew it was meant to be, and here I am.
I have led a pretty ordinary life. I haven't studied with any famous concertmasters or recorded with anyone from an amazing band. But all the same I am here for the same reason as everyone else. Music is my life, and I can't imagine doing anything other than continue with it.


Draft Two