Wings, Wings, and More Wings!

I never really liked wings before this summer…

Little did I know what I had coming to me.

I began an excursion of weekly trips to Buffalo Wild Wings (commonly referred to as “B-Dubs”) with a good friend of mine, in celebration of 40-cent wing Tuesdays. These dinners were always a fun time, and became very habitual. The meal was always the same: 12 wings, medium sauce, wet (extra sauce on them), a basket of potato wedges with medium sauce on the side for dipping, and an order of Ultimate Nachos (if we were hungry enough). This, accompanied by a good baseball game and copious amounts of water, always led to a very full stomach and another successful night at B-Dubs.

When I came down to Miami, I have to admit the first few Tuesdays nights did feel somewhat empty… and I’m not referring just to my stomach. I missed the ambiance of B-Dubs just as much as I missed the food itself. While I won’t be able to replace the ambiance of the restaurant, I have certainly tried to replace the wings. I’ve tried the wings at almost every restaurant I’ve been at since I came down here, including:

  • TGI Friday’s
  • Alehouse
  • Bennigan’s
  • WingZone

Unfortunately, none of these establishments could come close to matching the flavor, fall-off-the-bone goodness that B-Dubs’s wings embody. Not to say that they weren’t good, they just weren’t the same. Maybe it is the ambiance that makes the food, after all.

Anyway, I’m not going to be home on a Tuesday until Winter Break, but I may just have to splurge the extra 10 cents per wing to enjoy some quality B-Dubs over Thanksgiving Break with my good friend Jay… it’s just too good to pass up!

You want me to WHAT?!?!

Perhaps you’ve noticed the craze that has hit the entertainment world in the past few seasons of television, with Fox’s show “So You Think You Can Dance?” I never really understood the concept of it… I mean it’s only dancing, it can’t be that hard, right?

Flash forward to 4:00 pm on Monday afternoon. Location: the Marching Band rehearsal field. Rehearsal topic: a new “Stomp“-type number we’re adding into the middle of our latin-themed show, complete with drum break, baritone and cymbal players banging on trash cans, and the rest of the band dancing. Yes, you heard it right, 70 “gringos” bustin’ a move…

From chest pumps to pelvic thrusts, grapevines to knee slaps, and everything in between, it was an exhausting rehearsal. I haven’t been more tired after a marching band rehearsal since I can remember, and that’s saying something. We learned the dance, choreographed by the dance team’s choreographer, in about 20 minutes. The choreographer brought the captains of the dance squad over to “demonstrate” as he taught. They made it look so easy, and then when I tried to mimic, I truly looked like a fool. The entire group did, really.

So here’s to all you dancers out there. I appreciate what you do a lot more than I did 12 hours ago, lets just say that. It’s one thing to do a dance, and it’s another thing to make it look good. You dancer-types continually make it look good, and I will forever envy you for that.

So when you are watching the Miami Hurricanes tear up the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on Saturday, and you see the band behind the announcers during halftime, watch me. I’ll be the one bustin’ out the moves on the 40 yard line, breakin’ it down to the beat of the drummers, baritones, and cymbals, and, whether it looks good or not, having a blast doing it nonetheless!

Practicing for Peace

The blog hasn’t been up for 24 hours and I’m already asking something of all of you… bad form? I hope not.

Anyway, as a member of the UM Chapter of FCMENC (Florida Collegiate Music Educator’s National Conference), I’m taking place in a fundraising effort organized by the Shropshire Music Foundation. This foundation is organizing a fundraiser called “Practice for Peace,” the proceeds of which will go towards instruments/music instruction for students in third-world countries. The fundraiser is just like a walk-a-thon, only for practicing. Sponsors pledge a certain amount of money per minute, and for each minute I practice in the month of November, they donate their amount to the Foundation’s efforts. That’s right, I get to improve at my instrument, AND help a good cause!

But I can’t do it without the sponsors! If you’re interested in sponsoring me for the month of November, please feel free to email me. Even a penny a minute is worth something, and you can choose a maximum amount you wish to donate, in case I spend more time than either of us anticipated! You can also choose to make a flat donation.

Maria Schneider Residency

I suppose this is what I get for sleeping until 3:45 pm on a Sunday… Theory in 3 hours plus and I can’t sleep…

Anyway, on to the topic of my late-night post.

This weekend, Maria Schneider, world renowned composer and arranger, completed a 3-day residency at UM. During her time here, she spoke with some jazz classes, had a session with the music business students in which she told them about her record label and the business aspect of her life, and, most importantly, put on a concert with the award-winning Miami Concert Jazz Band (CJB). The CJB spent the first month and a half of the semester preparing a repertoire of Maria’s music, and after a few days of rigorous rehearsing with the composer herself, put on what I’m told was an incredible concert this past Saturday, October 6th.

Unfortunately, due to a Marching Band commitment, I was not able to attend, although I was able to sit in on an open rehearsal with Maria and the CJB on Friday afternoon. Having played some of Maria’s music myself, It was truly an incredible experience hearing her opinions on how the music should be interpreted and played, as well as her stories about how the pieces came to be.

The CJB’s performance of Hang Gliding was particularly nostalgic, as I had the privilege to play this piece with the Midwest Young Artists Big Band during my Junior year (shout out to Nic Meyer, director, and all the members of that band–good times!). Maria rehearsed this piece with the CJB on Friday afternoon, and explained to them how it was written after her first trip to South America in which she had the opportunity to Hang Glide off of a cliff through the mountains. As the piece develops, the listener can hear the different stages of the journey, starting with tension, followed by an uplifting draft of wind, the beauty of the sky, and the excitement of the ever-speeding up trip before the safe landing on the ground thousands of feet below. It was a truly increidble experience listening to the so-familiar song in this new light. I would reccomend the piece to anyone, not just jazz enthusiasts, it’s on the album Allegresse.

Welcome!

So it’s 2:45 in the morning, and I’m wide awake. Maybe it’s because I woke up at 4 pm? Oh well. Anyway, I was browsing Facebook (what else is new?), and I came across a friend’s profile, one Charlie Kindinger. Charlie’s a Senior at UM, and he’s an aspiring screenwriter. He’s got his own website, located here, and it has a blog on it. Reading through his blog made me remember my old one, and gave me enough motivation to start blogging again! So here I am!

Anyway, that’s how I’m here. Now, since I am still so awake, I’ll give you a slight rundown of the last few months that I’ve been down here at UM, for those of you who didn’t know what I was up to…

I came down to the beautiful University of Miami on August 10th, and moved into my dorm on the 13th, the same day band camp started. I was immediately put to work as a member of the UM Band of the Hour. Band camp was a blast, I met a whole bunch of new people, and took part in all the Section Olympics activities that occurred through the week, including the Freshmen Performance of the UM alma mater. The four frosh trumpet players decided to make the Alma Mater into an interpretive dance (see photo). By the end of the week, the band had learned its entire first show, a medley of music from the band Queen, including “We Will Rock You,” “Bicycle Race,” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.” In addition, the band had managed to learn the music for the first song in its second show, a Latin tune called “El Toro Caliente.”

Friday the 17th was my first endeavor as an enrolled student with UM Trumpet Professor Craig Morris. My placement audition went very well, as I played the third movement of Kent Kennan’s Sonata for Trumpet and Piano (unaccompanied) and the second movement of Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto. The audition results were posted the following Monday, and I found out that out of 22 Trumpet students (6 grad students included), I placed 12th. This put me 4th chair in the Frost Symphonic Winds, but more importantly, into Craig’s studio to study with him as opposed to a TA. This was quite exciting for me. On another note, my good friend from High School, Scott, was placed in the Principal Horn position of the Symphonic Winds. Congrats, Scott!

Classes began on the 22nd of August, with good old 8:00am Theory III, taught by a music engineering grad student who hasn’t taken theory in over 2 years. Good to know that our “professor” is trying to stay one chapter ahead of us in the book. Fortunately, we haven’t learned anything too difficult yet. The rest of my Monday and Wednesday schedule includes Piano II, Symphonic Winds, Educational Psychology (I suppose I deserve having to take it as a Music Ed major, but that doesn’t make it any less boring), Brass Techniques (the class where you learn to play all the brass instruments), and Marching Band. Thursdays include Ear Training III and English, with Tuesdays being the same plus a Musicology 101 course (“The World of Music and its Powers”… how stimulating…). Fridays are easy, Music Ed forum, a lesson, and Brass forum before Marching Band.

The first few weeks of class went off without a hitch, and the next major highlight of my time down here was the first home football game. On September 1st, the ‘Canes played host to the Thundering Herd of Marshall. The noon game was murderously hot, but a blast nonetheless as the Hurricanes romped Marshall 31-3. Performing during pregame was incredible, the applause after the Star Spangled Banner was earth shattering. It really was one of the coolest experiences of my life.

School continued on without a hitch, including more band, more practicing, and more all around good times! I started hanging out with a lot of upperclassmen music majors, many of whom are now close friends. Another month later, here I am! Not much has changed since early September, I’m really starting to enjoy it down here.

So that’s about it for my first few months at UM. Stay tuned to this blog for more updates, as well as random musings about anything from music to sports to computers and games. If it pops into my head, chances are it’ll be here on the blog.

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I think I’ll get some sleep… T-Minus 4 and a half hours until Theory!