First Teaching Experience

Today I had my first college experience in actually teaching music. I had the opportunity to spend about a half hour sitting down with Maria, a 4th grade girl who had begun trumpet just a few weeks ago at West Lab School just outside of campus. Maria knew 4 notes, and in our half hour we almost doubled the number of notes she could play, as well as making progress on learning her first 3-note song. This, coupled with some breathing exercises and a break which included my modeling all my mutes for her, led to a very quick half-hour lesson. Maria is going to be a great trumpet player one day, she had a great tone for being a beginner, and an astonishingly good range! The most rewarding part, though, was hearing her tell me at the end that she had learned a lot. She had a big smile on her face when she walked back into the classroom.

This is why we do it.

In other news, I recently got back in touch with Mrs. Sue Rarus, my second cousin, but more importantly the Director of Research/Information with MENC. She also is a regular poster on the MENC Blog, which I would recommend to anyone interested in the music educators scene. It’s got some great ideas about music and teaching, and some nonrelated stuff too :).

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.