Modern Music

At one point in my early musical life, I became a fan of modern classical music.  So much so that I remember not listening to anything that wasn’t written before 1952. I thought I knew something none of my high school friends were hip enough to know about.  It was my little secret.  When ever I gave the name of a composer to one of my teachers, they would in turn give me the name of another composer I should listen to.  I played this game for years with my library.  Some how I worked my way backwards to early music using this process.

Lately, when ever I play modern music I joke around with my colleagues that some modern music is essentially sound set to math.  Recently I played a concert with an orchestra which is devoted to performing modern music.  During one of the rehearsals I came the realization that math is beautiful….the figures and equations surrounding this music are beautiful.  In the same way that architecture is beautiful.  Working from pure concept, then putting it on paper, to finally producing a product for the public.

I suspect composers marvel in the space where math and music become art.

My Kid And Me

Parenting seemed like fun when I wasn’t a father. I have a 4 year old girl, and she is what we call “a spirited child”. Since I am a middle school teacher I knew I didn’t have any real answers to the question of parenting. I was also armed with the knowledge that I didn’t know jack-squat nor could control anything regarding her personality…I just figured we’d all be learning together.
So far as I can tell, my daughter has taught me that I have a temper and I am a slave to routines. I knew the thing about my temperament before having her in my life, however it’s magnified since she started preschool where I teach. I tell myself all the time “I don’t care what other people think”, but it turns out I do. When she has a tantrum in public, I care. When she has a day at school where her behavior disrupts the learning of other children, that matters to me as well.
Admittedly she’s better now at school and in public, but I think I catch the “we need to go” signals sooner. I also recognize that there has been a lot of growth in the past year…but I still have an itchy trigger finger on the “we need to go” button. These are just a few of the many things I’ve learned about myself as a father. I should go now, my favorite My Little Pony episode is on and we laugh a lot together during this show.

Miles Davis on my mind

While having a conversation with a students I said “I’m not the biggest Maynard Ferguson fan in the world, but I really like his recording of I Can’t Get Started With You.” The student gave the impression that there are not enough Maynard fans around here, and that we worship Miles Davis. I looked at him and smiled and said “Yeah, Miles…can’t say enough about him”. The students then went on to say that he thought Miles Davis was cool but “he was so bad at the trumpet”. I smiled again and went on to tell the student that there is a misconception about Miles Davis the trumpeter that is simply not true. Miles Davis is not a bad trumpeter.
In my opinion one of the greatest things about Miles Davis is his sound. As a young student I heard his recordings and thought to myself, I can sound like that. I did my best to mimic his playing on the Kind Of Blue recordings with a fair amount of success. After those tunes I didn’t try to play any more of his transcriptions, I thought I could move on to more technical solos…and I did. A few years later a trumpeter I was studying with assigned some Miles Davis transcriptions. I didn’t think anything of it; so l listened to the recording and started playing along and figured out that I couldn’t keep up with Miles. I found a written out transcription of the solo and started working on it.
The next week I went to my lesson a told my teacher of the trouble I had with playing these transcriptions. He basically said, “yeah…Miles Davis was a bad ass trumpeter and people don’t give him enough credit.” He could play in every register, and at any dynamic with the same clear tone. He was such a giant in the development of jazz that we overlook the way he played his instrument. I think this is a misconception we need to correct.

I am currently listening to this album while I write.

Miles Ahead

Schlossberg Routine

This is a routine Chris Gekker put together using exercises from Max Schlossberg’s  Daily Drills and Technical Studies.  The routine is broken into three sections (A,B and C) to help give players a variety of options.

Chris Gekker’s, “Schlossberg Routine”

Pick a routine a day

Routine “A”

  1. pg. 3, # 9 quarter note =40
  2. pg. 4, # 17 half note =60
  3. pg. 6, # 25 quarter note =96 to 120 (tongued)
  4. pg. 8, # 32 quarter note =60
  5. pg. 23, # 72 quarter note =80
  6. pg. 44, # 116 quarter note =96
  7. pg. 44, # 117 quarter note =96

Routine “B”

  1. pg. 3, # 10 quarter note =40
  2. pg. 5, # 18 quarter note =80
  3. pg. 8, # 30 quarter note =60
  4. pg. 19-20, # 63 eighth note =120 (tongued or slurred)
  5. pg. 24, # 76 quarter note =60
  6. pg. 31, # 93 quarter note =80 (tongued or slurred)
  7. pg. 44, # 118 quarter note =96

Routine “C”

  1. pg. 3, # 13 quarter note =40
  2. pg. 5, # 20 half note =60
  3. pg. 20, # 64 quarter note =60
  4. pg. 25, # 78 eighth note =96
  5. pg. 35, # 99 quarter note =80
  6. pg. 36, # 100 quarter note =80
  7. pg. 45, # 119 quarter note =96

Things I learned from my students

I was blown away by two statements made by middle school students I teach. The first made me wonder about the way independent thought is formed and the other is just an impressive thought I want to share.

  • “Footsteps and echoes of the environment demand to be heard through something.  That something is music.”
  • “Chapstick is just deodorant for your lips!”

I love both of these statements.