There aren’t many ways to occupy your time while driving to and from work.  Especially with when you have a four year-old diva sitting in the back seat belting out the hits like she preparing for an audition to “the Voice”.  Before my kid, I had time to decompress after a long day, take long phone calls or just think in silence.

Now, I tend to listen to a myriad of podcasts, from the news to music and science.  I guess it’s a good representation of my level of geek.  Recently I marveled at the a podcast about music business and my immediate thought was “my students need to hear this…this is exactly what we’ve been talking about!” So I’ve made it a point to share these moments with my students as often as possible.

The reality is that I am really excited to be excited about things. I am interested in listening to interesting people talk about things they are into doing. Sometimes I feel like I am discovering something new that is only meant for me to observer at that very intersection of time and opportunity.

Here are just a few of the podcast I love listening to…

Radiolab from WNYCNPR_ Snap Judgment Podcast StarTalk RadioWTF with Marc Maron Podcastmza_3470970392302365376.170x170-75His & Hers

Fascinating Things

I was told today that I have a “child like fascination with everything related to space”. I took a moment to think about it and came to the conclusion that this person was right. Soon after I felt good about the nice way I was called a geek. It’s been a while since that’s happened with someone that was not married or related to me. But with a picture like this… can you blame me!

View of Earth


I’d like to think that I have a certain amount of balance in my life. If I keep to my routines I feel whole and complete. As a musician-educator there are few opportunities to work both sides of my professional life equally and with the same intensity. One will usually be stronger than the other, in other words I am either a musician (performer) who teaches music or a music teacher who plays music occasionally.
Then there’s the personal life and the balancing act which has become a game of Jenga. Spending the right kind of time with the spouse and kid, while keeping sanity within arms reach can be daunting. Not forgetting to exercise your body as well, you can’t afford to be out of shape. Eating well can be optional, depending on how much time you spend in you car. It seem to be all a game. One piece moved too far out and the whole structure come falling down and all the players get to yell JENGA!
There are rare instances where it all just seems to work. Hardly noticeable to you in the moment, sometime after the day has past by, you take stock of all the events that came into focus at the right times and in the right ways. Today might have been one of those days.

Book Review – from a trumpeter?

When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Origins of Hip Hop

I love this book. The story of the birth of hip hop in a format I can share with my daughter…Outstanding work! Many thank and congratulations to Laban Carrick Hill and Theodore Taylor.


For more information about Laban Carrick Hill, check out his website.

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