Things Students Say and Drizzical

After watching my colleague work herself silly conducting, planning and teaching the all-school musical, I came to a stark realization. The end of the school year can make us feel crazy like everything is closing up on all of us, students, teachers, and administrators. I’ve been especially loopy lately and so have my advisory students.

In a conversation with them today, we discussed some of our favorite musical genres and the artist we associated with those genres. For example, I mentioned classical music with Missy Mizzoli and Igor Stravinsky, jazz music with Charles Mingus, rap music with J Cole. At least those are the folks I’m listening to these days.

One of my students said they love broadway-musicals and they also love Drake. Another student took that and said, “I guess you’ll love it if Drake made a Broadway-musical….oh, oh it would be a Drizzical.”

And then we all laughed. But seriously…Drake, what’s up with that Drizzical?

Color and Classical Music In December

theatre-audience_3133209b-800x305Sometimes I look out into the audience when I perform music. I don’t mean to take an subconscious pole of the demographics of the audience, but it’s hard not to notice. The picture above isn’t what I usually see, in fact the picture below is more of the reality of I tend to notice. Often I am the only person of color in the room, and after 20 years of holiday performances I started to wonder about those numbers.

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I didn’t grow up going to classical music concerts, especially not during the holidays. So why and how I came to the place where I love classical music and am a performer of this music is a mystery to me. Either way this is the common ground under which the audience and I share community.

Small Neighborhood Music School

The Bloomingdale School Of Music is the place whimg_2092ere I took private trumpet lessons, started loving chamber music and starting learning about music composition. It was one of the most important paths set before me.

hall4I had my first moments of personal success at this small neighborhood community music school. Perhaps this is the place that has given me my first opportunities to succeed and fail in a safe place.

Safe places for me

My kid has anxiety, and I had anxiety as a kid until I started doing music. 4th and 5th Grade I was in Mr. Osborn’s boys choir. I took a few ass kicking those years. In the 6th grade I did my best (with a great deal of success) to not be seen at all. I was robbed a few times that year. During my 7th grade year I was transferred into a class that did music, then I joined the marching band. That’s when things started to change.

jhs_22_jordan_l_mott_157_st_morris_av_jehMost people who we recognize as important, carve their own path. Me, well… I’m just lucky the path set before me was the right path for me. If not for one thing in my life, I would be a totally different person. What is that thing you ask? Fear…yes fear has shaped me and molded me into the man you see today.

I’m not going to advocate living your life full of fear and hesitation, however my case it worked for me. Fear and safe places to practice being a person. Where ever I played music felt like a safe place.

Great Find, Funny Path

It’s funny how one comes into contact with new music. I was recently listening to the New York Times Popcast titled “The Return of New York Rap” , which offered a unique discussion about the lack of rap music coming out of NYC the past decade. As I am a native New Yorker and still feel a certain connection to the music coming from there. So to listen to

Jon Carmanica pictured at "The Hip-Hop Renaissance: A Culture Rebirth?" Press Conference during the 2008 CMJ Music Festival at the NYU Kimmel Center in New York City on October 21, 2008. © RD / Dziekan / Retna Digital
Jon Carmanica pictured at “The Hip-Hop Renaissance: A Culture Rebirth?” Press Conference during the 2008 CMJ Music Festival at the NYU Kimmel Center in New York City on October 21, 2008. © RD / Dziekan / Retna Digital

Jon Caramanica and his guest talk about the artist coming out of there and the specific impact the New York radio stations play in getting music out to the masses was very enlightening. Not to mention, the Caribbean and island talk reminded me of home. When I hear topics likes these about my hometown, I feel comforted.

The podcast was so interesting to me that I wanted to read up on some of the artist mentioned in the talk directly from the NYT website. Well, somehow I meandered toward the bottom of the page and saw a trumpeter. His name is Ibrahim Maalouf and I am glad I got the chance to discover his music as well.

Funny, the twist and turns we make towards discovery. From Young M.A.’s “OOOUUU” and Fat Joe and Remy Ma’s “All The Way Up” to Ibrahim Maalouf Live in Beirut.

Middle of summer worries for a music teacher

music-school-560x328 It’s the middle of summer, my kid is watching cartoons while I look at my units of study for the up coming school year. Since I am a middle school band director, I tend to worry about how effectively I am helping students learn specific skills on their instruments and the other parts of music299de70a6b898c2b2e89733edb73c3e4, like music theory and music history. Never mind connecting them to other subjects studies at out school and finding ways to stay in touch with anything current and relevant to middle school kids, while thinking about making global connections to all we do.

Just for fun (or because I’m a glutton for punishment) we will be tackling intro to music theory, the Romantic era of music history, beginning conducting and beginning composition. IMG_2308

And yes, this will be the work 6th, 7th and 8th graders will explore with me. Should be a fun school year, so why am I worried about it in July?

 

I Tend To Reminisce

Now and again I tend to reminisce about my youth, and luckily what comes up most for me is the music I listened to. Lately I’ve been spending my time totally enamored with two specific groups, The New York Voices and the Pat Metheny Group. I listened to these pieces often and I fell in love with the artist as well. I can even make a direct connection between the woman I fell in love with (who is now my lovely wife of 13 years) and one of these groups.
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The New York Voices are a vocal jazz quartet currently, however when I first learned about them they were a quintet. I listened to their self titled first album constantly, in fact it was the 3rd CD I remember ever buying in 1991. The song that has stuck to me like a great memory is titled Silence Of Time. Take the time to enjoy this piece.

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The first time I heard Pat Metheny’s Minuano I remember it challenged all I knew about music. The lines between jazz and classical music were blurred for me since. Subsequently, I started to listen for common ground between genre’s and making connections across the different components within music. This piece moves and I remember it moving me as a teenager.