Month of Music

Posted: October 24, 2013 in Music

Hey friends!

It’s about time for another post, eh?

Life continues to be good. Here are some highlights: Yard Sale

  • Yard sales: My friend Aly and I are becoming yard sale pros . We hang out, get rid of stuff, and make money. We’ve had three sales and made over $400. Boo yah.
  • Grad schools: I wrote a 15-page “writing sample” (never wrote a paper that long in music school…), statements of purpose, resume, etc. Been studying for the GRE (coming quick…) and arranged to visit schools I can drive to in a day. Still on track for deadlines!

  • Gym: 5:30 AM spin class is awesome. I’m a huge fan, and that’s no lie.
  • Softball is amazing. I’m happy to be on a team that’s competitive and still fun. We made it to playoffs and are planning to win the championship, of course ;)
  • Work is work. This office thing is killing me, but I will not complain. I have a job, it’s meaningful, I’m thankful.
  • My music life is getting better and better here. Let me explain…

Being Bold

Remember when I was replying to craigslist ads to find people to jam with? Well..it worked! I met some retired guys who get together to play jazz standards each month (don’t worry, I made sure to speak on the phone first, not give out too much info., etc.). They’re cool. They used to play with a vibraphonist, but he is old and hard of hearing, so he played loudly and not always tastefully. They are happy for the change and invited me to come to their jams whenever I want. Hooray!

Being bold is doing wonders for me. A couple weeks ago, my softball team went to the Hoptron Brewtique, one of our sponsors (our team name is BrewHaha, isn’t that great?). We walked in and what did I see? A bassist and keyboardist playing live jazz! I hung out with my team of course, but when the guys took a break I went over to talk to them. They play there often and invited me to bring my vibes and sit in next time. Sweet! This Sunday, after my games, I’m going straight there- in uniform, with my vibes- to catch part of their gig. Hopefully it goes well!

I Mean Business

When I met the guys at Hoptron, they asked for my card and I realized I’ve never made business cards! Well now’s the time, so I took advantage of a great offer on www.moo.com and ordered high-quality, glossy cards for free. If you ever need professional-looking cards, I suggest moo. The cards just arrived and they are amazing. Now to make more music connections…

Why Should Smokers Have All the Fun?

Bam. Ready to play!

Have you ever noticed how smokers can walk out of wherever they are to light up a cig, and it’s socially acceptable? I have no intention of smoking and I don’t crave nicotine, but I do want to get out of the office and I definitely have a craving to practice music. Last year, I could go to the music building on campus to play, but not here. The solution? Portable practice room!

Now when I get antsy at work, I walk to my car. Inside, I’ve got sheet music, mallets, my ipod, and my bell kit. I play scales, work on tunes, anything. It helps break up the day and puts me in a better mood almost immediately. Perfect solution.

Gary Burton

Gary Burton is one cool dude. For those who are unfamiliar with his name, he is a vibraphonist who has had a huge impact on vibes and four mallet technique (check out Alone At Last). He recently released an autobiography called “Learning To Listen: The Jazz Journey of Gary Burton“. I got my signed copy in the mail (yes, signed!) and read the whole thing in a couple days. It was great! I highly recommend it.

Note: I’m adding a tab to my blog for books/audio books, and I’ll put up a review of Learning To Listen. Stay tuned!

Around the time I got the book, I found out about www.coursera.org. Coursera has free online courses on a billion subjects. Gary Burton teaches jazz improvisation, so I signed up and so far it has been great! I’m posting my assignments here, if you want to follow.

And Last But Certainly Not Least…

Great great great great great news! But let me back up a bit…

Band Geek PrideI discovered the vibraphone in high school. It’s a funny story; my retired elementary band teacher was subbing, and I was in the bandroom being my typical bandgeeky self: practicing during lunch. He pointed to the vibraphone, which had just arrived from our rival high school (there was only one vibraphone in my district, so we shared). “Do you know what this is?” he asked. I knew it was a vibraphone but I’d never played one , so my knowledge ended there. Then he uttered one of the most prophetic statements I’ve ever heard: “One day, this will be your favorite instrument.”

Fast forward a year. I’m in jazz band, psyched to have achieved my first big life goal (literally…in 4th grade I saw the band perform and made it my mission to get in. Seven years later, my dream came true). There were two of us drummers, so we switched off. One day, the director pulled out a tune called “Good Vibes”. “Carolyn, play vibes on this one,” he told me. It was a feature piece, and playing the solo made me fall in love with the vibraphone.

Next came college. I made the most of my education and enjoyed my experience, but man oh man was I disappointed that I couldn’t study jazz as part of my curriculum. I couldn’t even try out for jazz band on vibes, only drum set (I auditioned, but I wasn’t as good as another guy, so that didn’t work). I continued to work hard and improve as a percussionist, but I was frustrated without jazz. Finally, through the help of an amazing friend, I was given a chance to play vibes in jazz band during my senior year. I am so grateful for that experience, but I was still frustrated. I had such a good start on vibes in high school, and then nothing. I tried to teach myself and practice on my own, but with the many musical responsibilities of my degree, it was tough to fit in something I was doing on the side. I even tried taking secondary lessons, but I could only fit them in for one semester.

So…I graduated college, still in love with the vibraphone and feeling like I needed a teacher to help me excel . I discovered the wonderful world of www.vibesworkshop.com, which I am so grateful for. The vibes community is awesome, and I’ve learned so much from working on lessons, posting questions, attending workshops, etc. I’ve made connections and actually found a teacher for a short period of time in Albany, but it was short lived.

Excitement!!!

Excitement!!!

But now! FINALLY I have a full-time vibraphone teacher! Hooray hooray hooray! I just had my first lesson and it was everything I hoped for. He offered constructive criticism, talked technique, and balanced the lesson with the right amount of discussion, demonstration, and playing. It was fun too! I know many people who learn music without formal instruction, but I progress faster when someone gives me assignments and explanations. My lesson was half a week ago, and I’m still pumped!

I’ll be taking lessons twice a month, and I am SO excited. I’m such a nerd for technique, theory, and having someone to critique my playing, so this is perfect. Sure, it’s an hour train ride to get to the lesson, but man is it worth it! This is going to be a great year!!!

Okay, as usual I have managed to write a ton. Hope you’re enjoying reading these entries. Farewell until next time, and keep an eye out for the book review I’ll be adding soon!

PS: I entered a writing contest this month, and you can vote for me every day. Please spread the word, and vote here. Thanks!

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