Archive for the ‘My Music’ Category

Well…it has been four months since I last posted, but I’ve decided to get back into writing. As I prepare for grad school I’ve been asking professors and students for advice, and almost unanimously they have told me one of the best things to do is to keep a blog. Plus I think there are a few of you out there who were reading this, maybe. Bueller?

So What’s New?

Lots of exciting things have happened since I last posted. Here’s a quick play-by-play:


During November, I visited potential graduate schools and fell in love with the CUNY Graduate Center. It’s the only school I visited that feels like a place I could belong, and I think I would enjoy being a student there. I applied to six other schools- not all of which I was able to visit- and after submitting all my applications I began the waiting game. So did I get in anywhere? Stay tuned…


SDLI_Feet_on_Fire_copyAt the beginning of the month, I celebrated my birthday by going swing dancing. Long Island has a fairly prominent swing dance scene, so I’ve gotten to dance quite a few times since moving back here.

Other highlights of the month included playing two-hand touch football in the snow with my softball buddies, and of course I can’t forget this gem:


The new year started with an incredible weekend at the first annual World Vibes Congress. Vibes players and fans from around the world gathered at the Malletech factory in Asbury Park, NJ to talk about all-things-vibraphone. We discussed the vibes in regards to social media, music education, vibraphone literature, and of course all the nerdy little technical details you wouldn’t care about unless you love this instrument. The day ended with an out-of-this-world concert featuring all the pros as well as some students It’s hard to put into words how amazing that weekend was, but it was incredible. Think of it as the vibraphone version of “A Great Day In Harlem“…times twenty 🙂

Later in January, I took part in MLK Day of Service and gained experience hanging sheetrock. I helped rebuild the basement of a Long Island couple whose home was flooded during Hurricane Sandy. Even now- a year after the storm- there is still a lot of reconstruction work left to be done across Long Island. Working with drywall for seven hours was the least I could do to help rebuild the community I’ve called home for so much of my life.



February was awesome. First, I went to a swing dance and realized there are a LOT of local bands playing dance gigs. That gave me the idea to contact as many as I could in the hopes that one would welcome a vibes player into the mix. Within a day, I got a response from a bandleader who was starting a new swing band close to my house. He invited me to sit in at their gig the following Saturday and, after my trial-by-fire, I was accepted into the group! The band plays one gig a month with two rehearsals in between, and the music is fairly easy to sightread. It definitely beats not playing in any group, so I am grateful for the opportunity to finally be able to say I’m in a band again!

Next, I was invited for an on-campus interview at the CUNY Graduate Center. I met with students and staff and once again felt like this would be a great place for me. So did I get accepted? Wait and see…

Dance Flurry Festival 2014!

Dance Flurry Festival 2014!

On Valentine’s Day, I traveled north to Saratoga Springs for the annual Dance Flurry Festival. I look forward to this dance-filled weekend every year, where I spend hours each day jamming on my spoons, listening to folk artists, and learn dances from around the world. Greek and Yiddish circle dances, Scottish Highland dancing, English Country dancing, Lindy Hop, Charleston, the Cakewalk…the Dance Flurry has it all!

Utah (which was so great it gets its own title)

This was the view from the street I was living on.

This was the view from the street I was living on.

At the end of February I boarded a plane and flew west to Salt Lake City, Utah. I was primarily there to run a poverty simulation I created for a VISTA retreat with my friend Val (VISTA Leader for Utah Campus Compact), but of course I made the most of it and explored that great state as much as possible. On the first night we visited Temple Square, home of the Mormon church, to attend a great interfaith concert (just because I left Saint Rose doesn’t mean I stop doing interfaith work!). The next morning, Val and I woke early and drove to Ogden, UT for the retreat. I had a wonderful two days interacting with UTCC VISTAs and contributing to the retreat (the poverty simulation got great reviews!). Then we met up with Scott, my VISTA colleague from New York Campus Compact who coincidentally moved to Ogden for a job this year (small world, eh?). Val introduced us to sub-zero ice cream (a very Utahn treat), and we spent a wonderful evening discussing Utah vs. NY culture, service learning, volunteerism, and everything else you’d imagine long-term VISTAs would talk about.

This sign is really displayed at La Tienda in southern Idaho.

This sign is really displayed at La Tienda in southern Idaho.

The next day Val and I traveled to Logan, UT for a job fair, where we talked about VISTA to college students all day (sounds boring, but I love it!). Before returning to SLC, we took a detour to southern Idaho to play “the Utah Lottery”. Because of the Mormon influence in Utah, things we consider commonplace are rare or- in the case of the lottery- illegal. Coffee shops and bars are scarce (Mormons don’t drink coffee or alcohol), and if you find a place that serves booze, it’s unusual to find anything over 3.2 percent. Gambling is prohibited, so Utahns travel across state lines to play the lottry. La Tienda, a gas station  across the Utah-Idaho border, actually boasts that it is “Home of the Utah Lottery”.

Thursday and Friday were my days to explore Salt Lake City. While Val was at work, I spent the hours walking all over SLC. I visited the Family History Museum (the largest genealogy library in the country), City Creek Center, the massive public library, and Gilgal Sculpture Garden (the smallest sculpture garden I’ve ever seen).

Friday, Val and I started the day by attending a great lecture by Wes Moore, author of “The Other Wes Moore“. He spoke about his experience growing up in a low-income household in Baltimore and eventually earning himself a Rhodes Scholarship. At the same time Wes was receiving his scholarship, another young man with the same name, living in the same city, with a similar economic background, was being sent to prison for life after robbing a bank and killing a police officer. In his speech, Wes spoke about the difference that opportunity can make in a person’s life. He stressed the fact that anyone can make an impact, and that attending college is not about the piece of paper at the end but rather about the experiences along the way. His speech made me feel even more confident about my goal to work as a university music professor, teaching courses filled with service learning opportunities for students to get away from their desks and collaborate with community partners to put their skills and intellect to use in the real classroom. Attending that lecture was a great way to start my day.

Snowshoeing in the High Uintas

Snowshoeing in the High Uintas

Next, we drove towards Park City and the Uintas mountains for a couple hours of snowshoeing. I’ve only gone snowshoeing twice in my life, but I’ve absolutely loved each time. The first was right outside Albany, which was great, but having the opportunity to snowshoe in Utah- in the presence of scintillating skylines and majestic mountains- was a whole other level. I fell in love with the Utah mountains this week, and you better believe I will be going back!

After snowshoeing, we went into Park City (where many of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games took place) and had a delicious dinner at The Blue Iguana. Val’s son ordered what is definitely the biggest burrito I’ve ever seen, as you can see from the photo. We walked around the town for a bit and then made the drive back to SLC, ending an extremely satisfying week in a wonderful state. Utah, I will definitely be coming back!


34th and future home.

34th and 5th…my future home.

This month is just beginning, but it’s already off to a good start. At the end of February I received an email stating that I was ACCEPTED to the CUNY Graduate Center’s Ethnomusicology program, complete with full tuition coverage. At the time I was at the top of the waiting list for the prestigious Graduate Center Fellowship, which not only covers tuition but also includes an annual $25,000 stipend. I was happy just to be offered full tuition, but yesterday I received another email stating that…I was being offered the Graduate Center Fellowship! Now, I will not only receive full tuition coverage, but also $25,000 annually for five years. During my first year I will hold an assistantship on-campus, and in the following years I will teach one undergraduate course each semester and spend the summers conducting field work. I haven’t been accepted into any other program yet, but at this point it won’t really matter. CUNY was my top choice and they have offered me the biggest award available, so how can I say no? The program is an en-route Master’s degree, meaning I will earn both a Master’s and a PhD. It’s a big commitment, but I think I’m ready to take the plunge. I will be attending Accepted Students’ Day later this month to ask any final questions, and then if all goes well I will plan on starting school next semester. Suddenly this is becoming very real…

What’s Next?

So…now you’re all up-to-date on the Adventures of Carolyn. I hope people are actually reading this blog, but if not at least it’s a good way for me to keep track of the exciting events in my life and get into the habit of writing on a regular basis. My next post will come a lot sooner than three months from now, I promise!

Time Capsule

Posted: November 12, 2013 in Music, My Music

Haha! Just wanted to put up a quick post because I found this video on YouTube:

It’s amazing…I played that piece at the University of Delaware’s 2012 Summer Vibraphone Workshop- less than a year and a half ago- and yet listening to it, I can’t help but think how much better I play now. I’ve got a long way to go of course, but I play with a lot more confidence now than I did then!

As an example, here is a much more recent recording from the online course I’m taking.  I definitely still have to work on playing with even more confidence, but I’m finally starting to make long phrases, use dynamics, etc. Hard work pays off! 🙂


The Best That We’ve Had

Posted: August 23, 2013 in My Music

Sunday, May 5th, 2013:
Premiere performance of “The Best That We’ve Had”, written by yours truly. Premiered at the Massry Center for the Arts, featuring Glynn Stallard on ukulele.

Thanks to Joanna for putting together this video! 🙂