Doper Musicians - Amateurs, Teachers, Pros - Whatcha working on? Sept. 08 edition

Dear Dopers:

I was writing out everything I’ve got to do in the next couple of months, and it made me want to ask everyone what’s new with them since the last time I asked. So, don’t be shy - what’s on everyone’s stand these days?

I’ll start:

Singing - I have a Kurt Weill cabaret coming up in 2 weeks that I’ve got to get moving on learning, then the role of Speaker in Magic Flute, then a set of 3 songs for voice and guitar, music by John Beckwith, text from Samuel Beckett and a set of songs for voice and piano, music by Srul Irving Glick, text by Richard Outram. Both those song cycles are for a performance on Dec. 15th.

Guitar - Well, first off, I have to learn all the music for the Weill cabaret because I’m playing for the whole show, as well as the guitar part to the above mentioned Beckwith songs. Solo guitar music - I’m working on a set of Chet Atkins originals/arrangements, the Villa-Lobos preludes and four arrangements by Leo Brouwer: Cancion de Cuna, Ochos Bruhos, Guajira Criolla and Zapateado. Guitar duets, I’m working on Danzon and Chicken a la Swing, both by Carl Kress and Dick McDonough.

Piano - I’m still playing at a Grade 8/almost Grade 9 RCM level, and the big breakthrough I’m looking to make is in the classical period repertoire. I’ve no problems with the Bach, Chopin, Debussy, Jazz and Contemporary repertoire; I have the chops and I have the passion for the pieces already. Partly because I find the Classical music for this level less than inspiring, and partly because I just don’t have the physical technique to play it well, this is the month that I want to have an epiphany, or at least develop to the point where I can leave Kuhlau, Clementi, Diabelli and Dussek behind. So, here I am working on the Beethoven Op. 49, G Major and g minor, the Haydn G Major, the Cimarosa Bb Major and the Clementi G Major Sonatina. My apologies to all those who find Clementi, Dussek and their ilk brilliant. It is undoubtedly a personality flaw of mine that I can’t wait to get on to the harder Beethoven, Hadyn and Mozart, but there it is.

And what’s on the agenda for the rest of you? Doesn’t matter to me if you’re playing it, directing it, producing it or teaching it, I’d love to know.

Best wishes,
Le Ministre

Well, I’m not sure what out of this I might have mentioned before…

  • Forcing myself into practicing the piano with some kind of regularity, by commiting to accompanying kids in exams, timetabling permitting. Things like Mozart concerto reductions :smack: It’s definitely worth doing, though - I recently saw just how much my playing has improved as a by-product of this job, when I returned to a piece I hadn’t played for about three years, and found it much easier than back then.

  • Several pupils who are tackling the bigger ABRSM exams, including a couple of grade 8s. Stress and worry all round, but I (mostly) have to hide it. A couple who are also planning their applications to study music at university, which is particularly pleasing. Then there’s also orchestra auditions at this time of year, too.

  • Things they’re preparing for concerts include one of the above-mentioned concerto movements, and Vivaldi L’estro armonico B minor concerto for four violins. Which was an inspired choice, even if I do say so myself, as they absolutely adore playing it :slight_smile:

  • I’ve got nothing coming up myself, but the Beethoven concerto has found its way onto the stand over the past week, good practice for scales…

Attempting to coordinate band practices with some regularity (Punk band if anyone is interested). It’s hard to get the 3 of us up to Orlando where we practice. We scrapped all the old songs and are starting from scratch. The writing process is going well, and each song we finish is refined every practice, but there’s always more to write. Have to get a new demo out and get shows.

Personally, sweep arpeggios. Goddamn, motherfucking sweep arpeggios. Getting better, but still not great. Also, trying to add the little finger tap at the end…that’s the move that gets the chicks and impresses the other shredder buddies.

Finally, finding a job that will make me enough money to cure my G.A.S. :slight_smile:

Not much. I was taking a very long break from music to concentrate on art.

Then on my August vacation, my GF dragged me into a store (OK, not really) to look at Strats for her son. She didn’t end up getting one, but I did. I’ve been playing the shit out of it ever since.

I’m playing keyboards eight shows a week Off-Broadway in The Marvelous Wonderettes, a '50s/'60s revue. It’s a blast! Four girls in the cast who sing tight harmonies and sound great doing it, and a four-piece band that gets to rock out on “Respect”, “Leader of the Pack”, “Mr. Lee”, “Needle in a Haystack” and “Son of a Preacher Man”, among others.

I also just had a show I wrote produced last month, and am trying to make another production happen before the end of the year, and I just started writing a new show.

I have to finish composing the underscore to “The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents” in the next week or so… I’m about halfway through the composition of an Opera based on the second branch of the Mabinogi…

My voice/drama/piano students are busting butt on their repertoire. Haven’t really done much of my own stuff given I’m directing a show (Maurice) right now when I’m not busting my own ass with my dayjob (screenwriting).


Good to see what everyone’s up to!

I’m currently trying to devise leitmotifs for certain recurring characters in my games, with an eye to composing some short musical accompaniments. (The setting is infused with a constant magical “song” that the sensitive can perceive, and from which they may be able to deduce clues.)

Currently in pre-production for my rock band’s second album, which looks like it might end up being a double disc. It’s going very well.

I’ve also set myself the goal of sight-reading 1/2 hour a day minimum for piano EVERY DAY, in addition to my regular practice schedule. Mostly swing, blues and jazz stuff - lots of Duke Ellington and the like - man I hate sight reading accidentals!

Started working with a new teacher, to prep me for auditions for next fall when i go back into school for a new bachelor’s degree - this time in Jazz Composition with a focus on Piano Performance. My previous work was Theory and Guitar Performance, and I’ll have to redo a fair amount of work, but it should take me no more than a couple of years, and I’ll fast track right into grad school with a much better handle on things coming from the piano side.

I’ve been jamming with my brother-in-law’s band for about two months now (every Tuesday night), so my main focus is trying to keep up. They play all originals, and while I’ve gone through most of their songs enough time to know them fairly well, there are some that are just a mystery for me.

Luckily there is no gigging. Just jamming. (And partying - whoopee).

They utilize a lot of what we call, “Michael Chords”.

“Hold up a minute, Michael, what chord is that?”
“Oh, it’s like a D-flat-minor 7th suspended, but with a B-bass, and use your pinky to kind of grab an extra A, but like squeak it like a harmonic.”
“Oh. That one. Ok.”

That and Michael’s propensity to throw on the average of 253 chords and 37 different time signatures into each song, complete with two or three different bridges and sneaky off time endings that I mostly don’t fuck up anymore.

Mostly, I’m trying to get my scales down a little better so I can throw a solo in here and there, rather than being the Izzy Stradlin/Joey Kramer guy and stretch the wings a little.
But what’s important is they have a keg fridge … so it’s all good.

I’m writing the final songs for an album I intend recording before the end of the year and will hopefully be releasing next February. I’m also preparing to record a song for a split 7 inch vinyl release with a friend of mine.

I’m trying to learn to write songs that aren’t just in one key too. If anyone knows any books or websites with help on complimentary keys I would be verily grateful for links.

I play classical guitar, mostly in the Baroque style, although I also can play that old Spanish classical guitar warhorse, Asturias.

Right now I’m trying to get something polished enough to put up on YouTube. I know some material well enough to perform, but not the material that I want to post.
Also I need to figure out how to get the miking right. I’m finding that I have an extremely difficult time getting any sound sound to register properly, except when using the Yahoo telephone feature. There, and only there, I have no problem and everybody I call can hear me fine.

My choir is working on three separate programs at the moment:

(1) A mix of symphonic choir and chamber choir works, anchored by the Mozart Requiem:

Lux Aeterna (Elgar)
Ave Verum Corpus (Mozart)
Cantique de Jean Racine (Fauré)
Agnus Dei (Barber)
Friede auf Erde (Schoenberg)
Requiem (Mozart)

(2) A chamber choir concert, under the title Oriana, revolving around music written in praise of Queen Elizabeth I:

A selection of madrigals from The Triumphs of Oriana
The Choral Dances from the opera Gloriana (Britten)
Songs for Ariel (Tippett)
Three Shakespeare Songs (Vaughan Willams)
The Tempest (Purcell)

(3) Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius with the SSO

All to be followed by the usual four performances of Messiah in December.

RCO Orchestra program 1

Stravinsky Symphony of psalms (bass drum)
Rachmaninoff rhapsody on a theme of paganini
Rimsky Korsakov - Scheherazade (timpani)

Brampton Symphony Orchestra (all timpani)
Wagner - intro to act 3 of Lohengrin
Von Suppe - Poet and peasant overture
A bunch of pops charts
Saint Saens - #3 Organ Symphony
(very weird concert program!)

SPO (all timpani)
World Premier of the Suite from Gooby (new Eugene levy movie) by Kevin Lau
Norfolk Overture - Vaughn Williams
Romeo and Juliette Suite 1 & 2 - Prokofiev

The new music ensemble im in
Paul Frehner Lila (2005, rev. 2006) for two chamber ensembles
Magnus Lindberg Marea (1989-90) for orchestra
Andrew Svoboda – Sextet (1996)

In private practice its mostly orchestral excerpts, getting ready for auditions and that sort of thing, but also working up a solo recital that will probably happen in march…I don’t think anyone one here would know the composers of any of the works…save maybe Stockhausen…potentially xenakis…as well but thats not confirmed to be on the program…

Also working with another percussionist in the city with a new duo, all tho thats mostly waiting on works that people are writing for us right now, there’s a concert in spring 2009…program is new percussion music from composers from Newfoundland

Aside from that, Im currently playing for a lot of dance classes. but need to cut back a little.
If i think of more ill add it later, because im totally forgetting stuff :frowning: If these posts keep happening ill keep adding to them too…

I’m just an amateur hobbyist, but I spent the last three years studying hard in school, so my music hobby had to take a back seat. Now that I’m out of school, I’d like to get back into singing and playing like I used to do.

Singing: Working on the songs I’ve always liked to sing, and expanding my repertoire.

Flute: My instrumental love! Getting back into playing some of the classics that used to be second nature, and polishing the pop solos I used to play with a band, so I can play in public again.

Piano: Keep noodling around on the keyboard. I took piano as a child, and still find it fun to sit down at the piano and hack around.

Guitar: Learn to play the instrument. I’ve decided that it’s going to be my next musical challenge.

…and of course, spoons for the Celtic/Bluegrass/Maritime stuff. :slight_smile:

I’m starting to learn the second movement of “Ambidextranata” by Gary Schocker - it’s a piece for flute and piano, one player (left hand flute, right hand piano). I figure it might make a good party piece at Thanksgiving, if I can pull it off.

Not much, unfortunately. I sing in a choir that puts on a concert every six weeks; our first one is coming up on Sunday. It’s a rather diverse program with stuff from medieval through Mendelssohn on up to hyper-modern stuff. We’ll be recording a CD in November, a program consisting entirely of a cappella music of Granville Bantock.

I’m part of a quartet preparing the Brahms Liebeslieder Waltzes: all 33 of them. I will not want to see another 3/4 time signature for a year.

On the teaching front, I have a student preparing for his senior recital in the spring. He’s my first recitalist. I’ll be judging the St. Louis Suburban High School Choir auditions in a couple of weeks, which will be… interesting.

I think that’s about it right now. It’s sort of a depressingly short docket.

Oh, come on, you can’t leave it at that…do tell!

Just an FYI: If any of you need CD covers or posters or something, let me know…I teach Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign, and can always use projects for students. Would be happy to try to hook you up with a student, or maybe help you myself. My email is in my profile, so let me know.
(Disclaimer: This is not a solicitation for business, but an offer to perhaps match my students up with real-life clients for class projects and their portfolios. No guarantees any of them will be interested, or have the time. Thus “rush jobs” are out of the question.)

Well, this is my current slate of projects:

[li]Music Directing Rent for high school students. It’s a “School Edition” which is slightly edited (but not that much). The most challenging part is getting the kids to give it their own voices, and not just try to emulate the timbre and stylings of the OBC recording. It’s also a fun challenge because some of the kids (particularly men) are discovering their full vocal range; most of the guys I have are good but have never really taken voice lessons before. They’ve got horrible technique for singing in the upper part of their range, and so think they can’t sing there. I’m fixing that. :)[/li]
[li]Music Directing Into The Woods for high school students. This show has some of my favorite songs, and I’m focusing most of my energy on getting the kids to emote appropriately. Songs like No More or On The Steps of the Palace are very complicated as far as character goes, and we’re really working on getting the feeling to come out in the singing.[/li]
For this show I’ve got to put the orchestra together (for Rent there’s another fellow who does the orchestra), which is proving to be tough. There isn’t a history/culture of students in the high school band playing for the musicals, so on Friday when I held an informational meeting about being in the pit I got two people to show up, a violinist and a horn player. So, today I’m postering up at UVM to try and recruit some college musicians who might be willing to play for the fun of it.

I also am probably playing piano (unless I find another pianist which will free me up to conduct), and I am seriously practicing this score. For folks who’ve never worked on a Sondheim show before, let me tell you, his music is hard. Not because you have to be incredibly technically proficient or anything like that, but because he turns standard patterns of rhythm and harmony on end. You can’t just play through and trust your general sense of where harmony should go to get you through it; even songs with ‘basic’ harmonic structures are built in such a way that the accompaniment often looks nothing like the chords it’s outlining.

[li]Playing Keys 2 for A Chorus Line. I haven’t started working on this yet much more than listening to the recording to learn the songs. The music director hasn’t sent me the book yet, so that’s about all I can do until then.[/li]
[li]Taking voice lessons. Despite being entrusted to teach kids to sing musical theater, my one on one experience as a voice student is pretty limited. I’ve decided to rectify that a bit by taking voice lessons. My teacher (also, not coincidentally, a friend of mine) is a jazz vocalist, and we’re singing My Funny Valentine.[/li]
[li]Theory class! I have returned to college after a many many year hiatus to get my music degree. Since I have practically no credits in music other than lessons and ensembles, I’m starting at the beginning as far as the history and theory courses go. It’s been a little bit simple for me so far (easy A!), but working on it all intentionally from ground zero is kind of a learning experience in its own right. We’re doing some basic counterpoint at the moment. Oh, and speaking of college . . .[/li]
[li]Trying to figure out what pieces to audition with for acceptance into the degree program. In the spring I’ll have to pass an audition to get into the music department (I’m just a Continuing Education student at the moment), and I’m not sure what to do. It’s been a long time since I’ve prepared anything from a classical repertoire. With these as the guidelines, any pianists have some favorite pieces that might fit the bill?[/li][/ul]

(I hope it isn’t annoying that I participate in these threads – I am not a musician, but my husband is.)

Randy just finished scoring an independent documentary called Polly’s GlobalWalk.

The movie follows Polly Letofsky, the first woman to walk around the world – she did it to raise awareness of breast cancer. I must say I kind of expected a treacly “issues film,” but it wound up being a fascinating and touching near-travelogue. It’s awesome.

The movie debuts here in Minneapolis in October. Can’t wait!

Meanwhile, I am busy designing the CD artwork for the soundtrack.