Friday, February 5th, 2016
This is very rare for me. I was brought up to not use music – in fact, it was not allowed in lessons at all. Memorization was not another step, it was simply part of “learning the piece”, and if you had learned the piece, you wouldn’t be using the music. It seemed simple enough, so that’s what I did for the first ten years of my musical life – never having the sheet music in front of me at a lesson, unless my teacher wanted to show me a rhythm or note I’d misread.
I do believe that as an approach, when coupled with the right techniques for internalizing music, this is the most effective method. It makes memorization a natural part of the process instead of something to be feared. Also, many of my friends growing up would save memorization for last, and in my experience, the thing saved for last is always the one that carries the most anxiety. This is as much to do with the placement in the order of things as it is to do with the actual task itself.
Tuesday, January 19th, 2016
(“In which a Roman quotes a Greek”)
So, after all of the drama of 2015, what’s in store this year?
The number one thing that’s now set and will help in my quest for a focused year is: a place to call home. After almost eight years in NYC (and a few months in Jersey), I’m now living in a small one bedroom in Chelsea. It’s ideal for getting around town, close to all kinds of subway stops, and walking distance from many of my usual hangs. It’s only 20 minutes to visit my sister and her family, and there are great grocery stores about a block away in every direction. Last night I was able to get to Carnegie Hall to see the Philadelphia Orchestra in about 15 minutes.
This is the reason to be in NYC! Especially for someone who’s gone a lot, it’s hard to justify the rent if you’re not taking advantage of the many wonderful goings on. There are so many wonderful people doing exciting things, and this year one of my top priorities will be feeling grounded in the cultural life of this city. Reconnecting with friends I haven’t seen while on the road can be difficult, but I have renewed hope and energy now that I’m in a central location.
Thursday, December 17th, 2015
The holiday season is in full force, and that means trips to visit the family, gifts to purchase, and holiday jingles to exorcise from the ear with vigor. This year I am lucky to have already received a gift that will be hard to top: my professional debut with my hometown orchestra, the Oklahoma City Philharmonic. There’s nothing quite like being able to invite your family and friends to come see you at work, and this was made all the more sweet by bringing the totally on fleek new concerto by Mason Bates. To top it off, the concert was the weekend before Thanksgiving, so I was able to spend a few extra days with my family out on the farm and catch up while eating the freshest food there is.
Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015
I write this as I sit in a very comfortable business/first seat on a flight from Asia back home to New York City, reflecting on my visit to Seoul. One of my close friends had his wedding there, and I was fortunate enough to be free and able to be with him and his new wife for this important occasion. We spent some amazing time together in the city, and I got to play at his wedding, on a cello made by his father. The flight upgrade is happily a result of my frequent flier status, which makes a big difference on such trips.
Music has a powerful effect in the world. It’s all around us every day, whether we choose it or not. We use music during gatherings of all kinds to create a unified spirit or deepen bonds, music pervades the other forms of entertainment to enhance desired emotional effects, and we have special occasions (concerts) where music is the centerpiece. Music is not only about community, these days most people have their own collection of music that they can tap into depending on their mood or activity. You can take this even further through music therapy, and other forms of healing both mental and emotional. It’s also used to influence us to purchase certain products, to attract us to a location or entice us to stay longer – even sometimes to drive us away.
Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015
It’s alive! My first cello concerto, has come into the world – kicking and screaming – but alive. What a crazy experience. I’ve never done anything quite like this, and while it was a project that stretched me almost to the limit, it’s been worth it. I feel more in touch with my artistic sensibility than ever, and more motivated to continue the creative process than I have been in a long time.
I’ll save details of the piece for the day when I’m able to share a recording. In the meantime, there were plenty of lessons in the process.
Lesson 1: Everything Takes Longer Than You Think!
The other lessons were more fun, and didn’t require all-nighters. (which leads to apologies to my copyist, George Katehis, who should be sponsored by Red Bull.)
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