I’ve been so busy that I don’t even know where to begin. And know that it’s a “good busy” as opposed to a “bad busy.” I’ve been learning, growing, reflecting, and facing new challenges on all fronts. Since my last post, I’ve been a guest clinician and judge for two middle school events, I’ve played three shows, I went to California with my students, I took a promotion at school, I’m a month into rehearsals for Little Women: The Musical, my album is ready to be released, and there’s more that I’m sure I’ve forgotten. Let’s just go back to February and I’ll reflect as we go.
The month of February got off to a nice start with a performance of Lines + Lineage at The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden with Seth Hedquist. For starters, the space is amazing. It was very therapeutic to play in a warm, sunny, and humid space considering that the outside temperature was dry and cold. We played two sets to two very enthusiastic crowds.
The next week, I took my jazz students to the University of Northern Iowa for Tallcorn Jazz Fest. Great festival with clinics and concerts. The guest artist, clarinetist Anat Cohen, was inspiring beyond belief.
A few days later, a squeezed about 30 songs into my head for Monday Night Live’s Monday Mardi Gras Party. A fantastic evening of friends and music. Learning songs quickly has been a good skill for me to develop. The more I learn songs by ear, the easier it gets.
Photo by Mark Lage
March began with the third mixing session for Lines + Lineage. Bryan Vanderpool is a very patient individual. Much like the third take the day we recorded was the best take, the third mix was the best mix. How did we do it; we turned things down. Bryan quoted his mentor and said “you can’t fit everything in a shoe box.”
There are people that don't see a need for the arts. "What's the point?" they say. Much like a wrench doesn't fix everything, music doesn't either. If a tornado destroys a neighborhood, my saxophone skills aren't the answer. But when a friend's father died, the thing that brought that family some momentary peace was music. We turn to the arts when we try to make sense of the world. The arts have their place . Keep music, dance, drama, and the visual arts in your life and in schools.
Then we took a hundred band and choir students to Southern California. I didn’t do it alone. I was joined by three of my colleagues and the best band parents you could ask for. We gave two performances, had two clinics, saw the LA Phil, did a lot of sightseeing, and I got to put my feet in the Pacific Ocean…and every meal was fantastic. A memorable trip for sure.
Once I got back home, it was back to learning music. This time I got to learn and play the music of Aretha Franklin. I got to learn the horn parts with Antonio Garza. Again, a lot of music crammed into my head. But instead of focusing on “what can I remember?” the night was about listening and interacting.
During everything mentioned, I had been studying the musical, Little Women. There’s something about that much music with so many moving parts. The production in total has four directors and 60 students making up cast, crew, and pit. I’m going to brag about my students and tell you this is the best production I’ve been involved in. Not to take anything away from previous productions but the students have taken ownership of some truly difficult music. Get your tickets and join us the weekend of the 28th, 29th, and 30th of April.
I have a new title at school: Head Band Director. I’m not one for getting caught up in titles but I respect the responsibility of maintaining and cultivating the Urbandale Band Department. I’ll be standing on the shoulders of giants as we go into next school year. This is a wonderful opportunity that will offer me new challenges.
And finally, I can tell you about what I did today. I uploaded my music to a digital distributer. A digital distributor is how you get your music to Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, YouTube Music, Napster, and all of the streaming services you’ve heard of or haven’t heard of around the world. Here’s a quick break down of the process: songs are composed, then recorded, then mixed, then mastered. Chris Hesse did an amazing job mastering the album. He was able to take Bryan Vanderpool’s mix and make it come alive. Now that I have the mastered tracks, I can get them out to the world. “this is all great but when can I hear it?” There’s a phrase that’s been keeping me going during this process. It’s in Ari Herstand’s book How to Make It in the New Music Business. Ari said “The music doesn’t matter until it matters.” To get my songs to you, there’s a lot of data entry that takes place. I sat at my kitchen table for 10 hours today. Starting with copyright.gov to protect the songs, then to TuneCore.com to distribute the songs and TuneCore Publishing to tell the streaming services who to pay…me! But it doesn’t stop there, SoundExchange.com is also paying attention and so is the TheMLC.com “Great, when can I hear it?” To answer that, we have to answer how we discover new music? Video. My dear friend, Courtney Krause captured some wonderful video the day we recorded Lines + Lineage and she put together a video collage of the process. From that video, I created a series of short videos that will lead up to the release of the first single, Uncle Bill on May 19th. The 2nd single, Grandpa Arthur will be released on June 9th. The third single, Grandpa Lebus will be out on June 30th. The full album will be released on all streaming platforms on July 21st. At some point soon, I’ll place an order for CDs.
As always, thanks for reading. It means a lot. Be kind, take care of each other. Be thoughtful and empathetic; the world needs you.
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