Welcome to my music blog. I would like to use this blog space to encourage young music teachers and young musicians and provide them with, perhaps, another point of view. I’d like to also use this space to do a variety of things that come to mind, such as
- writing about music,
- writing about music cultures,
- writing about composing, composers, and compositions,
- writing about my arranging projects,
- writing about conducting and rehearsing,
- writing about teaching music,
- writing program notes, both real and fake,
- writing about language (mostly English),
- and sharing some humor.
Some thing I will keep in mind:
- This blog is for everyone. Much of this information is very likely found elsewhere and a lot of this is probably obvious. Nevertheless, these are things that I learned by trial and mostly error as a conductor or a classroom teacher, not just as a student in the classroom.
- I want to offer advice to young music teachers. You can probably get all this advice elsewhere, but I learned all my teaching methods through experience (I had to; “mentors” weren’t mentoring).
- I hope that this page can be a useful resource and a beginning to being an appreciative music listener, a successful music teacher, or, at least, it might be somewhat humorous.
- Sometimes I may just share some general thoughts. I might go off on some tangent.
- I like words; I might dig a little into some of those pesky things.
- I don’t expect the world as my audience, but I would like to think that my insights will help aspiring music teachers and musicians.
My outlook on life, both personally and professionally, has always been to look at things positively and from a humorous perspective. Life is too short to be too serious or too angry.
I taught a variety of music courses at the University of Wisconsin-Washington County (West Bend) and the University of Wisconsin-Manitowoc as well as conducting the bands at both places, the big band at Manitowoc, and organizing and leading a youth orchestra and a jazz combo in West Bend. Outside the university, I directed the West Bend Community Band for ten years and led the Kewaskum Big Band for a short while. Except in these communities, none of these may be household names, but they did provide me with insights and income.
I have a DMA in music composition, and a MM and BFA in composition and theory. My intent all along was to teach at a small college. West Bend’s and Manitowoc’s campuses count as small colleges.
I also have an incredibly supportive wife. I think a supportive partner is the single most important thing a person can have in your life, irrespective of vocation. My children and grandchild have also been amazingly supportive, but they don’t have any choice, do they?
This blog will allow me to be creative with the written (typed) word so, therefore, I might even split a few infinitives, spew expletives, and place punctuation in odd places.
I hope you enjoy these posts. It may take a while before I find my true voice, so please have patience with me as I will also have patience with myself.
Why Are You Doing This?
Why am I writing a blog about music when I know there are other blogs about music? My first intent was to share my appreciation of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. Yes, I know: This would be easy because everyone loves this symphony whether they know it by name. This symphony is recognized all around the world.
Having made that decision, I quickly realized that I couldn’t do it justice unless people knew about his previous symphonies. Okay, I’ll write about his other famous symphonies: the fifth symphony, for example. It, too, is universally recognized regardless of whether it is known by name.
Well, his sixth, seventh, and eighth symphonies are so good that it wouldn’t be right to leave them out. Oh hell, even his first four (especially the third) symphonies deserve attention.
Planning this out a little further, I recognized that I couldn’t just write a single blog post about a few symphonies together; they had to be presented individually.
Okay, to truly appreciate Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, you need to appreciate his other symphonies. Oh, wait. To appreciate the idiosyncrasies of Beethoven, you need to know about Mozart’s and Haydn’s symphonies. And so on. Sigh.
Well, I said to myself, suck it up, buttercup, I’m going to the beginning (da capo or “from the head”, “from the beginning”). Let’s look at the guts of music (Whoop! Whoop!).
Fine, But Why You?
Although twenty-two years of teaching and conducting experience is not incredibly vast, I have the passion to be a music evangelist. As an undergraduate and graduate student, I loaded up on as many music history and theory courses as I could (resulting in taking longer to graduate with my BFA). As a university instructor, every time I had a peer evaluation, I received a “Meritorious” stamp of approval, except twice. Once I was given a “Highly Meritorious” grade which, according to my status, I wasn’t supposed to earn (I was not a tenured or tenure-track professor at the time) and the other was in my last year of teaching.
I may not update this blog frequently, although I aim to do so at least weekly. I try to make up for my speed with being thorough, or as thorough as I want for that particular post. If you would like a deeper explanation, you are encouraged to comment or send me an e-mail and I will look into it.
I appreciate constructive comments. If you just want to be negative, contact your local congressperson.