Real Talk

/Real Talk
Jun 29 6/29/19

What It’s Really Like Being LGBT+ in the Arts

By | 2019-06-30T00:33:08+00:00 June 29th, 2019|The Composer Life, All Things Educator, Real Talk|

  Pride month—one of my favorite months of the year—is coming to a close. It’s been, as always, a delightful chance for my LGBT+ friends and me to celebrate who we are, be more open about our usual selves, and in some cases even come out for the first time. Though there are still many people out there who would rather have us not exist, and the fight against discrimination both legally and in everyday life is far from over, we have come a very, very long way since the dawn of the new millennium. And I’m excited to play [...]

Jan 31 1/31/19

Think That’s “Not Music”? Take a Lesson from Marmite.

By | 2019-01-31T01:57:59+00:00 January 31st, 2019|The Composer Life, Let's Pretend I'm a Philosopher, Real Talk|

  The other day I was searching for music to use for my fundamentals class' composition evaluations this semester. Basically, throughout the semester I give them links to ten different pieces on YouTube (ranging from medieval to modern) and ask them to write about the different elements of at least one of them. It's a fun project, and I intentionally try to find things they haven't necessarily encountered before. Some of the pieces they love (Shostakovich's Symphony no. 11 is quite popular), while some they're almost guaranteed to dislike (Messiaen's Apparition de l'Eglise eternelle has few instant fans) and yet others divide the [...]

Oct 16 10/16/18

Why I’ve Stopped Caring About My “Perfect” Pitch

By | 2018-10-17T00:16:18+00:00 October 16th, 2018|The Composer Life, All Things Educator, I Smell Theorist!, Let's Pretend I'm a Philosopher, Real Talk|

Yes, I'm THAT guy. I'm the guy you hated in school who was a natural at sight-singing. The guy who tested out of his college ear training courses in record time and never had to show up for those classes. The guy who didn't have any trouble transcribing things, detecting errors, and hitting tricky intervals on his instrument out of thin air. Because I was the guy who could hear it all in advance. Yep, that's right. I have perfect pitch: The ability to identify any note once it's been played or to sing any requested note on command. Or at least... [...]

Jun 26 6/26/18

Grieving an Old Mentor (And Picking Up the Pieces)

By | 2018-10-17T00:15:20+00:00 June 26th, 2018|Real Talk, Hey, What's New?|

I've studied with four separate composition teachers during my ten years at school, one of whom having stuck out over the rest for length of study and sheer impact on my writing. And last month, we learned in one of the worst ways possible that not all was what it seemed with him. While I was getting my BM and MM at the University of Tennessee, I spent those six years studying underneath the same professor: Dr. Ken Jacobs. I liked this man from my first moment meeting him during my undergraduate audition. He was a tough teacher from the [...]

May 5 5/5/18

Four Facebook Groups to Hone Your Craft (And Why You Should Be Careful With Them)

By | 2018-05-05T18:40:31+00:00 May 5th, 2018|Tips and Tricks, The Composer Life, I Smell Theorist!, Real Talk|

  You've gotta love social media. The perfect place to post current events, vent about current events, vent about people who vent about current events, post pictures of food or cats or children, vent about people who post about food or cats or children, vent about the people who vent about people posting about food or cats or children, etc. But that's not all! You can be invited to events you never intend on going to, share events your friends have no intention of going to, add people to self-promotional groups they immediately turn off the updates to, gripe about [...]

Mar 21 3/21/18

“Sorry, I Forgot to Screw Up.”

By | 2018-03-21T22:07:08+00:00 March 21st, 2018|Let's Pretend I'm a Philosopher, Real Talk|

Tonight was another night for a lecture series that I and my colleague Dr. Sarah Wee host at my home chapel: Music and the Liturgy, which serves to inform people about how the church liturgical tradition has influenced musical practices and vice versa. It's one of my pet projects and a way that I can keep my research skills active—not to mention an opportunity to program works I've written myself to be performed (take note, composers!). This particular lecture, falling in the same proximity as several other projects I've had to prepare for, had to be fully prepared on somewhat short [...]

Feb 18 2/18/18

When Your Art is Smarter Than You: A memoriam for Parkland

By | 2018-02-19T12:10:33+00:00 February 18th, 2018|The Composer Life, Let's Pretend I'm a Philosopher, Real Talk, Hey, What's New?|

Last night I had the pleasure of revisiting one of my favorite older pieces in concert, Epics and Heroes. When I say "older pieces," I mean that I wrote this as an undergraduate in college eleven years ago, and while many of the works in my portfolio from that time have fallen by the wayside, this one has stuck around. It's a piece that (I hope I can make this make sense...) still sounds like me, talks like me, and acts like me, no matter how much my sound and style have evolved since then. This piece has a strange—and [...]

Jan 22 1/22/18

Why Failure is Wonderful

By | 2018-04-03T21:15:29+00:00 January 22nd, 2018|The Composer Life, Let's Pretend I'm a Philosopher, Real Talk|

I remember in my undergraduate composition lessons learning a development technique to quickly hone my writing skills… You start by taking an honest look at your portfolio. In that process, you analyze your writing style based on six different parameters: Melody, harmony, rhythm, timbre, texture, and form. After careful consideration, you ask yourself, “Which of these elements is weakest in my writing?” Maybe you’re not satisfied with the melodies and themes you write. Maybe your chord progressions feel blasé and basic. Maybe you can’t get the timing of your form quite right. Whatever the circumstance, you pick an element that [...]

Jan 6 1/6/18

Atelodemiourgiopapyrophobia

By | 2018-02-01T21:34:16+00:00 January 6th, 2018|The Composer Life, Let's Pretend I'm a Philosopher, Real Talk|

Happy new year, everyone! It’s a brand new year, a chance for a clean slate. And isn’t that terrifying? I’m an avid journaler. There were points in my life, mostly in school, where I would take the time to write in a journal every single day. These weren’t short entries, either—average length of each entry was two pages, and my handwriting is tiny! I highly recommend it to anyone in an artistic or educational field: a chance to flex the creative muscles, organize your thoughts, and do some valuable introspection on who you are and what your mission is about. [...]

Dec 21 12/21/17

Second Chances, Coffee Pots, and How to College

By | 2018-02-02T01:51:32+00:00 December 21st, 2017|All Things Educator, Real Talk|

I had a student this semester named “Zach” (obviously that wasn’t his real name, but let’s pretend it was). Zach came into my course not knowing much, but was excited to learn and clearly loving the material. He participated every day in class, answered questions about listening projects, and did well on all of the tests and quizzes. Just one problem… he was one of a small handful of students who hadn’t turned in a single assignment all semester. For the record, assignments are 40% of the overall grade. After sending a gentle reminder to the students who hadn’t done [...]