Friday, December 16, 2016

The Power of Social the right hands.

Social media is an interesting concept.

On the one hand, you have folks who post without fact checking, post pictures of their dinner, and cannot do a bench press without reporting it to the world (and relationship issues broadcast on social media. Man...).

On the other hand, if you know how to work social media properly, you'll get practice tips from seasoned, professional, often big name musicians and even make contacts which can affect your life in ways you couldn't even imagine.

I spend WAY too much time on Facebook. I admit it. I have a problem. Having said that, there have been some major positive impacts on my life. I've met and made friends with a lot of the 'heavies' in the saxophone world. I've gotten to take part in countless great pedagogy discussions. I've even gotten to promote recordings of myself in the hopes that some professors might hear them and be interested in having me audition for grad spots.

Funny I should mention that...

I auditioned for two graduate schools this fall. Both auditions came about 100% due to social media. Neither was I school I might have considered otherwise. Both turned out to be great programs. One, as it happened, was the perfect fit.

So with this I can announce that due to a friendship/working relationship that 100% began on social media, the next step of my journey begins.

In January, I begin my tenure as Professor Mark McArthur's graduate assistant at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Music.

If you are smart about how to market yourself on social media AND put in the work to be a better player, good things WILL happen!

Back to work. I have a Master's degree to worry about now!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

My Upcoming Challenges

I graduate this week (12/10/16)

That has me thinking a lot about the next step and the skills and philosophies I need to begin to solidify.

  • As I begin grad school there are still some real fundamental issues with my playing which need to be addressed. My undergrad professor has been excellent and has helped to improve my playing greatly. To move to the next level, however, there is still work to be done (and likely always will be). I think this is something I wouldn't have grasped at 18-22 years of age. The first step in improving is realizing that there is still work to be done. I'm ok and my senior recital did include some pretty aggressive lit, including the Dahl Concerto and Fuzzy Bird Sonata. If I wish to include names like Lauba, Bolcom, Berio, and Albright in my rep list, though, it isn't so much extended technique that needs work but simply technique. 
  • I need to begin to figure out how to balance the assigning of technique/etudes/literature. Here's the reality. If you get a DMA and IF you are fortunate enough to get a real job you are likely going wind up at a gig where the majority of students are music education majors. Most will end up as band directors or elementary music teachers. That's fantastic (and requires more patience than I have). However, what it often means is that they put the horn in the case following graduation and rarely, if ever, get it out again. Therefore the dilemma is this: Yes, you want to assign enough technique for the student to reach a certain level but.....I think it would be a shame to not allow them to attempt as much of the literature as they can, WHILE they can. Finding that balance is a skill I'm going to have to develop.
  • Music Education is a brutal major. My non music major friends might not understand this but music ed, along with nursing, are the two most hours-intensive majors on a college campus. My job as an instruction will include how to challenge my students and give them enough to make them better without burning them out or contributing to an overuse injury. I've seen both and neither are any fun. 
  • I need to put things together as an educator so that my students have opportunities to participate in master classes with as many guest artists as possible. I want them exposed to as many teaching styles/techniques as possible. I also need to get them involved in competitions like MTNA and Fischoff early and often. It isn't necessarily about winning. It's about getting literature worked up to a very high level and performing it for people for whom you don't regularly perform.  This goes back to burnout. How does one balance this with everything else the student has to do. 
  • I need to learn how to balance genres in my teaching. Saxophone students need to recognize that as a saxophonist, there isn't just one genre to perform and if you learn just one you are limiting yourself as far as personal development as well as JOBS. The challenge is how to balance development in the 'classical' literature as well as jazz and other genres. I'll also be encouraging doubling. I cost myself a ton of money over the years not having learned clarinet and flute earlier in life. Orchestra pit jobs for musicals and shows pay WELL and will also keep my students playing after graduation.

Just some thoughts as I prepare to put on the cap and gown.