Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Having spent a lot of time working with adult students in music lessons and ensembles, I have heard many stories about why people begin or return to music study later in life. In fact, there are as many stories as there are people to tell them.

Just last night PMAC hosted its Adult Student Departmental Workshop for the spring 2008 session. We have two of these each year, one in the fall, one in the spring. It is an opportunity for adults who take private music lessons at PMAC to play music for each other and share their experiences as an adult music student.

What struck me, is that one adult told their story of how they got back into music after getting their kids involved - and then the next said, "hey, that's my story" as did one or two other people. But I think the reality is, though we have similar tales, I bet each story is actually unique.

We all have a story about our creative lives. What we did or didn't do as a child - what we were encouraged to do, discouraged from doing, whatever. All of our experiences shape our lives. Some of these experiences are traumatic - keeping us from fulfilling a dream such as playing a musical instrument. Some are just stories of "life getting in the way."

Whatever your story, I want you to know that if you love music, there is NO reason why you shouldn't be making music right now. The music YOU want to make. If you were told as a child that you could only play classical piano, but you really wanted to rock out - well, now YOU are the boss, and you should find the time to learn to rock out on the piano.

We all have fears about learning something new. That is probably a topic best saved for another blog post. Regardless of any fears you carry, you can learn to make music. And learning with others, in ensemble environments, is an amazing way to go.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Life is stressful. And the more productive, active, interactive, and successful you are, the more stressful it gets. One way I deal with stress is by taking time to be creative. Since playing saxophone is my profession, I have other creative outlets that help me deal with stress. I take drawing lessons and draw, pencil on paper. This is challenging for me, I enjoy it, and it removes me from my everyday world. I can easily lose myself for an hour or more in my drawing pad - just me, my subject (so far all of my subjects are inanimate objects), and my pencils and paper. I emerge from my drawing time refreshed, renewed, and alive. I may not always be ready to return to "the grind", but I'm much better for it just the same.

How do you handle stress?

Monday, May 26, 2008


There have been many, many studies in recent years telling people why to learn music as an adult, particularly as an adult over the age of 50.
  • Learning and making music utilizes parts of the brain that keep our thinking sharp and vital
  • Playing a musical instrument is good for maintaining strong motor skills late in life
  • Playing music in an ensemble provides a person with regular, positive social interaction
  • The physical act of playing a musical instrument is in fact a way to keep your body in shape
  • Having a creative outlet later in life is good for our spirit, our mental well being

These are all interesting, and there are many more reasons just like them - but they are not really that important to me. I think you should make music because everyone should experience the wonder, joy, excitment and more of music. Isn't that enough?

Sunday, May 25, 2008


I believe all people are creative. But beyond that, I believe that we all have a common need to express our creativity. I'm not talking about music, not art. Just the act of "creation" or "self-discovery". Part of living a healthy, fulfilled life is finding ways to express our individuality. We can do this in many ways - through our chosen trade, which is hopefully our passion. Through our relationships. Or through art. What is important, is that we be creative, we live creative lives.

Sometimes, our creativity seems to dry up. We get in a rut. We run out of ideas, loose our passion. I don't claim to have answers on how to return that passion, that creativity to our lives. But my experience is that when this happens, one of the best ways to regain our creative selves is to seek out "creation" opportunities that are not our norm. As a musician, when I'm feeling burned out, tired, unispired, I will revitalize myself through active involvement in another creative activity. Writing, drawing, painting - whatever. This seems to jumpstart my musicality by giving me a fresh way to express myself. A new perspective for seeing the world.

What is your alternative outlet? Where do you go to recharge, reinvigorate, renew?

Friday, May 23, 2008

An interesting read

Check out Ethan Iverson's epic blog post on Lennie Tristano and race in jazz. I don't know much of Tristano's music and found this to be an amazing introduction, with links to .mp3 files and YouTube videos.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Fiery Furnaces

First amazing concert of 2008 was the Fiery Furnaces - back in January. Caught them with Katie, Anna and Jose at The Space in Portland. I've already forgotten the opener. But the FF were amazing. They played a wide range of songs from their many albums, focusing mostly on their latest, Widow City. Will have to keep an eye out for them - they are a Chicago based band but get to the northeast once in a while. Actually, they were in Boston just a few weeks ago and Katie and I were bummed we couldn't make it to the show.

Other great concerts this year:
Medeski, Martin and Wood
Joshua Bell
The Fringe
John Zorn with Masada
The Molenes - CD Release Party

Upcoming shows:
True Colors 2008 tour - featuring Regina Spektor (FINALLY!), B-52s and Cyndi Lauper (end of this month)
possibly Rush?

I'm planning on getting back on the blog bandwagon. Sorry for the absence as of late. It's been a busy, busy year.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Been a long time...

After a long blog hiatus, I'm back. Many things to share:

GREAT Concerts this year so far...

MANY WONDERFUL PMAC happenings....

Much to share...

Will be back with details soon.