Monday, April 07, 2014

New Things

I am not a creature of habit. I rarely like to repeat myself. I love to experience and try new things, especially when it comes to music and travel. Perhaps that's why I love to perform new music and compose. I like to try and experience music I have not heard before and even better, when it has never been performed before. The past few months have been a healthy dose of repetition and new things. Over the past year I have traveled to Hartford, CT 3 times. Don't get me wrong, Hartford is a neat town filled with fabulous musicians (courtesy of the Hartt School) and friends. Luckily, I've been to Hartford 3 times because I've had 3 different premieres - "Trajectory", "Elasticity", and "Stridulation". Otherwise, I wouldn't have gone to hear the same piece performed. I try to go to all my premieres. I'll even try to go to repeated performances if its a place I've never visited before and I can swing the money for the travel. Any excuse to travel, even if it might be some remote college town in the middle of a corn field - say Missouri, but that's another blog post.
So what does a girl do when she can't come up with the finances to travel to glamorous places? Well she tries all sort of new things in town. I decided to get out of my comfort zone and teach a workshop at the Atlanta Flute Fair called "Beatboxing to a Better Bach". I am by no means an expert in beatboxing. I leave that to Greg Patillo, but I use it in my music and I do have the basic understanding. So teaching a group of beginner beatboxers wouldn't be beyond my scope, right? Sure! It went well to my surprise. I certainly succeeded in getting EVERYONE dizzy. So by the end of the workshop I'm sure no one could remember anything.

Sometimes I'll even try things I probably have NO business doing, like conducting a musical's orchestra. Sure I had to take orchestral conducting in college and I have to conduct the church choir every once in a while, but I'm pretty sure that doesn't qualify me as a legitimate conductor. Somehow, I find myself saying, "Sure, I'll do it. As long as you understand I've never done this before." So I conducted my church's annual fundraiser musical. This year it was "The Music Man". I thank my lucky stars that its a musical with only 3 tempos: March, Ballad, and waltz. I was also behind a screen with the orchestra, so I'm sure I wasn't distracting anyone, and every orchestra left the pit with two eyes every show.
Now because each time this year I've tried something new, I decided to go WAY out of my comfort zone and make a fool of myself at the same time this week. I have no shame, and I'll try anything to spice up my musical life. Since I was little - 9 maybe? - I've owned a jaw harp. I've never done much with it except annoy my family on long car rides. (The jaw harp was foolishly bought by my parents on a 9 hour car ride from St. Louis, MO to Savannah, GA. They never thought I'd figure it out. It took 10 minutes. 8 hours and 50 minutes of jaw harpin' with popular 80's tunes on the radio!) So when a buddy of mine in Mercury Orkestar asked a group of percussionists I was standing with if any of them played jaw harp, I pounced! I've already had one appearance this past weekend, but on Friday at 7:45 at Smith's Old Bar I'll play 50 cents' "In Da Club" with Mercury Orkestar on jaw harp for 500 Songs for Kids. I do it for the kids, people!

 So what's next? What am I gonna do to keep it all interesting? Well I really don't know. I'm finishing up a commission for Clibber Jones Ensemble which has been a new composition challenge, but I'm sure I need to find my next scary and ridiculous challenge. I'm open to suggestions. Summer is a perfect time to do crazy things, at least I can blame the heat.

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