Monday, December 29, 2008

Happy New YOU!

I was contacted to run a contemporary Christian Praise and Worship Band and play keys at a rather large church on the Sunday between Christmas and News Years Day. I was the only professional musician in the group. The band consisted of drums, bass, lead guitar, rhythm guitar, keyboards and nine singers.

I arrived an hour early to meet the very competent sound-engineer. This was a relief as a bad mix can toast a great band.

After introducing myself to the band, I quickly deduced that they were pretty solid musicians. All the songs were traditional Christmas Carols, but the band wanted to perform them as hard rock tunes. They had heard of me and were eager to listen to any suggestions that I was willing to offer.  I can assure you that this doesn't happen every day!

I usually go to a new band experience and lay low until I get a feel of their social dynamics, but felt that this crew was ready for some new  direction. This was such a welcome feeling for me.

I listened to what they had rehearsed. It sounded a lot like Old country and Western swing (bouncing the alternating quarter and eighths as triplets). Not exactly what I felt was hard rock at all.

The drummer could play a rock beat, so I started with him putting down a solid beat in 4/4 using all straight eights on the cymbals.

I then told the bass player to lay down the tonic of the chord using straight eighths just like the drummer.

The rhythm guitar player was shown a blues lick that sounded like the beginning of the old standard, "Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown".

Add my directions to the overdriven lead guitar telling him to play whatever he wanted (he was very young and couldn't believe his ears when I told him to ROCK OUT!!!) He said that he never gets to do this.

The singers felt the new groove and started to wail unlike the first run-through.

After adding a catchy hook to each carol, the band was ready for the service.

OK, I know that I usually have a "don't let this happen to you" lesson for each new post. I can honestly say that this one was a breeze. I always kept a watchful vigil just in case something would go wrong so I never let down my musical guard.

I don't know what was more fun, watching the band have a great time playing in a rock style, or seeing my little daughter dancing in the aisles to the band during the service.

this posts lesson....

genuinely enjoy when a gig is going well and....

Happy New YOU!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Always be prepared!

I was hired to play bass at the Dayton Convention Center with the University of Dayton Big Band for our City of Dayton Parks Christmas Party. In order to do this, I needed to drive to UD and pick up the bass amplifier. The director said that UD has a dolly that I can use since the school is on Winter break and won't be needing it. 

The parking attendant at UD was very nice and allowed me to park fairly close to the music building, but it was still a fairly long trek. I went inside an looked at the amp. I don't remember it being this heavy or big!

I found the music secretary and asked where the dolly was. She said that they don't have a dolly, but a square board with four casters. I put the amp on the board and it fell off as soon as it started rolling. I picked it up and started carrying it out the door. Thank heaven, two young men who are music education students recognized me from my guest lectures and came over to give me a hand to the car. I knew that I still had a long haul from the Convention Center visitors lot to the stage, so I left UD and drove straight to Home Depot and  bought the nicest dolly they had!

The new dolly rolled behind me so smoothly that I forget I was pulling an amp that weighed almost as much as I do.

The gig was a huge success. I think that I enjoyed playing a little more than usual because I was aware that I wasn't going to have to carry the amp back to the car.

Two lesson were learned this gig. 

1. I left for UD in plenty of time to allow for unforeseen circumstances like having to swing by and buy a dolly.

2. Don't depend on someone else to get your stuff to and from the gig. The UD boys were a pleasant surprise. If they hadn't of helped, I would have had to carry the amp alone.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas Tree Powered keyboard

Yesterday, I was asked to perform a couple of engagements during the Christmas season. The first was to supply keyboard accompaniment for Chris Haines on trumpet at a Victorian Bed and Breakfast in Xenia, Ohio. 
The place was decorated professionally and I couldn't believe how lovely it all was. We were led to a large room with an enormous tree that I found out later was over 12 feet tall. Unfortunately, with houses built before 1900, every room only had one outlet in the floor and it was being used for the Christmas tree. I had to think quickly as we only had four minutes to set up. I plugged the keyboard right into one of the strings of lights on the tree! It was the first time I ever had utilized this type of "green energy" to power my rig. The gig was a success and we were off to the next venue. We left Xenia for Beavercreek to provide music for our local Christian Radio station, WFCJ-FM. Chris and I are in Joshua Jazz. It is a Christian Jazz Combo that includes piano, bass, drums, alto sax, tenor, sax, trombone, and Chris on trumpet. We were pre-recording the show to air on Christmas Eve. The special guests for this show were the Stivers High School Handbell Choir directed by Cissy Matthews.  The stage was set up right in front of Macy's department store, and the decorations were amazing! This Mall has two stories so the upstairs balcony was packed with fans of the radio station looking down from above. I was so sleepy afterwards, but the guys decided on all going out to Longhorn steakhouse afterwards. It was after 11 when Chris drove me past the Greene Mall on the way to drop me off and wanted to drive around that mall to see the outside decorations. Since it was a Thursday gig, I didn't have to get up early for Church or anything, so I slept in until after 10 AM. Lesson today is to schedule an afternoon nap when I have two gigs on the same night.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Zat you Santa Claus?

Last week, I was asked by the Fairborn Civic Band Director, Gary Johnson, if I would help him with their Winter Concert by playing the snare drum. Gary and I went with the Dayton Philharmonic this summer to sing at Carnegie Hall. We got to spend a lot of time at Central Park together between rehearsals. He was the band and Choir director at Belmont HS in Dayton for many years and we became fast friends. He now started teaching general music in Fairborn and loves it. 

The concert was wonderful!
The arrangements of the carols were done very tastefully, so I enjoyed listening to the music as I played along. 

Then, Gary asked me to be the Santa and enter during the last song to give candy canes to all the audience members.

I arrived a half hour early and met two children who were sitting alone in the back of the auditorium. They were 14 year old Jennifer and 10 year old Peter. I asked them if they were staying to watch a family member perform with the band. They said that they lived across the street and were bored, so they thought they would hear the concert. I asked them if they would mind helping me with my Santa costume. They had marvelous attitudes. They laid the costume out on a table and took the shrink wrap off the candy cane boxes. 

I informed them that, after the song "Frosty the Snowman", to meet me backstage and help me get ready. They were so helpful! Peter asked if he could ring the jingle bells and announce me to the crowd. I thought it was a great idea. 

I came in Ho Ho Ho-ing and gave everyone in the audience a candy cane. After the concert was over, The kids thanked me for allowing them to help. I smiled and pointed to the Santa bag which was still full of extra candy canes and told the that the rest were theirs. They thought I was kidding, but I couldn't have been more serious. 

lesson one, don't ever miss an opportunity to make a positive impact on a child or refuse to help a friend in need.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Signals crossed

I was contacted by University of Dayton's temporary Gospel Choir Director to play the bass guitar for their Winter Quarter Concert Dec. 7th. She sounded very young, but seemed competent. She indicated that she would mail the sheet music and a CD of the tunes. I got them the following day.

I had played their Spring  farewell concert for the regular Director, Professor Donna Cox,  just before she took her sabbatical.  It was a fantastic concert and the choir was excellent, so I was happy to help with the Winter Concert.
The new director indicated that they were having two rehearsals prior to the performance. hey were Tuesday Nov. 25th and Dec 2nd at 6 PM in the Theatre and Music Building. I grabbed my bass and heading out for the first rehearsal only to find the building empty and not a soul in sight. I had worked with their pianist, Mary Carmen,  on several occasions and called her to find out what the problem was. She informed me that the temporary director cancelled the rehearsal but didn't inform me. Needless to say, I was not happy. The next day I called the number that the director gave me only to find out that it was the Music Dept. Office which was closed for the Holidays. The following Tuesday I set aside the evening for rehearsal but decided not to go until I had confirmation. 6 PM came and went with no word from her. At 8:30 I did get a call from her wondering why I wasn't at the rehearsal that night. I told her that I went last week and she didn't inform me that she had cancelled. She did apologize, and said that she would keep me better informed next quarter. As this was their last rehearsal before the performance, I can only assume that they will not be using a bass for the concert.

The lesson here is to keep in constant contact with everyone involved with your performances. Had she called me prior to Nov 25th about the practice being cancelled, I would have attended last nights practice. As it was, I was not going to drive all the way to UD again without confirmation. 

The three magic words for this post is:

Initiate, Communicate, and then Validate!

It is better to over contact someone about a concert than under contact them. Try to leave nothing to chance.

I hope that she will remember this in her future dealings with her accompanists.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Outside gig in November?

Well, I was hired to piano for a charity event at the Moraine Country Club. I was scheduled to play from 6-8 inside for a dinner with a seven piece combo (piano, bass, drums, A-sax, T-Sax, Trombone and trumpet). Then I was to move the electric piano to an outside tent to play with the Hauer 18 piece big band until 11:30. Since I was to play for 51/2 hours, I decided to take my best keyboard and was glad that I did. The outside temperature was in the teens! The club had a few tall patio heaters, but they were placed near the dance floor. The stage was freezing and there was a strong cold breeze that kept blowing the music off my music stand. The trumpeter had a few extra clothespins for me to use to secure the music. This is the first time I ever played the piano with driving gloves, earmuffs, and a winter coat! The band sounded great and the crowd loved it! I will remember next time to wear several layers as the year before I had a patio heater next to me and I was hot! I will also remember to layer at inside rehearsals in the winter months as the last UD Big Band rehearsal I had a heavy rugby shirt on and the room was in the 80s.

The next morning, I played with the UD big band at a TWIGS christmas affair. My amp blew a speaker the previous Thursday, and the pianist said that she would bring an amp for me Saturday. I left rehearsal Thursday and drove directly to the Hauer music store and my friend Michael Hauer fixed it in five minutes. I was charged $10. What a great place! Anyway, I left my amp and a 30 foot extension cord  in the car overnight Friday so it went to the gig Saturday morning. It was a good thing that I did, because the amp the pianist brought for me was smaller than a toaster and the nearest outlet was 20 feet away! There was no way a bass plugged into that tiny amp would cut through an 18 piece big band. I ran to the car and saved the gig with my newly repaired amp. The lesson here is to take everything you could ever need to make the gig successful! 

Sunday, November 16, 2008

bad rehearsal, good performance

Monday, I had a rehearsal with the Sinclair Gospel Choir and the director placed me right next to a new drummer. He was extremely loud and I couldn't hear the choir or any other instruments. I asked the sound engineer if I could have a monitor, but he said that he didn't have any more. I could see the pianist playing the keys, but couldn't hear a single note. I was in the very back of the stage. The choir was in front of me singing away from me so I didn't hear them either. 

The director kept telling the drummer to play softer, but he said that gospel music has loud drums in it. We told the drummer that we have played music for years and to always do what the director instructs, but he wasn't ready to listen to us. Because of his defiant attitude, I didn't get very much out of the evening. I went home with a headache and ringing in my ears. We met again Friday and I had decided beforehand what I was going to do. 

Friday was a totally different story.

As soon as I got there, I noticed that the bass amp was right next to the drummer again. This time, I brought a thirty foot guitar cable. I left the amp where it was, but sat on the other side of the piano so I could hear the piano and also hear the choir through the pianist monitor. This worked like a charm. The show choir was to perform the second half of the concert and I play bass for them as well. The drummer for this is very skilled at balancing the drums with the other instruments. The show choir rehearsal was fantastic.

Saturday night, I set up on the other side of the piano again and the entire performance with both groups was wonderful. The singers are very accomplished and the audience loved it.

Remember: It is your responsibility to always make sure that you can hear all the other instruments as well as yourself to insure a good performance. Just a simple fix like moving my chair 30 feet made all the difference in the world! 

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wright State U lecture

Last Thursday, I was asked by WSU Professor James Tipps to be a guest lecturer for his Music Education Major class. Since it was very close to Halloween, some of the 24 WSU kids were all dressed up in some very creative Halloween costumes. The hour-long session started at 8 AM, so I really had to alter my teaching style from the previous week when I lectured at the University of Dayton at 10:30. I found myself talking louder, roaming around the room, and asking a lot more questions to get additional involvement from the kids. It didn't take long until the class figured out that this was going to be fun. Thanks to Larry Bohannon, Sales Rep. for Macmillan. I had tons of free stuff such as pens, bags, and sample CD of the K-8 series.

WSU Dr. Ellis requested a sample set of 5th grade texts for WSU last year, so every student had their own text in which to follow my presentation.

This was a lot of fun and it was great being asked to lecture at my Alma Mater. WSU had certainly grown since I attended. I remember having band class in the University cafeteria. Now they have their own Creative Arts Center. 

I just found out that my concert Friday at the Kettering Medical College has been postponed. This give me time to rehearse for the bug Sinclair College Quarter recital next week. I should get the music by this weekend. I bought a new 5 string bass so this should be very fun hitting all those really low notes with the Gospel choir. Interviewing an author of a Contemporary Christian Music Book for the next podcast episode. 
More on this next post.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

University of Dayton lecture

This morning I was guest lecturer for a music education class at the University of Dayton. I was asked by colleague and music education coordinator, Dr. Linda Hartley, to present an overview of the Macmillan series "Spotlight on music".

The class was small, but the students present were very excited about learning more about the series they will most likely be using from one of Macmillan's Music Education Specialists.

Larry Bohannon, Southwestern Ohio's Macmillan Sales Representative, took me to lunch Monday and we had a wonderful time planning strategies for increasing music sales in his district. He is a wonderfully kind and generous person. When he learned that I was giving two Macmillan presentation, he insisted on meeting me for the purpose of giving me sample materials of the Macmillan series to distribute. I will be the guest lecturer at Wright State University next week and giving the exact same overview. Larry B. gave me enough materials to cover both lectures. The students eyes sparkled when I started passing out the Macmillan pens, tote bags, CDs, and even a DVD door prize.

I took them through the "scope and Sequence" and Overview" brochures, then demonstrated Halloween songs from Grade 2-8. I also showed them an example of the animated listen maps and electronic lesson planer. I finished with a few silly Halloween activities that my elementary kids loved. The class ended exactly on time and I headed out to the UD pizza hang-out that also offers free Wi-Fi called Milanos. I am there now writing this over a hot turkey sub and a glass of Chablis.

This afternoon I will work on episode #17 of the musicteacher911 podcast that will feature Joe Pisano from He is an amazing technology expert and is very influential in the field of music technology. His podcast is one of my two favorite. The other is Keith Mason's "Mus Tech for me" I already recorded a 40 minute interview with Joe. His is currently the Band director for Grove City College in PA. He recently asked me to be on his music educational podcast review board. Frankly, I have no idea just exactly what it entails, but am looking forward to meeting other giants in the music education field. This will turn out to be a great resource for getting future guests for my podcast. more on this and the class at WSU later.

Oh, the UD lecture was during the UD big band rehearsal. They saw me in the building but I never entered the rehearsal room.
When I finally went to the room next door instead, they were a little mad at me. They said that they really missed having the bass guitar providing the bottom foundation for the horns.

Monday, October 13, 2008

boiling blood is now simmering

I went to play bass last night at a church with the same gospel choir and band that had the bass amp turned around the last time. 
As soon as I got there, the director said to turn the bass amp toward the back wall. This sent my blood boiling!

But, after all, he is the director. For 32 years I have been telling the kids to listen to the director and this is the Universes was of having me practice what I preach. I turned the amp around and noticed that the amp was wired to the main sound board in the back.

The up side was that they had a giant PA system and the bass amp was being sent directly to a sound engineer that I trust.

I saw a former teacher friend in the back of the church that came early and was just sitting there. I went over to her and asked if she would let me know if she could hear the bass when the band & choir started practicing. After about 30 seconds, I saw her give me a big "thumbs up" and a smile.

The performance was very nice and the crowd loved it. The director really knows how to get a wonderful sound out of the choir and the band was cooking. 

The drummer never showed, but I saw a guy in the first row during our run-through and he was banging on the pew railing to the beat.
 I asked if he ever played the drums and he said that he was indeed an budding drummer. 

Get up there!  I said. 

I stood right next to him and described the upcoming songs meter and tempo as well as giving him cues on how to play. He did a nice job, although I could tell that he lacked the confidence of a real pro. Still, he kept a nice steady beat and was grinning at his family the entire time. I chalked up this performance as a win-win situation for all of us. 

This Friday I play for the Concert of Prayer for the Lost at a huge church with the same group. I know the PA system will be killer and the same sound-man will be there running everything just right.

more on that next blog.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Birthday Present

I went to Murlin Heights church for a performance with the Sinclair Gospel Choir. The church was hosting a big banquet and we were the entertainment. When I got there, I noticed that the director placed the bass amp facing backwards! I shot him a look. He walked over and he said that we needed to talk. Previously, I sent him a copy of 9/23 post entitled, "My Kingdom for a monitor". In there, I mention how horrible the sound mix was at our last performance. I think that it's important to tell the director if something happens badly to give him (or her) a chance to fix it.

This was a first.

I played the entire 90 minute concert with the bass amp turned toward the back wall!

After the concert, I asked some friends in the audience if they heard the bass. They said, "Oh, were you playing?


The only saving grace was that the church had a grand piano that was in tune. The pianist still keeps banging away at the lower keys, but the timbre of the piano didn't clash with the bass lines that nobody heard.

If you are reading this and know of any other musical group on the planet earth where the bass player's amp is backwards, let me know.

enough on that!

So why did I title today's post, Birthday Present?

Yesterday, I was a little upset about my musicteachers911 podcast dropping from #2 to #3 on the iTunes store. The reason is that when we had the 9 day power outage, I missed posting two episodes. I would like it to be #1 by New Years Day.

To put it back on top, I scheduled two interviews..... back to back..... right after my UD big band rehearsal.

They were:

Mike Finkle of who wrote an online instrumental method book, and Joe Pisano from He is a giant in the music technology field.

Both interviews were amazing! These two are the best that music education has to offer.


Both interviews were going so well, that they lasted over an hour each! Since I try to keep the  podcast episodes under 40 minutes, Both guests will be featured over two episodes each.

My Birthday present is that I now have enough interview material to last a month!

Happy Birthday to me!

Sunday, I play again with the Sinclair Gospel Group. If the amp is backwards this time, I am turning it around myself.


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Last night, I had an podcast interview with MENC journalist and band director, Chad Chriswell, from Altoona, Iowa. Chad hosts a website called This site has over 1300 web pages! It is a web-based clearinghouse for resource and information for music teachers and is a fantastic site.

The interview started our fine, but four minutes into our discussion, the Skype connection went down. I called him back and talked for another 27 minutes. I was using a digital recorder called, Audio Hijack. When I concluded the interview and played back the session, the first four minutes were fine, but the last 27 were of silence! 

I came to find out later that the Audio Hijack input source must be selected every time a recording session is started. When Skype terminates a call, It resets the input to "internal mic" and not skype. I found this out by calling another skype friend of mine who owns a little italian restaurant up the street called Palermos. I called her and played around with the recorder using her as a test subject until I solved this problem.

I'll be ready next time!

On a brighter note, I also found out why the person I was interviewing sounded like they were broadcasting from an alien spaceship. Audio Hijack pro automatically adds special audio effects. I manually deselected all those weird sounding effects for Chad's interview. As a result, episode 14s interview sounds a lot better than 13. 

Today I go to University of Dayton to rehearse with their big band on electric bass guitar. UD has a blue Yamaha five string bass I use. I must say that I am starting to prefer their five string bass to my four string. I have a black Rickenbacker 4001 bass at home that was given to me by a gentleman who quit an alternative band to find Jesus. He would be glad to know that I use his bass to play in two College Gospel ensembles.

Saturday, I will be playing bass with the Sinclair College Gospel Ensemble at a local church. I sent their director a copy of last blog entry of how the bass and choir weren't balanced. He never wrote back. I am curious to see how the stage will be set up this time. I'll write more on this next time.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My Kingdom for a monitor!

This week I played the electric bass for the Sinclair College "Welcome Back" festival held in the Sinclair Campus Courtyard. the event was nicely attended and the weather was perfect. The balance of the band and Gospel choir, however, was not.

Allow me to explain.......

The Choir consisted of 16 singers all on wireless handheld mics on separate channels to a master soundboard in the crowd. The piano was playing quietly through a small amp behind the singers but also through the board and very loudly out through the main speakers. The guitar and bass were using amps but NOT through the board. They were sitting directly next to the Choir and their director. I was standing in front of the main speakers and there were no monitors for the Choir or Director. (big mistake)

Since I was out near the crowd, I turned my amp up to blend with the main front speakers playing the choir and piano sounds. From my vantage point, the sound the crowd was hearing was well balanced. I must say however that the main speakers were deafeningly loud and hurt my ears whenever I got within 20 feet of them.

From the vantage point of the choir & director, however, it sounded understandably as if the bass was entirely too loud. If the choir had monitors, they would have all heard that the vocals and piano were projecting very well. (Maybe too well).

As a result of this, the director proceeded to the bass amp and turned it down so that he and the choir could hear themselves better. From where I was in the crowd, the bass guitar line ceased to be heard from me (the bass guitar player). The pianist is young and rather "set in his ways". He insists on playing the bass keys of the electric piano loudly which clashes with the bass guitar lines I play anyway.

So what did we learn?

Here are two options.....

1.  Run the bass guitar directly from the board



If there are no choir monitors, the bass amp should be abeam with the mains and I out in front manually balancing the bass and choir mix. With the bas amp in front of the choir by the main speakers, the bass guitar sound will not be too prominent for the choir or their directors ears.

One final comment abut the keyboard player...

When there is an acoustic piano being used, the low keys surprisingly do not conflict with the bass guitar lines. This is due to the pronounced difference in their timbres. When an electric piano is used, the sound is muddled and conflicted.

I know that, even when I play acoustic piano with the Hauer Swing Band, I never play a key below middle C as to keep the keyboard and bass guitar lines separate.

Of course, this stylistic decision came after lots of experience hearing recordings of live performances I've done on both acoustic and electric pianos over the past 40 years. 

It is my sincerest wish that the Choir director educate his talented, but very young, keyboardist on this technique. If not, I will chose to play bass on only those venues that provide an acoustic piano such as their quarterly concerts and various church services.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

the good, the bad, and the angry

Thursday, I played electric bass at a rehearsal of a volunteer Christian Contemporary band. I was invited by the guitar player from our Sinclair College Gospel Choir for the Jesus Jam to occur Saturday. He is such a great guy and very upbeat as well as talented. I like him and he needed a favor, so I agreed.

The band consisted of guitar, bass, drums, piano, two backing female vocals and a male vocal.

The rehearsal went well but I felt that all their songs sounded too much alike. They were all even in the same key! Note to bands, your playlist should include songs of varying tempos, styles, keys, and mood so as to keep the interest of the audience. I did notice at rehearsal that everything was running through the sound board except the piano but wasn't concerned. I know now that I should have been. More on this later.

Friday, I played a 9 foot Steinway grand piano with the Hauer Swing Band for a 50th wedding anniversary at the Dayton Women's Club. The piano was huge, but the stage was small. The first row of saxes had to set up on the floor in front of the stage. I liked it because I got a stereo effect by having the saxes in front of me and the rest of the band behind me. Note to keyboardists. Whenever you perform with a bass player, stay off all keys below middle C so as not to make the band sound too muddy what with the bass and piano having the same low range. Also, when playing with a big band. DO NOT OVERPLAY! Many times when all the horns were playing, the harmonic structure of the sing was being covered.  I just stopped playing altogether. I came in during horn solos when all the other horns dropped out when the chords weren't being played and a few piano solos here and there when written in the chart. In swing and jazz, most of the time, the melodies and counter melodies come in after the beat. Many times I would play just on the first beat very high in piano register to give a little punch and harmonic variety to the songs. Here's one for the honesty books. My piano sub is a better piano player than I! Why on earth would he be the sub and I be the main pianist? It's really simple. He plays band gigs as if he were doing a solo piano performance. He invades the bass players notes and clashes harmonically with the horns. He often doubles the melody but uses a different rhythm (this just plain sounds bad). IMPORTANT, playing a gig isn't about having your part out in front drowning out and clashing with the other instruments, but having the entire sound of the band balanced and musical!  I use my piano as if it were salt and the song were a recipe in which the band is the cuisine. A little goes a long way. Too much is just pain tasteless. Why would I go on about this? 

Let's fast forward to Saturday......

Saturday was the performance of the Christian band for the Jesus Jam. We take the stage and now the piano is going through the main mixing board. We start the first song in a blues style and the piano is twice as loud as everything else! Remember that I am on bass and the piano is pounding out low notes drowning me out. He was so loud that you couldn't even hear the vocals! After about 20 seconds of this, the director in me raises his ugly head and I tell the pianist to turn down and not to play with his left hand. He looks at me and says, "This is the way I play man".  All this is happening during the first song. The drummer shot me a look as if to say, "What's the piano players problem?" Then shrugs his shoulders as if to say, Oh well, let just keep playing (but I don't)

I stop playing. When a song as two bass lines sounding, the overall sound of the song gets too muddy. I didn't play the rest of the show but sat there with my left arm resting over the neck.I was fuming mad!

The song had ample bass from the piano so the bass guitar wasn't even missed. Why the heck was I even there? I felt like leaving the stage right then and there, but felt obligated to the guitarist not to rock the boat.

But, I was still angry at the pianist's blatant lack of concern for the others in the band, especially the vocalists. The piano player knew that I wasn't playing but it didn't seem to bother him in the least. The first song ended with silence and confusion from the audience. Not one single song then entire set got any response from the crowd. Thursday, I found out that the pianist is a lawyer. I am guessing that he isn't a very good one as he doesn't listen to anyone but himself! When the set ended, I got the heck out of there as fast as I could.

So what did I learn?  

1. don't expect inexperienced musicians to understand the concept of musical balance in an ensemble setting. Not everyone was lucky enough to have a good music teacher.

2 don't expect others to listen to you as if you were still the band director in charge and your word is law.

3 remember that your instrument is the salt. When someone else is salting the recipe (song), put your own salt shaker  (instrument) down.

4 never stop doing favors for friends as they are important

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Skype me

I just completed a wonderful interview for the musicteachers911 podcast with Eugene Cantera from the Dallas School of Music. We were using an internet based application called Skype. 
For those who would like to hear it, it is episode 13 and can be found by searching the iTunes store using the apple application iTunes. The podcast just got a bump to being the #2 music teacher education podcast on iTunes.

Skype allows people to make free long distance calls using the internet. I recorded our conversation using an inexpensive program called Audio Hijack to create an mp3 file to import to my garageband podcast file.

Afterwards, he posted a few comments on his blog at

Tonight is rehearsal for Saturday's big "Jesus Jam" and I will be playing bass with a Gospel Band that I will meet tonight. I got this through the guitar player for the Sinclair Gospel Choir.

Tuesday, I head for Piqua to present an inservice to the music staff for Macmillan Publishing.

I will be traveling with Macmillan Sales rep, Larry Bohannon, who is a fantastic person and was instrumental in getting me hired with Macmillan in the first place.

Monday, September 8, 2008


Yesterday, I was asked to be the Masters of Ceremonies for the Guitar-fest at Stubbs Amphitheater in Centerville, Ohio. Some of the finest guitarist in the country were there. The weather was absolutely perfect and the entire event went off without a single hitch. The park was packed and I was surprised to find that our local Television Station was broadcasting the entire event. I was glad that I wore nice clothes. Afterwards, all the performers and I went to our local pizzeria to celebrate. With any luck, I'll be asked to do this event again next year.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen......

Thursday evening, I traveled to Xenia OH to rehearse with the Wilberforce University Choir. I was hired to play electric Bass Guitar for their "Motown Hits" performance at the outdoor  Fraze Pavilion in Kettering OH. They will be opening for the Ohio Players. The Choir is quite good and I was most impressed with their young but very talented director, Jeremy Winston. The songs were very easy and the bass parts interesting. I really enjoyed the practice and the rehearsal time went quickly. The next day I went to the Fraze at 5 for a sound check and short run through. The Ohio Players took up most of the stage and the Choir was squeezed in together very tightly. The performance was a blast and the audience really responded well. Right after we played it began to pour down rain and the Ohio Players had to wait 90 minutes to get a dry soundboard from Cincinnati to finally perform. I was backstage and found out that the bass player for the Ohio Players was a former band member in the High School Marching Band I directed. He thanked me for teaching him how to play the bass. We had a big laugh about how his teacher was his warm-up band and he was the headliner. I wasn't jealous as my passion has always been teaching and not performance. I was very proud of his success. 

The next day I was hired to play the drums for a live radio Show at the Montgomery County Fair. I had to borrow the drums from the former Centerville High School Band Director as the music director for the show doesn't like electronic drums. I have a Roland V-drum electronic set that I love. The day was hot and we only played a total of about five minutes the entire hour. We backed up two songs for the show vocalist and then played a bunch of 20 second spot bumper music before the commercial and show segments. I walked around the fair and was saddened by the lack of live music offered. I did however get to pet a camel!

Sunday I am the MC for the Guitarfest at Stubbs Park in Centerville. This is another outdoor bandshell and I am hoping for good weather. It is in the 90s as I write this, but the forecast is for cooler weather starting tomorrow. The next blog should be a short recap of this event.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Blues Ukulele, and the guitar man

Monday night I had Denny Dutcher over to be interviewed on the musicteachers911 podcast. I think he's the best jazz saxophonist around. I also know that he goes to Hawaii every winter and knows a lot about their rich musical heritage. Afterwards, he got out a guitar and asked if I would teach him the blues! Later, he wanted a crash course on passing chords for Hawaiian songs. It was the latest a podcast guest has ever stayed (but fun every minute!)

The very next evening, I had Jim McCutcheon (The Guitar Man) over and he talked about starting and maintaining the guitar class and artist in residence programs for episode 12. He was exhausted from a two-hour meeting he just left and was a little slow in getting with the program, but the interview really picked up quickly.

One note on iTunes.
I am amazed that the iTunes store puts up my episodes as soon as I upload them. I guess they trust that I won't have any unsavory content or copyright violations. 

I used to take four hours to produce each episode, but now only take half that time. One thing is that I am getting better at prompting the guests. I also give them a little preview lesson on how to be interviewed. I am enjoying this so much that I feel that I might try to get a show on a local commercial radio or TV station. I'll have to wait until my time frees up a little more and macmillan gets going on a routine.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Praise the Lord and Harley Davidson!

I went to the church in Miamisburg OH to play the piano for a biker worship service Sunday and it was quite an experience!

I was playing a few scales to warm up beforehand when I heard a thunderous roar approaching. Lots of motorcycles (too many to count) were coming down the road to the church. I later found that there are entire biker gangs of converted outlaw bikers that now ride for Jesus. Although they still looked very tough and downright scary, they were actually sweet and gentle people.
Some of the testimonies were about how they found Jesus in jail,, or after finding out that drugs were killing them. These bikers knew the bible as well as some preachers as they were genuine in their spiritual walk.

I sight read a few tunes with their biker praise band. Later, there were two women bikers that played guitar and sang quite nicely. They gave me a CD of tunes they had written and I must admit that they sounded very nice.

Tonight I had a musicteachers911 podcast interview with Denny Dutcher. He is an amazing jazz sax player and a local expert on hawaiian music. Afterwards, we got out a few guitars and played some Hawaiian tunes together on the back porch. The weather is perfect and the crickets and locust gave us ample backing vocals.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Big Bands and Biker Gangs

I had an outside performance Sunday at an amphitheater in Centerville called, Stubbs Park. The weather was perfect! I was playing the piano with the Hauer Swing band. The average age of the audience was about 80! I took the keyboard that macmillan bought me and it sounded great behind the band.

This Sunday I am playing the piano for a Church Service for a bunch of Biker Gangs. 
I'll write more on this next time. 
I guess you can't say that music hasn't taken me on a variety of locations and venues.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Back from NYC

Well, I just got back from NYC and my meetings with the Macmillan staff. This is the first time that I have ever got fly anywhere for a business trip and I was excited about going to a new location without having to foot the bill myself. 

First, I love Dayton Airport! After going to NY last month from Columbus, I was absolutely crazy how adorably dinky Dayton is. In COL, I had to park about a mile away and wait for a shuttle bus to take me to the terminal. In Dayton, long term parking was about 100 yards away so I could walk right to the terminal. This is I tried the automatic ticket kiosk and loved it! I didn't have to wait in line to get my boarding pass. First, you swipe your credit card and then select "print boarding pass". It's just that easy. Since DAY is much smaller than COL, the security line was very short and it only took about 10 minutes to get from my car to the gate. As of Aug 1, soda pop is an additional $2 and no longer complimentary. I was gone three days and found that I don't need to check a bag. Everything fit in my roll-behind carry-on. 

I arrived in NY Sunday evening for a Monday morning meeting. I didn't want anything to go wrong. I landed in LGA (Laguardia) and was in the process of figuring out out to take the M60 bus to the subway when a lady asked where I was going. I told her Penn Station & she said that for $21, she would take me to and from the hotel door. No transfers! I was staying at the Afina hotel and it is directly across the street from the Macmillan Building which houses Madison Square Garden. The "bus" was a van, but very comfortable. When I arrived at the hotel, the desk informed me that the room and "all amenities" were being paid for by Macmillan. When I inquired what all amenities meant, they said meals in the hotel lobby, room service, internet and phone. I got my key card and proceeded to the room. My jaw about dropped when I discovered that I was in a suite! My "room" was the size of a modest apartment! I was on the 24th floor with four rooms and a large balcony overlooking the Manhattan skyline. I unpacked and went to the hotel restaurant for dinner taking an astrology book I was reading. Dinner was fabulous! I then went to the room balcony with my laptop and recorded part one of episode 10 overlooking NYC. The lights of the city at night are breathtaking! 

The next morning I went to the Macmillan Building to find a barrage of security stations to rival any airport. It took longer to reach the elevator than the gate at the airport! I was told to report to the 21st floor. When arriving there, I saw a very fancy lobby with a big-screen TV and lots of Macmillan books for browsing.

John Duckett, Director of Marketing, met me and escorted me to the first mandatory stop for our meeting, the coffee machine! I was then led to a large room with projection materials and told my new duties. The plan for me is to mostly run the in-service follow up sessions for schools that have already purchased the program. However, once in a while, when a lot of schools request a sales presentation all at once, I would be doing some of these as well. The plan for the next two days was to have me do practice sales presentations to the Macmillan staff on the three music textbook series. This way, they would be sure that I covered all the major selling points of the books. Another goal was to stop and supply suggestions on the wording of the presentations since I was more knowledgeable about their target audience of music teachers.

After two days of training, I returned to the airport and opened my laptop to find that I was already hired to do a sales presentation! I am going to present to Piqua City School next month. 

Last night I interviewed Lois Ramey, orchestra director for Dayton Stivers School for the Arts. She was a very informative guest and I think that her advice to string teachers was valuable.
I will finish episode 10 today and post it on itunes tonight. 

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Well, break out the bubbly and raise a glass.

Well, break out the bubbly and raise a glass. I found out that musicteachers911 podcast is the third most popular "music teacher education" podcast on iTunes! 

If that wasn't enough, it is the #1 "music teacher education podcast" on the internet. is the site that ranks videos and podcasts. 

Brody McDonald was my guest for episode 9 and he was so elequent in his presentation of the "popalla" choir style that I had almost no post-production  editing to do. He is too talented to be so young. 

Since I only have nine episodes on iTunes, I have to thank some people for helping steer listeners my way. One is Joe Pisano from who advertises the daylights out of my blog. The other is MENC, who featured me on their magazine. One of their employees has a site called music education magic and plugged the podcast on their homepage.

I attended the last University of Dayton Big Band rehearsal of the summer. One reason is because I needed to give them back their five-stringed bass guitar. I have been keeping it at home and using it to play all the performances I had with the Sinclair Gospel Choir. I was told that Sinclair is going to purchase a bass for me this fall. It will me great not having to lug a bass on my back while rinding the motorcycle to rehearsals and gigs. Although I have been doing this without incident, I honestly can say that it's not the safest way to ride in traffic.

I leave tomorrow for Manhattan! I am a little nervous but I know that if I just "be myself" and give the Macmillan staff my honest reactions to their presentations, I will be just fine.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Airports and episodes

Hank Dalhman, from the Dayton Philharmonic,  was interviewed for the musicteachers911 podcast and he was amazing! The interview went so long and so well, that I turned it into a two-episode event.

I finished booking my flights to NYC today. I leave Sunday, Aug. 3rd and return Tuesday evening. I wonder how my first meeting will go. This could turn out to be the best music education venue I have ever done! 

I played with Sinclair's gospel choir yesterday at Island Park in the bandshell and the place was packed and we got a standing ovation. I have had University of Dayton's bass at home for almost a month and I am planning on returning it this Thursday. It was very nice of them letting me use it for Sinclair performances, but the next choir performance isn't until after UD fall quarter starts back up. I keep asking for Sinclair to buy their own bass so I won't have to lug UDs over there so much. My goal is to just walk into the choir room and have a bass and amp already set up for me. I hope this happens soon!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


I rode the new motorcycle to Columbus OH to have a business lunch with the VP of Macmillan Publishing and I enjoyed it very much. We made plans to have me travel to NYC Aug 4th to meet with the Music Textbook Editorial Staff. Tomorrow I have an interview for my podcast with Dr. Hank Dalhman, the maestro for the Carnegie Hall performance. I have to do part one today. It should only take an hour and then Mr. big shot music podcaster has to push a mower around the yard for a while. Life has such a funny way of humbling me sometimes. 

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Carnegie Hall to the Fariborn Flagpole

I'm back When I was touring NYC, I was with Gary Johnson, one of the tenors,  and he asked what I was doing July 3. I couldn't think of anything, so I ended up playing a drumset with the Fariborn Community Band for the "Fariborn Celebrates the 4th festival". we were in a small dining fly under the big Fairborn City Center Flagpole. 

July 4th had me watching the Centerville Parade from my friend, Jim McCutcheon's studios. 
I was supposed to play a couple of hours with an 18 piece swing band for the Centerville Americana festival, but turned is down as I didn't want to be working on a holiday. The other bandmates were not very happy with my choice as the reserve pianist tends to overplay.

Today, I played the bass guitar with the Sinclair Gospel Choir for Dayton's Cityfolk Festival. We were the first act and we had a fantastic sound system and crew.

Tuesday I am scheduled to meet with the Vice-President of National Sales for lunch in Coloumbus. 

Monday, June 30, 2008

standing ovation

Well, we did it. 
Last night Carnegie Hall was PACKED and we got a standing ovation. 
The NYC arts director wants us to come back and sing at Lincoln Center soon.
Later that night was a reception at Rosie O'Grady's restaurant and the food was amazing.
We leave for home today.

NYC is nice, but I miss Emily & all my Dayton friends at home very much.

I am scheduled to meet with the VP of National Sales at Macmillan Publishing next week and then it's back to New York to meet with the editorial staff.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Big Apple

Yesterday,  I spent the day in Central Park. I really enjoyed the "Boathouse" where I could get a great meal while watching the gondoliers rowing the gondolas across the lake. I was there with High School Band Director, Gary Johnson. He is going from HS band and Choir to K-1 general music. We spent most of the time discussing the challenges he will face and I tried to give him some advice on how to make this next year primary experience the best for all involved.

At night I went to Pier 18 at the West end of 42nd street and caught the "Harbor Lights" cruise that encompasses the South end of the Hudson and East River. The night was cool and clear and the building of downtown Manhattan were all lit up. I loved it! I got back before ten and worked on episode 6 of the musicteachers911 podcast. 

Today, the weather was forecasted to be 90* and sunny in the morning and afternoon. I took a book to central park and found a nice shady bench by the pond on the extreme Southeast portion of the park. It felt like 72* while just outside the park my GPS registered over 100!
At 1 PM until 5 we had the first rehearsal with the four soloists for the Carnegie performance. The tenor and soprano were machines!! The bass was still having rhythmic problems and I was surprised that he was chosen for this as his low register wasn't that pronounced for this caliber of singers. After the rehearsal, I went to the Carnegie gift shop to get Melissa and my sister, Sue a small gift. Melissa would come to my house and help my with the Latin text. Sue is watching the house and feeding Pepper, my cat.
I went back to the room to email some prospective guests for the next podcast. Dr. Dalhman was supposed to be my next guest. he is the conductor for the Carnegie performance, but he is staying in NYC for an extra week. 
This evening I went looking for a great place to eat. GOD BLESS THE CONCIERGE! He was so helpful in suggesting a few places in town. It was raining very hard when I left and he gave me an umbrella to use. He suggested the "Cancun" mexican, but I went next door to the "Cuban" because the music was a lot spicier (so was the food!) 

Friday, June 27, 2008


I am in New York City at the Salisbury Hotel. I am having a wonderful time! Yesterday, I went to times square and spent a beautiful afternoon just walking around Central Park. I learned that if you are using a portable GPS, to also carry a compass as your walking speed will not be fast enough to locate which direction you are going. The orientation of the GPS map will be wrong I.E. you will be given wrong directions. Also, GPS satellites won't penetrate the tall (and these babies are TALL) buildings downtown. The streets go East & West and the Avenues go North & South.

I have my first rehearsal today in Carnegie. I think I am ready. Today I might hang around the harbor and catch a glimpse of Lady Liberty. When I get back, I will interview the director of the concert for the musicteachers911 podcast. 

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Can you hear me now?

Friday, I played the bass at the Sinclair College new Mason, OH campus near Kings Island Amusement Park. My friend Chris, director of the Hauer Sing Band, picked me up and we had a great conversation on the way down. He said that I need to bring a small amp the next time the swing band performs because plugging the piano in the mains speakers makes it too soft for the band to hear yet too loud for the crowd. I have a small Yamaha amp that will also double as a great  piano bench. The Sinclair gig was very nice. The crowd was small, but the new School is state of the art. As soon as I went into the building, I could smell fresh paint & new carpet glue. 

We played outside on a big stage and the weather was perfect.  I took the UD bass because it has a lower string for the new songs that call for a sub bass part. My old Rickenbacker can't play them that low. The UD bass is a Yamaha and it is very light. I am starting to prefer it to my Rickenbacker. I am trying to get Sinclair to purchase their own 5 string bass.

Saturday I called Melissa Durst to let he know that her podcast episode is available on the iTunes store now. she was very excited to hear this. She is a vocal major so I asked her to come over Monday to help me with the Latin text for the Carnegie performance. She is so talented and smart it's not funny.

Today I have NY rehearsal at 3 PM. I just finished cutting the grass while I played the Mozart on my iPod. I love technology!

Monday, June 16, 2008

What was I thinking?

Tonight, I had two appointments back to back.
What was I thinking?

At 7 PM, I played the piano with the Hauer Swing band at a nursing home. This band is all professionals so they sound so much better than the UD big band. The charts are a million times tougher too. The UD band uses High School jazz band charts. I recognized some of them from when I attended high school. The bad news is that the piano parts are very complete so they are up to seven pages long and won't fit on the music stand.

At 8:30, I left the piano for my radio engineer friend, Tom Nornhold, to take home with him so I could leave for Wright State University. They have rehearsal tonight from 7:30-9:30. I arrived at WSU at 9 and am very glad that I did. The director is Hank Dahlman. He is a terrific conductor and I enjoy him very much. I sang two of the 6 movements tonight and did much better than when I was sight reading Latin the last time. Earlier today, I played a recording of the Mozart Vespers while I hammered out the bass parts on the piano. Very helpful.

It's 11:30 so I need to close, WSU Carnegie rehearsal tomorrow night as well.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Beer, stairs and a big ego.

Did the title of this post grab you?

Here's why I used this title.

Thursday, Wayne Markworth, BOA hall of fame recipient, published author, professor, and my first podcast interviewee, texted me about grabbing a cold one around 7 at my favorite mexican restaurant. We had a marvelous time catching up. We talked very little about music. This is a good sign that we aren't just music buddies. This man is amazing. His wife, Tammy, is such a stabilizing force in his life. I am a little envious. I rode to the place in a brand new Honda Goldwing motorcycle. This bad boy has a GPS, heated handgrips and seat, reverse, cruise control, and even a remote security system. Life is good. 

While there, I got a call from a friend who is the radio engineer for Clearchannel Radio. He needed me to help him get a six foot commercial satillite dish up 22 flights of stairs to the roof of a downtown building. It wasn't too bad. The payoff was the rooftop view of the city at sunset.

OK, here's where you learn about the big ego.

I play bass for the University if Dayton big band and they had a gig in the UD student union tonight. I went early to load the bass amp in my car to haul it over there. It weighs 
about 50 pounds so it wasn't too bad. 

Here's where everything went horribly wrong.

The acoustic piano had a wheel missing. The pianist asked me to pick the piano up so she could remove the other three wheels and make the keyboard level with the ground. 

"Come on body builder, this should be easy for you" shouted the rest of the band. Enter Marra's enormous ego right on cue.

So far, so good with the first two wheels. On the third wheel, I was holding  the piano about six inches off the floor when a patron passed by and bumped the piano twisting my back. 

Bending or twisting now is very painful. I did the gig standing perfectly erect. 

I am home and full of aspirin. I just need to figure out how I can sleep standing up.

Oh, and when the dance was over, I still had to carry the bass and amp across campus to the band room. Long day. Tomorrow I was supposed to work out my legs. I think a day or two off won't kill me.

I think I play Kings Island Friday. I don't have to get out of bed until then.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Vesperae solennes de Confessore

I went to the first rehearsal for the Carnegie hall performance and got the music that we will sing.

It is Mozart's Vesperae. (translation) 63 pages of really hard music all sung in Latin).

When I got there, the people were very friendly and asked if I could sing the tenor part. 
I said yes, but then found out that Mozart write really high notes for tenor. (I wasn't wearing small enough underwear for this!)
After rehearsal, I talked to the director and he said that Bass would be best for me to sing. I don't have an extremely low voice, but Mozart writes high notes for bass as well. These I can sing!

Tomorrow night I offered to help a friend move a commercial satellite dish (the big kind) up 24 flights of stairs to a rooftop of a downtown building. It will be used for a local radio station.
Oh the things we do for friends.

Wednesday, I play bass with the UD big band on the UD campus. This should be fun.

more later.

Monday, June 9, 2008

How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

There is an old joke that goes....

A man steps into a taxi and asks the driver, "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?"

The driver says, "practice man, practice"........

Well, tonight is the first rehearsal for the Dayton Philharmonic Chorus performance for Carnegie hall on June 28. I was asked by the principal conductor to be a part of this since I am a pretty fair sight-singer.

The rehearsal is at Wright State University in the music building. WSU just happens to be my old college alma mater.

I'll let you know how the evening went tomorrow. wish me luck!!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

musicteachers911 Episode 3

The 3rd episode podcast  interview with Ernie Flamm, Ohio Bd. of Ed was amazing! This guy is a music education  genius! After the interview, we just sat and talked in the kitchen for over an hour about how funny life is and how one never knows just how it will turn out ( and how that's a good thing).

At 3 PM, Professor Daniel Greene, vocal music prof. at Sinclair college came over and he wanted us to write horn parts for a couple of songs that his Gospel Choir will be singing. No pressure, the rehearsal is at 7:30 tonight and the concert is tomorrow! GOD BLESS FINALE 2008!

The horn parts were still warm from my printer at 7:15 as I was loading the bass into the car. I was using University of Dayton's bass because it has five strings. Basses normally have four, but new gospel songs use those ultra-bass notes that only a five string can play. The concert was a huge success. Dayton is so lucky to have such talented music educators like Dr. Greene.

This morning I finished producing musicteachers911 episode 3. I uploaded to itunes and it was ready for subscribers within minutes. I love itunes!

Life is good, but I am very sleepy. more later. Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

musicteachers911 podcast is HUGE!!

So I fix the "About Me" podcast title fiasco and now the musicteachers911 podcast is getting thousands of hits a week! I am even getting fan mail! This weeks podcast I am interviewing a fellow from the Ohio State Department of Education and it is going to be a grand-slam episode. I can't wait for Thursday.

Macmillan just sent a bunch of educational videos that correspond with their newest edition of the music textbooks for me to review and critique. I see great things coming out of our partnership. The vice-president of Macmillan Publishing wanted me to be in Orlando Florida today at the Disney Resort for training for a few days. I declined. (I know what you are thinking, I should get my head examined), but I promised a lot of people at our local universities that I would help out with senior recitals and spring concerts. Sinclair Colleges concert should be amazing.

Monday, June 2, 2008

It's all about me podcast

OK, so the next day I do a search on iTunes store for musicteachers911 podcast and got no results. I did one for my name and found a podcast called"About Me" hosted by Larry Marra.

I downloaded the first episode and sure enough, it was mine alright.
So why was it called "about me"? A quick call to APPLE ED support revealed that iWeb uses a template and I was supposed to change "about me to MT911. I did and the next day the podcast showed up in iTunes with the proper title.

Did a gig as pianist with the Hauer Big Band at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Friday. The club had a gorgeous 9 foot Steinway piano. I have been playing electronic keyboards for so long, that the grand piano felt like a long-lost friend.
I found that I was playing less and just listening and enjoying the horns more. Everyone said that they loved how the piano played so tastefully and didn't try to bang out every note that the horn players were. Who knew?

This morning I went to Valerie Elem. school to drop off a CD of the 8th grade graduation song. It was great seeing the kids, but I do not want to teach full-time anymore. 

I am going to try to record two more episodes for MT911 Thursday. First is Jim McCutcheon (the guitar man) and Ernie Flamm fro the Ohio Bd of Ed. This way I can complete the episodes in my free time.

tonight I am going to Sinclair to play bass with the Gospel Choir. I borrowed the five-stringed bass from UD so I could hit those sub-bass notes in the newer tunes. I can't wait t hear those lower notes in Sinclair's super-bass amp.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Accepted to the iTunes store!!

Today I got an email from the iTunes store that my new podcast musicteachers911 was accepted. 

Now I wait for all that fan mail.


DPS revisit

Tuesday morning I went to my favorite elementary school, Valerie.
I was the music teacher there for 12 years.
The principal asked if I could help with the 8th grade graduation music.
I made a few CDs and dropped them of to her.
The teachers looked so beat up!
The parents had a lovely appreciation luncheon and invited me to eat. That was a very nice gesture. I think that they miss me.

That afternoon I went to my old high school position, Dunbar. I had to borrow the drums and I was returning them. 

I saw one of my favorite students Ron Wilkes. (I only had about five I could stand). He is the proverbial tortoise who wants to play the trumpet. Emanual Goss was giving him a free private lesson. I am so glad that he is there.

 While I took him home, he was telling me that the band never thought that I would leave despite their constant fighting and rudeness. I guess they learned that some people mean what they say.

I think that today Emily and I are going to fly her kite. It is going to be a perfect weather da. i will do my best to make it a perfect family day as well

Memorial Day Music Teacher Cookout

On Memorial day I hung out the US flag and noticed that I was the only one in the neighborhood that did. I remember when I was a kid that every house was flying Old Glory. The US spirit is fading fast. I wonder if the economy and the War is the problem or people are just plain lazy.

Monday night was our annual "Music Teacher" cookout. 
It was really more of a gathering than a party.
Just tables of quiet conversation.
I like this venue best.
I had ten people show. 
My nephew stopped by because he wants me to be his personal fitness trainer.
I left the group for about 30 minutes and just left them on their own.
I don't think that they ever missed me! (I loved that).

When the party was over, I turned to clean up and found that they had completely cleaned everything up. All the food was wrapped in the fridge and the dishes rinsed an put in the dishwasher. Classy people.

Big Band Drummer

Sunday was kind of interesting. I was asked by the Hauer Swing Band to play the drums at a Memorial Day celebration at an Opera House. The truth is that is took about 20 minutes to "get my hands back". Some of the musicians there were very complementary about how I improved so fast. One said that the first songs sounded like a junior-high drummer trying to sit in. 

By the end of the night, I was back to my old self. 

My Dad and his wife were there and I could tell that the old man was very proud.

I did notice that playing the drums is boring after getting to play with harmonies and colors on the piano.

Friday, May 23, 2008

brian Pannetta

Went to UD today to rehearse with the big band. My friend, Tom, came along and really enjoyed listening. He is production engineer for Clear-channel TV & radio. I really think that he's rather be a professional musician.

After rehearsal, Tom and I took UD senior Brian Panetta to Cici's Pizza. After that, I interviewed Brian for episode two of my musicteachers911 podcast. I must admit that I wasn't nearly as together as this young man. His answers were wonderful.

At night I attended the Dayton Public Schools retiree Dinner. It was so boring and depressing. DPS has downsized so much that everyone looked so depressed and beat up. Because of all the lay-offs last year, there wasn't that many teachers left to honor. Only 20 retired and we used to have over a hundred every year. We won't be replaced. sad, really.

I did find out that my favorite principal got the Rotary Club "Administrator of the Year". I couldn't be happier. Her name is Delores Evans and no one deserves this more.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

different drummer

The performance last night was at the Packard Museum. It was for Fox TV. The event was very classy (open bar, dinner, big band) 

I played the drums with the band. It was interesting because I hadn't played the drums with a big band in over thirty years. 

Everyone said that I played great, but I found something out. After playing melodic instruments for so long, drums are pretty boring. I have to play with the band again this Sunday and that should be the last time for a long time. I am also spoiled because drums are such a pain to move and set up. I also don't like playing hunched over. (sore back next morning). 

On the plus side. My friend Bill Hauer tuned the drums and they sounded very good. I still like electronic drums better, but big band musicians hate them. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Packards,parades, drum sets, and 9 volt batteries

The Oakwood parade went off without a hitch. Bernie, my blind friend went with us and had the time of his life. I rode a small motorcycle to the parade so that I could manipulate the crowds and get home in time to meet the astrologer partner. Her name is Renee and she is very nice. Her desire to learn astrology is refreshing. She stayed for two hours.

Urban Nights had great weather but the turnout was a little sparse.

The UD big band gig was fun. The five string bass was making an awful static noise. I found out that the thing takes a 9 volt battery. I never had a powered bass or guitar before. I asked the nursing home if they had batteries and they said they'd look. I remembered that my Dad lives around the corner and asked him if he had any extra smoke detector batteries. Five minutes later the bass was working without a hitch. Who know that my Dad would still be my hero i at 88!

Ud asked if I would buy a bass amp for the school's big band. i called my buddy, Jim McCutcheon. He is a guitarist that also owns a music store. He sold me a terrific one at a bargain price. It's here at my house now with the UD bass. 

I went to Sinclair College last night to rehearse with the gospel choir and to pick up their drum set to use tonight. I am playing with a big band at the Packard Museum for a benefit by Fox TV.
we all have to wear tuxes and play old time music. It's a dance for charity for the museum.

Power went out today and I am at my sister's now using her wi-fi topost this.

At noon, I am working on an old ladies riding mower. I think I only have to sharpen the blades and change the oil.

all for now. Will tell you about the gig tonight on the next post.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Well, I played the Urban Nights Festival in downtown Dayton last night with the Sinclair Gospel Choir and it went well.

First episode of the musicteachers911 podcast is finished. Now all I need to do is to figure out how in the world to get it posted on iTunes. I am trying to use Podango. Wish me luck!

Today I am holding the Oakwood banner for the Oakwood Centennial "That Day in May" parade. Should be fun. At 2 PM, Renee is coming over to study astrology together. She heard me on an astrology podcast and wants to meet. This should be enjoyable not to think about music for a while. At 6 I play bass with the University of Dayton Big band. I am using a five string bass and it is a little tough getting used to it. It's a nursing home so whatever we sound like will be appreciated.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

premiere episode of my first podcast finished

I have been working on starting a podcast called musictechers911. I have been getting amazing advice from two giants in the Music Tech field. They are:

Keith Mason from podcast, Music Tech for ME
and Joe Pisano, from

They heard a sample of mine already and, except for a few minor technical adjustments, said that it was pretty good.

My first guest was Bands of America Hall of Fame member, Wayne Markworth. He gave terrific answers. 

With Keith and Joe helping me, I think that my podcast just might be a good resource for music teachers nationally.

The reason I even started this podcast is that Joe wants 100 music teachers to start blogging and I figured I would at least give it a try. So far.... It's pretty fun!

more later.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

already hit a blogging speed-bump

So I get on yesterday and start search for a title called Music Teacher Survival guide only to find out that someone already published a book by that name. So I had to change the name of my podcast before I posted the first episode on iTunes.

Today I started a new podcast called
 I did a "Google" search for that and the only hit was my own website. So I am now off and running without any worries of being sued.