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.