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.