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.