Here’s another video of me playing drums for dance class. It’s a little longer than the previous video I posted, and it’s a little more exciting. In this video, I’m playing for the first two exercises in the “warm-up” portion of a jazz dance class. The camera is set up in such a way that you can see the students in the background as I play. The first part is their opening stretches, and the second part, which is a little more up-tempo, is cardio training and isolations.
I never plan what I’m going to play for these warm-up sequences, and I rarely play the same thing twice. The instructor sets the sequence of the exercise and I base my playing on that structure–changing my patterns to fit the shifts between the character of the movements. In some classes, a warm-up can last up to ten-plus minutes and can have tempo changes and shifts in meter. Longer warm-ups can take weeks for the students to learn and teachers may add to the structure as the dancer’s abilities improve. As you can see this opening warm-up is fairly short and straight forward.
The reason the second part is abbreviated is that my phone/camera and the cup of coffee it was leaning against, wound up on the floor, creating a small puddle under the piano in the dance studio. I couldn’t stop playing, so the remainder of the exercise features a shot of the dance studio’s ceiling accompanied by the sound of my drumming–all of this was edited out. The cause of this debacle was that the camera and coffee configuration became destabilized due to the vibrations created by my drumming and the dancers’ movements–the floor is springy. The instructor used recorded music for the next part of the warm-up because I had to mop up the coffee spill.
About 9 years ago I composed and recorded the music and soundscape for a performance by the Murphy-Smith Dance Collective called “See What I Hear.” In total, I recorded over eighteen minutes of music and sounds for SWIH.
Here’s a short piece from that performance called “Full of Echos Part 3.” It’s a short drum solo played over a contrapuntal bass and piano part. The solo winds into an angular groove that ends the piece.
My intention over the next six weeks is to create five blog posts per week. So far, I’ve only made two; however, I still have today.
Looking for a topic for this third post eluded me up until five minutes ago when I decided not to give up and write first thought that came to me, which was, “although I have very little time today, writing three posts is better than writing two.”
It was a gift to myself and to anyone who reads this to know that by taking action, we’re exerting some control over our destiny. Self-determination can be freeing, and it can give one a sense of peace. Why? Because we’re not giving in to apathy and defeat. It’s empowering to know that amid our crazy lives, where so many outcomes are out of our control, good things can happen as a result of sitting down and doing the work, getting on our yoga mats, or going for a run.
I have always approached playing music with a lot of passion. Much of my professional life has been spent learning how to transform my approach toward playing so that I do it with more ease. I’ve also had to refine my playing, learning to play with good timing, technical control and knowledge of different musical styles.
Most often, I find my expression as a musician playing in live settings, either accompanying dance classes or playing in bands. I’m at my best when I get positive feedback from my colleagues or the people I’m playing for. I probably rely too on this interaction for motivation, and I’m learning to look past it. Instead, I try to stay within myself and focus on the stream of musical ideas that come to me as I play.
My ultimate mission is to create music that brings people closer to their souls and to open my heart so widely that my audience can connect to it. It’s not just about creating a moving experience for people, it’s about helping them to discover their own passion.
Opportunities. As a dance accompanist, I create music five days a week. Playing in bands, I perform almost every week. The avenue that I rarely explore is composing and recording my own music, but would there be an audience for it or a financial return? Who is my audience? Do I even need to think about that? Am I that naïve? I would certainly have to answer some questions as I embark on such an endeavor.
I’ll be exploring these questions and other aspects of playing music in upcoming posts.
It’s been a busy year so far. Classes at Point Park University, where I accompany dance, began on January 7. I entered into a program called “Training in Uncertainty.” And as usual, I’ve been playing gigs, teaching drum lessons (I added one new student so far this year) and playing for creative movement classes for kindergartners and first and second graders. I have also maintained some good habits this year, which include attending three to five CrossFit classes every week, daily drum practice and meditating as much as possible. Keep on truckin’.
I’m writing this post in response to a one-word prompt generated on the WordPress homepage. The word is “Bubble.”
Sometimes I feel that I live just on the edge of a bubble, maybe with part of me outside the bubble and part of me inside of it. What I mean by this is that sometimes I feel like I’m in touch with things that are going on in the world, in the news, in pop culture and in current thinking in general. But on the other hand, there are times when I feel completely out of the loop and in my own world.
To be in the know, or now, takes an incredible amount of time and energy. You have to scan the headlines each day, watch your favorite news service and hopefully discuss theses things as you interact with your partners, friends, colleagues and other random people you encounter on a daily basis. It’s actually very healthy to do because it make you engage – to inquire and respond – with others with the hopes that can offer different perspectives or help you reinforce how you feel about different topics.
It’s also good to self-reflect and look inside and explore your own feelings. By looking at your own experiences and beliefs you cab formulate stronger ideas and better respond to things.
Finally, regarding the word “bubble,” I have a good friend who is a professional bubbler. He used to do comedy juggling, but now most of his work is provided various types and quantities of bubbles for different kinds of activities.