You know a film project is near completion when the movie’s poster makes its appearance. The film I’ve been working on for the past several weeks documents the various programs of a prestigious organization – The John Philip Sousa Foundation.
My client will use this short film at state, regional, and national music educator conventions to explain their organization’s purpose. As their Website states, “Through the administration of band-related projects, the foundation seeks to uphold the standards and ideals of that icon of the American spirit, John Philip Sousa” (http://www.sousafoundation.net/).
This has been a fun project for me. I am honored and humbled to have had the opportunity to contribute to this film as the composer and as the film’s editor. I would also like to extend my sincere thanks to my friends that continue to encourage me on my composing adventures.
It is especially gratifying to know that so many friends and acquaintances support my efforts. The goal of this 20-minute film is to enhance the awareness of The John Philip Sousa Foundation among music educators, administrators, and the general public. My congratulations to them as well as my sincere gratitude for allowing me to be a part of their story.
Since 1981, the Sousa Foundation’s annual and biennial awards have touched many lives that includes music conductors, young solo artists, middle school bands, junior high school bands, high school bands, university bands, military bands, and community bands; primarily in the United States and Canada. There are good and positive actions in the world, that often go unnoticed by most people; that honor an icon of the past by honoring the musical accomplishments of today’s music ensembles and music conductors. The Sousa Foundation does this type of work.
“The March King” made his musical contributions starting over a hundred years ago. Now his ideals live on through the hard work, contributions, and dedication of The John Philip Sousa Foundation.
NAMM is not a new word that’s used after stumping your toe! NAMM is the National Association of Music Merchants and The NAMM Show is an annual event in the US that its organizers describe as “the world’s largest trade-only event for the music products industry.” A former student that works full time on the staff of NAMM asked if I would once again help to promote this fantastic show, and I happily agreed.
The NAMM Foundation will welcome Music Educators to Southern California for the world famous NAMM Show, January 25th – 28th, 2018. Having been as a retired educator and a composer, it is packed with everything imaginable for all types of musicians, music educators, and composers. I had the chance to catch with former students and colleagues in sunny Los Angeles. I hope that I will be able to attend in 2018. Maybe I’ll see you there!
Programming for Music Educators
Follow the link (NAMM banner below) for more details on registration, hotels, and what it’s all about.
What does an aspiring film composer do? He composes film music!
I’m thrilled to finally be able to announce that I will be scoring music for a film focusing on the various band-related projects (see the information box below) of The John Philip Sousa Foundation. A great opportunity developed with the help a good friend, Deborah Bradley, who happens to be the film’s Producer/Director. This has been on my mind since I was first contacted in late June.
Since I already spend untold hours developing and composing music ideas, experimentation through trial and error, continuous learning by reading, networking, corresponding with colleagues, critical listening, and score study in order to develop my knowledge, I’m not sure that Violet Fane’s 1892 phrase stating that “all things come to those who wait” is applicable here; however, I’ll use it because patience can be a virtue… and all that jazz.
Of course, the film will feature some of Sousa’s music, but it is a wonderful chance for me to compose needed music for a film that will focus on the non-profit foundation that is dedicated to the promotion of international understanding through the medium of band music. The film will be used at events around the country by the Sousa Foundation.
To say that I’m excited for the opportunity to be a part of this assist this film’s realization would be a severe understatement. I am excited, humbled, and very grateful for the chance to contribute towards the success of this worthwhile project. I certainly look forward to viewing the film’s final version. And now, the work continues!
By the way, here’s some information about The John Philip Sousa Foundation from their Website:
The John Philip Sousa Foundation is a non-profit foundation dedicated to the promotion of international understanding through the medium of band music. Through the administration of band-related projects, the foundation seeks to uphold the standards and ideals of that icon of the American spirit, John Philip Sousa. The foundation administrates band-related projects such as: The Sousa National High School Honors Band The Sousa National Community Band The Sudler Trophy The Sudler Flag The Sudler Cup, Shield and Scroll The Legion of Honor The Historic Roll of Honor The Historical Marker project National Young Artist Solo Competition The Sousa Foundation seeks to uphold both the standards and the ideals of that icon of the American spirit, John Philip Sousa.
A few years ago… well, 40+ years ago, music that I arranged and composed was done by hand. I always used a ruler to make it as readable and as an attempt to remove confusion in order to save time in rehearsal. It was tedious, but it made rehearsing more efficient and more fun. Here are three examples out of MANY that I did until the early 1990s when I started using a software program called Encore on my home PC for composing and arranging. What a pain that was, but it made a decent and readable copy.
I learned much about myself and others. Of course, I learned about being a music copyist and rehearsing groups of people. If our “modern” computer technology ever ceases, I know that I can still put my thoughts on paper.
I retired from instrumental music education in 2013. By the definition of retired, most people see that as a time of not having to be on the clock at a job. I did that for 34 years in public education and several years working for private organizations. I still do some occasional teaching. I usually go against the grain so why should my retirement be any different? I’m sure at some point I will “slow down” the pace and fully retire, but for now I’m having fun.
I was born before much technology permeated our world. Analog technology was becoming more the norm with whispers of something called digital. My dad bought our first color TV back in the late 60s. Our 2nd TV in the house, a Christmas gift from my parents, was also bought in the late 60s, was black & white because it was cheaper, but it made us a two-TV household.
I bought my first computer because teachers got a group discount by buying it through the local office supply in the community where I was teaching. The first 50,000 Apple IIgs computers that were manufactured had a reproduced copy of Steve Wozniak’s signature (“Woz”) at the front right corner of the case, with a dotted line and the phrase “Limited Edition” printed just below it. I bought one. “Whoopty-doo!” (My sarcastic voice used since there is no real value in that.)
There wasn’t much I could do with it other than create documents used in my teaching and my personal life – worksheets, course syllabus, letters, print out bank checks, household inventory, etc. I did an upgrade on it and my wife at the time got really upset because I spent $1,000 for additional drives and a memory upgrade. (I was still thinking like a bachelor. Huge mistake!)
My first PC was bought in the mid-90s. I was amazed at how much faster it worked. I could even surf the Web! Wow! (Sarcastic only because it would now be a slow dinosaur.)
So each time I gain on Technology, it quickly leaves me behind. Technology frustrates me at times and it is expensive.
Just as I gain a better standing and understanding in my studio, a piece of equipment wears out, it is no longer updated (for various reasons), or I need to add it to my system’s setup. That’s why many times during the year I feel as though I’m climbing a tree upside down (see picture). That guy and others exist. His name is Mukesh Kumar. He can go up 50 to 70 foot trees like that in less than 5 minutes. He started slow, short distances and increased over time. Here’s his short video: https://youtu.be/c1r9CeBpkNc). Besides the obvious, the difference between his work and mine is that the tree stays the same. Technology changes and marches onward.
Some days I feel like the next person in the next picture. That’s 24-year old Sasha DiGiulian from South Africa. She’s 5’2″ and all of 97 lbs. She has set several records as the first woman to make very difficult free climbs starting at age 11.
Composing and creating while I try to climb great heights in a musical sense, I sometimes find myself stuck because I need some type of additional equipment or additional software or an update of some kind to complete the task. Technology has captivated our world. It consumes us and swallows our time and money like a stellar black hole.
Like most people that have been trained to compose music, I find it is much simpler to use my No. 27: Carta Manuscript Paper, my Pentel Graph Gear 1000 Automatic Drafting Pencil, my Ticonderoga Yellow Pencil, No.1 Extra Soft Lead, and my Staedtler Mars Plastic Erasers (latex free with minimal crumbling), or I just grab a blank sheet of paper and sketch out my initial ideas very quickly. Yes, easier and less expensive, but not accepted in today’s film/TV industry or anywhere that there is a need for music in a media project or an ensemble. Such is the price and headache of the “modern” world.
Could I have chosen an easier path in retirement? Of course! But where is the challenge in that path? At least I am doing what I love to do. I’ve composed music in some form or fashion for 46 years and still counting!
Take a moment and ask yourself a question: If I had all the money I could spend, would I not still do what I love to do? My answer is that the money would make some things easier, but then you have to spend some portion of time with your accountant, your investment manager, and your lawyer to keep from being robbed blind. I believe a person should do what they love. I say, “Do whatever gives you the most enjoyment.” I just happen to have strong creative urges. Being a composer is a solitary endeavor that requires peace and quiet without distraction. Some people like to write, I prefer to compose in the language of music. When I grow up, maybe I’ll be as good as this guy! This is Jyoti Raju a.k.a. Monkey King.
I’m glad my mentors taught me music history, music theory, and music composition techniques that allowed me to arrange and compose for them and others.
Knowledge + Practical Application = Growth
Repeat ad infinitum. Repetitio est mater studiorum.
Since the age of 4, I have loved music. I’ve always loved learning. Thanks to my mom and starting me at a young age, I love film and media of many kinds. To me, music, film, and learning go hand-in-hand forevermore. Retirement is what you decide works best for you. I know what I love doing.
Let me know what you think about technology and/or the creative process.
I am closing my SoundCloud account at the end of this July. I’m letting everyone know so that they can still listen to my music by
1) continuing to visit my Facebook site
2) continuing to use ReverbNation (for the time being)
3) Visit my Website and use that player
4) visit my YouTube channel
You can also visit my IMDb page (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm5074464/) where there are a few reels there as well.
Thank you for your ongoing support while I make this adjustment.
Music is more than just kids getting together and having fun. While doing some online reading, I came across this article giving highlights of a University of Southern California study that states their “initial study results show that music instruction speeds up the maturation of the auditory pathway in the brain and increases its efficiency.” This is fascinating information for parents, educators, and musicians.
Also, in Boston, researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center discovered that “male musicians have larger brains than men who have not had extensive musical training.” The cerebellum area of the brain contains 70 % of the total brain’s neurons and the researchers found that the cerebellum was 5 % larger in expert male musicians.
One of my former colleagues and an instrumental director is hard at work on her Ph.D. and working toward a better understanding of these facts in her dissertation research. Luciano Pavrotti was correct when he said, “If children are not introduced to music at an early age, I believe something fundamental is actually being taken from them.”
The article I have referred to can be found at
Making a career in any part of the music business is challenging and difficult. The rewards come later. I learned the lessons from this meme when I was 12 and 13 years old in the Boy Scouts. I nearly drowned while developing my skills for the swimming and lifesaving merit badges. The requirements for each merit badge were almost a deal breaker; the two hurdles I dreaded most because of a fear of deep water. I nearly chopped my left thumb into two parts (blade to the bone) while learning how to handle a hatchet; my poor vision. I wanted to return to the comfort of air conditioning while hiking (in boots with full pack and equipment) 10 miles one afternoon. I really missed my mom’s and my late grandmother’s cooking while learning how to survive on only two matches, an uncooked egg, a strip of raw bacon, no cooking equipment of any kind, and wilderness training during a rain-soaked weekend. I nearly sliced my left index finger off learning how to develop woodcarving skills. I jabbed my left palm a number of times with an awl making a pair of moccasins and with the needle while applying the beadwork. I nearly burned down our lean-to for four people on my first weekend camping trip during a cold and windy February in the middle of the night. I quickly learned how to fight fires in windy conditions. I challenged myself to overcome my fear of the dark by walking the trails on the scout reservation during the darkest nights by myself with the flashlight turned off. It is amazing how heightened your senses become in woods that are very secluded. The scout reservation bordered the back of Ft. Rucker Army Base and we could see the flares and hear the firing runs of the Huey helicopters on their night maneuvers.
There were other fast learning-curve moments when I really considered saying, “Enough!”, but I made a promise to my dad, who told me when I wanted to start the Boy Scouts, “If I invest in all this scouting equipment, uniforms, travel, etc., you need to stick with it.” I had quit the Cub Scouts when I was 10 years old. Of course, my response to him was, “I won’t quit.” I never knew or learned until that time how hard it is to live up to your commitment; especially to your dad. I began realizing how much I had taken my comfy life for granted. My parents would give advice when I asked, but the work was entirely my own.
Shortly after my 14th birthday (5 weeks as matter of fact in August of 1967), I received my Eagle Scout Award at the Eagle Ceremony for the council. I still hear my dad’s words of wisdom from time to time and I miss him often. “Never give up” is more than a phrase; easy to say – difficult to do. After earning my Eagle Award, 30 merit badges, earning my Vigil membership in the Order of the Arrow, being selected Senior Patrol Leader of our council’s delegation to the National Jamboree, serving on the Summer Camp Staff for 6 weeks each summer for 4 or 5 summers, and several other local and regional opportunities, the skills I learned have helped me through difficult situations throughout my life. I still had to work on some of the concepts for a few more years, but I’m really glad my father set the bar high. “Once an Eagle, always an Eagle.” The lessons regarding perseverance also carried in to my music studies, practice, growth and experiences, and continue to do so to this day.
Remember, the better the speakers, the
• More dynamic range, or simply the ability to play louder without sounding like trash as you crank the volume.
• Better bass. That doesn’t mean louder, “but better.” It’s more melodic, and not muddy—you can actually hear individual notes, an upright acoustic bass being plucked.
• “A very natural timbre.” Timbre is the “tone color” or how natural the sound is—if you played the voice of someone you know on a speaker with excellent timbre, it would sound exactly like them. Or if two different instruments play the same note, you’d be able to tell them apart very easily and cleanly.
I point this out only to emphasize the importance of having a quality speaker system and/or headphones. You’ll miss so much of the music since the frequency range of 20Hz to 20,000Hz (20kHz) is the range of typical human hearing (If you spent a lot of your adolescence in a rock band, in a disco, with the volume cranked up through your earbuds, and/or in a loud marching band, then your hearing is now probably squat.) In addition, the quality of an mp3 file (256 kbps) is far inferior to what you get on a CD (1,411 kbps), for instance. So as you can see, a lot of musical information is tossed out when converting to an mp3 file format.
Check out the interactive chart on instrument frequencies.
Let me know what you think.
by Richard McLendon March 1, 2016
Music is as old as the human species itself. It has held people together surrounded by darkness with only the light of a fire to any number of venues where music is performed today. It has taken people to war. It has helped people through war and conflict. It continues to bring people together for different types of celebration and for remembrance. It has an intrinsic or fundamental value after many thousands of years.
Composers and musicians put in lengthy hours and years of studying, practicing, and perfecting their art, their skills, and their understanding of the complexities of music. It never stops since true learning lasts a lifetime. So many people enjoy music in the moment while at a concert or while driving or while shopping or while exercising, that most do not realize or fully appreciate the investment of time, money, and life into a music person’s gift. Many people just take for granted that the music is like air – its there and free. I am always taken aback when I hear someone make a comment like, “Well, you should’ve gotten a real job.” Yes, there are still people that think that way.
It is the goal of true artists to make a living doing what they love – music. Those people that give away their art in large quantities and the streaming industries that display artists that they use and pay very poorly, contribute to the mentality that many people have come to expect – free music or overly cheap music.
As in all things in life, there are disconnects in thinking. In the case of music, people think that artists are rich because the concert tickets were so expensive, or the band playing at the club must be rich because of the expensive tab last night and the place was packed again, yet people forget or don’t realize an important fact. Instruments, equipment, and education are expensive and in some instances very expensive. I’ve always believed quality in will most always produce quality out. You start with what you can afford with the goal to trade up in instrument quality. As an example, really good artists know that the better quality of instrument that they own, the better the music will sound when they make it. That then makes for a better response from those that support musicians by buying their music. In turn, that results in a greater satisfaction for the artists in knowing that the job (performance) was well done.
Remember the old saying: “You get what you pay for.” I would say to the general public, stop expecting music for free. Stop looking for ways to cheat artists. Stop hurting artists livelihoods by depriving them of being paid a fair wage for their hard work and investment of time and money.
When the public needs music, we don’t just jump out of caves with our clay pot drums and sing and grunt, or speed write a song or symphony or film score on demand. Support the arts and support the artists that make the arts possible in today’s world. The artists in music deserve nothing less. Don’t forget, we have to pay our bills and support our loved ones, too.
Let me know what you think.