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
I started working this song in January, 2014. After playing with some ideas, I put it aside and did not approach it again until this past Sunday (March 7th). I keep playing with certain harmonies and rhythmic possibilities, but the attached version is getting closer.
This morning I found out that a dear friend from my childhood and high school band days is fighting leukemia. She fought cancer just a few years ago and won! This is devastating news to find out that she is in a great Birmingham hospital fighting for her life.
I made the decision this morning to dedicate this song to her and I pray for the remission of this cancer in her body. She is an intelligent woman of great strength, grace, and beauty. She was 1st Runner-up in the Miss Alabama Beauty Pageant several years back. Get well, Diane.
NOTE: All music that I compose is filed with the US Copyright Office and also registered with ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers) which is a performing rights organization. Copyright infringement is costly to anyone who violates any of the exclusive rights of the copyright owner. READ: http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap5.html
But My Mom Thinks It Is A Bad Idea
by Richard McLendon March 5, 2016
People can be funny and not always in a good-humored way. Amazing how our close family and friends are there for us when we need them, yet even they can “miss the boat” sometimes. Is it because they fear for us, for themselves, or is it envy or just jealousy? When we take on a new calling, career, or adventure, what do we do when their support/enthusiasm waxes and wanes or is nonexistent?
The easy answer is don’t sweat it too much. Based on your moral standards, do what you must in order to be successful. Allow yourself to become who you were meant to be. Don’t let anyone discourage you because most times change is difficult even with enthusiastic support.
The closer the friend or family member is to your heart, the more difficult the decision to move or change becomes. Sure, listen to the advice even if you’ve heard it 100 times before. Consider the risks, but also consider the gains. Only you can determine their value or cost.
Add to this that you’re a musician, composer, or some other music-related professional or your goal is to be one. If finances are an issue, my advice is that you should choose a career that gives stability and comfort in your life, but keep working toward your goal. All the while you should keep in mind that you will need to continue gaining exposure (networking) and more possibly more education while pursuing your dream job in music. You’ll know the right time to change to your dream career.
There are no easy answers, but beware – “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” – John Lennon, (1980) “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)”
In other words, time is precious and events (positive and negative) will continue on whether you work, sleep, eat, play, or plan the best of plans. Make your time count. Make your time benefit others as well as yourself. Ultimately, how do you want to be remembered? Did your life contribute to the benefit of others or was it all about you?
Leave me a comment and 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.
by Richard McLendon February 29, 2016
Music has been and will continue to be my life. I’ve been a performer, teacher, mentor, conductor, arranger, composer, music editor, music copyist, and music consumer at various times of my life since the age of five. I’ve seen people change because of the influences of music including myself. Music brings us back to memories of another time in history and in our own lives, also.
Music speaks to us where stories and film are unable for various reasons. Music touches our emotions and our emotions stimulate our memories. Combining music with film creates a unique, powerful, and at times an unforgettable experience. I hope that you will take time to truly enjoy music and listen to some music that is new to you, but may be from an earlier century, from a few decades ago, or a new artist has a new song available. After all, variety IS the spice of life.
Leave a comment and let me know how you feel about music.