Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Something is Better than Nothing

Something is better than nothing.

This has been my mantra for quite a few years.

I am not sure that I made it up so I will not take that credit, but I have made it my own.

Most often I use it when I do a little bit of exercise - even if it is just parking further from the store so I have to walk more than parking in the nearest spot.

I use it as a reminder to myself when I opt for a healthier food than the processed/sweet/bad-for-me food.

And no, I do not count these examples in my mantra toward food:
"I'm drinking unsweet tea (or diet soda) so I can eat all I want" 
"If I eat it in the dark (or when no one else sees me) it doesn't have calories"

Those are not beneficial "somethings."


Something is better than nothing.

This also applies to the musician and practicing.

Continuing one's personal musicianship is vital to the inherent musical pleasure to be found as a musician.

Sometimes though, life gets in the way and time gets away from us and practicing is the last thing to be thought of.

However, if you remember my mantra (I will gladly share it with you!) then anything, yes, I mean anything you do will count as practicing.

It brings you back gently into the habit of practice.

It causes you to realize that you can find/make time to practice.

It just might, as I found, cause you to practice more.

For example, a couple of weeks ago I found a recorder lying about the house and ended up putting it next to my chair where I sit most often.  Over time, during a break in my studies or (usually) during a commercial, I picked up the recorder and played it a little bit. 

Those short times of "something" was better than nothing.

Then last night, I picked up the recorder and found myself playing through a collection of Medieval and Renaissance dances: caroles, farandoles, branles, pavanes. 

I was enthralled.  

And I was practicing!!!


So, maybe you too can find some use of my mantra:

Something is better than nothing.

Go ahead. 

Get your instrument out, do a few warm ups, do SOMETHING!

Let the act of music making draw you back into practicing.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Cartoon Characters, Film Clips & Holograms

So what do cartoon characters, film clips and holograms have in common?

More specifically, what do they have to do with music?

This is a music-related blog, after all.

Cartoon characters, film clips and holograms each represent non-traditional musical pairings that have occurred as technological advances have made them possible.

There once was a time that when two or more musicians wanted to perform together they worked out their schedules and actually got together to rehearse and perform.

Now, with technology the possibilities are limitless.



I recall the hubbub made over Paula Abdul's video "Opposites Attract" back in 1989.  Everyone was talking the video because she sang, danced, and interacted with a cartoon character. It had never been done before in a music video! (The film Roger & Me came out about the same.)

How was this made possible?

See it here:


Then, a few years later, Natalie Cole - daughter of mid-20th century crooner, Nat King Cole - created a stir by performing with her deceased father in both video and live performances.

How was this made possible?

See it here:


Now about holograms.

I have learned there is more to holograms than the "hologram" that came as the prize in Cracker Jacks or as a sticker . . . or of Princess Leia being projected by R2D2 in Star Wars.

According to Dictionary.com a hologram is defined as:

A negative produced by exposing a high-resolution photographic plate, without camera or lens, near a subject illuminated by monochromatic, coherent radiation, as from a laser, when it is placed in a beam of coherent light a true three-dimensional image of the subject is formed.

Fast forward to the first time I heard of the use of holograms in a live musical performance.

It was the Coachella music festival in 2012 when Snoop Dog and Dr. Dre performed with the deceased Tupac Shakur via hologram technology.

How was this made possible?

(I won't share the video here as I am not comfortable with the language content on my family-friendly blog.  You may search for it on YouTube if you'd like to see it.)


Now, in 2016, the idea of using a hologram of a recently deceased musician in a current voice competition TV show is in the news.

The TV show was meaning to honor the deceased by portraying her as a hologram on the program, but the musician's estate is against it.

The TV show's representative said:

"Holograms are new technology that take time to perfect, and we believe with artists of this iconic caliber, it must be perfect." 

I respect the TV show for honoring the wishes of the musician's estate.  In this world of "doing it for the sake of 'art'," it is nice to see some integrity.


I have mixed feelings about the use of holograms.

I believe if they are used to honor someone as mentioned above or just to demonstrate new technology, holograms can be a cool thing.  To be honest, I look forward to when I get to see a live hologram performance.

If they are used to avoid live performances for whatever reason, I am opposed to this.  I see this having a negative impact on musicians' livelihoods.

More importantly it would create a negative impact on active music-making by human beings.  That would be a terrible loss to our society and humankind.

Do I fear this will happen?  No.

Electronic music and music technology have existed for a long time and people still feel driven to actively make music with voice or instrument.

So, continue with music making and enjoy the new things that technology will bring to us.

Friday, May 20, 2016

And So, Another Year Ends

Another Year of Music Ends

For many teachers the month of May is the end of the year.

For some the count down can't come soon enough.

For some there just aren't enough days until the end of the school year.

For the music teachers the end of the year is just plain hectic.

For me it means having 2 major programs 15 hours apart.

For one it was a promise for the future as we look to next year.

For the other it was good-bye for I'd already been told I would not be returning.

For the school year is done.
~ Wave ~


The music never ends!