Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Midwest Clinic

The annual Midwest Clinic is only a few weeks away and, sadly, I won't be able to make it to Chicago this year.  Midwest is a huge event - a giant convention for music educators around the country to learn from each other in seminars, find out about the latest products, and hear the best of the best school-level, college, and professional bands, orchestras, and ensembles. 

This year, if you go, be sure to wake up bright and early on Wednesday, December 16 and head to the Skyline Ballroom at 8:30am to hear the J. Frank Dobie High School Chamber Orchestra of Houston, Texas.  They're going to play Quicksilver and I'm sure they'll do a spectacular job.

I found a performance from the Midwest Clinic on YouTube to share - the Hershey Symphony Festival Strings playing Zydeco Two-Step at the 2006 convention.  The intonation is perfect, but the tempo is way too fast.  Still, it's an honor to have my music selected for such a prestigious event.  Just one more thing to be thankful for this holiday weekend!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

New Videos - Agincourt & A Hero's Welcome

Agincourt really seems to be catching fire, based on the appearance of a new batch of videos on You Tube.  Please to enjoy a very good performance by the Bowditch Advanced Orchestra:

Not bad!  A good performance makes up for the fact that they mis-pronounced my name in the intro.  But up next is the thundering herd known as the Clay, Carmel, and Creekside Middle School Symphony, also playing Agincourt.  The tempo is great in this one and I really like the enthusiasm that they bring.

Go, middle-schoolers, go!  You rock that advanced-level piece!  I'll end this post on a somber note.  Here's the Sierra Vista High School orchestra playing A Hero's Welcome.  Very expressive and  beautifully done - bravi.

I just wish the YouTube postings gave more information about the groups.  I'd love to know where each of these schools are, so I can add them to my map.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Major/Minor Dilemma

I finished "Shadows Of Venice" last night - ahead of schedule.  Of course, that means I need to start thinking about my next piece to keep the momentum going.  Looking at my chart (the one that breaks down my recent compositions into skill level and tonality), I need more major-key pieces for beginners and advanced students.  But here's the thing: looking at my royalty statement from September, most of my best-sellers are minor key pieces.  Here's the top five:

1. Gauntlet
2. Avatar
3. Gargoyles
4. Agincourt
5. A Breeze In the Keys

"Breeze" is the only major-key piece in the top five (actually, in the top seven) and I think that's due to the fact that it was new this year.  New music sells big at first, but Gauntlet and Gargoyles have been around for a while.  The conclusion that I'm drawing from this data is that minor key pieces sell better than major key pieces.  So now I'm thinking that I should focus on writing more minor-key music.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Shadows of Venice

I'm feeling really good about this new piece I'm working on!  I'm also feeling very proud of myself for writing a Grade 1.5 piece that only uses the first finger pattern on the G, D, and A strings (and a little E-string for the basses) and successfully negotiates three key changes.  It starts in B minor, transitions to E minor, over to G major, and back to B minor.

On top of that, it gives teachers the option to feature outstanding students with solos in each section.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, the piece is a modern take on Vivaldi's style and takes the form of a rondo, so there's a recurring main theme with optional solos bridging the sections.

And to add to the excitement, I've already come up with the title: "Shadows of Venice."  This is a nod to Vivaldi's stylistic influence as well as the back-and-forth style of the solo sections.

I hope to finish the main writing tonight and put the finishing touches on this weekend.  Then I'll be ready to jet off on my Florida vacation!