Posts tagged ‘musician’

May 17, 2015


There IS a Cure for the Summertime Blues

“There ain’t no cure for the summertime blues,” says a rock anthem by Eddie Cochran, also famously recorded by Blue Cheer and The Who.

With the traditional school year wrapping up, many high school and college students will spend summer working at unexciting jobs or just being bored and restless. For aspiring musicians and composers, I’d like to offer some ways to get closer to your goals.

• START A GARAGE BAND. Once upon a time (all right, I’m dating myself), there were garage bands on every block. Not so much anymore. Engaging with other musicians in your neighborhood and doing a little jamming is fun, not to mention that friendly competition can motivate you to sharpen your skills.

• PRACTICE OUTDOORS. I can truthfully tell you that my parents never had to nag me to practice my drums. Music was my passion and they probably wished that I had been more passionate about pulling weeds or taking out the trash. But on nice days, who wants to practice indoors? I used to set up my drum kit in a canyon where I could play loudly AND experience the great weather and scenery. Naturally, if you plan to play an instrument outdoors, be considerate of the neighbors and local noise ordinances.

• CHECK OUT YOUR PARKS AND RECREATION DEPARTMENT. Many cities and towns have free or inexpensive summer music classes or workshops in community centers or teen centers.

• VOLUNTEER AT A MUSIC FESTIVAL OR MUSICAL THEATER. Working in the box office, ushering, selling refreshments, etc. can be opportunities to meet others who are interested in music, fulfill community service requirements for school or just take in some free entertainment.

Some are more realistic than others, but here are a few of my favorite movies that show the highs and lows of being a musician:

“A Hard Day’s Night” (rated G), “That Thing You Do!” (PG), “Drumline” (PG-13), “Ray” (PG-13), “Grace of My Heart” (R), “Almost Famous” (R), “The Blues Brothers” (R).

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry … You’ll hear some great soundtracks!

And although it’s not a movie “about musicians,” per se, “Fantasia 2000” (G) matches classical masterpieces, performed by the wonderful Chicago Symphony Orchestra, with gorgeous Disney animation. I especially recommend this film for anyone who is interested in scoring music for film.

Whatever you do, remember that summer doesn’t last very long.
Stay busy, stay positive and enjoy every moment.

In addition to playing my drums outdoors, I owned a surfboard when my family lived in Southern California. I didn't become a great surfer, but I'm glad I at least tried it. Make the most of your summer!

In addition to playing my drums outdoors, I owned a surfboard when my family lived in Southern California. I didn’t become a great surfer, but I’m glad I at least tried it. Make the most of your summer!

July 7, 2012


I recently toured the Musician Rehearsal Center (MRC) in Sparks, Nevada, a unique facility that rents secure, temperature-controlled and sound-dampened rehearsal spaces to musicians. It’s located in an industrial area and features easy load-in and load-out for gear, is accessible to electronic key holders 24/7 and also features a large stage with professional lighting, audio and video equipment. The owner/founder Bill Woody is a former musician who wisely saw a need for this. As he gave me a tour, we joked about all the garages and basements where we rehearsed in our youth, hoping that the neighbors or our parents wouldn’t get too sick of hearing us play. Oh, if those walls could talk!

While providing a solution for musicians who really do want to rehearse — and really don’t want to irritate the neighbors — the MRC is also a place where musicians can network, post info about their upcoming gigs, gather feedback from others in the community and so on. And the MRC recently hosted a Musician Faire and Fanfest for the benefit of the Northern Nevada Food Bank and The Washoe County School District Music Department.

In a similar vein, I heard from a friend in Chicago about a Haymakers Reunion that took place a few months ago. Haymakers was a popular nightclub that closed in the early ’80s, so the actual reunion was held at another venue called Durty Nellie’s. But many bands and fans who were fixtures at Haymakers got back together for an energetic afternoon and evening of live music. This event also raised money for charitable organizations.

The bottom line is that busting out of the garage is important to musicians and composers on so many levels. At some point, you need to get out there and share your music, sometimes even when you’re not sure that you’re ready to do so. Networking with other musicians can be valuable, as is finding out (from audience reactions) whether you’re on the right course or maybe need to rethink the type of music you’re attempting to present or promote. Last but not least, it doesn’t hurt to donate your time and talent to worthy causes in your community. It’s not just a way to gain exposure, but can really make someone else’s day and/or help them to keep their good work going.