TBT: Summertime Schedule Begins

As of about 8 PM EST last Thursday, I’ve been living the Summer Break Lifestyle.  Other than camp and lessons, I’ve been enjoying a much more leisurely pace of living.

Summer is already filling up fast.  While the first week of Minecraft Camp is in the books, I have another session next week.  I’m attempting to run my Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for the second year, but as of the time of writing, it looks like I might just have one student, so that may get axed.

Nevertheless, it’s a good time to knock out some projects, especially when I wrap up camps.  I’m hoping to get back—finally!—to wrapping up the first volume of my Sunday Doodles book, which will go through the first fifty editions of the feature (over at my SubscribeStar page).  Indeed, I may do the first 100 editions, as I am currently at 144.  That will require more editing, but will make for a beefier book.

It’s also time to get cracking on some short stories.  I’ve been sitting on one story about a guy who eats an undercooked frozen pizza with bizarre consequences; now I need to write it!

With that, here is 8 June 2021’s “Summertime Schedule Begins“:

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Spring Concert 2022 Postmortem

Today’s post is a SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive.  To read the full post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.  For a full rundown of everything your subscription gets, click here.

This past Wednesday night was the Spring Concert for my students.  As is my custom, I like to do a concert “postmortem” with my students to talk about what went well, and what we could improve (myself included) for the next concert.

This year’s concert really went over well.  Anecdotally, I was told that a number of parents said something along the lines of “I thought last year’s concert was good, but this one was even better.”  I do think we hit the runtime just right:  the concert kicked off a few minutes after 6 PM, and we wrapped up right around 7:15 PM.  That’s with our dance classes performing in the middle of the program.

We split the concert into three parts:  an opening section with Middle School Music and a couple of solos; the dance classes performing six pieces; and a closing section with my High School Music Ensemble (and a few more solos).

With that, here is a breakdown of the two musical portions.

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Concert Time!

Tonight my students have their big Spring Concert.  It’s one of the two busiest days of my year (the other being the Christmas Concert), as there is much to be done to prepare.

The students are well-rehearsed and ready to play.  Today will be spend putting instruments on stage, and making sure everything is mic’d up properly.  That’s not difficult to do, per se, but it is quite time-consuming.

There are also a million little details to get sorted:  making sure extra copies of music are run off; ensuring that cables are taped down or covered to prevent tripping; checking the sound levels; making sure students know how to get on and off the stage efficiently; etc.  It’s a lot to do, but the payoff is worth it.

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Midweek March Update

Yep, Portly readers:  it’s one of those blog posts:  a general update on the latest with yours portly because I’m out of both ideas and energy.  Sure, I should be writing about the war in the Ukraine or something important like that (instead of silly paintings and piano pieces), but, again—I’m more low-energy than JEB! at the moment.  Or, at the very least, my pantheric intensity has to be focused towards more pressing matters than this humble blog.

Early March is always a time when everything comes to a head at once.  Last week was the final week of third quarter, and was chock-a-block with various school events.  That saw me scrambling around all over campus during my precious planning periods performing various feats of technical wizardry (but all of the standard hedge-mage variety; the really powerful audio/visual spells won’t be cast for another month).  Incredibly, I managed to record all of Péchés d’âge moyen last week (give it a listen if you haven’t already—it’s less then seven minutes to listen to the entire album!).

Naturally, that meant a backlog of grading and comment-writing for report cards, which had to be completed over the weekend.  I’m grateful to Pontiac Dream 39/Always a Kid for Today for his movie review Monday, because that saved me some valuable time Sunday (it’s also an excellent review—you should go read it!).

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TBT: The Joy of Romantic Music III: Hector Berlioz’s “Symphonie Fantastique”

It being a week of romance and lots of artistic endeavors, I decided to look back this Thursday to a post about the great French composer, Hector Berlioz.

Berlioz is the quintessential Romantic:  he wrote the subject of today’s post, the very fun Symphonie Fantastique, to deal with his lovesickness—and he ended up getting the girl because of it!

Another Berlioz heartbreak anecdote:  after his fiancée left him for another man (note, this woman is not the same as the subject of the Symphonie Fantastique), Berlioz plotted her and her new husband’s murder.  He traveled to Nice, where the couple was living, and took along weapons, disguises, and other murder paraphernalia.  When he disembarked from the train, he came to his senses, and abandoned his ill-conceived plot.  Instead, he spent a couple of weeks in Nice composing.

Talk about a whiplash!  I’m a sensitive poet-warrior at times, and I’ve experienced lovesickness, but never to the extent of Berlioz.  Still, I identify with his desire to compose music to get (or to cope with not getting) chicks.

With that, here is 29 January 2021’s “The Joy of Romantic Music III: Hector Berlioz’s ‘Symphonie Fantastique’“:

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TBT: The Joy of Romantic Music II: Bedřich Smetana’s “The Moldau”

In “The Worst of 2021” post, there was a much-neglected gem amid all the filler:  this January 2021 post about Czech composer Bedřich Smetana‘s The Moldau.  My good friend and former colleague H. L. Liptak—herself a noted writer and a recent subscriber, *hint, hint*—praised it in her a comment on “The Worst.”

That got me thinking about this post, and that it deserved a comeback.  Thus, here is January 2022’s “The Joy of Romantic Music II: Bedřich Smetana’s ‘The Moldau’“:

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Post-Concert Analysis is Coming

Yesterday’s Christmas concert went well, and I’m relieved to have it done.  I’m blessed to work with some super talented kids, and they are very dedicated to our Music Program.

I’ll be writing up a full analysis of it, as well as a gig I played with my buddy John last night, for SubscribeStar subscribers.  I should have the posted sometime Sunday afternoon.

For now, though, I am celebrating Christmas with my girlfriend.  We got each other some LEGO sets, so we’ve been building those this afternoon while watching TV and generally chilling out.

See you soon!

—TPP

TBT: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

My school’s big Christmas concert is tomorrow—the first once since December 2019, the infamous “Corporate Christmas” concert—and my Middle School Music class is playing and singing “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.”  It’s one of my favorite carols, and is apparently my pastor’s favorite.

We’re doing the iconic first verse, as well as the third verse, which echoes the themes of the first.  There’s a great line—“ris’n with healing in His wings”—that just sounds epic.  It’s such a regal tune, perfect for The King of Kings arriving on Earth to save His fallen Creation.

Fortunately, my Middle School students seem to agree, and I am proud of their rendition.

With that, here is 8 December 2020’s “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing“:

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Christmas Concert Preparations

My apologies to readers who are used to waking up to a fresh Portly post in their inboxes, ready to enjoy over a hot cup of coffee at 6:30 AM.  Since Thanksgiving, I’ve been working pretty much nonstop.  Since probably 2009, when I started my two-year stint as the Cultural Coordinator at the Sumter Opera House in Sumter, South Carolina, the first half of December has been a brutal yuletide slog for yours portly.

Christmas 2010 was particularly grueling, with an event at the Opera House every night for the first two weeks of the month, including outdoor music on weekends for the City’s Festival of Lights.  I was so stressed that I developed a painful sore on the roof of my mouth, which made it unpleasant to eat anything but the softest of foods.  That was an unintentional blessing, as it kicked off my 2011 Weight Loss Odyssey, a journey during which I shed a whopping 110 pounds in about eleven months.  Even in extreme stress, there are hidden blessings.

Regardless, my Christmastimes for the past decade have been jam-packed with events.  That’s not always a bad thing:  I like keeping busy, and Christmas gigs can be very lucrative (about four years ago I played a bank Christmas party while suffering from a gnarly head cold, but a steady supply of cough drops and water got me through to the $300 reward on the other side).  There is one event that looms over all others this time every year, though, one that I paradoxically love and dread:  the annual school Christmas concert.

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