Lazy Sunday CXXIX: Friends, Part I

Back in June, I started a new feature on non-Bandcamp FridaysSupporting Friends Friday.  It’s a small way to highlight and support the works and talents of my various friends, of both the IRL and online variety.

Now that I’ve written several of these posts, it seemed like a good time to look back at them.  The three this week are all good friends I know personally—indeed, they all live within forty-five minutes of me—and we have a musical connection.  The first friend featured is a poet, but we met at local open mic nights.

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

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Lazy Sunday CXXVII: Joy, Part II: Music

The first short week of the new school year is in the books, and assuming I’m still alive when this post pops this morning, I survived!

That’s reason enough to be joyful, but in case my survival of a three-day workweek doesn’t inspire you, here are some more “the joy of” posts of a decidedly musical extraction that might:

That’s it for this weekend’s joyful musings.  Here’s to a musically fulfilling Sunday!

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

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Supporting Friends Friday: The Cinematic Compositions of Mason Sandifer

The first two editions of Supporting Friends Friday (highlighting the poetry of Jeremy Miles and the music of Frederick Ingram) have been well-received, particularly by the friends being supported, and it gives me a great deal of joy to showcase their works, albeit from the humble platform of this blog (read by dozens a day!).  As I have written many, manymany times over the last year, making a living through creative work, like writing books and playing music, is difficult, especially in The Age of The VirusBuilding up a community of artists who celebrate one another’s works is an important part of the indie music and publishing business.

It’s also just fun, much like the music of Robert Mason Sandifer, the young composer I’m highlighting today.  Mason, as I call him, is a private student of mine, so this post is perhaps tad self-serving, but even if he weren’t my student, I would adore his music.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp Review

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This past week I hosted the first of two summer camps I’m putting on in June.  Next week is the ubiquitous, ever-popular Minecraft Camp, but this week saw the first inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp at my little school.

I’m not sure why I didn’t conceive of this idea sooner.  It’s not an original one, as rock ‘n’ roll fantasy camps have been around for awhile.  I’m not Ted Nugent teaching middle-aged yuppies how to play “Stranglehold” in the woods, but porting that concept to rockin’ out with kids is not difficult to do.

But last summer my headmaster kept forwarding me e-mails from a local country club, which was itself hosting a summer rock camp.  He did not include any commentary or suggestions along the lines of “you should do this camp,” but I got the message.  So when it came time to put together our summer camp catalogue, I tossed Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp into the mix.

My headmaster’s implied suggestion was a good one:  the camp was really wonderful.  Indeed, it exceeded my expectations, in large part because of the small but talented group of campers who attended.  We only had three kids sign up this year, but I’ve had semester-long ensemble classes with that few students, so I knew we could make some musical magic even with a small group.  Indeed, we had the perfect number for a classic garage rock band:  four (including myself).

Here’s some of the details about the camp—how long it lasted, a breakdown of our days, and the songs we played.  Hopefully it will provide a useful blueprint for other music educators looking to host their own camps.

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Supporting Friends Friday: The Music of Frederick Ingram

Last Friday’s very first Supporting Friends Friday, which featured the release of Jeremy Miles‘s (read his blog) latest book of poetryHindsight: Poetry in 2020, was quite fun, and at the very least brought delight to Jeremy, and at the most hopefully helped sell a couple of copies of his book.

In that spirit, I wanted to dedicate this second installment to the music of my musician buddy Frederick Ingram.  Frederick is a gifted and skilled guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter, and we have played together or on the same bill on a number of occasions.  Frederick also recently made a surprise appearance to the inaugural TJC Spring Jam, and treated us to a three-song set.

Recently, Frederick released the “Funky Margarita Mix” of his ode to open mic nights, “Fish Bowl.”  Frederik wrote “Fish Bowl” some years ago, inspired by a (I believe) now-defunct open mic night once hosted at a groovy little joint in Columbia, South Carolina.  The story, as I recall, is that the venue’s stage had an aquarium as a backdrop, which surely made for any intriguing performance experience.

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Learning by Doing: Teaching Guitar

One of the truest statements I’ve ever heard is “if you want to learn something, teach it.”  Much of my teaching career has been built upon that premise, and it’s stretched my mind and talents far beyond what I thought I was capable of achieving.

A young education major at the local liberal arts college once told me that it’s unethical to learn on the job when teaching.  As I recall, I laughed in his face, and said, “Kid, the only way to learn how to teach is by learning on the job.”  No one knows everything, especially educators (why do you think we became teachers?).

That’s certainly been the case with teaching guitar.  I’d always struggled to wrap my mind (and hands) around string instruments, and while I picked up bass (one note at a time is much easier than six), I assumed I’d never be able to play guitar.  Indeed, I’m still not very good at playing guitar, and would not consider myself a “guitar player.”

What I discovered is that as I taught guitar lessons—often fumblingly so initially—I was learning to play guitar.

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TBT: My Musical Philosophy in Song: “Delilah”

Later this month I’m hosting another front porch concert, following the success of my Spooktacular event in October.  I’m quite excited to do another front porch concert, and I’m interested to see how the May date will stack up compared to Halloween.  I’ve also ordered some great t-shirts, which I will have available on my Bandcamp merch page soon.

In preparing for the concert, I thought it might be a good time to look back at a post I wrote one year ago today, about the Tom Jones song “Delilah.”  The first time I truly heard the song was when I heard Bruce Dickinson’s version.  The Iron Maiden singer nailed the performance, and I immediately set about learning the song.

Of course, I wrote all of this a year ago, so I’ll let the original speak for itself.  Here is 6 May 2020’s “My Musical Philosophy in Song: ‘Delilah’“:

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Sheet Music Burning

The latest target of the woke elites and their braying mobs is—that great symbol of imperialism and Western dominance—sheet music.

Apparently, some Oxford dons are considering removing sheet music and the ability to read traditional notation from its curriculum.  One quotation from The Telegraph article notes that “The Oxford academics went on to pronounce that teaching the piano or conducting orchestras could cause ‘students of colour great distress’ as the skills involved are closely tied to ‘white European music’.”

This latest crusade is the musical equivalent of the effort in English departments across the country to downplay the teaching of grammar.  Sure, one can make plenty of excellent music without knowing how to read notation, but why limit one’s self to tabs or lead sheets?  I can certainly communicate certain ideas without adverbs, adjectives, or even pesky commas, but doing so severely limits the range of expression.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: The Art of Concert Programming

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Subscriberslast week’s SSS about Myrtle Beach is up, as is last week’s edition of Sunday Doodles.  My apologies for the delay.  —TPP

Every spring my school sponsors a big fine arts festival, a weekend dedicated to celebrating and showcasing our talented students.  The weekend includes two nights of our drama students performing whatever play or musical they’re presenting that season, as well as an exhibit of student artwork.

The first night, however, is the big Spring Concert.  After the dance students share some pieces, my student-musicians take the stage for their one big night of the semester.

The Spring Concert is like the Super Bowl for these kids:  it’s the biggest stage most of them will take during the academic year (though several of my students gig with bands and ensembles outside of school), and the one time they really get to soak up the spotlight.  The goal of my music classes is to put on good performances, not to seek fame, but the kids deserve some accolades and kudos.  Besides, a big part of music is being able to share it with other people.

With the Spring Concert about six weeks away, my students and I sat down this week to begin programming the concert.  Programming a concert is part science, but also an art; it requires a certain “feel” for the pieces, and how those disparate pieces link together to create a cohesive, exciting whole.

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