SubscribeStar Saturday: Spring Concert 2023 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.

My Middle and High School Music Ensembles had their big Spring Concert this past Monday, 27 March 2023.  Before their performances, my little school’s Dance and Choral classes gave their performances, so it was a jam-packed night of arts and entertainment.  The visual arts were part of the fun, too, with displays of students’ artwork.

It was a long day, but extremely worthwhile.  Few things bring me as much joy as hearing my students share their talents confidently and comfortably.

In the tradition of this blog and my music program, I’m going to breakdown the evening, focusing particularly (and naturally) on my two ensembles and their pieces.

To read the rest of this post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.


Open Mic Adventures XXVI: “Sonatina”

Last night was my student’s big Spring Concert, which I am sure I will write about soon, but because of that concert—and the busy weekend preceding it—I’m actually writing this blog a full week early.  Ergo, I’ll likely have some footage from that concert for the next installment of Open Mic Adventures.

For this one, however, I’m sticking to my recent bout of pianistic noodling videos.  This week’s installment pulls from the Alfred’s Basic Piano Library Complete Level 1: For Late Beginners book.  It’s the book my one-eyed Aunt Cheryl used to teach me to play piano, and it’s the one I use with my own piano students.

The piece is near the end of the book, and is called “Sonatina.”  “Sonatina” literally means “a little sonata,” but there is no fixed definition for what constitutes a sonatina.  They are usually light in nature, even amusing, and often meant to reinforce some technique (like an etude, which literally means “study”).

Read More »

Open Mic Adventures XXV: “Venite, exultemus Domino”

A quick blurb before today’s post:  I’ve released my second book, Arizonan Sojourn, South Carolinian Dreams: And Other Adventures.  It’s a collection of travel essays I’ve accumulated over the last four years, and it’s available now on Amazon.

Here’s where you can pick it up:

Pick up a copy today!  Even sharing the above links is a huge help.

Thank you for your support!



Yours portly is going High Protestant this week.  Readers can thank Audre Myers for that one—she sent me the manuscript for her church’s new chant, “Venite, exultemus Domino,” at some point in the last few weeks, and I’ve been playing around with it on the piano.

Read More »

SubscribeStar Saturday: SCISA Music Festival 2023

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.

T.S. Eliot begins The Wasteland with the memorable line “April is the cruellest month….”  It is, indeed, one of the busiest times of the year for yours portly, and while I love work, I love intentional, deliberate work.  Hasty, panicked slapdashery is not my cup of coffee, but for many years, it was—by dent of necessity and my own personal shortcomings—a necessity.

In order to minimize that panicked rushing, I’ve forced myself to become incredibly organized.  That, too, is born of necessity:  with over twenty lessons each week, ladled atop my normal schedule of classes and my Town Council duties, requires that I keep a detailed schedule—and do a great deal of prep work in advance.

It took me into my thirty-eighth year of life to get it down—finally!—but I seem to have some semblance of a grasp on my schedule.  If I could just find time to do the dishes, I’d be thrumming along like a well-worn-but-maintained performance engine, stretching those oil changes out a bit longer than proper, but getting the job done.

As for April, yes—it’s a hard month.  March, however, is something of the rapid build-up, the grand accelerando into the end of the academic year.  After the drowsiness of January and the yawning indolence of February, March, indeed, comes in, roaring, like a lion.

For you see, dear reader, it is in March that I embark—along with forty-odd students—on an annual pilgrimage to the University of South Carolina to engage in the South Carolina Independent School Association (SCISA) Music Festival.  It’s an event that tests the very limits of my organizational and logistical skills (such as they are), but that work and preparation reap dividends in terms of musical experience for my students.  It is an event that does more to sharpen their musical skills than any other throughout the year, and is second only to our major concerts in edifying their confidence as musicians.

To read the rest of this post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.

Open Mic Adventures XXIV: “Softly and Tenderly”

I’m back in the hymnbook for this edition of Open Mic Adventures, which at this point is pretty much “anything I play anywhere, in any context, that I happen to record.”  But that makes for an unwieldy title.

Inaccurate labels aside, I played “Softly and Tenderly” for my church’s Sunday morning service on Sunday, 12 March 2023.  It was the invitational (the “altar call” piece, for the rest of you Pentecostals out there), but this recording was made before service.  You can hear some chit-chat in the background, but not as much as the recording in “Open Mic Adventures XXII: ‘Blessed Assurance’.”

Read More »

Open Mic Adventures XXIII: “Gabbi’s Gavotte”

I’m a tad pressed for time this week, what with the big Music Festival coming up for my students on Thursday.  It’s a flurry of activity for yours portly, so I have a very short little snippet for this week’s edition of Open Mic Adventures.

Regular readers will know of my red tardy slip composing project.  My students have largely been showing up to school on time lately—drat!—so I haven’t had occasion to pen many more miniatures, but I do have a short one that is a bit lively and fun.

Read More »

March 2023 Bandcamp Friday—and Artwork!

Here we are—the second Bandcamp Friday of 2023!

The first Friday of a bunch of months this year—February, March, April, May, August, September, October, November, and December—will feature this pro-indie music observance, a day on which Bandcamp waives its usual 15% commission on sales.

In other words, when you buy my music, almost 100% of it goes to me, instead of almost 85%.

Currently, my entire discography of ten releases is $9.50a savings of 45%, which is not bad for ten releases.  That’s $0.95 per release—not too shabby!  To purchase the full discography, click on any release, and you’ll see the option to purchase all of them.

I’m also selling all of my paintings for $10, with free shipping in the United States, regardless of how many you purchase.  They’re one of kind, so once a painting is purchased, it’s gone.

But here’s the exciting news:  I’ve joined Society6, a website that lets artists upload their designs, which can they be printed onto all manner of products (like this throw pillow, or this duvet cover).  Why not get a bookbag with a mouthy droid on it?

I only get 10% of the sales made there, but some of the stuff looks really good—I really want these notebooks with my “Desert View” painting on it (which again, is just $10 for the one-and-only original).  Some of them are straight-up goofy, like this church doodle I made celebrating the presidential pardon of Roger Stone (the description for the piece is “Anger your friends with this doodle commemorating the presidential pardon of America’s most dapper political operative“).

I haven’t done any new painting lately, but I do have two new doodles for just $5 each:  Robo Talk 23 No. 1 and No. 2.  I’m also working on quite a few more doodles for Society6, which will also end up here.

Finally, my book The One-Minute Mysteries of Inspector Gerard: The Ultimate Flatfoot is $10 in paperback, and just $5 on Kindle.

Thanks again for your support!

Happy Friday!


Open Mic Adventures XXII: “Blessed Assurance”

One of my favorites hymns is “Blessed Assurance,” the beloved tune from blind lyricist Franny Crosby and pianist Phoebe Knapp.  They wrote the hymn in 1873.  Knapp played the melody on the piano and asked Crosby what the melody “said,” and she said, “Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine.”  Thus, history was born.

I love playing this hymn, and had the opportunity to play it with our congregation this past Sunday.  I decided to take a quick recording before service.

Read More »

Open Mic Adventures XXI: Styx’s “Come Sail Away”

On Valentine’s Day I took a few moments from a morning planning period to do a cheeky cover of Styx’s “Come Sail Away.”  My High School Music Ensemble students are performing it as one of the selections for our big Spring Concert (coming in March!), and I thought it would be a fun tune to play for Open Mic Adventures.

I often perform it live, and usually sing it in a higher register, slipping into my falsetto when necessary.  The song is in C major, which I find is a key that easy to play (no sharps or flats!) but sometimes difficult to sing due to my vocal range (I’m more comfortable around A major).

Due to a bit of congestion, I decided to try singing it in a much lower baritone-bass register, and I’m pleased with the results.  It’s not quite as powerful as Dennis DeYoung’s nasally, stratospheric, Broadway-influenced vocals, but I think it came out pretty well.

Read More »