2012 in review

Here are some highlights (to me) of what happened on the blog this year. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for new, non-meta content once the holidays are over.

Don’t forget to subscribe via your favorite feed reader or social network, and hit me up with your questions, comments, and requests. Happy New Year!

What I’ve learned in my first three years as a college professor

I’m still at what I hope is the beginning of a long career, with lots of things left to learn. But here are a few little things I’ve picked up along the way so far (three and a half years, actually), and that I thought might be worth sharing.

red pen
Photo, cellar_door_films

Getting hired for a job in academia is about being the right match. I applied to a lot of jobs during the final year of my doctoral studies. A few seemed like good matches on paper, but for a number of others I thought I could perhaps offer something better than what was listed in the requirements. For example, I applied for quite a few single-woodwind jobs, and tried to emphasize in my cover letters and CVs that I could potentially take on responsibilities with additional instruments. I got virtually no response to those applications. The jobs that I got interviews for were specifically multiple-woodwinds jobs.

A highly-qualified and very talented friend of mine was hired for a teaching position. I had opportunity later to speak with one of his new colleagues, who raved about my friend’s lively and outgoing personality. “The other person we interviewed was so boring,” she moaned. I suspect that had I interviewed for that job, I would have been the “boring” one. At some other interview, my friend’s energy and humor might have been seen as frivolous or flippant, and my more muted social style might have won the day.

Since being hired myself, I’ve had several opportunities to serve on committees that have sifted through applicants for other music faculty positions. There are lots of people looking for those jobs, and when the applications start to pile up, anyone who doesn’t meet the specific requirements of the job gets set aside pretty quickly, no matter what other strengths they might bring to the table. Continue reading “What I’ve learned in my first three years as a college professor”

Stuff my students say

What my students say What my students mean
I was too busy to practice this week. My choices this week did not include practicing.
I can play it perfectly when nobody is listening, I promise! When somebody is listening, I’m suddenly painfully aware of problems with my playing that I ignored in the practice room.
I can play it, just not with the metronome. I can play the correct pitches in the correct order, but not with enough fluency to put each note where it belongs in time. In other words, I can’t play it.
Right now I’m just trying to get the notes. I’ll add in the dynamics and articulations later. I might eventually get the “notes,” but don’t bet on me ever observing any of the other markings.
The thing is, I’m just not good at _____ (rhythms, high notes, low notes, technical passages, lyrical passages, dynamic contrasts…). I wish to be excused from improving my playing.
This _____ (etude, repertoire piece, technical exercise…) is boring. The way I’m playing it is boring.
I practiced until I got it right! I played it wrong 99 times, then right once. Guess which will happen in my lesson, rehearsal, or performance?
You’re mean. I’m unprepared.




Review: Ben Britton’s A Complete Approach to Sound for the Modern Saxophonist

I have been in touch with saxophonist Ben Britton since I mentioned his blog in a roundup review last year. He’s a nice guy, not to mention a great (and award-winning) saxophone player:

I was pleased to hear from Ben about his new book, A Complete Approach to Sound for the Modern Saxophonist. It is now available in print from Amazon (currently a very reasonable $14.95) and as a download from Payhip (a steal at $9.95).

The book is around 60 pages long, but it’s not densely packed text. It can easily be skimmed in one sitting. What you get for your money is a highly-concentrated, efficient approach to tone production. I (and probably you) have shelves of much longer and much more expensive books that take a week to read and longer to extract anything useful from. Ben’s book is a straightforward, less-is-more approach that is refreshing and worthwhile.

My copy arrived just in time, as my tenor hasn’t been getting enough attention lately (teaching classical repertoire means lots of alto) and, as I feared, my tone and control have suffered a bit. I soaked some reeds and spent the morning with the book. Continue reading “Review: Ben Britton’s A Complete Approach to Sound for the Modern Saxophonist”