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The Musings of Kev



Random Thoughts and Rants from an Everyday Saxophonist



Updated: 2018-01-15T10:28:23.435-06:00

 



Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Their Families

2017-12-04T21:11:22.456-06:00

From last week, when I was seeing everyone for the first time after a week off...

KID: I have to tell you, I didn’t get to practice very much since the last time I saw you.
ME: Oh yeah? So you had a busy Thanksgiving?
KID: Yeah, my two cousins got married.
ME: (ponders that for a second)
KID: Not to each other.
ME: That’s good to hear.




Teachers Say the Darnedest Things When Their Students Make Mistakes

2017-12-04T21:17:35.406-06:00

A kid earlier today was playing a passage marked “legato,” and I was curious as to whether he knew the definition...

ME: So what does this term mean?
KID: Legato.
ME: Yes, the word is “legato,” but do you know what it means?
KID (hesitates): I can’t remember.
ME: So you forgotto?



Just Curious...

2017-12-04T21:19:19.559-06:00

Is today the day they get free Slurpees in Europe? They do write the date as 7/11, after all.



Let's Talk Baseball for a Minute

2017-12-04T21:22:04.662-06:00

I grew up as an Astros fan, seeing lots of games at the ‘Dome with my dad. Even as I moved to DFW for college and stayed here, I still supported my old team, cheering them on against everyone but my Rangers (which was easy when they were still in the NL).

When the Astros moved to not only the AL, but the AL West, things changed a bit. It was really weird being at Minute Maid in the summer of ‘16, with Dad and me rooting for opposite teams. But I’ve spent far more years in DFW than I did in Houston, and I’m totally invested in the Rangers.

Still, I was all in for the Astros during this Series. I supported them for Dad, as a tribute to my childhood, and to support the city where I spent my formative years—a city that really needed a lift this fall.

Am I bummed that the Astros took home a championship before my Rangers did? Sure. Will I resume rooting for the Rangers to whomp the Astros at every opportunity once next season starts? You bet! But tonight, I celebrate with my hometown and its fans, and lots of other Texans. And I already can’t wait for next baseball season to start.



Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Instruments They Don't Recognize.

2017-12-04T21:24:10.895-06:00

Kids say the darnedest things about instruments they don’t recognize. Earlier today at a middle school, a kid picks up a horn in its case that’s been left on the floor in the percussion area...

KID: Whose French horn is this?
(I look over and notice that the kid is in fact carrying a trombone.)
KID #2: That’s not a French horn!
KID #3: Yeah, that’s a trumpet!

(I’d like to think that Kid #3 actually knew what it was and was just messing with the first kid.)



A Smal Bit of Music Humor

2017-12-04T21:28:26.676-06:00

I’ve been eating my Thursday lunch at Taco Bueno the past few weeks. Last week, the piped-in music was cutting in and out so much that they finally just turned it off (right before I was about to ask them to do so myself). This week, the music was evidently still not working, so I ate my meal in complete silence.

My order number for this silent lunch? 433.



KIds Say the Darnedest Things When They're Just Getting Started

2017-12-04T21:33:11.124-06:00

A beginner in his first lesson had this to say as we were finishing up...

KID: I don't know why, but I get a whole lot of enjoyment from pushing this button. (It was the G key, if you're curious.)
ME: Well, if that's the case, you'll really enjoy the saxophone in general, because you get to use that key a lot.



We Still Remember

2017-09-11T21:24:26.531-05:00

My remembrances of this day in 2001, first published two years after the fact (in the first year of this blog), and only edited slightly since then: Here's my story: I was on a break from teaching, like every Tuesday, and actually spent the time of the attacks in blissful ignorance at a nearby Starbucks. I had CD's on in my car instead of the radio, so I totally missed the news on both the way over and the way back. I did hear someone listening to a radio on the Starbucks patio and they were talking about "the second plane," but it didn't register with me at all. (It amazed me later that nobody walked inside and told us about it.) When I got back to the school, the flute teacher stopped me in the hallway and asked me if all my students were being pulled out of school (evidently hers were). I said, "No, why?" and she told me what had happened. I spent the rest of the day like everyone else, in shocked, depressed amazement, catching the news when I could. There I was, not even two weeks into being a homeowner, and the world suddenly felt so different. It added to the pall cast over everything when I found out that the sister of a girl I graduated from high school with was on Flight 93, the one that crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. (I know that there have been quite a few lists of names read aloud today, so let me share hers: Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas. May she rest in peace...) The whole thing felt so surreal; how could anyone hate us that much? The concept of the suicide hijacking was unprecedented as well (before that, hijackers just usually wanted to go to Cuba, and that's why airline personnel were taught to cooperate with them rather than try to subdue them). I know there are still terrorist plots being hatched, and people capable of carrying them out...but I hope nothing like this ever happens on U.S. soil again. Or anywhere, for that matter. As I said a year ago, I hope nobody tires of talking about this every once in a while, because if we stop talking, we might forget, and this is a day that need not be forgotten anytime soon.



Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Their Abilities

2017-09-11T21:28:50.572-05:00

On the last day of sectionals earlier this week, I had everyone play at least four bars of one of the All-Region etudes for the group. Part of it went like this: KID #1: I will play the first four bars of Etude 2. (does so) KID #2: I'm gonna play the exact same thing he did, but worse. (does so)



Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Musical Interpretation

2017-09-11T21:30:40.259-05:00

During my recent sectionals, I was talking about the "artistic" way to do a trill on a long note--starting gradually rather than going full speed, since doing the latter in a slow piece often sounds overly aggressive, or even angry... ME: And there's nothing even remotely angry about this piece. If anything, it's a love song. KID #1: Eww! Why does it have to be a love song? I hate love songs! ME (somewhat surprised): Well, it doesn't have to be a love song. If you want, just think of it as a beautiful walk in the park. KID #2: I hate the park!



Kids Say the Darnedest Things at the End of Sectionals

2017-09-11T21:31:46.796-05:00

At the end of a week and a half of sectionals for a couple of high schools, I always do the quick plug for lessons at the end... ME: So before we finish up, here's the quick "commercial." KID: So this means that the free trial period has ended, and now we have to pay?



Kids Also Wear the Darnedest Things

2017-09-12T23:41:18.894-05:00

Many ensembles dress alike for State; here comes one now... First kid: All black Second kid: All black Third kid: All black Fourth kid: All black, except for powder-blue shoes and white socks (and pants that are high-water enough to make the latter really obvious)



Kids Say the Darnedest Things at State Solo & Ensemble

2017-09-11T21:35:44.376-05:00

Overheard earlier today: KID 1: Yeah, I probably got a 3 if the judge has mercy, or a 4 otherwise. KID 2: Oh, it wasn't really that bad. KID 1: I totally messed up! KID 2: Nah, you just forgot an entire repeated section, but other than that...



An Apt Quote for Today

2017-09-11T21:42:55.178-05:00

One of the better quotes I saw today among all the Chris Cornell tributes: "If I write a song and put it out there, it's not mine anymore," [Cornell] told CNN. "It takes on a life of its own, and when you listen to it, it becomes your song. And over the course of generations, those meanings will change." RIP, Chris. (And yes, Soundgarden was one of the bands I got to see live that some people might not have expected, even if they didn't make the "ten bands I've seen, one is a lie" thing a few weeks ago.)



Kids (and Their Teacher) Have the Darnedest Fixes for Rehearsal Problems

2017-09-11T21:46:28.634-05:00

So the power goes out in the practice wing during quartet rehearsal? No problem; five cell phone flashlights illuminate the room just fine.‬



Auto-Correct Says the Darnedest Things

2017-09-11T21:48:23.235-05:00

I was typing a chord progression into my phone's notepad to remember it for later, and every time I tried to type "Eb," auto-correct tried to change it to "zen." Has anybody out there ever had a particularly Zen moment related to the playing of an Eb?



This Could Have Been an Alarming Development

2017-09-11T21:51:10.879-05:00

I was surprised to wake up to Clock #2 this morning, which is set for four minutes after (and located on the opposite side of the room from) Clock #1. I wondered if I forgot to set the latter, but...nope, it was flashing 2:53, which means 1) the power went out at least briefly during the storm, and 2) the backup battery finally gave its last after years of service. (And that, my friends, is why I have a Clock #2 in the first place.)



Baristas Say the Darnedest Things, and I Respond in Kind

2017-09-11T21:53:39.235-05:00

Just a typical recent coffee order... BARISTA: And what's the name for that order? ME: Kevin. BARISTA: Ok. I don't have to ask you how to spell that, do I? ME (laughs) I hope not. (pauses) Actually, I spell it with a Q... BARISTA: (laughs) ME: I would be so mad at my parents if they'd done that. (I suppose that, considering all the viral posts about misspelled names at Starbucks, they have to ask almost anyone whose name is more complicated than "John" these days.)



(College) Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Famous Jazz Venues

2017-09-11T21:58:14.769-05:00

Earlier this week, I was talking with some students at the college about my gig tonight. I explained that the annual event recreates the atmosphere of the famous Cotton Club, with lots of people in period attire, highly skilled swing dancers, and so on... KID: I want to go to the Cotton Club! ME: Well, I'm afraid you'd have to do some time travel and snag a flight to New York City in order to do that. KID: It's not in Dallas? I thought the Cotton Club was in Dallas. ME: You're thinking of the Cotton Bowl.



The Annual Band Marathon Never Fails to Please

2017-01-14T01:31:07.716-06:00

Even though I don't do a whole lot of pure blogging right now, you can always count on something from me on the second or third Friday in January: The annual high school All-Region Band concert in the region where I teach. The concert is really a series of five mini-concerts, with each band--a freshman band and four high school bands (which freshmen can make as well, but they surrender their chair in the freshman band if they do), all at 45-minute intervals. That way, if family members are only attending for their kid's band, they can make way for others to be seated (I have no idea if any school auditorium could hold the families of all five bands' members, plus all the directors and private teachers, not to mention the members of other bands who stick around to see their friends play). Also, having preset starting times allows the families of the later bands to show up as close to the downbeat as possible. As always, what follows is not in any way a review of the concert, but instead some random thoughts that entered my mind as I was listening:I mention every year that, as a whole, I prefer the newer "wind ensemble" music to the older "band" music, but a well-played classic will still thrill me, especially if it's something I've played before. This year, almost all the music was new to me, save for the occasional march used to cap off a group's program. A lot of lesser-known (at least to me) new composers were represented (Ryan George, Ryan Nowland, and Daniel Weinberger, to name a few), and there are some brilliant fanfares out there that started a few bands' performances on an energetic note. And I was reminded how much I like Brian Balmages' music; it was extremely cool that the band who played two of his pieces Skyped him in during part of this morning's rehearsal.One of the bands used student announcers to introduce each piece, which I thought was a nice touch. It wasn't that the clinician himself didn't talk, but it was cool to hear some different voices from the mic, and I'm sure it was a thrill for the kids (and their parents).Speaking of...well, speaking, all the clinicians engaged with the audience (there have been times where some of them have barely said a word). As I've noted in previous years, since the programs often read "to be selected from the following" and then list a variety of pieces which may or may not be played, it's crucial for the audience to know what they are about to hear, or just heard. Plus, as I see it, an engaged clinician just makes a better impression on the audience.Kudos to the organizers for doing something I've asked for in these pages for years: Listing composers by first and last names, instead of just last names. It's one thing if you say "Sousa" (most people won't mistake John Philip for some random guy named Fred Sousa or something), but with so many new composers being programmed, it's good to provide more information.It wasn't as chronic as in years past, but there still were some problems with door etiquette among certain audience members. If you have to leave, please do so quickly and quietly, and make sure the door doesn't slam behind you. Several of the pieces had very soft introductions, and I hope none of the door slams made it onto the recording.The one thing I've noticed this year that's different among the announcements to the audience is the one about TMEA licensing agreements prohibiting recording of the concerts...and all I can say is, it's about time! And believe it or not--save for the one guy at last weekend's middle school concert who had a full-on[...]



Kids Practice in the Darnedest Places

2017-01-14T01:40:17.612-06:00

The Cleverness Award for the day so far goes to a couple of high school percussionists practicing in an equipment truck on a rainy day of All-Region tryouts. (I would have gotten a couple seconds of video if not for said rain.)



(College) Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Their Instructors

2017-01-14T01:52:42.901-06:00

A few people missed my once-a-week class recently, and they wanted to catch up...especially when they heard there would be a quiz.

KID: So will you have mercy on the people who were out sick last week?

ME: Well...I will for the people who emailed me and said they weren't going to be here.

KID: (hesitating, looks embarrassed): I didn't know your name.

(I reminded her that, like many things, "it's on the syllabus." I also pointed out to the class that, even though my last name might be hard to remember, we'd have a completely different problem if I were Professor Jones, since they'd have to figure out which of the 29 Professor Joneses I was).




(College) Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Music Theory

2017-01-14T01:54:47.680-06:00

In a recent Fundamentals class, we were introducing the circle of fifths, which has a lot in common with a clock. Once we established that there were twelve possible keys, I asked the following...

ME: So what is another object that can be divided into twelve equal parts?

KID: A pizza?

(Those would be really skinny slices! And the funny thing was that I asked the class to try again, and nobody got it until I pointed at the clock on the wall. I then surveyed the class and found out that, besides myself, there were only two watch-wearers in there...)




A Decade and a Half Later...and May We Still Never Forget

2016-09-11T22:01:07.561-05:00

Fifteen years ago today (published annually here since 2004, and only mildly edited throughout the years):
I was on a break from teaching, like every Tuesday, and actually spent the time of the attacks in blissful ignorance at the Rockwall Starbucks. I had CD's on in my car instead of the radio, so I totally missed the news on both the way over and the way back. I did hear someone listening to a radio on the patio and they were talking about "the second plane," but it didn't register with me at all. (It amazed me later that nobody walked inside and told us about it.)

When I got back to the school, the flute teacher stopped me in the hallway and asked me if all my students were being pulled out of school (evidently hers were). I said, "No, why?" and she told me what had happened. I spent the rest of the day like everyone else, in shocked, depressed amazement, catching the news when I could. There I was, not even two weeks into being a homeowner, and the world suddenly felt so different. It added to the pall cast over everything when I found out that the sister of a girl I graduated from high school with was on Flight 93, the one that crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. (Since it's common on this day to have roll calls of the people who were lost, I'll state her name here, with a link to her foundation: Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas.)

The whole thing felt so surreal; how could anyone hate us that much? The concept of the suicide hijacking was unprecedented as well (before that, hijackers just usually wanted to go to Cuba, and that's why airline personnel were taught to cooperate with them rather than try to subdue them).

I know there are still terrorist plots being hatched, and people capable of carrying them out...but I hope nothing like this ever happens on U.S. soil again. Or anywhere, for that matter.
As I repost this in 2016, we know that the evil in our world is far from being eradicated (indeed, the past few years have seen evil showing its face even more, so it would seem). But I say once more, may we never forget, and may something of this nature never happen here again.



Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Their Marching Music

2016-08-03T22:58:52.425-05:00

A high schooler who had a lesson today noted that "they gave us a copy of this thing called the Woodwind Feature. I think it's supposed to be an oboe and euphonium duet." Never mind the fact that a euphonium isn't a woodwind; has anyone ever heard of a duet between those two instruments...on the field? I'm thinking the kid misheard something. (On an only slightly related note, I'm amused that my new[ish] computer's spell check doesn't recognize "euphonium" as a word.)