Category Archives: Uncategorized

I love singing Italian, French, German, and Latin, but English is my native tongue.

While researching for one of my vocal students, I found this: The 12 Greatest Operas in English

It’s an interesting list because I hadn’t heard of many of them.  I was also surprised that Bernstein wasn’t on the list until I remembered that many of his are probably categorized more as “musicals” than “operas.”  Modern classical vocal music in English fascinates me, especially because I’d like to write one.  Do you know of any other operas in English that you like?

Turning It Into Momentum

Don’t worry, “Part 2” is coming.  I just have several things to do, and time is flying.

As you know, or have noticed, keeping a blog is challenging for me.  Now I may have figured out why: I only like writing about what I’m feeling.

Well, just about everything that I’ve been feeling for the past…however long it’s been, has not been worthy of mentioning on my professional website.  The effect: I haven’t been blogging at all.  Once again, I say sorry for that to any and all of my loyal audience (even if you aren’t loyal anymore because of it).  But I finally figured out what all those emotions are doing in my professional life.  As I deal with them, they are helping me to grow, learn new things, and achieve more.  Obviously, these things can happen for anyone anytime there is a rough patch, but here’s how it’s affected my professional life in music.

Most of the time, I deal with turbulent emotions and/or circumstances through music.  This has happened in so many different ways in the past few months that I hadn’t realized what was really going on until now.  Sometimes it was lyrics in a steady meter in a journal; sometimes it was working out different and “biting” voicings in my jazz piano homework (yeah, I still take lessons too).  Other times it was escaping to an orchestral concert and playing my own “Fantasia” in my head or loosely analyzing the orchestration in the pieces (or sometimes both at once); other times I made the most dissonant and beautiful strains of sounds that I’ve ever heard myself compose (not finished pieces yet, just snippets).  I was amazing myself because I was just so overwhelmed with emotions, circumstances, etc. that I didn’t even “think,” I just had to “do” something, and it usually turned into music.

Dealing with all the emotion through music quickly turned into passion because I was excited about what I had produced (especially when I had never done it before).  Passion gave me more emotion (more positive this time) and energy that I actively focused on specific things such as my students, my family, myself, the piano, composing projects, etc.  Right now, I am finishing a song for a small band (a “pop” song, but I don’t like calling it that).  I am also entering a contest for a string quartet, even though I have a little less than three weeks left to write for it.

My life’s rough spots are not over yet, but I have some great momentum going right now, at least professionally; and that encourages me quite a bit.  Hopefully, this can encourage others as well.  Even though I still go through the same ups and downs, and I seem to blog about the same ups and downs too (hopefully not too boring), I keep learning new things every time.  And I want it to keep being an encouragement to myself and others during life.  And all I can think of to end with is this: “We lose our way; we get back up again.  It’s never too late to get back up again,” sings my still favorite artist, Tobymac.

What I did last summer…Part 1

Three music for media projects during my final, thesis semester.

-Animated short film (for a film scoring contest): Virtus Vitae

Clip (not used in the final version) from the opening of a documentary about breast cancer called “Baring It All”

-Commercial/promo spot from C-SPAN: White House Week

I am Master, and I shall call you Padawan.

In August, I graduated with a Master of Fine Arts!  Consequently, I “feel” like a Jedi Master of Music or something, especially because I currently have students.

I feel like I have a thousand more ideas now too, but first I have to” work.”  I have a freebie children’s piece that I’m doing for a friend, and I have some transcribing and editing work that is paid!  I’m trying to write an orchestral piece (originally, I wanted a symphony) for a contest next month.  I’m also busy with my students, my “little padawans” as I now sometimes refer to them, with festivals, holidays, and recitals coming up.

This time around graduating, I’m thankful that I haven’t gotten much post-graduation depression, as I have in the past.  I’ve still had many ups and downs, but thanks to my many friends (mostly musical) and family, I have a lot more hope for my future of making it in the world.  I feel more prepared, but I have also learned that I’ll never feel perfectly prepared for anything worth that is trying.  So, I have to just remember my support system and take leaps of faith.  Not too hard, right?

So Close

Tardy again, but I was really busy, and with music stuff!  Finally, I am feeling like a working adult with some kind of career path in front of me.  It’s harder than I thought, and I still can’t always do what I want (all you seasoned professionals are saying “duh” right about now).  But I am so excited about my progress so far (in everything!) and all the possibilities that I can see in the future.

I have a total of three music for media projects done (and hopefully up on my YouTube channel soon) and my music for my Thesis semester project almost done.  Only a little more polishing to do…and some re-writing…and writing my Thesis paper…in less than a month.

Most recently, I’ve had a lot of discouragement.  Right after a big school deadline and right before important commitments that I had (and had to fore-go), I got sick, and the sore throat is still hanging on a little.  Also, today I found out about a terrible tragedy that has overtaken one of my fellow MFA students.

Sorry about the depressing note.  I’ll try to turn my depression into artistic genius in the mean time, but please pray for my fellow student and friend.  And then pester me if I don’t get another post up soon about my projects.

Stay Classy

Just a little tidbit from a good friend. I am finding this to be more and more true in writing music also.

Draw You, Draw Me

In my illustration class this semester, a student asked our professor, “When do you know when a work is finished?”

Admittedly, I can say that this is a question a lot if not all artists will ask themselves about their work. In fact, one of my drawing professors once said that you can keep working on one piece for 10+ years if you wanted to. Though, will a piece ever be done, or will it just reach a point of rest? A place where it can sit and show itself to the world…is that finished or is it just one step of the journey?

Who knows, it’s all too deep for me, even as an almost college graduate.

I used to define “finished” as something smooth and flashy, which it may very well be. Whether it be from laziness or perhaps I’m not bold enough and too hesitant in my…

View original post 38 more words

Self Promotion

Yes, like the title says, I’m advertising myself right now.

If you haven’t “liked” me on Facebook or “friended” me on MySpace (, please do so.  You can also follow me on Twitter@ACMusic101, YouTube (, and LinkedIn.  I’m also on,, and, but only recently with these.

I have a piece of my short film score (the credits music) from the recent competition that I entered posted on my MySpace page, and the filmmaker has given permission for the entries to use his film with each original score for self promotion.  I will have it up on YouTube soon with my score, even though I was not chosen as one of the finalists.  (But one of my fellow classmates is a finalist in the competition!)

On another note (haha-I haven’t yet gotten tired of using that pun), one of the non-musical things that I do is photography, where I consider myself an amateur:

That’s it for now.  Happy browsing. 🙂

Sometimes You Just Need a Little Disney

What else can I say? For the few of you who disagree, watch the video, then get back to me.

The songs in this video are mostly from my generation of Disney, so I can’t help being enamored. But also, many of them were written (or at least movie orchestrated) by Alan Menken, who is still thankfully carrying on his musical genius with Disney, most recently through Enchanted and Tangled. This video had been shared with me this weekend, and I liked it so much that I wanted to share it here. Not only does it have Disney songs, and they are almost all non-princess songs (I had forgotten how many of those actually existed), they are (or were, since it was uploaded in 2010) very creatively presented by the all men A Capella group, Doo Wop Shop, at UMass.

The Half of a Masters Degree

One week later than promised, but here it is…

My second semester project is complete, and my first year of graduate school is almost over.  Quite a feeling, mixed feelings actually, but mostly consisting of happiness and contentment at the moment.

My project turned out a little shorter than I expected, and much shorter than I wanted, but I met the 10 minute minimum requirement of music for the semester.  I am excited about that; it is the most music that I have ever produced in half a year!  I am exceedingly proud of myself, but I also look at (and listen to) my fellow students’ work and immediately see how much I still have to learn.

It is hard for me to describe what I wrote this semester; I feel the need to explain the dances because each dance movement that I wrote is connected so much in my mind to it’s specific dance.  But I’m going to try not to take up space with that, unless I really need to.  If you want to know about each dance, please look them up; there’s plenty of information online and off.  My music (the instrumentation that I chose), I very quickly found out, is unconventional for most Ballroom Dances.  The usual music is more percussive and like pop music than my chosen medium of string quartet and piano (piano quintet).  Therefore, my dance movements sound much different than typical Ballroom dance music.  But I still attempted to capture the musical styles and techniques used in the typical music for each dance.  Each of the five dance movements that I wrote will be recorded during my residency in August, and I will post them as soon as I can afterwards.  Until then, I will try my best to describe the music.

Some (especially dancers) have asked why I chose the five dances that I did, since two of them are classified as “smooth” dances and the others are classified as “rhythm” dances (just as different in look, character, and music as their categories imply).  I have two reasons.  For four of the five dances, I had specific musical ideas in mind.  In my dancing experience, I did not have any musical problem with “smooth” and “rhythm” dances being next to each other in a dance line up.  And I wanted it to be a sort of line up, but more actually a “suite,” like it could be a little dance party in and of itself, like dance suites used to be, especially in the Baroque Period.  So, I chose the dances and ordered them in the best way I thought possible, musically, rhythmically, and so as to not purposely fatigue the dancers.  Consequently, the mix seems a little random, but I have thought it out and am happy with it.  The order is Foxtrot, Samba, Rumba, Tango, and Waltz.  Stay tuned for their descriptions.

An end is a beginning…

I am now just over one month into my second semester for my Music Composition Masters at Vermont College of Fine Arts.  My first project, for last semester, is over (at least for now; I do want to eventually finish the whole thing).  In the four semesters I have, I want to learn all that I can so I am focusing on a different project for each semester.

This semester, the ensemble in residence for the upcoming August residency will be a string quartet with optional piano to form a piano quintet.  This medium seemed ideal (at least mostly) for one of my project ideas, which is a dance suite.  However, this will not be any old dance suite.  Given my enthusiasm for ballroom dancing, this will be a ballroom dance suite for piano quintet, which now seems not quite right when I think about the “rhythm” and latin dances.  Strings conform beautifully for the Waltz, Tango, and even Foxtrot, but Samba, Swing, or Cha Cha?  How would that even work?  Well, I could have the musicians use their instruments in non-traditional percussive ways when needed, but would they be willing to beat on their instruments for that long?  Could I use clapping, snapping, stomping, or something else for percussion?  Something on the piano?  This is still a conundrum for me, but I really want to try to figure it out creatively in my own way.

My plan so far is to have a sort of Prelude/Warm-Up movement for the musicians and the dancers (yes, I want this to actually be dance-able).  That will be followed by the following dance movements:






If I get those movements done, and if I still have time left in the semester (I sincerely hope so!), I will add these dance movements:

Viennese Waltz

East Coast Swing

Cha Cha

If I get ALL THOSE done, then I will add these last dance movements:

Paso Doble

West Coast Swing


Night Club Two Step

All of these dance choices, apart from one, I know at the very least the basic stepping rhythm and character of the dance, if not more, since I’ve been dancing for about one and a half years now.  I’m still in the studying and preliminary writing stage, but I hope to have the waltz fleshed out (maybe done) by next week.  And I promised myself that before I give any more updates on this new project, that I will to post the recordings (either on here or MySpace; I’ll let you know) that I got from last semester’s project.  Soooooo…stay tuned, my friends.