Syllabus….

I’m currently in the process of writing a new syllabus for my studio. The process has been entertaining to say the least. One of the most important things to me, in writing this syllabus, is that it present core fundamentals in a clear and concise manner.

Clear and concise.

That’s where I’m getting myself into trouble. I often find that in writing one set of requirements that I turn around and try to justify those requirements with a lengthy and verbose section. This gets me into a bit of a quandary because I not only want my students/parents to understand what I require of my students but also the value.

I’m actually debating whether or not to include an additional hand-out that includes those core values and explanations. I know what happens when you give a student too much information, their eyes glaze over and lose complete interest. So my mission is clear and concise but with meaning.

 

 

Visibility

For the past few months, during my days of website hibernation, I’ve been debating on changing my website around.

Particularly the domain name.

I’ve decided to change the title of the site, which I’m sure you’ve already noticed…but am now weighing the pros and cons of a domain change.

My primary concern is redirecting traffic – which, for one as technologically challenged as I, is similar to me attempting to do advanced algorithms.

Of course, I may just change nothing…

We’ll see.

Happy Practicing!

And…Goooo

Well, here we are folks…the “final” year of my doctorate. The end of my professional career as a college student.

The year entails many exciting (and stressful) events and adventures. Numerous recording projects coming up. I’ll be making an album of clarinet trios including the Brahms and Beethoven. There is one new work that is currently in the final stages of composition.

The second album will be a collection of new works for clarinet. It’s in conjunction with some up and coming composers.

Later this Fall I have been invited to give a couple masterclasses. Which I’m looking forward to!

There’s a possibility that I may have signed too many contracts for solo performances this Fall…and likely will be going PSYCHO by the end of December. It’d be one thing to repeat rep, but most are different works every single time. Oy!

Livin’ the life!

I’m slowly working on my calendar, as soon as its up I will be posting it here!

Exciting time!

Off to practice.

Remember: Breathe, Listen, and Make Music!

For the Love of Music

I play a fair amount of gigs, enough that it pays the bills. Many gigs, as I’m sure some have experienced, can be a hair-pulling event…the group is comprised of so-and-so’s sister who played flute in middle school and the guitar player is a hobbyist that suffers from memory loss.

Too often I play these less than gratifying gigs but always manage to find something in the performance that makes it worth while. Something that reminds me why I love what I do.

Usually it’s the response from the audience.

All the gigs I’ve played, even the really awful ones, the audience has loved it and been very gracious. That, in my emotional artsy way, really touches my heart because, well, that’s was music is supposed to do…even if it’s not an amazing performance you can always find someone that was touched by it.

Every now and then I play a gig with a mixed group of musicians from a variety of different backgrounds and skills, where it’s both personally and musically gratifying to me.

Had one of those tonight. The director was really an outstanding musician and everyone there, from the professional to student musicians, loved what they were doing.

That makes all the difference…that spirit, energy, and vibe.

I love it! Those moments continually remind me that playing music is really a gift.

As always:

Listen, love, breathe, and make music!

Hibernation Period

My period of hibernation is slowly coming to an end.

Allow me to explain:

It’s the end of the semester…

A LONG SEMESTER

And for about a week or so I find myself hibernating in my apartment.

This year, more so than usual.

My hibernation period consists of gorging myself on Netflix, sleeping in until 1 or 2…or 3, rarely responding to messages or emails unless absolutely necessary, and enjoying the random Law and Order marathon on TV.

It’s an extreme shift in my behavior & something I actually really need to work on….but for now, I’m going to enjoy my last few hours of hibernation before finally getting back to work.

It has been a long year – very long – and I’m really looking forward to a relaxing and comfortable summer of music making, creative thinking, writing, and general carousing.

Plan on joining me because its going to be a fun few months…trust me.

Oh, and drink this beer…it’s really delicious!

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RecitaRrrr

After playing these really cool little ditties at a friends recital today, I sat in the audience and listened. It was a fantastic recital, emotionally riveting, and sonically pleasing.

The piece we played, by the way, was called Suite Cantando by Bill Douglas for clarinet bassoon, and piano – very very cool piece, lots of jazz influences from bebop to samba. Definitely a crowd pleaser.

While I was listening to the performance, i actually allowed myself to escape from the moment and sort of go into my thoughts.

No…I wasn’t zoning out (double negative), I was allowing the music to simply transport me wherever it wanted. So I sat there and just let any thought come in to my mind and then expand upon those different thoughts.

Very hippy-like if I do say so myself.

Back to the story.

So the first thing I think of is…”man it’s really tough to play an unaccompanied work.”

Allow me to explain:

Yes, it’s a part of what we do as performers, going on stage and exposing ourselves emotionally. Not a really big deal. what is difficult though, is the ability to change your mental and emotional focus. I know I need at least a few minutes of transition time. Sometimes, I think more work needs to go in to developing the character of the piece, the choreography, the physical movements, the mind set, the emotion you wish to capture.

Hmm…Food for thought.

Pit Stop

I often wonder sometimes what motivates me, keeps me going, and inspires me. And then I also wonder why I am unmotivated or, in worse case scenarios, recalcitrant towards life.

I find it difficult sometimes trying to evaluate my own emotional back drop. A fault I’m sure many people are guilty of. This all recently surfaced over the past few weeks as I have taken a magnifying glass in assessing my skills as a performer and artist.

This skill of self-assessment, I think, is imperative and fundamental to my abilities as a musician. It effects my ability to be an artist. I can easily assess my skills as a teacher because there are tangible results. But being your own teacher, your own life coach….takes more…something…mental power, facility, will power, control, and being able to honestly look at yourself and see what’s really there, not what you want to see.

This path, experience, adventure…what have you…has been enlightening. Difficult, no doubt, but worth it. I have begrudgingly looked at the things I want to fix – and most importantly – looked at the motivation behind wanting to fix them. Do you wish to increase your knowledge of the world because you want to or because you fight to find your place among your peers. Do you study and practice because you want to challenge yourself or because you are fueled by greed or jealousy?

Being a musician, to me, involves not only growing as an artist, but also cultivating the skills to further my creativity. Being an artist means more than simply wielding a paint brush or playing an instrument. Though I may not always be able to adequately put it into sentences that are coherent or make any sense. Being artist, a musician, includes living like one, continually striving to find your motivation and inspiration. Learning to break down the various boundaries, emotional and physical, that keep you from finding that inspiration or motivation. Sort of like how an author fights writers block.

I have come to a point where, in order to keep growing, I must turn inward and look at my own stressors. I must identify my mental and emotional blocks and learn to either break them down and overcome them or work around them.

One thing I’ve have always respected about myself is my ability to look at situations or events in an unbiased light. I am capable of seeing things for what they are, uncovering the truth. A skill I must learn to use on myself.

And that concludes this random rant of none sense. I’m allowed at least one of these vague posting every now and then. Maybe it makes sense to you.

Website Changes

I’ve slowly been making some changes to the website and you’ll now notice a new and exciting little menus and page tabs! Many are still under construction and depending on how quickly I can learn how to adjust menu options and creating static items…you should be having fun soon.

One of the newest editions of the site is the resources and pedagogy menu. My goal, as I mentioned briefly on that page description, is to provide a variety of resources for studio teachers, college professors, and band directors to aid and supplement in the education and development of beginning to advanced clarinet students.

If you have ANY suggestions of topics or resources you would like to see, please don’t hesitate to contact me at: butalewiczac@gmail.com

The resources page is for the benefit of everyone with a desire to learn and develop their own skills as a teacher and pedagogue.

 

Idealistic or Realistic?

While talking to someone about my teaching and music philosophy today, I was told that I had really great “idealistic” goals.

Huh?

I make sure that each and every one of my students has the tools and skills to¬†succeed¬†in this dog-eat-dog music¬†community¬† I teach the artistry of music, I do not teach my students how to simply win an audition…which frankly, is illogical to me. If you are a good enough player, are dedicated, and develop the skills you need, then you will win an audition….I just can’t do it, it’s just not realistic.

I parallel my teaching with the demands of the society and culture we live in. I want my students to have REAL LIFE experiences, I refuse to BS them, or shove things under the carpet.

How that is idealistic, I don’t know. That to me, is something EVERY teacher should be teaching. Lets be real honest for a moment…lets talk about the elephant in the room. There is more to music than playing in an orchestra…WAY more. How teachers feel justified in only giving their students one set of playing skills, and not the rest, is way beyond my understanding.

Teaching for some is an auxiliary job, not a primary source of income. I wonder how much of that rubs off in their teaching…to those students, it’s not auxiliary.

We can either teach to the main stream academia or we can actually teach our students how to be musicians, total musicians. It’s an inclusive deal…not exclusive.

I feel like I’m fighting an up hill battle sometimes.¬†

Forward Thinking

Today seems like a good day to reflect on the events of the week and take inventory on current projects and research as well as assess where I am and where to go next.

Other than suffering through almost a week of vertigo and having to spend a majority of my time on the couch because moving induced this awful feeling of death. If you’ve never experienced vertigo, you are very lucky. I had, in all seriousness, thought that I finally lost it and went crazy….especially when I started seeing things move.

Not so pleasant.

I have only been able to play for a few minutes, which I really disliked. Essentially, my health is important and that comes first…or something like that.

For the past few days, I’ve been re-evaluating my course curriculum for my applied lessons as well as for my methods classes. I realized how much I miss teaching at Ithaca College. I taught 3 sections of clarinet methods to undergraduate music education majors and they were, without a doubt, my favorite classes to teach. Ithaca designed its music education curriculum around the philosophy that if you can play the instrument you can teach it. All music education majors were required to pass¬†proficiencies¬†in all woodwinds and brass before allowed to student teach.

For me, this presented a variety of interesting challenges…try teaching a tuba player how to play the clarinet.

I loved the fact that I had complete freedom to design and structure the curriculum according to my own background. My own philosophy was that each student would not only leave my class being able to play the instrument  but able to teach it as well as recognize and diagnose problems.

All of my students passed the proficiency exams with flying colors. I was proud of every one of my students. My evaluations were¬†hilarious¬† many of which I can’t submit for job applications because they’re, well, a little interesting. Many students would depict their evaluation in a comic rendering.

And to this day, I still have students, who are band directors throughout the U.S., calling/emailing for help. It’s a great feeling to know that I have made a difference. It’s extremely humbling.

My goals for the upcoming week are to assess those successful techniques in my methods course and weave them into my curriculum and course study. ¬†It’s important, as I redevelop my curriculum, to make sure that there is a considerable amount of focus on experiential learning.

Lastly, I decided that I am going to slowly edit and upload the resources and articles I compiled and wrote for my methods class on my website. It’ll be quite an undertaking, but I think well worth it. Not only for me, but also for my past students and many more.

Remember: Live, Love, Laugh, Listen and Play.