Friday, January 20, 2017

Fall 2016 | Early 2017

This last fall was one of busyness and development. There are lots of exciting things to announce, like:
I'm now on faculty at James Madison University!
I've established a new chamber group: L+M Duo with Chicago-based pianist Marianne Parker
I was accepted to the PAS Health and Wellness committee
The @ percussion podcast is alive and well, recording episode 77 this week!


Being asked to join the faculty at JMU was certainly a highlight of the last few months. It's great to be at a university again, teaching with husband, and resume working with passionate, talented colleagues.  It has been great to teach percussion again, share my 'healthy playing' research findings, and occasionally exercise empathic skills in those "talking lessons" which more resemble life coachings than music lessons.
I also taught a Percussion Methods class for the first time. I learned a lot: things I'd do differently, things I'd incorporate, things I'd stick to my guns about - like talking about Body Mapping and healthy playing right off the bat.  It's amazing how we all, once charged with executing a strange new task, lose a good deal of coordination, and need a third party to point it out to us.

L+M Duo

Marianne and I met when we were both at UT, Knoxville. We share each other's instruments - percussion and piano - which means we have a really easy time playing and rehearsing together. In just a few short months we've commissioned a new piece: Magicicada, by Rusty Banks; premiered a special arrangement of Jacob TV's Body of Your Dreams; given a debut tour through East TN; been accepted to perform at a new music festival in 2017; and had our Chicago debut at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  
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In June 2017 we have two more Chicago performances, one at Constellation, the well-established new music venue.  We have a new commission with Boston-based composer Aaron Jay Myers; he's a colleague of mine from Boston. I'm excited to have something from him because he's one of those folks that really knows how to write for marimba!

Health & Wellness, Y'all

Maybe it's because I'm from a medical family, or because I LOVED my high school Physiology class, or because Alexander Technique changed my life....but I'm stoked to put my passion for health to use with and for PAS.  Musicians tend to think about bodies only once there's a problem, but paying attention before then can help reduce occurrence and cause of injury. 
There's a great group of people on the committee, including powerhouse Sherry Rubins, who has been a university professor, orchestra member, and fitness teacher simultaneously and successfully for some time. I'm inspired by that.

On this note, a new avenue of reading and writing for me has to do with the intersection of the mind, body, and brain as it relates to self-care. I'm coming across fascinating things, and I can't wait to share them.

Early 2017

Casey and I recently returned from the Indiana All-State Percussion Ensemble weekend, where we both performed with the group and presented clinics/masterclasses.  I played Marimba Spiritual and Casey performed White Knuckle Stroll with Ensemble, as well as conducted his piece Occhio.   I was also asked to present a class on keyboard fundamentals to the band directors, and decided to merge that topic with my movement studies in a clinic called A Kinesthetic Approach to Keyboard Fundamentals.  We looked at lots of pictures of bones and muscles, in addition to playing some little ditties on glockenspiel, vibraphone, and marimba.

The next two events of 2017 are both at JMU and quite different in nature. In late January I'll be the accompanist for the Men's Choir Invitational. I always enjoy the sound of a men's choir, and I get to work with a dear friend and brilliant leader, Dr. Bryce Hayes, so this is an event I really look forward to.
In February, Casey and I are both involved in the Contemporary Music Festival, featuring composer Augusta Read Thomas.  The festival spans three days, and includes daily evening concerts and masterclasses/lectures by Ms Thomas.  Casey and I will perform Celestial Canons with its composer, JMU professor Dr. Eric Guinivan.  The piece premiered in August of 2016 at the Staunton Music Festival. On a personal note, it's one of the more involved pieces I've learned in terms of the variety of instruments and implements used. It even requires us to disassemble a chime rack, if that's any indication.

At the end of February I'll travel to Tarleton State University in TX to perform and present a masterclass. Thus far the rep is Marimba Spiritual and Passacaglia, which I'll get to play with my co-host and new Tarleton faculty member, Ben Charles!

I'm excited and grateful that there are more events this spring, but this is a good place to end for now. It's going to be a great year!

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