Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Gearing Up and Winding Up

Hello,

I hope everyone had a good holiday weekend. I definitely took the time off to rest up and gear up for the last push before the big India trip. Lots of things are coming to a close in the next week. I have been taking 2 classes at Eastern Michigan University in Yipsilanti towords finishing up my teaching certification, (I will have 3 more next semester and that should be it!). The classes are basic conducting and violin. Because of the trip, I must take my final exams early, which is no fun, but a small price to pay. So this week I have been conducting up a storm and picking up the violin at least twice a day. Also, this coming Sunday is my student recital at Oz's Music Environment in Ann Arbor. 16 of my students will be performing on drumset, tabla, hand drums, and bells. I am very excited for it, but it is a lot of work. I want to record it and put it up on the web before I leave, so watch for it. And finally, I have been working with Go Like the Wind Montessori school in preperation for the year-end Christmas concert, which takes place the day after I get back from India. I have been preparing songs and getting the 4th-7th grade ready to perform. Going away for 2 weeks prior to the show is a definite disadvantage, but I am being covered by the other music teacher at the school, who happens to be Steve Osburn, the owner of Oz's Music. The last we met, the kids sounded good and I feel like it will be a fine concert.

I don't think I have written about the gig I played with Deep Blue at Cafe Felix in Ann Arbor the Friday before last. It was a special one because I brought all my recording equipment and tried to make a nice live recording. We usually record a nice demo at the end of the year, but this year it had to be bumped because of, you guessed it, India. It was difficult to get a nice mix while we played and I am not sure if any of it will make it on a demo, but it was fun to try and I am excited to try it again soon.

This coming up Friday I will be playing with the Gratitude Steel Band at some kind of world Christmas celebration at Wayne County Community College. This will be the last gig before India. Be sure to check the blog for updates and pics. I will try to update often, but internet access is not always easy to get to in India.

Thanks for reading, and please sign the guestbook if you haven't already!

John

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

2 Long shows

Hello,

This weekend was a doozy. Actually, it started of nice, I had friday off and got to go home early and relax. Saturday I played with Gratitude at an auction/fundraiser for a private high school in Orchard Lake, MI. I got there at 4pm and didn't leave till 1am. We played about 6 hours and the rest was devoted to the live auction. It was in a big ice arena and we were set up right on the rink. They put boards down to shield the ice, but it was still cold. It wasn't so bad once we got to playing, but my feet were ice cubes all night,(I play without shoes). I invited one of my students, Nick Joseph, to come along and play congas. I had no idea we would be playing so long and I felt bad around hour 5 when I saw Nick taping his hands. He was a trooper though and played the entire show with no complaints. The rest of the band liked him too, so perhaps he will be playing with us again soon.

Sunday was the ICMD grand concert at U of M. I played a piece with Amit Sawant, (vocalist), and the tabla ensemble made up of Aniket Joshi, Ashish Deshpande, Angat Singh, and myself. The concert was slated to be 2 hours long, but ended up being 4. It was a lot of music to sit through, which is fine for me, but judging from the thinning of the audience, it was a bit too much for most. The music was really great and everyone worked very hard to put it together. I wish we had more concerts spread out over the semester to ease the load a bit and give more opportunities to more musicians to play. The Indian music community is really incredible in Lower Michigan and Ann Arbor is a great place to play to a very diverse and accepting audience. I look forward to what the future has in store.

This week I play with Deep Blue at Cafe Felix and then I am off till December. Just two gigs and then it is time for INDIA. I can't wait....

Talk to you soon,

John

Friday, November 11, 2005

ICMD, Deep Blue, Thoughts on the Written Note

Hello again. It has been another good week in the world of music. Last Thursday I played a small gig with the ICMD crew at the Michigan League Underground. It is a nice little venue in the basement of one of the old U of M buildings. There was not much advertising, so there was not much of a crowd, but it was good to perform and prepair for the big upcoming ICMD concert on Sunday. I have played in their concert for the past 2 years and this one is shaping up to be one of the best. Everyone has been practicing for a couple of months as opposed to the usual 2 week scramble. I really think it will show through on Sunday.

I was at Cafe Felix again on Friday with Deep Blue. That gig is getting to be more and more fun to play. I feel like we are really starting to gel as a group and the musical ideas are starting to take shape. It is very difficult to expand and explore in music when everyone is stuck reading from a page, which has been the case for over 2 years, but lately, it seems, I can sense that the page is becoming more like a reminder of ideas rather than the primary source of creation. I truly believe that music does not develop, grow, and take shape untill it is in our minds and bodies. When we have to engage in a very mechanical act of making the written note a sound on our instrument, it gets in the way of our true understanding of what we play. You would never see an actor on stage with the script in their hand, and if you did, what would you think? I do believe that their is merit in written music, ecspecially if you need to get a hundred plus musicians playing something complex, however, when you work from the page you no longer work with a person, you work with a very sophisicated musical robot. The experience becomes soley about the music itself. Hundreds of people are now dedicated to the idea of one, the composer. This, I believe is just as valid, beautiful, and worthy as individual creation, but it does not make for a complete human experience. The idea of being in the room and even on stage with great musicians and not being able to share ideas, puts us in a state of stagnation for the good of the music. Instead of sharing our time, space, ideas, and souls, we end up merely presenting a product for consumption. I am not saying that this product can not serve to inspire, I just think the inspiration is at best seperate among the composer, the listener and the perfromer. The experience is not a shared one. I will always strive to be away from the page, which I find harder and harder to do as I build a career in music. I believe however, that in the long run, it will allow me to be the musician I have wanted to be since the first time I fell in love with music.

Thanks for reading,

John

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Performers.JPG


Performers.JPG
Originally uploaded by jcmqt.
My friends from the ICMD (Indian Classical Music and Dance) group of U of M. at Friday's performance in Southfield.

Tabla Ensemble.JPG


Tabla Ensemble.JPG
Originally uploaded by jcmqt.
The tabla ensemble is starting to sound pretty good. I will try and record an upcoming show for the site.

Indian Classical

Hello,

Well, it is fitting that all my excitement for the upcoming India trip will be coupled with a good number of Indian Classical music shows in November. Actually I just played one of them this last Friday in Southfield, MI. with the ICMD crew. I was pondering the circumstances on the way to the gig...I, a U.P. native was on my way to an Armenien church to play Indian Classical music for a corporate event. In many ways it is a typicaly untypical scenerio. The show was a blast and they fed us some great food. It is always a joy to play with the ICMD crew. We are playing this Thursday at the League Underground club at U of M, and then we have a big show on November 13th. It is the official ICMD concert. It should be a good one. In the meantime I have been practicing and gearing up for the trip to Calcutta. Here are some pictures from friday's gig.

Thanks for reading,

John

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