Site Stats: My site tracking is limited to 30 days, and the month of June saw quite a drop in site traffic. This has a lot to do with me having to invest my time elsewhere. However, I did finish my first year on ClustrMaps and received 90,243 hits in the first year. Since May 1st, I am aready up to about 12,800 visits, so things keep on chugging.
Newsletter Feature: One of my articles related to marching band was recently featured in the Alfred Publishing Company's email newsletter. They will be showcasing another one next month.
My SoundCloud: My recent purchase of a Blue Snowball USB microphone and the opening of a SoundCloud account has led to a burst of musical creativity. I have been using SoundCloud to host rehearsal recordings for the summer a cappella group I sing with, as well as using it for audio broadcasts for the updates of my Kickstarter campaign (see below) and, most importantly, I've been using SoundCloud and MixCraft to experiment with recording and mixing my own a cappella music! Affectionately dubbed "Tom and the Action Figures", all of the sounds on the recording are made with my voice and mouth and edited with MixCraft.
Online Music Education Curricula: One of my projects this summer is developing work-at-your-own-pace curricula for both the guitar and the vocal courses of my school's remote access program. As of this writing, we have 10 students from all over Pennsylvania who will be taking courses to learn to play an instrument, the piano, or to become a better singer, along with a 2-D art and a photography course. We'll be using the method books published by Alfred as our core material, and these two courses will be part of the future collaborations my school will be making with ViaAcademies. We will be using three of ViaAcademies' already existing courses with our remote access students this coming year.
TOP SECRET PROJECT!: Back in April, I was presented with a unique opportunity that, for several reasons, has had to remain hush-hush. This project is one of those "I've always wanted to do that" things in the back of your mind that you never think you'll actually get around to. An opportunity presented itself that acted as a catalyst for myself and a few fellow musicians to strike out on a quest that occupied pretty much all of my free time in the month of May. We've been kind of "on hold" in June, but getting ready to make this thing public some time in August if all goes well. What is it? Oh don't you wish you knew!
Kickstarter Project: By far, however, hosting my own Kickstarter fundraising project for The A Cappella Project - Philadelphia. I am a huge fan of close harmony singing of all kinds, and truly consider it my hobby outside of music teaching. I joined the board of directors of this small but enthusiastic non-profit organization last August as their Director of Education. My position is to create opportunities for Project's membership and the greater Philadelphia community to learn more about contemporary a cappella singing. This campaign is to fund a new summer clinic and showcase featuring a professional-level vocal band. Take a moment to visit the campaign website and make sure you watch the title video (6 hours of work on my part). Also, be sure to browse through the "Updates" tab where I've been posting great content daily, including some recordings from the summer groups as they prepare for this concert. We have only 6 days left in the campaign to raise $410 more. Please help us spread the word by using the Facebook "like" controls, Tweet button, or using the tiny url http://kck.st/iqohLm to let others who support music education and contemporary a cappella know about this new program. Thank you!
iSchoolMusic Goes Viral: Another thing that soaked up a lot of my productive time was helping the folks behind the scenes at iSchoolBand promote their new version, called iSchoolMusic. They ran an ill-fated Kickstarter campaign back in May, but that closed door opened a BIG window in the form of an outside benefactor that is giving them support they need to make iSchoolMusic a "free forever" Student Management System for bands, orchestras, and choruses everyowhere. They just opened the door for pre-signups today, and they will easily break 100 schools and over 10,000 students in the first day! I will be doing a blog post on this later today. Visit the site here.
New Review - Value Vocals: I haven't been completely neglectful of my website. Back in April, I completed a new review article for a brand new contemporary a cappella arranging service called Value Vocals. Arranger and proprietor Shawn Pearce is a fellow Sinfonian who sang with me in the formative years of the Penn State A Cappella community. Shawn's passion for a cappella singing is enjoying new life as an arranging service. Read the full review here.
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink is a book I was actually introduced to by hearing one of Daniel Pink's lectures on a YouTube video. I'm in the middle of reading it right now, and can honestly say that if you really want to understand the anatomy of what intrinsically motivates people to do the things they do and how that applies to the emerging Internet Age, you need to read this book.
Pick up a copy here.
What Is A Good Keyboard To Practice On?: Although keyboards have improved remarkably over the years to match their acoustic counterparts, nothing beats a good old upright or baby grand for developing as far as the weight and feel of the keys. The one big disadvantage, of course, is that acoustics take up a lot of space. You simply can’t take them wherever you go, which can make it difficult to stay in practice.The obvious alternative, of course, are keyboards. The problem is there are so many to choose from and so many of them come attached to price tags a little too steep for non-professionals. Read more.
Guest Conductor Tip: Name Tags For The Ensemble: If you ever find yourself in the position of serving as a guest conductor for an honors band festival, an onstage clinic for an orchestra, or other event where you are working with an ensemble of strangers for an extended period of time, here's a quick tip. Read more.
Teaching Jazz Improvisation to the Absolute Beginner: One of the things that many music teachers struggle with is a way to teach jazz improvisation to beginners. In some cases, this is because the teacher themself has limited experience with jazz improvisation themself. Jazz improvisation, or improvisation of any kind, is an important facet of performing music that should be experienced by every performer. It is not, however, something that a beginner o.... Read more
Until next time,
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