What Do Musicians Do All Day?

The blog has been awfully quiet lately. It’s my summer break from teaching.

The joke around here is that musicians mostly lay about playing music all day. Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) was a court musician for the Esterhazy family – wealthy Hungarian princes who loved music. Haydn composed music for church, opera, orchestra, string quartet, piano, and marionette theatre. He was also responsible for the care, music, and instruments of 15-20 court musicians. There was no time off, except at the discretion of the prince. Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) was responsible for writing a new cantata for each Sunday’s church service, i.e. compose the work, write out all the parts by hand, conduct rehearsals, and have it ready to perform on Sunday morning. Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) was good at everything, and basically worked himself to death.

There is music all day long, but I don’t seem to be laying around much. My job description can be summed up as planning for the future and executing for today. Teaching schedules, concert bookings, and student programs are planned a year in advance. Daily lessons and practice session accomplish a step or two that will achieve the long-range goal. Planning, teaching, practising, performing.

In the last week I’ve been to three rehearsals for three different groups, accompanied a violin exam, worked on the plan for a year of piano lessons for 30 students, organized some student performances for the end of the month, and practised for an upcoming performance. I wonder what next week will be like.

Ah, the lazy days of summer.

These Are a Few of My Favourite Things

I love live music – all kinds of genres in almost any venue.

Recently all the stars aligned into my idea of a perfect evening…visiting a friend in my favourite city of Vancouver…seeing the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra perform in the beautiful Orpheum Theatre…hearing Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 performed before a sold out house…conducted by the VSO’s Music Director, Bramwell Tovey.

While he and I have not yet met, I’ve admired Maestro Tovey from afar for some time now. I first became acquainted with him when I lived in Winnipeg and he was the artistic director of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. Over the years I’ve heard him conduct several different orchestras, give pre-concert talks, and speak at a music conference. He is a fine musician and his list of accomplishments is long and impressive.

But the thing I admire most about Maestro Tovey is his ability to connect with the audience. He makes the world of classical music approachable, understandable, and – dare I say – enjoyable. The next time Maestro Tovey is in town, be sure to get tickets. It will be a perfect evening.

"my" band

All grown up and still waiting to be a Rock Star

C’mon, ‘fess up. You play an instrument, and you dream of being a rock star.

The League of Rock is here. You can join a rock band and have all the fun without the “I’m sleeping in my car somewhere in northern Ontario because I didn’t get paid from my last gig.” They provide rehearsal space, coaching, performing venues, and a chance to meet other musicians.

Last Sunday I had a great time jamming at League of Rock’s open house. I met some great amateur and pro musicians from right here in Ottawa, and we rocked the house at Zaphod Beeblebrox. Now that my feet have stood on the same stage as The Rolling Stones, I’ll be discovered any day.

You can join the fall session at League Of Rock.