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Archive for the ‘Seasoned Musician’ Category

               Ok, this is the way a musician’s page should hit you.  BAM!  Right off the bat a picture and some upbeat tunes.

               Within three seconds of hitting that home page, www.KellySings.net, you will hear that female voice.  Wow, “The Boy from Ipanema” comes on and right away you know if you like this voice or not.

              What a class act. The Big Photo really lets you know who the musician is. Next, I find she is a background singer for Diana Ross, www.DianaRoss.com, and finalist of the Today Show “Superstar” contest.

              Since then she has produced an album with the world-renowned Nile Rodgers, www.NileRodgers.com, which must have been a dream come true for Kelly.

              Her style, I would say, is a Light Jazz.  But dont take my word for it- check out her website and listen to the great samples.  www.KellyMittleman.com

               Yes, I did buy the album and find it very well done. She even has a gig coming up at FoxWoods, www.FoxWoods.com.  See you there! 

Carl Slicer, Sr Editor, www.BandSpace.Fm,        

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Connections. How indispensable are they really? How much can they make or break your music career? Well, you’d be surprised. My father, today, began a conversation with me by using those famous four words, “I know a guy…”And most of the time, that’s a scary phrase. But today it was actually a breath of fresh air. You see, my husband Erik compiled, within the past few years, seven tracks of original music. Erik sang lead vocals and played acoustic guitar, I sang the background vocals, and there were drums and bass as well. He got as far as recording and editing the tracks, but after that a few things kept him from moving forward. The first and most important was money. It’s not cheap to finance your own project from start to finish, and since I was still in college and he was freshly graduated at that point, we didn’t exactly have a lot of extra dough lying around. So the project was put on the back burner, and it has not been revisited since. All that remains to be done is mastering and producing. That’s where my story begins.So my dad says “I know a guy…”, and I cringe, but he follows that up with “who would finish Erik’s album up for him.”My ears perk up. “Oh yeah?”

“Yeah, I work with him and he owes me a couple favors.”

Ah, favors. A vintage Dad word. Everybody owes him favors. Or so he says. But this is actually beginning to sound pretty legit. I listen as he explains that he’s always felt that this project should be followed through. It sounds a tad like a “living vicariously through you” talk, but in the end I’ve got to admit, he made some great points about how we shouldn’t go through life saying “what if we’d only…” or “I wonder what would have happened…”

So I said, “I’ll get a hold of those tracks for you, you can hand them over to your guy, and we’ll make it a surprise for Erik.” And that’s the plan. If he knew about it, he would probably try to stop us, for whatever insecure reasons, but I’m confident that when we present him with the finished product, he’ll appreciate the “favor,” and the fact that he won’t have to ask himself “what if?” simply because my dad knew a guy.

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 My husband and I have long been avid Broadway fanatics. We know all the words to the Rent soundtrack (of course I’m Mimi and Joanne and Maureen while he’s Mark and Collins and Benny and Roger, and we take turns being Angel). I’m addicted to Guys and Dolls. He’s addicted to Aida. And we’re famous for busting out into CATS at parties. One of our wedding presents was actually a pair of tickets to Wicked.

But it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that the Broadway scene ever seemed like a potential reality. We were at a family wedding, just sitting down to our respective chicken and prime rib dinners, when my cousin Kathy sauntered up behind us, giving hugs and hellos, and then letting the bomb drop.

“So Erik… how would you feel about going down to the city to audition for a new show that’s coming out?”

He nearly spat up his White Russian.

“Um… what?” he responded, a bit taken aback.

“Well it’s just that I have a friend who’s a producer in NYC, and he’s producing a new show that has a part I think you might be perfect for.”

Well what do you say to something like that!? A once-in-a-lifetime offer to actually make history and be in the original cast of a Broadway show!

He was, of course, eager and interested. She retrieved the practice CD from her car and he’s been listening to it ever since, practicing for his audition, which will be some time this summer.

Is it really that easy? There are millions of actors and actresses out there, roaming the streets of talent-ridden NYC. Does a small-town high school English teacher have a shot at beating out all those people who have made acting their career of choice? And is that fair?

Well, it is that easy. In the world of entertainment, it really is all about who you know. But once you’ve secured an audition, it becomes a matter of how you perform. Not only do you have to be a phenomenal actor, singer, and dancer, you also have to be right for the specific part. Casting for specificity plays a huge role in the final decision.

Erik was egged on by my cousin because not only is he extraordinarily talented as an actor and singer (although he could use some work on the dancing, but hey – two out of three ain’t bad, eh?), but he is also a 24-year-old man with the body of a 14-year-old. That’s the clincher. They can do a lot with makeup, but they can’t shrink a person, and Erik is exactly what they need at 5’3”.

If he makes it, he’ll be touring all next year, from Arizona to the Midwest and then finally back to New York. But am I going to play the nagging wife role and start complaining? Absolutely not. Because if I was in his shoes – and who knows, maybe someday I will be – I’d be packing my bags ASAP!

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                So I have this Music History class every Tuesday and Thursday.  That’s not exactly very often, I’d say, even with a lot else on my plate.  So I really have no trouble making it to class every week.  And I’ve got to admit, I’m greatly puzzled when the seemingly smartest kid in class is constantly missing.  He’ll show up every other week or so, sometimes (rarely) two classes in a row, and of course he’ll always be there for the tests, but he always knows what we’re talking about, he always aces the exams, and the professor never seems the least bit miffed at this boy who just randomly disappears for days at a time.              It’s not like I was losing sleep over this or anything, but it did bother me that I was busting my butt trying to make it to every class and pay attention and take notes and I still wasn’t making the same grades that this slacker was.  I needed to know what his secret was.              Well, one day I just decided that enough was enough, and I approached him.   The following conversation transpired:

              “Seth.  Dude.  Where do you go all the time?”  I queried, sincerely bewildered by my classmate.   He laughed at my puzzled expression, which only made me more persistent. “Where?!” I demanded.  “And why do you seem to never miss a beat?”              With a smile, he nodded toward a tape recorder that sat on his desk.   “Well,” he said, “as far as the never missing a beat question, it’s a simple answer.  Whenever I have to miss a class, I pop in to the classroom earlier in the morning and leave this in the corner.  And then I read the chapters that we covered in class to reinforce the information.  I study a lot.  That’s why I never miss a beat.”              “Okay, I guess that’s not as weird as I thought,” I consented.  “But why are you never in class? And why doesn’t Dr. Callaghan care?”              “Well, I spoke with her at the beginning of the semester and we worked out a deal.  I let her know that I would have to miss classes frequently but that I could guarantee that I would come when I could and always do well on the tests.  She agreed that if I was comfortable with less class time than the rest of the students, she didn’t mind me missing classes with a good reason.”              I was getting really impatient at this point.  “And that reason is……??”   “I play at funerals.”  “What?” I asked, having expected him to have a much more lame excuse.              “I have to do gigs to pay for school, and since I’m an organist, the best way for me to do this is by getting into a circuit of local churches and offering my services for funerals.”              “And you play at that many funerals?” I asked, trying to remember how many classes he had missed.               “Yeah, people die a lot,” he said.  “Which is awful, of course.  It’s a pretty depressing job.  And I’d much rather be in class with the rest of you guys.  But it’s getting me through college.  Listen, I gotta run.  See ya Tuesday.” 

           He left me with that, and I thought about it for a little while before heading out myself.  The moral of the story?  If I had to specify one, I’d say it’s that if you set your mind to accomplish something (like a music degree), you can find a way to do it no matter what your limitations are (financial or otherwise).  I really admire that kid’s persistence.  He studies a lot more than most of the other people in that class (myself included) and he’s so passionate about his music that he’s schemed up a rigorous schedule for himself that has lasted all semester and is ending with him getting a phenomenal grade in the Music History class, managing to still get a top-notch education, and paying for the opportunity by playing at funerals when he could be joining the other students in extra time to learn.

Kara Nielsen, Editor,   www.BandSpace.Fm                   

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     Too many people out there think that they’re alone in the search for band-mates or musical co-conspirators.  The truth is that a Yahoo poll shows that the phrase “musician friend” was searched a whopping 102,000 times in the month of January, 2007 alone!  The word “musician” was searched 37,165 times in January, and “musician band” was searched 5,583 times.

     Here’s the problem:  the search for “musician friend” gives you a bunch of retail sites, and nothing whatsoever to do with finding musician friends.  Apparently there is a large online company called Musician’s Friend that sells instruments and equipment and assorted musical gear.  But I seriously doubt that this is what people are looking for when they enter their search criteria.     No matter why you’re looking, the point is that others are looking too.  These are the top results from the Yahoo search for “musician,” some of which I found frustrating:

1. The Musician’s Friend website:  www.MusiciansFriend.com        

 2.  A second retail site:  www.Musician.com 

3.  The entry for “musician” in Wikipedia:  www.en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Musician 

4.  A magazine about music “art, business, and technology”:  www.MusicianMag.com 

5.  A second link to the Musician’s Friend website (very redundant, Yahoo)

6.  A magazine about “personal music production”: www.eMusician.com 

7.  The definition of “musician”:  www.Answers.com/Topic/Musician 

8.  Another definition of “musician”:  www.TheFreeDictionary.com/Musician 

9.  “Pages tagged with ‘musician’ on del.icio.us”:  www.del.icio.us/tag/Musician

10. A third retail site for recording products:  http://www.zzounds.com/cat–Recording–2781  (Just as an FYI, the number 11 spot is currently taken by the title “Does Anyone Have Ideas For A “Soft Look” For A Transgendered Classical Musician Due To Perform Next Week ?)  Clearly, some of these websites make sense in Top-Ten results spots.  Obviously, if someone is searching for the definition or encyclopedic entry for the word “musician,” they will just enter “musician” into the Yahoo search box.  So #3, 7, and 8 are understandable. 

      I’m willing to bet that The Musician’s Friend site is not the #1 result by accident.  It doesn’t make sense for it to inhabit that spot.  The retail sites, I feel, don’t belong there.  So #1, 2, and 10 are inappropriate there by my reasoning.  The rest, I suppose, are logically placed.  Musician magazines make sense in their spots.  But where are all the musician friend-finder sites?  We know that’s what people are really looking for.What’s the moral of the story ? 

     Despite the weirdness of Yahoo’s search results, we can deduce that there thousands of people out there who are looking for exactly the same kinship and musical collaboration as you are.  They may be confusing and tough to find, but c’mon, Yahoo wouldn’t lie to you, guys.

Kara Nielsen, Editor www.BandSpace.Fm    (3/8/07) 

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Get Back to Class

     If you’re interested in music performance, but you’ve gotten a little rusty, you can rectify that for a very reasonable price.  The same applies to those of you who are looking to pick up a brand new instrument but don’t want to commit too much time or money to the pursuit of mastering it.  How? you may ask.  Well, it’s as simple as visiting a community college in your area.  For me, that would be Manchester Community College www.Mcc.Commnet.Edu , in Conn . 

     If you’ve never been there, you’d be shocked at its attractive, professional campus.  Some people think of “community colleges” as dilapidated ruins of once-glorified classroom buildings.  But MCC is a remarkably classy place, and it has an immense amount to offer, with a lovely light price tag.  (I know musicians, especially, hate to pay more than they have to).  And no, you don’t have to be working toward a degree to utilize this.  This Spring semester, for example, MCC is offering several non-credit classes, many of them in music – perfect for anyone brushing dust off an old instrument or looking to learn a new one.    

    For $75, you can conquer that lust for your old bluegrass days by taking “Continuing the Five-String Banjo” on 6 consecutive Saturdays from 10am to noon.  Not interested in the same old instrument?  For $65 and 5 consecutive Saturdays, you can take “Introduction to the Mandolin” and discover what it’s like to immerse yourself in an instrument rich in history and exotic in sound.  Not interested in any instrument at all?  Rather write songs and learn about how to become a mogul?  They have something for you at MCC too.  For $40 and 2 Tuesdays, you can enroll in “Songwriting and the Music Business” and kick-start your career.   

     These are just a few great examples.  This semester they are also offering “Beginning Guitar,” “Improve Your Guitar Skills with Fingerstyle,” “Vocal Instruction,” and “Playing the Ukulele.”  This isn’t meant to be an endorsement solely of MCC – it’s just a small CT school in my backyard, and a prime example of the superb things you can find in your own area.  There are so many colleges and universities offering similar courses for similar prices.  Credible educators at credible institutions are always better than those hokey seminars you find yourself considering after 3am infomercials.  

     And not only do community colleges offer these types of courses, but also many major universities.  Western CT State University, for instance, is a school with a great reputation for its outstanding music program.  They consistently offer enriching classes for low prices and at times convenient for even the most hectic schedule.  Enrolling in a refresher course or two is a great way to enhance your resume and suit you up for your budding career.

Kara Nielsen, Editor  www.BandSpace.Fm    (2/16/07)  

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