Looking back, looking ahead

Welp, it’s spring of 2020. The world looks different than anyone could have imagined in late 2019, let alone in 2016 at the time of my last post.

What’s new for me? Well, I’m a father of two, now living in Franklin instead of Nashville, enjoying use of my home studio while I try to become at least as passable at Pro Tools as every Nashville grandma.

This spring all of my students have shifted to online, of course, something I’m not unfamiliar with thanks to two years teaching college saxophonists in Northern Minnesota while living in Tennessee. Not much at all has changed with Zoom or online video conferencing. It’s still about 2/3 as good as in-person lessons or classes.

One thing I have discovered makes the remote lessons very useful though, is having all of my transcriptions ready online. Slowly but surely, I’ve been entering old transcriptions I completed into Sibelius. Surprisingly I’ve been enjoying this for a number of reasons.

  1. Editing & Correcting
    Some of my transcriptions go all the way back to college and even high school. I’m a much better player and musician now (🤷) so this gives me a chance to look deeper into some of those idiomatic phrases that got written as turns or glissandos but are in fact, something else.
  2. Charts for any instrument
    One of my biggest gripes as a doubler is the lack of good improv material available for flute, clarinet, etc. With the notation software I can quickly make myself a flute part or whatever and give myself some awesome material to practice.
  3. Better listening environment
    Back in the day, most of my transcribing was done via CDs on either an Aiwa stereo system or even a Discman with basic headphones.
    Interestingly, listening technology has both increased and decreased substantially since then. While more information is readily available from anywhere to anyone now, and there’s all sorts of expensive designer headphones, the vast majority of my students listen through via bluethooth to streaming services. Personally I find the fidelity of that listening environment so low that I literally do not enjoy anything about the experience of hearing jazz that way and would rather listen to sports talk (NFL channel 88 on Sirius/XM is my jam).
    Anyways, my home studio is a fantastic listening environment (when no children are screaming). I can hear ghosted notes and inflections that I never heard before on tracks I’ve listened to hundreds of times.

What does this all mean?

Well, for one, I’m editing transcriptions into the cleanest, best versions of them I’ve ever had. This past week I’ve done a bunch of Coltrane from the final four Miles recordings for Prestige. Here’s Trane on It Could Happen To You from Relaxin’

It-Could-Happen-To-You-Coltrane-Transcr-Tenor-Saxophone


Also I’ve become inspired to raise my remote teaching game. Since NJWcamp was canceled for covid-19, I decided to create my own online camp. Thus Music City Jazz Sessions Remote Summer Camp. We’ll do academic studies with ear training, theory, and chart analysis of some of my tune and solo transcriptions. All are welcome. From May 26-30, 9:30 – 11 each morning.


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