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Blog: Open Intervals

Bach's family were underpaid musicians, too.

Recently I started reading John Eliot Gardiner's Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven. I've had it for years and am happy to have finally taken it off the shelf.

There is a long section on Bach's family of musicians, and by that I mean the men who were actually written about, the ones who got to go out and work, and were then considered professionals.

And they were terribly, horribly underpaid.

A couple of days ago I caught up with a singing friend who also bemoans how low his singing pay has …

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Possibilities (Podcast)

Earlier this year I took the Akimbo Podcast Workshop (definitely recommend if you have never podcasted and don't know where to start) and started a podcast for my German business.

One of the best parts of taking a workshop like that one is connecting with other people who are learning to podcast or have started podcasting and they come back to support the first-time learners.

Then sometimes you get asked to be on another podcast!

Craig Constantine asked, so we recorded this podcast yesterday,…

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Let's Call it What it is: STE_M

We have a lot of STE_M culture - science, technology, engineering and math.

STE_M culture allows us to be right or wrong. To hypothesize, test, and review.

It's possible to seemingly perfect these things.

It's possible to compete because these things are perfectly measurable.

Measure something that's 5 inches in diameter, use mathematical formulas, build a robot, determine how to make dirty water clean again.

It's HOT right now. STE_M has been hot for years. Go on LinkedIn, any organization…

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Culture vs. Entertainment

One of the main observations I've had since I moved back to the U.S. (from Germany in 2008) is this:

We live in a culturally poor culture.

There are a lot of bombastic experiences to be had here, you can go on a show that's all about "ninja warriors." You can go on national/international television and be lambasted for singing out of tune. You can be 8 years old and be called the next big opera singer.

(Aside: *facepalm*)

That isn't culture, though. It may include expectations, backgroun…

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Who are Culture Workers?

A couple of months ago my Virtual Assistant and I were discussing how under-funded the arts are in both our countries. (She lives in another country.)

I work in music and languages, she works as a Virtual Assistant, which means she does everything from graphic design to email marketing and everything in between.

We don't make cogs.

We don't fix cogs.

We don't run factories which make cogs.

We don't build and maintain the vehicles and roads which deliver cogs to businesses and individuals.

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What is Culture?

A lot of people (yell) talk about culture these days.

That yelling, I mean "talking," is part of our culture.

Our culture is loud. Obnoxiously loud.

Our culture is filled with strife and conflict. People are "always angling for something bigger/better/faster/more."

Our culture is exhausting.

Because conversations happen on a very laser-focused matter, out of context, without thought for the big picture. The big whole-of-everything.

The big whole-of-everything is our societal culture, which…

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Elm Ensemble: 5 American Classical Hymns

One of the coolest parts about singing with the Elm Ensemble is finding out all the cool connections people have to other musicians, conductors, and composers.

The Elm Ensemble conducted an interview with Peter Mercer-Taylor, who reseached the adaptions we recorded of these five American Classical Hymns. You can read the interview here (there's a link to his book, too).

Then you can check out all five recordings here:

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Elm Ensemble: Life From Death is Jesus' Doing

The Elm Ensemble has published several more videos, this one being Life From Death is Jesus' Doing.

It's from the Southern Harmony, which is a hymn and tune book used for singing and teaching singing. Southern Harmony and Shape Note, which is the specific way that the notes are shaped to indicate which pitch they are on the scale.

Interestingly, it took two degrees, a 5-year stint in Germany, and returning to the U.S. before I'd ever heard of or sung anything from the Southern Harmony book or …

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When People Ask You to Work for "Exposure," Show Them This

Six or seven years ago somebody asked me to sing a St. John Passion. It was two rehearsals (for the solos only), three performances, and I believe two sound recording sessions.

The offer was something like $250.

Plus exposure.

At first I wasn't sure if he meant $250 per call or $250 total. $250 total would have been less than minimum wage.

I tried to clarify, and he proceeded to berate me to take the gig because "All of my colleagues had accepted the same amount of pay."

So he first offered…

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When Life is Like a Tritone

The tritone is a fantastic interval and it signals something significant: a change, a resolution, an ending, or it signals more mysterious things are ahead.

Tritones need to be resolved. Music theory says so.

So does your ear.

Nobody would like West Side Story if Maria's name were only sung as Maaa-reeeee... Did you sing it in your head?

It has to be resolved.

The tritone is dissonant to our ears, and we want the consonance of the resolution.

This interval used to be referred to as "the de…

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