Wednesday, April 13, 2016

You are a Work of Art

Image result for hennepin library work of art workshops 2016It seems we have had a lot of emphasis on the Education aspect of our organization lately. Fresh off our great session with Lori Dokken on all things music and an introduction to some great technology that can help us in getting what we want out of our set... I just caught wind of a fabulous series being offered at our Hennepin Public Libraries that focus on the Business side of what we do. The series is called Work of Arts and has been offered in the past in 2012 sponsored in part by Springboard for the Arts. It is coming back over the next month with sessions being offered at both Southdale and Hosmer (S Minneapolis) branches. Workshops are free with on line advance registration.

The topics may not apply directly to our cabaret forum. But for the handful of us that are really trying to carve out an entire career as either a musician or an artist, there is something of merit. Topics such as Pricing for Artists (how to figure our worth), Recordkeeping and Legal Help both will offer up the business side of the career. But also great tips like Residencies for Artists - for those that might have a gift at sharing what we do. How about Funding for Artists or Business Plans for Artists? Even topics like Time Management or certainly Marketing for the Artists which we have all been seeking out. Give them a glance. I know I am thinking about a few possibilities.

Work of Art 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Tech Tools for the Savvy Singer

We hosted another great Education event last eve with Lori Dokken at the helm. She has been a frequent collaborator for our roster as well as a huge advocate who has made the Town House a welcome home for us over the last year. But in addition to that, she is an icon of the Twin Cities with a vast career in almost any area of the music scene.

The idea of the session was to give us a valuable tool belt to help take our music from the page to the stage. We work with a variety of players who each bring their own talents. But how do we get from them what we need in the short amount of time we have before hand so we are indeed in command in the spotlight with the mic? Everything she said resonated and could go miles to get us where we need to be in that short time. Most of it, you had to be there for the Q&A to see and hear.

But there was also a handful of shared technology that were laid out as gifts. We are just not aware of them or have not had the chance to embrace them. So here is a go-to resource list that can fill in some of the gaps. They were an earful for me.

iRealPro - seems to be the ultimate tool for us if you have a tablet. It is an app for purchase at $12.99. Lori jokingly pointed out that many scoff at shelling out the cash when there are so many options out there for free. But she countered by saying that she paid hundreds for a Finale program and for what we want and need, this can do much of the same. So I came right home last night and bought it. I have to agree. It is sort of Composition for Dummies once you play around on it. The main takeaway are 1000s of shared charts from the member forums which are yours for the download. Once you lay out your new chart or pull an existing one - you can easily change the key to fit your range. You can adjust the tempo or better yet; select one of hundreds of templates to take your Rodgers & Hart piece from a samba to a disco chart. All laid out and clear. So you have something from the start that you can take to your pianist and not only show them, but play it for them to let them know exactly the direction you are trying to take your song.

Music Memos - is also an app, but works a bit in the opposite way. You start from scratch and build from the ground up. We tried it and you can start with something as simple as singing your melody into the recorder. Or play with a piano or guitar. From there, it uses its own analytics and tries to shape chords and rhythm around what it hears. Or course there is the danger of veering off into the wrong direction. But with manual tweeks, you can lead it back on track and continue to embellish with other instrumentation or harmonies. Certainly for those wanting to craft their own material. It is free, but I had compatibility issues and could not load it?

Online Music - I have to assume that we all have some sort of connection to online purchases. Sheet Music Plus and Music Notes are the biggies. I prefer Music Notes as it generally has more options in terms of what you can transpose into a better key to suit your voice. I have gotten wise in that you only purchase a single copy. But when printing, I usually opt the option that it didn't print and I will try later again. This way I can print out a few versions in keys and keep that on hand to see which fits best as I work the tune. The draw back is that anything outside of Top 40 or American Songbook are a rare find - and I am one that tends to hunt for the obscure. Les tells us that both Schmitt and Groth music have their own extensive online library and more options to manipulate your purchased chart into something more personal - but I did check on line and was not able to find much more than is available at the first two giants.

PrintMusic - if both Finale and Sibelius software are more expensive and beyond our needs, this is the poor man's stepchild of Finale by the same designers on a much smaller scale of only $120. Best used for chord charts and vocal lines. To me it requires an investment of time and digital keyboard that I am content enough to just try with a tablet. If I need that chart arranged, I am going to job it out to someone who has the knowledge and tools to get it done right. But Vicky and Paula both say it is not too hard to conquer over time. And Lori also pointed out that even the efforts fail - they still help you along the process and you come out with more skills to use at a later time.

Teoria - was pointed out by Sheridan and it seems a resource that I should invest some time into - like a new year's resolution. It is not an app, but noted as a peer reviewed website! Think Duolingo but for Music Theory. For those of us that never had to learn more than a C scale, it is the mecca of music knowledge for free on the internet. There are pages of tutorials and lesson plans to start from scratch and take it as far as you need to. You can work both ways from visual into recognizing sounds - or the opposite from listening and having to then translate into notation. I am going to give this one a try - hold me to it.