Musical Meanderings

This is a blog centered around some of the musical encounters and experiences that I come upon in my daily life as a musician.

My Photo
Location: Alameda, California

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Il Fuoco at the Sonoma Mission Chapel

Steve Albini is a terror! He sings Italian songs with an amazingly romantic tenor voice. He is always right on. He spins the mood the minute he starts to sing. Not to mention that he is a virtuoso accordionist who plays lightning fast runs with his right hand and who never misses...

It was a great show last Friday night. The band was Steve LaPorta on percussion, John on horns, me on cello and Steve Albini, the Italian terror! What fun!

It really was a hoot backing Steve up. He's very humble, and mild mannered, and then, when he opens his mouth to sing, one is just suddenly transported into a cafe in Italy somewhere, where the lights are low, and the mood is...just something amazing and foreign and ever so smooth...and romantic. Yes, this band, "Il Fuoco", the fire, is about the most romantic band I have ever been in...

Hopefully we will be playing together more soon.

Next performance i at the Freight and Salvage on April 3rd, my birthday, with the Rmana Vieira Ensemble.

Don't ask how old I am going to be...


Sunday, January 10, 2010

January 2010

The last post for me was in September? Goodness! Time is a jet plane! (B. Dylan)

We are going to Disneyland tomorrow! For a Monday thru Thursday trip. It's going to I hope. I am not really ready to go on rides so I snagged my 20 year old niece to meet us there. I don't mind watching the rides.

Musicwise- I am teaching quite a few students now, kids and adults. That's pretty good. Fun and pretty steady. It's not so easy to keep all of their schedules down, but I enjoy managing the Alameda Cello Academy. Yeah- I named it finally!

Let's see---I have a new group that's called the InStep String Quartet. It's a killer group and we have our first gig at the end of January. We play California Alternative music---that means some of everything. And this group can really attack all kinds of compositions. We're best when there is only a chord chart in front of us. WE come to life thru improvisation.

As far as keeping Isabelle, who is now almost 8, motivated to practice her cello, it's been difficult lately. But, we have a new thing. She now plays violin too. On our next concert, which is going to be February 21st at 3pm in Berkeley (see for more info), she is going to debut her violin playing. And I think I am going to accompany her on violin too. I just got my first violin recently, and it's real pretty, so I think this is a good time to do something different and have some fun.

The Ramana Vieira Ensemble is still kicking the Portugese Fado music too. We have a nice gig at the Freight and Salvage on April 3rd in the evening in Berkeley. I love that music.

I am also putting together music for a new CD, to be recorded this summer. The last one, Butterfly Girl, has been doing really great, playing on radio stations across the states and in Canada. I am most proud of that. The new one will have more compositions with vocals. I'll be singing on it!

Well, I have to get ready for my students to appear. Bye bye for now!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Alameda Music Academy?

I am looking for names for my new music school. Alameda Music Academy? I think that's going to be it. Anyone have any other suggestions? It has to work for cello, violin and piano students. I have been starting to slowly get some more students and would love to advertise and get the music school up and hopping...:-) I have lots of adult beginners and a few intermediate cello students. I have some new kids on piano, violin and cello, but would like to get some more. I would like to keep the back door open and let the students come in and out of my music studio all day long...

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

September, 2009

OMG, is it already September? How did that happen? We had a great summer. We did a million fun things this summer. We went to the Colorado Suzuki Institute where Isabelle was an amazing soloist. We went to Water World in Denver and a tornado came after us there. (We escaped!) We went to the Grand Canyon and spent some time in Flagstaff Arizona. We went to Cape Cod where we went whale watching in the bay. We did so much!

Isabelle and I. We went to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk and rode the skywalker ride. We went to the Alameda County Fair and Isabelle rode on Michael Jackson's "Samba" ride from Neverland Ranch. We went to Aqua Adventure in Hayward, and to the Livermore Water Park three times. We went to the San Francisco Aquarium and Isabelle did flips on the bungee trampoline. We really did this summer up!

But, September, already? Now my little girl is in second grade!

Getting her to practice her cello? Difficult, but not impossible. I let her practice by herself alot. Two days a week we have "lessons." I am pretty easy on her. After all---she's seven, and she needs to have fun and love music. We got her a violin after she begged for awhile, and she plays that every day too. I was surprised. She loves it.

My CD "Butterfly Girl" is playing all across the United States. Really. On college radio stations. It's kind of cool. The cities where it is playing are listed on my website. I wonder who is hearing it? And I wonder who is playing it? It's number one world CD on Radio Phoenix, so somebody there likes it. It's in the top ten in four or five's kind of fun and exciting.

I went to Los Angeles and to San Diego last weekend to perform with the Ramana Vieira Portugese Fado Band. Interesting. We had alot of fun. We traveled there in a kind of a Partridge family van was a marathon trip...but ultimately there were lots of laughs and there was lots of good music, which is what I am looking for in life...

Lots of new students. That's the other thing I am looking for in life. Today I had a three year old violin student. She was serious, too. But she switched to cello, after she heard Isabelle play. That happens sometimes. It happened yesterday too, believe it or not. Two new students came in, a brother and sister. One wanted to play violin and the other wanted piano. But, they heard Isabelle, and now they both have decided on cello. :-) I guess she is my best recruiting method so far. When the kids hear her, they want to play cello like she does.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Practicing for Nickels

Okay---so I admit it. It's difficult to get seven year old Isabelle to practice her cello. She has played most of Suzuki Cello book 3, and she is now working on the first piece in Suzuki Book 4---the Breval Sonata. She's a great little player. She's amazing, really. But she is seven, and she does not want to practice, and she does not want to listen to my ideas about how to make her playing better. I am her mom, after all!

So I have to continually come up with new ideas to try to make it fun.

Here's the new game for this week. We are playing for nickels. She has a newfound love for money, and more importantly, money that is hers. So I thought, well, why not earn money by practicing? I wrote down five things to practice on a piece of paper. After she does each one, she gets a nickel. The nickel will go into a smiley face jar. At the end of the month, we will count up all the nickels that she earned. Twenty percent of the money will go into her savings account. The rest she can use to buy something.

But---if she doesn't complete a task on the practice page---I take a nickel out of the smiley face jar and it goes into an unhappy face jar. That money is then mine again, and she has to re-earn it.

This is a new attempt at making practicing challenging and fun. I will let you know how it works out. So far so good though.

Anything to keep her on the road to becoming a great and accomplished musician. I think if she can learn to play the cello, then she can learn to do anything.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Colorado Suzuki Institute

Isabelle and cello friends backstage at the orchestra concert

Wow. That was a great trip! Isabelle performed a big solo at the Colorado Suzuki Institute Honors Recital. She's amazing. She's solid. She's musical. She has great dresses!

It was a tiring week though. I took Isabelle to four music classes a day. She had master class, rep class, musicianship class and --- da da da da! Orchestra! She was so excited about orchestra. They asked her to be in orchestra and it made here feel so happy and big! She really did do great in that class, too.

She performed on Wednesday in a lilac purple shimmery ball gowny kind of dress. Gavotte by Lully. She got tons of compliments all week and was kind of a star then at the camp. She loved that!

The musicianship class was really good too. It was a theory class. We used a computer program called Auralia by Sibelius, and she loved it. So we have ordered it for her.

The teachers were really fine.

We did some fun activities throughout the week. Ice skating, bungee trampoline jumping, mini golf, lots of swimming and hot tub at our Beaver Creek Resort called The Charter.

We had a day free before flying home, so we decided to go to WaterWorld in Denver on Sunday. It was very expensive to get in, but such a cool park. An hour and a half after we got in, it started to rain. The winds were blowing like mad. Everyone was running to take cover. It started to hail. There was actually a tornado! Unbelievable. We had rainbow colored umbrellas and after trying to wait it out for about ten minutes beneath a concession stand that sold funnel cakes with whipped creme (not kidding), we made a break for the car.

We spent the rest of the afternoon swimming in a Holiday Inn pool and hot tub. We were very happy to get home to Alameda on Monday!

Labels: , , , , , ,

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Yoshi's again and the Stewart Brothers

Lots of playing going on! Lots of weddings, memorials, recording sessions...driving to wine country alot. It's not too bad---like 65 miles...not so bad for some good gigs.

I did Yoshi's the other night with Ramana Vieira and her Ensemble. It was fun. Two shows, at 8pm and 10pm. By 11:30, we were exhausted. Scott came and brought Isabelle. She was coloring while the band played. It gives her great inspiration. She told me that she rated my cello playing that night as a 10. I'll take it!

The real fun was the recording session I did yesterday with the Stewart brothers. They are both dancers with the San Francisco Ballet. Both of them! Matt is recording a CD of his own original compositions. So he hired me in to play on some of the songs. I drove out to a house in the hills in Belmont with my cello, the home of OTR Studios.

From the minute I met these guys---they were smiling. They smiled the whole session. They had such positive energy, it was wonderful to play for them. Matt was the leader of the project, and Ben was a helpful assistant to his brother. Ben had played on the CD too- piano. Matt was the composer, the guitarist and the singer. He told me that he wrote these songs when he was backstage in the dressing room in between rehearsals and concerts at the ballet.

Well, they are both artists with a very prestigious ballet company, so I was not sure what to expect. But the music was fun---and I enjoyed playing on it. The last song we did, called, "Please Sir", sure sounded a bit like early Beatles...These guys were really great. It was one of those fun moments in the life of a freelancer- where you get hired, get paid well, get treated with respect, and all the years of hard work that you put into learning music and your instrument is highly appreciated.

Yay! Horray for the Stewart Brothers. Can't wait to hear the CD, and to go and see them dance.

Labels: , , , , ,