UP FRONT POINT: I wrote this a long time ago, and delayed posting until now so it wasn't clear what venue I was talking about when I posted this. Enjoy!
My job has a lot of small parts, but it all pretty much boils down to two main parts:
There can be a lot of moving parts with step two. I manage my own social media, produce every bit of content that you see from me, including youtube videos, music releases, email list notes, this blog post, instagram images, reels, and more. I have meetings with potential venue contacts to host the show, college professors who might want to have me visit their campus, and other musicians so we can share knowledge.
I use a journal, a calendar, and some apps to keep it all together. It works pretty well, and most of the time, there aren't a ton of problems.
Yesterday, though, all it felt like I did was catch mistakes that I had made in the past. I found:
I was able to fix a few of them, and a few of them are a bit too late to fix (sorry performing arts center in Chicago who I didn't spell correctly!) What a mess, and I left the coffee shop with a big face palm.
Oh well. I miss notes sometimes also. If anyone would like a perfect performance, I would kindly refer them to Stan the computer. He does great.
Hey everybody! I said on a podcast once that the worst feeling in the world is not knowing what to do. With that in mind, I work pretty hard to make sure that all the folks listening to my music or reading my content know what to do, and how to support me, if they want. I end nearly every blog with an ask, and at some point in my show I explain to the audience how to support me beyond attending the show.
So, please, listen to my music! Buy the download, share it with your friends if you think it's great, and interact with it on Spotify or Apple Music.
But don't go to Amazon- you won't find my music there.
Why? Because it's one thing I can do. I think Amazon is a bad company that's hurting a lot of people. Are there other companies that are doing shady and bad things? Sure! But if I left google (Youtube and gmail), Meta (Facebook and Instagram), and Apple (Stan), I wouldn't be able to put music in front of all of you. I do what I can, and I've drawn a line at Amazon.
Amazon abuses its workers.
Amazon violates the spirit of intellectual property and steals products.
Amazon harms poorer cities.
Amazon uses crappy racist union busting tactics to maintain their power.
Amazon is blatantly abusive of privacy norms and laws.
Is it super convenient to have products arrive at my door? Of course. But it doesn't happen at my house very much anymore, and you won't find my music on Amazon.
Maybe try BandCamp or Spotify?
I'm really excited to share my music with you! I'm on instagram, so please follow me there but you can also subscribe to my email list or find my music directly at BandCamp!
For the past seven months, I have been writing, programming, recording, videoing, and performing the pieces that make up Brian KM Live! Students from around the United States and Canada have been able to see me and Stan do what we do, and I have been performing on livestreams on my own YouTube channel since the beginning.
I have continued to write new music, and I am beyond excited to announce to you all that I will be coming to perform at the International Horn Society’s 53rd Annual Symposia: Our ONE Horn Community. The conference runs online from Monday, August 9th until Friday, August 13th. My performance is at 4:00PM Eastern on August 13th. If you are a horn player, interested in the horn, or like great music, the International Horn Society is going to provide an amazing offering of performances and talks from all around the world, and I am excited to play my small part.
Already seen the show? You should still come! In addition to the pieces I have been performing for students around the country, I am debuting a completely revamped “Perhaps Bears”, and I am performing the WORLD PREMIERE of a new piece, “Wisdom’s Bubble”. This event is certainly worth attending, and I can’t wait to hear from the attendees about what they thought!
Back on New Year's day this year, I made a blog post right here where I announced that I would be putting my show, Brian KM Live! into 50 schools before May 15th. Well, it's a bit after May 15th and I have some updates for anyone who is curious.
I was so excited (nervous) to embark on this quest to put this show into 50 classrooms. I chose 50 as a goal because a famous wedding photographer, Jai Long, suggested setting absurd goals. He reasoned that if you set an absurd goal, that you'll work way harder to achieve it than a reasonable goal. I thought 50 was insane! Not only do I work a normal horn job, but the exhaustion and burnout faced by music teachers around the world is so real, and it was so hard to get shows scheduled during a time of reopenings, reclosings, and changing restrictions.
I am so proud to tell you that, in 2021, I have performed Brian KM Live! 41 times in classrooms all around the United States and Canada.
I performed in my hometown of Virginia, where I live in Hawai'i, Indiana, Nevada, and so many other states. Teachers from the elementary, middle school, high school, and University level were open enough to invite me, and these performances netted enough chatter to create some exciting opportunities (more announcements to follow!)
Of course there were setbacks! I have recently recovered from an illness that took me out of action for three weeks, I struggled with scheduling, and I changed platforms more times than I can count!
I want to thank a good friend, Jennifer Blackwell, for liking the show so much that she utilized her personal network to create some contacts for this show that created so many early chances to book performances. (new music fans, stay in touch, you might hear more about her later!) Thank you Jen!
What's next? I guess we'll all find out together! There are a a number of exciting things coming soon. Why don't you take the opportunity to follow me on instagram, subscribe on youtube, and sign up for my email list? That's where all the action happens, and I'd love to see you out there on the internet!
On New Years Day this year, I told you all that I was going to put my show into 50 classrooms by May 15th.
It has been a wild ride and I have been overjoyed to experience the incredible push by the world to help me get there!
Thank you so much to those who utilized personal networks to put me in touch with school teachers or had me out to play for your students. The work that I’ve done so far would not have been possible without the generosity of so many of you.
On April 22nd, I played my 33rd show in this journey to 50! I am so excited to have made it this far. I’ve reached students here in Hawaiʻi, but also in Virginia, California, states in between, and Canada! The feedback has been overwhelming and the support has been incredible.
I’m not done!
I think 50 is a great number to shoot for, and I want to do my absolute best to get there by the end of the school year. Can you help me? If you are a teacher, or know any teachers who might like to have a performance of Brian KM Live!, please send them my contact information
Booking Brian KM is now easier than ever!
I have opened up my mornings for the next few weeks for anyone who wants to have me come out their classroom. Click the button to head over to my Calendly and get on my schedule- no account is required!
Pick the best time for you. Don’t see a time that works? Use the contact form below to get in touch!! I’ll work with you!
Let’s get to 50!
I have an old friend in high school who used to shout “I was born ready” when someone asked if the group was ready for something. I think he may have been quoting, but that’s besides the point.
I was just sitting down with a cup of tea and Bailey Poesnecker of the Dismantling Dissonance podcast to do some co-productive time when a message popped up. A music teacher and I had been unable to make one of her classes work for a performance of Brian KM Live!, and here she was with a message.
“Could you do the show 10 minutes from now?”
The answer, folks? Say yes. If you’ve decided that you’re trying to do something, do your absolute best to make it happen. Was I ready to play? Not really. Stan was on the table, getting ready to organize my photo library. My horn was in the case across the room. I was wearing pajamas and getting ready to call someone about an appointment. What a mess!
Fortunately, this is something that used to happen to me all the time in the military, and with a few strategies, I was able to put together a strong solo performance.
Five Tips for Brass Players Playing as a Surprise
1. Don’t panic
Panic is the enemy of good horn playing. All you have to do is play a concert slightly less ready than normal. There won’t be an open heart surgery during the performance, and if there is, you probably won’t have to be the surgeon. Take a breath, don’t rush through a warm up, and try to be rational. If you normally do an entire scale routine as part of your warm up, accept that maybe you won’t hit your highest notes in your warmup. Take it slow and calm.
2. Let your articulations carry you through, just a little
No, I’m not saying articulations can replace air and good strong lips. That being said, with a little bit of punch behind your articulations, you’ll find an avenue of strength that you might not know you had. Hit notes just a little harder and let the secure feelings flow through you.
3. Compromise when you can
Are you sitting next to a great principal saxophone who is doubling you on an ensemble chord with a whole note? You don’t need to play that. Same thing for octaves. Play half notes just a little shorter or quieter. There are many secrets that only you are holding during a performance. Make some of them work for you!
4. Have a strong foundation. Play most days
There’s no real substitute to having a strong horn foundation. If you play at around six days a week and maintain a balanced regimen, you should be able to, on occasion, pick up the horn and go play well with only a few adjustments. Of course, warm up as able and do an appropriate cool down!
5. Focus on the Music
This makes a bit of a callback to not panicking, but focusing on the music is an excellent strategy to solve quite a few technical issues that may come up when you don’t feel quite ready to play. High notes are often at the peak of a crescendo (or it makes sense to crescendo up to them). If you focus on the musicality of the phrase and try to peak up to the top of it, your chances of hitting notes correctly drastically increases. Playing things musically energizes you and the audience. Use that effect to help you see it through!
Do you want to have me come out to do a show of Brian KM Live!, only with a little more notice this time? Great! Head on over to my booking page or contact me to talk about it!
A couple of months ago, I attended the 2020 version of Jai Long’s Wedding Photography Summit. I’m not a wedding photographer, but I listen to Jai’s podcast, “Make Your Break”. I’ve found many of the episodes inspiring, and hey, just $7 to listen to some top professionals talk about their craft seems like a bargain!
Jai gave a number of introductions and talked a number of times during the summit. Something that really stuck with me was his story about how he approached the summit himself. He had spent $70,000 in JUST Facebook advertising for the event. Incredible! He had a goal of 10,000 attendees, and he was all in on this idea.
Somewhere between 7,000 and 8,000 people attended the summit What a failure!
Nope! Let’s try again!
This guy wanted to host an online wedding photography summit and had over SEVEN THOUSAND PEOPLE show up and pay for a ticket! Incredible!
Jai mentioned that if he had not set an absurd, impossible goal of 10,000 that he would never have managed to get even 3,000. Shooting as high as possible helped him achieve this amazing result. I love this story, and I think there’s a lot to learn from this.
Now it’s my turn.
I am going to put my horn and electronics show, into 50 classrooms between now and May 15th.
I’m going to do this while working my current job, and I’m going to do this because it’ll be great.
I need help. Who’s with me? Please use the contact form below to get in touch. If you know any music teachers whose students would benefit from seeing a live horn and electronics show, get on that form and let me know.
Want to hear how it goes? You should subscribe to my email list, and I'll update you!
I just had a conversation with a good friend of mine, who is a cofounder of an excellent group called “Diversify the Stand”. I meet with her twice a month to talk about where my career is going and to get an additional set of eyes on what I’m doing. Career moves made by a horn and electronics soloist/photographer can be somewhat lonely. I don’t have a duet partner! (Besides Stan, of course)
The topic of this week was pretty simple. I’m stuck in the mud. I haven’t felt like my music is as easy to write as it has been, I don’t feel like my photography truly meshes in with my business, and I don’t have real clarity on what I’m doing. I told her that I wanted to hang up the camera, focus on more traditional horn playing, and put this whole thing behind me. This is scary to admit! I’ve relied on Carrie for years to help me articulate my problems and work out how to deal with them. What was the sage advice from the doctorate from Colorado?
“Write a blog about it"
What? Carrie? That’s it? That’s all you’ve got? Write a blog? A BLOG? What a useless idea. Get out of here, Carrie. Not helpful, swing and a miss, bye Felicia.
So here I am, writing a blog trying to figure out how to write a blog about not doing well, and I’m realizing that my big mistake for the past few months is dissociation. I’ve looked at my photography, music, personal life, and other avenues of my life in a vacuum, and I’ve failed to remember that I’m just one artist living a single life. What I’ve forgotten is that it’s all connected.
Yes, I can demand of myself that I play at a level where my horn playing can stand on its own. I can demand of my photography that it can exist without music (in fact, it does!) Moving forward, I realizing again that I am a multi-faceted artist. Who am I? I’m a horn and electronics performer/composer and photographer. When I’m playing horn, I’m still a photographer, and when I’m taking pictures, I’m still a musician.
So here’s to 2021, a year when I make this promise to myself. No more worrying how things “fit” or “work”. I do what I do, and that’s good.
A few weeks ago, I put the finishing touches on one of my pieces, “First Takes #4- Extended”, and I realize now that it was a massive milestone. This is the first piece that I’ve written that I truly enjoy listening to and playing. I can be crazy guilty of working on my productivity as a means of being productive, but I learned quite a lesson from finishing a piece that I like so much!
I have been struggling to write for the past 6 months. Some of that may be pandemic, but as I crest the hill of #4, I’m realizing that I found composing to be so difficult because I simply didn’t like what I was writing. Sure, some of it was cool, but I didn’t actually really like it. So, my advice for musicians, photographers, and other artists is this: “Write/Play/Do What You Like”.
It’s funny that I’m coming to this conclusion now- when I was studying at the University of Maryland, I was working for the performing arts center and managing visiting artists. Sometimes I got opportunities to ask them for advice. An amazing brass quartet called The Westerlies performed shortly before I was going to take an audition. I asked one of their players for any words of advice, and he said simply, “Go play what you like”. It sounded like reasonable advice, sure, but the audition mindset didn’t really give me an opportunity to take it fully.
Now that I am working my way through a composer journey, I am finding new mileage in his advice- go write what you like! As I’m moving forward I’m asking myself “What will make me like this piece better?” It sounds crazy simple, but as I’m going forward and making things that I like, I’m finding sitting down to write music much easier. I’m so looking forward to incorporating this into my horn playing, photography, composing, cooking, and other activities!
How do you focus on what you like? Sometimes, as a horn player or photographer, it can be difficult if you’re being hired to do something that isn’t very exciting to your artistic mission or drive. This is when it may be possible to do some creative problem solving to break down what you are doing and find elements of what you like in it. When I was performing in the military, I sometimes didn’t like the rep selection. I loved performing with my friends though! I would try to focus on a single one of them and see if I could get them to interact with me on a new level. I found that I enjoyed the playing a lot more, and it raised the level of the whole ensemble.
If you like my music, subscribe to my YouTube channel and click the bell to get notified when I go live!
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I have started to stream my horn playing, composing, improvisation, and my photography editing processes live on Youtube!
There is no weekly scheduled time to stream yet, but if you are interested in what I do, or simply want a productivity buddy to keep you honest, please head over to my Youtube channel and subscribe. Be sure to click the notification bell to be notified when I go online.
I hope to see you there!