This summer, I had a really bad travel day as I flew from my hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia back to where I live here in Hawai'i. Fortunately, American Airlines put me up in a hotel (thanks!), but I was stuck in LA for an evening and a morning.
In the morning, I made my way out to the streets near Venice Beach with my camera. I had never been to LA before. My photography is generally people or landscape based, so finding myself on the streets was a new experience that gave me an opportunity to work outside my typical comfort zone. There have been quite a few articles written about street photography. Is is a valuable art form? Can anyone just do it? What's the point?
With those doubts in mind, I shot these photographs. I've stat on them for a number of months now. The truth is, I don't really understand what I've created. Some of the images, like the one with the lightbulb, I like a lot! Others, like the motorcycle, remind me of images I've seen in photography books but I don't really understand the artistic value.
I suppose a large part of being an artist is having the mindset to stand confidently behind your work and say "Yes, this is art". For my music, this comes easily. Perhaps a horn and electronics piece will come out of these images someday. Perhaps not. I certainly need to spend some more time thinking about these pictures. Maybe I need to get stuck at LAX again? Make it happen American Airlines! (No please don't!)
On Thursday and Friday, I gave the in person premiere of my show at the Oʻahu Fringe Festival at NextDoor Honolulu. The festival was a wonderful experience, and I learned so much. In addition to taking a moment here to thank everyone at the festival for their support and energy, I wanted to share with you all a few takeaways and reflections about performing this show. At the bottom are some photographs from the festival!
In Person is Magical
I have performed so many times by myself. I give the livestream shows frequently, and although I will continue to do that, there is something so special about doing this show in person in front of real people! I got to see folks react to what I’m saying and what I’m playing in real time! I got to experience the performance myself at the same time, and there was absolutely zero wonder about what they were experiencing- I was there! The online environment is very clinical. I am in total control of what happens in my youtube stream, but in the venue, the room has its own character. I play differently when I’m further away from the speaker.
Meeting Fans You’ve Not Met Before is Incredible
Meeting on zoom is hard. This isn’t news, but the surprise is when I meet incredible, enthusiastic people after performances. I met one man who had been working with Ableton for quite some time, but had the most insightful questions about my process, playing, and technical set up that I got to go home and approach my musical thoughts from a cool new place. What a gratifying experience to have right after a performance! I hope I get to talk to fans like him way more often moving forward.
Friends are Amazing
A lot of my friends living near me hadn’t been able to see the show, because many of my shows up until now have been on private livestreams. So many of my friends came out to see the in person premiere, and it was emotionally overwhelming to see so many supportive faces in the crowd. In addition to those friends, I had one friend who donated countless (often thankless) hours to helping me put together the show, from hauling gear to being an ear in the hall to make sure balance was right.
People Who Work in the Arts are Vital
The technical engineer I worked with was, in my view, vital to the success of my show. I mix my own sound, but he was there with encouraging words, advice, clear directions, and stability. He was there for soundchecks before the show, during the show, and for tear down. He was so great!
So- what does this all mean?
I guess I’ll keep going. Stay tuned!
Photos Courtesy Oʻahu Fringe
I don’t teach a ton, but it has become one of my favorite things to do. Even if teaching is not your first, second, or third love, it can be a valuable activity to help you grow as a person or as an artist. Here are five reasons that I think teaching is a critical part of my life and why I think that you should pick up some students if it’s been something you’ve been thinking about. Here are five ways that I have benefited from teaching as an artist.
1. Remind Yourself of What You’re Missing
In so many lessons, I try to help a student breathe, articulate, think, move, or buzz better. After these lessons, I’ll find myself in the practice room making the same mistakes that I had just corrected. The mindfulness that you gain by going back to fundamentals with students is very helpful.
2. Solve Problems and Become More Rounded
Of course, students are all different people, and as they study, they may (will) run into problems that you’ve not had yourself. Troubleshooting the problems that they’re going through will make you a more well rounded musician and player. Developing more understanding of how the horn works is never a bad thing.
3. Find Confidence
Students are GREAT confidence builders. Please don’t tell any of mine, but my students are my favorite fans. They seem to think I’m great, and having someone who likes what I do enough to trust me with their development as a musician is amazing to look at when I’m feeling down.
4. Gain Perspective
Students have lives, and hearing about soccer practice, school, or other life worries can give some valuable perspective into what’s important. I have a habit of getting 100% of my brain into the music, and I lose sight of what matters. I help my students play horn, but they help me see the rest.
5. Find Joy in the Art
Horn is hard, and students get frustrated! When a student is showing frustration with the horn or their lesson, I do my very best to help them find joy in the art. Working to help them find joy in the art goes both ways, and after those lessons, I am able to find joy in my practicing that may have not been there before, I love it!
Are you a horn player looking for lessons? Send me a message and we’ll get started! I offer packages with a ton of value, including video reviews and a library of problem solves for common challenges!
Those of you who have been following my work in the past probably know what my big push has been: "I'm going to put my live-streamed show into 50 schools before the end of May 2021". I did a bunch!
That was fun!
I will be performing at the 2021 O'ahu Fringe Festival at nextdoor Hawaii.
On November 4th and 5th you'll be able to see and hear my show LIVE and IN PERSON as I originally envisioned when I started writing. This is SO EXCITING! The fringe festival is a huge brand when it comes to contemporary performance arts, and I am so happy to have been invited to take part in their in person return to Honolulu.
According to the festival, O'ahu Fringe Festival focuses emerging and professional artists in theatre, music, dance and all performance-related art.
That sounds like me! I've been hard at work for the past month converting my live-stream show to a live in person show. There are many considerations from balance, staging, and technology issues. Perhaps Bears sounds INCREDIBLE in person, and the other pieces are flying together.
I'd love to see you there. The tickets are $10. Go ahead and use the buttons to get to the individual show pages!
Want to learn more? Find out at oahufringe.com!
I’ve recently been writing my music on a little notebook of student ruled staff paper. I honestly think it’s a bit silly. I am leaning hard into being a horn and electronics specialist- I’ve named my computer (Stan), and I obviously don’t have a problem with technology. I premiered my newest piece, Wisdom’s Bubble, that was entirely written on paper before I started putting it into the computer.
I liked writing Wisdom’s Bubble on paper because there was a sense of immediacy to opening the notebook and knowing exactly where it is. I’ve written on a tablet or on the computer- it’s incredibly fast, but there is still a tiny loading screen or hesitation when you open i up. The notebook doesn’t run facebook or give me notifications. I don’t have to preplan when I use my paper notebook, and I can use any kind of weird notation that I want. Marks, ties, rehearsal letters, clef changes, and other musical communication happens any way I want, regardless of if it makes sense to the computer or anyone else. Some programs, like StaffPad, have done a great job of allowing you to write anywhere on the score, but you can’t just add an extra line Willy-nilly because I wanted to notate some found sounds or reduce the score down just to a single line for a solo.
I also write with a pen. There’s an undisputed advantage to working with a computer because of the undo button. I use the undo function all the time, but with a pen the only option is to cross out what I have done and write some kind of explanation for what mistake happened and what direction I’m going in and why it didn’t work. This is helpful once I have to start putting work into the computer and figuring out how exactly I’m going to do what I’ve written. The entire thought process is there, not having been deleted completely.
Are there other things we do in a certain way, despite the fact that an objectively better way has been found? Of course! This is why nobody should be taking what I say as a composer as “Oh this is the way to do it” and this is why I work really hard to make sure that nobody hears what I’m saying as “This is the only way”.
Whatever it is that you do, if it feels best on pen, do it with pen.
I performed for a lovely classical music series at a local church, and they were kind enough to ask me to perform two of my tunes, “First Takes #4: Extended”, and “Still”. I had long thought that I was going to add some of my photographs to “Still” but I hadn’t quite found the right photographs yet. The music director at the church had independently developed the same idea, and asked me if he could add photographs to the livestream. He collected some winter stock photographs of winter scenes, and the eventual visual effect turned out really well!
(Start the video at 29:36!)
Now that I’ve had the opportunity to travel home to Virginia in the summer for the first time in four years, the misty blue ridge mornings have presented themselves as an brilliant subject of stillness and calm to photograph for this piece. Stillness, as a concept, is hard to photograph because a camera freezes a subject. We often use that trait as a method to freeze a subject that is typically in motion, (waterfalls, birds, people, the ocean…) making for interesting photos! Photographing things that are still, however, can be more challenging because the subjects don’t jump out at you as obvious photograph subjects.
I took a walk near my house and found a few still subjects to incorporate into this piece. Stay tuned for a new video of this work!
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!
Since I started my playing job, I’ve been mostly removed from music schools and teachers. The nature of my work, (both in my day job for the military band and as a horn and electronic soloist) has been quite solitary. I’ve had an opportunity to truly be by myself as a horn player and do exploration to find out what works, and what doesn’t. This is so different from the environment that you find at a music school! Music school is an amazing collaborative place where everyone has opportunities to talk and learn with each other. That can be a stunningly helpful culture. It can also be confusing, disorienting, and misleading. As the melting pot of opinions churns, it’s easy to get swept up.
The performance world, both arts and sports, is full of takes. Some folks may have a hot take on a new piece of equipment that looks funny, and immediately say that players shouldn’t be using that equipment. Some musicians may have icy cold takes of having done the same routine for 10 years, never budging, because they believe that its the best way to get started in a day.
Rest is a polarizing topic. I went to school with a number of players who advocate that brass players play every day without fail. Any lapse in daily work will begin deterioration in one’s playing ability that will quickly be noticed by peers, supervisors, or the audience. I also read stories about one of the section players for the Berlin Philharmonic who takes the entire summer season completely off of the horn! The topic can be viewed at the macro level, like I just mentioned with taking a summer off, or at the micro level, such as advocating that a player rests one day a week, or for an hour after the warmup.
I haven’t found an easy way to find clarity in the music school or alone after I’ve graduated. It can be terribly frightening to consider making a change to something that you’ve been doing for a long time. I’ve decided to begin a two week (really 17 day) rest period mostly away from the horn, because I think that I can use the space to approach the horn with vigor and clarity as I head into a busy second half of the year. I’m reflecting on how I’m the boss of my own playing and why I feel confident to take the time off and be ready to play when I return. How do you stay the course and not get rattled by external input, even if it’s not about rest?
Generally, I’ve learned that sports, music making, and many other activities aren’t fields of extremes, they are fields of moderation and tweaking. Sure, a change made to a routine can feel huge to your perspective because you’re driving the bus. I’ve found that folks who are very ingrained in what they think tend to attach severe consequences to the topic.
Rest is critical and must always be enforced for 1 day per week else you’ll burn out and lose your job and DIE
If you take one day off the horn everyone will notice and you’ll lose your job and DIE
I’ve tried resting, and I’ve spent entire years never taking a day off. They’re both pretty ok, and I’ve elected to take some rest this year. Maybe I won’t next year. Who knows? As you go about your musical or artistic career, I encourage you to ask the “What if” behind the opinions surrounding you and try to stay open minded. Sure, there are some things everyone can agree on (Don’t deliberately sunburn your lips before a recital)- but most of the time, you know what’s best or you can find out with some tinkering on your own. Slight changes to my routine or habits haven’t ruined my life or career yet. I imagine that they won’t ruin yours….. results may vary!
Hey there- do you like what I do? There are a ton of ways you can see what I’m up to! Check out my email list (the button is above) for early announcements and inside peeks to stuff. Do you like facebook or instagram? I’m there also. I also stream on YouTube and keep some videos there! Take a look!
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!