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!
I made a huge mistake a few weeks ago. Like, a colossal mistake. My brother visited me here on O’ahu for ten days in the middle of March. We had talked about a potential visit for years and it finally came! I brought my camera nearly everywhere and I was so excited to import the photos into Lightroom last week. I felt that I hadn’t done a lot of shooting in the past year and I was happy to have found photography again.
When I finally pushed “Import” and saw how fast the photos moved from my camera to the computer, I realized with horror what I had done.
I shot every photograph on JPEG- not on RAW.
For those who don’t know, there’s no such thing as “No filter”, in photography. A camera simply collects light and color data, and a JPEG engine turns that data into a usable file. Essentially, a JPEG engine “Develops” the photograph! When you take a picture with an iPhone, the internal JPEG engine collects the raw data and uses software to make decisions- how green should this “green” be? How bright should the sky be?
Many photographers, myself included, like to be involved in that process ourselves, so we choose to set our cameras to shoot in “RAW” mode, which produces large files that contain all of the data from the photograph- then, we choose which data remains, essentially developing the photograph ourselves and making all of the choices that a JPEG engine would. When you set your camera to shoot in JPEG mode, you’re losing much of the data that would come with a RAW file and allowing the camera’s internal engine to make those decisions for you. That’s great if you have to deliver photographs quickly or if you don’t want to spend time at the computer doing processing. That’s really not good if you want to push the files in your own computer.
(All photos shot on Olympus OM-D EM1 mk III- JPEG)
Going through these photographs, I can’t help but feel sad at the loss of a my ability to choose exactly how the photos look. I am sure (I hope) that I’ll never make this mistake again. That being said, as I go through them, I realize the joy in the snapshot. Some of these look great! Maybe they’re not the decisions I would have made, but they’re nice all the time. Take a look at some of my favorites and see for yourself.
I’ll definitely head out again with my camera set to JPEG. When it’s not an accident, I imagine it’s a wonderful way to take photographs in a way that is not so high energy and focused on perfection. These photos certainly aren’t the most technically perfect I’ve ever shot, but I think they remind me of what was important for the shoot- memories with family.
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!