On Judging Creative Activity or Sometimes My Kids Teach Me Stuff

The ranking of creative activity often strikes me as awkward at best, and counter-productive at worst. Competitive cooking shows are a great example. One chef leaves in tears, as I am thinking, “that looks great, pass that plate over here.” “This band is better than that band” always seems like a futile exercise.

Last night we attended the big end of the season high school marching band competition. My daughter is in one of the bands that competed. This competition has a prelims and finals format. They played two great shows. I think the best two shows they have played all season. When the rankings were announced after finals, they did not place as high as many hoped, or expected. There are some natural emotional reactions that can flow out in times like that. But, it made me remember something that my step-son said to me a few years ago.

My step-son, Blake, spent three summers performing on the DCI Tour with the Madison Scouts. (DCI is the highest level of marching band field show in the world. They would be pros, except you have to pay to do it…maybe another post.) At the end of one of Blake’s seasons, as I picked him up at the airport the day after finals, I commented that I thought they should have placed much higher. His response taught me something. He said that they had played one of their best shows of the season, and the audience loved it, and that was what they were there to do; be as good as they could be, and make something that moved people. They did that, and it was a success in his mind.

I feel like that is what my daughter’s band did last night. They performed as well as they could, and people liked it. That’s all that really matters.

…and that third place cheesecake can still make someone VERY happy.

Dad? & the joys of teaching

One of the joys of teaching is that your students graduate (well, some drop out), then they go and do cool stuff. One of my new favorite bands is Dad?. The shows are fun, and the people in the band are some of my favorites.

Dad? Saturday at the Saturn Bar.

Me and the band pre-show. (Note, this band is so cool that George Porter, Jr. took this picture)

Give them a listen below.

Loyola MIS Forum on Genre

The Music Industry Studies Program at Loyola University New Orleans (where I teach) has a weekly forum with all of our students. A couple of months ago our guest speaker was ill, so I put together a discussion on ideas around genre. There is video evidence. The talk starts about 10:30 in, after the student announcements.

Comparing Artists To Start-Ups Lazy, Unhealthy, Beside The Point. – hypebot

The money or art conversation came up in class the other day. This article takes some interesting looks at the topic. Note the articles preference for and use of the word art…

Comparing Artists To Start-Ups Lazy, Unhealthy, Beside The Point. – hypebot:

“Comparing artists to start-ups is a trend that has emerged this last couple of years as music and tech became ever more increasingly tied and the latter churned out its daily dose of spectacular stories and unicorns. When a particular field is successful, it would be a shame not to try to find some key take aways and apply them to an ecosystem like music where everything has been challenged and turned upside down these last 15 years or so.”

make a leap beyond the accepted paradigm

“Inventiveness and innovation require intelligence, but beyond intelligence they entail imagination, that is, the mental agility to make a leap beyond the accepted paradigm to another and to see the relationship between them that has escaped others. Training in the humanities is a training, if all goes well, in exploring “the other” and seeing how it relates to the known—an exercise in imagination. The cultivation of this skill is certainly not exclusive to the humanities, but they are especially apt for it. ” – John W. O’Malley S.J.

AAJ Review of Dave Cappello & Jeff Albert with William Parker: New Normal

Dave Cappello & Jeff Albert with William Parker: New Normal:

“If sentimentality is the synonym of nostalgia, then the antonym is anticipation, and maybe a better word would be modernity. That word comes to mind spinning the trio recording New Normal by trombonist Jeff Albert, drummer Dave Cappello and their guest, bassist William Parker. “

What Can Stop Kids From Dropping Out – The New York Times

What Can Stop Kids From Dropping Out – The New York Times:

“In pinpointing roadblocks, the university also looked beyond academics. About a thousand Georgia State undergraduates were dropping out every semester because they couldn’t pay the tuition. When a closer look revealed that many were short just a few hundred dollars, the university started awarding small just-in-time grants and financial counseling. Last year, some 400 students who otherwise would have dropped out were able to receive their degrees.”

How Music Got Free: the end of an industry, the turn of the century, and the patient zero of piracy

I recently finished reading How Music Got Free: the end of an industry, the turn of the century, and the patient zero of piracy by Stephen Witt (Penguin Random House).

It is a compelling account of the end of the era of major label largess told through the concurrent tales of a label executive, technology innovator, and early pirate. It doesn’t offer answers to the industry’s current problems, but it does help explain how we ended up where we are. Witt is a skilled story teller and it is an enjoyable read. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the inner workings of the music industry, and related technology.

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