In Which Ryan Weathers The Storm Before The Calm
February 2022 | 3:2
Goomba and Koopa would like to know why you are looking at them instead of petting them or getting them treats.
What's Been Happening
This month has been up and down, which I’d imagine is pretty similar for everyone. I wasn’t able to attend the annual JEN Conference for the first time ever which was obviously rough, but the conference was at least able to occur. Similarly, this past month’s drum corps camp was made virtual, but part of that decision was based on the fact that we felt confident we could have a more normal experience in February and accomplish everything else we needed to virtually. Finally this past week was the Illinois state music education conference, and while it was still slightly different and I didn’t get to hang out as much as I normally would, I was at least able to go and present as part of a great session and catch up with several people I hadn’t seen in person for quite a while.
Another bright side is that I’ve ended up with more writing time which has been nice, and pending developments I’ll be playing a bunch of my music this coming weekend out in the DC area with a band put together by my longtime partner in crime/weird sounds Billy Wolfe. All in all, it feels like things are continuing to sort themselves out. While every point on the graph has its own data and feel, giving myself the opportunity to step back makes me confident the overall trend is upward and positive so I hope the same can be said for you and yours.
Chart O' The Month
This is actually one of the first things I ever wrote and it was a part of the first ever big band concert featuring my music back in undergrad. It’s also one of the more ambitious charts I've attempted in that instead of just doing an arrangement of the tune I thought “hey, why not try to write a commentary on the concept of romance and have it be a linear progression of a relationship while I’m at it!”. It is worth noting that I am now happily married, and that it’s possible that that is a direct result of getting this kind of brilliant idea out of my system before I started dating my wife.
Overall I still like the chart a lot, if for no other reason than it pulls so many things together in a unique (read as, “weird”) way. My other favorite thing is how many elements are left open to each individual performance, while still giving the chart enough direction to succeed. Most importantly though, every time I hear it it gives me a good reminder that it’s ok to be fearless when I’m writing; I didn’t know enough to be worried when I came up with these ideas, and remembering that lets me concentrate on “how” rather than “if” whenever I have another ridiculous concept. If anyone is interested in the full narrative of the chart I can share it, but in the meantime just know that my wife has heard the chart and still married me so there’s hope for all us weirdos.
Unlike DC over Christmas, it has not been 70 degrees in the Chicago area. Continuing our bright side theme though, Johanna got us ice spikes for our hiking boots so we went to Starved Rock State Park and got to check out some frozen waterfalls among other cool sights.
As I mentioned, I was lucky enough to be included on a panel discussion at ILMEA about tips for rehearsing the jazz band taken from this book I co-authored with the incomparable Mary Jo Papich. My own notes are available here and include links to more resources, so feel free to check them out and please reach out if you want me to elaborate on any points.
To be honest though, I took much more from the side discussions I got to have with the other panelists, all of whom are master music educators and good friends. Secondarily, they also all happen to be minorities within our field as either African Americans, women, or both, and I feel compelled to share at least a couple things I’ve been thinking about since those conversations. I’ve written and deleted about three pages worth of preaching on racism, sexism, and leadership, but they all amount to two things:
Admitting you’re blind to something doesn’t mean you can see it; it means someone else can sense something you can’t and you will need to work to understand what they’re trying to describe.
Be kind to each other, especially when it’s hardest. I’m not referring to being nice, or biting your tongue, or showing sympathy. Kindness is not the message, it’s how helpful that message actually is and how it is delivered.