Saturday, May 12, 2012

The End

This class really challenged my sight reading and piano playing skills. It was really difficult, but I can say that I walked away with a lot more knowledge and a better understanding of how I learn. I have never considered myself a good piano player, I still don't, but at least I can say I'm not completely hopeless. I did my best in this class and got a lot out of it.

April - May 2012

In the last month and a half, we have gone over many different kinds of practice types. I developed my own way of reading rhythm, which is the most difficult for me. I also learned how to get better at getting better! Basically, learning how to teach myself and how to apply others' teachings correctly and effectively.

Repetition. Repetition is my key to learning how to read music. I found that I became slightly dependent on the sheet music, whether that be bad or good. I have always found that I rely on my ability to memorize, which does nothing for my sight reading. I guess something worked because even if I have the music memorized, having the music in front of me was a comfort rather than a hindrance.

The hardest song for me would have to have been playing Oleo with the chords. I say this because it has a funky rhythm that throws me off if I'm not honing in on the rhythms meticulously. This was a good challenge for me though. I need to stop being afraid of rhythm.

This song has a basic chord structure that we have been learning this semester. The melody is quick and on the off beats usually which makes it tricky.

During the B section, we would solo over the chords D7, G7, C7, and F7 respectively before returning to the A section to end the song.

This is how I learned the melody line...

I learned the rhythm of the melody line by writing it out by hand first, then writing the beat numbers over the notes. For example:
1 +(and) 2 + 3 + 4 + would represent 8th notes.

The other two songs we ended the semester with included I Got Rhythm and Lester Leaps In.

I Got Rhythm has a pushed feeling melody line that progresses up from F to G to Bb to C and back down the same way. The fingering for the last part of the melody line was difficult at first.

The chord progression is simple and similar to most of the pieces we're practicing.

The bass line is 8th notes:

Bb  Ab  G  Db  C  Gb  F  B  Bb

This plays over the melody line and the chords until the B section when the bass plays the 1 and 5 over the respective chords D7, G7, C7, and F7.

The last song we got was Lester Leaps In.

This song is simple with an up beat melody line over a Bb chord until the B section which follows the chord progression of the other two songs.

My practice routine was the same for most of the pieces with difficult rhythms and for the ones with simpler rhythms, I played them with my classmates multiple times, trading around the chords, melodies, and bass lines.

My practice group was with Michael and Bernie and I practiced outside of the group with Collin, Bobby, Brent, and Matt.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Practice, practice, practice.

For this class, I have developed a kind of practice schedule I don't usually stick too the way I have been. I spend on average an hour on the piano every 2-3 days, sometimes shorter and in spurts. I can't believe how much better my coordination is getting on the piano as well as how quickly I jump online to look up a chord name I don't recognize opposed to simplifying it.

No joke, this class is kicking my butt, I just found that I have a C in it, but I'm hoping some extra hard work will pay off in the next five and a half weeks before the semester ends. My sight reading is getting easier in the sense that I know I can do it, so I am not as quick to throw in the towel.

I haven't been keeping up with the blog like I usually do, but here is the last few weeks.

February - March 2012

I did pretty terribly on my first assessment in this class and had to re-take it because I wasn't prepared for it, but some new things I learned are:

  1. I CAN play it if I put my mind to it. Just try, don't give up.
  2. Start training your ear to use fixed DO as in fixed solfeggio. 
  3. Jazz is HARD, but makes me feel like I can play way better :)
So let's start with the solfege stuff. Going up chromatically, the scale would be:

C   C#   D   D#   E   F   F#   G   G#   A   A#   B   C
do  di    re   ri    mi  fa   fi    sol    si    la   li      ti   do

Going down, it would be:

C   B   Bb   A   Ab  G   Gb  F   E   Eb   D    Db   C
do  ti    te    la    le    sol  se   fa  mi  me   re    ra   do

The difference between fixed and movable Do is that you never have to think about what key you will be in with fixed because Re will always be D. 

Here was my 12 bar solo I wrote in solfege over the chord progression to Sonnymoon for Two:

This particular song has been my favorite so far because I feel like I hear the chord progression everywhere! 

I had a really good time writing this solo out, but originally didn't write out the melody in fixed solfege. 

You can see the difference between the fixed syllables and the movable ones on the bottom line. 

Anyway, I have been focusing on rhythms because that is the hardest subject for me, and I am thinking of starting to go through my old theory workbook again..... after I'm done ear training..... after I am done trying to hear the difference between different EQed frequencies..... after I'm done practicing..... AHHHHH! This summer I want to really get down to business so that I can really better myself as a performer.

Here is the second piece I wrote out the solfeggio for:

This piece was a pain in my ass, but I got myself to get the two hands down which nearly killed me.

My left hand is illiterate.

Some of the new stuff we've been working on includes Impressions by John Coltrane, So What by Miles Davis, and Maiden Voyage by Herbie Hancock. These are examples of modal pieces which is a whole other world in itself. UGH

Maiden Voyage has a crazy looking rhythm that I definitely did not understand until we spent like 2 class periods playing the rhythm non-stop. 

I practiced this at the expense of my lower floor neighbors by basically stomping my foot while I loudly counted the rhythm after I broke it down on paper. Why is this so hard for my head to grasp??

X   x   X   x   x   X   x   x   x   x   x   X   x   X   X   X
 1     +    2    +   3    +    4   +   1   +   2     +   3     +      4      +

This is basically how I figured it out. I broke down the rhythm into a language I can understand faster and now, I am understanding tied and dotted notes quicker than I was before. 

Impressions was my favorite because it was the most abstract and once I got it, I couldn't stop hearing it and singing it and playing it. Damn catchy tunes. 

Once I got So What, I realized how simple it really is yet can be perceived as complex. I like this one too because I really had to practice to get my fingering and chord voicings correct and fluidly able to switch back and forth. 

Here is my latest solo for the latest assessment which I scored a B+ on. It is over a D dorian progression and low and behold.....



I like this class because it is pushing me to work pretty hard on my piano skills, which I have wanted to improve for a while now, just never had the time or motivation. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

We Don't Riff. We Don't Improv. We Solo.

Basically, this is my favorite class besides 307 this semester because it's really fun! I am already learning how to play music better and how to practice better and sing better. It's pretty awesome.


This blog is going to cover the first 3 weeks of this class.

The first day, we all learned to play Sonnymoon for Two by Sonny Rollins.

This is my favorite piece so far because I really like the chord progression and the voicings have helped me play one of the songs for my 307 band.

We also worked on a lot of theory that I haven't had the chance to work on since I transferred here last year, which was really nice. I like theory a lot and I am excited for the independent group study that will hopefully get set up for next year.

Here's a terrible video from my Mac that I took this recent class period of some of us practicing.

Don't mind the gum and awful expression on my face, I was pretty tired! Other than that, we all did a really good job that day and practiced both songs and looked at one of the new ones we will get soon. And I go flat at one point. Oops.

Here are some pictures of my notes from the last few classes as well...


I am not quite sure what to put in this blog except pictures of my notes and videos of our practices... As the semester goes on, I think I will get the hang of blogging about the practicing and concepts.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Some Ethical Concerns You Should Know About....

No one wants to hear about you….

So don't offer to tell someone about yourself unless they ask you…

I like to talk about myself. And I truly think its because I am proud of myself for getting where I am. If the things I have accomplished didn't surprise me, then maybe I wouldn't talk about it the way I do.

But its true. Ask other people about themselves because you never know what someone might have to talk about or say. Especially if you're like me…. talk talk talk and totally oblivious hahah


So, this week is Ethical Concern week and I chose to write about the Commercial Felony Streaming Act or S.978 that was brought to Congress last May 2011.

The Act is causing crazy hype all over the Internet, the news, blogs, and congress. Copyright law is cracking down to include streaming. As of today, copyright infringement only includes the illegal downloading, distributing, and reproduction of copyrighted works, but not streaming.

The major issue is whether this new Bill is going to take down one of the most popular networking site today ---- YouTube. There are a few other sites that would be affected if this Bill is aiming to take down all kinds of streaming, but there are some reasons to believe it wont.

As the harsh and strict rules of copyright and intellectual property law push forward to seemingly over-protect copyrights, the Fair Use Doctrine pushes equally as far to protect what is considered the cultural commons. When the public goes nuts thinking artists like Justin Bieber is going to jail if S.978 is passed because he was discovered on YouTube, singing copyrighted Chris Brown covers, Fair Use shields him and the rest of us by creating exceptions for educational, scholarship, and research purposes and a few others.

<------- Kind of funny, totally not going to happen though... hahah

So the ethical concern in my topic is whether this Bill will affect YouTube, an streaming-based website, and other social networks…


I love doing covers of other people's songs. I love it when other people sing my songs. I love YouTube and the opportunities to explore the talent and knowledge that the site provides to the public for free.

Hopefully, this is not as extreme as everyone thinks!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Class of 2015....

Apparently, CMS Student and my Degree Progress Report thinks I'm going to graduate in 2015...

I'm hoping not. Seriously, that's ridiculous.


So, Drew has decided to start something called Peer Mentoring, which will basically pair 306 students with 308 students who are mixing their projects right now. It will prepare us for the next semesters of Audio Production in 307, Mixing and Editing in 308, and so on! This is a great idea and I can't wait to start!

I ended up taking responsibility for getting a schedule for meeting times between the two classes depending on whose free. It's a little uneven because there is a group that mixes during 306 class time, so they don't have as many visitors. Hopefully 308 doesn't get overwhelmed with us!

Anyways, here is the schedule and Brent will be sending out reminder emails 24 hours ahead of time so that we all get the chance to jump on this opportunity!

I enjoyed writing my MLO 3 paper on Paul Stiller as well. I'm glad that Chicago format wasn't as scary to switch to as I thought it might be. Actually, I think I like it more!

So, I found out that MPA is pushing to make MPA 300 qualify as a GWAR as it should because it seriously is worth way more credits than it is and challenges my writing with every assignment. Its not fair that MPA gets pushed to the side so often. We do work too.... Don't be jealous that we get to work this hard for something we love so much!!!! :)


Monday was slightly depressing for the class. We all had to work on our ILPs and schedules for next semester. I was surprised when I found out that my degree progress report estimates that I will graduate in 2015!!!! Whoaaaaa! No way Jose.

I think I am going to attempt to take 2 online courses this summer through my community college that will get my last 2 GEs out of the way. I wish I would have known ahead of time that CSUMB doesn't roll with the GE/CSU transfer guidelines. So annoying. Although, I have been pretty lucky with the amount of courses and credits that have transferred over especially in the music department. Thanks Drew.

So I am going to be taking 21 credits next semester. yeah.

  • MPA 307 Audio Production
  • MPA 340 Artistic Development
  • MPA 295 Special Topics
  • MPA 338 Music History Online
  • HCOM 403S GWAR (6 credits) ugh.
  • BUS 304 Writing and Critical Thinking

I think this is right. I am hoping this doesn't end up to be too much because I really need to get some courses out of the way. 


I made the Vagina Monologues. I got moved to Sound Tech at the BBC even faster because I came though last Saturday and did surprisingly great with no training :)))) Very proud of myself! And 21 credits. I think I will be okay....

2015 my ass.

<--- Hanging off the edge of a 4 story building last Friday :) 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

I Once Was Lost, But Now I'm Found....

About 4 years ago, a summer program at Berklee College of Music in Boston seriously changed my life in every way possible. Not only did I find my social self and overcome a long battle of self-awareness, but I realized that even though I wanted to focus my studies on Astronomy and/or Biology, I was meant to be a musician. Music was always a tremendous part of my life, but it wasn't my passion because I had no idea what it felt like. I never sang from my heart until that amazing summer 4 years ago. It was a revolutionary moment for me.

Paul Stiller was my Musicianship and Dictation/Ear Training teacher. I wish I knew what I know now, because this man is incredible. Now, I absolutely love ear training and dictations. He taught us things that I only appreciate now. I thought he was joking when he asked the class to write down whatever he was playing. I didn't think people could even do that! I once was blind. I liked his class so much, that me and my friends went to see his "Vox One" performance across town one night. The group is a vocal jazz, ensemble, percussion type group that explores the immense possibilities of the human voice. It was a show to remember. The closing piece was a 5 part version of Amazing Grace. But now I see. 

Fortunately for me, I got in contact with Paul and he still remembers me :) I'm very happy that I get to do my paper on him because he had a hand in laying down the first few bricks of my path towards music and where I am supposed to be...


<-------- Paul Stiller, Ear Training Professor at Berklee

In this paper, we must address our subject's Aesthetic Properties of Style. Basically, the beauty within the form like an artistic statement. This quality is what brings the music, performance, lyrics, etc. together. 

Next is the subject's Compositional Process. We must identify and analyze the creative process and aesthetic qualities such as songwriting, arranging, and whatnot. 

This paper has to be in Chicago format. 

I'm a little scared because I have never had to write in anything other than APA or MLA and I'm really good at that. I have my template I've been using since 8th grade in my head and it gets me an A almost every time. Oh goodness, I hope Chicago format isn't crazy. Apparently its good for us :) Wish me luck..

There has to be 5 headings and ask myself for each "Why is this significant"???? Intro, body, conclusion, 5 pages, subheadings with around 3 to 5 sentences each, write the intro last..... 

What is a conclusion? .....oh it's a conclusion. ....You can't define a word with the word Stevie Rae. Oh.

So I went through my bank of people I could write this paper on that I could actually talk to and not until Drew said, "Form your own connections" did I stop and think about the people that I personally know that are awesome and in my field of study. I'm reading a book right now written by Pat Pattison, a Berklee professor, and so Paul popped in my head. Did some research, found out he's perfect for my project, and every time I go back to Boston or one of my friends goes to Berklee, I ask about Paul because he was so quirky, fun, and got through to me! 


I'm pretty stoked :)

Here's an example of one of his compositions. I like this one because he used this pattern of syllables to teach us rhythm, articulation, site reading, etc. And I still kind of know it lol

Kind of a 3 - Vox One, Composed by Paul Stiller

Berklee <3 Best Summer Ever!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I Play the Vocal Cords :)

So I went away this weekend to visit a friend who attends University of the Pacific in Stockton. It was really interesting experiencing a different dynamic of college than my own. I have felt a little embarrassed in the past that I don't attend some huge UC or highly acclaimed college, but I really got a great perspective of how to appreciate each school for their qualities. One of her roommates was really in to Hip Hop and we struck up a conversation about sampling and pretty much everything from the Cyberliberties reading from this week. It was really awesome.

Later that night, we all made bacon and without a working stove fan, we set off the smoke alarm in the dorm. About ten minutes later, the RA's came to our door and asked us what was up.
Roommate: Sorry, we burned the bacon...
RA: Yeah we know, we can smell it.
Roommate: .....
RA: We're going to have to call the Public Safety Officer.
(10 minutes later)
Officer: I'm going to need all your IDs.
Roommate: For bacon?

Wow. I was in shock. So the running joke now is an Excessive Bacon violation. Doesn't have to do much with this blog, but it's pretty funny. I really appreciate our music program here at CSUMB (Not the distance though!!). I'm glad that we have a one-of-a-kind Recording program.....


In class, we discussed our papers and especially our capstones. Nick was really helpful in informing us about what to look for, expect, start thinking about, and prepare for in our capstones.

Basically, the next 2 semesters' worth of MPA recording classes will prepare me for my capstone, which makes sense because its the accumulation of our skills learned at CSUMB.

Nick said to start writing now and get inspired to write an album because going into your capstone because you will have a lot easier of a time if you have everything ready to go, charts, lyrics, harmonies, etc. written!

On writing the paper, find something to write about that you love because the paper will end up being fifteen pages long!!! I'm thinking of writing on the voice, but not the technical aspect of the voice because that isn't what makes a good singer. Singing has to come from the heart. Like any instrument, one doesn't play amazing simply by playing perfect, excellence comes from the passion put into the playing. This part of the capstone will take a good amount of preliminary research as well because you have to LOVE the topic.

He also told me to find musicians that understand me to go behind my album. That will take a good amount of time to get to know everyone musically and socially. I'm actually on Adam's couch right now watching Star Wars lol got to get to know everyone!

The Golden Mean (from what I understood) is the middle point between two extremes: excess and deficiency. So, relative to the topic, I would have to say the Golden Mean is finding the middle point between doing nothing to prepare for my capstone, and doing too much before its time to take the capstone class. Be pro-active about the capstone, but there is sooo much that I can't do yet. Find the balance.

My thoughts on some possibilities of the album are to make an album completely made up of my voice, but that would be ridiculously difficult and I kind of want to work with a band on something like this. Maybe record the album with my songs that I have written (only the really good ones) and focus on the vocals and band as a collaborative whole....

I want to do a lot of the album myself because I want to be self-sufficient with my musical career when I leave CSUMB. One thing that has always scared me are drums. I don't know how to play them and I get scared and intimidated when I try. So I feel like I should take lessons or stop freaking out about it and do them myself! How else do I get over a phobia of something that I should not be scared of? Being self-sufficient was another idea for the paper as well.

After class, I got to have a nice pep talk from Nick. I told him that I am totally intimidated in class and by other musicians that can play multiple instruments. I can sing and barely play piano compared to some of the kids in my classes. He stopped me and told me to remember that my voice is an instrument that some people envy and that I should remember that I am a vocalist. It made a lot of sense. I forget about my voice when I watch other kids pick up the bass, the guitar, the drum sticks, the piano, etc. and I get so down on myself that I can't play any of those that great. So thanks Nick for the pep talk and for getting my head on right about this capstone!


Just because I can't play any other instruments doesn't mean I am totally incompetent as a musician.... because I PLAY THE VOCAL CORDS very well and I love it :) It truly is a passion.