Notes from a Composer

This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before. -Leonard Bernstein

These words were written by Mr. Bernstein after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, but after every devastating event that happened in the last few days I think we can all try to live our lives as best we can from here on out. Stay strong friends, and send good thoughts out to your fellow humans around the world. [image via]

‘What’s in My Bag?’ The Choir Edition

In My Choir Bag

The bag I carry most days is a tote because I like to carry my essentials plus a few extra things. Rory Gilmore isn’t the only person who carries a novel just in case. I keep a separate bag to carry all the other stuff I need to bring with me to rehearsal. I’m the kind of person who wants to be prepared for all types of situations that could arise within the span of a rehearsal, therefore I pack it all. When you see the list you’ll understand why I need another bag.

In My Choir Bag

In the photo-

  • Chapstick, because singing with chapped lips could easily ruin my day.
  • Mechanical pencil and highlighter, because we ain’t got time to sharpen regular pencils and sometimes too many staves of music gets me lost I need to highlight my voice line.
  • Page flags and paper clips, because i’ll need to mark my entrances after solos and stuff.
  • Throat lozenges, because a sore throat could severely affect my ability to sing
  • My music folder (get one here, and if you use a 3-ring binder these magazine holders help tremendously)
  • Tea bags, because as much as I love coffee all day everyday, warm tea takes care of my throat and I like that.

Not pictured, but also included:
A bottle of water
Travel-size pack of tissues
Wallet and phone
A snack, because singing makes me hungry.

But wait, that’s not all! When I pack for a concert weekend I bring even more stuff.. I’ll show you that next time.

If you’re curious to know what pieces I’m currently working on…
In My Choir Bag
I’m excited because this is my first time doing the Mozart Vespers and Haydn Missa Brevis.

Do you sing or are in a musical ensemble? What are your necessities for practice and performance?

Seen and Heard


Happy Saturday night! If you’re here with me (and by “here with me” I mean here on the internet) and have some time to kill, here are a few interesting links I found on the internet this week:

Ten ideas for the singer who doesn’t think they can practice on their own

A normal person’s guide to the orchestra

Never-Before-Seen Outtakes of Robin Williams Recording Aladdin

A Student Musician’s Career in Pictures

An a cappella version of Rammstein’s Du Hast:

Ryan Adams recorded an album of cover songs of Taylor Swift’s 1989. Whether or not you’re a fan of Swift, you might like these acoustic versions.

And my hero… is a page turner. (beginning around 4’20” she has to save each musician’s scores that fell on the floor)

Have a great rest of the weekend, friends.

Make It: Movable Pencil Loop


Musicians, how many times have you had to rifle through your bag just to find a pencil to mark your music, or you didn’t have a pencil to begin with because there wasn’t a place to put it in your music folder? Most manufactured music folders have a built-in pencil holder but if you happen to use a 3-ring binder you’re going to need a holder or risk stretching out one of the inner pockets. I found a few tutorials on YouTube geared towards the planner community, but this could easily be made for anyone needing a place to store a writing utensil. The great part is that it can be attached to your binder or multiple pages of a score if you’re reading from something hefty like the Brahms Requiem.

I made mine with glitter washi tape from Target-



I followed this tutorial by Silly Mimi on how to make a pen loop with duct tape and a small binder clip:

Here’s another video, but you make a stretchy loop instead-

Let’s Catch Up, Shall We?

I’m sorry guys and gals, I haven’t updated the blog since February. Life is like a box of chocolates, am I right?

So what have I been up to? Welllllll… I originally planned to tell you more about the musical side of my life and I failed to do that. So here’s a short rundown of what I’ve did at the Chorus of Westerly since January. AND you can play Where’s Waldo and try to find me in the crowd.

We presented the last shows for the 40th year of A Celebration of Twelfth Night. Here’s a photo of the chorus, who acted as the “soundtrack” to the action on stage, during our last rehearsal before the shows.

[ Photo Sean D. Elliot/The Day ]

And some snapshots of the show…

Chorus of Westerly - A Celebration of Twelfth Night 40th

Chorus of Westerly - A Celebration of Twelfth Night 40th

Chorus of Westerly - A Celebration of Twelfth Night 40th

[ Photos : Christine Corrigan/The Westerly Sun ]

Our March concert was titled Straight Up! While we usually perform with an orchestra, we took it down a notch and sang some songs a cappella and some with a handful of instruments. With that said, our energy and sound was as strong as any other concert. (these are photos from the dress rehearsal)

    The program:

  • Evening Hymn, H. Balfour Gardiner
  • Ave Maria – Angelus Domini, Franz Biebl
  • Chichester Psalms, Leonard Bernstein
  • Dark Night of the Soul, Old Gjeilo
  • Birthday Madrigals, John Rutter
  • Ezekiel Saw de Wheel
  • Encore: Ride the Chariot, William Henry Smith
Chorus of Westerly - Straight Up!
Chorus of Westerly - Straight Up!
[ Photos: Christine Corrigan/The Westerly Sun ]


An exploration into the light and the dark- Gabriel Faure’s Requiem and Karl Jenkins’ Gloria, with guest baritone soloist Dan Moore.

Here’s a few snaps from rehearsals and the performance hall.




…that’s my music, by the way. I don’t know anyone else who uses pencils more often than musicians.

And now we’re caught up! Have a good weekend, friends!

Romantic Songs, if You’re a Stalker

Happy Valentine’s Day!

To celebrate I’ve put together a little list of my favorite songs to show you my affection. That’s a lie. These songs are creepy if you actually listen to the lyrics. With that said, I still like these songs and will gladly sing along whenever I get the chance. I included the music videos because some of them really take the creepy factor further with visuals. I know there’s a TON of other songs that are creepy, so if you want to add to the list leave a comment. Enjoy… winkwink.

Elvis Costello featuring Fiona AppleI Want You

The PoliceEvery Breath You Take

Cheap TrickI Want You To Want Me

Death Cab for CutieI Will Possess Your Heart

The Smashing PumpkinsAva Adore

Nine Inch NailsCloser

On My Bucket List: Vienna New Year’s Concert

I’ve never really kept an official “bucket list”. For much of my youth I really just stayed hopeful that when I became an adult I’d have enough money to do things like travel the world and eat all the food found in those locales. With Aiden I make seasonal bucket lists of activities and it’s got me thinking about things I’d like to do one day with a little planning.

One item on that list is to attend the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra‘s New Year’s concert. What makes this concert special other than it being a great way to ring in the new year is that they play the Radetsky March with the audience participation. We did this at a recent concert here and it was so fun that I’d do it again if I had the chance.

Thanks to the beauty of the internet, I found the full 2015 concert on YouTube, below.

The whole program is over 2 hours, so if you’d like to hear the Radetsky March fast forward to hour 2 and 16 minutes, or click here to start at that mark.

[ image above © Terry Linke ]

What I Want You To Know About Museums

I work in a museum. Often when people ask what I do for work I love to mention that I work at the Lyman Allyn. I want people to know this place exists! Although, there’s always a tiny part of me that feels like that person may as well be hearing, “I work at a really snooty place, period, that’s all you need to know because it’s probably too good for you anyways.”

But it’s not a snooty place! I want you to know that whatever we have on view is meant to be accessible to everybody.

Admission fees shouldn’t determine whether or not you can walk through our front doors. In fact, a lot of museums in the United States are free to the public. For example, if you visit Washington D.C., all of the Smithsonian institutions are always free and open everyday of the year except on Christmas. The admission fee we charge at the Lyman Allyn doesn’t mean we’re greedy and want all of your money. Like a lot of museums we’re a non-profit organization. A lot of what gets collected financially will help us to fund the costs to run this building, care and maintenance of the objects in our collection, to allow us to provide programs for children and special events related to the current exhibitions, to pay for applications for grants, to order office supplies, and to pay the small amount of staff members who work hard and tirelessly to organize and plan everything that happens within these walls.

If you feel that our admission fee is still problematic, you have options! With a little planning and preparation you can visit for free. Museums may hold an occasional “free night” or “free day” promotion. My museum has a “Free First Saturday” where we provide free admission on the first Saturday of the month. Also, find out if your local library holds passes to local museums and attractions which will cover a portion or all of the admission cost. Some museums offer reciprocal admission to other area museums if you’re a member with that museum.

For a yearly fee there are museum associations such as the North American Reciprocal Museums or American Alliance of Museums where you are granted free admission to a large group of museums affiliated with that organization. If you travel often, this is a great thing to have because you’ll be able to enjoy the museums in the areas you visit at no extra cost.

If the museum doesn’t tout the really priceless van Goghs / Picassos / Monets / Renoirs / Kahlos / Warhols, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing worth seeing. The permanent collection at the Lyman Allyn aims to present artwork and objects that were created by those who have worked and/or lived in Connecticut or New England. Much of the objects were made or owned by prominent people from this state’s history. While a museum may have a niche that makes it unique among other museums, it may also present temporary shows that encompass a variety of subjects and themes. Without being strictly about one thing, you might see traveling exhibitions and accompanying events/activities that cater to different ages and interests. About ten year ago when I was vacationing in Tampa, Florida, there was a Bodies at one of the local museums. A year later I saw that the same exhibit moved it’s way north to a New York City museum.

You can bring the kids. Adding to what I just mentioned about there being exhibits for every interest, there are exhibits and programs geared towards kids. I know a lot of museums are populated by the older peeps, and some of them prefer a quiet stroll through the galleries, but kids can behave too. New Yorkers do it all the time. Shoot, I brought my kid to the Yale Center for British Art and there’s nothing there that would really engage my kid’s mind but I created activities for him to participate in while we walked around. How many horses do you see in this gallery? What do you think that child is doing in this painting? Do you like this sculpture; and what do you like about it? If you see a painting with boats in it, sing a sea chantey. Get creative!

I hope this post motivates you to take a trip to your local museum at least once this year. I have such a huge passion for the arts organizations in my community. I think places like local museums and hearing music groups live are ways that one can stimulate their local economy and experience some culture in return for a small fee. Now, get out there!