Creating Art During Disruptive Times Finding Our Center Amid the Chaos

The last several weeks and upcoming weeks (and possibly much more) have put a huge strain on the world. Everyone is rightly concerned about staying healthy, staying employed, staying sane while managing this unprecedented time we find ourselves in.

Several of my students and friends who depend on being creative for their livelihoods have been struggling with getting into the space required to create their art. This is very stressful when you can’t get in the right frame of mind despite having all the time and space in the world to create or continue new works. » Read more

New Music – Letters I

It’s always a little intimidating to sing/release songs that are raw and emotional. But it’s time for me to start sharing. Over the past few years I’ve been writing and recording a series of songs that are essentially letters set to music. They are written from one person to another and they loosely tell a story.

I’ve been so fortunate to have some of my favorite musicians contribute to this project. On this first set I have Rachel Eckroth singing the lead of the opening song, “A Believer”. Rachel is a remarkable keyboard player who also sings at the highest level (as you’ll hear on the recording).

Here is a link to the recording so you can stream, share and/or purchase. You can also check out the lyrics and credits here –

All social media and email shares are greatly appreciated. I hope you enjoy these!

New Improvisation with Reason

For the last several years I’ve been learning more about sound design and electronic music. My students would push me pretty hard when we would work on these concepts forcing me to keep pace. I’ve finally gotten up the skills with the tech to start improvising more freely. Here’s as short sample something I improvised today when working with a program called Reason. First I programmed the drums and the sounds, then improvised on the keyboards. I hope you enjoy it!

If you can’t see the video in your email, click here to view it.

Reggie Watts, Louis Cole & Michael Stegner Trio October 16 show at Zebulon LA

On Monday, I have the opportunity to play with two friends who are unique and beautiful people. It always makes me so happy to see people who work really hard and treat people well reach a level of acclaim that allows them to thrive creating new art. These two artists fit the bill. I’m excited to reunite with then on a stage.

You’ve probably seen Reggie on various TV outlets with his own brand of music and comedy. He’s a true trailblazer. If you haven’t seen his TedTalk, it’s one of the most impressive improv/performances art bits ever:

Louis Cole grabbed a lot of attention in Los Angeles and beyond when he came onto the scene several years ago as a drummer. But he’s also continued to build his voice as a songwriter, producer, singer and multi-instrumentalist. His DIY music videos are truly genius and they’ve gotten millions of views. Tonight and tomorrow he’s opening for the Red Hot Chili Peppers in Mexico City. Here’s a short video he created called “Thinking”:

If you’re around and able to come to the show, tickets can be purchased online by clicking here.

If you’re getting this via email and can’t see the videos or links, click here.

Passion Makes Perfect

Playing and practicing music can be a real grind. Just like anything that requires discipline and hard work, it’s easy to lose track of why we even do it. We often lose touch with what is really important to us or we never find it in the first place. We simply follow a path that has been well worn by teaching methods, peers or mentors.

This week I was reminded of what it looks like to be emotionally engaged in the music-making process. It was a very inspirational and informative moment for me.

Bjork Up Close

Bjork up Close

» Read more

Create Over Critique Seeing a project through despite having reasons not to

A couple of days ago I stayed up until 6 am mixing and mastering a new song that Genevieve Artadi had just finished recording. I think I started at 10 or 11 p.m. the night before, so a pretty standard amount of time for a mix/master with this type of song. After finishing the mix and revisions (and sleeping a few hours), I processed the whirlwind of activities and thought about it from a teacher/mentor perspective. There were many cool lessons that I learned from the experience, but the thing I kept thinking about is how Genevieve left no room for fear, self-doubt or negativity through the whole process.

Blood Bath Big » Read more

New Digs

After fourteen years of teaching about forty students a week and being hands-on at Creative Music Adventures, I’m taking a little break. As many of you know I was up at 4:45 a.m. five days a week to be at a high school where they participated in a curriculum I developed. Keeping that schedule, working on finishing the books/method, performing and producing left little time to sleep.

Putting new siding on my house before taking off...

Putting new siding on my house before taking off…

» Read more

Announcement Time!

For the last several years I’ve been wrongly thinking that a teaching method I was working on was ready to release. The world certainly didn’t need another collection of music arranged into a method. I have written over 200 pieces for students over the past few years, but I felt that the impact of those on future generations of music makers would be small if I didn’t properly wrap them in the context, methodology, long-term vision and core philosophies that initiated their creation.

Thankfully, current technology has allowed me to build an interactive website for teachers over the past couple of years so that the written music can be part of the bigger whole. Teachers and students will be able to move through their development in a way that is consistent with the intent of the method.

This video covers the background and motivations behind making the method.

I’m really excited about sharing this with everyone. It’s been a lot of blood, sweat and tears but I feel very strongly that this will help a lot of teachers who are frustrated on some level with options available to them as teachers and more importantly – to future generations of music makers.

Click here to start with the method today.

A Cluttered Mind = a cluttered desk?

The last couple of weeks have been pretty intense. After ten years of working really hard on a project that I hope to share with you soon, there were some epic failures followed by epic successes in the testing stages. I won’t be quite as prolific on the blog posts for a couple of weeks as we finish working things out.

cluttered mind

Many of you know that I’ve been writing music to help kids and adults learn to play music. However, I have never really communicated the scope of the project and how it reaches beyond more music books and learning methods. I’ll try and share some updates once I have something more tangible – which should be in the next couple of weeks.

Since several of you have been emailing questions about the project, I’ll try and give updates here when I have time. Once we test and proof everything, I’ll post a comprehensive guide to everything the project involves as it stands and looking forward.

In the meantime, enjoy this photo of the clutter on the main workstation.

1 2