I’m a Composer from Charlottesville…

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

At Atlantic Music Festival this summer, that quote was our motto, though none of us knew how appropriate it would become to current events.  And while I was going to post about the amazing summer I had at Atlantic, I felt that as someone who grew up in Charlottesville, I needed first to express my solidarity with the persecuted and the families of those who lost their lives to violent monsters who invaded my beloved, diverse hometown last weekend.

Continue reading “I’m a Composer from Charlottesville…”

The Next Step

It’s amazing how much can change in a few weeks’ time…  I’ve moved to Nashville and started college.

Up to this point, my posts had running through them the consistent theme of being a teenager and trying to figure out how to make good recordings and compositions on my own—and often getting in over my head with my undertakings.  However, now I have the ability to learn from some of the best of the best; I’m not on my own anymore.  But I don’t know what that will mean for this blog.  For that matter, I’m still figuring out what that means for me. Continue reading “The Next Step”

Airborne is Out!

It’s been a wild ride, but my debut solo piano album Airborne is done and out!

Eleven months ago, I was inspired after returning from two GRAMMY Camps and had a bold idea: I was going to release a thirty-five minute solo piano album by the end of the following summer.

At the time, I only had one piano piece (“Airborne”) that I felt was good enough to record.  I had already committed to producing an EP for singer/songwriter Lily Garay that fall, too.  And there were college music school auditions in February to practice and prepare for.  Suffice it to say that the prospects of releasing a full-length album were not good. Continue reading “Airborne is Out!”

Studio Diaries – Airborne, Part 2: The Rubber Meets the Road

I didn’t want to do this, but I’m pushing back my Airborne album release to July 19.  I’ve changed my plans, but I haven’t changed my mind—I’m still making an album.  I’m going to push through these roadblocks and move forward. Continue reading “Studio Diaries – Airborne, Part 2: The Rubber Meets the Road”

Composer’s Block: Pushing Past the Walls

Too many composers and songwriters just sit around and wait for creativity to happen.  But the truth is that, most of the time, by making yourself write, you inherently have to be more creative to be able to put something on the paper in the first place.

I used to be the kind of composer that just waited around, and I often moved onto new pieces whenever I hit the “barrier.”  I used to think that forcing yourself to be creative stifled creativity, but now I see otherwise. Continue reading “Composer’s Block: Pushing Past the Walls”

Studio Diaries – “My Heart Beats,” Part 1: Long Hours and Little Sleep

I know I said I was going to make posts about everything that happened this summer, but right now, I’m in the middle of something big–I’m producing my first album.  I’m producer, engineer, executive producer, and keyboardist on Singer/Songwriter Lily Garay‘s debut bilingual pop EP “My Heart Beats.”   For the next few weeks, I’m going to be keeping a “Studio Diary” so you can have an insider’s look at the whole thing.  I will also have some mixing and production tips interspersed here, too, to make it even more interesting. Continue reading “Studio Diaries – “My Heart Beats,” Part 1: Long Hours and Little Sleep”

College Choices: Don’t Try to Fit In

There are so many decisions to make when you’re a senior.  It’s hard to know what to do.

College applications are heading my way, and auditions are drawing near.  You might think this wouldn’t be a problem for me since I already know that I want to produce and compose.  But I haven’t been worried about what I’m doing after college.  The question for me has been what to do in college.  I’ve felt really torn between classical composition vs. commercial composition vs. audio engineering.

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Finishing a Project: The “Now What?” Question

After several months of work, I have finally finished a song I wrote called “I Am Free.”  It’s by far the best pop or rock song I’ve ever written, and it’s definitely the best mix I’ve ever made, too.  (I’m still waiting for a few things before I can upload it, but in my next post, I’ll probably have it uploaded and I can talk about it more.)  Emotionally, “I Am Free” took a lot out of me to write.  I’ve put so much into this one song, but now I’m done.  So I ask myself: “Now what?”

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My Recent Mixing Breakthroughs

Wow, this month, I’d say that my mixing skills have improved more than they did for the past two years.  So what happened this month, and what are some good ways to improve your own mixing skills?

For one thing, I’ve been putting in even more time mixing and listening to great mixes by people who are far more experienced.  I think the best thing you can do to get better at mixing is to listen to great mixes.  An even better way to learn would obviously be to go work in someone’s studio, but if you can’t do that, listen to the demo songs that come with Logic or whatever software you use.

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The Ballad of the Mixdown

When you’re mixing, sometimes you just can’t get out of the studio; every time you think you’re done, you always hear something else that needs to be fixed, so you keep listening and tweeking over and over again until you reach exhaustion.  Recently, I wrote a poem about it because I thought it would be funny: Continue reading “The Ballad of the Mixdown”