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The Learning Scale

As a contemporary music specialist, I am no stranger to parts like this:   This kind of part — with multiple layers of extended techniques, unique notation to decode, rarely encountered fingerings, and rhythmic complexities — can be quite overwhelming. It’s not sight-readable, even at a slow tempo. There’s often no recording available. Questions for the composer arise. Fingering charts need to…

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Texas Tour

Madera Wind Quintet Texas Tour

I’m excited to return to Texas in February for a tour with the Madera Wind Quintet.  We’ll be playing in North, East and South Texas, with a varied program of quintet standards by Danzi and Ligeti, original arrangements of music by Copland and Beck, and music from our last album Five at Play as well as…

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Hello Seattle!

I’m excited to announce that I’ve relocated from Texas to the Seattle area! My husband Greg Dixon has begun a music faculty position at the Digipen Institute of Technology, and I will be freelancing and teaching. I’m looking forward to joining the musical community in Seattle and having more time to devote to planning performances,…

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5 Facts about Facebook’s News Feed Problem

Have you noticed that lately you post something really funny/interesting/important on your personal Facebook page and no one seems to notice?  And in your feed, sometimes you miss posts from your best friends, but see the same posts you don’t care about over and over? Or maybe you set up a Facebook Page for your…

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Paul Thomas – Bruegel Sketches

Last week I had the opportunity to premiere Bruegel Sketches for bass clarinet and accordion by Paul David Thomas, professor of music at Dallas Baptist University, with the composer himself on accordion: It’s a great set of miniatures evocative of the paintings. And the score is a lesson in how to use notation as a…

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The Problem with Premiere-Hunting

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the concept of “premieres,” and why they are often over-valued by performers and ensembles.  Sure, they sound fancy in an artist bio (e.g. “So-and-so has premiered works on eight continents…”), and they can contribute to the perceived legacy of a performer.  We must support the creation of new…

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How to Slap Tongue

Slap tonguing is an extended technique which achieves a percussive effect that can be used on its own or to start a sustained pitch. It is a neat sound, especially on the bass clarinet, but difficult to learn. Last week, I was thinking about how long it took me to finally learn how to slap…

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Madera Wind Quintet Call for Scores

At the end of last year’s performance season, in May of 2011, the members of the Madera Wind Quintet began tossing around the idea of doing a call for scores.  We had just performed a new work commissioned by Sarah Summar and had such a great time doing it, and we had already performed much…

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A Creative Problem-Solving Approach to Instruction

I came across an article that got me thinking about my teaching philosophy – “The Educational Value of Creative Disobedience” by Andrea Kuszewski.  The article explores research and personal experience about the value of a creative, exploratory approach to learning as opposed to a linear, rote approach.  According to Kuszewski, studies have found that too…

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