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Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia - Ten-Year Anniversary

Back in my undergrad, I was fortunate enough to find a group of guys to spend long nights and make some wonderful music with. I was initiated into the Xi class of the Zeta Mu chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity in 2008.

There’s certainly no way to say that the whole journey was easy. Learning how to be an adult, while beginning an intensive course study in college is difficult enough as it is. At the time, I was still a journalism major, and hadn’t yet decided to dedicate my entire life to music. I was still active in the marching band, writing music, and teaching as much as I could, though. Several of my close drumline friends were already members, and by my sophomore year, they had talked me into beginning the membership process.

I decided to go through with it mainly because it was an opportunity to learn how to sing, and to sing in an ensemble. Every meeting has a music rehearsal, and opens and closes with songs that Sinfonians all over the country know by heart. There’s not enough that can be said for how reassuring that is. Each year at the TMEA convention, the Step Sing is by far the most satisfying and endearing event. I got into music because I love making something with other people, and 100-200 men in a large room singing in four-part harmony is exactly what I wanted.

Though I was getting something, it’s also worth mentioning that it’s a great feeling to give back as well. Throughout my music travels, I have met some great folks. I’ve visited chapters in Virginia and Texas, as well as worked closely with Sinfonians on other projects outside of formal fraternity events. Whether it’s offering feedback, or supporting younger Sinfonians on their journey through Phi Mu Alpha, or guiding those young men into being better educators or musicians in general, the mutual trust that develops throughout membership is completely invaluable.

When I started graduate school, I had fallen out of favour with Phi Mu Alpha. The guys in the Zeta Mu chapter were kind enough to help me with the process of becoming reinstated as an alumni member. That meant the world to me. Though each chapter and each member goes through ups and downs, in general Sinfonians are compassionate, intelligent, and thoughtful guys. In my experience, this group of men has been one of few groups I can consistently rely on musically, and as a human.

This Spring, I was honoured with a ten-year membership pin. It had honestly slipped my mind how long I’d been a member. At conventions, I see other Sinfonians and wonder what it’s like to be in their shoes. I turned 30 this year, so I am kind of in their shoes. Guys in their sophomore year may benefit from my experience or expertise, and seeing that ten-year pin on my chest or collar hopefully lets them know that I’m there for them.

Young men, if you’re considering college, music school, or any opportunity to better yourself that has a chapter of Phi Mu Alpha available to you, I implore you to at least check it out. Even if it’s not for you when you first make contact, ask yourself if you’d benefit from an unrelenting network of support and musical experience that are hard to achieve otherwise. Collegiate or alumni Sinfonians, it’s our job to spread the word. Be a shining example of what it’s like to be a good man and a good musician.

SHSU Students and faculty... want to be on a podcast?

Hello music people! I'm finally settled in to my new job as well as my graduate school responsibilities. I'd like to end my podcast hiatus and start posting again in November. If you're interested in sitting down and having a chat, I'm on campus on Monday and Wednesday and in The Woodlands the rest of the time. If you have any questions about what I do, check out the first few episodes on iTunes or stitcher! 

Episode 6 - Marissa Stubbe

Marissa and I sit outside and discuss things such as theatre, training, some good shows, and of course (and obviously) joy nuggets! We're huge comedy fans, so you hear a bit of that in the conversation, but she has some nice insight about how it is working with musicians and being around music, but not being a 'professional musician' (what does that mean, anyway?). It was a good time in a lovely, albeit sneezy place in Houston. 

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Bonus Episode - Stephenie Sofield - Mental Health

If you're struggling with something, PLEASE do not hesitate to ask me for help. If not me, then reach out to someone. There's so many wonderful people who have dedicated their lives to helping others through times like some you may be experiencing. We're here for you. We love you. We are here to help you when you need it.

If this helps you, or might help someone you know, please share it.

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Episode 3 - Stephenie Sofield

John is privileged to sit down with the lovely Stephenie Sofield to talk (remotely) a little bit about indoor and a lot about music therapy! She's awesome!

http://www.acwc.org/

www.unitedpercussion.org

www.gofundme.com/freeplayers

Stephenie is a Board-Certified Music Therapist at the Atlantic County Women’s Center in Linwood, New Jersey. She graduated from the University of North Texas with a Bachelor's of Music in Music Theory, flute concentration, and is currently completing her Master’s in Music Therapy at Ohio University. She is actively involved in music therapy advocacy and field research. She has presented her work at the 2016 Great-Lakes Regional Conference of the American Music Therapy Association and the 2016 Mid-Atlantic PASSAGES Conference for Music Therapy Students; she will also present at the upcoming 2017 Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference of the American Music Therapy Association. She was a recipient of the 2016 Jenny Shinn Memorial Award for academic and service excellence in the field of music therapy. Stephenie also has extensive performance and teaching experience in the community, university, drum corps, and winter guard settings.

Stephenie is a Board-Certified Music Therapist at the Atlantic County Women’s Center in Linwood, New Jersey. She graduated from the University of North Texas with a Bachelor's of Music in Music Theory, flute concentration, and is currently completing her Master’s in Music Therapy at Ohio University. She is actively involved in music therapy advocacy and field research. She has presented her work at the 2016 Great-Lakes Regional Conference of the American Music Therapy Association and the 2016 Mid-Atlantic PASSAGES Conference for Music Therapy Students; she will also present at the upcoming 2017 Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference of the American Music Therapy Association. She was a recipient of the 2016 Jenny Shinn Memorial Award for academic and service excellence in the field of music therapy. Stephenie also has extensive performance and teaching experience in the community, university, drum corps, and winter guard settings.

Episode 2 - Drew Karl

John talks with Drew about song-writing, inspiration, John Denver, and other intellectual and existential things!

Drew will definitely be on again!

Buy tickets to the Carthy show at Dosey Doe on 12 April 2017

https://tix.extremetix.com/webtix/2562/event/69399

Also, enjoy a John Denver song

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35x_rwyBh-8

Drew learned to play acoustic guitar in High School for the sole purpose of playing his favorite tunes. Soon after, he began experimenting with writing his own songs, mostly, he said, because at the time he “wasn’t good enough to play anyone else’s.” Drew eventually came to develop a knack for the melodic word, writing meaningful lyrics aimed at speaking to the mind and heart. His main musical inspirations are John Denver and Paul Simon. Other inspirations include Billy Joel, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Chris Martin, and Brandon Flowers. In addition, Drew enjoys all things tech, design, and making YouTube videos with his wife, Caitlan.

3 April 2017 - SCI Featured Composer and Podcast!

I just got a fantastic email! Everyone check out http://www.societyofcomposers.org/index.php . You'll see that I'm the featured composer for the day! This is pretty rad; SCI is an important group for composers and other musicians too.

Also, if you haven't yet, please feel free to check out Episode 1 of Music In Our World! It's available through the previous blog post, and will hopefully soon be available through iTunes (process pending).

I had my first meeting today with the other board members of Space City Performing Arts, and I'm pleased to say that big things are in the works for this group! As soon as more details are available, I'll be happy to share with you all!

Music In Our World! - Episode 1: Heather Woitena

Guys I'm super excited to present our first episode! The audio quality isn't exactly perfect, but the rest of them will be much better. Heather and I have a fun talk about harp, chamber music, gigging, and other musical things! I had originally planned to have a new episode every week, but for now, I'm going to stick to the twice-a-month approach, especially while I'm getting settled in and waiting to find out where I'm going to school in the fall. Please let me know if you have any comments or questions, and enjoy episode 1!

Pieces we talked about in the episode:

Hindemith Harp Sonata - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYtoWC7Jguk

Impromptu by Fauré - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYSeRGzk_nU

Heather's Bio:

Heather Woitena was born and raised in Pasadena, Texas. She began playing the harp at the age of eleven in fifth grade at the instigation of her music elementary school teacher. She earned her Bachelor of Music in Music Performance at Sam Houston State University, and she studied under Paula Page, the former harpist of the Houston Symphony. Following graduation in 2015, she performed with the Talis Festival & Academy in Saas-Fee, Switzerland and moved to Indiana to work as the Alumni Relations Coordinator for the MasterWorks Festival in 2015 and 2016. Heather is continuing her work with musicologist Dr. Sheryl Murphy-Manley to publish a catalogue of works for twentieth-century composer Newton Strandberg, and she is currently working as a freelance harpist and teacher in Houston, Texas.