March 2, 2011 at 10:31 am 3 comments

More from Doug.

So here I am again on the morning after the Casey show, amused at the ability of this young man to provoke ideas in me, along with providing a certain amount of joy and pride, two years after graduation. I’ve been thinking about his performance last night a lot. Once again I’m thinking about how musical instincts and musical or artistic wisdom can either make or break a performance—I think about that a lot, too.

I don’t know if anyone else felt the same but I was worried last night. But he saved it. Kind of like the centerfielder leaping up the wall to catch the fly ball which deserves to be in the parking lot. (Anyone who knows me and finds that analogy to be a stretch can just stop snickering right now.) Anyway, that was a big, long, rant of a song. And just at the moment that I had decided it was all over, couldn’t be saved, was WAY over the top, three perfect notes and two perfect words brought that gigantic counterbalance of a song into relief.

How often we try to bring that into our teaching, the idea of balance. Whether it’s rhythmic stretching that must be paid back by compressing, or choosing the right amount of bass to bring a melody into perfect harmonic focus. I’m not talking about teenagers in the next car who have issues with subwoofer inadequacy… Just the right amount of bass to be, well, right. It’s like soup that tastes like nothing until you put in just the right amount of salt, or a rich plate of Mexican food rendered edible by one squeeze of lime.

How often we musicians, even experienced ones, (especially experienced ones?) miss the mark by failing to put the last note in the right spot. Or miss the fact that the silence after the music or the echo in the hall can be part of the music, I’m thinking Beethoven here, so we make too much of an ending by slowing and articulating, ruining the jolt of surprise that comes by being finished… running out of runway. Or we fail to realize that really loud music seems louder when there is also some really quiet music too….

Keep teaching us Mr. Abrams.

Entry filed under: Music Stuff. Tags: , , .

Casey and Julie A Productive Year for Interdisciplinary Arts

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mara Schoner  |  March 2, 2011 at 11:09 am

    Great post, Doug.
    Mark and I felt the same sense of relief at the close of the song, when Casey pulled it all together. We’re also impressed by how much humour he brings to his performances.

  • 2. Perry Towle  |  March 2, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Nice to see how you’re weaving teachable moments into a fabric that could easily be blown out into a conversations of fame. Fun to be reminded of all the good ideas and good times spent at IAA.

  • 3. Mark Hespenheide  |  March 2, 2011 at 5:41 pm


    It’s true across the other arts as well; you’ve got to have tonal range in black-and-white photography or it simply looks monotonous. Howard puts on plays that combine humor and drama or tragedy; David and Rob both work with the tension between hard and smooth, natural and man-made in their sculpture. (Or at least, they used to.) In my own photography, I’m enjoying the combination of blues against warm colors.

    I think it’s about two things: tension, and complexity. Our students, as teenagers, often get fixated on one aspect of the piece and neglect the other parts. It’s part of our job to remind them that it’s not just about the loud and fast parts, but also about the slow and quiet parts that give counterpoint. As listeners or viewers, we’re looking both for a richness of experience and also resolution.

    Hope everyone is doing well at Idyllwild,


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March 2011


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