Posts Tagged ‘Done Well and To-Do’

Weekly Recap–6 November

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

Another week has come to a close (or is it a beginning?) and I will take just a few moments to recap what I have done this week.

  • I’m happy to report that we had a good rehearsal this morning! Spent time on Armand Russell’s Ultra-Rondo, three motets by da Victoria, and Simón García’s A Night in Compostela.
  • Got an e-mail out to the mailing list*, promoting the January and February concerts, this blog and my twitter handle.
  • Came across an interesting post from Allegra Montanari on concert dress and presentation at Chicago Classical Music. I added my thoughts, and will probably post more on the subject myself.
  • I’ve updated my personal running list of repertoire for the concerts. Not complete yet, but working toward it.
  • I’ve also exchanged e-mails with Experimental Sound Studio about scheduling a performance for Autogeneous Mining.
  • Got samples of our work up on SoundCloud, providing a way for everyone to hear our demo without my having to send CDs in the mail.

If you compare this to last week’s list, I think I’ve done okay. There is still plenty of detail work to do, but I am on track and making progress. What’s to do next?

  • Analysis of the da Victoria Motets–how will we make these really sound good?
  • Continue to work on the “added” performance: check schedules etc.
  • Start some work on printed advertisements for the performances. I’m pretty confident at this point that e-mail and twitter alone are not enough!

* If you’re not on our mailing list, please sign up here.

Weekly Recap–30 October

Sunday, October 30th, 2011

Let’s have a look at what came off the to-do list from last week.

  • I’ve now got a set of rehearsals scheduled. Not enough rehearsals, of course, since it’s really hard to coordinate the schedules of four freelance musicians. But something to start from.
  • Um, okay, well that’s it for major accomplishments. But it’s a big and important one!
For the coming week:
  • Get at least a rough set list in place for both January 15 and February 5 performances.
  • Work on scheduling another performance sometime between January 31 and February 7 — Mike Wittgraf will be in town, and it would be fulfilling to play his piece, “Autogeneous Mining,” a second time while he’s here.
  • Get out an announcement to the mailing list, to build enthusiasm. This has to happen!!

I’ve been reading a book called “Uncertainty – Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance” by Jonathan Fields. There are a couple of points that have stuck with me so far.

One way to mitigate the stress of taking on projects with uncertain outcomes is to have regular, stabilizing routines. These routines help to calm the mind and maintain order of some sort when the things around you seem highly disordered. I expect that most musicians will recognize their practice routine as something which brings order to their days. I know that I feel better when I have had regular time to practice. Fields calls these “uncertainty anchors.”

In addition to having mentors, whose role is probably pretty well-known to musicians and businesspeople alike, Fields asks you to find heroes and champions as well. Where a mentor is someone who is available to you to provide guidance, advice and encouragement on a personal level, a hero is someone who has all the successes and qualities that you would pick in a mentor, but who is not available to you personally. In spite of not being able to engage directly and immediately with your hero, you can draw a lot of strength and wisdom from observing and following them and their path.

A champion is someone who believes in you and is there to help you, even provide for you, no matter what happens. Fields cites his own wife as his champion (and himself as hers, neatly reciprocal). He describes his own decision to leave a job that he disliked in order to follow a career that called to him, even in the days immediately following the September 11 World Trade Center bombings, which threw so much into chaos and uncertainty. His wife championed his cause, offering him unconditional support, because she believed in what he was doing. Such is the power of a champion.

There are hints of some other important support structures for uncertain ventures. I won’t summarize them right now, because they’re not yet firmly in my head, and I’m not going to just re-key them here. I’ll write about them next week, perhaps. I will say that among them is something like tribal leadership, a subject of some interest to me. What better form of leadership for an entity like a chamber music group? Related: for those in the area, check out Si Alhir’s seminar on Agility and Tribal Leadership this week. Having worked closely with Si during his engagement at, I believe this will be a valuable seminar.

Perhaps in future posts on this blog, I will be able to tell you something about the mentors, heroes and champions I choose to follow.

Weekly Recap – 15 October

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

I promised a new blog post, and seeing how many of you are clamoring for more news, how could I disappoint you?!

From the list of things to do that I published last week:

  • I talked with Wilson and we will schedule a meeting when we see each other Monday for Who Needs Dave rehearsal. Pretty Good.
  • Not so well-done, I haven’t booked a fourth player. But I did get an e-mail sent (his voice mail inbox was full and not accepting messages). Bad.
  • Also not done, I didn’t get music from Wittgraf. Bad.
  • I have written a follow-up post. You’re reading it. Good.
One thing I got done that wasn’t on the list: publish an announcement of Chicago Classical Music for the January 15 performance. Good!
So, by this time next week:
  • Get a fourth player.
  • Get music from Mike Wittgraf.
  • Also from Wittgraf, a detailed list of what equipment will be needed here for February 5.
  • Publish another blog post detailing the exciting life of someone trying to organize a bass ensemble.
  • Do more thinking about the programs for January and February. Goal: have half of each “confirmed” in my mind.
Okay, so there really aren’t that many of you commenting on these blog posts. But the threat in my mind that someone might be is enough to motivate at least some action. How’s that for a leadership strategy?

Rehearsals Begin for January and February

Saturday, October 8th, 2011

Honestly, it is hard to overcome inertia, but I’m about to do so.

Honestly, the Chicago Bass Ensemble has been static, motionless, inert for several months. Things kind of decayed at the beginning of this year, and I didn’t do a good job of breaking through the stasis. I did get a lot of music for the group to play, when I was at the International Society of Bassists convention. And I was really pleased to hear from Ken Whitney during the summer to set up a performance at the First Presbyterian Church of Arlington Heights.

Now, I’m finally geared up to get going again. Tomorrow morning, Julian, Anton and I are getting together to go over repertoire for both our January and February performances. I’m excited!

So now I’m going to try something. One of my goals for this blog has been to shine a light onto the process of getting a performing group going. I mean to make regular entries. I haven’t been doing that, but I’m going to try again. For this week, here is my done well/needs improvement list:

Done Well

  • Pulled together a rehearsal (for tomorrow).
  • Made an entry on the Chicago Classical Music site.
  • Wrote this blog entry.
  • Left a message for my friend Wilson Hogan, with whom I am podcasting about Chicago Bass Ensemble.

Needs Improvement/To do

  • Get Wilson and me off our butts and record something for a podcast!
  • Confirm a fourth player for both the January and February events.
  • Get music from Mike Wittgraf for his piece which we’ll premiere in February.
  • Write a follow-up post to this one.

Check back next week to see how I’ve done, especially on that last bullet point! Your encouragement … or harangues … in the comments will inspire me!