December 14, 2019

Us and Them: The Disconnect Between Musical Education and the Modern World

orch

by Bridget Stiebris

There’s nothing like the pungent smell of litter and increased crime reports to mark the beginning of another Chicago summer. With the stress of exams behind them, high school and college students alike can finally take a breath of relief as their obligations drift away for a fleeting three months. For the collegiate musician, a formal education brings the expectations of coursework immersed in relevant and rigorous training that will lead to a smarter, more capable musician, ready to meet the demands of today’s complex world of music. But is that the reality? University art curricula are often criticized for graduating students who have no preparation for the business of art. Do musicians fare any better?

Perhaps so, for those who seek a career as a classical musician, as conservatories and colleges build their music programs around this genre. But what of the electric guitar virtuoso, the wicked fast rapper, of the visionary contemporary composer? Does the classical curriculum educate and prepare them for a career in modern music?

Now, I am not suggesting that students analyze a Beyonce album, but hasn’t something musically important happened within the past 56 years? Why is almost every genre besides classical seemingly ignored by this curriculum? Sure, schools have a jazz studies department. However, as said by a jazz professor at DePaul, “Music school is a place for classical education. Jazz is merely tolerated.”

So what is the reasoning behind this stark discipline of classical music in formal education? While there is no question of the importance of Mahler or Mozart on the complexities of harmonic dissonance and chordal structure, surely someone in the non-classical world has made a difference in the culture and understanding of music. Gospel music unites those of the same faith and creates a passionate, rewarding experience and safer communities. Modern folk music, along with musical theater, rock, and jazz, each have rich histories filled with innovations that influenced not only the music of today, but each other. So why do we keep all of these innovators swept under the rug?

 

Mark Maxwell:

Classical Guitar professor at DePaul

“There have been settings of Beatles tunes by classical composers such as Luciano Berio, Toru Takemitsu and Peter Serkin among others. This in no way goes towards creating a pop music curriculum. The idea of traditional classical training, which honestly has been watered down since I was in school and sort of pathetic compared to European conservatory training, is to give serious musicians the rigorous training they need to function in the demanding venues of classical music. ‘Contemporary’ music is pervasive in the culture. But even then some schools like Berklee in Boston have their main curriculum in popular music.”

 

Joe Clark:

Adjunct professor of Aural Training, Jazz Trumpet at DePaul

“Yes, schools should have opportunities to explore all kinds of music. There are certain elements of sound and performance that are essential for professional musicians. Studying “classical music” or “jazz music” can be a very effective way of teaching those concepts. However, the application of those concepts is nearly universal!

Classical music and jazz music are both genres that deal with a high degree of complexity and nuance in their sounds and require a critical rooting in aesthetics, history, and the study of art.  Although I can think of exceptions in nearly every genre, the success of “pop” genres can be predicated on cultural influence, lyrical poetics, the machinations of music business, and a whole bunch of other concepts that don’t necessarily have to do with the sound itself. I always encourage students to expand their musical horizons and check out as much music as they can, but my ear training classes have a fundamental rooting in classical music because it is such a fertile source of examples of a variety of harmonic and melodic sounds.”

 

Comparing these two perspectives, it is interesting to see how opinions vary based on areas of study. I feel like some professors give modernity consideration, but never seriously think about adding it to a curriculum. Others may have such a concentration on the classical areas that they have no need to consider a more modern approach. It seems to me that if any sort of change were to come for this topic, we would need a push from contemporary-based performers and teachers who believe in the value of modernity in the classroom. While Professor Clark  makes an excellent point in the richness of classical music’s harmonies, he also acknowledges that these concepts can be applied to almost any genre — which is exactly what we can do.

An opposing argument to this might be: why is there a need to teach modern music in the first place? These students will have no use for this. Why is there a need to bring the Rolling Stones in the same room as Haydn?

Read on.

Walking Contradiction: Rocking with a Degree

 by Bridget Stiebris

When you think of rock music, what typically comes to mind? If you’re my grandparents, you’ll probably imagine a sweaty stadium full of angsty punks, thrashing about and punching one another in the face. And if you ever attend a Slipknot concert, that’s probably what you’ll see. Is that really all that contemporary music has to offer the world? Think of the numerous recorded performances of Jimi Hendrix. With impeccable flowing movements and a precision so sharp it’s almost scary, Hendrix twists and bends the strings of his guitar as it wails through the night. And what about Bruce Springsteen and the E Street band? A timeless performer, Springsteen fills the audience with pure energy and nostalgic delight as a saxophone solo captivates the room. To dismiss this as “dumb” or “reckless” simply wouldn’t make sense. After all, Brian May, the guitarist for Queen, holds a degree in Astrophysics and has worked with NASA on numerous occasions. Dexter Holland, vocalist for The Offspring, has a PhD in molecular biology and has penned multiple scientific research papers.

It’s undeniable that these artists, and countless more, have touched the hearts of millions across the world. It’s music like this that inspires, influences, and propels us through the good and the bad of each passing day. So how does the classical world continue to dismiss it as not “serious” enough? We talk of the brilliance of John Cage, a 1950s composer who created the prepared piano (filled with bolts and rubber bands to alter the sounds of the strings) and wrote the famous 4’33” (a shocking 4 minutes and 33 seconds of pure silence). We study the music of Henry Cowell, who composed a piece called “The Banshee,” which consists of a bow roughly scraping different areas of a cello. Yet, these examples are dubbed “avant-garde” and praised for their contribution to new ideas in composition and technique.

I must stress that my goal here is not to put down or ridicule classical music; only to compare its ideals with contemporary music, and question why it can’t be taken as seriously in our modern world as the pieces above. I am constantly trying to figure out the true purpose behind this definition of “smart” music, and music that is unworthy of this title. And so, in an attempt to answer this question, we must consider those who have a degree in formal music education, and chose to pursue contemporary music paths instead. There is so much we can learn from music school graduates, but above all, we can explore how they have come to fit into the contemporary scene with their formal degrees and years of training.

 

Kris Meyers:

Umphrey’s McGee (Meyers on right)

Drummer for touring jam band Umphrey’s McGee

Masters of Music, DePaul University

“There’s a learning curve with whatever artists you’re dealing with…how they want to learn songs. But the discipline you get from the rehearsal techniques, the pedagogy, your classes, and the programs –especially at DePaul — they teach you how to memorize things. They teach you about chart reading, about style features. You study all the artists from past, present, of that genre. Understand when someone is playing a certain way.  You learn to speak the language. Big band teaches you a lot about how to set up with the proper fills, how to set up rhythmic figures. DePaul is right in the metropolitan Chicago area, so you’re getting hands-on experience playing gigs, which is where you learn a lot of the real lessons in life.”

Catch Umphrey’s McGee at Union Park in Chicago on September 2.

 

Arcana (Clark on left)

Joe Clark:

Adjunct professor at DePaul and lead trumpet in local jazz band Arcana

Masters of Music, DePaul University

“One of the most valuable parts of getting a degree in music is being surrounded with a bunch of other people who want to have a career in music. Every member of Arcana has different degrees: Classical Performance (Will Russel), Music Education (Mark Hiebert), Jazz Performance (Dave Agee), and Jazz/Classical Composition (Me). We also all come from different states. If it wasn’t for DePaul University, I can’t imagine our paths crossing any other way. Additionally, our different backgrounds give us different viewpoints and areas of expertise which makes sure we don’t become an echo chamber of the same kind of ideas. Plus, many of our fans first heard about us through musical connections that started at DePaul.”

Find out more about the incredible jazz outfit Arcana here.

 

 

Bob Koutek:

Bassist for local rock group North of Eight, Singer/Songwriter, Recording Artist

Bachelor’s in Music Performance, The American Musical and Dramatic Academy

North of Eight (Koutek, far left)

“The formal aspect of my musical education technically began in high school when I joined choir. I had a phenomenal instructor named Debora Utley, who really made sure that music theory was a huge part of our curriculum. Fast forward to college in NYC, where I tested into Advanced Music Theory and was continually challenged to push the boundaries of my own understand of music and all its mysteries. Initially starting with a focus on musical theatre, our professor, by the name of Peter Susser, exposed us to many genres, from classical and jazz, to pop and everything in between. In no time the training I was experiencing inevitably bled into all forms of music I was performing or writing. It has helped me to communicate my musical ideas with other musicians clearly.

I cannot stress how important formal music education has been in my career. Learning music theory and more importantly being able to put it into practice has opened many doors that might have been previously closed. I believe it has helped me become a better musician and band-mate. I’ve played the clubs for nobody. The band has headlined the Metro and House of Blues here in Chicago. I’ve even I’ve sung and danced on Broadway. I truly feel as though I appreciate music more, even being out in the crowd just listening, having had musical education in my life.”

You can see North of Eight at the 4th Annual Homegrown Arts and Music Festival in Lisle, IL on August 6 and 7.

 

These artists are clearly not your average symphony orchestra members, yet they all praise their education for enabling them to perform better in the modern world. So if you ask the question, “how does modern music apply to classical?” You have your answer in their words.

Like it or not, all music is connected. The skills you need to sight-read will help you to quickly figure out a riff. The energy you deliver in an audition will prepare you for a sold out night on stage. Contemporary music has too much relevance in our world to be thrown away from the classroom. The concept of music education has such incredible potential to give students a comprehensive guide to the galaxies of art that await them in the world — and I say we let it.

Music Education 101

by Lyssa Sheng

Growing up, while other kids my age were watching Barney and The Big Comfy Couch, my parents would sit me down in front of TRL and had me dancing to Janet Jackson in the family room of my grandparents house. My very first memory was when I attended my first concert at the ripe age of two; N*Sync was playing Allstate Arena, my dad had me in his arms and I remember seeing bright flashing blue lights. I played the saxophone in elementary school and got an acoustic guitar for my 11th birthday so I could learn how to play Jonas Brothers songs. My entire life was shaped by music and still very much is. Music has become a big part of people’s lives and it has connected everyone to one another.

In fifth grade, I remember seeing a commercial while watching MTV with Beyoncé talking about keeping music programs in schools and at the time, I didn’t realize it was a big issue. I couldn’t really wrap my head around the fact that there were people that wanted to get rid of music programs when it was such a big thing in my hometown. The dictionary definition of music education is “the field of study associated with the teaching and learning of music.” Whether younger kids join an after school club to learn more about an instrument or when people go to college specifically to learn about the business side of music, people tend to forget that music education is a real thing in today’s society.

In Chicago’s very own backyard, we have Columbia College of Chicago which offers tons of music related majors such as Music Management and Composition. Then we also have DePaul University which is widely recognized for their music program. Being situated in the middle of one the largest cities in America has its advantages.

Nowadays, being able to study music in school and then take it on as a professional career is a path that many people have decided to take, whether it be actually performing music or being involved with the music side of it. Music education is something that is becoming more common every day and people need to remember that there are certain individuals who want to pursue music for the rest of their lives.

July 2016: Music Education

orch

Us and Them: The Disconnect Between Musical Education and the Modern World

by Bridget Stiebris

There’s nothing like the pungent smell of litter and increased crime reports to mark the beginning of another Chicago summer. With the stress of exams behind them, high school and college students alike can finally take a breath of relief as their obligations drift away for a fleeting three months. For the collegiate musician, a formal education brings the expectations of coursework immersed in relevant and rigorous training that will lead to a smarter, more capable musician, ready to meet the demands of today’s complex world of music. But is that the reality? University art curricula are often criticized for graduating students who have no preparation for the business of art. Do musicians fare any better?

Perhaps so, for those who seek a career as a classical musician, as conservatories and colleges build their music programs around this genre. But what of the electric guitar virtuoso, the wicked fast rapper, of the visionary contemporary composer? Does the classical curriculum educate and prepare them for a career in modern music?

Now, I am not suggesting that students analyze a Beyonce album, but hasn’t something musically important happened within the past 56 years? Why is almost every genre besides classical seemingly ignored by this curriculum? Sure, schools have a jazz studies department. However, as said by a jazz professor at DePaul, “Music school is a place for classical education. Jazz is merely tolerated.”

So what is the reasoning behind this stark discipline of classical music in formal education? While there is no question of the importance of Mahler or Mozart on the complexities of harmonic dissonance and chordal structure, surely someone in the non-classical world has made a difference in the culture and understanding of music. Gospel music unites those of the same faith and creates a passionate, rewarding experience and safer communities. Modern folk music, along with musical theater, rock, and jazz, each have rich histories filled with innovations that influenced not only the music of today, but each other. So why do we keep all of these innovators swept under the rug?

 

Academic Opinions

Mark Maxwell:

Classical Guitar professor at DePaul

“There have been settings of Beatles tunes by classical composers such as Luciano Berio, Toru Takemitsu and Peter Serkin among others. This in no way goes towards creating a pop music curriculum. The idea of traditional classical training, which honestly has been watered down since I was in school and sort of pathetic compared to European conservatory training, is to give serious musicians the rigorous training they need to function in the demanding venues of classical music. ‘Contemporary’ music is pervasive in the culture. But even then some schools like Berklee in Boston have their main curriculum in popular music.”

 

Joe Clark:

Adjunct professor of Aural Training, Jazz Trumpet at DePaul

“Yes, schools should have opportunities to explore all kinds of music. There are certain elements of sound and performance that are essential for professional musicians. Studying “classical music” or “jazz music” can be a very effective way of teaching those concepts. However, the application of those concepts is nearly universal!

Classical music and jazz music are both genres that deal with a high degree of complexity and nuance in their sounds and require a critical rooting in aesthetics, history, and the study of art.  Although I can think of exceptions in nearly every genre, the success of “pop” genres can be predicated on cultural influence, lyrical poetics, the machinations of music business, and a whole bunch of other concepts that don’t necessarily have to do with the sound itself. I always encourage students to expand their musical horizons and check out as much music as they can, but my ear training classes have a fundamental rooting in classical music because it is such a fertile source of examples of a variety of harmonic and melodic sounds.”

 

Comparing these two perspectives, it is interesting to see how opinions vary based on areas of study. I feel like some professors give modernity consideration, but never seriously think about adding it to a curriculum. Others may have such a concentration on the classical areas that they have no need to consider a more modern approach. It seems to me that if any sort of change were to come for this topic, we would need a push from contemporary-based performers and teachers who believe in the value of modernity in the classroom. While Professor Clark  makes an excellent point in the richness of classical music’s harmonies, he also acknowledges that these concepts can be applied to almost any genre — which is exactly what we can do.

An opposing argument to this might be: why is there a need to teach modern music in the first place? These students will have no use for this. Why is there a need to bring the Rolling Stones in the same room as Haydn?

Read on.


Walking Contradiction: Rocking with a Degree

 by Bridget Stiebris

When you think of rock music, what typically comes to mind? If you’re my grandparents, you’ll probably imagine a sweaty stadium full of angsty punks, thrashing about and punching one another in the face. And if you ever attend a Slipknot concert, that’s probably what you’ll see. Is that really all that contemporary music has to offer the world? Think of the numerous recorded performances of Jimi Hendrix. With impeccable flowing movements and a precision so sharp it’s almost scary, Hendrix twists and bends the strings of his guitar as it wails through the night. And what about Bruce Springsteen and the E Street band? A timeless performer, Springsteen fills the audience with pure energy and nostalgic delight as a saxophone solo captivates the room. To dismiss this as “dumb” or “reckless” simply wouldn’t make sense. After all, Brian May, the guitarist for Queen, holds a degree in Astrophysics and has worked with NASA on numerous occasions. Dexter Holland, vocalist for The Offspring, has a PhD in molecular biology and has penned multiple scientific research papers.

It’s undeniable that these artists, and countless more, have touched the hearts of millions across the world. It’s music like this that inspires, influences, and propels us through the good and the bad of each passing day. So how does the classical world continue to dismiss it as not “serious” enough? We talk of the brilliance of John Cage, a 1950s composer who created the prepared piano (filled with bolts and rubber bands to alter the sounds of the strings) and wrote the famous 4’33” (a shocking 4 minutes and 33 seconds of pure silence). We study the music of Henry Cowell, who composed a piece called “The Banshee,” which consists of a bow roughly scraping different areas of a cello. Yet, these examples are dubbed “avant-garde” and praised for their contribution to new ideas in composition and technique.

I must stress that my goal here is not to put down or ridicule classical music; only to compare its ideals with contemporary music, and question why it can’t be taken as seriously in our modern world as the pieces above. I am constantly trying to figure out the true purpose behind this definition of “smart” music, and music that is unworthy of this title. And so, in an attempt to answer this question, we must consider those who have a degree in formal music education, and chose to pursue contemporary music paths instead. There is so much we can learn from music school graduates, but above all, we can explore how they have come to fit into the contemporary scene with their formal degrees and years of training.

 

Kris Meyers:

Umphrey's McGee (Meyers on right)

Umphrey’s McGee (Meyers on right)

Drummer for touring jam band Umphrey’s McGee

Masters of Music, DePaul University

“There’s a learning curve with whatever artists you’re dealing with…how they want to learn songs. But the discipline you get from the rehearsal techniques, the pedagogy, your classes, and the programs –especially at DePaul — they teach you how to memorize things. They teach you about chart reading, about style features. You study all the artists from past, present, of that genre. Understand when someone is playing a certain way.  You learn to speak the language. Big band teaches you a lot about how to set up with the proper fills, how to set up rhythmic figures. DePaul is right in the metropolitan Chicago area, so you’re getting hands-on experience playing gigs, which is where you learn a lot of the real lessons in life.”

Catch Umphrey’s McGee at Union Park in Chicago on September 2.

 

Arcana (Clark on left)

Arcana (Clark on left)

Joe Clark:

Adjunct professor at DePaul and lead trumpet in local jazz band Arcana

Masters of Music, DePaul University

“One of the most valuable parts of getting a degree in music is being surrounded with a bunch of other people who want to have a career in music. Every member of Arcana has different degrees: Classical Performance (Will Russel), Music Education (Mark Hiebert), Jazz Performance (Dave Agee), and Jazz/Classical Composition (Me). We also all come from different states. If it wasn’t for DePaul University, I can’t imagine our paths crossing any other way. Additionally, our different backgrounds give us different viewpoints and areas of expertise which makes sure we don’t become an echo chamber of the same kind of ideas. Plus, many of our fans first heard about us through musical connections that started at DePaul.”

Find out more about the incredible jazz outfit Arcana here.

 

 

 

Bob Koutek:

Bassist for local rock group North of Eight, Singer/Songwriter, Recording Artist

Bachelor’s in Music Performance, The American Musical and Dramatic Academy

North of Eight (Koutek, far left)

North of Eight (Koutek, far left)

“The formal aspect of my musical education technically began in high school when I joined choir. I had a phenomenal instructor named Debora Utley, who really made sure that music theory was a huge part of our curriculum. Fast forward to college in NYC, where I tested into Advanced Music Theory and was continually challenged to push the boundaries of my own understand of music and all its mysteries. Initially starting with a focus on musical theatre, our professor, by the name of Peter Susser, exposed us to many genres, from classical and jazz, to pop and everything in between. In no time the training I was experiencing inevitably bled into all forms of music I was performing or writing. It has helped me to communicate my musical ideas with other musicians clearly.

I cannot stress how important formal music education has been in my career. Learning music theory and more importantly being able to put it into practice has opened many doors that might have been previously closed. I believe it has helped me become a better musician and band-mate. I’ve played the clubs for nobody. The band has headlined the Metro and House of Blues here in Chicago. I’ve even I’ve sung and danced on Broadway. I truly feel as though I appreciate music more, even being out in the crowd just listening, having had musical education in my life.”

You can see North of Eight at the 4th Annual Homegrown Arts and Music Festival in Lisle, IL on August 6 and 7.

 

These artists are clearly not your average symphony orchestra members, yet they all praise their education for enabling them to perform better in the modern world. So if you ask the question, “how does modern music apply to classical?” You have your answer in their words.

Like it or not, all music is connected. The skills you need to sight-read will help you to quickly figure out a riff. The energy you deliver in an audition will prepare you for a sold out night on stage. Contemporary music has too much relevance in our world to be thrown away from the classroom. The concept of music education has such incredible potential to give students a comprehensive guide to the galaxies of art that await them in the world — and I say we let it.


 Music Education 101

by Lyssa Sheng

Growing up, while other kids my age were watching Barney and The Big Comfy Couch, my parents would sit me down in front of TRL and had me dancing to Janet Jackson in the family room of my grandparents house. My very first memory was when I attended my first concert at the ripe age of two; N*Sync was playing Allstate Arena, my dad had me in his arms and I remember seeing bright flashing blue lights. I played the saxophone in elementary school and got an acoustic guitar for my 11th birthday so I could learn how to play Jonas Brothers songs. My entire life was shaped by music and still very much is. Music has become a big part of people’s lives and it has connected everyone to one another.

In fifth grade, I remember seeing a commercial while watching MTV with Beyoncé talking about keeping music programs in schools and at the time, I didn’t realize it was a big issue. I couldn’t really wrap my head around the fact that there were people that wanted to get rid of music programs when it was such a big thing in my hometown. The dictionary definition of music education is “the field of study associated with the teaching and learning of music.” Whether younger kids join an after school club to learn more about an instrument or when people go to college specifically to learn about the business side of music, people tend to forget that music education is a real thing in today’s society.

In Chicago’s very own backyard, we have Columbia College of Chicago which offers tons of music related majors such as Music Management and Composition. Then we also have DePaul University which is widely recognized for their music program. Being situated in the middle of one the largest cities in America has its advantages.

Nowadays, being able to study music in school and then take it on as a professional career is a path that many people have decided to take, whether it be actually performing music or being involved with the music side of it. Music education is something that is becoming more common every day and people need to remember that there are certain individuals who want to pursue music for the rest of their lives.

Breaking into Booking: Music Garage Presents

 

Music Garage Presents, Chicago

By Liz Peterson

Music Garage, at its core, is a laboratory for artists of all calibers to hone their craft and work closer towards the “10,000 Hour Rule,” that author Malcolm Gladwell speaks about. It’s the small experiments, that if repeated regularly, can lead to greatness.

The staff at Music Garage is acutely aware of the wealth of talent that occupies our rooms, both hourly and monthly clients. Music Garage CEO, Joe Lardieri, being aware of this, expressed that there was a desire to expand on the services provided at 345 N. Loomis even further, by beginning to curate events in some of Chicago’s premiere venues such as Double Door, Township, Bottom Lounge, Subterranean and others.

“The quality of performers in this building is known throughout Chicago. We have both approached, and been approached by venues to put those performers on their stages,” Joe said,

One thing he does stress about our booking services, is the element of curation that occurs. Because the events that are booked through Music Garage Presents do not directly support the livelihood of its business, staff members are given the time and support to build a bill of performers who compliment one another artistically.

Judi Pellegrino, Marketing Coordinator for Music Garage, considers this aspect of the booking service at Music Garage to be the most rewarding, as it has allowed her to organize events such as “Women in Music,” which was recently held at Township and featured Lili K., JG4, and Daryn Alexus.

For artists who are just breaking into the music scene, particularly if you’re going the independent route and are looking to book shows, Judi suggests that bands get their content organized. This includes having a band email address that all of the members have access to and regularly check, having this email listed on their Facebook or Bandcamp page, and ensuring that when they are emailing booking agents or venues that they are providing links to their music and including a short bio or description of their music. “The more professional you seem, the more respect you gain and the more seriously people will take you,” she continues.

While your first few shows will be the most populated with friends and family members coming to see your shows, it’s important to push through the honeymoon phase and continue to access the resources available in Chicago for performing musicians.

“Be kind and genuine to everybody you come across because you never know who might give you an opportunity in the future,” Judi explains. Every employee you encounter at a venue, from the individual working the soundboard to the bartender is somebody to introduce yourself to and network with.

Judi continues, “I think that if you help others and are respectful of their spaces, others with help you too.”

White Mystery Talks Booking and Promotion

White Mystery, Alex White

By Liz Peterson

White Mystery is a brother-­sister rock’n’roll duo made up of Miss Alex White & Francis Scott Key White. The siblings tour worldwide and have earned rave reviews from MTV, VICE , Sound Opinions, and Pitchfork amongst other publications. They recently premiered a feature ­length film, titled White Mystery ‘”THAT WAS AWESOME”, during this year’s Chicago International Movies & Music Festival (CIMMFest).

Miss Alex White was featured in Guitar World’s, “Ten Female Guitarists You Should Know” in 2011 and has had sixteen releases since 2003.

White is not only a talented and celebrated musician, but also upholds identities as a record producer, distributor, licensor, booker, promoter, and more. Every element and facet of White Mystery is owned and supported by the White family.

“It’s fun interacting with an event organizer and transforming an idea into a reality,” Miss White said. “Every show requires development and special ingredients for success, whether you book a house party or an outdoor fest.”

The very first show Miss White booked was in 2001 on the second floor of the Chase Park field house in Chicago, performing with the band Psychotic Sensation. After that band split apart in 2008, White Mystery has performed frequently in Chicago, Austin, New York and Paris.

White Mystery’s favorite local venues include Millennium Park, The Metro, The Hideout, The Double Door, Empty Bottle, and Reckless Records.

White said that it would be helpful to have an agent who could, “run at the same speed as White Mystery,” and that they could always use help in maintaining their musical motivations.

Booking 101

booking shows, Music Garage Presents

By Jen Boylen

Promoters at venues are interested in booking shows based upon their history with an artist, availability in their calendar, and ultimately, to make as much money as possible for a certain event.

A talent buyer is often associated with larger venues and they seek out talent agents who have a personal and business relationship with artists. It is always beneficial to assess the level of experience an agent has with venues and buyers as this will boost your opportunities in booking events. Agents with the most experience might not have connections with the venues you want to be booking. It’s best to have an idea about which venues put together which types of shows and how you fit into that mix.

It is always beneficial to set up an electronic press kit or EPK consisting of any or all of the following: short bio, music clips, press photos, logo, video, upcoming show dates, press samples, similar artists, and contact info. This is something an agent might create for you, otherwise it is something you can send independently to the talent buyer or promoter at a venue.

While an EPK is necessary for applications to larger venues or festivals, for most venues, you will want to boil down this information into about 5 sentences. While you can provide links to other sources like your website or Facebook where they can learn more about your band, be sure to keep an email to the venue short, and explain what kind of crowd you can draw and how you will promote it.

Once you’ve arranged an event, make sure to confirm and “advance” the event with the promoter or venues production team. Make sure that you have their contact information sorted out so that you are certain that you have the information for the person that you will be communicating with the day of the event.

Be sure to ask when they expect you for sound check, load in, which doors to use, what the backline is like, and what equipment they expect you to provide.

After a show is finished, “settling,” is the term for when everybody gets paid. Promoters, bands, and venue staff break down expenses and profits, then divide accordingly. Always have someone who is prepared to do this at every show. It usually happens late at night, so make sure you’re aware of what is happening to assure that you get the proper cut.

As a band, you can be paid per head which means that you get a certain amount for each person through the door, or you can be paid a percentage of the total profit. If you’re able to foot the bill, you can pay the fee to play the venue and claim the rest of the profit. Putting on the show is a lot of work, and the band or the promoter takes on this risk in order to ideally, make a profit.

Master Networking: An Interview with Myron Cherry

By Zachary Caputo

We could talk all day about the positives of networking, and how it can truly help you reach heights you never thought you could before, but why  not let it speak for itself?

We interviewed Myron Cherry, a Music Garage tenant with a laundry list of amazing achievements. We got some engaging stories not only about his career, but how networking has helped him every step of the way.

Some of those aforementioned achievements are truly remarkable:   opening for the legendary band Mint Condition, best-selling R&B artist Ginuwine, and regularly performing at venues such as House of Blues and festivals such as SXSW.

So, how many of these opportunities came about because of networking? “All of them,” Myron said. “Networking is extremely important for what I do, especially if I desire to work as consistently and frequently as possible.”

His approach to networking shares some characteristics with other common tactics, but he has one unique way of going about things that makes him stand out from the rest: “I place cold calls and build relationships before actually working with certain people.”

Myron was also fantastic enough to share some great tips: “[Having] a basic relationship and being identifiable in your field is first and foremost. Having accessible product or evidence of your work adds more impact to your efforts.”

There you have it! No longer must you simply trust us, you have a real example of the power of networking. So, get your business cards and get out there!

 

Networking 101

By Jen Boylen

Nowadays, having a great contact list or a network within your industry is a major key to success. Granted, building this web of people can seem very daunting, but we have some tips that can help in your quest.

  1. Thank-you emails go a long way. After meeting someone, seeing them speak, or working something – send a thank you email. Nothing says you value that person and their time more than taking the initiative to let them know. Even better, if the circumstances merit it, why not try a handwritten note?

  2. If you have a great conversation with someone, ask if you can continue it and meet again another time. It’s a great way to make sure you stay in touch.

  3. Always think of a connection as a two way street. Someone may add value to your life, but can you help them as well? Make sure you know how to communicate your value as well.

  4. Attend events! There is no better networking than getting out into your industry and meeting people in person. It’s tough to network effectively sitting on the couch!

  5. People love to talk about themselves. If you want to have a relationship with someone, just ask to meet them and learn about who they are and what they do. If you seem as interested in what they do as they are, they will remember it.

  6. Set goals and have direction. Know who you want to connect with and why. Don’t attempt to network with someone just for the sake of doing so – know how they can fit into your network.

  7. Go to them, don’t expect them to come to you. If you want to meet someone, make it happen. Don’t always expect people to seek you out. See #4 above!

  8. Make valuable contacts. Having hundreds of twitter followers is great, but having a few genuine contacts is much more valuable to your network.

  9. Stay connected! Check in with people. See how they are doing. Keep yourself at the front of their mind.

The Best Local Networking Resources

By Zachary Caputo

If you need some help finding local networking resources or groups, fear not! Music Garage has you covered.

If you’re looking for a more open-ended, far-reaching kind of resources, then the Chicago Artists Resource is just what you need. Not exclusive to music, it’s a website that helps all artists across the entire Chicago art scene connect with people to collaborate with or to help push their art further out. It’s quick, it’s easy, and best of all, it’s free!

But, if you’re trying to find something more focused on you and your specific type of musical career, there are many options for you as well!

Chicago Hip Hop Connects is an amazing place where anyone with a love for Hip Hop can connect with others with the same passion. Anyone from MCs to producer, video directors to managers are welcome. The best part? They are the 1st Hip Hop-focused online industry directory, virtually any professional you could possibly need is accessible with a simple search. To top it all off, they host networking conferences where you can meet these same professionals in person, attend educational talks and panels, and even win some gear in competitions. Simply put, Chicago Hip Hop Connects is the best resource for anyone trying to get into the local Hip Hop scene.

What if you’re not an artist or a video director, but an engineer? Are there any resources for you? Of course there are!

Enter EARS, the Engineering and Recording Society of Chicago! As they put it, EARS is “an independent (not-for-profit) group dedicated to the advancement of excellence in audio production.” I couldn’t put it any better myself! It’s a group of engineers and producers getting together to learn from one another, hone their craft, and work together to create the best pieces of audio they possibly can. Not only that, they always have events going on. Anything from networking parties at popular local venues and bars to lectures from famous musicians and engineers are available for members and even sometimes the general public. There is a membership fee to join EARS, but the benefits, such as access to extremely private panels and networking events, make it well worth the money. If you’re an engineer, these are your people.

These are just a few of the amazing resources you have at your disposal here in Chicago, so make sure to keep your nose to the ground, talk to as many people as you can, and always be on the lookout for the next networking opportunity. You never know where it can take you.