This is an article I write every month featuring young musicians with a big focus and purpose.  Contact us if you know a student worthy of featuring.

~Stephan Hume, Band Dynamics Co-Founder.

[learn_more caption="Tips for the Young Musician Vol 16"]
Got writer’s block? Can’t seem to write new original music to save your life? Have you ridden a big wave of new material only to find yourself dead in the water, with nothing new and exciting coming to the surface? You are not alone. In these moments you may feel stuck and at a loss for what to do. Here are some helpful tips to break that block:

Go through the motions.

Whether you are a music writer, a lyricist, or even a poet, you will feel the death grip of writer’s block at some point in your life. But, instead of scratching your head, just start writing. That’s right, just start. It doesn’t matter if you write pages of material you think is terrible, just go through the motions. Also, think about it. If you are writing and there is a bunch of stuff you don’t like, you are closer to finding out what it is you are truly hoping to express. It’s like a process of elimination, sometimes even just doodling helps. Literally getting ink to flow from your pen as your hand moves will get you further down the path of creativity than just sitting still.

Consume your passion.

If you are trying to create poetry but can’t get the juices flowing, read some good poetry. What if you are trying to write a great new percussion piece? Listen to one already recorded. The fact is, sometimes we aren’t creating the most inspiring thing because we aren’t actually inspired to begin with. Find something that inspires you and read it or listen to it. Start asking yourself how it makes you feel. Chances are, you are going to find some cool answers that will help you to find something within yourself. Sometimes the best way to create passionately is to consume what you are already passionate about.

Collaborate.

If you see a list of the top 10 pop radio songs at any given time, chances are most of them are collaborative efforts. Why do you think this is? Granted, there is such a thing as “too many cooks in the kitchen,” and when it comes to writing music this can certainly happen. But healthy collaborations between artists with a common goal and complimentary skills are very often more successful than the efforts of solo artists. It’s a simple fact: you don’t know everything. Or a softer way to say it: you have strong skills and so do others. Find those people to work with that help you produce material that is greater than if either of you were to have done it on your own.

Remember these tips when it happens again.

Congratulations! If you had writer’s block and you tried any of these techniques, you are now well on your way to getting back in the swing of things. There are many more techniques than these, but just remember if it happens again, you know what to do to get out of your funk. Be creative with finding your creativity. Happy writing!
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[learn_more caption="Tips for the Young Musician Vol 15"]
I am so glad that I went to college to study music. I was able to go to a nice university to explore my exact passions in higher education. Seriously, everyday was amazing when I looked at all my classes, and they were in some way about music. I remember reading my first schedule and shouting out loud, “Is this really school?!” It was very fun, and I took a ton away from that experience. But did I really get everything I could from it?

The truth is, if I had to do it over again, there is one word I would have taken a little more seriously: networking. You may have heard this term before, and you may think it sounds cheesy or like you are trying to become a salesperson. Maybe you have never heard this term and you are wondering what I am talking about. Here are a few things I have learned that I would like to share with the world of young musicians and truly, everyone:

You are never too busy to smile.

Seriously, college can be a ton of work, especially if you are also carrying a job, but you are never too occupied to be polite to those around you. Besides, that person beside you could be the next most important person with whom you collaborate. Think about it. You are in a place where hundreds or thousands of people just like you are purposefully spending money to pursue a life in music. Wouldn’t you think you are in the perfect place to make some connections? I didn’t always recognize this simple fact.

Get to know people naturally.

The more solid connections you make in life, the more likely you are to find people who are invaluable to your life and the projects you are working on. However, every time you meet someone should be natural. If you are already thinking that meeting a colleague is like an interview, forget about making real friends. People can smell that stench a mile away. Plus, you never get to know the true character of others unless you let your own true nature shine through. Of the few good friends I made in college, I still do business and socialize with all of them.

Be the first to offer help.

If you meet someone who appears to be able to help you by being that perfect horn player on your next album, don’t start in by asking that. It may sound strange, but realize that you may have something to offer them as well. People respond well when you say things like, “I would love to work with you, is there any way I can help with your project?” A little goes a long way. I continue to work in collaborations with wonderful musicians, and I must say, it is so rewarding to feel that I am giving as much value as I am receiving.
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[learn_more caption="Tips for the Young Musician Vol 14"]
Nothing compares to seeing young bands write their own songs. They realize that music creation is truly something we can all do. When a band plays a song they wrote together for the first time, it is truly magical. If you think you may want to start playing music you write with others, you will need to know how to make a song chart. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

What is a chart?

A chart is like a road map. Everyone in the band is driving the same car at the same time. It’s probably a good idea to have a map so everyone is going to the same place. A decent chart helps you communicate the length of the song, the order of each part, and any other information necessary; including lyrics, chords, rhythms, etc. If you are unsure of what sort of chart you should be making, consult the Internet or your music instructor.

Are the blind leading the blind?

Playing a song you wrote for the rest of your band can be extremely rewarding. Just have a chart so the rest of the band can join in or at least have a reference. If you have ever had someone sit down with a guitar and say, “Uh…it goes something like this, but I am not really sure,” you probably don’t feel confident that you can follow along. However, even your loose song ideas are communicated way better when you can hand others a map in writing of where the song is going when you bring it to others. A charting band is a happy band.

Are you collaborating?

There are some rare circumstances where a band is hired by a singer/songwriter to play parts exactly a certain way. This is cool, but it is not writing. Above all, it is not collaboration. When more than one person has their hands in the creation of something, they are collaborating. If you are writing a song with at least one other person, you need to start by making charts right away. Will the song change over time? This is very likely. But your chart is there so you can make edits.

Do you have a super memory?

If you are lucky enough to play with the same group for several years, you will likely amass quite a bit of material to play. What happens when you want to go back and play “an oldie but a goodie?” What could possibly help you remember the framework of that song? That’s right, you guessed it: the handy dandy chart you made. Bust that chart out and smile with confidence. You did yourself a very nice favor by making it.
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[learn_more caption="Tips for the Young Musician Vol 13"]
Everybody thinks they would like to snap their fingers and be a superstar. If only it worked that way, right? If only we could blink our eyes and go from having no skill on an instrument to being a virtuoso. Well let me tell you; this is never going to happen. And you should be thankful.

After asking several students and teachers about this topic, I have come to the conclusion that there is something much more wholesome and rewarding about practice and appreciation for the work it takes to get from one point to the next. With that being said, I invite you to consider a few ideas:

Set Realistic Goals:

Music is a language. We learn to speak the language of music the same way we learn to speak our native language. We learn one word at a time, and by listening to others who are more affluent than we are. This is a realistic goal for learning anything. A baby is not going to learn to speak French by giving them a stack of diagramed sentences and expecting them to go off into a room and “practice” their language. This is unrealistic, and also torture, I believe. Why treat your musical adventure this way?

Surround Yourself With Masters:

That same baby will learn to speak French much more quickly by hanging out with his or her parents. A baby’s parents are masters of their language, arguably, in comparison to their newborn child. By being immersed in an environment where a new language is being spoken, you learn to speak the language out of repetition and necessity. What if you looked at becoming a master on your instrument the same way? Surround yourself with those who can outplay you, or more appropriately, those that are more fluent in the language of music. You will learn much quicker than just on your own.

Make Mistakes With Laughter:

You are not going to learn anything without making mistakes. If you accept this truth, then you should never have anything to fear when learning. And, if you accept this, then why not laugh yourself into mastering your language? Think of a time you said something that sounded nothing like what you meant to say. Didn’t you laugh? You did not mean to say it that way, but you did, and there was no turning back. I sure hope you laughed and carried on with your life. Learning music should be the same. Play the wrong notes with a grin on your face. Or better yet, do it more than once and people will be convinced you meant to do it that way!

Be Happy With Where You Are:

You can improve, but you are never better than you are right now, so be happy about it!
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[learn_more caption="Tips for the Young Musician Vol 12"]

I am going to combine a word you probably like with a word that you may not: “music” and “business.”  There you have it. Whether you like it or not, the music business industry is a reality. Trust me, if you are a budding musician I can understand if adding business to your music sounds like bringing grandma along on your first date. But it does not have to feel that lame.

Music has value, wouldn’t you agree? If you listen to it, you value it. If you play it, you value it. Guess what?  If you take music lessons, study music, or teach music in any way, you value it more even still. I suppose we could go into a great deal of depth and detail on the topic of music business, but I just want to scratch the surface here. You can never learn this stuff too early.

Believe in your own value.

Like I said, music has value. If you are musician and you have any intention of sharing your music, you should always remember your music has value. There is this stereotype of being the starving musician out there. Sure, as with any career, people can find a way to starve while doing what they love. But you don’t have to. You can actually feed yourself as you enhance other people’s lives with the value of your musicianship. It all starts with you believing it. Add a good dose of humility and the desire to keep learning and you will be dangerous … in a good way.

Promote what you value.

If you like something, tell people about it! If they respect your opinion, they will likely try it as well. Start promoting the music you value. If you value the music of other musicians, tell people about it. Attend a live show and purchase that very same music. On top of that, you have established the value of your own music.  Go promote that, too! There are really cool ways to promote your music. It starts the same way you promote the music of others with phrases like, “Have you heard this before? I think you will really like it!”

Ask questions.

Start right now. Think of a question in your mind about the music business and ask it out loud. Then, find someone you know in the music industry and ask them the same question. Then don’t believe them only.  Go out and ask it a bunch of times in a bunch of different ways. The world is growing more and more limitless in its ability to provide you with answers. Find out what other people know about sharing music or forming a career in music. Then, trust your gut and process all you have learned. Then, ask more questions because they are bound to come up the more you learn.

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[learn_more caption="Tips for the Young Musician Vol 11:"]

The Perfect Musician

By Stephan Hume

When it comes to perfection, I have yet to see it. Is it because I am incapable of being perfect, or is it because perfection actually does not exist? By what standards do we define something as being perfect? Is it something quantifiable? When we have had a “perfect day,” what happened to make it so? Did we have a really great hamburger, ace the test, or avoid the lines at Bed, Bath, and Beyond successfully?

The truth is, we are striving for a feeling. The feeling that comes when our expectations meet the outcome we conceived of. This has happened so rarely in the life I have experienced, that it almost seems like perfection is the fairy-est of all tales. Yet, why do so many of us become wrapped up in trying to attain it?

Having high expectations is one thing; high standards tend to make us stronger. But when we obsess over our own idea of being perfect (or even more toxic: someone else’s idea of being perfect), we are left with an endless chase to try and enjoy the lives that are right in front of us. Trust me, I have been guilty as charged more often than I would like to admit.

In my profession, I have watched hundreds of kids and teens work through their own goals and standards. I have seen them nail that perfect guitar solo and they are on Cloud 9. I have also seen them prepare for months the “perfect” performance only to accidentally step on their guitar cable, knock over their amp, or forget the words. What happens then? I can tell you that I have learned a lot about myself in these moments. I cringe because I have been there. I want to jump up on stage and save the day or even explain to the audience that, “this kid usually NAILS this, trust me!” I want to own their mistakes, but that is impossible. I have enough of my own to own, thank you very much. :)

Clearly these moments, the expected and the unexpected, are what make our lives truly great. The dynamics of what we strive to accomplish are learned best at times when we actually do see something fail to meet the mark. The idea we had of playing the perfect drum fill can die instantly when a stick slips from our sweaty hands. Then what are we left with? Are we not still the same, radiant person?

I once heard the phrase: “Anyone will fall 9 times. The strong ones get up 10 times.” There is a lot of truth in this. Not just in performing music, but in any endeavor, passion, or dream. Young musicians, if you get this early in your life, you will save yourself years of suffering music, instead you will always just be playing it![/learn_more]

[learn_more caption="Tips for the Young Musician Vol 10:"]

If you are an up-and-coming band in Denver, do you have a road crew? Do you have a semi that pulls up behind the Pepsi Center before you play? Does everyone in your band have multiple versions of their instruments, an individual technician watching from backstage to help the band at any moment? Do you just get to show up to your show and be a rock star and everything is in line for you, gear, tuning, and all?

Chances are, you are not quite there yet. And that is just fine. Every band that is trying to gather a following and turn some heads has to do all of this on their own for a long time. It’s what the industry refers to as “paying your dues.” But hey, some people adhere to the old adage, “If you can’t get something done right, do it yourself.” I know of plenty of notable artists who still like to change their own strings or load in their own gear. But this month, we are going to focus on the majority of young musicians and talk about …

Being your own “roadie.”

Unless you are some royal heir to the “Rock Gods” with people feeding you grapes and carrying you to the stage where your gear is already set up, you are going to be your own road crew. You are going to load in your own gear, get it to the venue safely, set it up efficiently, maintain it while you play, tear it down effectively, load it out, and take it back to your home or studio storage facility.

Mark your gear.

If you are playing a show, chances are there are other musicians and/or bands that evening.  Maybe you have a one-of-a-kind, vintage piece of gear that nobody could mistake for their own.  But, hey, that is more of a reason to mark it, actually! But on top of that, there are a lot of identical guitar cables, drum hardware, tuners, etc. Mark yours and you are less likely to walk off with someone else’s gear, and your stuff is less likely to grow legs when your back is turned.

Plan for the occasion.

Any gig is an awesome occasion, to some degree. Therefore you should have your own version of a “survival kit.” This includes things like guitar strings, picks, sticks, even drum  heads … although I have only seen one band break a head, live. It was awesome. But they were prepared.  This is especially important if your gig is outdoors. Plan as best you can for the weather in transport, but also in how your instrument behaves in increased sunlight, humidity, etc. Your gig will thank you, and you will feel smart.

Be willing to help.

I love to see bands work together. I have seen bands where the guitar player plugs in, and tunes up in less than 5 minutes. Then they instinctively walk back to the drums and help set up there.  Bands that really impress me do so by what they do before and after they play, too. They work like a team of ants. They work with effort and precision to put the stage together as a team.

Just remember, there is more to be said here. However, just think ahead. Also, just take care of each other and each other’s gear. There is no way you can go wrong with this. You may get to that place where you have your own road crew. But none of them ever did without being their own roadie first. Go ahead, reach for the stars and imagine yourself on the red carpet. But until you get there, you are bringing in your own “stars” and “carpet” to every gig you play.[/learn_more]

[learn_more caption="Tips for the Young Musician Vol 9:"]

Moms do not make good music recommendations.  At least that is what you think if you are a teenager.  I speak from experience, though.  My mom listened to Kenny G and Michael Bolton.  Forgive me for saying this, mom, but that stuff doesn’t exactly rock. Especially if you are 15 years old and the only band that exists to you is Metallica.

But one day my mommy handed me a Stevie Ray Vaughan album.  Granted, it collected dust for a few days.  But when I finally threw it in the player, my life literally changed forever.  Looking back, I now realize more about me changed than just hearing his blistering guitar work and his soulful voice.

This month’s tips are more of an agreement you can make with yourself.  It revolves around giving music recommendations a listen; give it a chance to impress you.

 It wakes you up

I could not believe how blind I was before Stevie.  I realized that I not only made assumptions about what was good music based on my limited exploration, but I was also assuming that nobody else could lead me to something new.  Once I realized that more than one amazing group existed, it really felt like an awakening.  Who knew that several awesome guitarists exist?

 It makes you play better

 Seriously.  Once you accept a new style into your catalog of musical inspiration, you get better.  You have agreed to expose yourself to a larger palate of colors with which to use.  I remember hearing Stevie and finally unveiling more about the blues and the roots of the sound of rock music I already loved.  As a teenager this was a really important thing to realize.  In other words, it’s like you always play Halo on Xbox, but suddenly you discover the PS3 and your gaming experience is never the same again.

 It ties things together

I have yet to read an interview of a famous musician where they were asked about inspiration and they replied, “I never heard music before I started playing and making records.”  That would be rather impressive, yet also impossible.  Inspiration and influence is inevitable.   Wouldn’t you like to fill your life with as many different flavors of sound as possible as opposed to limiting yourself for no reason?

It helps you relate to more people

The more music you listen to, the more you can connect to others.  Think about that time someone said, “ Have you ever heard of [insert obscure band name here]?”  If you knew that band, it is likely that your eyes lit up and you and that person felt a special connection.  It is a natural thing to feel connected to others based on taste of music, art, or whatever.[/learn_more]

[learn_more caption="Tips for the Young Musician Vol 8:"]In several of the past issues of this column, I have cracked open a lot of specifics. These tips have come from my own experience in the performing music scene, but they largely include insights from coaching young musicians to play in bands. This month I am going to veer away from the nuts and bolts of gear or rehearsal time. We are going to talk a bit about gratitude. Before you think I am going into a bit of sappy poetry, take a minute to survey your own attitude. Are you grateful? If you are a performing musician, do you take the time to realize how amazing that is? While we can fill books with tips on tuning your guitar, or how to rehearse efficiently, I have realized that how well you approach any of this is rooted in your attitude. For instance: Are you grateful for the opportunity? You get to play with other musicians. You may even get to play with them in front of an audience. How cool is that? Sure, it takes work to build your craft. But, have you taken a moment to just be grateful for the chance to do it? After you are done considering throwing your guitar tuner at your friend behind the drum set, try telling him that you are grateful to play music with him. Then, work it out. It goes a long way. Are you grateful for your fans? So you are about to go on your worldwide tour. You have your music, your band, your promoters, and your couches to sleep on. Who gave you that opportunity? People obviously have to like your music in order to keep coming to your shows. Or at least they are consistent with faking it. Either way, it brings warm bodies in front of your stage and money in the door. Before you insult your audience for not yelling loud enough after you say, “How is everybody doing tonight?” try simply saying, “Thank you so much for coming to hang out with us.” It turns out people like appreciation more than feeling inadequate in their ability to applaud you. Are you grateful for the man behind the curtain? This harkens back to a previous column about how to treat your music venue. Guess what? You were invited to play at one of your favorite music halls, but you are not the one making the whole thing work. Have you stopped to consider being grateful for the sound engineer? How about the stage light manager, the bar tenders, the booking agent? You simply could not have done it without them. Unless you consider a gig in your basement, well…a gig. Always introduce yourself to the sound engineer. Always thank them into the microphone and encourage the audience to give a round of applause for them. It goes a long way to be grateful. It goes even further to say it out loud. Thank you for following this column.[/learn_more]

[learn_more caption="Tips For The Young Musician Vol. 6"]

Tips For The Young Musician Vol. 6

Story by Stephan Hume

Stephan.Hume@ColoradoMusicBuzz.com

I am grateful for the emails I have been receiving from readers about this column.Many of you feel like you can relate to the scenarios I write about.I always pull from life experience as well as the bloopers and successes of my music students.When I am not featuring young musicians here, you can expect to see these sorts of stories.

This particular column is about talking to the sound technician when you play a live show.With a few simple skills, a performing musician can communicate effectively with the sound engineer:

Introduce yourself before the show.

This one is a no-brainer.Find out who the sound engineer is that evening and shake their hand.Thank them in advance for making you sound amazing.Ask them if there is anything special on the stage you should know about.Above all, if you have special sound needs like an extra cowbell on your favorite song, be sure to give the technician a heads up before you play, too.This way they can make sure they have enough microphones, cables, or inputs for you.

Ask for what you need as soon as you need it.

If you need to hear something better in your monitor, tell the sound engineer.I cannot tell you how many times I have heard people leave a show saying, “Man, that place sounded terrible.I couldn’t even hear myself!” But then you ask them if they told the sound engineer to turn something up or down.Most of the time the answer is a resounding, “Well…no.”Get a clue. The sound technician does not know exactly what you like to hear.Plus, it is their job to make you sound good, so they expect it.

Don’t be afraid to persist.

There is a fine line between being critical and asking for what you want.Sometimes your idea of “a little more bass in my monitor” is different than the technician.Give them a break if you think they cranked it.Just ask politely after the next tune if they can split the difference and move on.I once saw the world-class Tommy Emmanuel play live at Copper Mountain.He spent a good part of his sound check asking to be turned up.The sound guy kept turning up the monitors on stage, but Tommy persisted.He was polite but said to the guy, “I need it cranked, I can’t hear so good.Also, please put a bit more reverb on my channel.”He got what he needed by being persistent, but not rude.

Thank the sound engineer afterwards.

I said this in a previous column, but I cannot say it enough.Acknowledge a job well done, and they will be sure to take care of you the next time you rock out at their venue.

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[learn_more caption="Tips For The Young Musician Vol. 5"]

Tips For The Young Musician Vol. 5

Story by Stephan Hume

 

So you have a band and you are ready to go play some gigs.  Maybe you already have some sweet shows under your belt and you would like to play more.  Yet you want to know how you come across to the audience.  Do they totally love your band like your best buddies say?  And how about the places you play?  Does the owner or booking agent like having you and your music team play in their venue?

 

Well, I am not here to tell you whether you are the next U2.  But what I can tell you is there are some sure fire ways to keep your venue relationships in tact and keep your screaming fans coming back for all of the right reasons.  This month’s column is all about: “Show Etiquette.”   Volumes can be filled about this topic, but here are a few tips:

 

Make every gig special.

 

The industry term here is “over-saturating the market.”  If you play too often, it doesn’t seem like a huge event to come see you play.  Think about it.  Your friends don’t want to help you celebrate your birthday everyday.  Until you have the world demanding your shows like AC/DC, consider playing once a month and putting a ton of hype around that show.  This will help allure your fans to more shows. Which brings me to my next point.

 

Book the right venue and fill it.

 

If you are just starting out, play smaller venues.  It’s no secret that 40 people look like much more in a small pub as opposed to a huge amphitheater.  No matter what, make sure you fill that venue you are in.  You aren’t just trying to impress your friends and yourselves here.  You are trying to impress the venue that allowed you to play.  They like selling more meals and drinks.  So bring happy people who are hungry for more than your tunes.  Chances are, the venue won’t turn their heads when you call them again.

 

Kiss up to the staff.

 

Okay, this one is risky to tell you.  Not everyone can pull this one off.  But if you can do it genuinely, then you are securing more future gigs and promotion than you realize.  So many bands are rude.  I am surprised to see even seasoned bands who: are rude to the sound engineer; take too long to get on and off the stage; don’t bring many people to the show; and even insult their audience into the microphone.  What?

 

Instead, try thanking the sound engineer with a small cash tip, or at least into the microphone.  Try rehearsing your set up and tear down if you need to in order to be more efficient.  And lastly, bring your friends.  Call everyone you know.  Make it exciting to come to your show.  Don’t leave it up to the rest of the band to invite people.  If you do all of this, the venue will remember you.  They may even tell people in their venue to come to your show.  A well-treated venue is a happy venue and the best bands are well behaved.

 

Stay for the entire show.

 

Would you make plans to go to dinner with your family, only to arrive just in time for dessert and then split?  I can’t tell you how many times I have seen musicians do this at shows.  They show up just in time to play and then leave right afterwards.  What are they trying to communicate with this?  Are they the only important act that night?  If it is only important that you are there for you own stage time, then go ahead and just ask the rest of the audience that came to see the other acts to leave while you play.

 

Supporting each other is what it is all about.  I have made more great connections in the music scene by staying and getting to know the other bands and fans, than I ever would have otherwise.  Get with it and reschedule your trip to Dairy Queen for the next day.  You have a very important and exciting show to stay and enjoy…your own!

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[learn_more caption="Jack Vea"]

Jack Vea

Story By Stephan Hume

Stephan@ColoradoMusicBuzz.com

 

Heads up, Colorado.  Jack is another young and talented musician from our lovely state.  I emphasize both of the words “young” and “talented.”  Read below but also do yourself a favor and watch his playing at the website.  It is going to rock your world!

 

CMB:  Tell me, how long have you been playing drums?

 

JV: 7 years and I am now 12.

 

CMB:  That’s awesome man!  So, what got you into playing drums?

 

JV: I would have to say it was when I saw a certain music video.  I just remember I was watching it and I really enjoyed watching the drums because they had this drum solo and stuff in there and it was very cool.  And my dad told me he would get me a drum set for Christmas if I really wanted it.  Well, he saw me drumming on my bed one day and I guess I was pretty good at keeping a beat so he knew that I was ready for that.

 

CMB:  So you would have been like 6 years old at that point, eh?  So what are you all about and what do you want to accomplish?

 

JV: I was actually 4 when that happened.  I really just want to be the next Neil Pert.  That’s kind of it.  I just want to keep playing and getting better as far as I can.  He is just the best drummer in the world.  I also just love their band, Rush.  They are amazing.  I am kind of obsessed with them.

 

CMB:  Wow, that’s an awesome aspiration!  You play in a band now.  How has that helped your skills as a musician?

 

JV: I have learned to play with other musicians.  I am learning how to play bass as well because of trading off with others.  It isn’t my main instrument, but at least I am learning to pay it by ear.

 

CMB:  Talk about school and grades how has that been treating you?

 

JV: Well, it is not as fun as I thought it would be.  I have to work really hard to keep up it seems.  I like to count with my fingers.  Teachers would tell me to stop, but it was my way of doing things.  But I realized I was getting behind.  So as I got closer to 7th grade, they started reminding me that my grades would be going on my permanent record very soon.  So I thought to myself that I better bring my grades up and work harder than I ever did before.  This year even, I went in for some tutoring to bring my grades up.

 

CMB:  That’s amazing how you have been working really hard to get your grades up so you could be looking out for your future.  Do you play any sports?

 

JV: Yeah, I used to play baseball as a catcher, but it wasn’t really what I was into.  This year I am going to try soccer, so that we will see how that goes.

 

CMB:  Well, it seems you have a pretty strong work ethic on the drums.  First of all, why would you say you have this work ethic?

 

JV:  I just kind of thought to myself that the one thing that I am really good at, that is like a once in a lifetime opportunity it is playing the drums.  It’s like my talent.  My thing.  So I thought that I better work really hard and get it done.  So now here I am at Band Dynamics, studying music, and playing gigs and stuff.

 

CMB:  Very good.  So what kind of practice advice would you give others?

 

JV: As a beginner, don’t start out too large.  Just play along with something or play for a little bit a time.  If you are into getting better though, taking lessons is a great idea.  On your first instrument it can be harder to get the fundamentals.  But after that, you can go on to different instruments a lot easier.

 

CMB:  Be sure to do yourself a favor and check out Jack Vea’s recent concert he played on the Band Dynamics website: www.bandynamics.com.  Check out the Toad Tavern videos and click “How You Like Me Now.”

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[learn_more caption="Rock: SPOTLIGHT: The Trampolines "]

What do you ask a band who have played with musical acts such as James Taylor, The Bodeans and Vanessa Carlton?What hasn’t been asked of a band whose first album charted the digital Billboards in 2005?The same songs I walk away singing after every show have had the whole world singing on MTV’s “Real World Denver” and “Real World Sydney”!So much more continues to happen with this band.I thought the new record was as great a focus as any.Since I can’t stop listening to it myself, I spoke with two of the band members, Mark Sundermeier and Chris Stake.

CMB: Who is currently in The Trampolines?

MS: Brian LaRue has been our drummer for over a year (ex-Redline Defiance).

Brian Chambliss formerly of No Fair Fights has been filling in playing bass…although we are looking for a permanent bassist!We also have a new guitarist, Nick Ehlers.

CMB: About the new record…what is the name about and how is it “new” to you all as a band?

CS:The name of the disc is…”Between the Lines”.  It’s about the tramps having lived a whole lotta of life, both good and bad during the making of this record.

MS:We spent nearly a year recording the new disc.  Working with John Macy (Macy Sound Studios) was exactly what we needed because he really allowed us to take it slow and be as creative as we needed to be.This record feels very different than the last disc and is more advanced musically this time out.

CS: What’s “new” is that we have guest musicians that play everything from pedal steel and toy piano to accordion and mandolin.  We also delved much deeper into guitar tones like never before as well.

CMB:How is this new album going to stack up for the fans?It’s different from your first disc…can you talk about the extreme musical variety and instrumentation throughout?

MS:This one is a rocker!  One of the interesting things about this record is it’s variety of songs.  It really spans the gamut in terms of moving from Rock to Country songs and back again.

CS:Definitely a little something for everyone on this record, while keeping the signature tramps vocal harmonies.  In fact, I think we even made those bigger too!

MS:As Chris said, there were many great guest musicians lending their time and ear to playing on the songs.  Among them, Jake Espy of Roe played keyboards, Ian Cooke played Cello on a tune and the legendary Sam Bush even played mandolin on a couple of tracks.

CMB:How did you guys get Sam Bush to play on the disc?

CS:John Macy suggested him to us and we were ecstatic when he agreed to do it!!  It was our first web cam studio session and it was very cool.Sam was incredibly generous about the whole thing.

CMB:Very nice!Okay, now for the loaded question:Is this album “do or die” for The Trampolines?

MS:That is a very good question.  We have been at it as a duo and or band, for a long time.  We really just hope that the public “get” the new disc. 624

CS:Ya know, we wrote this record for ourselves. It is a record we HAD to make. We are trying to look down the road but don’t want to put any pressure on it.  We tackled the sophomore slump, now it will be about reconnecting with people and the fans and maybe letting them tell us what’s next for a change.

CMB:Do you have any special plans for the release of “Between The Lines?”

CS:We are certainly working up some surprises and want to make the cd release show a special one.  We’ve been waiting for it for a long time, so you’ll have to show up July 31st at The Soiled Dove!!

MS:The disc will be available on Itunes, Rhapsody, My Space…all of those fine establishments…be on the lookout for it.

For more about The Trampolinesvisit: www.TheTrampolines.com

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[learn_more caption="For Those About To Rock: Tips For The Young Musician Vol. 4"]

 

Welcome to a brand new edition of “For Those About to Rock.”  I interview some pretty amazing youth every month. Many people are responding with questions about what it takes to make it to this column. You must pay me a large sum of money. Ha! Wouldn’t that be nice?!

Seriously, the focus of this column has always been to feature young musicians with a big purpose. I feature those who are doing well academically, those who are well rounded, or simply those who are highly focused on becoming better musicians.

In “Tips For the Young Musician” I will share some free secrets to making a special mark on your local music scene that may also improve your chances of being featured. You don’t have to take my word for it. Just try them and see for yourself. This month I will describe the three basic keys to help you be a success:  1) Show up; 2) Show up; 3) SHOW UP!Consider the following:

Band Rehearsal. First of all, if you aren’t showing up to jam with people, you won’t last long.   Your warm body and presence are the reason you play with the group instead of a backing track or a nice cardboard cutout of you. You may not always have perfected the music before the session, but showing up shows everyone you care. Plus, it is never as hard as you think to catch up.

School. Teachers take this weird thing called “attendance” for a reason. It actually is more than “the man trying to bring you down.” On average, struggling students who show up consistently do better than bright students who do not. The test won’t study itself. Your seat won’t learn the day’s lesson for you. Neither will the Xbox. Again, show up and the grades will come easier than you thought.

Loved Ones. The most forgiving people are usually your friends and family. But if you have plans for dinner, a hangout at the Skate Park, or just time to cut coupons with grandma, show up to that. Things happen. Things come up. But stick to your plans and show up to even the most laid back of plans. Guess what? You will gain confidence for the bigger stuff.

Life. How you do something is how you do anything. I haven’t met a working musician who does not agree. It doesn’t matter what the occasion, seemingly big or small. Show up. Some days the bed sounds more enticing than getting up to face the day. But, show up anyway. There are always going to be talented people. There will always be opportunities for them. Ultimately, the same two, talented people can be involved, but the one who gets the job is the one that simply shows up.

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[learn_more caption="For Those About To Rock: Tips For the Young Musician Vol. 3"]

This month we will talk about your personal practice regimen. Do you have one? Do you have things you play every time you pick up your instrument? Do you try to learn something new every time?

Playing music is like training for an athletic event. The more you practice, of course, the better you get. But there are moments in music, just like in the gym, where you will find a “plateau” or a “brick wall” that your progress seems to stop. You will need something new to inspire you to reach new results. This is why having a practice regimen that is fun, flexible and consistent is so important. Here are some tips in helping you create your very own regimen:

1. Include as many aspects of your playing as you can. Many students pick up their instrument and only focus on one element of their playing. Sometimes it is good to do a hard focus on your rhythm, for example. But be sure not to let your melody or your overall technique slide in the mean time.

2. Make it measurable. Chances are, you aren’t Steve Vai and you don’t have 12 hours every day to practice your instrument. If you do, please call me. I would like to hear you play! But, if you are like most people, you have a limited time span. Don’t try to cram three hours worth of work into one. You are setting yourself up for disappointment. Instead, just make sure you include a good percentage of stuff you know with stuff you don’t.

3. Make it fun! You are practicing to get better. Back to the gym analogy: You may have to push through some pain to get there! But, by all means, take a second to feel great about how good you are already. Play some riffs you can really blast through. Play through your favorite song or passage. Include stuff that makes you feel good. Otherwise, it will always seem dreadful, and you’ll find you will much rather be doing yard work than practicing.

4. Don’t over-do it. Just like working out, don’t lift more than you can handle. Don’t bury yourself in technique you simply are not ready for yet. Also, be sure to look up tips for keeping your body healthy and strong in the process. Playing music is, after all, physical. You would hate to end up with Carpel Tunnel just because you weren’t aware of what could happen! The following website, among others, will offer some great insight to this: Summerglen-Music.com/PlayHealthy.pdf.

I remember once reading an interview with the late guitarist from Pantera, Dimebag Darrell. He talked about a specific type of chord that he could never play. Then, one day, after much diligence, he picked up the guitar and played it like he could always have played it all along. Because he stuck to his practice regimen and remembered to stay confident, he succeeded. So, too, can you!

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[learn_more caption="Becca Krueger"]

I bet you didn’t even see it coming. That’s right. You were busy flipping pages of everyday music publications, looking at everyday concert announcements beside everyday advertisements feeling very…everyday about it all. But, who could blame you, really? Never fear. Relax and welcome to The Music Buzz! You have picked up something with a little more meat on its bones. This month, we are going to turn heads in a brand new way, starting with yours.

Back in 2002, I came to Denver and remember hearing opinion after jaded opinion about our local music scene. Some people couldn’t flap their jaws enough about how disconnected we were from the real major music scenes like L.A., Nashville, or even Austin. People talked like Colorado is some sort of deserted island destined to waste away without any attention from record labels or music producers. The pursuit of a musical career was as futile as hoping get seen by a rescue helicopter.

Well, boo-hoo! Just look around and think again. Denver is blowing up! More and more major artists are being discovered from our very own clubs and venues. And don’t get me wrong; the music that is played here each and every day is truly special. I am talking about the rising attention from the global music scene. It is breeding more and more confidence in bands trying to make their mark. And you know what else? It means you better look both ways before you cross the street. Otherwise you might just get plowed over by some of the amazing young talent in Colorado, waiting to grab that microphone, plug in, and have everyone whistling a different tune.

Some of these emerging stars are not old even old enough to get into many music clubs. Some have yet to graduate high school. Some cannot even drive to their own shows. But if you could put them on the same bill as your local favorites, you could close your eyes and know you were listening to something truly smashing and promising.

This month’s truly smashing promise is Becca Krueger.

To everything there is a season, as they say. Becca is thriving in the first light of a spring that could truly become a dynamite adventure, with many seasons to come. She is a 15-year-old singer/songwriter with a true heart of gold. But with that heart comes a strong head on her shoulders. She has already recorded a demo c.d. with her original music and she is working with her current booking agency, Afton Live. She is not wasting any time.

It wouldn’t take crazy marketing to convince you to enjoy her sound. It just takes her singing to you. It doesn’t take a handful of listens to a polished recording of her original songs to “grow on you.” It just takes her playing them for you one time. You see, this is the very thing I am talking about. One may have to be 21 years of age to play in most venues. But it doesn’t take being much more than being a young child to begin harnessing some of the inspiration that we find from Becca as a young woman in Denver.

My mission is to find as many young, talented musicians in Denver as I can and put them in the spotlight. And it is quite true that you don’t find musicians like Becca everyday. She is a busy teen. While I cannot include all of her accomplishments, I can certainly share a few. She recently took second place in a local “Battle of the Bands” competition. She did this as the only solo act. That’s right. You hardly hear of such a thing happening. She plays music because she is in love with it.

But the first time you see her, like many others who have, you will know she has something special going for her. True like many other teens, she also juggles school, theater, and friends, but she also mixes this with a calendar of upcoming gigs. The most notable show is at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom on August 22nd. Do yourself a favor and go to this. It will be her first paid gig as a teen rock star. She and I talked a bit about what she will do with the money. She plans to invest it back into recording equipment. Or a car. You know, the things most teenagers are up in the air about.

She also has some great experience sending promotional materials to various agencies and management possibilities throughout the country. At this point, she has sent one to Nashville and two to California. She has already heard back from one busy company stating that she has quite the promising sound, despite her contrast to the music that particular company promotes. She stays busy in many types of music lessons and is otherwise your normal, social butterfly. A lot of us know it is not about status or number of gigs that makes us who we are. I am just illustrating something about a teenager, mind you. It is something those more vested in the music scene could notice and absorb. Sometimes I take notes when I hear about her progress and motivation.

But what does Becca sound like? Well, for those of you who are yet to be fans, she sounds like music you could put on your stereo and relax to every single day. She sounds like a warm day out on a raft, where she is the current and the listener flows without a care in the world. She sounds like an interesting mixture of traditional jazz music in her voice and intention, but she uses modern-day music tools to weave her web of style. She is working to hone her skills as a guitarist and overall musician. But don’t you worry. She can do more with 3 chords than you would think is possible. I suppose the Beatles proved that a few times. But she doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel. Just deliver it to you on a very nice platter.

What is truly striking, once you get past the seemingly apparent “novelty” of such a polished sound coming from such a young player, is the wisdom and depth to her lyrics. At one of her upcoming shows you could be sure to hear songs like, “There’s Nothing to Help Me Now.” She fills the air with wonderful melodies that dance perfectly along to words like, “why does gravity hurt so badly? Feelings matter and matter falls…there’s nothing, nothing to help me now.” The first time I heard those words, I forgot I was not listening to someone who had lived a life at least twice as long!

I wondered about the many aspects of musical training she has been pursuing. My suspicion was that her willingness to learn from many places was helping her mold her own talent. So we sat down and I asked her a bit about what her take on it was. After all, she has been known to take lessons in: musical theatre, guitar, vocals, piano, and even rock bands. She sites some of her influences to include her piano instructor, Power Chord Academy, and one of our very own Colorado-grown rock music schools, Band Dynamics.

CMB: Can you talk about your theater training? Your personal style is a lot more “jazzy” sounding with a dash of pop to me.

BK: Well, I sort of started training my voice in musical theater. I feel strongly that it still helps me diversify my voice and helps me to explore different styles of music. It also helps me boost my vocal range. My coach works a lot with me on putting character into what I do, since that is what theater is all about. But when it comes to my own songwriting, it is extremely helpful. It allows me to put more of a feeling of character when I write.

CMB: I guess I didn’t think of it that way at first, but you are right. How about your piano instructor?

BK: Piano really has given me more of a wider sense of the instruments we can play. Of course it also helps me a lot with theory, too. At the moment I am working on focusing on some jazz music for an upcoming benefit show I am doing. It’s cool. When I write on the piano it is much different than when I write on guitar and I like that.

CMB: You mentioned a summer camp called, Power Chord Academy. What’s that all about?

BK: I love it. I mean, it’s a rock and roll music camp! I really find that it challenges me to sing in ways I never normally would. People are jamming on electric guitars and such, and it is very fun. It’s just so much fun when you are surrounded by a bunch of musicians including the counselors.

CMB: That sounds like so much fun! You also go to a year-round rock school called, Band Dynamics where you take songwriting lessons and play rock shows, right?

BK: Yeah, and honestly that is the place that really started my creativity in the sense of helping me get in touch with what my specific style is. It is the first place I really got to play in live shows and has helped me to redirect my nervous energy into good performance energy. Overall, when it comes to all of these places I take lessons; I find that it is always good to have guidance, no matter how good you think you may get at what you are doing.

CMB: I couldn’t agree more! I realize as artists our vision can change daily about where we are headed. What would you say is your current vision with music?

BK: I just want to continue with is as much as possible. This year I have gotten a lot of truly wonderful connections, so I am grateful for that. Right now I mostly play on my own but I would love to have a band to play along with me. It is part of the journey, you know. I have a lot of music-loving friends but the right combination of people has yet to appear.

CMB: Yeah, that can be one of the most challenging aspects of starting a music career. But you seem to contend pretty well with it. I want everyone that reads this interview to go to your show, grab a copy of your demo, and just become a fan of your music, like me. For fun, would you mind sharing with them three of your favorite influences in music and give them a quick idea of why they inspire you?

BK: Sure! I have a lot of jazz influences and too many to mention. But I suppose my first would be Ella Fitzgerald. I just love how she has that sort of preeminent jazz standard sound. It inspires me because you seem to see it show up as the basis for most great music. I truly love Norah Jones. I just love what she does with the road that has already been paved. She makes jazz seem more modern all the time. As far as bands go, there is one called The XX. They are kind of a more low-key band. They are quite weird, off the wall and such. They have a male and a female singer, which is really unique. The female has a great voice that is sort of soft and withdrawn while the male singer is very Michael Buble-ish. They seem to put jazz and rock and techno into a huge melting pot. To me they show that bands can be any different style they want to be and so many things can be incorporated into it.

CMB: That is very insightful. I know people are going to love that show at Cervantes. Tell me something, being that you are starting to get more and more momentum and attention for your music, how are you going to stay grounded and honest throughout it all?

BK: Wow, that is not an easy question. (pauses) I guess what I must keep reminding myself is that I am not necessarily the one influencing music so much as the music is the thing that is influencing me.

CMB: Very well said. I am sure we will love to see what happens next for you. Where can we keep up with all of your progress and are there places we can listen to your music?

BK: Well, you can watch some of my performances on You Tube by going to www.youtube.com/BeccaDon17. Also, my MySpace account is in its infancy but can be viewed at www.myspace.com/BeccaDon17. You can check out more of my shows through Afton at www.aftonshows.com and search my name as an artist. Also, you can buy advance tickets to my next show at www.cervantesmasterpiece.com. It promises to be a great show!

…So there you have it, Denver. Amidst all of the wonderful music you may already grown to love, lies the talent of Becca Krueger and many others. Do not be fooled by her age. Instead, be one of the first to be a fan and stay tuned for many more young artists that will be crawling their way onto the pages of The Colorado Music Buzz.

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[learn_more caption="Bad"]

This month we feature Bad, a very motivated and confident young band in Denver. As much as I love talking to individual musicians, I love talking to bands just as much. We will briefly discuss this band’s experience as a group trying to make an impact. Be sure to check them out and support them as they work to entertain and excite the world!

CMB: Can you guys talk about your group and what you are up to?

Bad: Well our group consists of members between the ages of 16 and 21. We all come from previous groups so it is fun putting something new together. We are Carter, Aaron, LaRissa, Alex and Seth. We were founded as a big group of people who just don’t seem to fit in. We decided that since the world didn’t seem to have a fit for people like us that the healing power of music would save us. We are Bad! We play Fire! Actually, it is more a dark Rock/Opera sound that we believe is completely new to the world of music. We take pride in our raw theatrics and our combustible sound. We hope to make a big impact on the music scene!

CMB: What are your musical influences and what keeps your band together?

Bad: Well, our influences are unique to each of us, but when we collaborate it works out. Some of these groups include The Red Hot Chili Peppers, My Chemical Romance, Fallout Boy, etc. But aside from these notable bands, we are also highly influenced by the common man who spends life striving to be more. And, on a separate note, we are driven to help noble causes like Autism Research.

CMB: Very nice! What is your band doing to make a unique mark in Denver?

Bad: Well, we can honestly say that we hand out over 100 CDs every week. Some of us go to live shows almost every night and we help promote other artists we believe in, as well as just to help get a feel for what our music scene is like. We hang up fliers for local shows including Honor the Fallen, Regret Night, and more!

CMB: Well, can you talk about your recordings and why people should listen to them?

Bad: Well, we just put out our full-length album May 12th on iTunes. We are doing a CD release party on May 30th at the Marquis Theatre. We would love to hear what people think of the show. We focus on every performance to make it highly theatrically charged. If anyone would like to hear our music for free they can at MySpace.com/BandCalledBad.

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[learn_more caption="FOR THOSE ABOUT TO ROCK"]

After such an amazing response to last month’s column, I have decided to issue another edition of tips this month. For those of you just tuning in, this space of the magazine is dedicated to featuring young musicians in interviews as well as giving
sound, relatable advice. Keep looking here to learn about what the young Rock stars of Colorado are up to!
Last month we talked about the importance of showing up. I put it in context with the life of a young musician. It is not always easy to balance rehearsals, school and a social life. That being said, this month’s advice is pretty straightforward again, but highly important. Here are two simple facts to remember:
1. Playing in a band is like being in a relationship.
2. Agree to talk about the music and not about each other.
Being in a band – Playing music with others is one of the most fun things you can do! It is creative, it is thrilling, and it makes you better on your instrument. But, remember every music project is a relationship. You must relate musically to those around you. You must relate your feelings about the growth of the music to others. That being said, this is perhaps the biggest challenge of being in a band. Many people do not know how to relate their thoughts or feelings to others.
This does not mean you should throw in the towel. Even Metallica, one of the biggest bands in history, released a DVD showing the world how difficult it is for them to relate to one another.  But, when they learned how to come to a compromise and communicate, then great things happened.
It’s all about the music – Some of the best musical relationships I have had were based on this simple fact. Remember, music is fun! It is the reason that you are playing music with someone in the first place. Many people begin to relate their musical opinions and may forget not to take things personally. Here is a great example: The drummer says to the guitarist, “That last part did not sound right to me.” The guitarist who is taking it personally may have heard, “You are a lousy player,” and might think the drummer is therefore a buffoon. But what was really said was that the part could be improved and the enlightened guitarist would simply ask how to play it differently and move on. How easy is that, young Rock stars? You don’t have to light candles or grab a box of tissues. You just have to be clear and have fun.

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[learn_more caption="Alec rockin' The Dnote"]Alec Jeffries Story and Photo By: Stephan Hume Stephan.Hume@ColoradoMusicBuzz.com This month I want to get right into it.  We are featuring a very motivated and talented freshman, learning the ways of playing music in a rock band.  Alec Jeffries of Southwest Early College talks with us about college, music, and life as a bass guitar player. CMB: So, Alec.  You are a student of Southwest Early College and you play bass guitar in a rock band.  How do you feel aboutlife at the school and what other activities are you up to besides music? AJ: Well, for starters I am pretty much just into music these days.  I am focused on my playing.  As far as Southwest Early College goes, it is actually a really nice place because you come in as a high school student and you have all of your college classes already lined up for you.  It’s like you are just automatically geared towards success.  You come in the first week as a freshman and they are like, ‘Oh, by the way, here is your first college class you will be taking in about a week.’  It’s really sweet. CMB: Well, that is a very thorough way to get your education, man.  Let’s talk about your bass playing.  Let’s face it, I don’t get to meet that

many bass players compared to guitarists.  What is your take on your “role” in the band? AJ: Yeah, I am the member of the band that you don’t need!  (laughs)  It’s actually really a lot of fun because my brother plays guitar in my band and he can show me how to play stuff at home.  It’s also not really that difficult of an instrument to tackle, but I hear it uses both sides of your brain, which I would agree with.  I think that helps you be a better student ‘cause if you normally fall asleep in class or get distracted, you are more used to using more of your brain to keep you focused. CMB: Very well, I would agree with that.  On another topic, your band just played a huge show with Band Dynamics at the D-note.  How did that go? AJ: It was freakin’ awesome, if I can say that!  There were way many more people there than I thought and the other bands before and after us just blew my mind! CMB: That is the rock star dream in action!  Do you have words of inspiration? AJ: Sure, I guess.  I think the bass is really unique because it is the glue that holds everything together.  There is a really cool part in the
book, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist that says ‘we are underneath every moment. We are the ones that take this thing called time and line it up with this thing called music.’  I may be paraphrasing but yeah.  Also, I truly believe that how you do something is how you do everything.  So if you can learn to be dedicated to what you are passionate about like music, school, and friends, you can be sure to always be dedicated all around.

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[learn_more caption="Ben Poland is Ready to Rock!"]

If you follow this column regularly, you already know that I also run a Rock music school called Band Dynamics. It is very miraculous to see the lives of our students evolve the way they do.  Inevitably they grow up, graduate high school, and we are left with a memory of the time they spent in our studios. Ben Poland will soon be one of the many bright lights that lit up our rooms and stages throughout Denver. He is a senior with enormous potential at Heritage High School, and this month we get to hear his perspective on life, music and growth.
CMB:  Before we get into the buzz of your music, can you talk about your athletic and extracurricular life?
BP:  Well, I run cross-country. I really like it because it is a great release and you get to sort of get away from it all for like an hour while you run. But yeah, I just like to do all kinds of things.  Like, this year I am in the school musical, “Bye Bye Birdie.”  It’s just my senior year and I decided that I would do things that I wouldn’t normally do, I guess. But, I am also on the school’s ultimate Frisbee team, and that is a ton of fun. Last year we won state in that!
CMB:  That is a lot of action, my friend! We began talking because you told me last semester you got higher than a 4.0 grade point average. That is phenomenal! What do you want to be when you grow up, and can you talk about your musical journey a bit?
BP:  Well, I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up! (laughs) I don’t know, there are a lot of things I know I would love, but I am not worried about figuring it out. Among these ideas is doing mission work that also involved my music. I mean, I started playing guitar in seventh grade with this plastic kind-of guitar. Then I went through a handful of guitar teachers until we found Band Dynamics. I really like the band I am in and it has changed a lot over the years. It isn’t always what I imagined it would be, but it is fun so that is what counts.
CMB:  That is the best way to look at a band! Please share your experience learning to communicate with others, and your specific style of music.
BP:  Well, I remember being a freshman and feeling awkward and not knowing who I was (laughs), and I am not saying I have any clue now! But, when I meet new people to jam with I like to imagine how I would have liked to be approached when I first started a band. I guess it just goes back to having faith. I have learned a lot about myself through playing live shows. Now I actually love performing, public speaking and stuff. I also lead music in my youth group and I love acoustic music. I like being versatile and the youth group music is less about the individual and more about leading others for the greater good of the service. It’s music so it’s all good!

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[learn_more caption="Becca Krueger"]

The best thing about writing this column is meeting so many great people. The future of our world is always in the hands of our youth. My goal is to point out how many smart and talented people are going to lead the way. This month I would like to feature Becca Krueger. She keeps a great standing in her regular and honors classes while still pursuing interest in singing, guitar playing, debate, theater, and even jumping hurdles in track. She knows how to stay busy while having fun!
CMB:  Okay, Becca. Can you talk about your philosophy on life at the moment? You really seem to work hard.
BK:  Well, I just want to be involved in everything that I can. I mean, I really love music and I believe that if you want to pursue music, you should go for it!  But it is important to be good at as many things as you can. I am actually very competitiveand I want to have my hands in just about everything, so that keeps me trying a lot of things. Also, I think it is important to remember to never stop playing. I mean, no matter what anybody says, it is important to keep playing and keep trying. I didn’t make the musical that I tried out for this year. But that doesn’t mean that I won’t try again next year!
CMB:  Well that is certainly a wonderful attitude! Can you talk a little bit about your passion for acting and your inspirations in music?
BK:  Well this past weekend I was at the Thespian Conference and it was so amazing! I really love being in musical theater and there is nothing like being around 3,000 other people that share that same passion. I also really like acting just like music because I believe that you have to be really passionate about it to do it right! I also have been singing for a while and realized only recently that it is possible for people to sing Pop and actually sound good. In my opinion there are a lot of non-talented Pop stars out there, but there are still great ones like Jeff Buckley and I really love Stevie Nicks and Bonnie Raitt. I mean, when they walk in the room they can shut the room up in a second! When they sing, you listen.
CMB:   I agree with that, for sure! Can you describe your ideal day for me? Also, if you could ask Bonnie Raitt anything, what would you ask her?
BK:  Well, honestly, my favorite day would have absolutely as much music as possible. From the time I wake up until the time I go to bed, I like to have music surrounding me. Also, I really just love to learn so I would also be constantly learning any day I could. If I could ask Bonnie anything, I guess I would ask her how or when she decided to make music her full-time career, instead of just a hobby. That would be really great to know!

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[learn_more caption="Sam Hines!"]

Don’t let his height fool you: 12-year-old Sam Hines packs a tall order of Rock into his life! He recently slimmed down his extracurricular lifestyle to include only Boy Scouts and music. The seventh-grade student at Collegiate Academy has already been playing for a few years and is in his second band. He visits the halls of Band Dynamics so I see him often. I already knew I wanted to feature him, I just had to make sure his grades were looking good – “As and Bs” all around, baby!
CMB:  Sam, can you talk about your style of playing?
SH:  Yeah, I would say I mostly like to play a lot of Rock and good, fun strumming songs. I really like Metallica, AC/DC, Nirvana and, yeah, lots of stuff like that!
CMB:  Yeah, when I was 12, you couldn’t tell me that any other band existed but Metallica!  What got you started and can you talk about what practicing is like for you?
SH:  Sure! Well, I just really liked music so I thought I would try to learn to play it so I picked up the guitar about three years ago. It was the first instrument I picked up. When I practice I like to just listen to songs and get a feel for them, then I work on the music ’til I get it! I used to practice about a half hour a day, now I am up to about an hour a day.  Of course, I can’t practice every day, but when I can, I do.
CMB:  That is awesome! This black guitar you have is really sweet looking, what kind is it?
SH:  Well, it’s a PRS guitar. It is a Les Paul-style body. I actually got my neighbor who works at Guitar Center to sell it to me. I just picked it up and it sounded great, so it’s the one I wanted!
CMB:  You have the tools to get the job done! You are now in your second band at the Rock school, Band Dynamics. What was your first band all about and what do you hope to get out of working with these guys?
SH:  My first band was at Collegiate Academy through a thing called Encore Music, which was really a lot of fun! We started with Jazz music and also some of the great tunes by AC/DC like “TNT” and “Highway to Hell.” What I really like about this new band is the songs, too. Also the people and the fun! I just hope to do music for the rest of my life so I am just glad to be in a band.
CMB:  Well, it sure is great to know what you love in your life at such a young age, huh?  Keep on rocking, Sam!

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[learn_more caption="For Those About to Rock: Alec Jeffries"]

This month I want to get right into it. We are featuring a very motivated and talented freshman, learning the ways of playing music in a Rock band. Alec Jeffries of Southwest Early College talks with us about college, music, and life as a bass guitar player.

CMB: So, Alec. You are a student of Southwest Early College and you play bass guitar in a Rock band. How do you feel about life at the school, and what other activities are you up to besides music?

AJ: Well, for starters I am pretty much just into music these days. I am focused on my playing.  As far as Southwest Early College goes, it is actually a really nice place because you come in as a high school student and you have all of your college classes already lined up for you. Its like you are just automatically geared towards success. You come in the first week as a freshman and they are like, Oh, by the way, here is your first college class you will be taking in about a week.  Its really sweet.

CMB: Well, that is a very thorough way to get your education, man.  Lets talk about your bass playing. Lets face it, I dont get to meet that many bass players compared to guitarists. What is your take on your role in the band?

AJ: Yeah, I am the member of the band that you dont need! (laughs) Its actually really a lot of fun because my brother plays guitar in my band and he can show me how to play stuff at home.  Its also not really that difficult of an instrument to tackle, but I hear it uses both sides of your brain, which I would agree with. I think that helps you be a better student ʹcause if you normally fall asleep in class or get distracted, you are more used to using more of your brain to keep you focused.

CMB: Very well, I would agree with that. On another topic, your band just played a huge show with Band Dynamics at the D-note. How did that go?

AJ: It was freakin awesome, if I can say that! There were way many more people there than I thought and the other bands before and after us just blew my mind!

CMB: That is the Rock star dream in action! Do you have words of inspiration?

AJ: Sure, I guess. I think the bass is really unique because it is the glue that holds everything together. There is a really cool part in the book, Nick and Norahs Infinite Playlist that says we are underneath every moment. We are the ones that take this thing called time and line it up with this thing called music.  I may be paraphrasing, but yeah. Also, I truly believe that how you do something is how you do everything. So if you can learn to be dedicated to what you are passionate about like music, school, and friends, you can be sure to always be dedicated all around.

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[learn_more caption="Graham Ewing"]

If you have never seen the movie, “August Rush,” do yourself a favor and rent it. If you already have, then you will better understand the way Graham Ewing will inspire you. His guitar playing challenges tradition and expectation in every way. While many guitarists grab a pick and play chords, Graham is plucking and slapping the guitar like a drum. While others sing melodies and simply use the guitar to accompany the voice, Graham folds together multiple strings of melody with both hands and sometimes even a violin bow. If you trust your eyes, you will know that he is playing just one guitar. But, if you trust your ears, you will swear that you are listening to an entire band.
Graham joins a league of modern guitar players who approach the instrument this way. I had a chance to speak with this Heritage High School senior about his craft. He shared his modest motivation and creativity as an everyday, upstanding student. While he enjoys playing guitar as well as the ukulele, he also loves playing Ultimate Frisbee and performing live. He travels here and there with ease and enthusiasm, carrying his instruments in the back of his pickup truck.
CMB:  It’s such a pleasure to hear you play.  What got you into playing the guitar?
GE:  It’s funny. I never really thought I would play the guitar. In fact, my grandpa had an opportunity to give back to a music store. Instead of just giving them money, he ended up deciding to buy something, but he had no interest in playing anything. So he called me up one day and asked me, “Graham, if there were any instrument you would want to learn, what would it be?” I told him that I guessed it would be guitar, but that was all the conversation was. Kinda strange. The next thing I knew he showed up with this [holds up guitar]! I liked to hold it because it is so gorgeous. Then, I decided I would have to learn to play the thing.
CMB:  Wow! That is not your typical start-up story. Who are your greatest influences on guitar and what is your philosophy on practicing and playing?
GE:  Well, I really like Andy McKee, Craig D’Andrea, Antoine Defour, and John Butler, to name a few.  They are all guys on CandyRat Records who use strange tunings, capos, and unique finger-style approaches to the instrument. As far as practice goes, I just play whenever I have some free time. It really depends on the day. When I play, I am really big on improvisation. Bobby McFerrin once said something about how improvisation is all about motion. Just keeping the same motions and rhythms throughout what you are trying to do. That is pretty much how I go about it.
CMB:  I really like that way of thinking; it is very inspiring. What are your current goals?
GE:  (Laughs) Well, I don’t really think about that too much, I just have fun. But, I am studying right now with Dave Preston. He is encouraging me to record some tunes on a mini demo disc or something. I have so many unfinished ideas. I do think there are a few really complete ones that are ready to be recorded, so that would be really cool to do.

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[learn_more caption="The Green Screen Effect"]

Motivation defines Seth Leach, Devin Vanhorne, and Patrick Shaughnessy. Their work for MSN Stunts, (“My Stoopid Movie”) is scheduled to be on MTV’s “Pranked” and the Jay Leno and Ellen shows have already aired their work. Now switch gears to snowboarding.  Fight Dirty, Utopia Optics, and Snow Buddha has Patrick sponsored. But these are just some of their hobbies. If you keep your eyes and ears peeled, you will certainly see their latest music project, The Green Screen Effect, touring Colorado and the Southern states, of course, not without looking snazzy in their clothing line, designed by Against The Wall clothing. They are after their dreams, their work is being noticed, and their high school report cards are shiny.

CMB:  Well then! You guys are certainly up to a lot.  What does your music sound like?
GSE:  We could liken it to a mix between 3OH!3 and Breathe Carolina. But more specifically, we mix Hip-Hop with Electronic beats and all kinds of lyrics. We like to play music that keeps people’s heads bobbin’ and their bodies dancing! Also, we really just like to make fun music with comedy involved. It’s nice to get the audience laughing and keep them having a party. But, we really aren’t into all the violence and fighting at some shows. We want people to show up and have fun, not get injured (laughs).
CMB:  Yeah, it’s nice to go home after a show instead of the ER.  What other bands inspire your sound and what is the direction of the band?
GSE:  Well, music is the kind of thing that lifts us up even on a bad day. We aren’t gonna say we aren’t going anywhere, but we aren’t so concerned about that right now. We just want to keep making music and keep making people happy. We get excited to make new friends and doing what keeps us positive!  Other local bands we really like are Zachery-Bot and Kill Paradise. It’s cool to see that these bands end up getting somewhere because they are just having fun! Also, we really like how Blink-182 puts on a show. They really involve the comedy aspect, although we aim to be less crude in that sense, too.
CMB:  I know what you mean.  You just got done putting together your first demo CD.  Why should people listen to it?
GSE:  When we started this project, we left other bands. Seth still plays drums and we had some interest in some more hardcore music at first. But, when we told other people that we were going to start The Green Screen Effect, we got a lot of negative comments about how it will never work and that it is a stupid idea. But, we don’t care about that. We know we are having fun and people are relating to our sound. It’s different. We aren’t trying to fit the mold of other bands around. Basically, we want people to listen and enjoy because it is a new flavor and we are all about not being afraid to take risks to do what you love.  We say, “Do what you love and love what you do.”
MySpace.com/TheGSEffect.

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[learn_more caption="For Those About To Rock: Luke Powers"]

If you walk up the stairs to the music studio in Band Dynamics on any given Wednesday evening, don’t be alarmed. You aren’t hearing a stampede of buffalo or a raging thunderstorm. It’s just Luke Powers. He is warming up to play with his band. Making full use of double kick pedals and crazy sticking, he likes to push his own limits everyday. In other words, he is playing loud and fast! The 16-year-old junior at RockCanyonHigh School plays over two-and-a-half hours a day. And don’t be alarmed by the Mohawk, he is more likely to stun you with his quick wit and wordplay than anything else. But it doesn’t hurt to look like a Rockstar while you are at it!

CMB: All right, Luke. I know you pretty well, but why don’t you share with the world your theory on life and music?

LP: Well, it’s pretty simple; just do what makes you and others happy (laughs). Well, as long as it’s not stupid or destructive! But I feel like if you find something you really want to do, you should do as much of that as possible. Also, you should be careful not to let other people decide what is best for you. I live that way, but sometimes people can be right about what they think, like your parents. My parents wanted me to start on piano, even though I really wanted to start on drums. But now, I know much more about music and melodies so it helped me as a drummer and a songwriter. So it goes both ways.

CMB: Very interesting. So, now that you are focused on drums, what are your specific goals?

LP: Well, first is to never give up. I want to know the instrument as best as I can. I also want to study auxiliary percussion like tabla, marimba and so forth. As a professional adult, I would love to continue music in a band and still support myself the best I can.

CMB: Very cool! There is certainly a lot more to being a drummer than just playing a drum kit if you are motivated. You study with Dave Miller in private lessons and you are in a teen Rock band at Band Dynamics. With all of this momentum, what types of music get you excited, and why?

LP: I can’t include everything I like but I really like All That Remains, Rush andMetallica! I like them because they are all unique. I like bands that push the limits of their genre. Some play in odd time signatures and some take a straightforward Pop tune and go a unique direction with it. I guess I really am just open to anything that does something interesting. The first time I heard the guitar player, Eric Johnson, I was blown away by the tones and varieties he uses. My advice that I practice is to be open to all music types whether it’s Popular, Zouk, or a noseflute trio!

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[learn_more caption="Young Musicians with a Big Purpose: Shaw Shred Redemption"]

Please allow me to explain the meaning of the word  shred in a musical context. It doesnt refer to turning a block of cheese into taco-friendly portions, as in the dairy industry. It doesnt even suggest keeping your identity safe, as in the paper-shredding world. No. When it comes to music, the word shred means: to dominate the instrument, to hear a flurry of notes played so skillfully it can seem impossible, or to be a true guitar hero. And this is how most any musician hopes to be described. Enter: Tyler Shaw (a.k.a. Shaw Shred Redemption). His self-created nickname reveals his sense of humor as well as an undeniable truth. He sure can shred!

CMB: Tyler, you are now a high school graduate and you are continuing on with your education at ArapahoeCommunity College. Can you talk about what it is you are studying and why?

TS: I am focusing on audio production. I like how producers can take the ideas everyone brings to the table and make something bigger happen. Like producer Rick Rubin would listen to someone play a guitar part and the player might think it is passable, but Rubin would have the bigger vision to say, �I think you have a better one in you. I think of it also like, when a producer works with good players, the players bring a lot of ingredients, but the producer prepares the final masterpiece. I would truly like being in that position.

CMB: Wait a minute. That all makes sense, but what about your musicianship as a player? Does that fit into your plans as just a producer? And what about your practice regimen up until now?  You have to have some insight into how your playing has gotten so proficient.

TS: Well, being a producer isnt just being a producer to me. I love being a musician and I know that is going to help me in the long run. Our interests constantly change, but at this point I am really fascinated with the idea of writing film scores. But, I just feel like I may have a knack for bringing out the best in what people show me so production will be so cool! As far as my playing, I just started a while back tuning my guitar really low so the strings were very loose and forgiving. Then I could just bend, bend, and bend.  Bending is my backbone. It helped me to learn to play faster, yet smoother at the same time. Thats pretty much it. I also spend a lot of time on my music-writing software coming up with cool tunes and rhythms.  This stuff can be heard on my MySpace page at: MySpace.com/DoodThatShouldBeOurBandName.

CMB: Interesting URL, but I know its worthwhile. Any final thoughts about the study of music?

TS: Well, I think it is important to listen to as much as possible, regardless of your favorite style of music.  Stephen King says, You cant be a good writer if you dont read, which, when you apply this to music, it makes a lot of sense. You cant be a musician if you dont listen. And when it comes to music in higher education, I just really wanted to match my passion with my studies.

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