The State Of The Danderfer

State of MEHello, good morning, and welcome to the Saturday Morning News Post!

This week it really is all about me…

Discipline and the Schedule

There’s nothing quite like starting your week with a clenched fist and the word “ffffffuuck!!” And so it was that I began my 2nd week of disciplined scheduling when I awoke on Monday to find I had slept in,… by several hours. Like a driver having fallen asleep at the wheel, my eyes opened in shock to see everything had gone off the rails. Completely underwhelmed with myself, I quietly wondered whether or not Monday was even worth bothering with or,… perhaps better I just go to the liquor store now for some Crown Royal, tuck myself in, and call it a day.

I know, it’s no big deal. Of course not, but it feels like a big deal when you’re still half-asleep, realizing that the new leaf you so recently turned has apparently just turned back! However, the silver-lining is that throughout the week I’ve been learning from my scheduling mistakes and sticking with it. Why am I so fixated on being more organized with my time? Because being an independent artist is like training to be an olympic athlete while running your own small business at the same time: both jobs are all-consuming and require as much time as you can pour into them. Always working to be the best you can be at your craft in a very competitive field and always working to promote what you’re doing, booking shows/tours, writing new material, etc., so you can get your work out there and ideally, make a living. …That’s why.

Here are the mistakes I made and learned from this week:

1. Not scheduling in meal times, or scheduling several other things at the same time: It doesn’t always pay to be a “go-getter” Danderfer! “Sure I can practice singing, do dishes, send emails, and make some phone calls during lunch. Why the hell not?” … Because when I’m really hungry I could give a damn what my schedule says, lunchtime is lunchtime asshole! Book the hour, make a sandwich, and do it right!

2. Being unrealistic about the amount of time an activity requires: i.e. If I’m going to the gym for an hour, I should not only schedule an hour when it takes 30 minutes on either side of that to get to and from the gym. This is probably obvious to most people, not me though!

3. Adjusting to the right amount of time for any given task: Similar to the previous point; I can schedule an hour to write music but after an hour I’m really just getting into it, 2 hours, or even just 90 minutes is better. Practicing the clarinet or voice however can be broken down into smaller amounts of time spread throughout the day because I can get into it faster.

4. I could use more time in the morning to get ready for the day: I enjoy taunting women who wake up super early to get ready for their day as much as the next guy. However, I’m going to have to concede that it does make a difference to face the work day with a decent breakfast, a shower, and looking, you know,… somewhat presentable.

Moving on,… MUSIC, MINE. In the words of Marvin Gaye, WHAT’S GOIN’ ON? Well,…

Electroacoustic EP: This is still in the works but I love what we’ve got so far. During the Christmas holiday I was back in the studio with pianist/recording engineer Chris Gestrin piecing songs together and redoing all of the vocal parts. (The previous vocal parts weren’t bad but 4 months after the fact, I knew I could do better.) We’re aiming to have it mixed and mastered by the end of March, at which point I don’t know if I’ll just release it by myself or if some major record label will miraculously appear and offer some support. Either way, I’ll keep you posted.

Performing the electroacoustic music live is another challenge altogether and that’ll be my main focus for the month of February. This requires upgrading the Logic software I’m using and then really diving in to the tech end of using that program (the tech end is deep and cold and I have avoided it for as long as possible) I want to have to get this ready to rehearse with some other musicians at least a couple of times in February. Once I can get it going in rehearsals then the next step is to book some gigs in town.

The Acoustic Jazz Playing: I’m transcribing the Johnny Dodds‘ solo on Wolverine Blues (w/ Jelly Roll Morton) as part of my continued studies of the great clarinetists. Dodds’ is my guy right now, the more I check him out the more amazed I am by his music and how many tonal colours he could produce from the clarinet.

The Acoustic Jazz Writing: I’m supposed to be composing a lot of music for the “chamber jazz” band (a 10-piece band) at McGill this semester but I’m still wrestling with how to combine the more classic sounds of jazz (like Johnny Dodds’ era) with something that’s, well,…. “me.” I feel like my compositional style (and playing style for that matter) could use a stronger jazz foundation, hence all the listening to guys like Johnny Dodds. However, trying to play like them, or write in that style just doesn’t feel right to me somehow, because, um,…. I’m not them! At this point it seems like the only thing to do is keep them separate and hope that one day some more of the spirit of this classic jazz will seep into my own playing/composing. I’m still not sure. One thing is for sure, I can’t sit around thinking about this any longer because the good professors at McGill are expecting some new works from me pronto!

The Podcast: It’s gonna happen folks because you the readers so overwhelmingly supported it! Actually,… your support was more luke-warm than overwhelming but I’m doing it anyways! Why? Because I need something to kick my ass to write more, and if I go a second year having written more SMNPs than hot tunes, I’ll scream. Besides, I think it’ll be fun. Expect to see the podcast drop in March.


So far so good. Again, it’s very self-directed but I’m used to that now. I’ve got a paper to write for Jazz Pedagogy on the subject of my choice,… surprise, surprise, I’ve chosen to write about Artistic Planning. What I’m writing is essentially an outline for a course that could be taught to undergrads and grad students alike. Sooo, if there are any major University HR reps reading this, I’m available as of January 1st, 2011. So get while the gettin’s good, this Artistic Planning course is a HOT ticket.

…And What About Post-School?:

I would love to be so busy touring that I couldn’t possibly take on that 6-figure University job teaching Artistic Planning (HR reps, you’ve been warned!). I really want to be playing my music as much possible once I’ve wrapped up this Masters degree. And at the risk of over-hyping the electroacoustic thing and raising your expectations to a sky-high level which could never possibly be met, I believe this project would be great to tour with as something new, different, exciting, and…economical (doesn’t require that big of a band). Fingers crossed that I can find an booking agent who will feel the same way.

And that was the State Of The Danderfer, likely more than you ever wanted to know. If you read the whole thing, you’re a true fan and deserve a medal. Thanks to Thomas Arne Strand for the photo of yours truly, and yes, I’m standing in a bar.

Thanks for reading and have a great week everyone! jd

  • Janet

    1. i really like that photo.

    2. when you figure out how to make universities pay 6 figures, let me know. :)

  • Guy

    Where’s my medal?

  • Zhao Hui Zhen

    And yes,where’s is my medal?:-) your blog made your plans very clear and in the same time also explains that why you didn’t give me the big band music!!! When will that be arriving?

  • james

    Wow, I’ve got some medal hungry readers. It reads “deserves a medal” not “will GET a medal”,… always read the fine print. As for the charts, a week or two,… I know, the sooner the better! Talk soon.