The State of the Danderfer

cellar_N.O.showHello, good morning, and welcome to the Saturday Morning News Post!

Readers, have no fear,… the state of the Danderfer is strong!,… if somewhat slow, a little unsure, and, um,… hesitant in general. But still strong!

Let’s start (and most likely end) on the music front…

Voice lessons continue for the 3rd year in a row and they’re still fun and fascinating. And yes, I am improving,… albeit slowly. What I love about singing is how incredibly direct it is, both in the physical aspect (because the singer IS the instrument) and the story-telling aspect (it’s not abstract like instrumental music, you really have to know the story you’re telling). The necessity for singers to be aware of their instrument (the body), and any tensions within it, has informed my approach to playing the clarinet as well….

The Clarinet, what can I say, I still love it. But you know what? If I’m going to be honest (and I always am for my dear SMNP readers), I haven’t been that interested in practicing the “cane of pain” for the last month or so. It’s just felt like,… well,… like a lot of work, and it is my nature to avoid work. So, in the interest of enjoying music, I’ve been taking a somewhat different approach to practicing of late. As in my vocal practicing, I focus on being very aware of the my body, and of any “hidden” tension. Then, I play long tones, BUT I’m just focused on the enjoyment of taking a deep breath and releasing into the instrument, and enjoying the sound that is produced. If I can enjoy that simple act, then I’ll continue on to practice other things while always striving to maintain that simple enjoyment of a deep breath and release. So far, as often as not, I end up stopping after 20 minutes of long tones because,… I’m not enjoying it. I mean, I know I’ve got tonnes of things to practice but it’s music man!! If I can’t enjoy playing a single note, I’m not going to continue practicing.

Which reminds me of a story saxophonist/teacher/practice-aholic Remi Bolduc told me once. A few years back Remi had been hanging out with tenor sax legend Joe Lovano during the Banff jazz workshop, and he decided to try out Joe’s recommended practice routine. Well, in a nut-shell, Remi found himself going from practicing several hours a day, to one hour a day, to half an hour, to nothing. Did his love for music simply fade away? Not at all! Lovano’s practice method was great,… for Joe Lovano. When Remi went back to following his own interests, and letting that shape his practice routine, he was back to practicing hours a day. And I bet you anything Remi really enjoys his practice sessions.

So yeah, I think focusing on the enjoyment of practicing is essential. It’s not like there’s much else in it for me!

The live trio recording: We recorded it last August, the audiences were fantastic, and there were some great moments. However, in listening back to the recording, I wasn’t completely satisfied with my own performance which didn’t really “ring true” for me. In other words, my performance sounded a little too much like I was trying to emulate other clarinet players. Which,… I suppose I was. I just thought, ya know,… that it would sound cooler than it did.

And so, I am continuing to work on those tunes in the hopes of offering my fans what they truly deserve: a pure, dare I say “raw” Danderfer performance. Which will be recorded some time this Spring or Summer. I’ll keep you posted.

The electroacoustic project: OK, the live show is slowly coming together. Yes, I already did perform some of it live last December BUT ultimately my approach wasn’t producing the kind of show I wanted to. SO, I’ve been back at the drawing board and planning to try out a new approach this semester with another concert or two at McGill. The EP has been recorded, and was meant to be released a while ago, but then I decided to release it on my own record label, so I had to therefore create a record label, which meant having a name, a logo, a little design work, and perhaps some semblance of a business plan,… ugh, lot’s to think about. Also, I want to figure out the aforementioned “live show” aspect so that the album release party will involve more than me sitting alone on stage with a rasied boom box and a stack of download cards. pseudoblog_sayanything133

NOW, I’m considering adding a bunch more tracks to it and releasing it as a full album, which, God willing, really SHOULD also be out some time this Summer.

I’m still excited about it.

You should be too.

It’s very exciting.

The Artistic Plan: I haven’t talked about artistic planning in quite a while, mostly because I’ve been too embarrassed to admit that mine is still not fully formed! Ambitions, realities, false realities, wants, needs, art, passion, money,… these things all form a tightly woven web that I wrestle with on a daily basis. I’m working through a challenging and laborious life/career planning workbook these days, which is helpful but also exhausting. Each personal, probing question I have to ask myself feels like trying to dig out tree roots, they always extend further than you thought and you continuously wonder if it’s worth the effort. Plus, sometimes I’ll get to the next step and realize that I’m not ready for it, and I have to go back and redo the previous step (this planning book isn’t exactly tailor-made for artists). Meanwhile, I am guilty of the same avoidance/distraction as most people are when it comes to this kind of thing, “I don’t have time to plan where I’m going! I just have to get there as soon as possible!” Like a rat in a maze.

…Okay, so the State of the Danderfer address had some ups and downs this year and I just likened myself to a lost rat, such is the roller-coaster ride of my life,… a slow roller-coaster ride that is, not so much frightening or exciting as it is just mildly interesting to witness.

OK, ride’s over. Disembark! Thanks for reading and have a terrific week everybody! jd

*top photo by Cory Weeds

  • Chops

    Nice to see the SOTD is strong. That’s how a hammer should be.
    “Disembark!” Bobby Slaton?

  • http://jamesdanderfer.com james

    Livin’ on the edge baby! … YEAH!!