jazz · teaching

Finally an update!

Me, conducting a week ago.

I spent most of the summer working with a Microsoft tool for web sites called SharePoint, and I did almost no composing or arranging. (I was working for a computer consulting company, something new for me – not working in “the private sector,” but working in a place where there wasn’t music around me all day. The place was quiet. I mean, quiet.)

I did write a marching band arrangement for a friend of mine in September,though. And last Thursday, 11/18, my second (of three) high school jazz bands played the arrangement of “Black Orpheus” I mentioned in my previous post. They did a really nice job, especially the soloists, who were navigating some pretty complex changes for their level of experience. I have that chart available if you are interested in playing it. It includes chord changes sheets for all instruments, and a rhythm section mp3 that your kids can use to practice soloing. (The recent versions of Band-In-A-Box are incredible!)

As with my other charts, this one would set you back only a measly twenty smackers. Money’s tight for school districts and booster clubs, and I’ve cut out all the middlemen – there’s just you and me. I’ve got some software and hardware I have to pay off since my iMac died this summer. I’m using my son’s three-year-old Mac Pro and it’s wonderful…in fact, it’s a pretty decent Windows machine, too. I’m running Windows 7 under Boot Camp and it runs fast and pretty trouble-free. More so than my school Toshiba tablet, which is brand new!

Since the Macs went Intel I don’t know why anyone would buy anthing else. I know there are cheaper computers out there. But you really do get what you pay for. I’ve used some of those cheaper computers. Trust me, you’ll be frustrated and inside of a year you’ll say you wasted your money. There are still a few PC manufacturers of reasonable quality, but none of them get the same kind of rankings as Apple does in customer satisfaction. You really do get two computers for the price of one. Yes, there are software costs in running a Windows side as well as a Mac OS side. I bought an OEM official Microsoft copy of Windows 7 Professional on Amazon for a hundred bucks. It comes without all the pretty packaging, but what you need is the DVD and the registration number, not slick boxes you are going to throw away. Get a copy of Windows 7: The Missing Manual, by David Pogue, while you are at it, and you’re in business.

I bought the rest of my Windows software through Academic Superstore, since I qualify as a teacher. If you are a teacher or student you are eligible for big discounts on computer software and hardware. I got Office 2010, the version with all the stuff, like Access and SharePoint Designer, for a hundred dollars as a downloaded disk image. (I then made a backup disk for when – not if – my hard drive crashes.) Really, you can’t beat their prices. Then, of course, I got a copy of Office 2010: The Missing Manual, as well.

I use Time Machine to backup my Mac. It uses an external drive. Thank goodness I had it when my Mac died. It died of blown capacitors, which apparently is a “known problem” with those G5 iMacs, but the hard disk wouldn’t boot in an external case after I pulled it. I was able to use the Time Machine backup to save everything. I think it’s one of Apple’s best little ideas!

Last weekend I conducted the fourth of four jazz bands we have at our district jazz festival. Our district is all the west and south suburbs of Chicago, plus the few Chicago schools that participate – it’s a lot of schools. The fourth band was still pretty darn good, and the kids prepared for the festival day really well, so we were able to play three tunes at 3:00 PM in a pretty solid fashion. One of them was “You’re Not All That,” one of mine. They did a great job. I don’t have a good recording, but my wife got part of it on her iPhone video. I’m going to try to pull some audio off and put it on the web site. Check in a week or so.

Next post – more about music!

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