Page turns

Ahh, page turns. The bane of the existence of pretty much every musician. In a couple of Facebook groups, I asked what would be the one resource not currently available that they would want, and many replied about something related to pages. There are so many issues with page turns, whether you play organ, piano, handbells, sing, or pretty much any other instrument where your hands are in use.

There is a way to fix this problem….somewhat. There are Bluetooth foot pedals that are made specifically to solve this challenge. I have an AirTurn pedal. It works great for playing the keyboard and piano. Organ….not so well. I’m hoping to use it for directing this fall. The pros are that you can turn the pages seamlessly, you don’t have to worry about air conditioning or anything that would bump your pages. You can store 10 gigantic stacks of music on an IPad or tablet, which makes portability a snap. The screen is backlit, so the music is easier to see. However, there are some huge drawbacks. iPads or a majority of the tablets out there have a smaller screen size than the pages used for music. You can only look at one page at a time, so you’re turning pages more. You either have to purchase your music in digital form or scan everything, which does take time. Apps like ForScore, PiaScore and OnSong allow you to make notes on your music, so that is a huge help.

So what is the answer? Whatever you feel most comfortable with. If you have developed a page turning system without having to use technology, use it! If you’re using technology, then keep doing that. But, if you’re looking for ideas, this is something to consider.

Comment with what you do for turning pages!

Two years

Two years ago, I received an e-mail from author and speaker Jon Acuff. He asked for adventurers to go on a super secret mission. This led to the creation of the Facebook group The Start Experiment, later renamed Dreamers and Builders. This group has radically changed my life. In fact, if it wasn’t for this group, you wouldn’t see this website or my thoughts on it. The group has provided encouragement to myself as well as many others.

At the point in time that I received this e-mail, I was at a low point. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I didn’t really know what my dreams were. I had quit dreaming. I was in survival mode. Initially, it took me a while just to come up with goals to achieve. I was discouraged, and the group provided me that encouragement that I so desperately needed.

As musicians, encouragement and support are essential. And in many instances, I have seen the encouragement and support systems lacking. So how does that change? In my experience as a church musician, I’ve found myself so busy in working on my own things and dealing with my own challenges, I don’t have time (at least in my own head) to sit down with others and receive input, advice, support and encouragement. Thankfully, God has surrounded me with other musicians who have give me the encouragement, support, advice and guidance. Sometimes I came to them out of desperation, sometimes it came out of a desire to improve.

I’ve always believed that making music is more than just techniques. It has so much to do with mental strength as well as confidence. When you receive encouragement and support as well as those “attaboy” or “attagirl” pushes that we need, we have the opportunity to do things that we never imagined we could do. I am proof of that. Writing devotions, composing music, blogging, these are all things that I never expected were possible two years ago.

So, let me say this to you. And listen closely. I believe in you. You can do it. It’s not going to be easy, and yes, it will take work. But you are capable. If you want more encouragement, e-mail me at harmannymusic@yahoo.com and I’ll give you more.

Stepping back…….sort of

Dear reader of my blog,

The first thing I have to say and can’t say enough is thank you. Thank you for taking time to read what is on my mind relating to music, life and whatever else going on. I don’t know how you came to the site, but I’m thankful you did. The site isn’t going anywhere, but I’ll explain.

I’m a full-time church music minister at a church that I love so dearly. Over the past year, I have been pushed in so many ways. And it’s been exhausting, busy, awesome and amazing. But one of the things I realized was this. I started Harmanny Music to financially provide for my family as well as give myself an outlet when I didn’t really feel challenged, pushed or motivated by my surroundings at the time. Now, things have changed. Big time. My schedule is busier than I could have ever imagined. Add a 6 and a 3 and a half year old on top of that and my extra time to do much of anything is pretty much gone.

So I’m stepping back. I’m going to try to blog weekly instead of daily. I found myself blogging not because I had something to say, I wanted to get eyeballs on what I said. Which was the wrong reason. The same way with composing. I wasn’t trying to write music because it was something inside of me that needed to escape, it was something that I needed to do for an income. As you can guess, that didn’t succeed one iota. In taking a step back, praying and refocusing, I have found myself excited about composing, about writing e-books. Not for notoriety, eyeballs or anything else, but because I believe that God has called me to do these things. The blog will also be used to share about what is coming up and what I’m working on as I do.

Please continue to come back to the site. Please continue to share it with others. Please like Harmanny Music on Facebook. Thanks!

 

Craig Harmann

Harmanny Music

Please Don’t Be That Person

I’ve been that person. It is within the realm of possibility that you’ve been that person. We all know that person. And in the most loving way possible, I encourage you with all that I have to not be that person. Who is that person? The person who says, “The only way to make proper music is to use ______________ (insert instrument here).” Or, “The best style of music is _____________ (insert musical style here).” Or anything else along those lines.

I am an organist. Organists typically have a reputation. In a response to a post in a Facebook group that had that reputation of a specific type of organist (the one that thinks that ONLY the pipe organ is the way to play the organ), I wrote ” I actually enjoy the digital instrument I get to play. It’s got just as much capability as a pipe organ, but takes up less space and requires a lot less maintenance. It’s digitally sampled recordings of actual pipe organs, and most can’t tell a difference. After playing a sorry excuse for a pipe organ for 6 and a half years, I’ll take a digital organ over that any day. Just because it is a pipe organ doesn’t make it magical and fantastic, and just because it is a digital organ doesn’t make it trash.” And I received the response from the reputational organist “”Most can’t tell the difference” – RUBBISH!” I responded with ” If you can tell the difference between digitally sampled sounds and a pipe organ, good for you. And in the end, does it really make that much of a difference? I think not.” 

Let me pause here for a second. I have been part of plenty of these arguments/discussions/disagreements, and I’ve blustered and I’ve gone on and on. Experience, maturity and maybe even some wisdom have taught me that it’s not worth it. Why? Because people are opinionated. And that’s fine. The organist that believes that pipe organs are the only way to make music will never have their minds changed, no matter how much you argue, puff up your chest and stomp your feet. So, after my response about whether or not a digitally sampled pipe organ or an actual pipe organ make a difference or not, this was the response: “you’re completely and utterly wrong. Any fool can tell the difference between pipes and digital blindfolded.” I laughed and responded that I’m a fool. He had one more response ” If you can’t tell the difference between electronics firing electromagnets into still air and a living, breathing thing circulating thousands of cubic feet of air every minute, producing vastly superior quality of sound…” And that’s when I quit. That’s when the thought to write this post went through my head. 

As I said in my introduction, we all know that person. Whether it’s an organ, keyboard, guitar, whatever the case is, there are elitist snobs who think that their instrument, their way of doing things is the only way to do things. Well, good for them. I wholeheartedly disagree. Because making music is about the individual. Does a $3,000 instrument have a better quality of sound than a $1,000 instrument? Maybe. It can, but it depends on the person playing. You can put the highest quality instrument in a beginners’ hands, and it will not sound beautiful. You can put the worst quality instrument in a musician that has the highest level of musicianship and technicality possible and it can sound beautiful.

Having a closed mind, whether it is to an instrument or musical style only hurts you and those you work with. With musical style, being flexible and not locking yourself into one way of playing makes you a more versatile musician and can give you more outlets to make music as well. Looking at things in a way of thinking that it can only be one way or the other makes you difficult to work with, and leaves you limited room for flexibility.

So, how does one start to shift out of that mindset? I think there’s two different ways. The first one is forced. You are put in a situation where you have to adapt or else you are left behind. This can be frustrating because you really don’t have a choice in the matter. The other way is intentionally shifting your mindset. This to me is the better way because you can work at it over time, go at your own speed and start to get more and more comfortable as you go. The end goal in any musical endeavor is being the best musician that you can be. When you become a more flexible musician in attitude as well as aptitude, I believe that you become a better overall musician. Until then, you’ve trapped yourself in a box of your own creation.

One of the musicians I have come across lately is Scott Bradlee. He is the piano player and mastermind behind a group called Postmodern Jukebox, a group that takes current pop songs and records them in a complete different style, be it jazz, blues, swing, bebop, or whatever they choose to do. This group is extremely talented and extremely flexible, that is obvious. But Scott did something creative on his own. He took “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and played it in many different styles. To me, what makes this amazing is how he seamlessly switches between styles. This is my goal as a musician. To be able to be the flexible that I can go from one style, be it classical, baroque or anything else, to jazz, swing, rock, or whatever is needed. Check out the video.

 

Musicians, let’s not be that person that’s focused on only one instrument or way of doing things. Instead, let’s encourage each other to be the best that we can be and individually make the best music that we can so that the world can be bettered by what we do!