Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Trials of Designing a New Website

I started dreaming up designs for my own website in high school, creating sketches and making notes of interactive features.  I wanted my website to be a piece of art with a depth to explore.  Since then I have not only dialed back my ambition but I have also realized the errors of that fantasy.  I need to think in simpler terms not only for my sake as an inexperienced web-designer but also for the sake of the audience who will be looking for quick information and a simple.  Still, I want my website to give more than raw information.  I want it to inspire and spark the viewer's curiosity.  I want it not only to represent what I have done but the visions I strive towards as an artist.  Can I accomplish this?  I honestly have no idea.  Maybe I am still reaching too high but I'm not yet ready to back down from the challenge.

Originally I focused too much on design.  Lately I have been focusing too much on content.  I need to focus on saying more with less, and creating content that fits hand-in-hand with the design.  I am not so much worried about that part.  What is stumping me is the kind of vibe to give my website.  What do I choose for a color scheme?  What am I trying to communicate through the background images?  Do I want to use photographs or design backgrounds in Gimp?  Different pages could have unique feel: like the film scoring page versus the solo piano page (epic vs. nature/relaxing/calm).  Then again, I don't want to tug the viewer in too many directions.  They need to get a sense of who I am and I feel like a more unified webdesign would help with that.

How do I display my photography?  It is going to be painfully time consuming to explore the functionality of my theme and discover the best way to organize my photographs.  I have a darn good vision in my head...I want to have thumbnails for each album that expands cleanly into a grid of the album content when clicked.  Alas, figuring out how to make that happen is going to be rough.  It is also going to take quite a bit of time to sort through all of my photos and divide them up into categories.  I could sort them by: Nature, Portraits, Travel, etc.  I got way to hung up on fancy sliders for a couple weeks...I think they are too obnoxious and I am abandoning that route.  I might add a couple...just for fun.

In other, unrelated news...
My cousins at Yoloha, a company that produces sustainable cork yoga mats,  are sending me a sample so I can do sales for them in Boston.  I have done yoga every day (except Saturday) for an entire week, taking full advantage of a $25, two week unlimited pass.  Now I need a class to counteract my sore muscles from all of the yoga I have been doing.

I am interviewing at a bakery tomorrow for a job!  It would be part time (2 or 3 shifts a week) but it seems like a nice place to work and I already know most of the employees.  The people who work there are all friends and I have been playing pick-up soccer with them for a couple weeks. (Yeah, I have been playing soccer...for the first time since I was five.)

Quick Summary of the Rest:
- I just started composition lessons with a professor at NEC.
- I am writing tons of waltzes for the Waltzdays event with Kathleen.
- I will be starting lessons with another composer and pianist, Megan Henderson, who is a Village Harmony teacher
- I have my first violin student... Wait, I play the violin?  Yup, two years of lessons...about 5 years ago.  Totally qualified.
- I will soon be buying plane tickets to Corsica!!!

Yay to life!
Clayton

Sunday, January 24, 2016

A New Chapter in Boston

It is 1:30 in the morning and I desperately desire to dive into slumber...but I have had such an exciting past couple days that I need to put it into writing.  Oh, and I had a giant cup of coffee...well, that was about 8 hours ago.  I don't know how long caffeine effects last but that might be part of why I have so much excited energy.

I played three hours of waltzes today!  Well, more like two-and-a-half, because for the last half-hour they put on recorded music so Kathleen and I could join the dancers on the floor.  It was so much fun exploring different waltz feels and moods.  We did not have time to rehears beforehand so I was sight-reading all of the chords but next time we can be more prepared and I'll be able to dig deeper into the music.

Ah, so, connections!  I have met so many cool people the past few days/weeks.  Tonight I met a filmmaker and got contact information for potential film scoring gigs.  Our sound guy this evening works at Berklee gathering musicians for film score recording sessions--I talked to him about finding musicians to record for my World Music class.  I also met Miranda who organized the waltz event and has an awesome organization called Miranda's Hearth.  She organizes community-based art and dance events and her long-term project is to create a hotel filled with awesome people, music, art, food, fun, etc.  Kathleen and I talked with her and the other organizer, Matt, about being the "house band" for their Waltzdays event every month!  There is also potential for future collaboration.  The community Miranda is creating is so much like what I have been thinking about lately.  I want to use music and art as a way to bring community together.  I can't wait to learn more about the projects that Miranda's Hearth is organizing.

Last night I danced at the JP contra and someone I was chatting with at the end, Rip Jackson, turned out to be a Village Harmony leader.  He is also a composer, organist, and leads a church choir.  I am very excited to connect with him and send him my music.

The past couple days I was contacting musicians to record my Celtic set and I messaged about six guitar players with no success.  Max Newman who plays with Nor'Easter was one of the people I contacted and I was honestly a little daunted by reaching out to such an accomplished musician.  But he called me back after I left a message, and not only that, but he sent me a text after our conversation, saying that he wanted to know more about my work and my projects, that he would love to work with me in the future and that we should play an MIT dance together sometime.  It was a huge confidence booster.  The past few weeks have been a huge confidence booster because I am finding so many friends and opportunities in Boston this year.

Let's see, in other news, I will be playing soccer tomorrow night...I haven't really played since I was five so it will be interesting.  Also, I might start working at a bakery but that is a tentative plan so far. I loath to give up my freedom but part of me really wants the experience of a regular job.  Oh, and money would be nice too...

Well, that is all I have for tonight.

Best,
Clayton


Thursday, October 29, 2015

It has been a while since I have given this blog any attention.  Over a year!  The last post I wrote covered my introduction to Boston last September.  Now I am back in Boston after a summer spent in Maine and traveling around for gigs.  I am well into my fall semester at SMCC and am back to applying for music schools.

Exciting news!  I just toured Longy, a beautiful, tiny music school with a lovely community and really great teachers.  It only has 250 students and its campus is made up of two converted manor houses complete with full sized, home-style bathrooms and spiraling, wooden staircases.  It has no on-campus housing, no cafeteria, no liberal arts courses and I love it!  It is perfect!

Now that I am done gushing, lets keep in mind that I have only visited once.  I hope to sit in on some classes and meet with more faculty members to get a better sense of it.  Also, there is one pretty scary drawback to such a small school and that is scholarship.  As a small school with a faculty to student ration of 2.5/1, they probably don't have a wealth of scholarship funds.  With that in mind I am definitely going to apply to BU.  BU is my best prospect financially because I will be eligible for financial aid, merit scholarship (because of my strong SAT scores and academic background) and music scholarships.  On top of that, they will probably accept most of the 60 credits I will have earned from SMCC and Berklee Online.  I was impressed by their music program and could see myself taking advantage of the resources of a large university while hanging out in a small music community.

Now the fun begins...applying to schools.  I am pretty darn worn out from going through this process the past couple years but at least I have it down.  I know the questions to ask, I know the information to give.  I have a very strong portfolio and I have a burning passion to make this happen once and for all.  MUSIC SCHOOL HERE I COME!!!!

Okay, enough of the annoying caps.  I have essays, resumes, bios, etc. to write and music to compose!

Best,
Clayton

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Life in Boston

The City

 
I am in my third week in Boston and am having a great time.  It took me a few days to adjust to being without my family and community.  I can no longer bike to the coop and see half a dozen or a dozen people that I know.  It was awesome living in a small town full of people that I loved, many of whom had known me since I was a single digit child. (Now I am 20!)  But I have been gradually meeting cool people, finding a good group of friends and becoming more familiar with (and less stressed by) the twists and turns of city life.

I have been spending a lot of time with my girlfriend, Audrey who is attending Berklee this year and I practically feel like a Berklee student already.  I know the class schedule, homework, dorms, students, and hopefully I will get to know the professors.  People assume I am a student at Berklee unless I tell them because why else would I be there?  I am even studying the same material because I bought the Berklee ear training and harmony books. 

I have been devoting a substantial portion of time to studying the Berklee materials, probably more than the average Berklee student.  Hours of harmony and ear training on top of piano practice, jam sessions and being in college (with online liberal arts courses from SMCC) make a job rather unrealistic but I have always been more interested in freelancing anyway.  I really do need to start making money but I think it will benefit me more in the long run to devote my time to building my music career in Boston.

There are so many musical opportunities and cool people to jam with in Boston.  Audrey and I along with our fiddling friend, Kathleen, played for the BIDA contra dance in Cambridge which was a blast (except that Audrey was sick).  After the dance, Mari Black (a national Scottish fiddle champion) contacted me wanting to jam sometime.  I have already started a couple weekly jams (and potlucks) with some fun Berklee and NEC fiddle players but I am excited for more. 

Another set of opportunities I discovered is the abundance of free concerts and events in Boston. New England Conservatory has a ton of master classes, lectures and workshops that are open to the public.  Both NEC and North Eastern are having workshops with film score composers in October which I am super psyched about.

My Home In Boston
I am living in Jamaica Plain with a nice, older woman who is a friend of someone in Belfast.  I am a five minute walk from the Arboretum (where I love to hang out and study) and a three minute walk from a food coop (already a member).  It is a twenty-five minute bike ride along a beautiful tree-lined path to reach Berklee and a forty-five minute cycle to get to Summerville where I have started taking piano lessons with my Fiddle Camp teacher, Neil Pearlman.



College Courses
I am taking Sociology which is interesting but the course is rather dry, Music Appreciation and History which is extremely easy so far, a Freshman Interest Group which is a one credit course required by SMCC, and Documentary Photography which is an awesome course largely because it gives me an excuse to take photographs and edit them.  I took classes this summer so I did not need to take a full course load this fall and I am glad to have the extra time to devote to music while I am in such a hub of music inspiration and opportunity.


Hope this makes up for the months I have neglected this blog.
All the best,
Clayton

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Make Berklee Affordable 101

Hello World,

Figuring out my plans for college has been quite an adventure and the work is far from over.

THE PLAN
Ultimate Goals: Attend Berklee College of Music. Study film scoring and composition. Graduate with minimum debt. Find work as a composer!

Making Berklee affordable 101:

Step 1. Take cheap online courses from SMCC this summer/fall/spring to cover all transferable Liberal Arts courses required at Berklee.

Step 2. Study to test out of core music courses at Berklee (ear training, harmony, counterpoint, music history, etc.)

Step 3. Move to Boston this fall. Make connections at Berklee. Work to cover living expenses. Find kindhearted Berklee professors to give me advice, composition lessons and put a good word or two in the ear of higher authorities for me.

Step 4. Work on my musicianship and be awesome at my audition!

Step 5: Apply for scholarships/grants outside of Berklee.  Find people interested in sponsoring my education.

Quite a bit of work ahead of me to make this happen.

Let's do it!
Clayton

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Update

Hello All,

Wow, I have been neglecting this blog terribly.  Having a Facebook page now isn't helping.
What have I been up to?  A lot of things have been happening in my musical life.

Violinist Audrey Buddington and I have enjoyed growing success with our musical careers.  We have been finding gigs, working on music videos, invited to play for the Ooh La La dance weekend in Quebec, working on an album of our originals, writing tons of music, and having a lot of fun.

I am currently working on intensive music theory, ear training and piano technique.  I am entering a busy composing stage as I am writing music for a Shakespeare production, composing pieces for a short stop-motion film, an infomercial, and am looking into possible payed work through Compass Light in Camden.

Best,
Clayton

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Away With the Wind


Here are two pieces I fixed up for the Berklee Writing and Composition Scholarship application. The First is the piece I composed for my Orchestration Course this summer through Berklee Online.