July 2020 Newsletter

Dear friends,

I hope you are all having a fabulous start to July!

It continues to be an uncertain time for many, including those of us in the music industry. I’m working hard to find ways to stay creative, explore my interests, and have fun.

I’m releasing my single Rag in Fourths TODAY! It is available on my Bandcamp store and 100% of the proceeds will be going to the Sphinx Organization.

The sheet music for Rag in Fourths is also available for purchase.

Rag in Fourths is part of my Ragtime Project – an exploration of the artists, culture, and trends of American music in the 1890s-1910s. The project is multi-dimensional including an EP, an ebook, blog posts, and sheet music.

More great news: My debut EP The New Groove is available for streaming on most major platforms! Please give it a listen and share it with your friends.

The EP is still available for purchase on Bandcamp.

While there is a lot of uncertainty in the world, I have found a silver lining during this time. It has been a luxury to be able to put so much time into my art, whether that has been through practicing, composing, recording, reading, listening, or blogging.

Thank you for joining me on this journey! I am so fortunate to have such a supportive community around my music and me.

Take care,
Sam


Featured Sounds

Virtual performance with EIKO + ERIKO

Sheet Music For Sale

Original compositions and arrangements for a variety of ensembles available on Noteflight Marketplace and Sheet Music Plus!


Latest From the Blog
Sneak peeks for future posts available on Patreon 

  • That Epidemic Rag – A coronavirus theme song from the Ragtime Era … [Read More
     
  • The New Groove: Now Available for Streaming – Celebrate my birthday by streaming The New Groove! Out on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube Music, and more … [Read More]
     
  • The Ragtime Revival of the 1970s – Learn about the figures who defined the Ragtime Revival of the 1970s – Eubie Blake, Joshua Rifkin, Gunther Schuller, and more …. [Read More]

June 2020 Newsletter

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Dear friends,

My heart is so heavy for this country. I am horrified by the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, and the continued oppression and brutality our black brothers and sisters continue to face. We need to do better.

It is not lost on me that I owe a great debt to black artists for their contributions to American music. I must credit my late mentor Bobby Jackson for teaching me that “jazz” (this is not a unanimously accepted word to describe the music) was not created in a vacuum. It is of its time, reflecting the conditions under which it was created. Because of Bobby’s teachings, I began prioritized learning the history (they don’t teach you in school) surrounding the creation and development of “jazz” and reading the memoirs of its innovators. I still have much to learn.

I encourage you to find a way to take action. I have started each morning finding a new petition to sign and a new elected official’s email or phone number to voice my concerns. Here are some causes I have supported and the resources I have been using to learn more about the history of racism in the United States.

After some soul searching, I decided to follow through with releasing my EP, The New Groove, on Bandcamp tomorrow as planned. It is an uncomfortable time to be promoting and releasing new music. I do not want my music to detract from the important work that needs to be done to make this country live up to its ideals for all who live here. I already announced the wrong release date once and I feel strange about postponing the release again. Also, I want to be able to move forward from this project and start working on new music for you all. I hope The New Groove brings you comfort during this uncertain time.

I am thinking of you all during these trying times. Let’s build a better future with compassion and music.

With hope,
Sam


Featured Sounds

The Henry Godfrey Jazz Orchestra performs Snarky Puppy’s “Bad Kids To The Back” (arr. Henry Godfrey)

Sheet Music For Sale

Original compositions and arrangements for a variety of ensembles available on Noteflight Marketplace and Sheet Music Plus!


Latest From the Blog


Sneak peeks for future posts available on Patreon 

  • Cab Calloway and Minnie the Moocher – A couple of nights ago, I was on YouTube and the following video showed up as a recommendation. I am not sure why I decided to click, but I am so glad I did. … [Read More] 
     
  • Encountering Gunther: Reminiscing in Tempo – It was surprising to read about this groundbreaking piece that, after many years of being a devout Ellington fan and earning a degree in jazz composition, I never encountered before … [Read More]
     
  • Miss My Blog? – I miss it, too! Just when I felt like I was getting in a groove, the world got turned on its head …. [Read More]

Miss my blog?

I miss it, too! Just when I felt like I was getting in a groove, the world got turned on its head…

Being an artist, graduate student, and “gig worker,” the coronavirus has been devastating financially, educationally, creatively, and more. I talked about these hardships in more detail in my April Newsletter.

While it’s been hard, I’ve been rebuilding. I’m getting in a healthy routine and working on some exciting projects I will be sharing very soon! I also have some new blog content in the works that I think you’re going to like.

In the meantime, here are some ways you can help me keep writing and playing music.

Join me on Patreon. For a subscription as low as $1/month, you can access exclusive content, early access to my projects, free sheet music, and more!
Find Sam Spear Music on Patreon.

Like me on Facebook. And be sure to like and comment on my posts!
Find Sam Spear Music on Facebook.

Follow me on Instagram. I tend to get a bit more personal on Instagram, so you can follow me for great music and adorable photos of goslings by a pond.
Follow @sam_spear_music on Instagram.

Subscribe to my YouTube channel. I recently bought new recording gear, so I’m putting up new and better videos much more often. Subscribe and give my videos a “thumbs up,” or even a nice comment if you feel inclined!
Subscribe to Sam Spear Music on YouTube.

Follow me on Twitter. To be 100% honest, Twitter is the social media platform I least understand. So give me a follow and watch my epic blunders – and be among the first to hear about what I’m up to!
Follow @sam_spear_music on Twitter.

Subscribe to my monthly newsletter. I promise, I actually only send one email each month! No spam, only news about the music I’m creating and the blog posts I’m writing.
Subscribe to Sam Spear Music’s E-Newsletter.

Buy sheet music. If you’re a musician looking for some new pieces to learn, I have loads of sheet music for sale on SheetMusicPlus and Noteflight Marketplace. You can also commission me to write a new composition or arrangement just for you!
Browse sheet music selection.

Thank you so much for your continued support. I will have some fun, thought-provoking, highly nerdy blog posts for you soon!

May 2020 Newsletter

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Spring greetings!

I hope you are all doing well and getting some sunshine like we are here in Boston. I have enjoyed hiking during this time of social distancing. The header image for the newsletter is from my hike yesterday. It was gorgeous!

I am happy to report that I am feeling completely recovered from my mysterious illness. It has been amazing to have back my energy so I can practice, compose, hike, and finish the spring semester strong.

Today was my last day of classes for the school year. In some ways, it feels like school ended a long time ago. I am sad for all my graduating friends who are not getting the celebrations they deserve. I am sad for all of us who are uncertain they will be able to return to school in the fall. I am sad for all the administrators facing impossible decisions. I am sad for all the faculty and staff whose livelihoods are at stake. I have been reading a lot of articles about how the pandemic has and will continue to impact higher education in the US. Here’s an interesting one I read this morning from the New York Times.

I am excited to share that I set up a little “home studio” and have been making some short, fun videos to get comfortable with the setup. Now that I’m done with the spring, I am looking forward to making more videos and collaborating more with my friends. Stay tuned for more!

Today I released a transcription of John Coltrane’s solo on “Big Nick.” And here’s a video of me playing the first two choruses. I also shared my analysis of the solo with my followers on Patreon. For as little as $1/month you can gain access to exclusive content, early releases, free sheet music, and more!

I hope you all find ways to stay healthy and positive during this unusual time. As always, thank you for your support and encouragement.

With gratitude,
Sam


Featured Sounds

My parody of the Disney song “A Whole New World.” This arrangement is available on SheetMusicPlus: https://bit.ly/3aXuSK0.

Sheet Music For Sale

Original compositions and arrangements for a variety of ensembles available on Noteflight Marketplace and Sheet Music Plus!


Latest From the Blog


More coming soon, sneak peek for the next post available on Patreon 

  • April 2020 Newsletter – Last month’s news. [Read More
    (All of my newsletters are archived here.)
     
  • Encountering Gunther: Celebrating MBS – It was an honor to perform a concert with the New England Conservatory Jazz Orchestra celebrating the life and legacy of Gunther Schuller. … [Read More]
     
  • Encountering Gunther: My First Encounter With His Music – As part of New England Conservatory’s Jazz50 Celebration, the NEC Philharmonia and NEC Jazz Orchestra combined forces to produce the third performance of Gunther’s tour-de-force Encounters (2003)…. [Read More]

April 2020 Newsletter

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Hi friends,

I hope this email finds you well during these uncertain times. 

This time has given me an opportunity to reflect on my life – how things are going and how I would like them to go. I loved my life before the pandemic. New England Conservatory became my happy place; I felt whole when I was surrounded by my peers and professors in our hallowed, historic school. I enjoyed working my four jobs – library aid, Jazz Orchestra librarian, Symphony Hall Usher, and teaching fellow with the Boston Public Schools. It was a lot happening at once and sometimes felt like too much for one person to handle. But I managed, until I couldn’t anymore.

Almost two months ago, I first came down with a cold. It improved, but then I had a fever. Once that improved, I had another fever. That improved and now I am beginning to feel my health decline once again. Being sick is never fun, but this is an especially difficult time. What was a minor cold became a massive infection because I was given insufficient medical advice over the phone and was discouraged from scheduling an in-person appointment until the symptoms became more severe. I cannot even begin to imagine how many people worldwide are facing similar challenges accessing the care they need during this time.

I am using this moment to think about how I want to move toward a healthier, more sustainable life with my music leading the way. How can I use my music to bring healing to myself and togetherness to my community when we are all forced to stay apart?

I have lots of ideas for new videos, online collaborations, expanding my Encountering Gunther blog series, and more. Keep an eye out on Facebook and Instagram for these things!

I am also excited to share that I have launched my Patreon page! For a monthly subscription, I will share exclusive behind-the-scenes videos, music tips, early releases, discounted sheet music, and more. Let me know what kinds of rewards would interest you.

Thank you for your continued support during this uncertain time for us all. I hope we can connect again soon in the physical world, but for now, I look forward to hearing from you on the interweb. 

Hugs from 6 feet away,
Sam


Upcoming Performances

Stay tuned for some online collaborations!


Featured Sounds

Performing MBS with the New England Conservatory Jazz Orchestra and special guest George Schuller. Read more about this performance here.

New Scores For Sale

Original compositions and arrangements for a variety of ensembles available on Noteflight Marketplace  and Sheet Music Plus!


Latest From the Blog

Encountering Gunther: Celebrating MBS – It was an honor to perform a concert with the New England Conservatory Jazz Orchestra celebrating the life and legacy of Gunther Schuller. … [Read More]

Encountering Gunther: My First Encounter With His Music – As part of New England Conservatory’s Jazz50 Celebration, the NEC Philharmonia and NEC Jazz Orchestra combined forces to produce the third performance of Gunther’s tour-de-force Encounters (2003)…. [Read More]

February 2020 Newsletter – What I was up to a couple months ago …  [Read More]


February 2020 Newsletter

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Greetings, friends!

I can’t believe we are nearing mid-February in this new decade. Time seems to be slipping by so quickly, but I work hard each day to feel like the time was well spent. January was a whirlwind of school, work, research, and setting the building blocks for a great year.

A few weeks ago, I finished reading Gunther Schuller’s autobiography entitled A Life in Pursuit of Music and Beauty. I thought it was important for me to have a good understanding of the person who established the jazz program I am in at New England Conservatory. While the book does not cover Gunther’s time as president of the Conservatory, I still learned a lot about him and about American music from the 1920s-1950s. I became fascinated with Gunther’s stories and he brought a lot of curiosity out of me so I began doing some research and started a new blog series about it.

I started my second semester in New England Conservatory’s Jazz Studies program. It has been great to continue learning with my classmates and from my professors. I am excited to be having a piece performed by the Jazz Composition Workshop Orchestra at the end of the semester. It has been an important experience to rehearse my piece with the band and learn about being a leader. I am also looking forward to several performances with the NEC Jazz Orchestra. For one of our performances, I will be playing five instruments – Alto Sax, Flute, Clarinet, Alto Flute, and – this one is completely new to me – E-Flat Clarinet!

I have continued my teaching fellowship with the Boston Public Schools, always a highlight of my week. I enjoy sharing my passion for music with the students and helping them see the potential they have. I am proud of their progress and perseverance.

One more update – I am excited to be making more of my large ensemble music available for purchase on my new Sheet Music Plus store! These will be in downloadable PDF format. I will still be keeping up my store on Noteflight Marketplace, where my small ensemble works are available for purchase as adaptable Noteflight files. Both are great platforms with their own advantages for music creators and buyers. Keep an eye out on social media for when I upload new scores.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend and a fabulous February!

Cheers,
Sam


Upcoming Performances

2/27- Cosmosis: The Music of Dave Holland with Jim McNeely, More Info

3/3 – Ester Wiesnerova’s Senior Recital, More Info

4/16 – Invisible Choir: The Music of Ken Schaphorst, More Info

Look out for announcement of more performances!


Featured Sounds

Manuel Kaufmann Jazz Orchestra, September 2019

New Scores For Sale

Original compositions and arrangements for a variety of ensembles available on Noteflight Marketplace  and Sheet Music Plus!


Latest From the Blog

  • Encountering Gunther: Charlie Parker’s Lament – He played so convincingly that I could not imagine that he would rather be playing another song, another note than the one he was playing right in that moment. Bit it was only an illusion. … [Read More]
     
  • Introducing Encountering Gunther – Gunther’s narrative opened more questions for me than he answered and this has inspired me to conduct some of my own research. … [Read More]
     
  • January 2020 Newsletter – How I ushered in the new year [Read More]

January 2020 Newsletter

Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful celebration surrounded by family, friends, amazing music, and delicious food.

One of my most important New Years Resolutions is to get back into sending out my monthly newsletters and more frequent social media posts. I became very caught up in my first semester of my graduate studies, working as many as six jobs at one time, and countless other commitments. But I am ready to regain focus and clarity!

I am making big plans for this year – new music, more gigs, and more sharing my jazz research and musings on my blog.

So many exciting things happened in the final stretch of 2019. I finished my first semester at New England Conservatory with honors. I was involved in many wonderful performances with the NEC Jazz Orchestra with guest artists including Alan Pasqua, Antonio Sanchez, Carl Atkins, Luciana Souza, George Schuller, and Ran Blake. I met a lot of incredible people, had countless special musical experiences, and settled into my jobs. I have also enjoyed teaching one day a week at a Boston Public School through NEC’s Community Performances and Partnerships department.

I am also excited to share that Jazzhers is being officially incorporating as a non-profit with the mission of creating community for middle and high school girls who play jazz in the Boston area. We had a very special masterclass with Grammy nominated saxophonist Tia Fuller and look forward to offering more great programs this spring.

I’m sorry it has been a while since you last heard from me. I will resolve to do better in 2020!

Have a lovely rest of the weekend,
Sam

Upcoming Performances

2/27- Cosmosis: The Music of Dave Holland with Jim McNeely, More Info

4/16 – Invisible Choir: The Music of Ken Schaphorst, More Info

Look out for announcement of more performances!

Featured Sounds

New Scores For Sale

Original compositions and arrangements for a variety of ensembles available on Noteflight Marketplace!

Latest From the Blog

More posts coming soon!
See earlier posts.

October 2019 Newsletter

I’ve just completed my first month of studying at New England Conservatory! It has been an amazing experience so far. I am taking classes on saxophone, composition, improvisation, and orchestration and loving every second. I have also been fortunate to work in NEC’s beautiful Blumenthal Library and as a teaching assistant in the Music Theory Department. I am looking forward to more wonderful times at NEC!

I am really excited to share that I am joining the board of Jazzhers, an organization with the mission of empowering female and non-binary high school jazz students. I have worked with Jazzhers in the past, and now we are going to be incorporated as a non-profit! Learn more about Jazzhers on our websiteFacebook, and Instagram.

I have been working on consistently posting on my blog. It has been fun sharing my musings and hearing all your thoughts about my writing.

I also have some new charts available on my Noteflight Marketplace store. I am usually uploading at least a couple new scores every month so check in every once in a while.

I’m so thankful for all the wonderful things going on in my life right now. Thank you for sharing this journey with me.

Happy autumn!
Sam
Upcoming Performances
10/17 – NEC Jazz Orchestra with Alan Pasqua and Antonio Sanchez, 7:30 pm, Jordan Hall (More Info)

10/18 – Cecil Taylor Tribute Concert, 7:30 pm, Jordan Hall (More Info)

10/30 – NEC Philharmonia & Jazz Orchestra + Hugh Wolff: Beethoven & Schuller, 8 pm,  Jordan Hall (More Info)
Featured Sounds
New Scores For Sale
Original compositions and arrangements for a variety of ensembles available on Noteflight Marketplace!
Latest From the Blog

 Four – Is There More To It? –  the ending of “If You Could See Me Now” reminded them of the ending of Miles Davis’s tune “Four.” … [Read More

Jitterbug Waltz – “Jitterbug Waltz” was written in 1942 by pianist/composer/entertainer Thomas “Fats” Waller … [Read More]

 Meet the Gellers – The Gellers were vital contributors to the West Coast jazz scene of the 1950s and played with the likes of … [Read More]

September 2019 Newsletter

I can’t believe it’s already September. The summer has once again flown by, but I am so excited for the adventures up ahead. Today is my first day as a student at New England Conservatory! I am so honored to be a part of this talented and friendly community. It is also my first day in my role as a music theory teaching assistant. So many new beginnings!

I have some more exciting news to share. My composition Survivor’s Suite was awarded the Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble Prize by the International Alliance for Women in Music!

Check out the press release here.
premiere of Survivor’s Suite
My composition “Thaynks Again” was a finalist in the Seattle Women’s Jazz Orchestra composition contest and will be performed next month in the Earshot Jazz concert. A huge congratulations to my former classmates Seulah Noh and Juen Seok who were the winner and honorable mention of the contest!
Thaynks Again performed by the Berklee Concert Jazz Orchestra
I have been working on revamping my blog. I am writing more content including announcements, obscure jazz history, music tips, and more. Check it out and let me know what you think!

Lastly, I have been spending a lot of time expanding my Women in Jazz Directory. The list of musicians includes well over 100 artists now. I also added a section for industry members who are not (at least primarily known as) performers or composers.

There are so many exciting things in the work and I can’t wait to share more soon. Happy September!
Upcoming Performances
In the works! Stay tuned on social media for announcements!
New Scores For Sale
Original compositions and arrangements for a variety of ensembles available on Noteflight Marketplace!

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