Since moving back to Phoenix, one phrase (besides “it’s better now”) has begun to permeate my consciousness—and weigh on my mind—more than it ever did while I was in California. I absolutely spoiled any chance at a surprise with my title, so yes, that phrase is “paying your dues.” Despite all the time I’ve spent wandering through various genres and fields of music, it’s never quite rung true to me. This is, I think, partly because of how intentionally nonspecific it is and partly because of the conditions under which I make music and move through the world at large. The depths of this issue are murky, and from here it’s difficult to see the bottom, but if I had to take a stab at a thesis, it’d be this: the gatekeeping, favoritism, and institutional bias that create the foundation of “paying your dues” stifle creativity, discourage participation, alienate newcomers, and serve the white patriarchy.
Wow, that’s a lot to unpack. So let’s take it a bite at a time, shall we?
Before we get into it, I’m not sure why this didn’t come up a lot while I was in Los Angeles, but the answer is probably partly regional and partly cultural. A wise jazz musician once pointed out to me that the prevalence and outward manifestation of misogyny varies drastically by location. Generally, New York and LA are noticeably different (though not necessarily less misogynist) than most of the rest of the country. And while this “paying your dues” thing can undoubtedly play into that, I think another part of the equation is that mindless playing-for-the-paycheck work isn’t as looked down on in LA as it sometimes is in some pockets of Phoenix—in part because gigs are a step up from the carousel of day jobs, plural, needed to pay Los Angeles rent.
The other part of this, I suppose, is that I wasn’t told to pay my dues in LA; I was told to put in the work. While both phrases carry similar weight, there’s a lot more flexibility to the latter. My friends and teachers saw me making angry assault music and counted that as “doing the work.” They saw me advocating for student life improvements and institutional change and counted that as “doing the work.” They see me blogging about the need for better treatment across the board and count that as “doing the work.” But regardless of the details, I didn’t hear or talk about or think about “paying my dues” much in California, and I do in Arizona, so it’s time to break down some concepts.
Continue reading Paying Your Dues (and other bullshit)
This page needed some polishing! It hopes to return very soon.
(the following is a transcription of a Twitter thread I posted this morning. Further comments are in brackets [ ]. It is worth noting that for a show about Joan of Arc, “burn it all down” is an awful tagline.)
Yiiiiiikes. Someone tell Phantom Regiment that a show celebrating women should really feature music BY women. Yes, I understand the name recognition wouldn’t be on the same level. But if you only use men’s music, guess what: you care about men’s reactions more than women’s. [I say this in that their repertoire choices make it look like they’re more interested in crowd-pleasing than in telling an anywhere-near-accurate story; they care more about saying they did a show about a woman than they do actually getting it right.]
Continue reading Hey, Phantom Regiment: BAD MOVE
Phantom Brass is pleased to announce the winners of our Winter 2018 Call for Scores. We had so many great submissions this year and we’re grateful to everyone who participated. We look forward to premiering these works as part of our 2018-19 season.
- Marina Romani: Prologo (solo tuba)
- Greg Simon: The Way Through the Woods (trumpet and tape)
- Jacob Elkin: Tiny Dance
- Björn Griesheimer: Taratatam
- Justin Merritt: Album Leaves
- Emiliano Manna: Gesti
- Sy Brandon: Capriccio for Brass Quartet
We’re also excited to formally announce the arrival of a new member, composer-trumpeter Sara Sithi-Amnuai. Sara is a fantastic player and we’re delighted to have her onboard beginning in the 2018-19 season. As a group, we can’t wait to see what new challenges we can take on with the added flexibility of a fifth member! ♦
Interested in keeping up with Phantom? Join the mailing list to hear about calls for scores and upcoming events.
Phantom Brass is pleased to announce the results of our inaugural call for scores. This fall, we received works from seventy-four composers representing eighteen states and fourteen countries. We would like to congratulate Bracha Bdil, Michael Boyd, Jim Fox, Jinhee Han, Philip Henderson, Hayley Marie King, Chris Lamb, Pierre Emmanuel Mariaca, Charles Meenaghan, and Jonathan Newmark on the skill and creativity of their composing. Phantom Brass will collaborate with these composers to bring their music to life throughout 2018.
Our next call for scores will open January 15; stay tuned! ♦
Sometimes a project sucks you in so fast you don’t even realize it’s happened.
My roommate’s capstone is one of these projects. Written by Tess Galbiati and serving as both her final creative project and her honors thesis, the production follows Stacia, an art major with big plans for the future, as she struggles with her own wellness during a rough relationship and a fatal illness within her family. Relationships of all kinds are tested. It’s a fascinating dissection of the nuanced conversations and friendships that today’s young adults make.
Continue reading You Can’t Cry While Drinking (Coffee)
Hi everyone! I hope your holiday season was restful and filled with friends and family and all that jazz. Mine involved lots of traveling, but now that we’re back to a (mostly) normal school schedule, I’ve returned to my normal music-making groove. February is a busy month for me – despite it being the shortest of the year, I and my peers have a lot going on! Here’s a sampling:
Continue reading Don’t Tell: February Premieres and Shenanigans
What a crazy four months it’s been! This semester, I’ve been lucky to score premieres, performances, and commissions. Here’s the roundup:
Continue reading Fall 2016 In Review: Premieres and Performances
With a new school year comes new premieres! I’m proud to announce my piece, Bells (for soprano and piano), will be performed for the first time at the Knights of Pythias Lodge in Tempe on October 21st at 7:30pm.
Continue reading Bells Premiering at Knights of Pythias Lodge
I’m excited to announce that my newest string quartet, Horizon Line, will be premiered at the Phoenix Art Museum on Saturday, April 23rd at 1:00 pm. The concert is part of an annual collaboration between the ASU Composition Studio, the Phoenix Art Museum, and ASU’s String Project.
Continue reading Horizon Line Premiering at the Phoenix Art Museum