Spring 2017 Recap: Two Great Years at UWO

It is now officially Summer 2017 and that also means two years passed since I began teaching at UWO! It’s been quite a ride thus far, and we have been greatly enjoying our time back here in Oshkosh.

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We thought it would be a fun idea to re-create a promotional pic from the Wally era.

There were numerous music-related projects going on during the semester. These included mixing an EP by Cody Statz, and a Doctoral thesis audio and video project by Andrew Briggs, featuring twelve short pieces (or “Caprices”) by Alfredo Piatti. A photo of the lesson capturing process is shown below:

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In the classroom, we kept plenty busy, as well. Several special guests visited classes, including our student union Tech Coordinator, Kelsey Johnson-Fischer, and alum Ryan Romenesko, who told the class about his the time he has spent in the Music Industry, and also the great work that he has done with starting “The Refuge” arts organization in Appleton. I always strive to provide students with as many hands-on and real-world opportunities as possible, and this semester was definitely no exception!

uwo-studio-students-smWe also welcomed several fantastic musicians to help us record in our Group Recording Sessions class, including singer-songwriter Wade Fernandez, and good friend David Johnson. Student Jon Miller produced an excellent video that documented the performance (with a few seconds of me in my element at the start):

I also had the opportunity to play several live acoustic concerts, including a group show at Mania Resto on downtown Oshkosh. I always enjoy being able to take my tunes out live, and I plan to do more performing throughout the summer.

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Cassie also kept very busy both teaching and creating art. Much of her studio work over the course of the semester culminated in a solo exhibition in Chicago at a location called Concord 55. It was exciting to see all of the work come together, and she had dozens of new work to display as part of the exhibit.

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We were also sure to make time for fun, which included seeing one of our favorite comedians and podcast personalities, Marc Maron at the Orpheum Theater in Madison with our good friends Joe and Steph Briggs.

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We also made it to a Spring Brewers game with both families for Mother’s Day, and I also got to see a great Bucks game as they made a playoff push. It is great to be in a state with so many great sports teams and stadiums nearby!

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It was almost a bit overwhelming to think of all that took place over this past semester and year. It was a time of growth in the classroom, as a recording engineer, and as a musician. It was also a lot of fun. I am looking forward to some projects and catching up over these summer months, and also spending a lot of time with my partner in crime. We’ll check back in soon…

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A Fall 2016 Recap: Teaching, Recording, and a lot more…

Another whirlwind semester is in the books. In thinking back on it, I know that a lot happened, but it all was so fast and crazy, I had to take a while to remember exactly what all had happened… but I’ll give it my best shot!

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Classes continued with a full slate of courses in the Music Industry program. We had some fantastic guest visitors, including Jeff McDonald from Sweetwater Sound, and Randy Zentner, a teacher and sound engineer for the Green Bay Packers. I also had a great time speaking with Dr. Ken Liske’s Music Education class about recording and live sound basics.

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I try to take the opportunity to provide students with as many real-world demonstrations as possible. One example of this was when Dr. Kirsten Idhe and Dr. Jessica Timman Schwefel did a vocal performance demonstration in the recital hall. It gave our Studio Procedures class the opportunity to set up microphones in various positions and better understand how the acoustics of the hall are captured.

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This year, I also planned and hosted the first annual Music Industry Alumni event at Manila Resto in downtown Oshkosh. I wanted to use it as an opportunity to reconnect with graduates of the program, and for being the first year, we had a great turnout! The band, “Pam the Bear” provided us with some excellent horn-driven rock music. I am sure that the event will continue to grow and build in future years.

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I finished several major recording projects this year, including the album, “The Loop”, by Cody Statz. (Follow the link to check it out, and I’ll discuss it more in a future post). I also completed a live recording of the Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra performing the “Crazy Horse” symphony by John Harmon. I was given a beautiful framed picture when the project was completed and the CDs were printed.

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As always, there was plenty of work going on in the recording studio. This included our Studio Procedures class, where we do a variety of different demonstrations on how to record various instruments and learn about recording techniques. There are also two practicum classes that allow students to do independent projects and then come together so that we can listen and discuss them.

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Walter and Kelson doing some intense listening
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Isaac helping us learn recording techniques for drums

The students did a lot of excellent and unique projects. One of them, by Ashton Boyd, included a group vocal recording. This is him working with the students (and myself) in order to get the timing and blend just right.

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There is always plenty to improve and repair in the studio, whether it be organizing and rewiring gear, or fixing issues with our vintage 70’s era mixing console. I even got to face my fear of heights when we went on the recital hall catwalk to clean the microphone capsules.

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Sophie, Matt, Katie, and Isaac work on repairing a channel strip from the console.

I even made an appearance on a live broadcast of “Titan Tunes” on our local Titan TV station, produced by Radio/TV/Film students. In the episode, I talked about my teaching in the program, and played various quiz games. We had a good time.

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It seems like I have covered a lot and still have plenty more. There were dozens of concerts and recitals, including several from students who will be graduating or pursuing their internships next year. I got to meet and talk with artists Jay Ryan and Fred Stonehouse. We went hiking at High Cliff State Park. And, we saw a Badger football and basketball game. See you in 2017!

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A great summer, and ready for year two

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The family posing during our annual venture to Door County

The summer was filled with house projects, recording projects, and yes, even a bit of traveling and relaxing as we went on summer break following our first year teaching at UW Oshkosh. Some of our home improvements included painting and updating the basement, as well as giving our front entrance a nice facelift. We also had the chance to catch up a lot with family.

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Over the course of the summer months, I continued work on the Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra live recording project, enjoying several listening and note-taking sessions with composer John Harmon and orchestra conductor Dan Black. I also spent time continuing to mix songs for a great upcoming album by Cody Statz, and squeezed in a few acoustic gigs including Crescendo in Madison, WI.

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There was also a lot of preparation and anticipation leading into the Fall semester. We have a large class of incoming Freshman who seem eager to learn and get involved. This semester’s classes include Recording Technology I, Audio for Video, Recording Studio Procedures, Practicum, and Internships. The office is primed and ready to go, and I’m looking forward to the cooler Fall weather. Here we go!

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The office at the university, cleaned and ready to rock.

A recap of my first year at UW Oshkosh

Now that we are several weeks into the summer, following my first year as Director of Recording Technology at UWO, I have been reflecting on what a fun and crazy year it’s been. I have said that going from one university to another is kind of like being in a foreign country. You know what you want to do, but it’s like learning a whole new language.

There was a lot of learning and growth that happened this year, and I really feel like I’m on the ground floor of building upon something really fantastic. With that said, here’s a list of some of the highlights from the 2015-2016 school year:

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Classes: I spent a lot of time and effort re-working classes for the structure of our Music Industry program, and I’m really liking how the shape of the program is coming into focus. The courses that I taught were Recording Tech I-II, Audio for Video, Recording Studio Procedures, Session & Mixdown Techniques, Music Industry Operations, Recording Practicum, and Internships. The courses included some phenomenal student recordings and performances.

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Studio Upgrade: We have some great recording studio spaces at the university Arts & Communications building, but the facilities were in need of upgrades. Our program was generously granted funding to do a number of important upgrades, including adding a digital interface and Pro Tools system to the main studio, among many other improvements. This was a long and challenging process, but it has made the studio an extremely productive working environment that the students took advantage of all throughout the year.

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Guest Visits: I was so thrilled to invite so many alumni and industry professionals to speak with classes during the past year. Many talented and successful people graciously agreed to share their insight, including Landon Arkens, Tony Anders, Ryan Romenesko, Kelsey Johnson-Fischer, Ryan Berman, Jacob Sveum, Carlos Lewison, and our very own, Wally Messner.

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Music Industry Program Promotion: I wanted to do whatever I could to make as many people aware of our program as possible. Therefore, some of the initial steps that I took included creating a Music Industry Blog, Facebook page, and YouTube video. Hopefully that’s only the tip of the iceberg for what’s to come down the road.

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Sound production for the Chancellor’s Installation Ceremony: One of the first major challenges that I was faced with right out of the gate was to help with sound for music performances for a ceremony held at a large hangar at the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) grounds. The event was to officially introduce Dr. Andrew Leavitt as the 11th chancellor of the University. I’m glad to say that everything went off without a hitch, and the musical performers received a lot of recognition and praise.

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Performance at Musica Viva: This year, the UWO Music Department produced it’s 6th “Musica Viva” concert. This event is a fundraiser for music scholarships, as well as a means of showcasing the incredible talent of the students and university faculty. I was asked if I was interested in performing at the event, which prompted the idea to perform a piece by Stephen Foster, based on my album project. I approached student Ryan Lindley, who is also a leader of several a cappella groups on campus. He took the challenge of arranging the piece, “Hard Times Come Again No More”, and the group, called “Musicopian”, brilliantly performed the piece at the concert.

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Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra Recording: One of my final major projects of the year was to record a live concert featuring an original symphony by a legendary local composer, John Harmon. The symphony is entitled, “Crazy Horse”, chronicling the life of the famous Lakota Native American leader. The concert was a huge success and truly impressive and inspiring. The orchestra plans to produce a concert recording release.

There are several other major projects in the works that I’m waiting to talk about just yet, but needless to say it was a very busy year. I’m looking forward to both a relaxing and productive summer, and am also anticipating an exciting 2016-2017 school year in the Music Industry program!

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A lot is Happening at the UW Oshkosh Studio

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The university studio has been keeping very busy this semester, both with projects and repairs! One of the main studio courses that I teach in the Spring is a group class called “Session and Mixdown”. In the course, we record bands and musicians together as a group and then students get together and create the mixes from what we recorded in class.

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Our first project was to record the band, “The Present Age”, who won this year’s Battle of the Bands! Logan and Isaac did a fantastic job tracking the song, and we are also looking forward to recording an a cappella group this week.

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In addition to the studio sessions and student projects, we have also been busy with our Care & Repair class. Some of the studio upkeep projects have included fixing channels on the mixing console, replacing bulbs, re-soldering cables, and generally keeping the space clean and tidy.

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It’s been great to see the studio keeping busy following all of our upgrades, and I look forward to putting on the final touches by the end of the semester. There’s also a studio tour video that I have been working on, and I am excited to share it very soon.

Recording with Cody Statz in the Studio

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It’s almost February, which also means that school is just about to kick back into gear for the Spring semester. As I get geared up, I also wanted to share a recording experience from during the interim break. Longtime friend Cody Statz reached out to me about recording a full-length album, which I was very pleased and excited to be a part of as recording engineer and producer. The project also includes bassist Mike Meske and drummer David Lamb.

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We only had about five days to record all of Cody’s original songs for the album, and so it was a tight timeframe, but we put in some long hours in the studio and managed to complete all that we set out to do. It was a fun creative process to shape the songs and solidify the vision that Cody is creating for the album. Without revealing too much, the overall themes revolve around his experiences  working in the film industry while living in Los Angeles.

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At one point doing the recoding process, we noticed that one of the Oshkosh a cappella groups was practicing in the choir room. We jumped on the opportunity to ask if they would be willing to perform a vocal part for one of Cody’s songs. They were not only willing, but very excited to be a part of it! I’m especially looking forward to building that particular song.

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We still have a lot of steps to the mixing and overdubbing process, which will include more musical collaborations, but the process is going really well and I can’t wait to share more as we continue to work toward a completed project, likely later this year.

2016 Year in Review

I already have a New Year’s Resolution to get back into the habit of making regular blog posts! Since we started prepping to make our move from South Dakota back to Wisconsin earlier this year, things have been pretty crazy, but in a lot of great ways. The most noteworthy were:

  • Taking the position of Director of Recording Technology at UW Oshkosh in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
  • Finishing a packed and exciting first semester in my new position, with lots of work updating the studio and creating an updated curriculum
  • Both selling our home in Madison, South Dakota, and buying a new one in Oshkosh. (We miss you all!)
  • The completion of my latest original album, Far Away From Here featuring vocals and artwork by Cassie, and also including the musical talents of some great friends including Michael Gaylor, Jim Thuli, Paul Otteson, Tony Memmel, and Jacob Tews.
  • Playing an album release show at The Brickhouse in Madison, SD, as well as an outdoor festival gig at Strawbale Winery near Sioux Falls
  • Hosting the band Condor earlier this year as one of the last local folk concerts that I was a part of in Madison, SD. (but I’m glad to see that the series is still going strong!)

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There’s a whole lot of work still to do in my new position, but I’m looking forward to the challenges. I’m also making it a goal to kick my acoustic performances back into gear and get my music out there more than ever. Cassie has also continued to keep very busy between her art career (lots of solo and group shows) and teaching courses at DSU. There’s a lot to be grateful for. Happy 2016!

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Students Keeping Busy in the Studio

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It’s been quite a transition in getting used to the UW Oshkosh curriculum and studios, but things are coming along nicely and students have been doing all kinds of projects in the studio throughout the semester. In one course in particular, Studio Procedures, we have been recording a variety of instruments from piano to saxophone.

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For each session, we test a number of microphones in various positions, such as here on the upright bass. Comparing mic positions helps us to learn which positions are most effective for the various instruments and how to best mix them after recording.

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Above, David plays his hand-built guitar as we test various mic positions on electric guitar. We’re going to continue learning the studio and updating the facilities as the semester continues. I’m looking forward to where we’ll end up when the updates are all complete!

 

Three months later… Back to Oshkosh!

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It’s been a wild three months since my last blog post, so I better get caught up! In that time, we managed to pack up our home in South Dakota, and four days later, move in to our new house in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, close to 500 miles away. During the course of the move, I also had the opportunity to play an acoustic concert at an outdoor festival at Strawbale Winery.

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At the beginning of September, I took over as Director of Recording Technology at UW Oshkosh. It’s been both a fun and very busy start to the semester. I have a packed schedule of courses and have also been doing a lot of work on the university recording studio.

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Another major event last month was the “Installation” ceremony for the University’s new Chancellor, Andrew Levitt. I assisted with sound setup in the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) Hangar next to the museum. It was a new and great learning experience to help with sound in a room that large.

We have been enjoying the great Fall weather as we reconnect with some old friends and get to know some new ones as we re-familiarize ourselves with the city. It’s already starting to feel like home! Much more to come…

Live from the Brickhouse

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We had a fantastic album release show at the Brickhouse in downtown Madison in early June. It was especially great to perform with former DSU students, Kyle Vis on guitar and Derek Carlson playing percussion on cajon for several songs. The audience turnout was great, and it was really special to perform for so many supportive friends. Paul Schipper and Nolan Moser produced the video for two songs, “Distant Call” and “Bury Down”, posted below: