Fall 2018 Recap: Beginnings


Year four at UW Oshkosh welcomed in many new students and new learning experiences to go with it. In addition to the introductory courses in music production, the Recording Studio Procedures course kept busy with demonstrations of recording techniques on many different instruments, thanks to the performance help from students. One of the highlights was a visit from the Titan String Quartet, as you can see mic’d up below:


On a more personal project, I continued work on my ambient project, “Birth/Rebirth”. I am nearly done creating the recording using electronic guitar and other electronic instruments. I have been posting each new track as I have completed them, but they will subsequently be curated down to a single album. The completed tracks are posted via Bandcamp:

In addition to the recorded element, I am working on transcribing the pieces for acoustic instruments. Several percussion students have been assisting me with practicing these performances. It has been an exciting experience to hear these ideas come to life.


One of the major themes of the “Birth/Rebirth” project is the birth of our son, Max. In my album notes, I say: “This exercise served as an expression of the anticipation of birth, and also a rebirth. Birth being the new life of my son, and rebirth being the gift of experiencing life through his eyes.”

This semester was full of new beginnings in many ways, and I look forward to keeping up the work in 2019!


Spring 2018 Recap: Sound & Color (Part 3)


The other highlight of my Spring semester was a trip to the SEAMUS (Society of Electro-Acoustic Musicians) Conference held in Eugene, Oregon in March of 2018 on the campus of the University of Oregon. This conference brings together musicians and composers who specialize in modern composition techniques that often involve electronics or other elements such as video, interactivity, and recorded sound.


My composition, “Saudade Study”, was performed on tenor saxophone by my friend and colleague, Dr. Drew Whiting. The piece features a recorded electronic soundtrack that I created, which is intended to be performed live with the saxophone. Another unique part of the piece is that it is written in different small sections and can be rearranged by the performer. The piece was recorded earlier in the semester for Dr. Whiting’s recital at UW Oshkosh and it can be viewed here.

IMG_20180329_223337While at the conference, we enjoyed seeing and hearing dozens of performances from phenomenal musicians and composers, including one of the most renown electroacoustic composers, Scott Wyatt. We also enjoyed exploring the university campus and took a scenic trip to the Pacific Ocean coast. It was a memorable experience that was a highlight of another busy semester.



Spring 2018 Recap: Sound & Color (Part 2)

A great music production experience from last Spring was in our Group Recording Sessions class. Over the course of the semester, we welcomed a half-dozen bands to perform live during our class. The students were tasked with capturing and mixing the performance with a professional sound quality, and I captured the video. The idea was inspired by YouTube channels such as NPR’s “Tiny Desk Concert”.

The students did an excellent job capturing and mixing the audio! To give an example, below is David Paul Martin performing his original song live in the studio. You can tell that we have a fun time during the process. There will be more videos soon to come as they get posted up!

Spring 2018 Recap: Sound & Color (Part 1)

So much happened this Spring that I need to split this into a three-parter! The start of 2018 was packed with new experiences and creative productions including an album recording, video productions for guest musicians, a Recording concert, and a music conference in Oregon. Here is what went down in Denver:

nate-john-polaroid.jpgAt the start of the year, I was thrilled to be invited by my long-time good friend, John Statz, to visit Denver in order to record his latest original album. I packed as much recording gear as I could take on an airplane and flew out there. We spent three packed days tracking the songs in his living room, which give the album a very intimate and personal feel.

Some of my favorite parts of the process were contributing to the music of the album and making creative decisions. These included adding some electric guitar ambience, keyboard parts, and even some percussion on an oatmeal can. The process was a great experience and the album is now available for your listening pleasure:

It was a true pleasure working again with John, and although this was mainly a break-up album that had some sadness in it, it was a creative reprieve and fun production process. More about the semester soon to come!



Fall 2017 Recap: Concerts and Connections

My third year at UW Oshkosh was packed with concerts, student projects, events, and guest visitors. It was a time of hard work that payed off in many ways. Here are just a few of the many highlights:


We had numerous guest visitors to classes during the semester, but the highlight had to be our visits from the Boys & Girls club of Green Bay. We did various different projects in the recording studio, and on their most recent visit, collaborated with UWO students to record a version of Jackson 5’s “ABC”:

Another guest visitor highlight was when friend and former classmate Tony Memmel visited along with alum Sue Guenther to talk with music students about life as a musician, songwriter, and clinician. We all really enjoyed Tony’s stories and performing, and it was great to reconnect with tony and other college classmates.


Additionally, there was a whole lot of work done both in class and in restoring some of the recording studio spaces. Below is a pic from a day in our Recording Studio Procedures class recording Cello with Alina Xiong:


We also did a lot of work in our Audio for Video class. On this particular day, we were doing a microphone demonstration using the infamous scene from the film, “Taken”, featuring some excellent acting work by Sean Becher:


And lastly, a shot of the reimagined “Pro Tools Studio” where students can work on projects with a much more streamlined setup:


Cassie was also very hard at work both with school and gallery exhibitions. Here, we are checking out her work in a gallery show at Portrait Society Gallery in Milwaukee:


This may very well have been the busiest semester yet, but there was a lot of fun to be had, and a lot of learning both my myself and the students. I love this job because it always changes and keeps me on my toes. I’m looking forward to what the Spring semester brings!


Summer 2017 Recap: Music and Sunsets

This summer was a perfect blend of new experiences, getaways, and recharging. Much of our time was spent taking care of our home, and traveling around the Wisconsin area to some favorite destinations.

house-summer-2017In addition to helping run live sound at Refuge Lounge in Appleton, one of my live music highlights was doing sound over three days at Mile of Music in Appleton. This enormous event features hundreds of musicians at venues all over the downtown. I had the pleasure of working with a dozen acts throughout the weekend.

mile-of-music-crowdUWO Alum Adam Robinson split time with me at the venue, and we held down the fort as crowds packed in throughout each day. I also loved having the opportunity to see friends perform, including Good Night Gold Dust and John Statz. The whole event was a really memorable experience.


Summer highlights also included presenting to “Rock University” in Appleton, as well as several visits to the UWO Recording Studio from students in the Boys & Girls Club of Oshkosh and Green Bay. It was a lot of fun to work with younger people and show them what we do here. They even recorded a promotional commercial!

Students from the BGC Green Bay laying down vocal tracks for their commercial.

Other highlights included several camping tips and Door Country travels, visiting friends and family in Milwaukee (including the “Bastille Days” festival), and visiting the Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan. It was truly a beautiful summer!

Rock piles at Cave Point in Door County

Now the office is all cleaned up and ready to go for another busy and productive year at UWO. There are many incoming students and a lot of exciting projects in the works. I am looking forward to all that year three will have to offer!



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.

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:


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.


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.


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.


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!


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…


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Walter and Kelson doing some intense listening
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.


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.

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.


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!



A great summer, and ready for year two

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.


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.


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!

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:


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!