Dear Weird Thing,

I've been a bad friend, I'm afraid, and neglected to send a letter.  
I think about you often and wonder about when you are going to be home.  
I've fallen ill.  Regardless, we off to California!  

Wishing you a safe journey. . . . 

Here's a song for the road:


Are you Ready for the Improv 2020's? Guideline #10: Listen to IsabelleDuthoit and Franz Hautzinger

When I played this video for the students in the Improvisational Duets class at Renaissance High School for the Arts they were annoyed.

I, though, was fascinated and had the good fortune to see this duo perform the next week at the Paradigm Coffee and Music in Sheboygan.  After the show, I interviewed Isabelle and Franz, hoping they could shed some light on their music for the students.  Indeed, they did.

Listen here:

Thank you Isabelle and Franz and best of luck on the the rest of your tour!
Thank you Heimo and Jon and for your lovely accompaniment.
Thank you Tad and Ellen for the ride and your help with the recording.

Isabelle Duthoit and Franz Hautzinger at Paradigm

with special guests Heimo Wallner (above with a ceramic homemade horn) 
and Jon Mueller
(photo by Cameron Wittig)


Are You Ready for the Improv 2020's? Guideline #7: Cultivate a Practice


it takes a lot of practice to realize that it doesn't matter what you practice

(as long as the practice does not harm)

it is the act of practicing that is the essential art

(without practice there is nothing)

so why not practice that which brings the most joy

(practice requires frequency)

so that practice becomes the joy

(allowing the practice to evolve)

so that when we notice it becoming drudgery

(we can change our practice)

and practice what feels best to practice

(and never be ashamed)

 by giving others permission to practice whatever they want

(we receive permission)

by allowing delight

(when shown a new creation)

we are free


Seven Piano Exercises for Improvisations

place fingers of both hands on the same consecutive white keys
(different octaves)


practice playing one finger from each hand simultaneously*
in a random order
with a steady beat

alternate right, left

practice playing with a steady beat
in a random order
with left hand playing every other beat of right hand*

with right hand playing every other beat of left hand

practice playing #1 and #2 with varied rhythms 
(hold some notes longer, makes some notes shorter)

practice playing #1, #2, #3 with one black key (same for both hands)*


choose a different black key

practice playing two fingers from each hand* for #1, #2, #3, #4 

play one finger at a time with left and two fingers at a time with right,
vice versa,
play one or two fingers with each hand randomly

practice inventing new variations for each #1, #2, #3, #4, #5

practicing playing without using any fingers


Found in the Drafts File: The Search

1.  I have nothing to write about.

2.  My ear was clogged so I could not hear.

3.  It made concentrating difficult.

4.  That was last week.

5.  This morning a large sticky ball of wax emerged from my ear.

6.  It was strangely dark.

7.  It was so satisfying to have that ball of wax come out of my ear that I greedily went digging around for more.

8.  I didn't find anything.

9.  Trying to think of something to write, I discover I am full of all sorts of thoughts that are not the least bit interesting.

10.  This is nothing new.



A 602 Club Pick of the Week: Gamelan at Stansbury Hall

Saturday, March 7
Stansbury Hall
Lawrence University
Appleton, Wisconsin  

Listen to an interview with director I Dewa Ketut Alit Adnyana
and members of the community gamelan ensemble:

Soon after we moved to Appleton, I met a tall gaunt man buying sausage at Jacob’s Market who turned out to be the dean of the Lawrence University music conservatory.  Later, we recognized each other on the street outside Harmony CafĂ©.  He advised I buy tickets for that evening’s show at the Performing Arts Center: Kaleidoscope, a showcase of ensembles from the conservatory, playing in succession from different parts of the theatre, with no applause until the very end. 

The grand curtain opened and there rose the most magical sounds.  From where could this ringing music have come, the instruments red and gold, the musicians topped with ornamental head wraps, this mesmerizing complexity of wondrous sound?  I decided right then I had to find a way to join the group. 

I searched the university’s web site and was eventually put in touch with Sonja Downing, an ethnomusicologist, married to I Dewa Ketut Alit Adnyana, the Balinese director of the group.  She said that they were hoping to form a community gamelan ensemble and I said put me on the list.  The next summer, my friend Jenn sent me a link to a four day world music seminar the university was hosting and that she would watch my kids if I wanted to go.  It was so generous I couldn’t turn her down.  There I met Tad and Janet and Barbara.  We spent an afternoon learning about gamelan from Sonja and Dewa.  And then we all signed up for the community ensemble.

You never know where a chance meeting might lead.

Alvina, Dewa, Audrey, and Sonja at the kajar