Articles

  • Time, Location, Bewilderment What barriers are there to enjoying live classical music?Over the past couple of weeks one of my projects has been soliciting from folk in various stages of life what interferes with their enjoyment of live classical music.
  • #PsalmQuest Annual Progress 2 Stephen P Brown's PsalmQuest PremiumSo, here we are. Two years down and five more to go. The project is currently 29.33% complete, and amazingly 1.2% ahead of schedule. Share your thoughts so far.
  • Being an “Amateur” is not an excuse lazy geekRecently I have come across a number of performers who hide behind their amateur status. It’s annoying and inappropriate, so stop it! What do I mean? First, let’s identify the differences between being and amateur and being a professional: What I find interesting in this list, is that only one of the sources cites anything related to the quality ...
  • A not-so-new genre: the Oprical? Classical Music Exchange75 years ago we began to experience more lively operas that included dialogue, which have become known as “Musicals.” 30 years ago or so, some folk started writing musicals that were non-stop music, like operas.
  • Why Share Your Valuable Creative Process Right Now? Creativity Sir Ken RobinsonYou generate a connection that does not exist otherwise, and letting people in is a sure-fire way to help them decide whether or not to attend one of your performances.
  • How to build the colossal fan club you need Gone are the days a newsletter costs a fortune - send it via email!The reason I consistently grow a solid core of SPB Groupies is because of my email newsletter. That’s right. My newsletters. Not the articles I write, the little booklets I put together, nor the concerts I produce or the music I write.
  • 2 of the most essential competitive advantages you need 2 of the most essential competitive advantages you need - hot dogsWe are rapidly heading towards the middle of the twenty first century. Yet many of classical music’s processes and expectations are still firmly rooted in nineteenth century antiquity. Some of that is good, such as concert halls, orchestras, chamber music, and so on. But if we operate the same way they did then, we are doomed. Perhaps that is ...
  • No progress report today There is no #PsalmQuest progress report today – I took a day off. So here is a short video of someone who made millions of people laugh with music.
  • How to make a remarkable impact during a concert A smiling performerOur little experiment had worked: performers can choose to enjoy themselves, and that enjoyment is clearly infectious, regardless how ‘down’ everyone in the room is.
  • What is the most fundamental purpose of awesome music? Music is the most fundamental form of communication that connects us to our emotionsAs performers are perhaps the most closely intimate with live music, it surely makes sense that is it up to them. They are the masters of music and therefore are the ones responsible for passing on their trade secrets to others.
  • 3 Beautiful concert strategies all performers should use Program your music like an archApart from gimmicky tricks and over-bearing visual sensory effects, what can we do? There are three beautiful strategies to how you share music with others that, at least in my experience, keeps people engaged and coming back for more.
  • How to save your audience a mammoth time commitment Save your audience a mammoth amount of timeDo your audiences a favor and avoid hogging their time – they WILL appreciate it. If folk want to hang around afterwards, that is their prerogative, but be wary and conscious of what kind of payment you are expecting from them.
  • What will make your affordable concerts more successful? Sharing, partnership, collaboration all extend to venues as well as other performersThe bottom line response to these three misconceptions (and more) is an upbeat, encouraging statement “nobody owes me anything!” Some folk look down on such a phrase and get depressed. Well, that will be your choice. I see it as a very freeing perspective that allows…
  • 3 powerful performance strategies that will make you money Chamber music at Sandy Springs LibraryYou have spent years developing your craft. Time for payback, right? But time is probably the one thing you’d love more of and simply can’t get. So here are three workable strategies to help you make the most of the time you do have, and increase your income whilst you’re at it.
  • 5 secrets to more rewarding musical collaborations CollaborationProbably the most rewarding aspect of anything artistic is eyes & ears, a.k.a. The audience. Even if you do create something stunning there seems to be little closure until it is shared with someone. Here are 5 secrets to maximize your reward.
  • How to make classical music concerts awesome again Cello and Violin sharing music at homeIn his TED talk Ben Zander suggests that everyone DOES love classical music concerts, but that the music is not the problem. The way it is presented and shared could be the problem. You can change that right now. Take ownership of live music and share it.
  • What makes me tick? What makes Stephen P Brown tick?This does. In SO many ways. Afterwards, tell me what you think of it (especially if you want to hear my observations and opinions!). Did you even get through the entire video?
  • Do you remember when? TearApplause does make us feel good, and it is the easiest way for audiences to let us know they liked what we did for them. There are lots of people around us who say they don’t perform…
  • You Cott me thinking round peg square hole“The arts are finally at the adult table.” Ugh. I think that’s upside-down: like a child serving their teddies and parents fake tea from a tiny plastic teacup: at some point one of those parents must return from play land to…
  • This makes me so angry Opera audiences in the ROTW are not declining as they are in the USAMy response: Highly educated in WHAT? For decades we have been drilling the arts OUT of education, out of people’s lives, and removing exposure…
  • Your resolutions are too extreme New Year's Resolutions Don't WorkIf some of your New Year’s Resolutions are already waning or behind schedule, have no fear. The first step to overcoming any concerns of failure is very simple. It is also the first step to establishing a healthy balance in life.
  • Harness your passion Stephen P Brown helps emerging and amateur musicians keep their balanceBalancing the need to survive with our desires to participate in music is how I help, and clearly the most pressing elements include…
  • Why “Go To A Concert?” Human InteractionWhy do 20,000 online bloggers meet for an in-person conference? What’s the difference between a smiling face and a video of someone smiling? It’s the same with music but on a deeper and more human level.
  • Great Picks For Your Holiday Classical Music Christmas_MusicIf you are planning to host a dinner party, be sure to set the tone with some good Christmas classical music playing softly in the background.
  • Annual Reader Survey 2014 – Summary Stephen P Brown's Annual Reader Survey 2014I am so very, very, VERY grateful that my cloud server deletion occurred just after my Annual Reader Survey, which I outsourced! The results and my analysis were not lost and I can share them with you now, a little earlier than anticipated (because it’s so exciting!) This is the first year I invited participation from everyone interested in ...
  • A sample of the new concerto Stephen P. Brown composes a concerto for Bass Clarinet  My next composition isn’t quite ready yet. But I really like it and want to share it with you NOW. So, there’s a sample below! It may seem my 7 year #PsalmQuest has been on hiatus and maybe you even thought I’d given up already. Well, I was ahead of schedule so after all the Christmas performances I did ...
  • Flashing is popular again Flash Mobs are popular by Stephen P. Brown  More and more musicians are doing it. Apparently there were over 40 reported incidents worldwide in 2013. Fortunately, many of them were caught on camera. Which of the following incidents from the past few years are worthy of international attention, and which are lucky not to find themselves in the Establishment’s penal custody for flashing in public? I’ll tell ...
  • 12 books for the growing career Rework Book recommended by Stephen P. BrownI’m working hard on my next #PsalmQuest piece – a concerto for Bass Clarinet and Strings, and it is going well, but with the holidays and lots of travel it’s been hard to keep up. Should have something to share with you in a month or so. In the meantime, here is a list of 12 ...
  • Why I’m the slowest car on the road Stephen P. Brown is the slowest car on the road  Over the past few years I’ve noticed I’m usually the slowest car on the road. Today, find out why. And hear about one of the decisions/ choices I’ve made that causes it! And then, if you dare, listen to how your own driving decisions are directly affecting the society we live in today. Click to play the video below ...
  • Who cares about live music? Stephen P. Brown asks "Who cares about live music?"Time for a rant/ rave/ vent, methinks. It’s been a while. Bear with me: Who cares about live music? Everywhere I look there are stories of musicians being yelled off their stage, performers crying for “decent” pay, orchestras and opera houses closing down, music schools diminishing beyond recognition, and a host of other music-related news that simply ...
  • What is Classical Music? Violin Enjoying live music concerts could be one of the most exciting relationships you’ll ever develop.   But here’s one thing any valuable and interesting article or document shouldn’t start with: a definition. The term “Classical Music” is difficult to embrace for three reasons: – It conjures up images of rich elitism, boringness and dead white men. – It actually ...
  • The Last “Substance Leader” – Nelson Mandela Stephen P. Brown gives tribute to Nelson MandelaWell, we can decidedly close an entire volume of human history: another era has come to a close. Although we still have a 110 year old pianist who remembers meeting Gustav Mahler, we have lost the last bastion of trustworthy social leadership. Nelson Mandela worked for a living despite his royal heritage, and all the ...
  • #PsalmQuest 11 – String Quartet 2 String Quartet 2 by British American Conductor Composer Stephen P BrownIt feels like forever since I published a #PsalmQuest piece, and I guess it was, really – over a month ago! In fact, I finished composing that last piece at the end of September, so it’s really been 8 weeks. Some of that time was spent resting, but much of it was actually spent re-writing. This ...
  • Back to Choral Roots Stephen P. Brown conducts the Clearwater chorusA couple of months ago I was appointed Conductor of the 40+ year old Clearwater Chorus. It’s an ensemble of people who like to sing, and encourages adults of varying ages and abilities to make and share music together. At least, that’s what it is now. Although not titled a “Director” that is effectively my role and ...
  • Seeking Leadership Stories Leadership2As a Conductor I am often held responsible not just for the instant moment-by-moment success of live music-making, but also the entire image, direction and resourcefulness of the whole organization. Every action and decision a leader makes directly influences outcomes and sales. (Click it to tweet it!) As you know, that basically sums up the outcome ...
  • #PsalmQuest Bass Clarinet Joint Commission! clarinetsWell, this turned into an amazing project! A local performer reached out to me and said “We should work together!” He was very generous in sharing what a good reputation I have amongst some of his colleagues, so with my esteem duly stroked I said, “Sure!” Bass Clarinets rule! Turns out Calvin Falwell is a Bass Clarinet geek. ...
  • #PsalmQuest 10 – Mirror 2 for solo harp Stephen P. Brown has a history with the harpWriting this piece of music was probably one of the most enjoyable projects I’ve ever done. Perhaps that’s why it turned out to be a good one. The harp can be a daunting instrument: it is large yet delicate, piano-like but not a piano, strings plucked with four fingers per hand not hammers hit by five ...
  • Quest #9 – Perspective Stephen P. Brown composes a concerto for Bass ClarinetThis was an odd composition that kind of came out of nowhere, but ended up being the ninth composition in my psalm composition quest. And it’s a little strange, being written for bass clarinet and drum kit. Uh-huh. I met Calvin Falwell recently and during our chat he mentioned a project he and his USF Faculty colleague Robert ...
  • Please… be our conductor! Stephen P. Brown, conductorUh-oh! I completely forgot to write a blog post this week! So, instead, here’s an entertaining video. If you ever want to be a conductor, the best advice I can offer is to be in the right place at the right time: I hope you find a similar opportunity near you soon!     My first rehearsal with the Clearwater ...
  • 6 Degrees Experiment Network with Stephen P. BrownSo I’m wondering just what kind of impact you and I have in the world. Are our efforts truly worth something in a stranger’s life, or do we slog away for our own misguided satisfaction? Let’s find out. I’m going to write a short statement below and see how far your followers, friends and email list actually ...
  • Piece #8: Sonata 2 for Viola, Marimba, Piano marimbaThis is a fun little ditty! Another stab at the traditional Sonata Form, this piece is for a trio of performers: viola, marimba and piano. To my thinking, there is not enough marimba included in the standard instrumentation these days, (click it to tweet it) yet like the saxophone or bass clarinet, it has a great many ...
  • Why the next 20 years of classical music will smash the last 20 Stephen P. Brown predicts the future of classical musicOPINION. That’s all this is. Totally unmerited, unfounded, unresearched, unverified I’m in the UK right now, where I spent my childhood and early professional career. My teens and current professional career were/are in the USA. My college life was mostly spent up & down the UK, throughout East & West Europe, and later a sojourn in ...
  • How I compose 3 – Chords How Stephen P. Brown composes chords“A chord in music is any harmonic set of three or more notes that is heard as if sounding simultaneously.” (Wikipedia, accessed August 7, 2013) To me, chords form the shell of a piece of music – the walls and roof of a house, so to speak. For me, this is the most difficult part of ...
  • Highest Chart Position Yet! Stephen P. Brown reaches the top of the charts!Well, I was going to write another “How I compose” post, but this topic topped the chart – literally. Reverbnation is an online outlet for all unsigned/ independent musicians – any style, any genre, any age, any stage of life. There are currently 3m (that’s 3,000,000) performers active on Reverbnation promoting their wares, and guess what… The ...
  • Next Piece #7: Bagatelle for Violin SPB-at-St-Peters-Judy-KangThis was a surprise! In my 7 year composition quest, piece #6 took a little over a month to write. This one took a day. Yes. One day! Solo violin It helped that the piece was being written for just one instrument alone, which is a complete contrast to Warrior Peace. Another contrast is the style: actually, I’m ...
  • New psalm composition #6: Warrior Peace Stephen P. Brown composes a piece for non-string chamber ensembleWell, this was an unexpected mammoth! (If you are not aware of my current composition quest, click here to read the introduction.) I knew that composing for larger ensembles would take time, and was sort of risking things a little when I decided to write for a larger-than-normal ensemble but I didn’t plan for this piece to ...
  • 17 insane (but probably true) things about music Conductor Composer Stephen P Brown shares an insane fact about musicThis is just a fun post. None of these facts have been verified, but I bet at least one of them will put a smile on your face! Have a great week
  • How I compose: Step 2 – Instrumentation Composer Conductor Stephen P. Brown discusses instrumentationA couple of weeks ago I shared how I start composing each of the pieces in my composition quest. It seemed to be a popular post! So after I’ve read the psalm, understood its meaning through commentary, and established the structure for my piece, the next step in composing music for me is choosing the instrumentation. Instrumentation. The purpose ...
  • Piece #5: Rescue Me! for choir Composer Conductor Stephen P. Brown composes soprano soloThe fifth piece in my composition quest was quite an adventure. Definitely surprising. “Rescue Me, Recover Me” is based on Psalm 130, and the title stems from the term “redeem” which this psalm seems to be all about. It has a simple ABAB structure, so knowing that I wanted to write a choral work I began ...
  • How I compose: Step 1 Composer conductor Stephen P. Brown discusses musical structureI am now working on the 6th piece in my composition quest. This is not the first time I’ve composed music but in the past I have approached pieces from a variety of angles: systematically using someone else’s process, systematically using someone else’s process that I adapted slightly, systematically using a process I developed myself ...

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