Evacuation is no trivial matter

I’ve never had to evacuate my home before.

Well, to be truthful, we don’t actually have to evacuate now, because Irma is predicted to head up the East Coast of Florida at the weekend. Melissa and I had decided to beat the rush and take an unplanned road trip for a few days, sight-seeing some places we’ve not been before and seeing some old friends. We are all ready to leave tonight or tomorrow.

Although the folk on the East Coast (Keys, Miami, Daytona, Jacksonville) are having to leave their homes, we don’t need to go anywhere.

This time.

So how do my evac plans help you accomplish more than you thought possible?

Here are some lessons I’ve learned that will keep me, my family and my arts business afloat during a potential disaster, and which may very well serve you, too, in music and life equally:

  1. Be prepared.
  2. Be decisive.
  3. Always turn a potential negative reaction into a proactive adventure.
  4. Avoid putting yourself in harm’s way unnecessarily.
  5. Things can be replaced. Lives cannot.
  6. Appreciate there is no shame in changing your mind when the information you have now is vastly different than before!

Evacuation is no trivial matter.

What is trivial, is the fact that John Stanley wrote a piece of music known as the “Trumpet Voluntary” which does not actually include any trumpets… as we know them.

Find out what I mean in this little 2-minute podcast from a few weeks ago:


Be careful what you worship

My wife is in the event industry.

Weddings, mostly.

A fellow small business owner recently shared a story that made us both cringe, not just because of the what happened, but more the fact that there is a growing trend in the Tampa Bay area of Florida to worship either cheap or, and this would be much worse, entitlement.

A bride-elect visited our friend’s little shop and spent a couple of hours talking about cake options – flavors, shapes, frosting, decorations,  size, etc.

(Right there: think of your own professional/ working hourly rate, and give two of them away.)

Turns out it’s another last-minute thing. The wedding is in two weeks.

Just when our friend thinks the deal is done and everything will be just how the bride-to-be wants it, she leaves to think about it.

Frustrating, perhaps, but no problem.

Two hours later, right before closing time, she returns.

The bride-elect had visited the local supermarket where they also offer specialty cakes. She found something that would satisfy her desires and at a considerably lower price.

Fair enough.

But then here’s the rub:

She returned to our friend’s cake shop and said she had found something similar at the supermarket but at a much better price. Although the bride-elect said our friend makes better cakes she asked if she could get the cake they agreed upon at the supermarket’s price.

Yes, it’s true.

That’s what she said.

Needless to say that our friend refused the job. If someone has that kind of gall up front, what will they be like to work with?! Apparently it is not unusual for penny-pinching customers to receive their cake and eat it, but then complain about it and demand some sort of refund.

For some reason, this particular bride felt entitled to something of high quality, produced quickly AND at a mass-production chain store price.

That’s all three: fast, cheap and good.

Can’t happen.

But it seems to be what a lot of people around here expect these days. Nay, believe they are entitled to.

And for the last few months (perhaps years), cheap seems to be the ruling option of them all. It’s why the USA makes big box stores and foreign manufacturers rich, and local business owners scramble for every penny. Here’s hoping you do not make your decisions in life based on price alone. Especially if you’ve left things to the last minute!

Well, in case you missed yesterday’s email, here is something of quality you can get for free:

The full archive of my Classical Rate N Slate episodes.


Check out the first one, Albinoni – it’s probably my favorite.

Each episode is only 2 minutes long – so try some of the others, too.

Like the one about Litolff.


And remember to watch what you worship:

If you worship cheap and fast more than quality, that might suggest a sense of entitlement.

Clearly size does not matter

You know, I’m working on something REALLY BIG.

At least, big for anyone who is a Fan of Classical Music.

If that’s you, I can’t wait to share the project with you in a couple of weeks.

(And be prepared – it ain’t cheap. Save your $$ for it!)

If you’re not a Fan of Classical Music…


I have no idea how you got here, but here’s to new adventures!

As things get ready for the big launch, I’ve also been working on something really small.

A mini-podcast.

A podcast is just an online version of a vocal cassette tape or LP, or even CD. Usually a host interviews someone, or it’s just an expert sharing their thoughts. Sometimes you get music and other activities, too, but not often. And most podcasts are about half an hour long, or even an hour+.

Mine is two minutes.



And in that 2mins I share with you some fascinating aspects that make a piece of classical music really good – something worth rating – as well as one or two points that perhaps could be better – yes, I criticize it. And in the UK there’s a slang term for that: Slate.

My Classical Rate N Slate podcast is completely free.

The Albinoni one is my favorite so far. It’s on the Full Archive page.

It is SO worth you listening to for two minutes each week, and I’m pretty sure you will also want to share it with someone, whether through email, social media, or even just telling someone about “Stephen’s Classical Rate N Slate. It’s really good!”

Don’t believe me?

As a musician, I am always looking for ways to enhance my knowledge. Stephen’s Classical Rate N Slate is a great way to do just that! The information is clear and concise.Ashley
I have never given much thought to the composers and the music itself. Refreshing to hear your thoughts about this wonderful, widely varied world of classical tunes.Tom
I have learned something new with each one of your reviews. Your Classical Rate N Slate is a brilliant feature – it’s like listening to classical music with my own personal guide. Love it!Lianne

Clearly, size doesn’t matter.

Short podcasts can be just as packed with helpful info as the really long ones.

Every Monday you can download the latest episode, so…

Take 2mins right now and listen to today’s.

It’s about Bach.


And if you want, you can even sign up for the weekly email to know exactly when the next episode is published!


Bach: Goldberg Variations

Stephen's Classical Rate N Slate

Hear what British American Conductor Composer Stephen P Brown has to say about classical music, and why you should find a local performance to attend. You might agree with his rating and slating!

Download mp3 or buy CD:

Listen to more Rates N Slates

Unashamed plug

No intellectual stimulation today.

Just a plain old plug.

Today is the last day you can get 25% off my training “How to Make the Most of Classical Music Concerts.”


Get the training, an hour of bonus videos and the 25% discount today only (Friday):


And at the bottom of the second page (where it says “Enter Discount Code”), enter this discount code:


(Don’t try and put it in the first page where it says “Security Code”)


Next week, something a little different…

We wait for perfection

Several readers replied to yesterday’s story.

Fascinating how most replies were supportive, including this one I enjoyed from Rob:

“Fantastic stuff, Stephen; genuinely praiseworthy!”

Thanks, Rob! Love the irony.

Similar things have been said about my training “How to Make the Most of Classical Music Concerts” by those who understand perfection is unattainable, and therefore took advantage of the discount I’m offering AND helped me improve the training a little more.

Tomorrow that discount disappears.

Are you waiting for the finished product? Fair enough.

But if you think it will be the ‘perfect’ solution, you’ll be disappointed.

It’s an excellent training, but not perfect.

Perfection is unattainable.

Get the training, an hour of bonus videos and a 25% discount today:


And at the bottom of the second page (where it says “Enter Discount Code”), enter this discount code:


(Don’t try and put it in the first page where it says “Security Code”)

Tomorrow is the last day to get 25% off.

Otherwise, you may be kicking yourself when I launch it publicly and that discount is gone.


The Unfettered Worship of Mediocrity

A couple of years ago the National Youth Orchestra of the USA launched with a concert at Carnegie Hall. It’s actually a program run by Carnegie Hall, which says a lot.

(FYI, the USA happens to be one of the LAST Western countries in the WORLD to form a National Youth Orchestra, which says a lot more.)

Anyway, in that first concert and subsequent tour they played Symphonic Dances from West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein.

They did a pretty darn good job!

But, not world-class.

And to read the gushing praise in the Youtube video comments was… is… nauseating.

You’d have thought this was the first time ANY youth orchestra had ever played at Carnegie Hall, or that piece of music. I really hope most of the people commenting with things like “this was the best concert I’ve ever been to in my entire life!” were the performer’s parents, because otherwise it doesn’t say much about the concerts those poor folk have been attending.

Eventually I had to add my own comment along the lines of: Good job, but not great. They could have done this, this and this better, like other orchestras their age do elsewhere.

Oh my, how on earth could anyone possibly chastise or criticize their little loved ones?!

I expected retaliation, but even got some support, too.

What I didn’t expect was to STILL get retaliation over a year later.

But last week’s comment irked me.

It suggested that…

Well, here it is. Along with my reply:

@Stephen P Brown I think that confidence is a very important part of a musician’s journey towards success, especially if they happen to be teenagers as seen in this video. I think that people that praise this particular group have a completely valid reason to do so. And I think that commenting and saying that they aren’t good by global standards is a bit of a low blow. These young musicians need praise so they don’t lose that drive…that passion that has sent them flying this far. Sure other youth ensembles may be better but that does not mean we have to immediately compare them to those other ensembles, instead we can let them enjoy their moment in the spotlight, and let their confidence soar. I get what you are trying to say, and it may be correct in some people point of view but I do not view it as a necessary comment to be posting here. They are excellent young performers. Emphasis on young, they have much to learn, but for their current age their ability to express passion and express the feeling that is embedded in the music they play, that ability is just fine. And your comment was completely, whilst being a valid opinion, a completely unnecessary one.


@bajimba I’m guessing you’re of the ilk that think every participant in every activity should get a medal, just for showing up and doing what is expected of them. “Everyone’s a winner” and all that, right? Pity. Those days are long gone and that approach has been scientifically proven to be utterly counter-productive. Plenty of TED Talks if you care to question it. If you praise but exclude comparison, especially at such a high National level, you give people nothing to work towards. Unfettered worship of mediocrity is what leads to misplaced arrogance, and doesn’t nurture stimulated development.


What I’m saying is: be careful when you publicly praise something as being quite outstandingly excellent. It might not actually be.

Tom Peters built a 40+ year career “In Search of Excellence” because it is so rare, and I’ve written about this before: how my wife and I attended a performance of a big piece by a large nationally-recognized professional orchestra in the USA which was simply nice, and three weeks later we experienced the same piece performed by a County (not even National) youth orchestra in the UK, which blew us out of the water.

Mediocrity (fueled by “cheap and fast”) is rampant.

Excellence isn’t.

Not every performance deserves a standing ovation (even my own, but thank you!)

We can do better with both our expectations and our praise – the tap is adjustable and doesn’t need to be fully on or fully off all the time.

One way to temper our enthusiasm for less-than-par musical quality is to approach concerts with intent.

Such as the approach I share in my training “How to Make the Most of Classical Music Concerts.”

Right now it is in Beta 2 stage, so not only am I giving you an additional hour of videos exploring “What’s the Matter with Classical Music?” but also a 25% discount.

To get the training, the bonus videos and the 25% discount today, visit this website:


And at the bottom of the second page, enter this discount code:


You have until this Friday, Sept 2, to take advantage of that discount.

Then the price goes up for the public launch.