Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Music Mayhem (A tribute to Freddie Hubbard)

It's no secret I love music whether it be playing, listening or composing. I love all aspects of music. Yet it dawned on me as I was talking with some of my fellow musician friends, music can hurt. No, I don't mean on an emotional level because you're boyfriend broke up with you and you finally understand the sad lyrics. I am talking about actually physically harming and changing the musicians. These changes can be small such as calluses on the fingers of string players, getting blisters while theses calluses harden or just getting a sore back from holding the right playing posture for so long. But some injuries can be quite serious.
One of the worst injuries can be found with trumpet players. Trumpet players are constantly seeking the long high notes in their solos, but pressing your lips on a small piece of metal and using a lot of pressure for a long period of time can lead to devastating consequences. Not all injuries are playing related, for example, a crash on your bike or even dry lips can lead to some minor injuries. The majority of these injuries come from playing. This doesn't affect just amateurs with no technique but can hit even the biggest names in the trumpet world. 
During the 1970's one of the trumpet kings of the world was Freddie Hubbard. Hubbard had great success recording and playing with some of the top artists all around the world, including Billy Joel where Hubbard was feature on the track Zanzibar on the Grammy Award winning album 52nd Street. Despite all this success and his brilliant playing style, Hubbard was not immune to a lip injury. Hubbard was able to power his way through the 60's 70's and 80's but after 2 decades in 1992 Hubbard acquired a very serious lip injury. Playing in Switzerland he thought it would be a good idea to partake in a "high note" competition with a fellow trumpeter. However, as the competition grew fiercer and the notes acceded to unbelievable heights, the unthinkable happened. Hubbard's lip split open. Unfortunately for Hubbard this was in the middle of a tour, but being the true performer he was, Hubbard ignored the injury (got some basic stitching done) and continued with the tour. In hind sight this was probably the worst decision he could have made.
During the tour his lip became infected, this meant that the rest of his shows had to be cancelled and he had to have surgery performed. This meant that he would no longer be able to hit those high notes he spent his whole life chasing. His legendary playing technique that had once landed him the title of being one of the world’s best trumpet players was suddenly ripped out from under him due to one injury. Hubbard best described this feeling in a 2008 interview where he said "It's really something when you lose your chops like that. You feel like a motherless child."
Hubbard is a lesson to musicians everywhere, while some injuries are accidental, some are unavoidable and some come around by plain stupidity. If you don't stop to fix what's wrong early you may find your talent ripped from under your feet faster than you could possibly imagine. 

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Murphy's law

Being Australian I often find myself at rugby games and I have found one of the hardest thing to do with a rugby ball is to hit the post. That is, of course, unless you need to get the ball through the posts. In this case it is almost like the posts create a magnetic field designed to pull in the ball. This in essence is what Murphy's Law is all about - If something bad can happen it will happen.
This doesn't happen purely to sporting stars but to musicians as well. For a guitarist the chance of breaking a string is 200% greater just before a gig then any other time. You will only ever loose your car keys when you are running late or in a hurry. The day you choose not to bring an umbrella even though the clouds are gathering is the day it will rain on you. Yet if you do bring an umbrella the clouds will disperse and you will be stuck carrying it with you for the day. This is Murphy using his law to, in my opinion, have a bit of a laugh or entertainment for himself.
Now some of you out there may think that Murphy's law can be avoided by the 5 P's (preparation prevents piss poor performance). However, can you really prepare for posts that attract footballs or having your keys disappear moments before walking out the door? I don't believe you can, I don't believe there is any form of protection against Murphy and his law, the only thing to do is accept it and learn to go with the flow. Don't be so ridged in your plans otherwise Murphy will see those plans changed.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Manly Men

I bring us once more to the train, however this time I won't be talking about what I saw, rather what the other people saw. Recently I have been involved in a theatre production, I love acting and being on the stage, however as I boarded the train to return home from the show I would always receive some strange looks from the other passengers. For the first few days I couldn't figure out why they were looking at me, then I realised what happened, I had forgotten to remove some of the stage make up I had to wear for my show. This meant I was boarding the train with eye liner and a little more blush than I should have. The reaction that they had to a man wearing make up really got me thinking - why do people care? Are men not allowed to wear make up? Does this retract from our masculinity?

Upon researching further into the topic of masculinity and what defines it I was able to sum things up pretty well in one Disney song. The song I am referring to of course is I'll Make a Man Out of You from Mulan. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the song I have provided (using my incredible tech skills) a link to youtube. This song talks about how to be a man, and apparently we need to be as swift as a river, with all the force of a typhoon and have the strength of a raging fire. Now I can't speak for the entire male population, but personally I don't know how to achieve any of these things. Does this make me any less of a man? So to try and ease the pain of losing my masculinity I dived further into youtube to try and find a video to help me regain my manliness.

All I could discover was a video posted by my youtube counterpart Peter (he runs the Smart Yet Casual youtube channel, while I have taken over the blogging side of things, world domination here we come). He posted a video on how to be a man, this was perfect for me, I obviously needed to know these secrets so the people on my train would stop judging my make-up choice everyday. For those of you out there wanting to learn how to be a real man I'll include the video, it's worth checking out. For those of you who don't want to watch the video or say you watched it but didn't, I'll give you an overview. To be a man, I need to curse more, grow facial hair, get a victory dance and have no fears. While I wouldn't mind having a victory dance or having no fears, facial hair always seems to elude me no matter how hard I try, not to mention my curse word vocabulary needs a bit of work. Turns out I'm not a manly man by this standard either.

But who's to say I'm not manly? Just because I sing, act, play music and can't figure out how to get stage make up off before I get on a train doesn't mean I'm any less of a man then the guy who spends his day with a bunch of other guys running a round a field chasing a ball then having a beer to celebrate. As a society we need to embrace all levels of masculinity no matter what they may be and stop judging people for what they love! And for that matter stop judging people because they can't use make-up remover properly!

Monday, 8 April 2013

Nerds Are People Too

If you watch any movie (especially from the 80's) there will rarely be a lead character who would be classed as a "nerd". Instead they are portrayed as footballers, musicians, or even motorcycle riding rebel. Where is a movie where the hero is a glasses wearing, acne ridden, video game loving nerd? It's about time the world realises, nerds are people too.
While there are some movies that are trying to sell nerds in a new light, they are still the muscular, charming nerds, who seem no different to the football players, only they are freakishly smart. This is seen in characters such as Ironman, played by Robert Downey Jnr. and Dr Bruce Banner (Hulk) played by many actors over the years. The glasses wearing, pimple ridden nerds are still seen in a negative light.
What people fail to realise is the fact that these nerds grow up to be doctors, engineers and scientist. They become the ones who invent things to make our life easier. While the footballers grow up to run around a field throwing a ball to each other (not that there is anything wrong with that), nerds go out to save lives and create a new future or even design the ships that travel through space.
I am aware that doctors, engineers aren't always the glasses wearing, pimple ridden, video game loving nerds that we all know and love. So I will give you a quick example of gamers helping scientists to find a cure for HIV-Aids. There is a protein molecule found in aids that is constantly changing, because of this scientists were never able to find an anti-body to overcome the disease. This was until they found a group of gamers who played an enzyme building game, the aim of this game was to guess what the enzyme would look like before it finished building itself. Using these skills the top gamers were asked to try and discover what the next stage of this protein molecule would look like. The gamers were successful and ended up saving scientists what could possibly be years of research.
I'm not trying to put down our footballers, musicians or motorcycle riding rebels, I'm just trying to say that we should give nerds a chance. After all, nerds are people too.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Deep Thinking on the Train

For this post I bring us back to yet another one of my fabulous train rides. This time I'm not travelling to or from university however, this time I am travelling to a local production that I have the privilege to be part of. It was the second morning of shows and I was still in that blissful space between sleep and reality as I boarded the train, this coupled with the lengthy train ride caused my mind to wonder. My mind eventually reached the ultimate question, why are we here and what is the point of it all.
Sitting on the train I believe I have uncovered the secret behind life, the universe and everything, and no the answer is not 42. Now a pre-warning for any super religious people out there who are closed minded about anyone else's beliefs, it might be a good time now to read some of my other blogs, perhaps My Dog's Dog or Adventures on a Train (My First Blog) as things are about to get very philosophical and maybe even a little spiritual. And for those of you who want life to be a surprise, SPOILER ALERT.
On my train ride I started thinking about some people who I had just recently met and yet felt like I had known for a life time. How could it be that I have felt like I have known these people for all my life when we had met a few months prior? Could it be that we may have met before, in a past life? Have I just uncovered the meaning of life? Are we meant to spend our entire lives finding and bonding with the same people over and over again, having new experiences meeting new people on our quest to find the old, this explains the thought of your one true love. This also explains when you meet a person for the first time yet you recognise them and swear you have met them before, it's because you have met them only in a different life time. Now I won't get to much more philosophical or spiritual on you.
I just wanted to remind you quickly of the moral of this story, tired train rides can lead you to possibly discovering the meaning of life. So if you ever feel like unlocking the secrets of the universe, get up early and hop on a train, who knows maybe you'll be able to invent time travel??