As the year comes to an end I have been reflecting about some of the new things I have learned since lockdown began in March. Before lockdown began, I remember in late February finding Google's Chrome Music Lab while at my teaching studio in Issaquah one night after my day of teaching. I sent an e-mail to myself so that I would remember to check it out later. Little did I know I would have the time to fully explore it and create a online tutorial series to educate other people how to use it. Since then I have dove into learning more about automated music using digital and mechanical tools. What started out as a interest using Chrome Music Lab as an educational tool, made me see how the exact same knowledge could be used to punch cards for a music box, and the sound reminded me of the mbira (another google video reminded me that I knew someone that made those!). I was lucky enough to find a teacher to show me a few traditional mbira songs via Skype.
While learning about automated music, I also started going deeper into using MIDI and learning how to sync up multiple different pieces of musical equipment. One of the coolest things I discovered how to do was how to hook up a loop pedal to a drum machine so that it is always in sync. This allows me to build up whole rhythm sections on one loop. Early on in quarantine I supported a kickstarter that made a video synthesizer that syncs also with musical equipment. When it arrived I could apply what I learned about midi to sync it with other musical hardware. In my arrangement of Silent Night I have synced all of my hardware to a master clock. This includes a loop pedal, drum machine and video synth. This allowed me to layer tracks while keeping in perfect time with a drum machine - this is one of the most difficult things about a loop pedal! Keeping it in time with everything else.
While it is been very difficult during the last year, I am so grateful for the opportunity to explore all these different aspects of music. It has brought me so much joy, and I feel like I have a wider and deeper way of understanding music because of these explorations. I really look forward to finding creative ways to share what I have learned with my students in the future. Thanks for joining me in this musical journey and happy holidays!