Project MusicRecital

Introduction

Every project comes from someone’s desire to accomplish a goal. My goal is to share the music that I enjoy playing for a small number of people at least every 3 months. I would play once a month if it were the same repertoire but for a different audience. MusicRecital is going to help me achieve this goal.

I am an amateur musician and I do this strictly for the joy of playing. I have played recitals to maybe 20-30 people on violin and was ecstatic about it! It provided an outlet for my music, I played well, and I recorded each performance. I don’t do this currently and I haven’t done it on the guitar ever. I have played in pop music bands 0608-recitalin the past but my desire now is to perform the music that I learn as solo’s and sometimes use an accompanist or backing tracks. This project is a personal goal I have to create a web application for myself and others across the globe to bring people together that want to hear their local amateur musicians perform regularly and provide a community of people around the recital so that this culture (common to the classical music world) can be adopted by folks that like all types of music. And, our amateurs can leave their secure bedrooms, groom themselves a little, dress appropriately, grab their instruments, meet new people, and play music for them. We will satisfy this need to perform the music that we learn.

I am not the only amateur musician that wants this. The MusicRecital web application will help because it’s about contacts and like-motivation.

I have played the guitar for 48 years and I have not experienced the same excitement I did when I played these recitals on the violin every 6 months. In a pop-rock band situation, the people are there to hear the band and many times that’s just background music in a bar or pub situation. During my recitals, the audience was listening to me. And, it was like an electric charge to hear them applaud at the end of my performance.

When I started violin lessons again several years ago I looked for the best violin teacher I could find in Cary, NC. I found her through one of my wife’s close friends. The teacher’s name is Cortney Combs Baker, PHD. She teaches Suzuki violin to young students and she is amazing on the violin herself.

I can play the violin for someone (untrained musically) and they might think I can play very well. I decided to take violin lessons at the time because I cannot play the violin like I do the guitar. I believe that I can play the guitar as good if not better than some professionals so I wasn’t looking for the same challenge on the guitar. On the violin, I am a sham. It’s a very difficult instrument and I needed serious help with foundational things I didn’t learn when I taught myself in my 20’s.

Cortney introduced me to the recital. I would always practice with dedication to achieve a good performance of my recital piece. When the recital was about to occur, I would be dressed up and wait nervously for my turn at the stage. I was, however the oldest Suzuki student there in this beautiful church and I would soon step on the stage by myself and perform a ridiculously difficult piece of music for everyday parents with kids that played music. It was a rush like none other!

There have been reasons why I have not performed my guitar music publicly in a long while and I’ll discuss this more in the background section to follow.

Background

This blog posting is stored under the Music/Homecoming category. I added this category, Homecoming because my quest to play music again is a homecoming of sorts. At 18 years of age, I decided to leave Gloucester, Virginia to pursue a college education in engineering. I was accepted by an art school and ame-recital music school, both of which I love to do. I chose the engineering college because I was sure that I could find a job as an engineer much easier than I could feed myself as a starving artist or unsigned musician. 34 years later, I wish that I had chosen music. But let me be clear. I would have starved to death playing in a local bar band. I would have gone to music school.

Fast-forward to today and I’m a Java software professional that’s going to write a world-wide web application where amateur musicians can let people in their community know that they want to play somewhere, for free, for pizza, or wine, or just some hard-needed applause.

Strategy

The MusicRecital web application will only be a success if other people help me make it a success. I don’t know who we need and for what purpose just yet. I do already have some interested folks but I first need to explain the strategy behind doing something like this. Networks of interested parties will be in the application based on their location. These networks of people can be music listeners, event hosts, music teachers, music performers, background accompanists, supporting musicians, venue owners, church directors, concert hosts, entertaining homeowners, etc. This list is long and every user will have a zipcode, county, state, or even country in common. The recital is defined by “the performance of a program of music, by solo-instrumentalist, a singer, or a small group of musicians.” That clearly could fit the performance of a band that tours America. The application should be able to scale to meet the demands of touring musicians as well as local amateurs. And, the membership base will never be exclusive to professionals.

This application will be designed to initially help local musicians play their music for good food, gig networking, and simple applause. It could grow into a global music event planning and concert management tool. The web application will be prototyped before it’s put on KickStarter for funding. The application will be complex but the benefits of using it will best understood by seeing the application in use. The online web site will bring people together much quicker than word of mouth.

The strategy behind the MusicRecital project is to create an online web application that makes it easier for musicians to play their music where the currency is applause. This application needs to be created to also support a much higher level mission that’s discussed in the next section.

Mission

There are many amateur musicians around the globe and some already play for folks. Many do not and for various reasons. I wanted to form a string quartet when I was taking lessons. And, doing that as an amateur is almost impossible. It’s really no different than having two guitars, a mandolin, a banjo, and a standup bass over to your house on Saturday and making some fun noise. I spent lots of hours contacting people and trying to do this. When I finally found a cellist, he acted funny because he didn’t think I could play at all and didn’t want to drive to my house to try it. He wanted to form a quartet too but he was hesitant to even try playing with me. The orchestra community is very picky. And, finding a bunch to play bluegrass is much easier because they want to do it for fun and enjoyment. The cello player was already working a full-time job and was in 3 local orchestras. He wanted to do the quartet only if it were going to pay-off in the future, i.e. be his new form of employment.

I’m serious about my music too but I have a day job and while playing music for a living sounds good, it’s too late for me I think. But that cellist didn’t realize chamber music was written when the local musicians got together at someone’s home and just played good music. We are very lucky that the good one’s scored their pieces. I do believe that much more music was never written down.

BibiCisse1My mission is to change the perception of the recital to include other genres of music and build a global culture where teachers of all instruments do regular recitals for their students to share their work with the other students and the student’s family and friends. This culture doesn’t have to include only students and parents, it could be shared with anyone that likes that genre of music. The recital could have a Texas fiddle tune or even a Djembe drum solo. The choices for a music program are endless.

I want to also change the perception that amateur musicians are not as “good” as professionals. I really dislike this. I want amateur musicians to make more YouTube videos, upload more music, get out of their closets, stand up, and be proud of what they have accomplished as musicians. I knew a lady that was over 60 and taking violin lessons and she wouldn’t do the recital because she didn’t think she was good enough. If you wait around to be good enough, you’ll soon be dead. Your cat will have enjoyed the show. Do it. Do the recital.

Conclusion

This project, MusicRecital is going to be a difficult one. I need developers that want to work on an open-source Java web application. And, this is all volunteer at this point. If we get funded on KickStarter, I may contract for some development. We’ll do a KickStarter project for funding the hosting and technical aspects of all this. I’m also considering applying for non-profit status for the application source code development group and online community, but later forming a business to collect for professional subscriptions and continued hosting. Amateurs will receive a lifetime subscription to use to the services with base-level functionality. The development team would continue with the growth and scalability of the application and hence provide pro-accounts in the future.

I have it all in my head and it’s quite complex but I think there are ways for amateur or new professional musicians to play in the musical sandbox too. I’ll make this happen with your help. Interested in being a part this? Please contact me dlwhitehurst@me.com

Achieving My Purpose – A Musical Homecoming

HasselhoffWho is the most famous or infamous person you have ever met? It’s not David Hasselhoff but I do like his first name. This question was from my daily journal software, Day-One, and started the following spillage for this blog post you are currently reading.

I’ll achieve my purpose when I’m loved by all. “Do you love me?” I constantly asked that question to the wife of my children and angel in Heaven now when we were together years ago. For many years I never understood the question for myself until today. I thought I was insecure and wasn’t sure that maybe she really didn’t love me sometimes. I now know that it was purely for affirmation. It solidified my uniqueness or the fact that “I am David Lee Whitehurst”. I want to be loved by everyone I meet. This is more of the classical Greek agape or brotherly love for each other. Something in the knowing that I’m loved keeps me going. Almost like really living life should feel like this. I am going to improve this need by playing music again publicly very soon. And, to do this I’m going to follow the prescription of Tommy Emmanuel with a few adjustments here and there.

I develop enterprise software for a living and we use patterns to help us be successful at what we do. Tommy Emmanuel should be a pattern for other guitarists that want to play music for a living.

I’m a guitarist and I’ve looked up to a lot of guitarists over the years but Tommy Emmanuel is the absolute best at what he does. He gives guitar concerts, fills auditoriums, and theaters with crowds of people that sit there quietly and just enjoy his shows. And, he does this by himself. That’s amazing! It is amazing because he’s becoming wildly popular with my generation and folks that aren’t guitarists themselves. With most virtuoso guitarists, the audiences are mostly amateur guitarists that come to listen in awe of their heroes. With Tommy, it’s his secret sauce and that’s a combination of exceptional musical talent, awesome sounding equipment, veteran road experience, and intimate crowd connection. He’s the best period.

Tommy Emmanuel can claim expert level status for what he does. As a long-time amateur guitarist, I know that when another guitarist credits his level of playing to me, I can take his statement with a grain of salt until I actually hear him play. Tommy could say, “I am the best in the world.” and I would just agree. He has no need to embellish his words. And, for me, that truth hurts. I really do wish I could play that good.

I used to steer away from music or musicians that only made me want to get on stage with them. I chose not to play music when I was eighteen and go to college for engineering. And, for most of my life, I avoided beautiful music that I didn’t play myself, on my guitar, and inside my home. I’m a successful software professional today but I still want to play music for people. I also want to be famous. There, I said it. I hope my wife Patty is listening, she knew it all along. I always felt that playing music would place me in the hearts of lots of people for their lifetime. This way I could somehow be their friend for life. It’s no different than the long-term memory of a loved-one that’s passed many years ago. Music is touchy-feely for me. And, I want to be part of people’s memories and in their hearts. My name is David and that’s translated or means “Beloved”. Merriam-Webster defines this as dearly loved or dear to the heart. My purpose is to be loved by all.

I am practicing new songs, playing my guitar, and exercising my voice in preparation for my first Homecoming show I’ve yet to secure. I’m still looking for the affirmation so I’ll be out there soon enough to get a pat on the back, a smile from your seat, and hopefully a new friend. I would rather have friends than fans. Friends can love you. Fans just like you. And, I really do need to change my mother’s mind about “all my little Facebook girlfriends.” That’s the topic of a whole different discussion.

Keeping humming those melodies you love …

November 2014

Many stores now are stocked for Christmas shopping. For me, it isn’t Christmas or Christmas season until Thanksgiving is over. And, by Thankgiving, I mean giving thanks for all that we have. Any of us here in these United States need to do is cut on the radio or TV and we can immediately know that first, we live in the greatest country in the world. Secondly, we should be known by the rest of the world as humble people because of what we all have. Sadly, we are not. That should change. It will change for me.

I’m thankful for everything in my life. I’ve had a rough year but my wife and family are still intact. We still have a home. We still have transportation and we still have our pets. My kids are wavering between their childhood and being an adult but I’m sure that will work itself out soon.

We live our lives here on this earth among other people. I’m most thankful for all the people I know, love, or am involved with in some way or other. It’s the relationships we have with other people that define the quality of our lives.