Musicians and the Pandemic

Musicians Need Help too

Our hearts go out to anyone suffering from the current virus worldwide. Virus or not, there are always people worse off than any group of people we might mention. Right now musicians are already suffering.

You can help out by listening to their music via streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music (iTunes), and Amazon Music. Big name groups probably don’t need help. Instead, try to listen to people who you have not heard before. The artists make money for every song played. Also consider purchasing a track or album. If an artist has a donate button on their website, consider making a donation. Links to get you started are listed below.

If the pandemic continues very long, the economic impact to everyone could be severe. Musicians, at least the lesser known musicians, the truly independent musicians, whether teachers, church musicians, local performers or composers/arrangers are already suffering.

As a church musician, I no longer have a congregation to play for. (We do not have the financial resources or equipment to try and do live services over the internet). It is still up in the air whether I will continue to be paid. If not, nearly 50% of my annual income is gone.

Few musicians perform entirely by themselves. Even a concert pianist has support personnel. Currently there are practically no music performances for live audiences and only the big name performers, who probably don’t need any help can manage concerts via the internet. Most performing and teaching musicians will be unable to effectively do things over the internet.

Teachers can’t teach as effectively via the internet as in live settings. Recording studios, even home studios are no longer operating. And there are many more things negatively impacting musicians.

In my situation I always have taught piano lessons via Facetime or Skype, but thanks to a terrible ISP (AT&T) I have a very, very slow DSL internet connection (never more than 3Mbps!) so what I hear and see is never ideal quality. So, while the idea of doing things over the internet is a great ideal, the infrastructure, at least in rural America simply does not exist.

Here are some links to get you started:
Spotify (Listen for free)

Apple Music (iTunes)

Amazon Music

Google Music

And of course we can be helped with every piece of sheet music you buy or by taking music lessons over Skype or Facetime.

Everyone stay safe. Wash your hands often, avoid crowds, don’t go anywhere unless you have to. If you are sick, think you are sick or someone in your household is the same, stay home.

Musicians and Online Personals

Online Personals – Good or Bad?

I know this post isn’t music related and may be the first time I’ve posted anything not music related and perhaps the first of a “personal” nature (sorry for the pun). However, I hope it is of some help to musicians out there. Let’s face it, we are often spending time practicing, recording, composing or performing and don’t always have time to find someone to date. Yes, we have time to date and have good relationships, I think. I believe being involved with a musician can be a very fulfilling relationship. So, to find someone, as with much of the modern world, we turn to online personals.

But to quote from The Mentalist, Rhapsody in Red S03E22:
“You’re musicians. Professional obsessives. Most kids spend their teen years having fun, you spent them practicing. It’s a noble pursuit, but as a result, you’re all nutty.”
So maybe we should avoid all romantic and intimate relationships.

While reading this, why not listen to my music on Spotify or Apple Music? Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/1Lwd3crEb3YBoQnmIHY6ZY
Apple Music: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/james-gilbert/id5103640?uo=4

I will admit to being a bit older than the normal dating crowd, but I have always thought I would get married and raise my own family. When I was younger and internet personals were kinda frowned upon, I had the same results as I discuss here, but at other sites. If the (married) senior adults and (married) parents of children I teach are right when they say I would make a great husband and father, I don’t think I’m too old to give it a try. So, I decided to try out a few dating sites. In hindsight I should have spent the money on something to help out my music career instead, but, what’s done is done.

First of all, I will never understand why so many women, if they are real people and not con-artists or worse, would be in such a hurry to exchange personal email addresses and/or cell phone numbers. To go “offline” as they say. I would much rather get to know a person well enough that I have no reason to doubt that they are who they claim to be before exchanging personal contact information. I am also suspicious of mid-30’s women who want to find a man who is 45-75 years old and even more suspicious of women below 50 who would like to find a man between 18 and 102! Of course, if the old saying, “half the age of the man and add 7 to find the ideal age of the woman to marry” is true, then someone in her 30’s would be ideally suited for someone in their 50’s and so forth.

For me, being a church musician, I thought I’d try out two Christian oriented sites as well as two general dating sites.

I will add that to get the most out of any of these sites, with the possible exception of POF, you are going to have to shell out some money.

My two biggest complaints

First, there is nobody within a 50 mile radius on any of the sites that meets the criteria that I am after. Of course, within a 5-mile radius of where I live I believe there are less than 5,000 people. That’s part of the reason I’m single.

But my biggest gripe is the way the sites do their “matching” and search algorithms. The automatic matching takes all of one’s profile and presents matches that fit what you are looking for. But, in one important area, I’m rarely what that woman is looking for. That is, someone of my age. If I search, say for someone 18-20, I’ll find them that match most of my criteria. HOWEVER, none of the sites narrow the search down to show *only* women who are looking for someone of my age. It is doubtful anyone between 18 & 20 would want someone of my age (and I know better than to search for them), but even when I do search for women in a reasonable age range to mine, most don’t want someone my age. So, I may have to go through hundreds of profiles to find anyone who is at all interested in someone of my age. It would be an easy search to implement if they made sure that I never saw a profile if that woman wasn’t interested in someone of my age. I do give credit to ChristianCupid for making their “match” feature only show people interested in someone of my age. But, their general search shows far too many women who aren’t interested in my age range. More below on that.

Match.com

Probably one of the oldest services available. To get anything out of it, you’re going to have to pay. They ask a lot of general questions about you and the type of woman (in my case) that I’m looking for. That info is displayed in your profile. You are presented with a list of recommended matches that most of the time consist of women who are not interested in someone of my age. Match uses icons to indicate if the person has been online recently or in the past week or so or is online. For me 90% of my recommended matches haven’t been using the system in a long time, so no need to even bother looking at their profiles as they aren’t going to respond if I send a message. Their search function is good and they offer a way to call your match without them knowing your phone number (or you theirs). I never tried that.

For me, my ideal search only produced six results within a 5000 mile range! Only two of those had been online recently.

I’ve sent a total of 5 messages and have not gotten a single response. I’ve “Liked” some others, but they have never looked at my profile, “liked” me or sent me a message.

POF.COM

Plenty of fish. The most confusing to use site of all of them to navigate. I get the distinct impression that the site is more about potential hookups (one-night stands) than anything serious, although given my age I think I’m a target for gold-diggers. The “my matches” shows a bunch of thumbnail images of women but tells you nothing about where they are or how old they are unless you click on each one. Very time confusing. Almost all of my matches included women who have children or who were divorced which are two criteria that I stated in my profile I wasn’t interested in. Their “ultra match” was not any better.

I did get 115 results from a search. However, none of the first dozen or so I checked met the criteria I had specified in my profile.

I did get some messages. After a few days of sending messages back & forth, they either quit messaging me or disappeared off the system. In one case, their picture disappeared, their profile changed to that of a man looking for women. A week later, their profile picture showed a rather ugly middle aged man. I reported numerous profiles for obvious fraudulent behavior as well as profiles that did not show their face as the main picture (a requirement of the site). After a month, nothing had changed. The frauds were still there, the woman’s profile that became that of the ugly man was still there, etc. I also doubt that the 34 year old from Denver who was “currently out of the country studying medicine” and who quit emailing me after a few exchanges was at all real or really interested in me.

Christian Cupid

Without a doubt, the worse. (That is, except for high marks on having proper match results, but still poor search results). Based on my criteria, which I don’t think is that restrictive, I only had 3 matches, none of whom had been active on the system in the past year! I did get many messages, in Spanish, from numerous Latin and South American countries, but, I don’t speak Spanish so I’d have no way to communicate with them. I also specified in my discovery criteria that I wasn’t interested in anyone from a non-English speaking country. I did get one message from a woman who, when she actually read my profile, informed me she was just looking for a fling, nothing serious. Christian Cupid does offer a “verification” service (for free) where you have to send a driver’s license or passport photo to them and they then mark your profile as verified. I’ve yet to run across a verified profile in my searching.

I would avoid this site at all costs.

Christian Mingle

I found this site to have the best layout and functionality, but also the most number of apparent fake profiles or con-artists. The method of searching is a bit different, but as with all the sites, I ended up with a large number of women who were simply not interested in someone of my age. So, I had to go through and block a lot of women so they wouldn’t keep showing up in the search results.

I did have a dozen or so women reply to and/or start conversations. After two or three messages, many of them disappeared from the site. I suspect they were fake, but they could have blocked me. I know for a fact that 3 women who messaged me were suspended from the site. Most of those who disappeared from the site were the ones that insisted (after only a couple of messages and not knowing hardly anything about one another) that we exchange email and/or cell phone information and “go offline.” There were many who never answered basic questions I asked like “what’s the weather like there” or “what type of nursing do you do” and simple, basic questions one might ask on a first date face to face.

When I am online I get a lot of “smiles” and a few likes from people with the username “mingler_xxxx” where the x’s are hexadecimal values. After a few days, most of those accounts disappeared from my list of activity. It was also very interesting how some women would “like” me or send me messages but had never looked at my profile. (Yes, it was possible to turn off one’s visibility, but I don’t think that was the case).

I had one woman who did enough to convince me that she was on the level and I gave her my email. (As I run my own website I can setup a temporary email account that I can delete if I start to get spam). She said she was from San Antonio, TX and was very disappointed with the web site and all the fakes. She said she was going to probably cancel her account. She only emailed me every other day to start with and when she did, she really didn’t say a whole lot. I wrote appropriate emails for someone interested in a long term relationship, but never provided enough personal info for her to use to potentially manipulate me. One day there just weren’t any more messages. About two weeks after first contacting her on the site, and 3 days after sending my first email to her, I noticed her location is now Los Angeles, CA and not San Antonio. I don’t know if the mobile app reports your current location or the location you entered when you signed up (which can be easily changed) but I don’t think that’s the case. Either way, she never mentioned planning to visit LA or moving there and after two weeks, she is, surprise, surprise, still on Christian Mingle. I know not to send anything in emails that could could come back to haunt me. I’m going to keep this avenue of communication open and see if she ever contacts me. I did finally report her and her profile is no longer visible to me.

The website constantly displays a “we are having network issues please try later” and is slow at loading matches. I have tried for a week now to view the list of blocked women only to be greeted with the network issues message.

Conclusion

Unless you are in your early 20’s, maybe early 30’s and don’t have any specific expectations in those you date, then I can’t recommend any personals site to anyone. Even the 20 & 30’s age group should be extra cautious. Of course, if you are lucky to have people within 50 miles of you, you can meet and find out for yourself how real they are, but for anyone out of your area, especially if you are older, tread with caution. If you live in a relatively large city, I would suggest that you get out of the studio, stop practicing so much and go places where you’ll meet the type of person you want to date (or potentially marry) and not settle for 2nd best. And please, don’t wait until you are in your 30’s to think about getting married or having children. It will be much harder by then.

Oh, me, I’m 57, never married, no children, but still hopeful. You can look at my website and get a good feel for who I am. Pictures and video are available on this website and youtube. Ideally, I’d like to find someone young enough to have her own children with me. If my family history is any indication, I’m good for another 30 years or so, so even a younger woman would not be disappointed. I’m in it for the long run and am very good at sticking to commitments. If you are white, born a female, never married, don’t have any children of any age, feel free to drop me a note using the contact page on my website and who knows? https://jamesgilbertmusic.com/contact.php

New Album Released

Hymns – Plugged In

I’ve been at it again. A new album is now available. It is title Hymns – Plugged In.

Album Art

A collection of traditional hymns set in contemporary styles using all electronic instruments.

Available at: https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/jamesgilbert13  as well as on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon and all digital music sources.

Here is a demo of the whole album:

New Free Music available

Free Music

If you didn’t know it, my website has quite a few complete pieces available for download for free. There are also some free titles that would be of use to teachers or students, particularly as related to music theory. Unlike many free products out there, you don’t have to register, you don’t have to give me your email address. Just download what you want.  You’re welcome to click on the donate button found on several of my pages if you’d like to help me stay out of debt.

Go to the music catalog https://jamesgilbertmusic.com/catalog.php and click on the free music link.

The original descriptions from when they were sold:

Volume one: AMSTERDAM (Praise The Lord Who Reigns Above) – BLESSED NAME (Blessed Be The Name) – CONVERSE (What A Friend We Have In Jesus) – GALILEE (Jesus Calls Us) – MESSAGE (We’ve A Story To Tell To The Nations) – NEAR THE CROSS – SALVATION – ST THOMAS (I Love Thy Kingdom)- SURRENDER (I surrender all)- WEDLOCK (God Is My Strong Salvation) -Parts are included for treble clef C Bb Eb and F instruments.

Volume 2: AR HYD Y NOS- BRADBURY (Savior Like A Shepherd) – CRIMOND (The Lord’s My Shepherd) – ST DENIO (Immortal Invisible) – WEB (Stand Up For Jesus) – CRUSADER’S HYMN (ST ELIZABETH) (Fairest Lord Jesus; Beautiful Savior) – I AM THINE – MY SAVIOR’S LOVE (I Stand Amazed) – O HOW I LOVE JESUS – PROMISES (Standing on) – RESIGNATION (My Shepherd Will Supply). Parts are provided for treble clef C Bb Eb and F instruments.

Volume 3: AZMON (O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing); CWM RHONDDA (God Of Grace And God Of Glory); TOPLADY (Rock of Ages); JOYFUL SONG (Praise Him Praise Him); GORDON (My Jesus I Love Thee); HENDON (Take My Life And Let It Be); BUNESSAN (Morning Has Broken); LYONS (O Worship The King); PICARDY (Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence); In The Garden; Love Lifted Me. Parts are provided for treble clef C Bb Eb and F instruments.

Enjoy.

Slurs, ties and phrases

Let’s talk about slurs, phrases and ties. As a long time piano teacher, I find many students, even advanced players get confused.

Slurs – curved line over/under two or more *different* notes.
Tie – curved line connecting the *same* note(s) immediately next to one another.
Phrase – a musical idea, often indicated with a slur line over/under many notes or more often, many measures.

Slurs mean to play the notes legato, or to put it into English – play the notes smoothly, connected or without any silence between the notes. How this is done depends on your instrument. On piano, do not lift the finger of the first note until you go to play the 2nd note. In bowed strings, like violin, it typically means to keep the bow going in the same direction. Wind/brass instruments it often means that you don’t tongue between notes. Check with your teacher on the best way to do a slur. You do have a teacher, right? Please tell me you aren’t trying to do this without anyone checking your work to see if it is correct – just because it sounds fine to you doesn’t mean it’s correct.

Example of slurs
An example of slurs

In the entire example above, all the curved lines over/above the notes are slurs, *except* for the D notes in the right hand and the E notes in the left hand in measures 7-8 & 15-16 (3rd beat tied to 1st beat). Those are ties. In all other cases, even measure 5 going into measure 6, the curve line is over/under at least 2 different notes. That’s all there is to slurs. Note that in this piano music example, there are some passages with both stem up and stem down notes at the same time. We call the different directions “voices.” In those cases, the position of the slur makes a difference. For example, the slur in measures 7 & 8 over the high (stems up) voices in the right hand part are under the influence of the slur, but not the low voices.

At the end of a slur it is common to “take a breath” before going to the next note. At measure 22 below in the right hand, a pianist might shorten the length of the  off-beat 8th notes (& of 1, & of 2, etc) ever so slightly. A violinist would change bow directions resulting in a break in the sound. How much breath one takes, if any, is subjective.

Phrase example
An example of phrases

In the above example starting at measure 26, the curved line over the right hand part is more properly called a phrase. A phrase being a musical idea implies that all the notes in the phrase are all part of one musical idea. Whether to play all the notes legato (smooth) as a slur would indicate is more of a performance choice than a requirement. In fact, in this example it is impossible to play the entire phrase connected. Can you spot why not? In measure 27 there are two repeated “G”‘s in the right hand. By definition, repeated notes cannot be played smoothly connected. One has to lift their fingers (or change bow direction, etc.) in order to play a repeated note. That causes a silence between the notes and thus they are no longer connected or smooth.

Ties. In measures 40 to 41 and 41 to 42 are examples of ties. The top note, B on the 3rd beat is tied into the 1st beat. That means play the note on beat 3 and hold the note down until the end of the tied note, in this case the end of beat 1. The F in measure 41, beat one is tied to beat 2. The C on beat 2 is tied into beat 3 *and* into the dotted half note on beat one of measure 42. All the while, there is a phrase/slur line over measures 39 to 42. Both notes in the left hand of measure 41, beat 2 tie into the next measure. In the case of the ties, all the curved lines connect the *same* note(s) to the same note with no other notes between them. Don’t be confused by the slur in measure 34 and 35. The first and last notes are both G in the right hand. Are the two G’s tied? Of course not. Because there are several notes between them it can only mean the curved line is a slur.

I hope this helps. Please comment below.

Kontakt Player Intro

Kontakt Player
Kontakt Player

In my latest YouTube video I am taking a quick look at Native Instrument’s Kontakt Player. This is a free product that comes with a respectable amount of instruments. It is ideal for anyone getting started with sampling or interested in getting into music technology. I made the video for some of my piano students who have expressed an interest.

The video does show the full version of Kontakt, but the player version is essentially the same. The only major difference is you can’t created your own instruments from samples or edit the existing instruments and a few other restrictions.

Please leave comments here and let me know what future tutorial videos you’d like to see.

New Sheet Music

New Music

Available now at my website and SheetMusicPlus, are the following titles. For a list of all titles I have available, visit https://jamesgilbertmusic.com/catalog.php

Ancient Quandary — Orchestra — https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20964252

Christ Is Made The Sure Foundation — Orchestra — https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20964255

David’s Lamentation — Orchestra — https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20964256

Heaven Above — Orchestra — https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20964259

I Remember You, My Lord — Orchestra — https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20964261

Open My Eyes – Organ — https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20964263

Is there a specific hymn tune you’d like to see arranged, and for what instrumentation? Let me know.

Choir Labs contest

Choir labs contest

From time to time I enter various arranging or mixing contests. Recently Spitfire Audio – a British company that makes very good sound libraries – sponsored a contest. They make available various free libraries, one of which is based on the Eric Whitacre choir. The contest was to compose and record music to fit one of 5 NASA provided videos. They ranged in length from 30 seconds to 1 minute. Here is my effort.

Thanks for reading my blog. Please feel free to comment. You can also subscribe to be kept updated on new posts.

Recent additions

Late October additions to catalog and Soundcloud

Listen to my contribution to a collaborative effort with Spitfire Audio. (Alas it wasn’t selected as part of the song).

I added 3 new sheet music titles to the sheet music catalog (https://jamesgilbertmusic.com/catalog.php)

Two versions of the Hallelujah Chorus from Messiah. One for solo organ and one for Brass quintet:

https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20928934

https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20928932

A solo organ arrangement of Beneath The Cross Of Jesus.

https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20928930

I have some instrumental ensemble (orchestra) titles coming soon. If you have any suggestions for what type of music you’d like to see me add to the catalog, please comment below.

Enjoy..