Funding a Nonprofit Music Organization

Future public education will require involvement and collaboration among various local, civic, private and nonprofit entities, a concept I like to refer to as ‘community entrepreneurship.’ ~ Donald Bren

Running a nonprofit, such as a community band, can be a very challenging project in today’s world. For example in big cities like Seattle, finding a practice venue that doesn’t require a million dollar insurance in addition to paying for the space at an hourly rate is just part of the story. So a big part of a running a successful program is funding the program.

We have found that for concerts, rather than charging an entrance fee, we get more participation with a “suggested” ticket fee. We also run a bake sale that brings in a significant return on investment. But that isn’t enough to support the band. So there are two programs I’d like to suggest.

AmazonCharityFirst there is the Amazon Smile program where a percentage of what you purchase can go to a charity of your choice. Today, for example, they are gifting registered charities 5% of eligible purchases. Normally, it .5% of purchases.

For the community band my wife and I play in, Amazon has contributed over $200 for each of us over the 3 years we have been participating. My mom contributes too, to there is more money that goes to our favorite charity.

What is AmazonSmile?

AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support your favorite charitable organization every time you shop, at no cost to you. When you shop at smile.amazon.com, you’ll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as Amazon.com, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to your favorite charitable organization. You can choose from nearly one million organizations to support.

How do I shop at AmazonSmile?

To shop at AmazonSmile simply go to smile.amazon.com from the web browser on your computer or mobile device. You may also want to add a bookmark to smile.amazon.com to make it even easier to return and start your shopping at AmazonSmile.

Which products on AmazonSmile are eligible for charitable donations?

Tens of millions of products on AmazonSmile are eligible for donations. You will see eligible products marked “Eligible for AmazonSmile donation” on their product detail pages. Recurring Subscribe-and-Save purchases and subscription renewals are not currently eligible.

Can I use my existing Amazon.com account on AmazonSmile?

Yes, you use the same account on Amazon.com and AmazonSmile. Your shopping cart, Wish List, wedding or baby registry, and other account settings are also the same.

How do I select a charitable organization to support when shopping on AmazonSmile?

On your first visit to AmazonSmile (smile.amazon.com), you need to select a charitable organization to receive donations from eligible purchases before you begin shopping. We will remember your selection, and then every eligible purchase you make at smile.amazon.com will result in a donation.

FreddieCharityAnother very successful program that I just learned about is the Fred Meyer Community Rewards program. By aligning your Fred Meyer Rewards Card with your favorite charity, you can directly help keep that program going. Fred Meyer donates money to nonprofits in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington, based on customers who link their Rewards card to one nonprofit. You’ll continue to earn your personal rewards points when you link your card.

As our community band is already hooked up to Amazon Smile, I am now going to look into the Fred Meyer program. Play on.

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Best Big Band Bari Sax Sound Tip (du Jour)

“If you’re going to make a mistake, make it loud so everybody else sounds wrong” ~ Joe Venuti

BariJimI often play bari sax in big bands, including my own band. I find that I usually end up blowing my brains out, and still I am not loud enough. If you and I were in a normal sized room and I blew that loud, you’d be very annoyed and cover your ears!

I have tried a number of mouthpieces, trying to find one that has the nice rich mix of overtones and volume. But there seems to be a trade off between good sound and volume. Until I discovered this…

A number of years ago I was sitting in a big band practice on bari sax and it was the best practice session of my life. I wasn’t having to extend a huge amount of air to get a sound that carries across the sax section. People in the sax section, and these are professionals that I really respect, noted that my sound was amazing and they liked being able to hear me. Success, but what was I doing differently?

ThumbTurns out the tenor player next to me had his clarinet-mounted mic turned on the whole night and it was set between us, next to my sax. It picked up the sound and the mic was particularly good. I have subsequently used that trick, especially for example, when I am soloing on a a bass sax backed by a 60-piece concert band.

Bari sax players, you are welcome. You could spend your life looking for the perfect mouthpiece to make you loud and give up on creating that perfect bari/bass sax sound that makes it all worth while.

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The History of the Real Book

Excerpted from: https://officialrealbook.com/history/

For more than 40 years, the Real Book has been the go-to resource for jazz musicians playing jazz standards and classics from the Great American Songbook. You’ll find this ubiquitous tome on music stands the world over, from club and “society” gigs to practice rooms and jam sessions. This is its story.

In 1975, a few students at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, tired of the illegible and somewhat irrelevant fake books available to music students at the time, set about transcribing popular jazz tunes pertinent to the time into handwritten charts. Riffing on the title of a popular Cambridge street paper called the Real Paper and the concept of taking “fake” books to the next level, the Real Book was born.

RealBook

“Black market” Real Book, circa 1984.

“The book was not conceived to finance our education,” says one of the Real Book’s anonymous co-creators, in an email published at the web site of jazz educator Barry Kernfeld. “It was first and foremost an attempt to reinvent the concept of what a fake book was, to raise the bar for all such books to come.”

From the time the Real Book creators first walked into the school’s lobby holding their copies fresh from the printer, the book became a runaway success. Word of this new compendium spread quickly in music circles, and demand grew exponentially, with the Real Book finding its way into the hands of jazz musicians all over the world.

“We knew we could have made a pile of money had we continued,” says ‘anonymous,’ “but we weren’t in the business of selling fake books—we were headed for careers as musicians—and we were definitely concerned of the legal ramifications.”

RealBook2Concerned enough, in fact, to visit a couple of copyright experts in Boston in an attempt to legitimize the book; however, in the end they found it cost-prohibitive and proceeded to “publish” the book at local copy shops.

However honorable the creators’ intentions may have been with regard to copyright law and royalty payments, their Real Book was nonetheless illegal. Not surprisingly, as demand grew, legions of bootleggers began making their own copies and selling them “black market” style on street corners near music schools or from under the counter at local music shops—a practice that would go on for nearly 30 years, as the Real Book eventually became the unofficially best-selling jazz songbook of all time.

Read more: https://officialrealbook.com/history/

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Playing, Performing, Entertaining

Terry Stibal penned this in 2011 in the Woodwind Forum. He has now passed on, but his writings live on.

StageLeftThis is a pet peeve of mine. I know a lot of folks who can do the first, significantly fewer who can do the second, and almost geometrically fewer who can achieve the third.

Playing
We all can play, at least to some degree, or we wouldn’t be here in the first place. Mastery of the instrument, of reading music, and of functioning in a group constitute playing. It takes years, not a little practice, and some attention to mechanical issues along the way, but we’re all players.

In a pinch, I can get by with a player to cover a part. They may be a little inflexible at first, but given a bit of time and a couple of rehearsals of the charts, they’ll manage just fine.

Performing
Here, we’ve moved up a notch on the spectrum. Playing is part of performing, but only just a part. A “performer” has to be able to fit it all together, to change things on the fly if needed, to adapt to situations that are out of a player’s ‘comfort zone’. It means singing out on band vocals, being able to pick up the loose ends in a hurry if a vocalist skips a verse, and being able to work through an unfamiliar tune that someone requests without warning.

I have had some players who never move up to this point. They’re the ones who just sit there after a tune is finished (instead of making it a priority to get the next tune up and ready), or who don’t bother to master the ins and outs of a difficult chart. A lot of what’s needed here is preparation – for example, a good vocalist “fills in” their knowledge on what is being performed, and can spout patter on their next tune to cover if there’s a problem in the trombone section (where they always seem to occur).

Entertaining
Here’s where things get transcendental. With a lot of effort, we become players. With a little more and some organization, we can attain the performer moniker. But, it takes a special person to become an ‘entertainer’.

BonesThe ones that fall into this category are usually vocalists. Occasionally, you will find a sideman who has that special “something”. It may be that he or she is not just “my funny buddy” but instead someone who knows how to be funny with a group of strangers. Or, they may be able to make the transition from engaging the audience vocally to engaging them with a horn.

But, anyone who can make this last leap is usually better off as a vocalist. For, no matter how good the notes are coming out of a horn, people usually relate better to someone who is communicating with them on their level. I know that vocalists are pretty far removed from blowing a horn, but vocalists are what the general public relate to when the concept of music is broached. They may not be able to play a note, but they can all sing (sort of).

I’ve known performers who are mediocre players when they are at their very best, but who can lock in the audience’s attention, just from the way they move their eyes. It’s a gift, one that I don’t pretend to have as a musician.

(I can, however, handle a speaking assignment with the best of them. I did this during my day job for just over forty years, and it allows me to communicate with large numbers of people. Just don’t ask me to sing anything other than Love Shack…)

I’m interested in hearing the thoughts of others on this. What experiences have you had in dealing with players, performers and entertainers?

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Music Projects Galore

If music be the food of love, play on. ~ William Shakespeare

PianoBooksThrough the last ten years I have been collecting piano books with the idea that I might co-opt one of the songs to create a sax quartet. I did this once for my grandson for a school ensemble contest. My son has encouraged me to write solo transcriptions, quartet music and the like saying that it would improve my playing skillz.

Seventh String sez, “What I am talking about here is the process of working out how to play and/or write out a piece of music starting with just a recording of the piece – a commercially released CD perhaps. We would usually be talking about non-classical music as most classical music can be obtained as printed music.

You will also hear classical musicians speak of “transcribing” to mean adapting a piece of music written for one instrument to be played on another. Thus when John Williams plays Scarlatti sonatas (originally written for keyboard) on the guitar, these would be called “transcriptions” although he didn’t need to work them out from a recording because you can buy the published sheet music (for keyboard) in a shop. Non-classical musicians don’t often use the word this way because they customarily rearrange music for their own combination of instruments all the time anyway.

sheet-music-1200The effort involved in transcribing music from recordings varies enormously depending on the complexity of the music, how good you ear is and how detailed you want your transcription to be. If you merely want to write down the chords to a very simple song then if your ear is good you may be able to scribble them down in real time while the music is playing. At the other extreme if you are attempting a detailed transcription of complex music then it can take hours to transcribe a single minute of music.”

Read more at: https://www.seventhstring.com/resources/howtotranscribe.html

Truth is that I have not touched these second hand books. So now my quandary, do I hold on to the two shelves of piano books, hoping to use them in the future? Or do I release them back into the wild to find a new home. Ah Spring cleaning.

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Pay Raise and Retirement Tips and Tricks

“I believe that the biggest mistake that most people make when it comes to their retirement is they do not plan for it. They take the same route as Alice in the story from “Alice in Wonderland,” in which the cat tells Alice that surely she will get somewhere as long as she walks long enough. It may not be exactly where you wanted to get to, but you certainly get somewhere.” ~ Mark Singer, The Changing Landscape Of Retirement – What You Don’t Know Could Hurt You

RetirementMy guidance to friends and family (or basically anyone who will listen): Most people don’t know what they are worth or how valuable they would be to any company. In the past, I have started looking around to find a better paying job and suddenly found that I had a huge, and I mean 50% huge, pay raise with some really nice words about how they’d like me to stay. Note, I hadn’t told anyone I was looking elsewhere for a pay raise.

Two, later in life (after my 40s) every time I got a pay raise, half of it went into my retirement savings. I still got a raise and I never missed the other half because it was like I never had it. I think they call this method “paying yourself first”.

CheshireCat

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Scotty, Beam Me Up

What!? Is the transporter broken again? When will it be back on line? Really, sometimes I wonder if those clowns at Starfleet maintenance know the difference between a Heisenberg compensator and a sonic screwdriver.

BeamMeUp

Beam me up, Scotty” is a catchphrase that made its way into popular culture from the science fiction television series Star Trek. It comes from the command Captain Kirk gives his chief engineer, Montgomery “Scotty” Scott, when he needs to be transported back to the Starship Enterprise.

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