Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Year of Blogging

Happy one year anniversary to my blog!

About a year ago, I had just begun working with Mike from Departure Consulting on how to take a more entrepreneurial attitude towards my music career.  One of our first exercises together was listing out my strengths and combining them into different combinations to explore ways to utilize them.  One of the ideas I came up with was a blog (which tied together my skills in teaching, writing, and technology).  So in mid-May, I wrote my first post, and it’s been going ever since.  Here’s how I described my blog in that first post:

I want this blog to be about those different parts and sums that are my life.  I am a songwriter, educator, empathizer, baker, skeptic, atheist, boyfriend, Microsoft Office expert, puzzler, iconoclast, tubist, gamer, accordionist, self-doubter, stone skipper, satirist, and designer. It would be too easy to pigeonhole and squint to find the label these different components add up to.  But I’d rather relish in the incongruities.  I want to talk about how a tuba player approaches skepticism, how a game-lover perceives Microsoft Excel, and how an educator fosters and transforms self-doubt.

stone skipping

Upon the water, I noticed only one path of stone ripples. But it was then that I carried you.

I think I have covered each of those parts of my life (except perhaps stone skipping and atheism) across the past year.  I’ve really enjoyed the process of letting my thoughts take shape.  The other day I was sifting through past entries, feeling a growing sense of pride about the volume and quality of material I’ve put together here. I hope you’ve enjoyed some of that process too.

This is often the point where someone says they’re taking a break or stepping down.  Nope!  While occasional fluctuations of inspiration or mood create gaps in my blog record, I plan to keep writing and keep exploring.  I do feel like I have a lot of information and experience to share.

Here are some of the stats from my blog:

  • Since launching on May 15, 2012, I have had 3,225 views.
  • This is my 67th post.
  • My most popular post, with 269 views was Depression and the People You Love.
  • My least popular post, with 10 views is a tie between It Just Feels RightDan Nosheny is Neon and ShyTreading Virgin Water, and Expertise for Non-Experts.  Several of those are about the benefits of approaching projects without much prior knowledge of the subject.  I get it, I get it, you don’t want to hear it anymore.  But c’mon, Treading Virgin Water is an awesome title!
  • My post last week, Networking for People Who Cringe at the Word “Networking”, had a whopping 109 views.  This more than all the other views from the last month combined (including the home page).  Combined with my most popular post, it tells me you like stories about people who feel marginalized and out of the mainstream.  In that case, you are in luck, as I’m rife with those stories.
  • I have 5 drafts that I started and was disappointed with the direction they were heading.  They are titled :
    • Where’s the Next New Awesomeness
    • Swept By the Tide of Culture
    • All Hail Open-Ended Play
    • The Cubist Coin
    • Surviving the Session
  • I have 30 followers, most of whom I do not know.  I also don’t know if there’s any credibility in having followers on WordPress, but I’m going to pretend there is.

Thanks again for joining me on this fun experiment.  I feel like I’m constantly learning new things and finding new ways of expressing myself.  Next up on the docket: Atheism and Stone Skipping.

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If I Wasn’t Shy

When I tell people I perform under the name Neon and Shy, I often get a perplexed expression in response.  I’m often asked if there’s a second band member (one named “Neon” and one named “Shy”), and I have to explain that they are adjectives rather than names.  Inevitably, I get the response “I understand the neon part.  But you’re up there on the stage singing, bantering with the audience, and laughing; you’re not shy.”  It is seemingly difficult to reconcile public self-expression with introvertedness.  And yet, here we are.

He Man with a Mic

Check one two… I HAVE THE POWER

While I’m on stage, I’m buoyed by a combination of exhilaration, fearlessness, and the immense power of holding a microphone (seriously, watch children play with microphones; their demeanor transforms before your eyes).  Offstage, I’m much more timid.  Often the first thing I want to do after leaving the stage is hide in the green room by myself for a bit.  I appreciate the adulation when I get it although sometimes it’s uncomfortable to hear.  I’m often ready to become a “civilian” again.

Yesterday I went to see Carol Jantsch, Principle Tubist of the Philadelphia Orchestra, premiere a tuba concerto by Michael Daugherty with the Temple University Symphony Orchestra.  Her playing was absolutely gorgeous, and it was a real treat to hear her play.  Afterwards I met up with two tubist colleagues who suggested we go backstage and say hi.  Now, I had never met Carol before, despite our having friends in common and at least one major interest in common.  Upon arriving backstage, the too twobists I knew greeted her and offered congratulations.  I really wanted to give my compliments and introduce myself, but I couldn’t bring myself to.  Perhaps it was that she already had a crowd around her congratulating her and I wanted to give space.  Perhaps it was that her parents were there and I didn’t want to get in the way of the personal moment.  But the truth is I just felt too shy to introduce myself.  And sadly the moment passed.

Sometimes my shyness comes in the form of timidity.  Recently I was in the process of booking a new band of mine called Polkadelphia.  I was asked for a bio, and quickly whipped this together:

A tuba, trombone, trumpet, and accordion walked into a bar lamenting the lack of fresh approaches in the genre of polka.  Two rounds and one passionate conversation later, Polkadelphia was born.  Not your ordinary oompah band, Polkadelphia plays classic German brass band tunes with a modern flair, while also incorporating artists you never expected to hear, such as Radiohead, the Beatles, and the Muppet Show.  Whether rocking out at the local biergarden or strolling through the bustling tents at Oktoberfest they always bring the haus down!

I sent it out to the booker, but couldn’t avoid adding in a little postscript: “Let me know if this is too cheesy.”  About 10 minutes later I started regretting writing it.  Because if it was too cheesy, it wasn’t for this booker to determine.  It was for me as the author and bandleader to decide (and the people who read it and decided to come or not to come).  I felt like I had undermined my professionality by questioning my word choice and tone in front of the person who was hiring me.  I had gotten this far in the booking by exuding confidence in what I was doing.  I found myself wishing I had taken ownership of the situation.

It’s interesting, because the act of owning the moment is what allows me to be charismatic and, ahem, neon on the stage.  I’d love to be able to apply it to other area of my life less self-consciously.  When I spent time on the road touring, we used to do it all the time.  The band I toured with was excellent at bluffing their way to better gigs, better hotel rooms, and better food.

I’ll never forget the day we came upon a Panera that was about to open.  The night we got there, it was a special event just for family members of employees.  The idea was that the new employees could practice their cashiering and food preparation before they opened to the public.  So when we arrived, someone asked us at the door if we were a family member of an employee.  One quick yes later, and we were given $20 in credit to buy whatever we wanted.

That example might be pushing it a bit.  After all, I did feel bad about the deception of it.  I don’t want things that I don’t deserve.  However, am I someone who deserves the right to meet other pro tuba players?  Why not?  And do I have the right to describe my band the way I want to?  Of course!  It goes beyond “rights” too; it is a part of what makes me the unique person that I am.  I need to keep remembering that as I continue to delve into a career that requires me to put myself out there more and more.  It’s good for me to put a little more neon into the shy.

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