2.15.2014 – The Adna Pirate Percussion Ensemble is Going to State!

sheet musicI am so excited, giddy, proud, and honored that The Adna Pirate Percussion Ensemble received the award to move on to the State Solo & Ensemble competition in WA!  I originally wrote this piece for them in the Fall of 2013 and they rocked it out!  CONGRATS GUYS!

CLICK HERE FOR THIS GREAT PERFORMANCE!

 

The piece ended up being a vessel for the students to learn some fun grooves and blues licks, explore Latin 2 vs. 3 rhythms in the second section and hear a slower version of the opening theme in a Major key later in the piece.  The whole idea of the piece was to create a fun and approachable experience, while still leaving some educational challenges to execute.  We can totally “space out” for the sections that are affable, but then we have to always be “focused in” for parts that require more technique.  Hence the name of this new work for percussion ensemble is “Spaced In.” 

2013-12-09 09.01.04I only delivered the work to them at the beginning of November, after a posting and receiving a few comments from the students!  Then in December, I went to visit them for a masterclass with the privilege to see how things were going. (they were already rockin’ it, but I did have some tips for them; we had an energetic and educational time working together!)  This visit was very satisfying on many fronts: for me it was about seeing and hearing the music being played live for the first time and having fun working with the students.  For the students, I believe seeing the composer and meeting them first person on any work is a different kind of experience.  I remember some great feelings when I would work with composers in college; it would usually inspire me to a greater length when the person who created the music was still alive and able to hear how I interpreted their piece.

marimbaclinic2Which brings me to my next subject: I am traveling out to Adna HS in Washington to do a three day residency including multiple masterclasses and clinics with the students in the music program!  This will be a visit where I will talk to the students about percussion, composition, conducting, and music.  And anything else they want!  We will also work on Spaced In before their home concert premiere!  On top of all of this wonderful energy surrounding this new percussion music,  I will also have a great time exploring this nice area of the west coast.  Really looking forward to this experience!

A big thank you goes out to Ryan Brumbaugh, who contacted me and worked along with me during the commission to make sure the product fit the group well.  Since they had played another work I had written called Questo, we used that work as a baseline so we could plan the difficulty of the parts.  In the end, our communication made the process and the product even better!  Again, CONGRATS AND THANK YOU to Mr. Brumbaugh, Brandon, Daisy, Josie, Kyler, Liz, & Seth!

 

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2.11.2014 – Mike Neumeyer plays piano? Listen…

Lately I have been playing more piano in a performance setting.  This is kinda new and very fun!  Read more below about my adventures in piano and give a few listens!

My first technical piano experience was right before college in preparation for studies as a music major.  I took piano lessons from Susan Champa in Port Washington, WI.  Before this, I mostly just joked around with Chopsticks or Heart and Soul, not appreciating how cool it was!  I soon studied four levels of piano in college (and was able to read simple accompaniments and read off of lead sheets to make up accompaniment patterns.  In graduate school I “got” to take a score reading class; reading all of the instruments in an orchestra at once and playing it on the piano.  That one was a mind workout, and totally added to my technique!

I really enjoyed the part where I was able to use the theory knowledge I had studied so hard to make up patterns on the piano.  This studying of accompaniment from chord structures while fitting in a melody really created a baseline of piano playing that always stayed with me.  From then on, I would always be jamming on piano and making up things or playing familiar tunes.  Soon I had developed an ability to take a lead sheet and create something from it that was my own relaxed version of the tune!

I played a few background piano gigs around the holidays over the years, but never really took it to another level.  Recently, I am playing a few more venues in a background setting, which I really enjoy!  I like to present the room with popular tunes from the past and the present, but in a soft improvisatory (some have called it “jazzy”) way.  This lets the music exist behind conversation, but when a familiar melody is heard; it could be a conversation starter!

“Whoa, do you guys hear that?  He is playing Boots are Made for Walkin’… but it’s jazzy!”

I have had people say that “it is like a trivia game,” having fun all night guessing the tunes.  Remember, the lyrics are gone and I tend to play them at a more relaxed tempo with a few more jazz chords at times.  Curious?  Keep a radar out for more appearances!

Next one: Twisted Willow Restaurant in Port Washington, WI – Feb. 22nd 6-9pm.  Make reservations for the piano area!

(this is me having a great time with multi-tracking!) :>

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2.4.2014 – Whoa… it is 2014.

Wow, Happy New Year everybody!  That happened fast.  Then January happened fast :)

IMAG0107This picture is a beautiful view of Lake Michigan taken from the bluff in Port Washington, WI.  At the time it just reminded me to be thankful for a seemingly simple thing; which actually is a wonderful horizon that I took for granted.  Right now, it signifies the clean slate of 2014!  (although I picked a picture with some trees in it because it is already February)

MUSIC THERAPY:  So far in 2014, I had a great time playing with Jaems Murphy at The Alexian Village in Brown Deer in January!  This was a great way to start the new year :)   We played in the form of a wonderful piano and guitar duet.  I play soft and subtle piano to back up Jaems’ fluid soloing on guitar.  Also… I get to solo as well!

This gig was very satisfying because it was to entertain some older folks.  I absolutely love the life the music breathes into human beings.  Personally, my grandfather has developed dementia, causing him to not remember me; but more importantly makes his personality pretty stagnant.  When my father and I bought him an iPod and uploaded my grandfather’s favorite music from his thirties, he immediately became more lively, smiled at me and started bobbing his head.  At one point, he even moved his hand around as if conducting or dancing!  This is the experience I believe we gave the audience at The Alexian Village.  Proof?  I distinctly remember one woman celebrating one of Jaems’ solos by enthusiastically saying,

“now THAT is what I’m talkin’ ’bout!”

Music therapy right there at it’s best.  We are looking for more gigs… dot. dot. dot.

1536449_10100572719208603_68959963_nA WORLD PREMIERE: Later in January, I was involved in the world premiere of a marimba trio by a great percussionist and composer, Ivan Trevino.  Check out Ivan’s website: http://ivandrums.com/  This new work for marimba trio, “Open Your Eyes,” is a product of a Kickstarter project called “Wisconsin New Works for Percussion” led by Jordan Kamps and Colin O’Day.  Read more about it here and keep your radar out for the recording we will be producing as well as future commissions that will be part of this project!  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/455362507/wisconsin-new-work-for-percussion-project?ref=live

PERCUSSION ENSEMBLE GOING TO STATE: And now February has started.  I just heard some exciting news about the newest percussion ensemble work of mine “Spaced In,” which was commissioned by the Adna Pirate Percussion Ensemble in Adna (Chehalis), Washington.  They entered solo & ensemble with this work and made it to State Competition!  Congrats to them and look for a post about this subject… :)

COMIN’ UP: Other than that Mike Neumeyer has some background piano appearances comin’ up, marimba presentations, appearances with The Vedic Eden and Jaems Murphy,  “Voirimba! 2014,” “Mike Neumeyer & Friends #9,” and more…too much to list right here.  Please read for more posts on these subjects!

Gosh I love Music. :)

 

 

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11.23.13 – Beatles Arrangements on Marimba (and guitar!)

Been a while since a post, but that is how it is with marching band season!  It is a great time; but a busy time!

This year I worked as a percussion coach with both Cudahy and Oak Creek Marching Bands – such fantastic music students, parents and staff at each location and both bands landed 3rd place in their respective divisions!  Boom!  Congrats to all bands and music makers on all fields!

I just finished a percussion ensemble commission and you will be hearing about that in the near future on here… and there are definitely other projects brewing… :)           Meanwhile… CHECK THIS OUT :D

Beatles on Marimba

Norwegian Wood (Honduran Wood)  :)
Hey Jude

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So, I love playing Beatles tunes on marimba!  I most recently added Norwegian Wood to the list thanks to playing with Jaems Murphy on guitar.  Keep your radar out for shows where you’ll be able to hear the guitar/marimba duo live version of that arrangement.  A recording is also in progress!

DSC_8294--1We had the pleasure of playing some Beatles works at Cassie Tully’s art gallery in Plymouth and photographer Jan Scholke took some nice photos of the marimba/guitar duo!

So now you can listen and imagine being at a live performance with solo marimba.

Also, think of what guitar sounds like with the soft wooden bars! Marimba/Guitar Duo Sounds

Contact us if you think these sounds fit your occasion! :)

Hey Jude was one that I played solo on that night and it is one of my favorites to play on marimba.  Marimba marimba marimba…. Beatles Beatles Beatles!

 

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9.21.13 – An upcoming work commissioned by Adna High School

So, recently I have been working on a percussion ensemble work that has been commissioned by Ryan Brumbaugh for the Adna High School Advanced Percussion Ensemble at Adna HS in Adna, WA.

sheet musicI have had great experiences so far collaborating with Ryan and having the talented students at Adna HS play my compositions.  I had the pleasure of hearing them play my arrangement of The Super Mario Bros. theme and an original work of mine called “Questo.”  I am honored and excited to write another work specifically for the these students, this teacher, and this program!

So far, the work has been planned as a percussion ensemble that will include standard instruments that most schools will have.  So far it will be a vibraphone, a xylophone, a 4 1/3 octave marimba, and three auxiliary percussion parts.  These aux. parts are not exactly normal set ups though!  I have designed the auxiliary percussion parts to have a membrane instrument, a ringing instrument such as a cymbal, and a plastic or wooden block-type instrument.  (they are actually evolving to include one or two more instruments per set up, but essentially they will be very easy-to-set multi-percussion setups! :)

Like I said before, I am having a blast getting creative to write a cool piece for the students at Adna.  As for any piece, it has been an adventure of finding the best path!  I initially though of going jazzy with things, and then a theme came out that was in C minor.  After playing with rhythmic theme and melodic theme I saw a spot where the C blues line fit in perfectly.  This is going to create a really fun lick for the students and all while solidifying the blues in C!  Also, as the rhythm came out and settled – this is turning into more of a driving style than a swung jazz style.  No matter what, this is going to be a fun piece to play!

IMG_0779Speaking of, I am having fun playing these themes myself…  You see, just as many composers and conductors play piano to understand a score or to create and understand the totality of a musical work, I play marimba.  As this percussion ensemble piece is being orchestrated for the sextet at hand, I am also creating a solo marimba version that I will probably only play for myself and a few audiences.  The marimba along with singing and piano are some of the main avenues through which I create themes.  Then I may let those themes live and evolve in my mind and on pencil and paper before really knowing what the music wants to do.  I am just a vehicle for the music and marimba/voice/piano is how it most easily comes out!  Arrangements as well!

I look forward to more posts about the work and the progress that the students have while playing the premiere of the composition at school concerts and in contest!  Writing music is so much fun and satisfying, THANK YOU RYAN BRUMBAUGH AND THE ADNA HIGH SCHOOL BAND STUDENTS! :)   This will surely be fun!

 

 

 

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9.8.13 – Mike Neumeyer: Background Music Specialist

Background Piano at the Twisted Willow:

Yesterday evening I had the pleasure of providing dinner music for the customers of the Twisted Willow Restaurant logo_80_eggshell_trans

(very good food and service; check them out!)

I happen to know a great musician, businessman and bartender; Joe Buth – and he asked me if I could play some jazz piano for a few hours after their act had cancelled unexpectedly.  I was free and the result was another great experience for me and (I’m pretty sure) the folks who ate and conversed while I played piano.

Mike’s Style:

I prefer to stick to a relaxed jazz style when playing the piano or upbeat funky grooves somewhat resembling Vince Guaraldi.  (although I don’t believe I am at his level at all!)  With these styles and grooves I place familiar tunes that many people would recognize; some from last night that I remember were “These Boots are Made for Walkin’,” “Hey Jude,” and “Stand By Me.”  I also threw in a few originals and improvisations along the way.  Also, I honored a few requests, such as the Charlie Brown referenced “Linus and Lucy” and one woman did choose a Bee Gees tune that I had fun with!  I chose myself to play the Mario Bros theme for the video game fans who were eating or hanging at the bar.
NES-SMB-Cover                                                                 NES-ClassiclyTrained

I figured folks would just listen and continue eating, but many nice people enjoyed the music enough to drop me several tips.  On top of that, after some of the recognizable tunes; there was applause from the customers!  They would stop eating and take their personal time to appluad for the background music!  Yay!  I felt good about the styles and selections I was choosing for the evening.

Final Thoughts on Background Music:

This experience just reminded me of something that I already knew: I really enjoy providing background music for different occasions.  I’ve provided music using a keyboard or a marimba that is quiet enough to talk over for art gallery showings, receptions, business gatherings, weddings, funerals, and more.  I always feel like having the marimba is a special situation when you really want the listeners to remember the occasion.  Folks might see piano a lot, but it would be VERY rare that they see a marimba providing music for the event they are attending.  I always enjoy the background aspect of the work, but I have met some great people in the “audience” at times when they have requests, questions, or comments!  Keep your eye on my events calendar for more background music appearances and feel free to contact me if you think “Mike’s Style” is a fit for your event!

 

 

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8.16.13 – I will give you $$$ For Return of iPod and Hard Drive – Lessons to Learn About Theft

If you are the two (or more) fellas who took stuff from me, I wish you the best and I hope you reconsider your actions and get on a better path to making money.  I figured you might look my website up since you did steal my music education brochures and many of the albums released by me.  Also, if you still have my iPod and portable hard drive – please return it.  It takes a long time to build up a collection of music and you took the device that had the collection (iPod) and the device that had my backed up files (WD Hard Drive).  I will even pay you for the return of those items.

Like I said, I wish you well in your future endeavors which don’t include violating other people. 

The Story:

So on the morning of Wednesday August 14th, I walked up to my van to go to work.  The driver’s side door was open a little bit. “Dang it!  Is my battery going to be dead?”  I continued to enter the car and saw that the iPod cord was not plugged into the stereo unit like normal.  Yup, the iPod was gone.  I hadn’t learned my lesson to lock my car and remove valuables after two iPods had been stolen from me in previous years.  BUT THIS WAS MY OWN APARTMENT.  Can’t trust any location where it is an open parking lot I guess.

I noticed after I shut the door that the light was still on.  The passenger sliding doors were open and BAM!  I realized that all of the percussion equipment in the car was missing!  These were most of the mallets and percussion gear that I developed with and they are VERY important to me.  (Well Mike, why would you leave that in the car then?)  Lesson: never leave any valuables in the car, within view.

So I went through with a police report and the insurance claim (because this was almost $2000 worth of percussion gear and electronics!)  Then while calculating the list of missing things I realized that the portable hard drive that included my entire music collection was on the passenger seat.  Boom; my entire music collection of over 18,000 songs… was gone.  The music collection that I tirelessly fed disc after disc into iTunes for years to be playable on an iPod.  Gone.  It felt like part of my soul had been taken away.  As my friend Jaems said, “just make new music now…” (Well Mike, why would you ever keep those two items in the same place?) Lesson: Back up everything I have onto a large hard drive and start using the cloud!

This is when I went through with a fraud alert and changed my credit cards just to be safe.  I learned quite a bit about credit bureaus and identity theft!

By this time I had called many music stores and media exchange type of places to make sure they knew to keep a lookout for my possessions.  There was a very nice man named Burt who helped me out by contacting other store owners he knew for me.  If anyone reading this falls into this situation, ask the store owners if there is anyone who could help out that way!  (BTW: Everybody should shop at the Music -Go-Round in Greenfield.) The day after the theft, I was called by a police officer who asked me to describe my mallets.  It was the toy purple shafted and orange headed mallet in the picture below that made him say, “yeah, this is yours.” :)   When I got there, there were to fellas who were being interrogated, searched, and handcuffed.  I felt very emotional at that point and decided it was probably safest for me to blend into the store.  End of this part of the story, they got a citation for possession of stolen property and I got my music equipment back.  Lesson: immediately after theft, check in with pawn shops and such and do a police report in order to get information out there.

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Unfortunately, they said that they were selling it for a third party and I guess that means they were not able to search cars/houses… (or they already got rid of the electronics)  I guess they had an iPod cord, but that is not enough.  It seemed like a shame that their rights were protected by law at this point.  Nevertheless, I did not receive my music collection or iPod back.  Hey guys who got busted!  Be sure to listen to the recent recordings that Mike Neumeyer and Jaems Murphy have put together!  They will be in the playlist titled: Guitarimba.  (hehe, get it?  Guitar and Marimba… a marimba is what you would play with those mallets you stole!  Learning is fun!) :-)

Well, this has been a very educational roller coaster of an adventure for me.  I really wish folks weren’t pushed to do this type of stuff and that I could actually trust having some equipment in my car where in my own apartment complex, but that is not the world we live in.  The world has never really been like that.  I am so lucky to have learned a lesson while still getting my treasures back.  Gentlemen, if you are reading this – please consider making a wrong into a right by returning the electronic items.  You obviously know where I live.  All the Best.

Mike

 

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8.4.13 – Awesome August – Cool New Stuff – August will be Awesome…

PROUD TO ANNOUNCE NEW COLLABORATION:

I have been having a blast playing with old high school acquaintance, Jaems Murphy – talented guitarist.  Our project has revolved around playing pop, jazz, and originals with marimba and guitar!  These two sounds mixed together creates a wonderful relaxing atmosphere that is perfect as live background music for private events, while also being a great visually appealing improvisatory performance for a crowd. :)

Make a cup of tea and give this a listen! http://michaelneumeyerjaemsmurphy.wordpress.com/music-2/

http://michaelneumeyerjaemsmurphy.wordpress.com/

AWESOME AUGUST ART ALSO:

Remember the last blog?  I received some really cool pictures back from Dal Van Minsel; he worked some artistic magic on some pictures of the marimba resonators.  Thank You Dale!

Check these out:

“Marimba” – Dale Van Minsel Marimba

“Eclipse” – Dale Van Minsel

Eclipse

ORIGINAL PICTURE:

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7.29.13 – July was Fun

Shrek!-Setup

Above is my setup for “Shrek! The Musical,” in which I performed percussion during the Port Washington Summer Theatre Production.  This performance was very fun because it was a newer musical.  These newer parts tend to have a lot of genres mixed together, hence the many different percussion instruments in my setup.  I love playing djembe, so having those grooves to play (with a foot pedal tambourine) was probably the highlight of this setup/music.

 

Earlier in the month of July I did perform at an Art Gallery in Port Washington, WI as well.  This was for Gallery 224 for their photography show to start off the year.  I was playing background music and taking requests as well.  Many Beatles tunes, Jazz standards, originals, and improvisations.

While there, I had the pleasure of meeting Dale Van Minsel – who then helped me set up my marimba as well as took some great photos of it!  Please check out Dale’s work!

I LOVE PLAYING BACKGROUND MUSIC GIGS!   IMG_0750

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Lastly, for this post:  I have started to work the the Cudahy Marching Band and acted as the Summer Drumline Coach!  We participated in the Cudahy Fourth of July Parade as well as the South Shore Frolic Parade.  Parades are fun!  They bring me back.  The Cudahy students have taught me a lot and I look forward to working more with them!

See you next post. :)

Mike

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6.29.13 – Official Report: Mike Neumeyer & Friends #8 is GREAT!

 

http://youtu.be/-f3Vg3eoy8w

Click for a funny “Mike Neumeyer” sketch.  That’s what happens at Mike Neumeyer events!

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Speaking of, “Mike Neumeyer & Friends #8″ was a great day and a great success.  The weather turned out perfect and the show went off without a hitch.  Thanks to everyone of the friends involved!  It feels so great to have gone eight years with that event!  Thank you everyone for coming out to watch!

Please check out some clips on YouTube if you missed out!  Like this tune by James Murphy:

http://youtu.be/qhbYZvwU-t8

 

Check my events page for upcoming performances in August!

Best of summer to all,

Mike

 

 

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