New Success in 2016 – Oak Creek Percussion Ensemble and UWM Youth Percussion Ensemble

New Success in 2016 – Oak Creek Percussion Ensemble and UWM Youth Percussion Ensemble

Man, it has been a while!  I want to write a quick post to make sure I get rid of that weird Chuck Norris post.. haha  – sharing that was on my bucket list… please go back and enjoy it!

This year has been very fun and busy so far and one thing that popped up is Oak Creek Percussion Ensemble rocking out a new work called “Enter Stella’s World”  – Oak Creek went to Solo & Ensemble and earned the highest rating possible, making it possible for them to play again in State Competition!  Check out the video of the performance below! :)


Beyond that wonderful experience, I also had the honor of having the UWM Youth Percussion Ensemble play one of my works!  This work was “Spaced In,” originally written for a percussion ensemble from Chehalis, WA.  This time the work was expanded from a six person group to a nontet of percussionists.  (nine players!)  These players did a world premiere of this version of the work.  They are currently working on one that was written for them!  They did a fabulous job and it is a pleasure to work with that group. :)



Looking forward, as always, to what the future will bring with both these groups as well as other collaborations! :)  Bye for now!

Percussion Ensemble Works

Continuity of Soul & Spirit with Chuck Norris

Continuity – a fictional article by Mike Neumeyer

So, I was driving down the Autobahn and lost control of my Corvette. This ended up causing me to get into a terrible accident, which destroyed my body. Luckily, the doctors were able to hook my brain up to Chuck Norris’ body. Am I the same person that I used to be? In this extreme case it’s hard to convince myself of that, seeing my new face in the mirror everyday. Also, my new body can do some pretty intense roundhouse kicks that my old one could not. One thing I do have though is my old internal identity, including personal psychological states and memories. What it feels like in the end is that I’m myself trapped in Chuck Norris’ body. Therefore, still myself.

c1bc721d3538a5a62ec80a53d7414968I still think I am myself even though I have a different body, but if we evaluate this view in the context of “Continuity of Soul/Spirit” there are some problems. First off, the opinion I have melds with the “Soul/Spirit” view. The same soul with which I drove that Corvette off the road, still exists in my new, red bearded body. Therefore, I am still “I”. The problem is that we can’t ever perceive anybody else’s soul or spirit from the outside. Sure, Chuck Norris could take whatever body he has now (I heard he got the body of James Sage) and try to prove to the cast of “Walker: Texas Ranger” that he is still the same person, but they could not perceive if he is right or wrong by merely looking at him. There is no way to prove the “Continuity of Soul/Spirit” theory.

The “Continuity of Body” is another theory to consider. This doesn’t agree completely with my opinion. What it is to be “me” would be to inhabit the same or close to the same body. So, if Chuck Norris’ body was given my brain, in the view of the “Continuity of Body” theory, I would then be Chuck Norris’? I know I would not be myself. This is because what people will directly perceive is the most believable. They don’t care what I tell them, they just know that they recognize me as Mr. Norris. There are some arguments against this theory like if our body changes in a less drastic way, losing a limb perhaps, our personality doesn’t change. We remain the same person although the body we possess changes. Another thought is that we can separate our minds from our body, like when we wake up without opening our eyes. We know we are there, but we haven’t recognized that we have the same body yet. Ifl woke up in Chuck Norris’ body, I would start to have doubts.

One more theory to touch on is the “Continuity of Brain”. The importance of the brain as an organ compared with others is stressed in this idea. When one imagines how much a personality can change under great brain trauma, they can get to thinking that our identity is counting on the brain. In other cases, the perschuck-ffonality is not effected at all.

Therefore, the most important thing in this case is what intangible things a brain helps us have: memories, goals, desires, and beliefs. In this case, I have all the same internal identity traits along with my old memories. I just have Chuck Norris’ body! Well, then I’m still the same person.

Well, I hope Chuck Norris never finds me in his body, while on the other hand we could join together for some very good philosophical conversations. I believe that I would still be the same person, just not having the same body. Some people and theories would disagree with that, but at the same time no theories are guaranteed. All I know is Chuck Norris is supposed to be dead; it’s just that death himself is to chicken to confront Mr. Norris. I hope he doesn’t come after me…180329_chuck

Response from “Chuck Norris:”

Pages from Chuck Norris Blog-2




Getting Involved with Schools – All Parents on Deck

About a month or two ago, a random email came through my website. (well most are random, I guess) A woman needed a song transcribed; I love transcription work, so I continued to talk with her about project. Sharon Edwards-Billings started All Parents on Deck, an organization devoted to inviting parents to begin getting involved and to eventually stay involved with schools and community volunteerism.

introvisation1 Spring Green Comm Library 7-18-12 (4)

The minute I began to listen to the track, it gave me goosebumps and I loved the upbeat sound and message to it. I think within a day I had been singing the song and I had the melody down!

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Transcribing is a fun task for me because I have a pretty good discerning ear for harmony. Grad school and undergrad definitely put me through enough ear training and harmonic dictation tests! I feel good about transcription when I am writing down my own ideas or performances and being able to use those abilities to help someone else get their music out there is a great gig!

The part of this song that really gave me the warm feelings was the message. Just thinking about the many parents that I work with in school programs and people who volunteer at places I play makes me realize how much good there is in the world. The more of that good existing; the better the world will be! I have done numerous volunteer gigs, whether it is for the love of music music education, or humanity. Please folks! Listen to Sharon’s message at All Parents on Deck, and get involved!

Stay Tuned for a public posting of the recording!

Composition Collaborations

“Kollaboration is Key”

It is absolutely wonderful to have music that I write come to life when it is played by players who enjoy it.  This makes the audience enjoy it and the conductor enjoys it.  Did I mention I enjoy it?  How does this happen?  Part of it in my opinion is writing music that comes from the heart and that has memorable themes and moments.  What else?  Collaboration.

Steve-Darling-portrait-defaultI worked on a marimba/euphonium work three years ago with Steven Darling, up and coming euphonium player and winner of numerous contests and awards.  It was great to be able to ask Steve for his feedback and make sure the piece was idiomatic for his instrument, fun to play, at the right level for him at the time while also giving some adventurous challenges.

One of our premeire performances of our collaboration, “Mikayla,” has been gaining life on YouTube and folks looking for marimba/euphonium material are showing interest!  Recently it was performed by Don Palmire and DJ Palmire at The United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own” – Percussion Plus Concert!

The reason these works are fun to play is because the players are consulted to make sure it ends up a mutually beneficial music making situation for all involved!

Oak Creek High School Percussion Ensemble rocks a brand new work written for them!

I was working with Oak Creek High School Front Ensemble during last year’s marching season… (in which the band did win 1st at State Competition in our division :) :)  and anyways, I did tell the pit ensemble I was writing a piece and I had them in mind.  “Would you be interested?” I asked.  The next time I brought i10661822_724093911004090_7274467303526826733_on a sample of what I had written in one night; they where HUDDLED AROUND MY PHONE!

That is all I needed to see.  The next few composition sessions were full of insightful decisions and themes representing inside jokes with the ensemble.  I knew their playing level from working with them, so writing for them was very fluid.  Then, I was able to widdle down even further with details from them during rehearsal!  Again, collaboration :)

So, along with The Oak Creek High School Percussion Ensemble commissioning and premiering “The Adventures of Megan Dutmeyer,” they also won the honor to play it again at State Competition at University of Wisconsin – Parkside!  That is happening tomorrow and I saw them today.  They are ready to rock.

Mike Neumeyer Music

Do you like video game music? 


Improvisation is “Talking through Music”

“Talking through Music”

Recently I had the pleasure of presenting a music lesson at St. Anthony’s School through the East Side Chamber Players in Milwaukee, WI.  In this lesson I improvised at the piano for the students and had some fun just “talking through music” in front of them.  “Wow!  How did you do that?”  A student asks.

From there I asked them a question!  How did you learn to talk?  You copied your mom and dad right?  “blah, blah, mama, mama, dada, papa”  (giggles)  Then, after we learned a bunch of words using our ears and objects, we studied our “abc’s” to make sure we could write down the words that we knew.  (at least most people might have learned this way in America or other countries)

A lot of times, music is learned the opposite way!

introvisation2We learn from notation and some students don’t even feel comfortable improvising!  It is not this way in all places of course, but in America I’ve seen this before.  So, I always encourage students in my private or online lessons to learn their musical language or their musical “abc’s” (like scales, arpeggios, chords, and more) enough to the point of feeling comfortable “talking” with it or in other words; improvising!

I then improvised to some graphics that I drew on the board.  “Anyone like drawing?”  Many students couldn’t wait to draw something on the board – which I then improvised something to and explained my reasoning.  (I saw a shape that was a smiley face, so I played in happy groove in a major key – then the art was very scribbly – so I started to do faster and faster arpeggios)

I then asked them to draw just a wavy line on the board.  After using this to design the pitch contour of my improvisation, I said “watch this!”  I drew fiveintrovisation1 lines equally spaced over the wavy line… then slowly… drew a…treble clef and some quarter notes along the contour of the wavy line.  “OOOHHHHHHH”  a light bulb went off for the students, filling me with joy!

This was a truly educational experience of GRAPHIC notation vs. ICONIC notation given through the assistance of the East Side Chamber Players and St. Anthony Schools.



First record it, then notate it. Composition and Transcription!

Whew!  Finally finished working through the electronic engravings of those guitar and marimba works that I posted about a few months ago.  It was very satisfying to be able to get that out there and available for people!  It is available on the sheet music portion of this website or you can contact me through the contact page!

Big thanks to Raul, who helped me through the notation and tablature notation that is available for guitarists.  Be sure to listen to the tracks and see if you know anyone who would want to learn some new music for marimba and guitar!

On the note of transcriptions and notating stuff, there are a few albums on the horizon for Mike Neumeyer and his marimba… a new relaxing improvisation album.  “Comprovisations: Volume I – A Fantasy” will be coming out very soon!

As a result of recording this multi-album collection of “comprovisations,” I really did enjoy some of what were essentially compositions that had motives and musical depth.  Therefore, some of these selections are currently being transcribed for others to learn and play in an educational setting!  I look forward to the near future!  Yeah!

10.14.14 – Marching Band: Front Ensemble Visuals and Movement

It has been over four months since I posted last.  Part of this is because I have been working on notating the guitar and marimba works that I previously posted about and also have been working on all of the stuff that goes into an album release.  Soon, there will be a new three volume improvisation album with a post to go along with it!

I feel like have to post something about marching band season.  This year, the marching band for which I teach the front ensemble, The Oak Creek Marching Knights, has won several first place awards along with caption awards in musical performance, percussion, and auxiliary.  It has been a very successful year for the Knights and I am so lucky to be able to work with them!

10661822_724093911004090_7274467303526826733_oThe front ensemble and marching band have taught me that going for the extremes in music making really pays off in the performance.  And anyone can do it.  I spent many sessions speaking about specific stick heights and technical aspects of playing that help players get to those extremes, but in the end it was about their comfort level in moving their body.

Some folks didn’t feel that comfortable dancing and stuff…

So one rehearsal I walked up and just started a metronome.  I didn’t talk or give direction, I just danced to the beat.  Then I gestured for the section leader to show me the beat or dance he felt from the metronome.  (anybody can hear whatever they want in their head, I just said “hear what makes you want to move”)  Then it spread amongst the ensemble.  We were all dancing musically, to our own grooves we were hearing in our heads; but all that was on was a simple click from a metronome.  EVERYONE FELT COMFORTABLE AND THEY WERE TOTALLY ROCKING OUT!  Then, we moved the rehearsal to warming up and playing music while dancing with that same energy.

The front ensemble has shown me this year that movement is so important in music making.  As soon as we started adding visuals to our playing and even more choreograph when we aren’t actively playing instruments, the more interesting the performance is to the audience and the players.  Now, the players may be making a gesture all together that represents what is going on in the wind parts, thus enhancing their active listening spectrum.  Also, there are visuals that go along with the part they are directly playing, enhancing their musicality on that specific part!

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I will remember this forever and it reminded me that all music has movement and the more we let the natural movements that we feel fit with a phrase of music find their way into our performance, the more musical that performance will be.  (as long as the technical aspects of playing are addressed as well)



6.22.2014 – New Works for Marimba & Guitar!

On a floating Saturday at the end of April this year, I got together with guitarist and composer Raul Bonde to record some material we had been working on.  This recording session was produced, mixed & mastered by awesome musician Jaems Murphy.  Check them out here while you read a little about the recording session below!

It was awesome and like clockwork.  Jaems came in with a few cases and a computer and just set up my coffee table as a recording station:

Fro2014-04-26 14.49.48m this vantage point, he could see both Raul, down the hall and in the bedroom and me across from him on the marimba.

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So we were simultaneously recording in different rooms to enhance mixing abilities.  We just wore headphones and Jaems knowledgeably rigged some amplifiers so we could have those headphone monitors.  Just great what one can set up in their own space!

We do this because the vibrations coming from the marimbas resonators in the small space can sometimes be overpowering.  Then there is too much bleeding of that sound into the guitar microphone.  When I am playing with the headphones, I can hear a mix of myself on the different marimba mics and also Raul on the microphones he is using.  It is really cool if you’ve never gotten to do any recording… :)

The recording session went well without a hitch and after a few weeks we had awesome tracks from Jaems that were mixed and mastered.

Now, that is not the end for this project in particular.  Along with these five recordings, we have also written the music out and are currently working on the final electronic engravings.  In other words, keep your radar out for SHEET MUSIC that can help you learn these tunes or use them for educational reasons!




Keep a lookout for more marimba recording projects in the future!

4.19.14 – Oak Creek High School Fundraiser Events coming up!

Hey Everybody!  (imagine a cowboy/southern voice saying that… that is how I am hearing it… whether the rest of this is country while you read it is up to you) :)  Read on about upcoming events at Oak Creek High School!
Oak Creek High School Band Fundraisers Coming Up!

IMG_0779I will be playing at the Oak Creek High School Band Scholarship Fund Dinner on May 4th!  This is taking place at the Oak Creek Community Center and helps raise funds for a continuous scholarship that is offered to students who’s next step is a college degree.

The show will consist of some great arrangements and originals that I wrote recently for solo marimba as well as the normal Neumeyer antics thrown in there :)  Please come on out and support the cause and join for a great meal and show!

Click Here for Scholarship Dinner Sign Up Sheet


Voirimba! 2014

cropped-RAW-marimbawon.jpgVoirimba! is the wacky tacky fun and musical (educational) fundraiser performance for Oak Creek High School Bands.  This year students will be involved in the performance and in continuing tradition, I will play tunes with Amy Fuchs and Guy Gregg, the staff of the band department at Oak Creek.  In the past and future we involve guest performers and members of the marching band teaching staff in these performances.

This is such a wonderful opportunity for the students to see music making modeled (awesome alliteration there!) by the people who ask the same thing of them throughout the summer and school year.  If they get to see me showcase the marimba and make some great musical collaborations happen within the walls of their own school and program, it is proof and inspiration for them to do the same type of projects themselves!

Musical Selections for the show include: A new marimba/trumpet duet by Neumeyer, a new marimba/flute Beatles arranagement, a Radiohead arrangement for marimba/guitar, “New”-meyer marimba solos, appearance by the OC Marching Knights bass and snare drum line, and more!

This show is at 7pm on Thursday, May 22nd at the Oak Creek High School Little Theatre.  I’ll see you there!


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!



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!

Spaced In Premiere Program_Page_2

Mike Neumeyer: Composer, Educator, Percussionist, Marimba & Voice