During the Pandemic Days of 2020, I upgraded my original website (powered by iWeb) and decided to start a blog. The idea was to challenge myself to write more, but also to perhaps share my thoughts and experiences on subjects ranging from serious to silly—primarily on the subjects of music, art, culture, education, and of course my East Texas heritage. Hedging my bets, I added the following disclaimer to the first post:
“I am not a consistent blogger. I write mostly when I have motivation, inspiration, and time; a rare trifecta. I write for the same reason I make music; to lift others up and make the world a better place one note (or word) at a time.”
I added that little caveat because I know me.
“Know thyself” is an ancient Greek aphorism whose meaning has been debated for centuries, but to me it simply means that it is important to recognize who you are; the unvarnished you, including the good, the bad, and the well intentioned. Of course, it was 20th century philosopher Ron Popeil* who said, “but wait, there’s more.” And there IS more because “know thyself” is only the first of three apothegms inscribed on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. The other two being “nothing to excess” and “certainty brings ruin.”
*According to his website, Ron Popeil was a famed American inventor, pitchman, television star, and the creator of the television “infomercial.”
This little triptych of ingeniously terse maxims pretty well sums up my lack of regularity in blogging. I was “certain” that I could keep up the pace with blogging, but I also knew my propensity toward “excess” in taking on new projects. Perhaps I know myself even better today.
My blog started out with a bang. In 2020, I published eight posts, in 2021 there were six, and in 2022 there were only four. As this is the first entry of 2023, you can see the work is clearly falling off. In my defense, there are a couple of reasons for this situation. First, I found that during the pandemic, I had much more time to fine tune my posts.
Because I live in a town where just about everybody you know is an accomplished writer, I like to make sure that I have carefully researched, edited, and honed anything I put out to the world. Add to that being a compulsive wordsmith with completion anxiety issues, and everything takes longer—even a casual email.
It is impressive to me how some people can churn out thoroughly researched and finely limned essays on a monthly, weekly, and sometimes daily basis. Blogs that I enjoy like those from professor of percussion at Arizona State University, Michael Compitello, are impressive and fascinating to read. He clearly does his research with each post but you wonder where he finds the hours in the day. It must have something to do with the Mountain Standard Time Zone.
The second reason could be attributed to the fact that for the last 16 months or so, I’ve been making plans to host the annual conference of the National Society of Steel Band Educators (NSSBE) here at the University of Iowa. Hosting a professional conference is rewarding and also a lot of work, but I was not alone in this endeavor. I was working closely, and meeting regularly with, a group of steelpan educators who are dedicated to the advancement of the steel band in the USA. By all accounts, the conference, which was held on February 24-25, 2023, was a great success. And now… exhale!
Our conference committee was led by Mike Greer, and members included Kayleen Justus, John Willmarth, and Obe Quarless—all dedicated steelpan players and teachers. We hosted some incredible guest artists including Victor Provost, the Northern Illinois University Steel Band, Joy Lapps and Larnell Lewis, and an amazing group of musicians from Toronto. More than 50 Steel Band Educators met for two days to discuss all things pan, and it was a great experience for my students and me. I was honored to present a steel pan recording workshop with my colleague James Edel of the UI Recording studios, and my duo partner Mat Britain.
Mat and I began our relationship with NSSBE in the Spring of 2020. The Britain Moore Duo was slated to be featured artists for the March 2020 Conference in Cincinnati, OH. In fact, we were already in town at the precise moment the world shut down. There is more to that story in my blog post: Stop the World and Let Me Off.
A year later, Mat and I participated in the 2021 conference via a prerecorded performance over Zoom. The next year, I proposed that the meeting take place in Iowa City. President Chris Tanner, and Board Members, Tom Miller and Brandon Haskett agreed to have the meeting in Iowa in 2023 and the rest is NSSBE history.
Now, perhaps I can get back to the myriad other projects that have been wanting my attention. Rest assured that my original goal for the blog hasn’t changed; “to lift others up and make the world a better place one note (or word) at a time.” I am hopeful about future projects, but not certain, because I know myself all too well!
That should be carved into a wall somewhere…
Notes and Citations:
Iowa City, UNESCO City of Literature
National Society of Steel Band Educators (NSSBE)
Enjoy this highlight reel from the 2023 NSSBE Conference!
A parting shot: I have a friend who is a philosophy professor who once told me that philosophy is the only field that you could leave for four-thousand years and upon your return, still be completely up-to-date. “Just set it and forget it,” as Ron would say…