Friday, April 1, 2011

Ideas and inspiration from Andy Strain

A few pictures showcasing Andy Strain and his creative colleagues, Jerry Smith and Yotam Mann
Recently, Lincolnites were treated to performances by Andy Strain and the Lincoln Symphony Orchestra where Andy shared some of his unique talents on the trombone, improvisation, and interpretations of music and light using video-game technology. Now, he is sharing a little more with Lincoln readers through an interview about some of his experiences, inspiration, and advice.

How long have you been playing the trombone?
I've played since I was 12. I'm 33. wow! 21 years! I started on the baritone horn, and switched to trombone because I wanted to play jazz in middle school. I never really thought I'd still be playing all these years later! Sure glad I am!!

How did you first get the idea to work with video game technology and trombone performance together?I had seen graffiti artists using laser pointers to paint with projected light on buildings, and I wondered how that would fly with the trombone. At Mills College where I was working on my Masters degree in Free Improvisation, I teamed up with a computer musician and programmer to put together an experimental duet. We used both visual and audio tracking to create live projected imagery and processed sound. It was all improvised stuff. What we performed at Kimball last week was a simplified and more refined version of that project.

How long have you been working with Yotam Mann and Jerry Smith?
I've been working with Jerry for about a year now - we met at a performance a few years back, and I really liked his work. So I asked him to join me. When we realized we needed more help, we found Yotam through a friend. We work amazing as a trio, and I'm excited to see what comes next.

What draws you to performing for school children?
There is a certain and fantastic energy surrounding young people and sound. They are curious, as I am, why music can make us feel certain ways. With young people, it's not about perfection, but detail. It's about showing them what honesty sounds like and looks like in performance. When young people experience new sounds for the first time, so do I. And when we have a discussion about it, young people are unafraid to ask questions and get involved. We are using the addition of projected light as a tool to help young people relate to and perhaps better understand existing classical music, modern music, and improvised music.

What advice do you have for children to learn more about music?
Follow your ears! Try to imagine the birds and the cars on the street as music. try to imagine classical music as birds and cars. It's okay to like any kind of music out there - find what you like, and listen to the bass, the melody, the words, the loud, the drone, the fun, the rhythm… and then listen to how they all relate to each other. Hint: they are just like people - sometimes they work in harmony and sometimes they work against each other. I think music holds a lot of clues to life!

What advice do you have for adults who aren't familiar with Classical music?
Be a child again, unabashed, and without fear. When you hear something you like, find more of it. If you see a good concert coming up in town, listen to the music they will perform as much as you can before you hear it live. And lastly, if you encounter music that is difficult to focus on, challenge yourself to find something inside it that is interesting, even if it's the lonely triangle player in the back.

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