Thank you LA!

WoW....that’s all I have to say....:o)

What a privilege it has been to experience this recent adventure. 

Looking back I still have trouble processing what has happened, mainly cause it was so much in a very short period of time. (Disney, music, Grammy museum, music, USC, music, Thanksgiving, music, dinners, music, etc.) Notice the music part?

Lucky me to get an insight in one of the best music programs in the world. (Tell you more about that later). Most of all lucky me to have someone in my life like Patrice Rushen. This lady has taught me so much about music and more. Every talk has been amazing and inspirational. She’s my own personal mr. Miyagi only female.

I keep telling her to write a book, cause her stories regarding the music industry and her personal experience is pretty admirable. The knowledge she gained throughout the years is probably one of the most valuable treasures in the music industry. It’s my believe that musicians/artists who have been there from the beginning and experienced it all play such an important role in the foundation that needs to be built for our future music industry people. Hopefully along the way and with the help of this blog we’ll come up with answers to a lot of questions about music education and why it’s so important to be forwarded the right way. We’ll learn that “community” is key, but more about that later.

As I wrote in the past this blog is about how I experience the things in front of me. This trip has been an eye opener for sure. It’s amazing how topics like injustice, power, racism, sexism and everything else that ends with -ism is still so present in our everyday life. It’s something that creeps under the surface and not just in the world of music.

During my trip I got to sit down with Christopher Sampson who is the Founder of the Popular Music Program at USC Thornton School of Music. We talked about the program, how it started and why it’s so successful. Mallory Hauser, Madi Vogt and Alexis Angulo are students who are all part of the program and they shared their thoughts on the USC experience and the future plans they have in music. And yes I also got to interview Patrice Rushen and her take on music education.

All the interviews will be up very soon.

I want to thank USC Thornton School of Music, Christopher Sampson, Mallory Hauser, Madi Vogt, Alexis Angulo and last but not least Patrice Rushen and her wonderful family. 

On to the next adventure!



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Something is missing

Yesterday I started my day by going to the Disney Concert Hall, cause I was curious what it looked like from the inside. The outside is impressive so the inside must be just as great. I was standing in front of the building and this girl asked me if I wanted to take her picture with the building since she was by herself. She told me she’s from Italy and that she tried to enter the building, but cause of an event it wasn’t possible to go in. Well better luck next time.

All of a sudden I see a group of Chinese people go in.......yup I went along with I didn’t stand out at all, so I got in and could actually check out the building. The rooms are very nice and it’s a great venue to see a performance or actually perform on one of those stages. The garden on the roof has a nice amphitheater and places where you can just sit and relax.

After that quick tour I went to the Grammy Museum. I was advised to take the tram, but with the weather being so nice I just started walking. (someone told me it’s pretty unusual to walk that After an hour or so I finally arrived at the museum. I had very and I mean very high expectations of this museum, especially when you look at the promo’s and the stuff they post online.

My tour starts at the 4th floor. Once the elevator doors slide open there’s this pretty dark hallway with spotlights shinning on the various Grammys that have been created throughout the years. On either sides there are clips from the award shows. So far so good.

Walking further I see this wall which says: Celebrating Michael Jackson. Yup this is something I’ve been wanting to see for a long time. Memorabilia of my music hero. The hat, the glove, the Thriller jacket. I stood there for awhile and eventhough its a nice tribute, something was missing.

The museum has exhibits and galleries (John Coltrane, Johnny Cash, Jermaine Dupri & So So Def) and you can see everything Grammy related. Ofcourse there are all sorts of memorabilia like; Elvis Presley’s shirt, Whitney Houston’s dress, Ray Charles’s outfit and so on. Each genre of music is represented, but what you can find doesn’t do it justice. The museum is much smaller than I expected and to be honest there isn’t a lot to see. You would think that cause it’s the Grammys they have so much more to show and you would expect that they would honor more artists and musicians. Unfortunately that’s not the case. 

Besides that they are skipping artists and musicians who did contribute to the Grammy Awards in the past. For instance; they have a Grammy archive on the 3rd floor. By tapping the screen you can find any artist that has ever performed/worked/taken part in the event. Fact: Patrice Rushen was the first female music director for the 46th, 47th and 48th Annual Grammy Awards. Guess what?.....there’s no mention of her at all. Then again why am I not surprised.

Anywayz, I took a look at the Clive Davis Theater where different events are being held. I must say it’s a nice and cozy venue and I would love to see a performance there one day.

Just like most museums you go to the exit through a gift shop. I didn’t get anything cause the shop doesn’t have a lot to offer. So that was a disappointment as well.

However if you do decide to go, I get it, cause it is something you have to see for yourself and maybe you have a different opinion.

I think my expectations were just to high. Each genre of music does not get the attention it deserves and the people that should be honored in a museum like that are not being represented.


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A song is not just a song

Ok, so yesterday Jensen was working on a song and during the lesson Patrice gave her a couple of pointers. I’m always stunned that with minor adjustments Patrice has the ability to make it sound even better. It’s like she exactly knows what a song needs to give it that ahhh effect. Means you have great “ears”. The song was already good, but with the advice she gave it actually strengthens the composition even more. Being able to do that is not only skill, it’s also talent and experience. The students here pick that advice up very fast. Without hesitation they know exactly what the teacher means and they have no problem with the execution at all.

Later that evening I saw the Freshmen of this pop program perform. Their repertoire this semester is Motown. There are 5 groups and each of the groups have to perform the same 3 songs. In this case “My Girl” and “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” by the Temptations and “BabyLove” by the Supremes. Besides that the songs are good, there’s so much more to learn about the songs than just the music and lyrics.

Before each performance the teacher (in this case Patrice) asks the students detailed questions about the song, like, who plays guitar on the track, name all the Supremes (not just Diana, what is that sound you hear snapping in the background? In this case it’s not just about playing and singing the song, but also how to really listen to it and learn the story behind it. Know the history and get the right background information. As a result the students will have the ability to paint the complete picture. Besides that it enlarges the musical knowledge and gives them the ability to use that information during future performances and they can pass it on. I must say those Freshmen did not disappoint at all. Ofcourse there are a couple of flaws, but they’re new and still learning. I loved the fact that one of the students was so prepared that she even dressed up as a Supreme.

The 2nd year students have really grown since I’ve seen them last year. This session was led by Sean Holt who is a Professor of Practice at USC. Sean has worked with artists like Santana, John Legend, Bruno Mars, Mary J. Blige, Gloria Estefan, Michael Bublé and numerous others. He is the kind of teacher who knows what he’s talking about and is very driven to make sure the students receive the correct information. Just like Patrice did at the previous session, he’s asking questions about the story behind the songs as well. What really surprised me was the setlist. It’s such a breath of fresh air to see students play music of Boz Scaggs, Chaka Khan, Bon Jovi, Pat Benatar, Heart, amongst others. To be honest I’ve visited a couple of schools and I’ve never heard the students or teachers address any of these songs. Patrice told me that together with Sean, they created a list with various songs and the students have to pick which one they’re playing.

It really impressed me how this pop program is making sure each genre, style and the most important eras in music history are being represented. When asked why that is, the answer is actually pretty simple. This way when a student enters a gig in the future they can play along with any tune, any genre, any style. They would know what it sounds and feel like and when someone calls and offers you a gig, you don’t have to sell them NO or I don’t know, cause you do.

When you see the content of the program and the schedule you’ll notice the hard work that goes in it. They’re all driven and ofcourse one more than the other, but the end result is pretty amazing.

So that was my experience yesterday. Today I visited the Grammy Museum, I’ll post about that later this week.


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Music can take you further than you think

I was suppose to write a post yesterday, but didn’t actually had the time to do so. Sorry for that. Anywayz.....after a very nice dinner at SOH Grill House Korean BBQ the day of my arrival and a goodnight sleep, I woke up pretty early yesterday. It’s nice to wake up with the sun shining bright.

Unfortunately there were new fires in LA and that morning we received the news that one of our music friends mr. Lee Ritenour is one of the unfortunate ones who has lost his home cause of the fires. Thoughts go out to those affected by this terrible tragedy. It’s amazing how fast the fire is spreading, especially cause there’s a lot of wind. Hopefully the rescue workers who are risking their lives and working tirelessly can put an end to this and can return home safe again.

Yesterday I had a nice talk with Patrice about the current music eduction status at various schools. I will dedicate a post on that subject this week. It was very interesting to figure out what the real cause is of the lack of music eduction in a lot of countries. Stay tuned on that story.

After our talk we went grocery shopping and it’s funny how people recognize her and say hi. I personally think it’s nice when people do notice you, means you did something that has left an impression.

We had a nice home cooked meal and that night I was preparing my schedule for the interviews and visits I have planned these upcoming days.

So today I was sitting in the new office of Patrice at USC. It’s much nicer than the broom closet they gave her before. I like what she’s done with the place. It’s pretty impressive to see the pictures on the wall of her with Chaka Khan, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Steve Gadd, Candy Dulfer, just to name a few and not to forget Michelle Obama. Patrice is one of those musicians who proofs that music can take you further.

Her first lesson today was with student Jensen McRae. I’ve met Jensen last year for the first time and a couple of months ago I had dinner with her and her dad while they were visiting in Amsterdam. I’ll be doing an interview with her this week about her experience at USC and the plans she has for the future.

I stayed during that lesson and I immediately noticed that she has grown artistically compared to last year. The songs she’s writing are powerful and she knows how to touch you with her music. 

At the end of the afternoon I got to witness the performance of the freshmen followed by the 2nd year students at USC. Check out my next post about those sessions.


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Hello Los Angeles

I woke up early this morning heading to Schiphol Amsterdam, cause I had a flight to catch to Los Angeles. 

When I arrived at the airport the line was pretty long, I think security checked me 3 times. Even when it was time to board the plane, security picked me again for an extra check. I must say that everyone was nice and friendly eventhough it’s a madhouse.

On board of the plane I had a nice seat at the window, I sat next to a KLM pilot who was headed to Vegas (no worries, he was not the one flying the It was a pleasant flight, well actually I slept the entire journey (besides waking up for the food ofcourse). The lady that was sitting next to the pilot (she’s a doctor) complimented me, she was impressed that I could sleep that

I impressed myself too, I mean it’s a 12 hour flight and I was just really tired. Flying above Los Angeles we could see the smoke moving over the city, which is caused by the fire that still continues to burn in the hills. Hopefully they can control it soon. 

Leaving the plane I noticed that the line at customs is not that long anymore like it used to be. Now they have Automated Passport Control which really does speed up the process. I was surprised to be outside so fast. I picked up my rental car and off I was to my home away from home.

I love seeing palm trees. When I see them it makes me happy, means I’m at a place where the sun shines. The weather is amazing. I think during wintertime I should just go here.

Seeing Patrice and the family is always a good thing. The dogs still remember me as well. We had a nice long talk and yes ofcourse we talked about music.

During my stay I’ll be interviewing various people for the blog and I will be writing about the various topics that we will be discussing. Make sure you keep checking back cause I’ll take you with me on my musical journey these upcoming days.

I’m hungry, so now I’m going to eat! And probably get some more sleep later Cheers!


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