Commencement: Will play music for rent. (I'd settle for food)

April showers have in fact been having their way with Southern Louisiana, and while this sign of the season has been destructively onerous upon my sinuses, this heralding of Spring also signals my impending commencement. On May 13 I'll be donning my borrowed cap and gown (the purchase or rental of a cap and gown would require the act of me selling one or more of my internal organs that I've grown rather fond of) and taking my last collegiate steps. 

Until then, I'm pretty much just cruising into the end of the year. I had my final collegiate performance with the LSU Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Combo just last week, and it was an excellent time. If there's one thing that I'll miss about university life, it is the consistency of music making. During my years teaching public school, I played the saxophone a remarkably small number of times. It wasn't until I began my Master's degree in 2011 that I even realized how much I missed it. The past 5 years of graduate school have been extremely difficult for a slew of reasons. Grad school is hard work. There were lots of late nights, lots of self-doubt, and a whole hell of a lot of wondering if any of this was at all advisable.

It was advisable. Not because I'm going to be rich. Quite the contrary - I fully expect to lead a fairly humble and less-than-glamorous life. It was advisable because I really like playing the saxophone. It's a lot of fun.

I was talking about commencement. Please, don't interrupt.

So, I'm pretty much done with my major responsibilities up until commencement. Until then, I will teach, I will practice, and I'll apply for jobs. Which jobs? Oh, just every job under the sun. Here's the thing about life - I've grown rather fond of the idea of not starving to death.

In-between miniature panic attacks regarding my state of employment and the uncertainty of the coming months, I've been practicing more and more tenor recently. Tenor altissimo is frightfully finicky. You hear guys like Lenny Pickett and it sounds like he's got 8 or 9 octave keys on his horn and he's just breezing through the octaves. Damn, it's difficult to get even tone through the altissimo on tenor. I mean, it's a challenge on any saxophone, but I've found the color change on tenor is astronomically different than on alto, and the voicing is extremely unforgiving. I feel like I've got all of this wiggle-room in my alto voicing, but the tiniest change to my voicing on tenor will disrupt just about everything I do. 

Also, mouthpiece exercises are just delightful. Cats and other humans tend not to share this view with me.

We were trying to discuss commencement. I'd really appreciate it if you could save all questions until the end of the lecture.

Graduating is a frightening thing on several levels. On one hand, dear sweet Lord in Heaven I've been in college for so long and if I have to register for another class I just might feed my arm to a mountain lion. On the other hand, this is it. Once I'm out of here, people are going to think I should know what I'm talking about. I mean, for the most part I do know what I'm talking about. But now my name has a couple of letters before it. What happens if somebody falls ill at the terminal at MSY and somebody shouts. "Is there a doctor present!?"? I've grown fairly fond of my sound and technical prowess on the saxophone, but I don't think it would help in an emergency situation.

Maybe I'll stay away from air travel.

More seriously, I feel like many people get out of grad school and feel like experts in their field. They should! That much time and dedication tends to make that happen. Alas, I've still got a whole lot of work I want to do on myself, my playing, and my knowledge of music. It's much more difficult to do these things when you've left the collegiate arena. I suppose I'm glad I'm not the kind of person who sees the end of my time at University as the end of my learning. I've met people who know everything. There is a lot they don't know.

If you're quite done distracting me, I believe this post was supposed to be about commencement.

On May 13, My wife and I will commence. We'll be joined by many (but not all) of our loved ones from near and far, and that is very exciting. After that, the Doctors DiSalvio will commence towards... something. 

Whatever that something is, I hope it continues to pay for a roof over our heads, food for us and our cats, and reeds. 

Speaking of reeds, I recently started playing on a Legere signature series on tenor. It's a hell of a product. It's amazing picking up my horn for the first time that day and already knowing that the reed is going to do its job, and now I've just got to do mine. The kind folks over at Legere (via reddit) filled me in on what cut and thickness I should get to match my current setup, and it played excellently from the first note. Some minor differences that I've had to adjust to, but overall I'm really happy with the switch. I'll have to check them out for alto and soprano as well!

My writing tends to be very scattered, much like my thoughts. As stated in my inaugural post, this wouldn't fly in academic writing. Alas, I've already passed my defense and they can't take it back. Everything that I write is now officially academic. Come and get me, Kate Turabian!

I hope you got as much out of this post as I have. Actually, I hope you got more out of it than I did. This is more of an outlet for me. I'd love to know whether or not people actually read this blog. If you do, and would like to ask me any questions, or would like to suggest some topics for me to talk about in future posts, that'd be super. There's a very convenient comment feature to this blog that I think all seven of my yearly site visitors should use. That includes you, guy who keeps emailing me saying that I should give you my PayPal information so that you can make my site sparkle!

Much love,

ND