NAMM: a reflection

NAMM, without a doubt, was an incredible experience. I met one of my musical heroes, Cory Henry, got to demo unreleased gear, hung out with industry insiders and heard personal stories about Quincy Jones, was shown around LA by my good friend Tyler​, and heard jaw-dropping performances by extraordinarily talented and creative artists who I previously didn’t know existed. I even posted a picture I was able to take with Victor Wooten on Facebook and got 192 likes. By all accounts, by every practical measure, it was a very, very successful trip, and I’m grateful to have had this opportunity.
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As I was flying back home, I was reflecting on this experience and thinking about what this weekend meant to me. How would it change my perspective on my career and my musical direction moving forward?  Was this weekend going to propel my career in the way that I hoped–and prayed–that it would?

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I’m not sure what will be the tangible, direct result of this trip, but I do know that it has sharpened my resolve to focus on the mission that God has called on my life: to spread the love of Jesus through a platform made possible by music. While at the convention, it was impossible not to notice the places and people that didn’t know God: the tough parts of town, the companies who used immodestly dressed women to try to lure in customers, the industry executives willing to prey on inexperienced artists through immoral contracts, and the list goes on.

There were bright spots, though, where God shined bright: the Christian music discussions, the worship gatherings on Thursday evening and Sunday morning, the Christian individuals who built successful companies that are standing apart in the industry, and the fact that the best musicians I heard this weekend grew up playing music in the Church.

Is God calling me to a big international tour with a renowned artist? Maybe, maybe not. But right now, I’m not concerned about that. I’m concerned about glorying God through music. I’m concerned about putting God first in all aspects of my life. I’m concerned about bringing light to the dark places, about showing those wandering through life without direction the incredible joy and purpose that a life with Jesus provides. This post won’t get nearly as much attention as a selfie with Victor Wooten, but there is so much more significance here. I want, you, the person reading this post, to know the best way to live: a life of pursuing God through a relationship with Jesus Christ, a life of freedom from sin and the things that hold us back from becoming the man or woman that God has made us to be. A life to follow the best calling and purpose of all, to be a follower of Jesus.

2016

Happy New Year everyone!

I’ve intentionally made my gig schedule lighter this month, in an effort to catch my breath after such a busy November and December.  (All those Kat Perkins shows were fantastic!)  Aside from a trip to LA for NAMM and a masterclass I’m presenting, the my month is filled with my normal teaching duties at McNally Smith and music directing at River Valley Church, Edina.

I’ll be getting back into a busier performing schedule in February, with a McNally Smith faculty concert featuring me on Feb 16, a show at Bunkers on Saturday night the 13th featuring Ian Everson, and a trip to Miami at the end of the month for a performance with the Potash Twins at the Food Network South Beach Food and Wine Festival.  It will be a fun month!

I hope 2016 is off to a great start for you, and I hope to see you at one of my performances!

A Kat Perkins Christmas

 

Playing with Kat Perkins has been an incredible experience so far.  Check out her website to get tickets for an upcoming show!
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Busy October!

I have a lot of performances coming up in October.  Check out my calendar for details, and I hope to see you soon!

Duo with Petar Janjic

I’ve been getting more and more into Ableton/synths/looping.  Check out these videos I did with Petar a couple of weeks ago:

 

Volunteering at Salvation Army this Summer

For the last three months, I’ve spent almost every Tuesday morning volunteering at the Salvation Army near downtown St. Paul, preparing and serving breakfast for the homeless and working poor. This has been a wonderful experience that at times has been fun or challenging, and discouraging or inspiring.

It has been wonderful to be involved in handing a plate of food to an average of 300 people every Tuesday.  Yet it has been a challenge to see so many people who are in great need, especially those who come in with small children…

As we hand these people a plate, wish them a good morning and ask about how they are doing, we get a variety of responses, ranging from:

“I’m going great, it’s a beautiful day.  Thank you so much for serving, and God bless you,” to, “About the same as yesterday,” to, ”You don’t want to know.”  But much more often than not, those who receive food show deep and authentic gratitude for the service and kindness that is being extended to them.  I’ve been told, “God bless you” at the Salvation Army this summer countless times.

While the format of these breakfasts makes it hard to have prolonged conversations with the guests, I have had a number of meaningful, sometimes deeply spiritual, conversations with a few individuals as we are cleaning up.  I remember one man who admitted that he had been a thief his whole life, but that day, he had found a wallet at the Dorothy Day Center (an overnight homeless facility) that had 30 credit cards and $3000 in cash.  Instead of pocketing it, he turned it in to the security officer there.  While he recognized that that money would have taken care of him for several weeks, he felt compelled to do the right thing.  He told me this after talking about his broken nose and broken jaw that he received through two separate fights on the street…

There was another man who was telling me about how violent living on the street is.  But, with tears flowing freely from his eyes and down his face, he quoted Bible verse after Bible verse about “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,” and how God is protecting him, giving him the strength to make it through each day.

Or there was the authentically joyful reunion I had with a man who I used to play chess with when I volunteered at the Listening House.  This man had a severe stroke several years ago that left him with limited mobility and even greater difficulty speaking.  But he is an excellent chess player, and a jazz music connoisseur.  When we re-met, he told me how much he appreciated my music and wanted to know when the next album is coming out.

The crew of staff and volunteers are a wonderfully eclectic group of people.  There is a man there who volunteers every day since retiring several months ago, who prides himself in being the designated soup-server.  There is the man who has worked there for 10 years and also runs a suicide prevention organization.  There is the man who has come in twice a week for years, despite a busy work schedule.  There is the staff worker who quietly does the tasks that no one else is particularly eager to do (especially washing the dishes).  And there is the 60-ish year old woman, who is about 4 foot, 10 inches, maybe 100 lbs, English is her second language, and who wears two hearing aids…but the guests there have the utmost respect for her.  She has been there for at least 10 years, serving every day.  She gives devotionals during the morning, and the entire room of 300 guests—many of whom give the appearance that they wouldn’t listen to any authority figure—listen in rapt attention to her message.  You could hear a pin drop.  And they almost always applaud when she is done.  Additionally, just yesterday a fight started to break out between two men.  There was a lot of shouting and pushing, and the situation was rapidly escalating.  This woman rushed to the scene, shouted, “Not in MY house!” grabbed one of the men by the back of his shirt and pulled him out of the room.  This was a scene I will never forget.

I mostly write this so that I can reminisce about my experiences there, but also to close this season of my time there.  With fall classes started soon, it no longer works in my schedule to volunteer here—it’s awfully challenging to be in two places at once!  But I do have some reflections about the implications of what I’ve seen this summer:

The level of influence we have is not dictated by our physical stature, education level or the amount of money we make.  Thinking specifically about the 60-year old woman made me realize how we can do incredible things if we let God work through us.  She did not have an imposing physique and did not give the appearance of being affluent, yet she is drastically improving the lives of hundreds of people every day.  She has very clearly submitted herself to God, who has in turn given her great authority, the ability to speak authentically and persuasively, and has kept her safe through what likely has been many dangerous situations.  Philippians 2:13 reads, “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”

Secondly, I’d encourage everyone to find something they are passionate about and go volunteer!  It admittedly was a challenge to get up early every Tuesday to serve, but I’m so glad that I did.  I met people who have inspired me, witnessed situations that have challenged me, become more aware of the plight of those with mental illness, and experienced and learned about what it is like to work in a commercial kitchen.  And perhaps most importantly, I have always felt closest to God when I’m volunteering regularly.

Thank you Salvation Army, for the work that you are doing to help those that lack basic necessities, and my prayer is for continued blessing over your ministry.

Thank you for those who have read this, and now go out, recognizing the impact God wants you to have on those around you.  He will equip you, motivate you, and increase your influence if you open up to Him and allow him to work in your life.  Matthew 5:16, “…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

2nd Edition of Ear Training books ready for fall!

This last year I’ve created three Ear Training textbooks for use at McNally Smith College of Music.  After running several sections of classes that used my books, I’ve revisited and updated the material into a 2nd edition.  These books are designed for classroom use and come with audio recordings for student projects.  If your school might be interested in using these books, please reach out to me through the “Contact” section of this website.  I’ll be posting examples from the textbook over the next few days.

 

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Dr. Musselman

As of February 24th, 2015, I am now Dr. Dan Musselman!  I completed my Ph.D. in music composition at the University of Minnesota.  Special thanks to Alex Lubet, my advisor, for all his guidance and friendship.

A Modern Christmas Now Available for Download!

My Christmas album is finally done!  I am so incredibly excited to share this with you, and I sincerely hope that you enjoy this music.  All of the proceeds from this album benefit The Water Project.  

Click here to download the album!

Click here to hear the album!

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Christmas album to be announced soon!!!

I’m in the final stages of finishing up my Christmas album, and I can’t wait to share it with you!  Look for details soon!