Updates of All Kinds!

Hello and welcome back!

If you’ve been watching this site, you’ve undoubtedly been bored, as nothing has happened here since January.

But now things have kicked off! I’ve done a fair amount of revision over the last few days, and there is more to come. It will take me a while to get everything cleaned up and consistent, but it’s something.

In addition to site updates, here’s an unfairly brief summary of my life recently.

Big Changes

In March, I found out that I had been accepted to Shenandoah Conservatory, to study conducting there. This program has been highly recommended by several people who I respect, and I jumped at the chance to be involved.

I accepted the offer and resigned my job at Magnolia West High School. I finished out the end of the year (earning a UIL Sweepstakes trophy in the process!) and moved to Winchester, Virginia. I’m renting a house with several other grad students, and I’m sitting on the couch as I type this.

I’ve spent the time since my move working with Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre, the summer stock program run by the conservatory. In addition to showing me around the school, I’ve had a chance to interact with faculty and staff who I will be working with during the year. Needless to say I’ve spent plenty of time at the piano and in the library.

I was awarded a partial assistantship, which was recently converted to a full assistantship, which will cover many of my expenses in exchange for my work. I’m excited to see what that will lead to!

Other Events

At the same time, I also left my job at Advent Lutheran Church, where I’d been playing since December of 2018. I am incredibly thankful and blessed to have worked with Pastor Kim and with Scott MacAdow there, and I learned a lot. I also finished my studies with Dr. Dave Englert, and earned my Service Playing Certificate from the American Guild of Organists.

Before I moved, I had a chance to go one last time to UIL State Solo & Ensemble. I accompanied about 20 students, including covering for two students who I had never worked with but found themselves in need.

The move went smoothly and I enjoyed seeing many parts of the country. You can check out my Instagram feed for pictures of the travel.

Looking Forward

My time with SSMT has nearly ended. I’m still playing for some occasional rehearsals while David, the main rehearsal pianist, is busy with shows. But it allows me many free days and not much to do.

So with the remaining summer, I’m making a point of sightseeing and preparing myself for the fall. I’m playing plenty of piano and reading a lot. I hope to visit friends in Washington, D.C., and possibly even in New York City before the summer ends.

And of course I’ll be updating and filling this site in as well. No excuses, since I have plenty of free time.

100 Days of Practice: Day 1 Comments

So, I’ve decided to get on the #100daysofpractice bandwagon.

I have plenty to work on, especially as I’m now a resident organist at a church, plus preparation for grad school auditions (more on this during my “Year in Review” post on Monday).

But there’s a rather unique twist to mine: I’m a multi-instrumentalist, and at least one of my instruments is not easily available for me. I have only limited access to the organ, so I can’t practice it every day.

My understanding of the challenge is that I should be putting in daily, consistent work. So I’m broadening my definition of practice to keyboard skills in general. So I will make a point of describing what I’m doing each day, but be prepared for a lot of pictures of one of my organs, or of the many and various keyboards and pianos I have access to at school.

I won’t post to this site every day, but I’ll be posting to instagram, so follow me there if you want to see all the details.

See you on Monday for a year in review!

The Best Laid Plans


It’s been a bit since I wrote here. In fact, from what I can see of my publication dates, it has been almost a month. A lot has happened in that time. Here’s a quick run-down:

  • Thanksgiving 2018. I had actually scheduled a post for this day, but I never finished editing it for publication. The gist of it was this:

I am thankful for my loving family and friends, for the actors and musicians I’ve worked with over the last year, and for the incredibly fortunate life I have to to be able to do this and to pursue it.

  • Church Organ at Advent Lutheran Church. This has been a big focus of my life in recent weeks. As I begin working regularly, I’m having to spend more time developing skills and picking up repertoire for Preludes, Postludes, and Offertories. This was quite a challenge at first, but I’m finding that my pace has increased as I’ve gotten familiar with the instrument.

  • Application to Arizona State University. I submitted my application on the afternoon of November 30, just before the December 1 deadline. I am still waiting to hear back. One of my references sent me a copy of her recommendation letter and I was really honored by the glowing terms she used to describe my work.

  • Magnolia West Choir Concert. This past Thursday was our annual “Merry Mustang Show and Auction” at MWHS. This concert is a huge undertaking, as it is one of our main fundraisers for the year. In addition to the longest concert of our year (about an hour and a half), we present a silent auction of gift baskets made by our students (and constructed by the head director), and a live auction of decorated Christmas trees by parents. All of this money goes toward student scholarships. It’s a genius idea, and I’m always excited to see how it goes. This year was quite stressful, as we seemed to be a little behind the curve on things. The two days leading up to the concert I didn’t even have time to stop for lunch between paperwork and rehearsals.

  • Pride and Prejudice at Fourth Wall Theatre Company. I returned to my favorite local professional company to see “Pride and Prejudice” in an adaptation by Kate Hamill. I still haven’t read the book so I can’t comment on comparisons, but my two companions were intimately familiar with it and seemed to have a good time. It took some liberties with the plot in the interest of time and comedy but it was, as always, well-acted and exciting.

  • Application to Shenandoah Conservatory. Last night, a friend helped me re-record the interview portion of my application to SU. I’m hoping to edit that together with video of myself leading rehearsals so that I can submit in the next few days. I know it’s well ahead of their January deadline, but I’d rather be done with it so I can enjoy my holidays.

Upcoming events are of course Christmas 2018 and New Year 2018-2019. I have Christmas eve services at the church that I will put on the calendar as soon as I have sorted out the repertoire. I need to make a Christmas list to send to family this weekend. I need to start making plans for the new year.

Oh and I need to continue to post here regularly…

The King of Instruments

Next week, I will play my last service as a substitute organist at Beautiful Savior/Our Redeemer Lutheran Church. For almost exactly two years, it has been a privilege to help lead worship.

Tonight I played my first service as resident organist at Advent Lutheran Church, where I will play regularly until at least April of next year. Due to a scheduling change, I stepped in on short notice for the Thanksgiving evening service.

For some readers, this may come as a bit of a surprise. I talk a lot about musicals and choral music here, and playing piano. But organ is not a regular topic. So here’s some backstory.

First Interest

My most adventurous year of college (academically) was 2012, spring of my sophomore year and fall of junior. That was the year I joined a few new choirs, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia fraternity, and explored the idea of organ lessons.

My first semester of organ was actually spring of 2013, with Dr. Joyce Jones. Dr. Jones was the retiring professor of organ at Baylor, after about 40 years there. I was incredibly lucky to work with her for a semester, and I learned a ton. I spent more time practicing the organ than any other instrument for that semester, and I was able to play a Bach prelude and fugue (my first!), and a great chorale prelude by Pachelbel.

That fall, after Dr. Jones retired, I returned to organ lessons with Dr. Isabelle Demers. We focused more on manual technique, and I played some more colorful pieces under her instruction, including my own transcription of the overture from The Phantom of the Opera in full costume for the Baylor Organ Studio Halloween Concert.

I took a break from the organ after that. My course requirements were heavier, and I didn’t feel like I had the time to focus on it. Besides, it wasn’t something I would have much opportunity to do.


Jump forward to spring of 2015 as I was finishing out the year at Pasadena High School, and looking for my next step. Through a family friend, I found out that Judy Kutach, at Living Savior Lutheran Church in Montgomery, TX needed a substitute for a service over the summer. We met up, and I became a regular substitute for her (a few times per year).

The following spring, she recommended me to Lee Roeder, who played at Beautiful Savior/Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, who asked me to come in and substitute for her. She has employed me about once per month on average since then, sometimes on consecutive weeks.

I’ve also substituted for Dave Englert, who is organist at Resurrection Lutheran Church in Spring. Dave has also become a source of knowledge for me, and I hope to take some lessons with him in the spring of 2019.


Things really started stepping up during the summer of this year. On the recommendation of a friend, I went into an interview to take over organ duties at The Woodlands United Methodist Church, which is a major church in my neighborhood. However, I cordially withdrew after discovering it was a full-time position. As exciting as that opportunity would be, I couldn’t make that change in direction.

In the fall, Lee approached me about taking over for her, as she is preparing to retire. Since this is a smaller church, I was excited for the opportunity. The church was willing to keep considering me, even though I may move for grad school. But they moved slowly with the interview/review process.

Out of the blue, Scott McAdow at Advent Lutheran sent me an e-mail. He heard me accompany band students at their UIL Solo & Ensemble competition back in February. He approached me about taking over for their organist, mostly because he knew my piano skills. He actually didn’t know any of my organ background.

I met with Scott and played some of my typical substitute pieces, plus showing that my piano skills are as good or better than what he remembered me. (Actually, my audition for him was the same day as my first rehearsal for the production of [Title of Show] that I wrote about recently.)

He moved more quickly than Beautiful Savior/Our Redeemer and offered me the position pretty much on the spot. After conferring with Lee, I withdrew from consideration for her position and have already begun duties at ALC.

This week, at Dave Englert’s advice, I joined the American Guild of Organists, and I have watched many of their “Lessons for the New Organist” YouTube series. I’ve been reading through back editions of The American Organist, their monthly magazine. Dave has advised me to look at some of their certifications, as it will build my skills. I think it will also be useful to lend me some legitimacy, in the event that I am looking for an organ position while in grad school.

I will spend some of my thanksgiving break working on building up my weaker skills (pedals) and I will start lessons with Dave in the spring. I’m excited to take on this new challenge!

Post-Show Thoughts

Its’ been a bit since I posted. Part of that excuse is the busy schedule of a show, plus a full time job. But now that Seven Brides for Seven Brothers has closed, I have time to reflect.

Looking Back

It’s been a fairly crazy (for me) summer. I had an ill-fated trip to the Grand Canyon, a micro-vacation to Austin, and an eventful, extensive rehearsal process for a musical.

The last one was of course the biggest part of my schedule. Rehearsals 4 days per week left little time for anything else in the evenings. The show was a massive success, selling out more than half of our 10 performances. I’ll update the show page soon with pictures and more info.

Toward the end of the summer, I made it a goal to have one new artistic experience every week. Previous sights included trips to the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Island ETC in Galveston, and my first show at The MATCH.

Of course I also inaugurated this blog. Now that the show has closed, I have time to stop and think and reevaluate.

Looking Forward

For the first time in nearly three years, I don’t have a show coming up. It’s still taking a time to settle in.

I’ve been music director and/or pianist for 12 shows since fall of 2015. In that time, I’ve gained a lot of knowledge and experience on how to work with singers, directors, musicians, and the challenges of a musical theatre score.

I still have a lot of room to grow, and I’m looking forward to trying that now that I have a little time to focus myself. I want to do more score study, more piano practice, and more observing of other musicians.

I’m back in piano lessons, and after a recent exciting day as an organ substitute, I’m thinking of getting back in to organ lessons as well. I also recently came into possession of an accordion, so that may be in my future too.

I’m looking at attending graduate school if I find a program that I like and that will let me in. Doing some campus visits this fall, and applying. I will know by March or April of next year.

In the meantime, I have a choir to direct and I’m seeing another show this week. I made recordings of my playing piano so I can do some self assessment. I just bought a new score. The Woodlands Chamber Music Project is going to pick up. I’m reading more and exploring more.

So look forward to seeing new posts here!