Chance Favors The Prepared Mind. A conversation with Derek Williams

As appears on Derek Williams web site. Being born into poverty with no money for music lessons or equipment, having no family ties in the music industry to help me, and struggling with drug abuse haven’t stopped me from rising above my situation and making a career for myself in the most competitive music market in the world.    At age 28 now, I've played guitar for 18 years, with over 40 artists and bands and with 18 major-label artists. I have played on national television shows all over the world and Stadium tours for millions of people. Even though I was born into poverty, had no connections in the industry, and had struggles with drug abuse, I was able to overcome my obstacles and pursue my dream. I am living my childhood dream- I am a rockstar. I recently met Derek at the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) while…

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7 Questions for Mike Rayburn. Carnegie Hall Headliner and Keynote Artist.

The Guitar has 6 strings. If 6 objects are placed side by side, then rearranged one at a time so that they are always in a new position and relationship to each other, it will require 720 moves to complete the cycle. In other words, the number of distinct linear arrangements of six is 720. Now, when this arithmetic form is applied to 12 consecutive tones of the chromatic scale the number of moves required in order to complete the cycle is: 479,001,6000. The possible combinations of 12 when multiplied by 720 totals: 344,881,152,000. That's in excess of 344 billion combinations.1 The obstacles to reach "virtuoso" status on the guitar is enormous. Mike Rayburn is a Carnegie Hall Headliner. He is at the top of  the guitar performance pyramid. Still, to combine, comedy and motivational speaking and package it into a sought after Keynote talk, completely boggles the mind, Yet that is what Mike…

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Want to Spice Up Your Marriage? Learn How to Dance Together

My wife and I recently celebrated our 37th wedding anniversary. We have an incredible marriage, with two wonderful children and I feel very blessed. People often ask, “What’s the secret to making a marriage last?” Well, there are lots of good tips to doing so, but I’d like to share one of the ways my wife and I have kept things spicy. Back in 2010, Iris suggested we take some ballroom dancing lessons at our local Y, to shake things up a bit. Immediately, the gremlins in my head started stirring. Can I do this? Will I embarrass myself? Will I embarrass my wife? Even worse, will I step all over her toes? You see, it’s not that I don’t have rhythm. In another life time I was a professional music performer and educator. I still play my guitar every day. It’s just that when I was younger, I never had…

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Danny Elfman’s Music from the Films of Tim Burton

I'm grateful to my relationship with my dear cousin, Blossom Elfman, Danny's mother, who 2 years ago re-connected me with Danny Elfman. Thank you Danny for so graciously receiving Iris and I and our dear friends Vinny and Ann Marie. Often the sound track to movies are nothing but background. Your music is different. It is deeply connected to the story, often fueled by Tim Burton's enormously creative powers. From the moment we heard the eerie sound of the theramin to the standing ovation at the end, I and the rest of the audience were all deeply moved and even occasionally surprised never really knowing what new melody or strange sound you would throw at us next. Having the NY Philharmonic with full choir perform your work, must have been a dream come true for you. My personal favorite, Edward Scissorhands. Your Oingo Boingo roots heard, loud and clear. Hugs to you…

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Literacy Day

For the last several years I have had the privilege of entertaining the children as part of Family Literacy Day sponsored by the Staten Island Reading Association.  The Staten Island Reading Association is a non profit organization chartered by the International Reading Association and a local council of the New York State Reading Association. Thank you Diane Matteo  for helping to organize such a beautiful event and for Mary for helping to lead our little singers. And to my buddy Ann Marie McDonnell who connected me with the group. All the  fun took  place at Snug Harbor cultural center. To get the kids moving I invited them to dance the "Hokey Pokey." I may have had more fun than the children and parents, but I will keep that a secret.

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Stevie Wonderful

I have been a fan of Stevie wonder all my life. Something about his singing style connects to me very deeply. I'm so grateful Iris and I had the chance to see him perform his  Songs In The Key Of Life Performance. The music comes  from his 1976 album regarded as some of our popular music's greatest work. We talk about effortless performance - Stevie is the poster child of effortless. He barely cracks a sweat when he sings... and does he sing. Although we were sitting in the nose bleed bleacher section I felt well connected  to Stevie and to the other 18,000  fans at the Prudential Center in NJ. He was able to deliver an intimate performance. That's the sign of a great artist. He was escorted to the stage by R&B singer India. Arie who delivered a soulful performance in her own right. Stevie came out swinging with his opening song  "Love's In…

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Long before I became a financial educator, writer, and advisor, I was a music teacher, guitarist and music technology consultant. I started playing the guitar as a child, and loved every strum. I continued to pursue my love for music by completing my Bachelors degree in Music Performance and my Masters degree in Music Education. Later on, while working as a music technology consultant, my most famous clients were Emmy & Tony award winner, singer, and songwriter Barry Manilow and Doris Duke (the heiress to the Reynolds tobacco fortune whose family helped fund Duke University). I suppose Barry and Doris hired me for the same reason that my clients hire me today: They liked me, trusted me, and thought I was competent. I have been a professional financial advisor & financial planner for the last 15 years  and I bring the same passion I have  for music to my financial profession.…

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Jason Howland wins the Grammy for Beautiful. The Carole King Musical

  Jason Howland was honored at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards for Best Musical Theatre Album. Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. The award will also go to  Jessie Mueller, principal soloist; Steve Sidwell & Billy Jay Stein, producers (Carole King, composer & lyricist) (Original Broadway Cast) and the labels, Ghostlight/Razor & Tie. Jason Howland is a musical theatre composer, playwright, conductor, music director, and producer. His most notable work has been writing the music for the Broadway musical Little Women. He has repeatedly served as a musical director on Broadway and as a guest conductor of major orchestras across the nation. Jason is not an overnight success. While at Williams College, he was called to be an intern on the 1992 Vivian Matalon workshop of Jekyll & Hyde and worked his way up, eventually becoming the music director and conductor of the 1997 Broadway production. He has also appeared as a guest conductor with…

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How many drum sticks does it take to really Rock?

I was fortunate enough to check out the performance of Baby Spiders, a New York City rock trio comprised of  my buddy  Rob Youngberg, on drums, along with Tony Zajkowksi on guitar and vocals, both formerly with Lotion  and  Albert Kelly, formerly of the Apathetix, on bass and keyboards. Cream meets early Pink Floyd late at night in a turkish bathhouse. All these guys were great! But of special interest to me was Rob on drums. Listening to Rob "pound" his drums to me was reminiscent of the great legendary drummer from Cream, Ginger Baker. I just never, ever saw or heard anyone playing drums with such intensity, and joy. After breaking 6 drum sticks from the share energy of his performance, I was screaming for more. The members of Lotion (band), including Rob,  ruled the Lower East Side in the 90's.According to the Wall Street Journal 2012 article,  here's the scoop. The members…

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