Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg & the Assad Brothers

In concert last night, what we saw is three very different ways of addressing the music and the instrument.

Nadja is an aggressive violinist, attacking each phrase from her entire body. She leans forward into every note, her tip toes firm on the floor, heels bouncing to the beat, as though she is ready to leap from the chair at any moment. She alone spoke for the trio, illuminating bits of the creative process with stories on how this piece came to being or that arrangement was created. Her speaking voice is rich, but a strong New York accent pops out, especially when acerbic, as when starting the second half while stragglers are still rushing to their seats, "like roaches caught in the light", she says. Her playing is, of course, passionate and volatile.

Odair Assad, the younger brother, dances with his guitar. Swaying gently to the music, or punctuating tight rhythms with his shoulders and posture, he sits with both feet flat on the floor, his right thigh and left hand alone supporting the guitar and neck, unlike most other guitarists, including his brother. He, like Nadia, is ready to leave his chair, (indeed, he was standing before the last notes of their Copland "Rodéo" encore ended) not to insist on his music, but to dance with his instrument. His playing is elegant and charming.

Sérgio, though, holds his guitar very close to his body, his left foot on a small riser, supporting the guitar with both thighs and left hand close to his chest, his face hovering just over the shoulder of the instrument, if not actually resting on it. He moves little, only head and hand. At first, this seems like a lover's embrace, but as the evening continues, you see that the guitar not another being or an extension of himself, but it is his very self that he strums for music. He is touching his own centered soul and music comes out. His playing rich and sonorous.

Singers and actors master all three styles and more to perform effectively. Rare are classical instrumentalists who are so physically engaging, even sitting still. Their motions were genuine and expressive, although no two of the players moved the same. No recording, even one of a concert, fully shows this. For seeing this yourself, go to concerts. For hearing it, there is an Instant Encore offering of this concert, but it is not the three players or even the instruments we heard. For that, there are recordings.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Job Hunting

To: New Jobhunter
From: Your Mentor

Congratulations on you new position!
Job hunter is an age-old position with many rewards and challenges.
Here is an outline of your duties:

1. Set your own work hours and keep them.
~~~ a. No one is going to supervise you or call you when you miss work
~~~ b. You will have to get yourself ready to job hunt each day
~~~ c. You may change your hours as necessary.
~~~ d. If you are already working some, keep doing it and also your job hunter hours.
~~~ e. File unemployment if you might be eligible. Follow their rules, please.

2. Make your own work area.
~~~ a. Don’t spend a lot of time on this, but cover the basics:
~~~ b. Phone, phone book, pad, computer, access, lighting.

3. Narrow your search:
~~~ a. What location will you work in?
~~~ b. What types of jobs would you do?
~~~~~~ i. Jobs you’ve held before
~~~~~~ ii. Continue a career you’ve started
~~~~~~ iii. Begin a new career. Idea sources:
~~~~~~~~~ A. Your hobbies, passions and loves
~~~~~~~~~ B. Browse Help Wanted and local business listings online and print media randomly

4. Contact every one who might have a job for you:
~~~ a. By local phone call to potential employers in your area and interests:
~~~~~~ i. Dial and talk to whoever answers:
~~~~~~ ii. Introduce yourself and let then know you are looking for work as a (fill in the blank)
~~~~~~ iii. Ask if they might have an opening for someone like you.
~~~~~~~~~ A. If yes, find out what they want and produce it.
~~~~~~~~~ B. If not, ask if there anyone who might need someone like you.
~~~ b. By personal contact:
~~~~~~ i. Let all your friends, relatives and people you work with know you are looking.
~~~~~~ ii. Talk to everyone: the stranger in line at the store may need you.
~~~~~~ iii. Visit for more ideas.
~~~ c. By any other means you have:
~~~~~~ i. Online applications (do them fully the first time)
~~~~~~ ii. Cold mailed resume
~~~~~~ iii. Newspaper and online want ads
~~~~~~ iv. Local Internet search and Phone book Yellow page listings

5. When you learn of a lead, follow up fully and professionally with whatever they ask.
~~~ a. Resume: one page, please, absolutely truthful.
~~~ b. Cover letter: do your homework and make it about THEIR business
~~~ c. Interview: Dress as though you already have that job. Get enough rest.
~~~ d. Follow up each of the above: it impresses and can lead to more leads.

6. Accept the right offer.
~~~ a. You don’t need to accept your first offer unless you are desperate.
~~~ b. The beginning is the time to negotiate.
~~~ c. Commit only to what you really can do.
~~~ d. Leave your options open if a better offer arrives.