Following up last month's newsletter with Emily Isaacson Tzuker, and the Improvisation Summit of Portland!
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The Mouthpiece - May 2015

Hello Friends and Family,

If you send out your May newsletter on the last day of month, it still counts right? I'll just go on thinking that it does. 

I promised I would follow up with the musician/parents that I mentioned in my last letter, where I shared some conversations I had in the past with other musicians about parenthood.

I'm afraid I only followed up with one, but her response was so thorough, honest and enlightening, that it makes up for my shortcomings. That's a lesson for life: surround yourself with people who do things well, and it will look like you do things well also! Ahem. 

Anyway. My friend Emily Isaacson Tzuker, to refresh your memory, is the Director of Choral Activities at Clark University, and the Artistic Director of the Oratorio Chorale in Worcester, MA. She and I went to graduate school together at the U of O from 2006 to 2008. I remembered a conversation she and I had about the balance of career and family. She wondered how children would work if she were to land the full-time choral directing job that she hoped for. At that time she thought perhaps her husband Matt, who is a talented writer, might be a stay-at-home dad, but that thought was balanced against her father's disbelief that any man would be interested in doing that.

She landed the job, as you saw, but things didn't turn out how she thought they might. Here's how she described their situation to me:

How do Matt and I handle career and child care? Its messy, but we feel very blessed to 1) both have careers we love, 2) have a healthy daughter and 3) get to spend quality time with her. Matt is a consultant for an executive search firm that finds college presidents and deans and non-profit CEOs. He works a normal 9-5 schedule and travels about 1-2 times a month, usually just over night. I am director of choral activities at Clark University (2 days a week) and Artistic Director of the Oratorio Chorale (Normally 1 rehearsal a week on Sundays and meetings throughout the week).

For the last two years we lived in Boston and our schedule was like this:
  • Sunday afternoon: I take the train up to Maine where Oratorio Chorale is, rehearsal Sunday night, spend the night at my parents house up there.
  • Monday: early morning train back to Boston, go get my car and drive 1 hour out to Worchester where Clark is, teach until 9 pm.
  • Tuesday: work from home.
  • Wednesday: teach at Clark from 9 am to 7 pm.
  • Thursday-Saturday: off
For the first 18 months of Anna's life she was home with me. I would take her up to Maine with me on Sundays and use babysitters when I needed them. In January she started daycare 3 days a week. We've just moved from Boston to Portland, Maine in part to make my commute and life easier, in part to be closer to family so we can get some daycare help, but mostly because we like it here much better. Great food and beer scene!

I love what I do and I love being home with Anna, but juggling is exhausting for me. The days I am home with her the work doesn't stop, so I'm constantly trying to squeeze in an e-mail, take a phone meeting at the playground or prep scores during her nap time. If I had more money I would be less frantic because I could hire more help, be it daycare, housecleaning or more take out. But that said, I would rather this than a boring desk job for 50 hours a week that makes tons of money. This is way more fun.

My wife and I have made many of the same choices, even though our situation is different. I thought Emily's response said so much, that I don't need to add anything, other than a great big "thank you" for writing it, probably in a frenzied email session while her daughter was sleeping! 

Before I sign off, I wanted to let you know about some performances that are coming up.
This all happens at the Creative Music Guild's Improvisation Summit of Portland, one of my favorite events of the music year here in Portland. This year its all going down at Disjecta in North Portland.

Friday, June 5 at 9:35 pm, I'll conducting an octet by the great Roscoe Mitchell, the ISP's headlining guest this year. I can't wait to conduct again after quite a long break.

Saturday night at 8:20 pm, I'll be performing music for string quartet and improviser by Wayne Horvitz, the Seattle pianist who is one of my musical heroes. This is the first performance of a new collaboration I've started with the violinist Casey Bozell called "Either Neither." I'll be playing the cornet, an instrument somewhere between a trumpet and flugelhorn that's been particularly inspiring lately. I might make the switch full time, but that's the subject of another newsletter.

The Creative Music Guild is one of my favorite music organizations in town, and I love what they do. This festival is an amazing experience. I've never been so captivated by brilliant performances as I was at last year's festival. This year promises to be even better. If you'd like to be there, buy a ticket, and if you'd like to do even more to support this amazing event and organization, kick in to their fundraiser. You won't regret it.

Thanks so much,

Douglas Detrick
Copyright © 2015 Douglas Detrick, Composer, Trumpeter, Educator, All rights reserved.

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