This “now page” offers a big picture glimpse into my what I’m focused on at this point in my life.
In May, my daily routine underwent a significant change. All the activities that previously occupied my time and thoughts came to an abrupt halt. The academic year ended, I left the Hartford Jazz Orchestra, Achilles tendonitis prevented me from continuing my running training, I’m currently abstaining from social media, and the Winnipeg Jets (the only sports team I follow) were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs. Despite feeling unsettled and uncertain, I acknowledge the importance of this break, which will allow me to reassess my priorities and contemplate which new artistic venture(s) could have the greatest impact. When I have open blocks of time, my first instinct is to dive headfirst into a major project. However, I’m taking a moment to collect my thoughts and carefully consider my options. At the same time, the loss of my father in February is still weighing heavily on my mind.
We MacDonalds are still residing in Connecticut, close to UConn, where I teach and oversee the Jazz Studies program. Our kids are both now teenagers, so our parenting is in a period of transition, and the learning curve is steep.
Running helps vanquish any stress in my life (see the above paragraph). If I can remain injury-free and healthy in 2023, I aim to run a half marathon in June and a full marathon in October. Qualifying for the Boston Marathon is my running goal.
Joining the Hartford Jazz Orchestra this past year has been a significant development in my musical life. When I compose and arrange music for the group, they perform it eagerly. Because the ensemble is run as a collective, I don’t have any non-musical bandleader responsibilities other than what I wish to take on. It’s nice to have a regular Monday night gig for which to compose, musically prepare, and “keep my chops up.” Creating new music seems increasingly difficult these days, but my motivation hasn’t faded yet. Both solving musical problems on paper and, later, hearing my creations brought to life continue to provide tremendous satisfaction.
To inspire myself to keep practicing the piano, I’ve been learning one Thelonious Monk tune per week. On (Monk) Mondays I post videos of me playing the week’s song on Instagram and Facebook. So far, so good; I’ve been maintaining it.
I am encouraged by the high caliber students we are attracting at UConn; the jazz ensembles have never sounded better. Significant curriculum changes are routinely implemented and I have enjoyed teaching a new class called “Jazz Music and Social Change.”
When time allows, I add updated content to this website. I see value in sharing educational resources and igniting conversations that hopefully build community.
Ever up and onward!