This academic year has been one for the record books. The stress level reached an all time high during the Spring semester, and finally ended after hearing juries during finals week. All of the students played very well, and many even surprised me with their level of improvement since their last lesson the week prior. The level of talent at Oklahoma City University continually surprises me - from our guitar majors to beginning students enrolling in Applied Guitar to learn to play - each level dedicated themselves entirely to the guitar and for that I am grateful.
The year started out with a recording session at Castle Row Studios with my good friends Raul Reyes (b) and Jemar Poteat (d). This project was my first as a leader in the studio, and I can honestly say that I learned a lot about organizing and time management. We tracked three original compositions and seven standards in around four hours. It was an experience! If given the same time constraints, I would manage my time differently, but overall I am happy with how things went. You can hear one of the tracks here: soundcloud.com/brianbelanus
The remaining tracks will slowly be uploaded to the internet. I'll keep everyone updated here. Also, be on the look out for a video courtesy of the amazing photographer Tori Beechum. She's taken a ton of pictures of me over the years! I appreciate her skill and wisdom behind the lens.
I started a new Instagram fad called Chord of the Day, where I will play through a standard chord melody style. It's been an interesting challenge to remember these tunes and play well enough to feel like posting every day. It's been a great challenge, and I am happy to say I completed 30 days of videos so far. If you're a fan of Instagram, check out my page: www.instagram.com/brianbelanus/
I am looking forward to starting a new academic year, and challenging myself in new ways to continue to grow as a musician. Transcribing has become a focal point over the past number of years, but I am finding myself lacking in other areas as a result. I am trying to find balance in a number of areas in my life, and practice has been a key factor.
I appreciate everyone who has checked out my recordings, followed my Instagram, and read through these posts. I will be debuting a new group this year, and I am excited to bring forth a ton of new music in a format that is entirely new to me. I have been writing a lot of music since the recording session in January, and I look forward to sharing that with everyone this year. This year will be one to remember for many reasons, but I can say that I have learned a lot more heading into thirty than I have in previous years.
Thank you for being a part of the journey!
Next semester will be an exciting time for me for several reasons. The first of which is that I will no longer be a student. I will continue to serve as Adjunct Professor of Jazz Guitar at Oklahoma City University, serving alongside our director, Matthew Denman, lutenist/guitarist, Kyle Patterson, and our latest addition guitarist, Stephen Lochbaum. It promises to be an exciting year of new challenges.
I am most excited about the course Guitar Improvisation, which received a total overhaul over the past couple of weeks to become a class that is both challenging and worthwhile to student improvisers. The previous semesters have focused on theory and the application of theoretical concepts, which the students desperately needed, but going forth the class will focus on transcribing the guitar across a myriad of genre including: blues, pop, jazz, and many more. By utilizing this approach, students will not only become comfortable with transcription, an element many guitarists overlook, but they will have stylistically appropriate ideas when faced with a situation where they will be asked to improvise. These situations occur more frequently for guitarists than any other instrument. Often guitarists are left "sight-reading" a piano score, a lead sheet, or a hand drawn chord chart, wondering what in the world they should play. The goal of this course is to give students the confidence and skill necessary to adapt to any musical situation they might be faced with throughout their career. I am excited to see how this class develops over the course of this semester, and I cannot wait to report the results. I have a good feeling about this one!
The future is bright here in Oklahoma City. The music scene is beginning a slow crawl toward improving thanks to a host of new businesses that have opened up or accepted musicians into their house. The growing music scene gives me hope for the future of Oklahoma City. I have high hopes that our culture will grow away from the obsession with sports and reach a middle ground where audiences seek out music.
I am currently trying to find a local studio to record an album of originals and a couple arrangements of jazz standards. This project has been a long time coming, and will be complete within the year. I will have more information on the album in the coming months!
I am accepting new private students into my studio on Monday afternoons. So if you're interested in lessons, please do not hesitate to contact me. My email address is: email@example.com or you can use the contact page located at the top!
As always, stay tuned! I will do my best efforts to update the website regularly. I'm currently trying to figure out how to link my domain name without spending a fortune, which seems unlikely at this point. I'm setting a reminder to update the website frequently. Check out the Gigs section at the top and come listen to myself alongside a host of Oklahoma City's finest musicians. My calendar is the most up to date part of the website! Come say "Hello!"
I am very excited, elated, and flabbergasted to announce that I am now the Adjunct Jazz Guitar Instructor at Oklahoma City University!
This amazing opportunity was presented by Oklahoma City Universities Classical Guitar Instructor extraordinaire Matthew Denman. He has been a tremendous inspiration since meeting him nearly a year ago, and I could not be more excited to be a part of his growing team of guitar instructors. The environment at Oklahoma City University is truly revolutionary and is poised to become a hub for guitarists across all genres from Early Music and Classical to Jazz and Contemporary. Oklahoma City University will have it covered! I am incredibly blessed to be a part of a growing culture of guitar focused individuals.
Another unique opportunity in Oklahoma City is the growing focus on jazz. Tuesday Evenings have become home to Jazz Night in Deep Deuce, which focuses on the area in Oklahoma City where jazz luminaries such as guitarist Charlie Christian cut their teeth in the 1940's. Slaughter's Hall, WSKY Lounge, and Urban Johnnie are among the venues presenting live jazz on Tuesday evening's from 7:00 - 10:00pm in the historic Deep Deuce District located along 2nd Street in Downtown Oklahoma City. You can catch me regularly performing with various groups on Tuesdays at one of these incredible establishments!
Thanks to the newly opened Bistro 46, Monday night could turn into a regular jazz jam session located at 23rd Street and I-35. This fantastic venue kicks off its inaugural jazz jam session on Monday, January 25th at 7:00pm!
The opportunities are endless as Oklahoma City continues to grow and embrace the jazz roots it developed by being a primary stopping point on the Chitlin' Circuit in the late 19th century to the 1960's. Oklahoma is a hub for musicians of all genres and continues to grow in support of the diverse musical culture our city was built upon.
Come on out to one of my gigs located on the Gig page at the top. I'd love to meet up and discuss music and the guitar. Feel free to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for visiting and enjoy your 2016!
A lot is happening this summer folks! I'll try to breeze you through it nice and easy.
The band I am in, Culture Cinematic, opened for the headliner at Jazz In June in Norman, OK. It was an incredible experience to get out and get heard by the masses. We have been rehearsing and gigging plenty around Oklahoma City, but it was great to be apart of a larger outdoor festival, especially Jazz in June. The festival served as a warmup for our studio time in July to record the new album at the UCO Jazz Lab. If the concert showed us anything, it was that we are ready to hit the studio and collaborate in sound as one. I am very excited to see how this progresses! They have a ton of pictures, sounds, and links already up on the Culture Cinematic Facebook page in the link above. Please check us out and give a listen! Our next performance is July 17th at Belle Isle Brewery.
I am now teaching guitar lessons in Norman, OK on Thursdays at Infinity Music Arts Academy. This is a great company ran by musicians! The majority of their faculty are faculty and/or students at the University of Oklahoma. I look forward to joining the team and being able to network down in Norman! If you need lessons in Norman on guitar, or any instrument for that matter, then I suggest you check out Infinity Music Arts Academy. They have plans to expand into a new location with a stage so students not only get one-on-one music lessons, but they will have the opportunity to perform together on stage. This is the only non-collegiate environment of it's kind in all of Oklahoma! Students will get the best instruction available in the state, along with being able to practice and perform on a real stage! This is a great environment for building confidence and stage presence!
The end of July and throughout August host several gigs I am excited about! Lottinvilles Restaurant and Bar in Edmond will have 'Brian Belanus Duo' on July 31st, August 1st. On August 21st and 22nd I will bring a trio with my good friends and original tunes! Then we wrap up the summer on August 29th with another duo gig and on to Fall!
I will have more to post as time goes on, but if you'd like to stay more up to date then follow me on Facebook and Twitter, the links are at the very top on your right!
Boy, it has been an extremely busy March! I have been playing every Friday and Saturday at a local restaurant in Edmond - Lottinvilles Restaurant - from 8 to 11pm alongside my cohorts: Stephen Schultz and Logan Gorrell. The lineup will change weekly now as we are all individually booked through August. So please come on out and support local music!
I am happy to say that I graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma on December 15th, 2014 with a Bachelor's of Music Performance and a minor in Jazz Studies.
In order to best utilize my skills before venturing off to graduate school, I am continuing to teach guitar lessons in Oklahoma City and Edmond.
I have been teaching for eight years, the last four of which I have spent teaching for the University of Central Oklahoma's Central Community Music School. Lessons are scheduled through the Oklahoma Center for Arts Education, and they are held in the Music Building on campus at the University of Central Oklahoma. If you are interested in lessons and live in Edmond, I encourage you to visit their website: Central Community Music School
In addition, I recently set up teaching inside of OKC Music and Sound located at 7423 N. May Ave. Oklahoma City, OK 73116. This fantastic local shop is where I will be teaching the majority of my lessons. It is located on May Ave., which has anything you'll need for running errands while your student is in their lesson. OKC Music and Sound has a small town music store vibe, where you feel like a valued customer, plus they go above and beyond to meet and exceed your expectations. Feel free to contact myself, or Robin Venters at OKC Music and Sound
If you are interested in guitar lessons, please do not hesitate to contact me and we can set up a time to talk: email@example.com or 405-614-0919
I would be happy to answer any questions, and even share advice on purchasing your first instrument.
My recital was a big hit on Monday night. I must say that I am relieved that it is finally over and that I can go about my remaining days at the University of Central Oklahoma with less stress. I do look forward to hearing the recording in a few weeks. I am having it mixed and mastered at the Jazz Lab by recording engineer and general musical mastermind, Aaron Tomasko. I'm excited to hear what he does with it and how great it all came out. It sure sounded great that night!
In December I get to walk across the stage and graduate with my Bachelor's of Music. Immediately following that, and perhaps sooner, I am going to begin studying classical guitar with local guitarist extraordinaire Matthew Denman. Classical guitar has always been a topic of interest to me, and at the urging of maestro guitarist, Paul Bollenback, I decided to find a teacher. I look forward to having time to practice on my own, transcribe solos, memorize jazz standards, work on technique and classical repertoire, and just get to live life without college for awhile.
One big misconception about the collegiate music atmosphere is that you actually improve a lot while in college. It's not to say that you do not improve by attending these programs, but your improvement comes from the bandstand and not in the classroom. Education happens in the classroom, but experience happens outside in the real world. I look forward to experiencing the real world a great deal more than I have as of late. I've gigged with a lot of great musicians lately, and can tell the difference in my playing from our interactions - the difference being more drastic than the change over my collegiate career. I can tell the difference in my playing thanks to one lesson with Paul Bollenback. I can tell a huge difference after transcribing just a few choruses of Wes Montgomery, Peter Bernstein, and Lage Lund. So I do look forward to working on my own.
Well, another milestone down and it will be time to relax in December and find a real world job. Hopefully music related, but if not part-time anywhere, so that I can still teach and gig as much as possible. One of the facts of a musicians career is that you do what ever you can to make your dream the biggest part of your life. Any job that pays the rent and keeps you able to practice and improve is a good job.
Thanks for reading! Time to go practice - whatever I want!
It's less than two weeks away folks! My senior recital is October 27th at the UCO Jazz Lab at 7pm!
The band is killing all the tunes! I'm thankful for these guys and gal. They're truly the best of OKC.
Please come out and support my recital. It will not take up more than an hour of your time and you get to hear some great music!
It's also being recorded! So if you do not have a chance to be there please watch my SoundCloud page for updates. I don't think I have the space to put it all up, but watch my page and you'll get to hear it all eventually. I've recently updated it with my original Crepuscular Rays from last year.
As always, thank you for following!
As you all may know by now, my recital is slated for October 27th, 2014 at 7pm inside the renowned Jazz Lab at the University of Central Oklahoma, and I could not be happier with the cats who have agreed to play on it. On piano, Alyssa Kozlowski; on drums, Jemar Poteat; and on bass, Stephen Schultz. No matter how I play that night these cats will be swingin' harder than anyone in Oklahoma - guaranteed.
It is finally August and that means that summer is on its way out the door. The other signal is the beginning of a new school year, and this year I graduate from the University of Central Oklahoma in December. After starting in January of 2011, I feel pretty good about being done a semester early on a degree plan that generally takes students 4-6 years to complete. Music degrees are highly competitive, and when you tack on general studies courses, it takes an eternity to complete one. I have come a long way with my performance capabilities since I began. My improvisations have more direction and flow than when I first started. My ideas are longer and flowing and more unifying than when I began college. I am extremely thankful for my time at UCO and for the opportunity to study with: Lee Rucker, Danny Vaughan, Brian Gorrell, Michael Geib, and Dennis Borycki. I have met some amazing players and played with several different groups that put me out of my comfort zone. I have cherished my time doing my undergraduate degree and look forward to applying for graduate work in Texas and Colorado.
I recently drove down to Dallas and purchased a Henriksen Jazz Amp 112ER from Tom Van Hoose of Van Hoose Vintage. He's a great guy with a wealth of knowledge of guitars and amps. I purchased my first archtop, a D'Aquisto Jazz Line, from Van Hoose's friend Gary Brunner. I still have and love that guitar! Anyway, the amplifier is fantastic. The EQ control, reverb, and tweeter are all very interesting options not offered on most amps. Of course reverb and tweeters do come on a lot of amplifiers, but you can actually toggle them both completely out of the circuit. It's a really great concept. The amp is just about a 15" cube all the way around. It's maybe 30lbs. It is the ultimate "gig-ready" rig. All you have to do is find an outlet, plug it, and go. I am looking forward to "thinning-the-herd" and getting rid of my Fender Deluxe Reverb.
One of my big summer projects was to transcribe more. I found myself transcribing a lot of solos, but nothing completely finished. So I sat down last weekend and completed Wes Montgomery's solo on Four on Six from Smokin' at the Half Note with the Wynton Kelly trio. It took me about 6-8 hours to learn it, write it on paper, and then transfer it to Sibelius. I have not been able to proofread it, but I do look forward to being able to share it briefly here on my website.
My next project is my senior recital. It is tentatively scheduled for October, 27th, 2014 at 7pm in the UCO Jazz Lab. It is a full hour of music and I am really looking forward to playing with a great group and getting a solid recording. My tune selection so far is: Celia - Bud Powell, Four on Six - Wes Montgomery, and Detour Ahead - Herb Ellis. I will add a few more tunes and be ready by October. Truthfully, I feel as though I am ready right now. I don't have many anxious feelings toward this recital. I am ready.
I'll cut it here. My gigs are posted in the gig page on this site. They will likely remain fairly few until after my recital. If you're nearby a gig, please do come through and say hey!