Training My Successor

One of the things we were told when we began our exec positions this year was that as soon as you finally get the hang of your job, you start training someone else. At first, I was skeptical. But as soon as February rolled around and I felt like I finally had a semblance of an idea of what I was doing, somebody had already been hired to fill my position for next year.

Training my successor is bittersweet. It’s bitter because I know how much I will miss being an executive member next year, but it’s sweet because I am able to see somebody starting on the incredibly rewarding and challenging journey of being an exec member. Meeting with my successor every week is also a chance for me to brainstorm things I wish I would have done and plant these seeds in the ideas that we come up with for next year, so that’s a really cool part of training that I wasn’t expecting when I started out.

Being able to reflect back on the year and also giving somebody else the tools to succeed in this position is a very exciting part of the job and it has been a great experience that I have thoroughly enjoyed, and I can’t wait to finish the training on a strong note.

~Elyse Krachman, Director of Spotlight Sounds

Get To Know…Director of Spotlight Sounds

I was quaking in my Converse’s the first day I had to run an event for Spotlight Sounds. The list of stuff that I had to accomplish seemed overwhelming.  I had to hire a van, get all the materials transported from Taylor to Festival, coordinate a staff of events, oversee load-in and load-out, and make sure the entirety of my event went smoothly. Even though I had the support and enthusiasm of the whole Exec board behind me, I was still apprehensive. But as soon as the first musician came on and people started listening, I breathed a huge sigh of relief and I felt an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. Putting on a successful show is an amazing feeling, but even more amazing is seeing people having a good time at an event that you have been an integral part of organizing. That was September, when Spotlight Sounds had about 8 members. Now we have 21!

Spotlight has accomplished some incredible things this year, one of which was mixing up our genres to program to a diversity of musical tastes on campus. We’ve brought the likes of pop-punk Hotspur to gypsy jazz trio Ameranouche, and even though it’s been hard work, I have absolutely loved every minute of it. Director of Spotlight Sounds is a position that requires many assets, but the most important asset is a love of music. My passion for music has carried me throughout this whole year. This passion is also something that unites Spotlight Sounds. Working with so many individuals who feel the same way about music that I do has been an incredible opportunity. When I was filling out contracts, contacting agents or coordinating sign-ups for events, I always had the end-game in mind. This position has also allowed me to build relationships with not only my committee members, but all the musicians I’ve worked with. Since I love meeting new people, this has been one of my favorite parts of the position. Spotlight Sounds has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve done at JMU thus far, and I can’t wait to see where it’ll take me next!

~Elyse Krachman, Director of Spotlight Sounds

What I’m Thankful For…

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and as we pull into our home stretch, I figured it would only be appropriate to write about a couple things I’m thankful for.

It goes without saying that I’m thankful for family, friends, and food (I’m so excited for the Thanksgiving feast that I think I can smell it already), but apart from that, I’m thankful for music. More importantly, I’m thankful for this year’s Rumble Down Under.

Rumble Down Under is JMU’s equivalent to a “School of Rock”-esque Battle of the Bands. While Jack Black will not be making an appearance tonight, there will still be awesome music AND delicious goodies (FOR FREE). Come out tonight to hear some of JMU’s finest talent, including SUTG, Adam in America, Andrew Rohlk & many more! The best part of Rumble Down Under is that the audience gets to play a part in selecting the finest talent, so round up all your friends so you can help pick the best band!  The winner of RDU this year gets hooked up with student-run record label Madistrophic, a professional photo-shoot, and their very own Spotlight Series in January.

~Elyse Krachman, Spotlight Series Director

Accents at JMU

Yes, I love the Beatles. I probably have about half of their entire catalog memorized, and I regularly trot out these tunes for shower-time singing much to the chagrin of my roommates. By the transitive property, I also love England and everything English: accents, food, people. Sadly I’ve never been to the lovely U.K. to visit all the places that the Beatles graced with their presence.

Luckily TONIGHT, England is coming to JMU along with the land down under, home to adorable kangaroos and the timeless boomerang. Two international artists, Via Tania from Australia, and Freddie Stevenson from the UK, will be playing the Accents Tour and they will grace us with their worldly vocals. Supporting them will be JMU’s own Trinity Edralin with her excellent band. I’m excited to be able to hear a little piece of England and Australia and I hope you are too!

See you there TONIGHT in FESTIVAL at 8pm!

-Elyse, Spotlight Sounds Director


Elyse’s Hot Summer

The best word to describe my summer so far would probably be “hot.” In my hometown of Falls Church, VA, days heat up to searing temperatures, sometimes even before the haze has burned off the day.  Luckily, the music class that I teach is sheltered within the haven of the air-conditioned temple.  My job is the greatest job I’ve ever had because it combines my two passions in life: music and teaching.  I work with pre-school through 7th graders, but I love the younger kids the most simply because they say the most adorable things.  For example, when asked what one child wanted to be when he grew up, he simply wrote, “I want to be what I want to be.” Surprisingly insightful for a preschooler, eh?

Apart from my job, the summer has been full of concerts, finger-lickin’ food, friends, and a whole lot of D.C. culture.  Some of the best concerts I’ve been to this summer include The Swell Season, a new local band named Deep River, and an all-girls Led Zeppelin tribute band called Lez Zeppelin.  It was one of the best shows I have ever seen and proved that girls can rock just as hard as Jimmy Page!  Foodwise, I’ve been cooking up a storm.   A bunch of friends come over and we cook up a feast- corn, grilled vegetables, fish, steak, broiled asparagus, and chocolate cake that could melt Betty Crocker’s heart.   Yup, it’s that good.

I’ve also been taking advantage of my close proximity to Washington, DC.  Last week I went to a midnight showing of a brand-new video game musical called “Super Claudio Bros.,” which is based on Super Mario.  It was creative, funny, and sweet…  D.C. also has some great venues for watching art films, including “The Kids are All Right,” which is an excellent film about making mistakes and then living with them. 

 I’d say it’s been a successful summer so far.  Looking forward to JMU starting in less than a month (wow!!!), and I’m excited to see how the rest of my summer will play out.  Much love!

~Elyse (Director of Spotlight Sounds)

Tim Blane: My “New Favorite Band”

The unlikely combination of Jazz/Acoustic/Pop have never really gotten along in the past. That all changed when I heard Tim Blane’s music. While their sound rocks, it also reminds me of my 12+ years of piano lessons, Thelonious Monk (aka one of the greatest jazz pianists ever,) and of the four eccentric music teachers I have had in my time.

I don’t think people should be allowed to teach music unless they are somewhat off-the-cuff, and the music teacher I most associate with jazz was probably one of the coolest (and strangest) “cats” that I have met in my life. During our lessons (which, to be honest, were more like story-time) he told me about his time playing in the army band, all the friends he encountered there, crazy “ex” stories, and gigs he had played.

One of my favorite experiences that he shared was about playing with Ray Charles at Galludet University. Apparently Ray had freaked out when somebody had asked for a request and refused to play any more songs. (Mind you, I have no idea whether or not this was true, but it was still amusing to hear).

So, in honor of crazy music teachers everywhere, but also in honor of some really excellent jazz/acoustic/pop, come to the Tim Blane Band concert this week, and I’ll see you there!

– Elyse