New Release: Song Book, Vol. 3 for Wind Quintet + Percussion

Scored for wind quintet and percussion soloist, Song Book, Vol. 3 was commissioned by the award winning quintet, WindSync. The collection features four pieces written as musical thank-you’s for artists who have inspired me. Sheet music is now available if you are interested in performing the piece! Here is a video performance of WindSync and I performing the first movement, “Byrne”, captured beautifully by Four/Ten Media:

Byrne was written in the spirit of David Byrne and Talking Heads. As is the case with much of David’s music, Byrne is dancy and quirky, with rhythmic grooves and riffs at the forefront of the music. Thom was written with Thom Yorke in mind. He’s a soulfully gifted singer / songwriter who can take a simple motive and craft it into something beautiful. St. Annie was written with Annie Clark in mind. She’s a breath of fresh air for me and one of my favorite artists. While her project, St. Vincent, is known for a wild stage show, some of my favorite Annie songs are the ones that are stripped down to minimal instrumentation and presentation. I hope this moment in the collection gives listeners a chance to breathe, as Annie’s music does for me. To end the song book, I wanted to write something hopeful. Written in the spirit of Jónsi Birgisson and his band, Sigur Rós, Jónsi threads elements of his musical language with my own percussive way of thinking. Perhaps if Jónsi became a percussionist, he might write something that sounds kind of like this.

WindSync and I premiered Song Book, Vol. 3 in Houston, TX at Miller Outdoor Theatre on September 29, 2018. Thanks to Kara, Anni, Emily, Julian and Garrett for helping bring this music to life.

– Ivan Trevino, 2019

NEW RELEASE: Crossroads for marimba and cajon duo

I wrote a new duo! Introducing Crossroads for marimba and cajon duo:

Sheet music is available here.

I wrote the piece for award winning percussionist, Bryce Turner, who also performs with me in the video above.

Crossroads is an intersection of rhythmic complexity and melodic simplicity. Throughout the piece, the two players share complex unison rhythms, requiring focused attention to groove and time. This is underscored by the addition of simple melodic figures, adding another element for the players to navigate. At times, the cajón player is asked to simultaneously play deskbells with feet.

The goal is to create a blitz of tight rhythms and grooves while also bringing clarity to the simple, often times singable, melodic ideas. This juxtaposition makes Crossroads one of the most technically and musically demanding pieces I’ve written.

Coincidentally, Bryce and I were both born in the small Texas town of Victoria, known as “The Crossroads” of South Texas.

NEW: The Warning Lights Are Blinking Red for solo marimba w/ audio track

The Warning Lights Are Blinking Red is scored for solo marimba with audio track and was written for Nežka Prosenjak, winner of the 2018 MalletLab International Online Competition. Sheet music is now available here.

I wrote The Warning Lights Are Blinking Red shortly after revisiting George Orwell’s novel, “1984”. Given the political situation we currently find ourselves in, this line in the book was particularly poignant: “The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.” With Warning Lights, I wanted to create something chaotic and tense, something that captures the manic state of our political climate. The piece is a point of departure for me in terms of compositional process and sound, and also in terms of technical and rhythmic difficulty.

Strive to be Happy online masterclass

On Sunday, January 27, I’ll be teaching a live online masterclass on my piece, Strive to be Happy! Here are the details:

STRIVE TO BE HAPPY – online masterclass w Ivan Trevino
Date & Time: Sunday, January 27, 2019 // 5pm CST
Registration Fee: $10.00 (60 min w Q&A)


Class descriptionIf you or your student are preparing my marimba solo “Strive to be Happy” for solo contest, jury or recital, this class may be helpful! I’ll give personal insights, target common problem spots, and share my performance approach to the piece. Ultimately, I want class participants to walk away with helpful information they can apply to their own performance of the piece and overall musicianship. This particular class is not just reserved for people playing the piece. You might be an educator who is teaching the piece and looking for a different pedagogical perspective, or maybe you simply enjoy my music and want to hear me talk about it. All are welcome, regardless of age or skill level. After you register, I will send you a link invite. You join the class at the scheduled day and time. That’s it! The class will close with a Q&A, so bring questions!

Episode 4: Revisiting PASIC 2018

After a two year hiatus, the Aaron and Ivan Podcast is back! In this episode, THE WORST INTRO TO A PODCAST EVER (vol. 2), we revisit The Big Trouble’s PASIC 2018 concert, Aaron offers some funny parenting advice and much more. Episode photo credit: HPK Creative Arts.

Mentions / shout-outs to the following friends: Drew Worden, Maria Finkelmeier, Rob Honstein, Todd Meehan, Baylor Percussion Group, Mark Boseman, Joshua Simonds, Madeleine McQueen, Sam Um, Sarah Staebell, Amanda Trevino, Elliot Cole, Gabriella Mayer, Ben Pitt, George Clements, Mark Boseman, Jason Treuting, Doug Perkins, Sam Um, Stella Perlic, Gabriella Mayer, Danny from Chosen Vale, Lagan Percussion, Ricky Bracamontes, Taylor Davis, James Ferris, Stephen Seymour, Chris Mead, A&F Drum Co., Evans Drumheads, Malletech Instruments, Vic Firth, Zildjian, MalletLab, Meinl Percussion, Yamaha, DW Drums, Berkner High School Percussion, Vista Ridge High School Percussion, Glenn Choe, Nate Wood, Nate Smith, Megan Arns, University of Missouri Mbira Ensemble, Musekiwa Chingodza, Chris Jones, Erik Forst.

Music, Social Media and Mental Bandwidth

Writing music requires a lot of brain space. I’ve spent hours of my life carefully crafting single musical phrases, only to throw them out, start over, spend hours crafting new ones, only to throw those out and end up back where I started.

The same can be said for performing and teaching. Music is equal parts creative and tedious work, and it can be mentally exhausting. There’s also the self-doubt musicians go through, the ups and downs that come with baring our souls for the world to see. It’s more than exhausting. It can be absolutely draining.

In 2018, this is all compounded by the expectation to literally bare our lives for the world to see on social media. To spend hours writing, practicing and teaching a piece of music is no longer enough. Creating audio and video representations of our work is not enough either. 2018 wants more from us, and honestly, I can’t keep up.

I write this as someone who has benefited greatly from social media, but also as someone who creates music as my craft and my work. I worry that the work is being replaced by something that has less to do with music and more to do with something else.

Back in 2013, I enjoyed sharing my music on social media. It required much less time and brain space than it does today. I could video record a performance, put it online, let people know about it, and move on. Today, my singular Facebook post about a new project has turned into a ten part Instagram mini-series leading up to the announcement of said project, which leads to another series of posts leading up to the release of said project, followed by post-project posts and subsequent TBT’s of said project. I need to create daily stories to document all of the stuff between my posts, from practice sessions to meals, and pick just the right filters to curate my moments. I need to analyze which posts are getting likes and which ones aren’t and adjust accordingly. I need to interact with influencers who can help promote my project, find old photos to post when I feel anxious about not generating enough content, and generally, be connected on a daily, sometimes hourly basis.

On top of all of that, I have to do the actual work of working on my craft. And more importantly, there’s the time and energy it takes to be a good husband, a good father, and a good human.

There are people who can juggle all of this stuff and do it really well, but I personally don’t have the mental bandwidth to balance it all, and I’m ok with that. I’m ok with writing music and keeping to myself for a while. I’m ok with family time with just the family. I’m ok with a little less social media if it means more brain space for the things that matter most to me.

If you’re a musician struggling to keep up with 2018, there is an alternative. Put down your phone and get good. Get really good. Get so good at your creative work that people are posting about you on their social media. Get so good that hours of practice, creativity and the occasional video will be enough. That’s the alternative, and depending on your own mental bandwidth, that might be the better option for you, your art and your happiness.

I realize this blog post may come across as old-fashioned and the “adapt or die” crowd is already writing a rebuttal. I get it. I’m in touch. I know self-promotion is part of the job. I’m just choosing to lose touch, at least a little bit.

Will I still use social media? Of course. I like making videos. I like sharing my music. It’s fun to create little moments for me and my art. And, I really enjoy connecting with people and friends and seeing what other musicians are up to. That’s the best part.

Aside from all of that, I love making music, and that’s what I want a majority of my work-time spent on. If that means keeping my social media stuck in 2013, then so be it. I’ll be happier for it, and lately, I have been happier for it.