Blog

Hi I’m Andy.

I’m a percussionist, conductor, professor, and collaborator living in Knoxville, TN.

Below, I share my creative journey as an artist, with a focus on intentionality, technology, and community.

Getting Started with TextExpander Snippets
 
icon256.png

In a life where creative time is at a premium (which is just about any creative person) I always get excited when I can find time to automate the administrative side of my work. For me, TextExpander scratches that itch daily.

Whenever I'm working through my daily punch list and find myself anticipating work that is remotely repetitive, I find my geek-senses kick in and I begin thinking about how to automate tasks. For example, it is the beginning of the semester at the University of Tennessee, and I am on paternity leave, meaning I need to put a lot of people in touch with a colleague of mine who is replacing me for Fall 2017. I could put up a standard away message to all utk.edu email, but there are lots of people who don't necessarily need this information; on the contrary I don't want to type out an explanation for me being away, when I will return, and how to contact this person, dozens of times each week until the new year.

So instead, I type "xaway" and the following message appears:

Thanks so much for your message. I am away on paternity leave for the Fall 2017 semester celebrating the birth of our new daughter! As a result, please contact UT's Visiting Lecturer of Percussion xxxxxx whose email is xxxxxx. The UT Percussion Studio work phone is also of course live which is xxx-xxx-xxxx. I look forward to connecting once I'm back on campus in a few months!
 
Warm regards,
 
Andy

Once this happens, I can modify the text, add/subtract text, and format as I wish, but it saves a lot of time. And it doesn't only have to be used in email. This is one of the simplest ways to use their snippets and there are countless ways this can be implemented, not only for efficiency, but also for consistency.

Each semester, most faculty members have to fill out an online form to reserve space for upcoming events the following season. Often I am in a hurry amidst teaching that semester, and found I didn't fill the form out as thoroughly as possible. I would notice this later as the form is sent to our marketing coordinator, and my "event description" was always kind of lame and uninformative. So now I type "xdes" and get this:

The UT Percussion Ensemble performs a concert of contemporary works for chamber ensemble, directed by Andrew Bliss.

This is at least a nice starting point until I know more about what repertoire the ensemble might be performing. I also have to notify the facilities coordinator that we want the performance hall each day for our dress rehearsal via some special instructions. Every time I have to type the following, which I now get with "xspe":

We will need these rooms as soon as classes are over for the day please, to begin staging equipment and having our dress rehearsals for the evening event.

This is just a small portion of how I've found TextExpander to be useful in the administrative side of my work and perhaps I'll post more down the road about more involved snippets I use including date & time stamps, fillable options, and more. Thanks so much to the great folks over at Smile for their great work on TextExpander!

Rising Tide by Nina Young

I recently had the good fortune to collaborate with composer Nina Young at the 2017 Nief-Norf Summer Festival. We spent some time on various projects and heard 4 of her pieces in concert throughout the week, and I'm excited to share this recording of her piece for 7 musicians Rising Tide.

Nina and I with the "Rising Tide" ensemble at the 2017 Nief-Norf Summer Festival

Nina and I with the "Rising Tide" ensemble at the 2017 Nief-Norf Summer Festival

Thanks as always to my good friend and colleague Evan Chapman for his work on the video and audio, especially in such low concert lighting!

No End in Sight

The editor's note, by Matt McCue (@MattMcCueWriter) in this quarter's edition of 99U Magazine focused on an interview with architect Peter Marino and grabbed my attention. In a past interview, McCue discussed how Marino spoke about generating ideas:

When he first started out, he said it took him all week to come up with an idea, but now he thinks up 10 a day, easily. They just come to him. Impossible, I thought. It took all my effort to squeeze out a half-baked idea once every seven days.
However, years later I'm realizing there is truth to Marino's statement. Once you've pushed your brain to come up with hundreds of ideas, you do something to your mind. You unknowingly switch it to the "always on" mode and you can't help but observe everyday life through your creative lens...In the process the barrier between work and play disintegrates, because work becomes play.

McCue then refers to multiple creatives in their prime who are 65 years old and still pushing ahead with their creative endeavors, and I see the same in the music world.

It was a pleasant reminder that having more ideas to tackle than one can ever pursue in a lifetime is a privilege, and should not be a point of stress or pressure. I'm fortunate to live in a world with no punch-clock.

Andy Bliss
Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood by Michael Lewis

In a recent appearance on the Tim Ferriss show, Malcolm Gladwell made a mention of the story-telling prowess of Michael Lewis. He considered himself an amateur compared to Lewis, and I made particular note of this. I've read nearly all of Gladwell's books and enjoyed them thoroughly. In addition, Moneyball might be one of my all-time favorite reads, likely due to its fusion of baseball, mathematics, and the story-telling that Gladwell references. 

I picked up a few of Lewis' books recently and, while at the beach on vacation, knocked out Home Game in a couple of evenings. It had me laughing out loud regularly and it was a great get-away read. With a baby on the way in September, it was a timely choice.

Andy Bliss