2018 Retrospective/2019 Goals

Another year has passed, which means it’s a good time to reflect on accomplishments and set goals for the next twelve months. Let’s get right into it!


The most successful part of my musical year has been, by far, managing The Hard Modes. Let’s take a look at last year’s goals and see how I measured up to them:

Goal 1: Finish the elusive “7th tune” and add at least 4 other tunes to the group’s repertoire.

Done! While that “elusive 7th tune” that I’m referring to still hasn’t been finished because I keep wanting to work on other ideas instead of it, we did add a total of 6 new tunes to our quiver:

- “Corridors of Time” (Chrono Trigger)
- “Mode Select” (Dr. Mario)
- “Fisherman’s Horizon” (Final Fantasy VIII)
- “Underneath the Rotting Pizza/Fanfare” (Final Fantasy VII)
- “Zombie Panic” (Zombies Ate My Neighbors)

Two fun facts about our 2018 tunes:
1. “Corridors of Time” is arguably our greatest hit, as evidenced by it having near 500 views on YouTube as of this writing.
2. “Zombie Panic” is the first arrangement by a THM member that’s not me! Really proud of the work that our trumpeter, Brandon Walsh, did on this piece. To boot, it’s his first arrangement ever! You would have never known with the great work he did.

Goal 2: Gain more notoriety locally, in nearby cities, and on the internets.


We were tapped to perform on local radio station WTJU 91.1 FM’s “Lambeth Live” program back on August 10th, so we were on the airwaves around central Virginia and on online. More importantly for the long-term, I created our YouTube page, which is now home to 3 music videos, 2 live videos, and 2 for-fun clips. Since creating the channel on May 21, we’ve amassed 952 views accounting for 2.2k minutes of watch time and have 75 subscribers to our channel.

Goal 3:
Get more gigs in Charlottesville, perform in Richmond, and gun for MAGFest 2019.

We had 8 gigs over the course of the year around C’ville, and while we didn’t play in Richmond, we did play at Washingon & Lee University in Lexington. Plus, our last gig of 2018 was at the legendary Miller’s in Downtown Charlottesville—home to all the great jazz players in the city and birthplace of the Dave Matthews Band.

As for MAGFest, we did make a bid for it but didn’t get chosen to play (as I detailed in this post). No worries there, though—we’re all set for making a run in 2020 (insert hindsight is 2020 joke woo!).

Goal 4: Continue my secret recording ambitions.

My secret recording ambitions are still underway and have become more long-term than expected (actually for good reason!), but we did record 5 tracks in April for our Cemetery Session EP. These cuts are the ones used in our YouTube videos, and you can temporarily listen to the ones that there aren’t videos of yet on my SoundCloud.

Overall, I think this year was wildly successful for THM and I’m really looking forward to the future, which is basically already here since we’ve announced our late-February showcase, which is going to feature two full sets of all-new music.

2019 Goals
+ Have a successful turnout for our upcoming February showcase at C’ville Coffee (post about this coming soon, but head here if you’d like the basic deets!).
+ Record a full-length album with the band.
+ Bolster our online presence—aim for 200 YouTube subscribers and 100 Twitter followers; regularly
post videos on Instagram; and consider other formats such as Patreon.
+ Play another gig outside of C’ville and apply for MAGFest 2020


While the composition side of my work is still riding in the backseat, I did have one major accomplishment, which was to finish the music for Locurio’s second escape room, The Storykeeper. I have a half-written blog post drafted about my work for them that I just need to allocate time to finishing—the skinny, though, is that I’m really proud of the work that they’ve done and am also very happy about what I was able to contribute.

I have no upcoming composition projects in 2019, and I’m so focused on The Hard Modes right now that it’s difficult to imagine having time to dig into what I want to on this side of things. That said, I don’t want just to stop thinking about composing, so I’m going to give myself some bonus goals for the year. And - surprise! - they’re the same as last year’s!

2019 Bonus Goals
+ Compose some new originals.
+ Start compiling a new demo. 
+ Refine skills, especially on the production side of things.


Goal 1: Establish working relationships with more venues to fill out our calendar.

I’ve never performed more gigs in a year in my life than in 2018. I don’t think that’s necessarily a testament to me improving a ton playing-wise, though; rather, it’s a matter of me putting in a lot of leg work to establish relationships at different venues and getting talented, professional players on our gigs. A huge thanks to everyone who has joined me ‘on stage’!

Goal 2: Expand our repertoire to include members’ original tunes/arrangements.

Definitely did not meet this goal outside of sneaking in the occasional Hard Modes tune. Part of the reason that this is the case, I think, is because the band is a lot more nebulous now than in 2016-17. Back then, we had a pretty regular trio playing on most all of our gigs, while this year we had groups of varying sizes and makeups.

After the second THM showcase, I’m planning on working on this more of a priority. Personally there are a few cover tunes that I want to add to our repertoire, plus I’d like to write my first jazz original in ten years (yikes). Also, I’ve let some folks know that I’d like to have a ‘core’ group with which I do the majority of my gigs just so that we can develop together as a more cohesive unit. With that, hopefully more originals will be played on the bandstand!

Goal 3: Push for more quartet/quintet hits.

We definitely played more as a quartet/quintet this year, especially in the latter half. In fact, we’re set to play monthly at a local biergarten, Kardinal Hall, either as THM or as the CJC Quintet, so this should continue into next year.

2019 Goals
+ Practice my butt off and get better at the saxophone.
+ Establish a core group and grow together.
+ Expand our repertoire to include members’ original tunes/arrangements.

All in all, it was a successful 2018 musically. Let’s make 2019 even greater. Thanks for reading, and happy new year!