The Set List is RMC Studio's monthly newsletter!
It's filled with all the pictures, videos, studio news and so much more that you won't want to miss out on! Make sure to keep your eye out each month for the Set List, so that you can be up on everything that's happening here at RMC.
This Week's Set List:
- Welcome Wagon
-Acoustic Recital Highlights
- Teacher Feature: Caitlin Riccardi
-Student Spotlight: Sam Smith
-Liz & Liam Listen
- EJ's Deep Thoughts
Music is obviously in the air this holiday season! We want to take a moment to welcome the following new students to the RMC Family:
Rob Winters - Guitar - Liam Hughes
Chris Winters - Voice/Piano - Liz Robbins
Beatrice Caffrey - Drums - George Sheehy
Wesley Davis - Drums - George Maher
Pierson Salvador - Guitar - Liam Hughes
Ben Bloom - Drums - Alex DiFabio
Trevor Deal - Voice - Liz Robbins
Winter Acoustic Recital Highlights
We had so many amazing students perform this past weekend for our Recital! There was everything from piano, voice, saxophone, violin, viola, cello, flute, and for the first time in a while - drums! It was a lovely winter afternoon filled with music from all styles and genres. Congrats to all of our performers!
Teacher Feature: Caitlin Riccardi
Each month, we like to take a moment to highlight one of the many talented and multifaceted teachers we have here at RMC. This month, we're featuring Caitlin Riccardi, one of our many "Road Dogs." Caitlin teaches voice and piano lessons for RMC, all while working on her Bachelor's right down the road at Kean University.
Q: How did you start out on your musical journey?
A: My family has always been very musical. I grew up around my grandfather who was a professional bass player. So music was always kind of instilled in me as a kid. I actually started as a Speech Pathology major in college. But I changed to music after my first semester, which wasn’t that surprising since I had been helping run a theater camp through high school.
Q: What’s your favorite type of music to sing?
A: I bounce around, but right now my favorite thing to sing is Jazz music! I’m in the Jazz ensemble at Kean, and it’s really cool to get to sing with a big band behind you. That’s like the coolest thing! It’s so fun and that type of singing feels really natural to me.
Q: What are your main teaching goals?
A: I try to make sure that my students are well-rounded. So I think terminology is really important right now, because a lot of them are beginners and they don’t know it. I think that that’s what makes a well-rounded-musician and well-rounded people. I emphasize the importance of practicing, working hard, making things sound nice—because they should!—and striving for something that’s better than just “ok.” It’s important to take pride in your work, and it’s what I try to demonstrate and I hope that it rubs off.
Q: What’s your favorite part about teaching at RMC?
A: I really like teaching in-home lessons. I think it’s a really different thing that a lot of other places don’t do. It reaches a certain branch of people, because some kids can get nervous going into a new room with a new teacher. That can really deter a kid from taking lessons and doing music. So us offering in-home lessons is really inclusive to those types of students, and I like that a lot.
Q: What’s your most embarrassing performance story?
A: In high school, I played Mrs. Cratchit in the play “A Christmas Carol,” and during one of our scenes the whole Cratchit family had to sing a song—I think it was “Lo How a Rose”—and so we got to the point where we had to sing it. Within the first few seconds of singing, the voice of the guy playing Bob Cratchit cracked right in my ear, loudly! I don’t know why but I started laughing, while still singing, which caused everyone else, including Bob Cratchit, to start giggling in the middle of the show! We got off stage and the director didn’t understand why we were laughing—she just thought we didn’t know the song! But I was so embarrassed that I made everyone laugh.
Student Spotlight: Sam Smith
Each month, we also want to take a moment to shine the spotlight on one of our many students here at RMC! Each month a student, recommended by their teacher, will be featured in the monthly newsletter. This month, Sam Smith takes the stage and talks about her many years here at RMC and also her recent fundraising campaign, Gig For Good.
Sam's teacher, Molly, had this to say when asked why Sam should be our Student Spotlight for this month:
"The fist time I heard Sam sing, I was blown away by her power and confidence. She is a natural performer and it's obvious whenever she steps in front of a mic. And don't let her laid-back personality fool you; she is driven! She is constantly performing in recitals, school plays, family parties, and recently with "Gig For Good," which raised over $12,000 for charity! Sam is unstoppable!"
Q: How did you begin your music career at RMC?
A: My RMC “career” started at a very young age - I think I was 5 years old. I started in-home piano lessons with EJ that were only 15 minutes long. My 3 siblings were all taking lessons and I wanted my time too! From piano, I moved on to the trumpet at the beginning of 4th grade. After sucking at trumpet I moved on to the drums/percussion in school for 5th grade. All along I loved to sing and always added singing in my lessons. I also began writing songs in 5th grade for my lessons with EJ, and that led to a bigger interest in singing. I did, however, drum in my first RMC Rockshop band that was named FFFU - Four Fantastic Fluffy Unicorns when I was 9 years old. I also recorded my first original song titled “For You” with my sister and cousin when I was 10yrs old. Now at 15 years old, my lessons are 45 minutes long with Molly and I am starting to play the piano again and really love singing.
Q: What gave you the inspiration to start “Gig for Good?”
A: My mom and I came up with the idea for "Gig For Good" and created an organization that combines my passion for singing with my love for volunteering at the AGAPE Community Kitchen.
I worked closely with Molly, EJ, Dustin and Liam at RMC to rehearse and perfect a setlist that appealed to a large age range. We planned the first Gig For Good shows with the goal of raising $10,000 for AGAPE for my confirmation project. The first show was my NYC debut at the iconic club LPR - Le Poisson Rouge in the Village. With a packed house of over 125 people, I raised close to 7K of my goal. My 2nd show was at the Crossroads Music Venue in Garwood, and as of today I have raised a total of $12,040 for the AGAPE Community Kitchen.
Q: So what’s next for you and “Gig for Good?”
A: Looking ahead, we are in the process of turning Gig For Good into a non-profit organization that will bring together performance components for teens, combing their artistic passion and their love of volunteering to fundraise for causes they feel enthusiastic about and committed to. Our goal is to encourage teens to use their talent to be a force for good in their community. I’m working on planning my next Gig For Good show which will share my love for music with a different group of people in need. Who wants to join me?
Liz & Liam Listen
You've got questions, we've got answers! Noted listeners, Liz & Liam, are here to answer any and all questions from the RMC family. Come and join us in this installment where we discuss tips & tricks for choosing repertoire.
Don't forget to comment below with your questions for Liz & Liam for next month's Set List!
EJ's Deep Thoughts
There have been many great minds throughout the Earth’s history—Plato, Socrates, Kant, Sheldon…and EJ! Continue reading to find out the conclusion to EJ’s two-part saga detailing the trials he faced while dating…in the 90’s.
Quote I’m Pondering:
"Would you have a great empire? Rule over yourself!"
Even when I am not looking to ponder anything.....this shows up in my life, all consuming, all around me.
Are we discussing willpower? Willpower is a muscle, but just like the rest of the muscles in the body....something else, something deeper must be controlling it.
Are we talking about conditioning? To me, that is a process based off of routine and willpower, but does not necessarily mean we are being conditioned in a healthy, constructive way.
I can set out to conquer the world of money, power, fame, tight abs, straight-A-high-achieving offspring, all the way up to Zeus level dominance of the universe......but can I conquer the desire to conquer everything? The desire for money, power, fame, tight abs and so on? Who is truly the more powerful person? The one who can conquer others, or the one who can conquer his own desires?
For an amazingly insightful and inspirational journey into this, check out the book "Man's Search For Meaning" by Viktor E. Frankl.
Then and Now: Part 2
So last issue I started off mentioning that there were 3 skills one must master in order to land himself a date. The third skill is.......
Skill 3: The Art of the Mix Tape
For those of you unfamiliar with the Mix Tape, it was a blank cassette tape that you filled with songs that fit whatever particular theme you were going for. I had so many Mix Tapes with so many themes! Some themes I remember were:
2. Walking to School
3. Going to Sleep
4. Taking a Shower
Who makes a showering Mix Tape??
5. Girl I Like
6. I Just Got Dumped
7. Daydreaming of Playing Sports
Oh yes...I had a Mix Tape that I listened to while daydreaming of hitting home runs and throwing touchdown passes...and I wasn't 10...I was like 15!
However, unlike playlists of today...there were rules and parameters one had to follow, which in my opinion, made this an art form. I try to explain this to my daughters, who's average playlists are like 3 hours!!! Just going onto iTunes or Spotify and clicking "add to playlist" does not make a true playlist!
Depending upon your choice of cassette, you could have anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes. Song choices had to factor in length of song and the amount of space allowed between each song. In addition....being a child of the early 90's, music had 3 major platforms that were still being used: Vinyl, Cassette and CD.
This was my cassette of choice.....just seeing this bad boy makes me want to fire up a Mix Tape!!!! It recorded great, but more importantly you could record over it pretty easily. There was nothing more amateur in the Mix Tape world than hearing "tape bleed" from the old songs that were once on the cassette, now coming through the new songs.
So oftentimes, to make an amazing Mix Tape you might have to pull from various forms of media. This required specific, proper tools.
Your options to "Dub" to tape were:
1. If you had the song you wanted to add to your Mix Tape on vinyl, cassette, or CD...to have a double-decker cassette deck and hi-fi stereo system was ideal. If you were using this system you were a Mix Tape-making beast!!! This setup required some cash....so it was not an option in the Gaub household.
2. If you lacked the songs required for your mix tape, you had to listen to the radio and wait for the song to come on....then hope your connection was not staticky...and that the DJ did not talk over 3/4’s of the intro. This was a risky move, but could pay off big time if you were one of the first members of your crew to have the new hot jam on tape. To pull off this move...a smaller cassette deck sometimes was the move. This is the cassette deck I actually had. Why pink you ask? I am still asking that same question….
3. The single cassette deck dub. This ties into the above two pictures. If you lacked the firepower of the high-fi stereo system but still had to make your Mix Tapes......you had no choice but to venture into dangerous waters....this meant doing what I like to call "open-air recording."
This was using your cassette player to record the song playing off another stereo system. So risky, so many factors.....where to place the cassette player, is the house quiet, etc. etc....nothing was worse than standing there with your arms shaking and sweat pouring down your forehead after two minutes of holding your cassette player up to the speaker of your dad's stereo player trying to add Extremes "More than Words" to your "I'm in Love" Mix Tape and having your sister barge in and yell at you to shut that "lame music off."
Thankfully, I became a master of this form of dubbing and Mix Tape construction.
Ok.....so now for the story!!!! It’s the early 90's and everybody was dressing like they were in a workout video:
And I looked like this:
Looking like I was fresh off the New Kids on the Block audition...
However, I am proud to say that while my mom had been cutting my hair this way since kindergarten...fate was smiling on me in the 1990's cause this haircut was FINALLY fashionable. Along with the oversized clothes that were hand-me-downs from my YOUNGER brother.....
I am going to take a second and break this photo down. This picture was taken right outside our kitchen.....that is a light installed in the archway of our 4 foot hallway. I always wanted to know...who the heck figured that is a great spot for a light? Has anyone ever seen a light installed in such a fashion? Why would you even need this light? It was so low, it literally blinded and disoriented you every time you walked past it which was problematic because the floor had a hole in it...which if you stepped into you could fall through and down into my grandparents bathroom. The door over my shoulder is not to a pantry...but it my sisters bedroom door....good luck having any kind of privacy with that type of door!!!!!! You would have thought after building that room for my sister, at this point, 11 years ago....he would eventually have gotten around to painting and finishing the trim.....to this day it’s still unfinished.
Now back to the story….
In a stroke of pure luck....my friend Scott's older sister was totally bored one day and joined us on a trip to the movies. To my surprise, she sat next to me and talked to me the entire time...and when I got home...walking on air....another surprise....she actually called me up!!!! She was two years older than me, and dating the backup Quarterback of the football team...which was a big deal because our QB's got hurt so often that if you played QB, or were in the Marching Band....odds were by seasons end, you would be starting Varsity QB....
Side note: I was the Varsity QB for awhile and still wake up in the middle of the night in cold sweats screaming: RUN!!!!!!!
So during our conversation, Sherri—we’ll use first names only to protect the innocent—asked me to make her a Mix Tape!!!! Somebody up above was smiling on me...first, I am actually in style with a trendy haircut, and now I get asked to do something that is my specialty!!!!
So I carefully plan out my Mix Tape. I list the songs and spend an entire day getting everything just perfect. After my biceps and shoulders were done burning from holding that radio up... I used the sleeve to write the song names. I even inserted a special handwritten note…that I’m sure sounded pretentious….acting like I wrote the songs and had not just used my pink cassette player to transfer the songs onto one condensed listening format.
This was my day! This was my time! The Era of EJ had begun! I could already see myself...this lowly freshman.....fresh off the Poison shirt debacle...rebounding with a popular and super pretty Junior!!!! There would be stories of my greatness told for generations and probably a portrait of me hung in the cafeteria........
……..and then my bother came home.........
Keith had decided after seeing the movie Gladiator.....
Not the one with Russell Crowe...but this one:
.....that he was going to be a professional fighter. He had come home with something from the sporting goods store, and told me to meet him in our bedroom in 10 minutes....naturally curious I agreed.
He went into our room, got the pink cassette deck, put in a tape and began to record himself doing his best Macho Man Randy Savage interview....he dressed like him too and had the same championship belt.
He got the belt from the Seaside Heights Boardwalk were my mother won it for him...no shock for those of you who know my mom and the boardwalk.
A loose transcript of the events are as follows:
Keith: OH YEAH.....The Macho Man Randy Savage, King of the squared circle is about to take on the J-BIRD (yes, my family sometimes called me J-Bird) in a mano a mano, winner-take-all match of the ages......
*Keith shouts for EJ to enter......EJ enters…mumbling and rustling is heard*
EJ: What are you doing with Boxing Gloves on?
Keith: Oh YEAH....we are gonna have a championship match for the belt
EJ: NO, I have no gloves.
Keith: [breaking character] Just use the two bed pillows…
I would like everyone to stop reading...and go pick up two bed pillows and try to throw punches with them...and better yet, try to stop a punch while clutching onto two bed pillows….
Keith: Oh Yeah......Round One
*SLAM....THUD (and three expletives from EJ who hits the ground with serious force)*
Have you ever been hit right between the eyes with a full force punch from someone wearing boxing gloves? If your answer is no....spoiler alert...it hurts REALLY BAD...and worse, you get this rug burn kind of thing on your face.......
It looked like I pushed my forehead into the carpet and then ran that way across the room!!
Ok, back to the transcription.
EJ: Oh my God...are you out of your mind?
Keith: Oh YEAH!!! Still the Champ!
EJ: That was no fair!!! If I had the gloves, I would have won!
Keith: [breaking character]…Ok, you take the gloves and I'll use these
*He reaches into his dresser drawer and pulls out a pair of dress socks*
Again, please stop reading, and think about what is about to take place...and how I was yet again outsmarted by my younger brother. I now have the big heavy gloves on my hands and he is literally about to fight me bare knuckled.
OK, back to the transcription.
Keith: Oh Yeah!!!! You want another piece of the Champ!!! Round 2!
*One very loud, almost smacking-like, sound...followed by another THUD.....EJ whimpering...and then......*
EJ: [yelling] THAT’S IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Keith: [totally out of character] GET AWAY FROM MY BON JOVI POSTER!!!!!!!!
*sound of ripping*
EJ: [screaming] GET AWAY FROM MY LEN DYKSTRA POSTER!!!
I was oblivious to the fact that having a shirtless poster of my favorite baseball player essentially in his underwear hanging over my bed was probably sending people who saw my room the wrong message…
Mother: [screaming] WHAT ARE YOU TWO DOING!!! STOP IT NOW!!!
EJ: [cry Screaming] He punched me many times in the head and face and tore my poster!
Mother: [more agitated] ENOUGH, what did you do to his Bon Jovi Poster?!!!
EJ: [with a pubescent crackling screech] EVERYONE LEAVE ME ALOOONE!
*EJ storms out. Keith puts the tape back. EJ delivers this tape the Sherri at school the very next day.*
Needless to say....there is no legend of "EJ" being told in the North Plainfield hallways.
In addition, I would suggest that if your intention is to make a Mix Tape for somebody you are trying to impress...you should not include audio of your younger brother beating you up, and then being screamed at by your mother for throwing a temper tantrum, because the poster of your favorite, half-naked baseball player was collateral damage in the scrum, concluding with a voice cracking scream…..You should probably just put your favorite songs on it instead.
With that said.....here were some of the songs on the tape...I will let you decide if these songs or the beating I took are actually more embarrassing….
“After the Rain” - Nelson
“Please Don't Go Girl” - New Kids on the Block
“More Than Words” - Extreme
“I Touch Myself” - Divinyls (not the smartest choice)
“Heart and Soul” - T'Pau
“(Everything I do) I do it for You” - Bryan Adams
“Love of a Lifetime” - Firehouse
“I adore Mi Amor” - Color Me Badd
“Wicked Game” - Chris Isaak
Thank you for joining us in this month's Set List! We hope to see you back next month when George S. spills the tea about the RMC early years, Liz & Liam answer more questions from the RMC family, Kara will share her recipe pick of the month & perhaps EJ will surprise us with more tales from his youth.
You never know what can show up in the Set List!
Feel free to leave your comments and questions below.