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Harris Eisenstadt: Full Steam Ahead

By Published: November 19, 2012
AAJ: Your Drumming Connectivity initiative is now up and running. How did you come up with the concept and what does you aim to achieve with these group drumming sessions?

HE: The drum circles for corporate and community organizations have grown out of my work as a teaching artist for arts organizations. It's amazing to see how a group of middle-aged CEOs contends with a version of the same materials as a group of eight year-olds. In either case, there are valuable lessons in ensemble drumming to be learned that translate to how we interact with each other in daily life, in the workplace, in the classroom, or anywhere, really. Working on listening and responding thoughtfully to each other is a valuable exercise for any age. I look forward to continuing this kind of work with groups of all different ages and backgrounds. I have to spend some more time finding creative ways to market these workshops. Just having a comprehensive website isn't enough, but it's a start.

AAJ: How do you find time to juggle an extraordinary number of projects: three active ensembles, recording with other groups, teaching, a young family and also your wife Sara's career as a bassoonist?

HE: It's very difficult to make sure that a part of each day is used for each of the creative outlets that need to be serviced. There have been times in my life when I composed many hours every day, practiced many hours of each day, dealt with music business every day, but to do that forever is just not possible. Not to mention the moneymaking thing that everyone has to deal with. When you're an artist for a living, so to speak, that means you make money as you can and from a number of different things. There are people who do all kinds of things to pay their bills. For me it means I teach a lot in addition to tours and recordings.

There are days when I get home and just want to collapse on the couch, play with my son and hang out with my wife; days like that when I don't compose at all and don't practice. There are days when I come back from a full day of teaching and hang out with my kid, hang out with my wife and also find time to practice and compose, and there are days when I don't have teaching commitments and have all the time in the world to practice and write. Now that my son is at pre-school three mornings a week, if my wife Sara is practicing, doing what she's doing, and I have some time, I try to seize it and practice and compose and take care of business. It is a real balancing act to get as much done as you can in these windows of free time.

It would be different if I weren't in a relationship, if I didn't have a child, if I was in a situation where I didn't have to earn income for a family of three. If I had time to just practice, just write all day, just take of business, than I would do that; but I feel very lucky to have a wife and child that I love being with, and to be able to find the time to keep working on music, writing, practicing, performing. Sara is also a musician, and that means we have unorthodox schedules. A lot of Sara's work is in the classical and new music worlds (as well as jazz and improvised music) and that means she has to put a great deal of time into preparing for performances. Our artist careers mean that there isn't really a typical day... every day is different!

Selected Discography

Harris Eisenstadt, Canada Day III (Songlines, 2012)

Harris Eisenstadt, Canada Day Octet (482 Music, 2012)

Harris Eisenstadt, Canada Day II (Songlines, 2011)

Harris Eisenstadt, September Trio (Clean Feed, 2011)

Harris Eisenstadt, Canada Day III (Songlines, 2012)

Harris Eisenstadt, Woodblock Prints (No Business, 2010)

Harris Eisenstadt, Canada Day (Clean Feed, 2009)

Harris Eisenstadt, Guewel (Clean Feed, 2008)

Photo Credit

Page 1: Courtesy of Harris Eisenstadt

All Other Photos: Ziga Koritnik

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Download jazz mp3 “Song For Owen” by Harris Eisenstadt