After the Making of “Rays of Hope”, What’s Next?

SOHP is a small but mighty non-profit. Its mission is to provide calming and/or uplifting recorded music to those in need, in particular those in nursing homes, hospices, hospitals, shut-ins, bereavement groups, etc. So how do SOHP board members reach those in need once a CD is published?

Below are a few of SOHP’s avenues to “get the word out” about its CDs:

1) SOHP’s “Give and Get” donation program – For every $10 donation, one CD is given to a nursing home, hospice, etc. or someone in need. As SOHP’s ‘thank you’, the donor gets one CD of their choice.
2) SOHP’s trifold brochure – This marketing piece explains what SOHP is all about, accompanies every CD, and is placed in several offices around town.
3) Press Releases – When a new CD is released, we send the area newspapers press releases and hope to have an article printed in the newspapers.
4) Mailing CDs to institutions our donors specify or to people our donors have identified as people in need.
5) Calling the nursing homes, hospices, etc. that have received SOHP’s CDs in the past and asking if they would like additional CDs.
6) Offering to buy CD players for the institutions that have our CDs
7) Occasionally having a concert to help increase awareness of SOHP and announce the release of a new CD
8) Participating in the Christmas Craft Fair at a local church, St. Albert the Great – Playing our CDs and seeking donations at our table
9) Sending articles to the board’s alumni magazines when a new CD is released — With the goal to reach more people, we hope to get these articles published.
10) Encouraging word of mouth publicity among our friends, families, colleagues, fellow members of organizations to which we belong, etc.
11) Posting on Facebook

We welcome any ideas you might have to help SOHP reach its mission.

The Making of SOHP’s newest CD, “Rays of Hope” – Part IV

Graphic Designing and Kunaki Downloading –

Once the information for the entire CD is finalized, it is turned over to a graphic designer. Fortunately, one of our board members, Lauren Haas Amanfoh, owner of Royalton Music Center, graciously donates her graphic designer’s time and talents to the SOHP project.

SOHP uses Kunaki Production Company to produce the finished CD product. There are specific size requirements for the cover, inside information, the CD and the back title information. Also, all materials must be submitted in jpeg format. After the graphic designer has resized the materials to Kunaki’s correct specifications and has recreated them into jpeg, she sends all the files back to me. My job then is to download these files along with the music files onto the Kunaki site.

Downloading the written files is quite easy for me. However, I find downloading the music files the hardest. I struggle technically and often have to redo my downloads several times because of some simple problem or error. I allow a full day to this step and always double check that the music files have indeed been downloaded properly. Kunaki suggests ordering one sample CD to make sure everything is the way it should look and sound. (This is great advice. I once received a completed CD that looked great but had no music on the CD! My mistake, of course.)

The Making of SOHP’s newest CD, “Rays of Hope” – Part III

Part III has always seemed to be the hardest, most tedious part of the production process for any of SOHP’s CDs. 1) Finding a title, 2) creating a cover picture, 3) deciding on the order of pieces, and 4) creating the inside bio information takes time – lots of time and energy.

Steps 1 & 2 –Finding a title and creating a cover picture: Most of SOHP’s CDs have been “______ of hope” titles. In the past, the title for the CD came before the cover picture. However, for this CD, finding a cover photo first helped with zeroing in on a title.
Since this CD was all piano music, I searched the internet for “piano” themed pictures. Shutterstock had several very nice piano subject photos. I emailed several of my favorites to the board members and asked them for their input. One photo stood out among the rest. It was a black and white photo with a hand perched ever so slightly above the piano keys ready to play. A soft ray of light shone from above the right side of the picture. The title “Rays of Hope” came from this simple yet striking photo.

Step 3 — Deciding on the order of pieces: We recorded 17 pieces. The number of possible combinations and order of these 17 was rather intimidating! I listened to the pieces over and over again and came up with 4 combinations I liked. I then gave a CD to my husband and to each of the board members asking for their opinions on the order.
In the end, I used the slow to fast and back to slow bell shape idea to create an order. I eliminated two pieces that didn’t quite fit with the flow and/or nature of the others and ended with “The Boat Song”, my husband’s suggestion. As he put it, “This song sends you forth on your way.”
This process of finding “just the right order” took weeks to accomplish.

Step 4 – Creating the information for the inside cover: I simply took SOHP’s mission and background info from SOHP’s website and previous CD inside covers. Mark and Megan provided their bios as soon as I asked for them, and my bio was on file. Part III was done!

The Making of SOHP’s newest CD, “Rays of Hope “- Part II – The actual recording session

Part II – Both Mark and I have selected our pieces for the CD. The recording date has been agreed upon, May 30th, & Megan is onboard with doing the recording. Mark and I are practicing daily to secure both the musical and technical elements of each piece.
Since I have neither performed at Kulas Concert Hall nor played on the grand piano on stage, I have requested a time the week before the scheduled recording to get use to the touch or action of the piano keys and the sound in the auditorium.
I am very pleased with the clarity of both the piano and the auditorium. But, of course, Mark is the piano technician at BW, and this is a Music Conservatory, so I shouldn’t be surprised at all that they both top notch. I play through my pieces and am relieved that the action is “just right” – not too hard and not too easy. The reverb in the auditorium is suburb.
The recording session day has arrived. Megan has set up about 4 rows back, front of and center of the piano. We have decided that Mark would go first. He is a “one take” wonder and Megan does not have to re-record very much.
However, outside of the building, heavy construction has begun for the day. Inside of the auditorium, a couple of songbirds have decided to nest. These two sources of noise do contribute to some retakes and Megan will also work her magic and somehow eliminate both the songbirds and the construction vehicles’ bangs and booms.
It is my turn to perform and I am enjoying this opportunity to play on this great piano and in this acoustic wonder of an auditorium.
We have finished in less than 3 hours, and Megan has recorded 17 pieces. All and all, it was a very successful recording session.

The Making of SOHP’s newest CD, “Rays of Hope” – Part 1 – The idea, style & performers

Mark Graham was tuning my Steinway Grand at my house in the fall of 2017. When he was finished tuning, he started playing an awesome fun piece that I had never heard. I asked him what he was playing. He told me that he enjoyed playing popular music of “yesteryear.” Hmm… and a germ of an idea starting growing for a new CD.

I had been working on some romantic and impressionistic piano pieces to possibly put together for a second piano CD for SOHP. The piece that I heard Mark play was a different genre but I felt that the two ‘worlds’ of piano literature might just work well together. ” Variety is the spice of life,” right?

So, I called Mark and presented my idea of “classical” meets “turn of the century popular program” music. I told him about SOHP’s mission of providing calming and/or uplifting music to those in need and he said, “Count me in!”

Mark is the current piano technician at BW (he is retiring at the end of thie 2019 school year.) He said that he could arrange to have us record this CD at Kulas Hall at the end of May, 2018.

We both knew Megan Poletti Kuhar who teaches Music Technology at BW and is the founder of Hey!Poletti Recordings LLC. Megan has recorded and mastered many of SOHP’s recordings in the past. Megan was on board for both the project and with recording Mark and I at Kulas.