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Thread: Deducting musical instrument on tax forms

  1. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by dsurkin View Post
    I was a math major in college - that was to be my backup profession to being a musician. Somewhere around calculus of several variables, I realized that I was not in the same league as some of my fellow math majors, who were destined for academic careers. So I wound up in law school and became a tax lawyer. I serve as treasurer of a local community orchestra, so I guess I eventually found some way to keep music in my life and support my family.
    Dean, I actually did get my degree in math, but have I used it since? Well, not much. My bachelor's degree was sandwiched around 6 years in the Army Band. Then 14 more years as a commissioned officer doing things like flying helicopters, then getting a master's in computer science and doing something sort of related to that degree, but not too much, then back to flying, then retiring. And mostly computer stuff (as a programmer, then manager) after that. I actually did earn a living with music while in the Army Band. But never a living with just math.

    I second Dave's assessment that computer programming and music are not strange bedfellows. And MIDI is a real nice marriage of music and computer programming. I was intently interested in that for years.

    Dave - where did you pick up your computer programming chops? Independent study? Classes? I know I started originally in the 80's while in Europe and when IBM came out with its personal computer. I had to have one. I learned a lot sort of teaching myself. But then I got an MS in computer science compliments of the Army.
    John Morgan
    The U.S. Army Band (Pershing's Own) 1971-1976
    Adams E3 Custom Series Euphonium, Wessex EP-100 Dolce Euphonium, 1956 B&H Imperial Euphonium
    Adams TB1 Tenor Trombone, Yamaha YBL-822G Bass Trombone
    Wessex TE-360 Bombino Eb Tuba
    Rapid City New Horizons & Municipal Bands (Euphonium)
    Black Hills Symphony Orchestra (Bass Trombone), Powder River Symphony, Gillette, WY (Tenor Trombone)
    Black Hills Brass Quintet (Tuba)

  2. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by John Morgan View Post
    Dave - where did you pick up your computer programming chops? Independent study? Classes? I know I started originally in the 80's while in Europe and when IBM came out with its personal computer. I had to have one. I learned a lot sort of teaching myself. But then I got an MS in computer science compliments of the Army.
    I was self-taught. I started in 1981-2 with BASIC on the Atari 800. I programmed it to help run Whaling Music Publishers. The 800 was based on the same chip as the Apple II. Then I moved up in around 1985-6 to the Atari ST series, which used the same chip as the Mac. The BASIC implementation was not great for that one, and I moved to a dBaseIII clone and learned to base the program on SQL. In both the 800 and ST I got into managing the printer output, so I learned how to use the codes to control various printing features. In the USCG Band I was put in charge of our network of Macs, and was responsible for emulating the official CG forms we used for travel and other things. I also trained the other users.

    Upon leaving the band I had no job as we moved to the MPLS area, but it was a fertile market in 1996. I applied for a job at a .com startup called INTxx. They wanted a project manager, web designer, and web programmer. I had done some good PM in the CG and of course had some programming. I was familiar with graphic programs to some extent. So INTxx gave me a floppy disk each for ColdFusion (one of the early languages that let web browsers interact with databases) and Microsoft Front Page (web building software). They told me to build a site with multiple pages that was hooked to a database, so that users could read/write/edit data. Any "subject" matter was fine. So the only DB I had handy was my Euphonium Music Guide. I build the demo site based on that. Got the job!

    That was basically an audition! Afterward I expanded the demo site and put it on the web. The original design was quickly replaced with a little fancier interface. You can get a peek at it here:

    https://web.archive.org/web/19990203...m/toc.html-ssi
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams E3, Denis Wick 4AL (classic)
    Instructor of Euphonium and Tuba
    Twitter: davewerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    YouTube: dwerden
    Owner of TubaEuph.com, DWerden.com

  3. #23
    Thanks, Dave! I have been curious over the years to learn of your start in your second career after the Coast Guard Band. The web archive is also a very useful thing. I do websites, not much now, more previously, and it was very useful to be able to go back and look at a website in some past point in time.

    Not disparaging you at all, but I suspect you were sort of a computer nerd as was I. I can even remember with excitement watching the little squares get filled in when doing a disk defrag back in the 80's. it was pure magic! And took forever! Ah, the good old days....
    John Morgan
    The U.S. Army Band (Pershing's Own) 1971-1976
    Adams E3 Custom Series Euphonium, Wessex EP-100 Dolce Euphonium, 1956 B&H Imperial Euphonium
    Adams TB1 Tenor Trombone, Yamaha YBL-822G Bass Trombone
    Wessex TE-360 Bombino Eb Tuba
    Rapid City New Horizons & Municipal Bands (Euphonium)
    Black Hills Symphony Orchestra (Bass Trombone), Powder River Symphony, Gillette, WY (Tenor Trombone)
    Black Hills Brass Quintet (Tuba)

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by davewerden View Post
    They recognized that musicians' minds are very compatible with computer logic. After all, we are trained to respond to a symbolic language, which is a good start, but I think there is also a strong "math" connection in the brain as well.
    I have to dispute this, despite the offered empirical evidence. Your point about the symbolic language is a good one. And for many musicians it goes deeper than than in their understanding and use of music "theory". But I've run into way too many musicians who seem simply incapable of logical thought. They're (very much) like football players: highly trained in certain very specific ways, but completely adrift outside of that narrow context. So in my experience, a lot of musicians' minds aren't compatible with computer logic at all.

    If you start with the idea of "Let's look for musicians who have some sort of mathematical inclination and see how many we can find ... Wow, there seem to be a lot of these." Then you may incorrectly conclude that there's a strong correlation between being a musician and mathematical ability (very vaguely characterized!).

    If instead, you start with "Let's look at the population of all musicians, see what categories (Careful there! How do you decide on how many categories and which ones?), and then see if any obviously high and unusual correlations pop out," then you may get a very different result. And it depends not just on how you slice and dice the categories -- and what counts as demonstrating mathematical ability/interest, but how you determine the "reference set" of what counts as a musician.

    I think that a casual and admittedly non-scientific survey of several other musical instrument forums will very quickly demonstrate a significant population of musicians (self-described, amateur, academic, and professional) who appear to have little ability (or even tolerance) of mathematical or logical reasoning or thought.
    Gary Merrill
    Wessex EEb Bass tuba (Denis Wick 3XL)
    Mack Brass Compensating Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J9 euph)
    Amati Oval Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J6 euph)
    1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba, modified Kelly 25
    Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
    1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Morgan View Post
    Not disparaging you at all, but I suspect you were sort of a computer nerd as was I. I can even remember with excitement watching the little squares get filled in when doing a disk defrag back in the 80's. it was pure magic! And took forever! Ah, the good old days....
    When I was working at Bell Labs in that period, the central processing switching systems were either VAX 780s or AT&T 3B20s with a maximum of 12 Meg of memory. The individual memory cards, as I recall, held 4M and were about 10"x12" in size. I don't own (and I think have never seen) even a USB stick or SD card with anywhere close to that little memory.
    Gary Merrill
    Wessex EEb Bass tuba (Denis Wick 3XL)
    Mack Brass Compensating Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J9 euph)
    Amati Oval Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J6 euph)
    1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba, modified Kelly 25
    Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
    1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)

  6. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by ghmerrill View Post
    I have to dispute this, despite the offered empirical evidence.
    Right back at'cha, Gary! This is something that I've seen reinforced tons of times in my latter career. But of course that is still anecdotal.

    But from my two examples, I came away with these tidbits:

    1. The I.T. department of a major corporation chose to recruit previously unknown candidates from the pool of music teachers.
    2. A successful regional tech company deliberately went to a music school to recruit people they did not otherwise know.
    Last edited by davewerden; 06-24-2019 at 12:01 PM.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams E3, Denis Wick 4AL (classic)
    Instructor of Euphonium and Tuba
    Twitter: davewerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    YouTube: dwerden
    Owner of TubaEuph.com, DWerden.com

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by davewerden View Post
    I was self-taught. I started in 1981-2 with BASIC on the Atari 800. I programmed it to help run Whaling Music Publishers. The 800 was based on the same chip as the Apple II. Then I moved up in around 1985-6 to the Atari ST series, which used the same chip as the Mac. The BASIC implementation was not great for that one, and I moved to a dBaseIII clone and learned to base the program on SQL.
    I was originally self-taught as well, and at precisely the same time -- but a slightly different path. I was 9 years into an academic career and an Associate Professor of Philosophy (with tenure!) at Loyola University in Chicago. I started to get interested in computers, in large part because I saw a sequence of students in my logic and philosophy of science classes graduating and getting jobs at Bell Labs that paid about twice what I was making. I was also pretty bored with the academic life at that point.

    Of course, the computer I had access to was an IBM/370 mainframe -- so not exactly much like an Atari. I took a quick look at BASIC, wrote one short program in it (on punch cards!), and decided that it wasn't worth wasting my time on. Took a look at FORTRAN, but it was clearly too special-purpose and cumbersome. Looked at COBOL and was repelled. Then found PL/1. Kind of needlessly complex, but rational and general purpose. I ended up writing a computer-aided instruction program in it that I used in a couple of my logic courses.

    Then I decided that I might blow out of academia and do this computer stuff. But I needed more knowledge and experience. The first step was to work with the chairman of the math department and put a LISP interpreter/compiler on the 370 mainframe. Then use that to teach an AI course. At that point I decided to get some formal education and got into the MS/Ph.D. program in the Department of Information Engineering at U of I/Chicago Circle. No cost -- they gave me a tuition waiver. That's where I discovered C and UNIX and DEC computers, and the rest was history. I left the University after the spring semester of 1982, when to work at Bell Labs, and never looked back. Also never got the MS in Information Engineering: Too busy with the family (3 kids, one with a serious heart condition), although I finished all the course work and in fact finished the thesis project (a vastly improved version of that original CAI program for logic, written in C). Not getting that degree was the first and only academic/professional project that I never finished, and I regret that to this day. But it was the only reasonable choice.
    Gary Merrill
    Wessex EEb Bass tuba (Denis Wick 3XL)
    Mack Brass Compensating Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J9 euph)
    Amati Oval Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J6 euph)
    1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba, modified Kelly 25
    Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
    1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)

  8. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by ghmerrill View Post
    ...I took a quick look at BASIC, wrote one short program in it (on punch cards!)...

    Remember the Lily Tomlin routines where she played the telephone operator, with lots of gags about Ma Bell? I bought the album way back when. The last track (as I recall) was about getting even with the phone company. She gave this recipe for a liquid (including bleach and a few other ingredients), said to put it in a bread baking pan, then put in the punch card that you are supposed to return with your phone bill payment. Then once it's wet you back it for a little while. Then you return it with your bell. The closing statement from the routine way (again, going from memory): "The holes [in the punch card] will shrink just a little...tiny...bit."
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams E3, Denis Wick 4AL (classic)
    Instructor of Euphonium and Tuba
    Twitter: davewerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    YouTube: dwerden
    Owner of TubaEuph.com, DWerden.com

  9. #29
    Join Date
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    Location
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    I definitely think there's a connection with playing music and it helping with mathematical skills. My son played piano, euph and trombone and math was always easy for him. After getting his PhD in electrical and computer engineering he worked at IBM's Thomas J. Watson research center in NY for about 6 years and is now prof at NC State. My grandson who played euph and trombone middle school and high school is now majoring in computer science. He got a summer interneship with Microsoft.

    I myself never got to go to college. My parents didn't have the money so I enlisted in USAF in 1966 with a promise of electronics training—since I aced the math portion of their skills test. This was good training for me for my eventual career job with the FAA where I was Systems Specialist (hardware and software). My main responsibility was the Air Traffic Control computer and radar at Palm Beach Int'l Airport.
    Last edited by RickF; 06-24-2019 at 02:45 PM.
    Rick Floyd
    Miraphone 5050 - Warburton Brandon Jones sig mpc
    YEP-641S (on long-term loan to grandson)
    Doug Elliott - 102 rim; I-cup; I-9 shank


    "Always play with a good tone, never louder than lovely, never softer than supported." - author unknown.
    Symphonic Band of the Palm Beaches
    When the Saints Go Marching In (arr. Mashima) at ACB Conference Ft. Lauderdale
    Cell phone video of : El Cumbanchero:

  10. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by RickF View Post
    ...My main responsibility was the Air Traffic Control computer and radar at Palm Beach Int'l Airport.
    Wow - that is a tough gig! My brother in law was an ATC at O'Hare. He was one of the controllers who did not go out on strike when Reagan had just come into office. That was rough and he lost some friends, but he made it through.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams E3, Denis Wick 4AL (classic)
    Instructor of Euphonium and Tuba
    Twitter: davewerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    YouTube: dwerden
    Owner of TubaEuph.com, DWerden.com

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