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Long Island, NY
Interests: Music, Books, Teaching
Recent Activity
Offering constructive criticism to the voices in your head. By Tom Rizzuto I recently reconnected with this friend I hadn’t seen in a couple of years. The reason I hadn’t seen her in so long is because she’s been living in another country. In fact, she’s been living in a bunch of other countries. My friend, let’s call her Sophia, has spent the last few years “teaching English,” aka standing in front of a classroom demonstrating how actual Americans speak, all across the world. In fact, the majority of her time was spent in some of the most picturesque parts... Continue reading
Posted Sep 1, 2016 at Crazytown
Can you cure your cellphone addiction by changing your settings? By Tom Rizzuto Imagine if you had access to the entirety of human knowledge. Imagine you could see any image, hear any sound, and communicate with anyone at anytime, anywhere in the world. Now imagine what you would give up for this power. Do you see where I’m going here? You can stop imagining, because as you may have figured out by now, we already live in this world. It’s 2016 and odds are the vast majority of people you know have a smartphone. That means that for the cost... Continue reading
Posted Aug 25, 2016 at Crazytown
Classical music that's fun for everybody. By Tom Rizzuto I think that it would come as no surprise to anyone who reads this blog that podcasts are my current favorite form of entertainment. They're fun, accessible, and there are so many out there that anyone can find something they're interested in. And starting this Fall, they'll be one more. That's right, everybody. I'm throwing my hat into the podcasting ring and developing my own! The Music That Made Our World podcast (which you can, and should like on Facebook immediately) is a new kind of podcast about Classical Music. What... Continue reading
Posted Aug 18, 2016 at Crazytown
Dead moms, teenage girls, and Beethoven's skull! Who are you to resist? By Tom Rizzuto Offbeats is series in which we explore the eccentricities of some of music history's greatest composers. We rip open the curtains of the past and reveal the dark, twisted stories that the classical music world doesn't want you to know. This week, we tackle Anton Bruckner. I mean, just look at this guy. Bruckner (1824-1896) is not as well known in America as he is in his native Austria. He never quite reached the heights of world wide popularity that some of his contemporaries did,... Continue reading
Posted Aug 11, 2016 at Crazytown
A story the Ellington's kept under wraps since 1928. By Tom Rizzuto Do a quick Google image search for jazz icon and American musical pioneer, Duke Ellington. Notice anything? All of the profile shots seem to be of the right side of his face? Why is that? Why so many questions, baby? Ellington, who made a name for himself baring his soul on such well known compositions as "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" and "Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me," was in actuality a very private man. Bandmates worked with him everyday and still had no idea about his... Continue reading
Posted Aug 4, 2016 at Crazytown
I'll have none of your sass, Internet. By Tom Rizzuto Here are the facts. In 1990 Beach Boys founder and universally acknowledged musical genius, Brian Wilson was not in a great place. He was still reeling from the effects of decades of mental illness and substance abuse, he was being treated by controversial psychiatrist Eugene Landy (who most believe to have been unethical and manipulative), and his recording career was at a standstill. "Tell Kanye West I think he's adorable. Spunky little guy." It was during this tumultuous period in his life that Wilson wrote and recorded a rap song... Continue reading
Posted Jul 28, 2016 at Crazytown
The rarest guitar in the world. By Tom Rizzuto Antonio Stradivari made the best violins ever built. Everybody knows that. The name Stradivarius has enjoyed this kind of brand recognition for close to three hundred years, and with good reason. There's something special about the sound of a Stradivarius that people have been trying to put their finger on for centuries. However, even after hundreds of years of uninterrupted cultural relevance, you can still surprise even the most diehard music aficionado with this fact about Stradivari: He also made guitars. You know he's got some surprises up his sleeves. Look... Continue reading
Posted Jul 21, 2016 at Crazytown
Like you needed more reasons to love this guy. By Tom Rizzuto The Founding Fathers loved music. This shouldn't be that surprising. Everybody loves music. They attended concerts, sang drinking songs, and a bunch of them even played instruments. However, one of these guys took his musical activities further than the rest. All about the Benjamins indeed. You can be forgiven if you never learned the extent of Ben Franklin's musical resume. After all, Franklin did a lot of stuff. After your history teachers got through the printing, writing, ambassadorship, inventing, the whole kite situation and The Revolutionary War, they... Continue reading
Posted Jul 14, 2016 at Crazytown
Stories about the strangest people and events from the history of classical music. By Tom Rizzuto People love hearing about wackos. We call them eccentric. We say that the things they achieved couldn't have been fathomed by a normal mind. We believe that every genius must battle with a fair amount of their own personality quirks in order to find their way in society. Maybe these things we tell ourselves are true, but the fact of the matter remains that we as a society love to learn about people who have made a name for themselves despite being, well, a... Continue reading
Posted Jul 7, 2016 at Crazytown
WHY NOT BOTH? By Tom Rizzuto Last semester, towards the end of my American Music class, I started a session by playing a YouTube video of John Cage's famous 4'33" and silently watched my class wrestle with what they were watching. If you're not aware of 4'33'' it's a piece of music in which a pianist sits down at a piano, sets a stopwatch, and just sits there, doing nothing for just over four and a half minutes. Less than a minute in, my class exploded. "When is he going to start?" "Is the video frozen?" "No look, he just... Continue reading
Posted Jun 30, 2016 at Crazytown
Some of the composer's greatest works were inspired by his love of Italian women. By Tom Rizzuto I was raised in a 100% Italian American family, and if you've ever known Italians, you know that we're a proud people. Our pride in our heritage comes out in a lot of different ways, such as the food we eat, the music we listen to, and the traditions we work so hard to keep alive. Another thing you may have noticed about Italians is that we love to let you know about the many contributions Italians have made to Western Civilization. Look,... Continue reading
Posted Jun 23, 2016 at Crazytown
And none of them have anything to do with him being deaf. By Tom Rizzuto The world needs heroes, everybody. We need people to look up to and say, “Look at all those great things he did…maybe I can do great things too.” Sadly though, sometimes it seems like the world is running short on people who deserve our admiration. Especially for those of us in the arts, our heroes mostly seem to fall into one of two categories: “People who were born with a gigantic head start in either their family’s finances or connections,” and “People who are so... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2016 at Crazytown
You have to man up to slim down. By Tom Rizzuto Masculinity is weird sometimes. As men in America, we're supposed to strive for the loftiest goals, fight against the odds and conquer as much theoretical territory as we can. At the same time though, we're also expected to not admit when we're struggling, or even just working hard to achieve what we want to achieve. This is especially true when it comes to one of the greatest struggles that an individual can embark upon: losing weight. Basically how I feel. Sure, you can tell your boys that you're working... Continue reading
Posted May 26, 2016 at Crazytown
No carbohydrates, no peace. By Tom Rizzuto "Oh you can have a few French fries," my mother said, just moments after our frazzled, overworked waitress hobbled away to place our brunch orders. It was Mother's Day, and while Long Island's other sons and daughters were concerned about normal things like picking out the right card or how to explain that providing grandchildren wasn't a part of their five-year plan, I was hard at work quibbling with the waitstaff over how much sugar is appropriate to use in the preparation of vegetables. Look it up. There's literally enough sugar in these... Continue reading
Posted May 19, 2016 at Crazytown
The Rock and Roll Archaeology Project does it again. By Tom Rizzuto The electric guitar is an amazing instrument. Sure, there’s nothing that sounds quite like it, but it’s deeper than that. No other instrument captures our imagination like the electric guitar. No other instrument taps into that quintessential human compulsion to create and recreate. To innovate and deconstruct. To tinker and engineer. It fulfills our desire for art. It fulfills our desire for expression. It fulfills our desire…for toys. 10 bucks says this kid has more effects pedals than he's had guitar lessons. Just a hunch. The Wah-wah Pedal,... Continue reading
Posted May 12, 2016 at Crazytown
Batman, Feminism, Italians, and the Electric Guitar! Who could ask for more? By Tom Rizzuto As a teacher of all things guitar, I consider it my responsibility to expose my students and the people I love (people like you, America) to the best guitar players the music industry has to offer. Unfortunately, the music industry has a tendency to keep its very best guitarists hidden away, languishing in obscurity or at the very least, lucrative but underappreciated session work. So today, I’m doing a public service. Sure, Hendrix, Clapton, and Van Halen are undeniable, but at some point you have... Continue reading
Posted May 5, 2016 at Crazytown
I swear I'm writing this out of love. By Tom Rizzuto The Internet is flooded with articles, memes, tweets, and blogs written by teachers of all subjects who criticize the parents of their students. Parents may be surprised to learn that, though the rules of polite society (and a persistent lack of full time teaching jobs) will ensure that they are never confronted in person, a quick Google search will reveal that a shocking amount of intellectual energy is being spent promoting the thesis that: “Your child is not learning, and it is your fault.” This is NOT one of... Continue reading
Posted Apr 28, 2016 at Crazytown
Podcasting, British Soaps, and Trump! By Tom Rizzuto Well New York, the primary elections have come and gone. Are you still feeling the Bern? Do you still want Hillary on The Hill? Do you still secretly want Bill back in The White House just to see what kind of trouble he can get himself into? By the time you're reading this, we all probably know how it went. ...And also Republicans, you guys got to vote too. Now it's time to turn our sights toward the general election in November. "But wait! What if I don't know who I'm going... Continue reading
Posted Apr 21, 2016 at Crazytown
An exclusive interview. By Tom Rizzuto Every four years the American experiment is put to the test, a test that “we the people” must administer. The general election season is a time when all of us come together and collectively shoulder the responsibility of electing one of our own to the highest office in the land. We, Americans, get to choose the leader of the free world. What a responsibility! What a thing for the Founding Fathers to have asked of us! How can we be sure that when we go into that election booth in November we come out... Continue reading
Posted Apr 14, 2016 at Crazytown
All good things must come to an end. By Tom Rizzuto It's hard to say it America, but this week is the last installment of my three part interview with Christian Swain of the Rock N Roll Archaeology Project podcast. If you haven't been with us from the beginning, feel free to catch up here and here. Otherwise, buckle up and get ready because this week Swain gives us a glimpse at some exciting developments in the show and some hints at what might be coming in the future. If you're as bummed as I am that this adventure is... Continue reading
Posted Apr 7, 2016 at Crazytown
The hits just keep on coming. By Tom Rizzuto Last week we brought you the first part of my exclusive interview with Christian Swain of the spectacular Rock N Roll Archaeology Project podcast. If you didn’t get a chance to read it, I highly suggest that you go back give yourself a proper to introduction to the only podcast on the internet that rocks just as hard as its subject matter. Better yet, go download and experience it for yourself. Part two of their episode on The Beatles is up now, but if you're anything like me, you're going to... Continue reading
Posted Mar 31, 2016 at Crazytown
An exclusive interview. By Tom Rizzuto Let’s face it, the last few years have not been kind to Rock and Roll. Fans of what was once the greatest cultural movement of a generation have seen our music buried under synthesizers, pushed off the charts by teenage pop machines, and misappropriated by lead singers who sound like they never quite finished puberty. Too vital to burn out, too proud to fade away, Rock fans are left to flip through the radio dials and wonder…what the hell happened? The Rock and Roll Archeology Project podcast is out to find the answers. They’ve... Continue reading
Posted Mar 24, 2016 at Crazytown
It’s better you hear it from me than someone who doesn’t care about you. By Tom Rizzuto I teach guitar. I’ve been doing it for a long time, and in all my years of spreading the good word of Rock and Roll across this fair land, I’ve learned a few things about the average guitar student. One thing I’ve learned is that every person who sets out to learn the guitar will face struggles…most of the time, the same struggles as everyone else. The good news is that these struggles are nothing new. Experienced guitar teachers like myself have seen... Continue reading
Posted Mar 17, 2016 at Crazytown
Let's be honest here. It hasn't done any of us any good. By Tom Rizzuto Being snarky is addictive. It got me through the Bush administration. It helped me deal with countless pointless meetings at work. It was by my side when I tried explaining every major life decision I’ve made to my parents. Snarkiness and I were on our way to living a happy life together. But then, as so often is the case, we hit a bump in the road when she introduced me to her friends. I got along fine with The Daily Show. Rachel Maddow was... Continue reading
Posted Mar 10, 2016 at Crazytown
A list for listeners By Tom Rizzuto Like many people in my well-meaning but regrettably named generation, podcasts have become my favorite form of entertainment. They’re free, easy to binge on, informative, and often hilarious. There’s a podcast on just about any topic you want to know about and unlike say, Netflix, you don’t have to sit in one place and devote your full attention to them for hours. Recently, several Internet juggernauts like Buzzfeed and HuffPo have released articles on the phenomenon. Many even provide their readers with well-organized lists of suggested listening. While the podcasts they promote are... Continue reading
Posted Mar 3, 2016 at Crazytown