Every child, regardless of their socio-economic status deserves the right to a quality education, and with that, a quality music education.  And, for the students lucky enough to be in Dr. Brian McDaniel’s program, they are getting just that.  The current band director at Rancho Mirage High School in California, Dr. McDaniel is a 2018 California Teacher of the Year and a 2019 Global Teaching Prize Top 50 finalist.  Join us for an enlightening conversation about education, music, and the symbiotic relationship the two share.

It’s been a some time since we last sat in the cheap seats together. For various reasons, we had to put the podcast on hold…but have no fear, we are back and better than ever! Let’s continue to examine where life and the arts intersect and more importantly than that, come to an understanding about the importance of the arts in each of our lives!

Life needs orchestration: This is one of the key tenants that visual storyteller Michael Raiford lives by.  Michael is a scenic designer, costumer designer, choreographer, performance coach, and provides incredible insight into the design process, the arts and their place in our world, and where he sees the arts headed in a post COVID-19 world.  With his both his scenic and costume design being recognized around the world, Michael understands first hand the importance of the arts in a child’s life.  You can learn more about Michael and his work by visiting his website: https://michaelraiford.myportfolio.com/work

Join us for a fun and enlightening conversation!!


In education, there are many acronyms and buzz words that get thrown around every year. Some of them hold no meaning, and some are extremely important. That is the case with Social-Emotional Learning. Referred to as SEL, social-emotional learning is not just another “thing” that educators are being asked to do. In today’s episode, we talk with Dr. Scott Edgard on the importance of relationships (hint…SEL) in arts education classrooms, as well as strategies for implementation.

You can learn more about the work Dr. Edgar is doing by visiting: https://artsedsel.org/

If you are interested in learning more about SEL, Right Brain Solutions is offering a FREE professional learning session with Dr. Edgar on Saturday, August 28, 2021. You must register, and can do so here: https://forms.gle/D2ASLA48iYrph6b39.

Each of us has a unique story, and every day we write a new page in our own book of life.  But why are our stories important? In this episode, we welcome Baba, The Storyteller into the Cheap Seats for an in-depth conversation about the importance of storytelling in our lives, and in the education of our children.

Baba the Storyteller has been a professional speaker since 1994 and is one of the few recognized U.S. born practitioners of the ancient West African storytelling craft known as Jaliyaa. He has received numerous awards over the years for his work as a folklorist, traditional harpist, storyteller, community activist and volunteer.

To learn more about Baba The Storyteller, visit his website HERE.

Today in the cheap seats, we welcome Vice President of Education for the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Talena Mara! From being on the faculties of prestigious schools, to working with some of the best arts companies in the world, to her current role as the Vice President of Education for the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, California, Talena Mara has devoted her life to the arts.  A student of the very first El Sistema program, Talena now works to ensure that ALL students have access to quality artistic experiences.  Join us today for a fascinating conversation about the arts and they are used to bring our communities closer together!

To learn more about the Segerstrom Center and their educational offerings, click HERE.

In this weeks episode, we welcome world class violin soloist and educator, Chee-Yun Kim to the cheap seats! The New York Times has said this about Chee-Yun:

“This is a talented instrumentalist, with the kind of high-gloss tone that pulls sensuously at the listener’s ear.”

-New York Times

Through our discussion, Chee-Yun provides insight into her life, her career, as well as the importance of the arts and music in our world and in the lives of children.  So come enjoy the view and until then, we’ll save a seat for ya!

To learn more about Chee-Yun Kim, you can visit her website HERE.

Today in the Cheap Seats we welcome the Artistic Director of The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, California, Mr. Barry Edelstein!  Mr. Edelstein is one of the foremost American experts on Shakespeare, and has directed over half of the Bard’s plays.  During the COVID pandemic, Mr. Edelstein has overseen online programming that included world premieres, as well as a full lineup of free programs.

Mr. Edelstein is insightful, open, and honest during our discussion about his fears, his hopes, and the understanding that the arts are truly our civic purpose.

To learn more about The Old Globe Theatre, click HERE.

Subscribe today to Musings From The Cheap Seats! Available on Apple, Google, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms!

Well folks, the time has finally arrived for the release of the premiere episode of Musings From The Cheap Seats. That’s right, Season 1 – Episode 1.  Today in the cheap seats, we welcome 2020 GRAMMY Music Educator of the Year, Mickey Smith Jr.

Mickey is an inspiration to all who he comes in contact with.  From children to adults, Mickey encourages each of us, every day to work to find our SOUND, and through it all – to keep on going!  In this episode, we talk about his life, his career, and most importantly his purpose.

To learn more about Mickey Smith Jr, visit his website at http://www.mickeysmithjr.com

You can also follow Mickey on all of his social media channels @MickeySmithJr

The cheap seats: also known as the nose bleeds. You know them well, those ones at the very top of the stadium or in the very back of the balcony. Yes, those ones! The ones where it is seemingly okay to show up a few minutes late and leave a tad bit early. But, have you ever wondered where the best view of the stage is? You know, that place where you can see it all, while still understanding the complexities and detail needed to bring a production to life? That is our perception of the cheap seats! And it is the cheap seats where some of the best conversations can take place. Knowing all of that, we invite you to subscribe to our new podcast “Musings from the Cheap Seats.”

Musings from the Cheap Seats is our exploration of where art and life intersect. Through discussions with world class artists, performers, dancers, conductors, educators and more, each episode will bring to life our discussion and exploration of not only the arts, but the world around us. Our hope, is that we come to the realization that there is more that connects each of us, than divides us.

So subscribe today so you can be kept up to date on each new episode, take a listen, leave a review, and let us know who you would love to hear from.

Until then, we’ll save a seat for ya!!