Sunday, October 23, 2011

October 2011 Update

Hello All,
I realized in last month's update, I failed to discuss my new weekly gig. This past August, I became a regular member of the praise band at Christ Church at Grove Farm in Sewickley, PA north of Pittsburgh. It is a highlight of my week, because I get to play songs of praise and hymns for the services. It is also good, because I get to use my Bach 36B (as opposed to my bigger horn, 42BO). Playing at the Church weekly allows me to sit back and frequently play loud and high (even at the same time) in a very nice environment. It also adds fun when you sit next to good players, such as Dan Nesbitt, a very good trumpet player who graduated from CMU last year (and also went to that school up north). I should also mention that the music director and his wife both attended Grace College (my alma mater) back in the late 60s; and while I traveled with the King's Brass, I stayed a night at his cousin's home in northern Michigan. Just goes to show how really really small the music world is! Even though I play at CCGF weekly, my wife and I continue to attend another church, Allegheny Center Alliance Church near Heinz Field and PNC Park. I attended this church all last year, and we both wanted to still attend ACAC. Fortunately, they have a Saturday night service where we can be motivated, encouraged, and inspired. The pastor will even occasionally get his trumpet out to play/improvise on the offertory. (Yes! He is good and actually has a music degree). It is great to do this on the weekends, because we can attend one church as a married couple and sit together during the service; then I can play at CCGF as a "gigistry."

Musically, it was an exciting month as I had the privilege to perform the solo from Henri Tomasi' Fanfare Liturgiques for the recent Wind Ensemble concert. It was one of the few times I felt great mentally, physically, and musically about the solo. It is a powerful solo and one that allows liberty for the soloist. I was pleased and God be praised. It's moments like that keep me playing for the Kingdom.

At the end of the month, the Carnegie Mellon Chamber Orchestra will be performing Ravel's Piano Concerto in G Major with a graduate pianist as the soloist. I'm looking forward to playing that piece since it is one of my favorite piano concertos (and the part is not all that difficult).

That is all for now. Next month's updates will includes highlights of premiering a brass quartet piece as well as being part of brass trio performing Floyd Werle's Concertino for Three Brass and Band.

Until then....Gott sei die Ehre

From J-man
Isaiah 40:31

Saturday, September 17, 2011

September 2011 Update

Hello All,
Thanks to a friend (who actually reads my blog), I realized I needed to update this blog. Since March, there obviously has been some big changes and transitions. For one, I got married (this is where I could get overly excited, but I am working on self-control). We were married in Buckeyeland on August 6th and spent our honeymoon in the mountains of Seattle, WA. Everything from the wedding ceremony to the flight back from Seattle went perfect. :)

We are settled in our new apartment in Pittsburgh/Bloomfield, as I begin my second year at Carnegie Mellon. I am really looking forward to this school year, musically. We have 9 tenors and 1 bass bones in our studio, and all are quite good. Everyone is excited to play together. In this first cycle, the CMU Philharmonic is playing Berlioz' Symphonie Fantastique. I am not playing that piece; however, I do get to play Liszt's Les Preludes, which brings back memories from playing the same piece in the 2005 FL All-State orchestra (this time, it sounds much much louder, making it more fun!)

I also purchased a "new" bass trombone at my wedding. Grace College has been selling some of their instruments, and one of my professors at Grace found the horn and mentioned to me that they would be selling it. It is a Conn 62H dependent valves with rollers (yes, ole-school). It has been repaired very nicely since I last played it in college, and it sounds good! I won't say the price that I purchased it for, except that I got it for a very small fraction of what Dillon was selling it for (close to $3,000). I figure it will come in handy and be a good starter bass bone.

Whelp that's all for now. I will keep you posted on more news and thoughts that I may have here and there. Right now, I'm doing a research study (for credit) in dealing with "Why are there so many professional orchestras and hardly any professional wind bands?" I'll provide more info on my findings as I get closer to gathering it all.

From J-Man
"My life is the clearest proof that if you have talent, determination and luck you will make it in the end: never give up!"-- Sir Georg Solti

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Engagment Story

Hello All,
Alright people, even though this is a blog dealing with my journey to the trombone section, I want to write a post about finding the one person on this earth who is my biggest supporter, and who in a short five months, will be alongside me (permanently) with this journey to the section.

Kylee Barnett is a very pretty girl that I have known since freshman year at Grace College through friends of friends. As time went along we got to know each other and started dating on May 26, 2009. For about a year and half, we dated, and in February 2010 I knew this was the girl I wanted to marry (see earlier post about that prayer). My plan for a whole year was to ask her a year from that time. So a few months ago, I decided that it would be great to propose to her in Warsaw, Indiana at Center Lake. This is a place where I went often, and we went to talk on our first date. Plus, I thought it would be great to propose Valentine's Day weekend (February 12th). We would go to the Grace basketball game, and I would propose after the game down at the lake.

By the way, I told people it was going to be February 12th. All of King's Brass knew, even the people who were my host families on tour knew. The only people who didn't know at all were her friends or anybody remotely close to being her friend. Well the week prior to that, I began thinking why put it off any longer. I already had the ring for over a month, and I wasn't doing anything the weekend of the 5th. So plans changed! I decided to go to her place the first weekend of February and surprise in coming. I told her that Thursday night that I was gonna come to visit her. So I came and we decided to go eat for dinner/late lunch on Saturday at a place called Wings & Rings (honest, it was her choice to go there). So I thought, it would be perfect. I hid the little black bag in the toolbox of my car. Some may remember I sent a tweet saying something about "no sense in putting it off any longer." Well this was right before I proposed. It was a little windy and snowy outside, and as we walked outside I said, "funny that we should eat at a place called wings and rings." I walked her back to my car, and meanwhile she is saying "Hurry up, open the door!" I walked to the trunk and told her to come here and she is still wondering why I am not opening the doors. I start saying things like, "Kylee I love you very much and want to grow old with you!" While she is still saying "what are you doing?" she sees the black bag and starts going off saying "Are you messing with me?" or "Is this for real?" (I was still powering through with my eloquent romance). Then I just plowed through, got down on one knee (IN the snow across from the Burger King drive-through window) and asked her, "Kylee, will you marry me?" while I popped the box open. She said, ", Yes!" and I put the ring on her finger (good fit too), and we're engaged.

I changed the date of proposal just because I thought it may be more of a surprise to her if I did it before we went to Grace, and she would then be able to show all of her friends the ring rather than they all coming up to us asking when we were ever gonna get engaged. It worked out excellente! and yes she likes the ring very very much :) I'll add pictures of the ring later.

The date of the wedding? August 6th, 2011 in Centerburg, Ohio. Booooooy I sure can't wait !!

(Hebrews 13:21...Kylee and I's verse)

Success is "peace of mind"

Hello All,
Recently, I purchased Coach Jim Tressel's new book, Life Promises for Success. As I read this little devotional book, one of the first devos is defining Success. He uses legendary Coach John Wooden's definition which I feel is thee best definition. Success is "peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming."

As some of you may know, a few weeks ago I auditioned for the United States Air Force Ceremonial Brass. The DC military band has always been a dream of mine since I would be serving country and making music. Monday (2/21) after Brass Studio Class I drove to Pittsburgh International and flew to Baltimore to be picked up by my friend and colleague with the King's Brass. As I was on the plane (thank you Southwest!), I could tell that it was going to be a good next few days simply for the lack of stress involved with my flight. When I was picked up, my friend drove me to his house where I napped for a good bit and then had dinner. After dinner, I was able to have a good warm-up and play through the excerpts and touch up on a few things.

The next morning, I woke up to an excellent breakfast. Even though my audition block was from 2:30-3:30, my friend had to drop me off at the base around 9:30 am since he had classes/meetings all day. Though to some this might be a negative thing, I found this to be a really positive time because I was able listen through the excerpts a number of times, read through my personal notes from listening to my practice recordings, and read some Scripture and specific verses. It was a time that I got to really relax and focus on the task at hand, and begin to really block out "outside" thoughts, and prepare myself for what was to come (Read Ephesians 3:17-20)

As the time drew nearer, I went to the Band Hangar, checked-in, and went to the big room. As I walked in, I saw other trombone players I had recognized from auditions or from just knowing who "so and so" was. But I did not let that distract me from what I was there for. I then got moved to a private warm-up room, and this was just an excellent time for me to play and open up. Leaving that room for the "performance" room, I felt great and confident and knowing the good Lord would be right beside me. I know where my weaknesses and strengths were going to be, and was prepared for what was to come.

As I entered the audition room, they listed four excerpts and sight-reading in the first round. They first asked for "Tuba Mirum" from Mozart's Requiem, which to be honest, was probably the best I have played it. To me, it sounded the way I wanted it. The second excerpt was from Saint-Saens' "Organ" Symphony. This excerpt, had very slight control issues in the soft dynamics; however, for me it has been a struggle to have the last two notes speak in tempo without fluff (A-flat to D-flat). In the audition, it happened...the D-flat spoke, and made me happy. The next excerpt they asked for was the B Major section of Die Walkure, and again this excerpt sounded exactly the way I wanted it too! (I had spent many practice sessions on getting this excerpt just was good to hear the results).

Then they asked for sight-reading which for me, is not an extreme issue. I did not recognize the excerpt/etude but I still powered through. After the audition was over, I walked out of the room very excited for how I did. I went in there doing what I wanted to do, and for the first time, had a feeling of knowing the decision would be left up to them not me.

As the other candidates finished, the coordinator came in to tell us with regret that no one from our block had advanced on to the next round. Though there was disappointment, there was more joy in knowing that I did my best (exactly what I wanted to do). This was the first time for me, in an audition, that I was able to play everything on the list they asked for. I saw this as a step forward, a "personal victory," for what came about that day.

This is where the definition of success comes in to play; having that "peace of mind" in knowing you gave your best. To some, this might be seen as a failure because I didn't win. For me, it was a victory because I was successful in doing my best and certainly had a peace of mind in knowing I gave it my best. And now, it gives me complete motivation to keep working harder and harder to take on that next step! I am very excited about what the future will hold for matter how long it may take.

(Hebrews 13:21)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

2/18/10--A God Who Answers Prayer

Hello All,
For my Grace College friends, you may remember what happened February 18, 2010. It was during that week of chapel that Kondo Simfukwe preached on the subject of prayer. The sermons were excellent in that they called for a more intimate relationship with our Father. Then on that Thursday, as a student body we all wrote down a prayer(s) that would totally stretch our praying hearts with something that we know only our God could answer.

For me, I wrote two prayers down:
1) That God would provide a huge financial aid package from a graduate school for me to attend.
2) That God would provide a way for Kylee and I to be engaged by this time next year.

At that time we stuck the letter in an envelope, and to be honest, I don't remember what happened with the envelope. But I did not forget those two requests. Because I can say with such joy that "My God is a God who answers prayer!" It is amazing what can happen in a year. That very day after chapel, I checked my email and found out there was an opening with the brass group Tim Zimmerman and the King's Brass. I've had the great privilege of being able to travel with them, and God has been able to provide. After spring break, I received a letter from Carnegie Mellon with my financial aid package; and what a blessing it was from God showing me this is where I am to be. Basically, I only have to pay about 17% of the tuition to attend CMU.

In addition, one day a friend from Masterworks Festival who attends CMU facebooked me and said that he and his friends were looking for one more person to move into an apartment with them. Rent would be low cost and it is only a mile from campus....answered prayer!

But the bigger prayer--that "2" prayer. :) Well it happened! On February 5th, I asked the most beautiful girl in the world to marry me. This picture is from Christmas. Another blog post will be dedicated completely to her and how it all happened. She did not really know that that was one of my prayers (I may have mentioned it once to her).

February 18th was a defining day in my prayer life because it was a commitment I wanted to make that would really cause me to pray. And a year later, those prayers have been answered. Looking back at God's amazing path mapped out for my life, I am able to see things that pointed in a direction of answered prayer.

It's times like these that cause for celebration, praise, and renewed commitments to a God who loves us so much that as Kondo said, "He wants to give us good things!"
Don't stop praying!

J-man (Hebrews 13:21)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

What's in Store for February

Hello All,
Whelp been out of touch via blog for at least two months. With good, musical reason though. Almost literally for the months of December and January, I was traveling with Tim Zimmerman and the King's Brass to both sides of the country. For December we were in Nashville, the Midwest for two nights then flew to California (where it was sunny for the last two days we were there). We played our Christmas program and it was quite fun. For the first time, I played the John Rutter Gloria, a fantastic piece for brass and chorus. It was fun to play loud and then louder. It was quite an enjoyable tour, playing in large churches, small churches, staying in a mansion located on a 28-acre avocado ranch, etc.

The group had about 2-3 weeks off before we got together in Florida to continue our "summer" program. We traveled anywhere and everywhere between Orlando and Miami. We were able to meet many people (including Kylee's great aunt), and make new friends (like John and Esther Fitzstevens who are retired missionaries to Vietnam and work closely now with Franklin Graham). When tour was over I had to quickly fly from Ft. Myers to Columbus via "red-eye" flight then wake up at 4:45 in the morning to drive to Pittsburgh for my 9:00 class.

It is good to be back in good 'ole Pittsburgh since being for over a month. It's nice to get back to learning about music. I haven't really been able to practice much since we have been on the road a lot, and it was sure nice to really sit down and start back digging into excerpts and solos. It is amazing how fast time goes, and I've realized that with graduate school and must really soak in all that I came here for. And never regret taking stuff too lightly or half-heartedly. It needs to be "All in!"

As for February, musically, I'll get to reunite with the Grace College Pep Band February 12th and play with them as well as meet up with my former teacher, Jim Kraft for some duets and/or excerpts. February 10th is the CMU Wind Ensemble concert which I get to be a part of. We will be playing pieces by Holst, Mussorgsky, Mackey, and variations piece for Bagpipe and Band. Then February 25th I'll be reunited with my friends from King's Brass down in Florida to perform for a weekend.

It's gonna be a good month, and hopefully I'll do a better job at blogging than the last few months (or the lack thereof)

Jer (Hebrews 13:21)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Two Lessons on Failure

Hello All,
Here are two writings that have really helped me in the past week with failure and how to keep everything in perspective. The first is from a wonderful pastor in Charlotte, NC. Pastor Steven Furtick is the lead pastor at Elevation Church and is seeing rapid growth in the church as well as in the city.

It Wasn't a Failure

This second writing is from Coach Jim Tressel, the head football coach at The Ohio State University. He has become a man I highly admire not only as a great coach (Go Bucks!) but also a great human being. This excerpt is from his book The Winner's Manual, a book that he gives all of his football players during spring practice, and is very insightful for all walks of life.

"Each year, I get a lot of cards and letters from people who write me long, heartfelt messages: 'Coach, I just wanted to tell you how sorry I am about the loss..You must be devastated".....I read those letters, and I appreciate the sentiment. I know the people who wrote them care.....but I have to say that I have never had a loss as a head coach that devastated me....Flip [that] around. When we win a big game, I get letters and emails and notes about being at the pinnacle of the sport and about how my career has great meaning and blah, blah, blah. Yes, winning the big one is great. It's a wonderful feeling to see the confetti coming down.....But honestly, I don't feel any different about myself during the presentation of the trophy than I did before the game.
"It can be difficult to keep that perspective, however, because the sportswriters and interviewers focus simply on whether you won or lost. You're either a good guy or a bad guy. To me, that's what persistence is about. Persistence takes the focus away from the performance and puts it on the process.....The bad things that happened didn't make you a failure. Those were simply EVENTS, not reflections on you as a person.
"After a loss or a disappointing performance, go back to the problem, analyze it, ask what you can learn from it, figure out how to do it right and how you are going to visualize doing it right the next time. Remember, the fact that you didn't achieve the desired outcome doesn't mean YOU are a failure. It simply means that the plan you had in place didn't work, so you have to get better. If you don't improve, you may no longer be employed--but that doesn't make you a failure either. Everything that happens--good and bad--should motivate you to be PERSISTENT. When things don't go your way, back up and start over. Learn what you can do to improve, and get back in the game."

Thanks for reading!

From J-man
(Hebrews 13:21)