Friday, December 5, 2008

The end of a long journey

Hello all,
Well Wednesday was the end of a long and tiring journey. I mailed out four copies of my audition excerpts for the ITF trombone competition. These past two weeks have been filled with much work and intense focus. Many I was out past midnight working on excerpts and getting them just right. Being able to record on my own at my own time did wonders for me. I was able to get the excerpts to be just right. One song took me 16 tries to get it just right (two nights worth). Another took me about 26 attempts. All in all, I recorded over 80 attempts for just 5 excerpts and 1 solo. And I am very pleased with the finished product. Two things from this experience of recording is that I could do it as many times as I wanted to make it just right; however the flip side is I won't be able to play Bolero 16 times in front of a live audition committee. :)
But being able to play these excerpts over and over and listening back to what I heard helped me so much with listening to how I want it to sound. A lot of good habits were made during this experience. One thing that stuck out the most to me was my sense of rhythm. As I listened back to many of the selections I noticed that there wouldn't be a steady beat. This took much to fix, and it was really exciting when I did play them with a steady beat. The other side is that this will have happen to be a key part in ALL excerpts that I prepare now. But the good thing is now that I have instilled a habit of keeping a steady, internal beat that that is overflowing into my work with ensemble and practicing other pieces.
So what's in store for me now? Well there is a very similar competition in Minnesota that I have to send in an audition tape of some different pieces--some are the same. Also, I will be applying for some more openings that have popped up recently. One particular is the Dayton (OH) Philharmonic. But the big BIG thing is now my Junior recital. My music came in yesterday, and I am really looking forward to preparing for it these next few months. :)
A lot of good things going on in this journey that I am excited about and great looking forward to it.
So what to do now? Whelp I'm gonna go practice now :)

I end with this quote by Martin Luther. May this be my desire as a Christian who happens to be a trombonist: "Next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise. The gift of language combined with the gift of song was given to man that he should proclaim the Word of God through music."

J-man (Romans 12:1-2)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

a long time

Hello All,
Wow it has been a LONG time since I wrote on here. But I guess it's because I have just been plain busy. The past few weeks I have been recording excerpts and listening to playbacks. Last week I did some intense recordings. I have been recording the excerpts individually, and I have learned a lot about my playing.
Three things are really becoming aware to me that I have heard others (higher up) say they listen for in an audition. In time--In tune--with a great sound. At times I have wondered if I have to be really nit-picky about my playing. But a question my dad mentioned to me that came from his former teacher is "Would you buy a recording of that?" And honestly, there are a few times I have thought maybe I'll let this little thing slide. But then I have to think I'm wanting to give the listeners my best foot forward so in one sense "no shortcuts." One excerpt it took me 15 tries to get it the way I liked it. BUT that 16th time when I played it back, I was very excited and yelled, "Yes, Yes!"
Tonight was a frustrating session with a particular excerpt because I just could not play it in time. I spent a good half-hour to 45 minutes on the excerpt, but had to leave not picking one of the recordings. Yea it was frustrating (it showed in intramurals) to leave on a damper, but it's an excerpt where you can lose a lot of gas and need to rest the lips to play it well. So tomorrow I will pick up where I left off tomorrow.
Three excerpts left to record, and then this long journey will come to an end; the rest will be in God's hands, and it'll be time to move on to a new and exciting journey.

This is going to be a busy, but rewarding week

Disziplin und Hingabe wird gewinnen den Tag.

J-man (Romans 12:1-2)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Time to Buckle Down

Hello All,

These next few weeks are going to be quite busy with the trombone. I have been preparing for months for the International Trombone Festival's Lewis Van Haney Philharmonic Prize. This competition is a mock "audition" that is judged by some of the best professionals in the world, and trombonists all over the world with the same ambitions as myself enter the competition striving for the same goal. I entered the competition last year for the first time and scored below averages, so this year, I would like to score much better than last year (who wouldn't).

As I said much preparation has gone into playing these excerpts: recording, listening, outside trombone lessons. All of this has helped immensely, and now it is getting close to "gametime". The deadline for these excerpts to be turned in is December 5th. So from now until then much will be spent doing detailed listening and playbacks from the recordings and actual recording for the competition. I was talking to a friend tonight, and she feels that it's time to buckle down in the schoolwork after a break last week and some rest this past weekend. I feel the same way.

So these next few weeks I'm going to try work my tail off to do the absolute best that I can. I ask for your prayers that I will be focused on the task at hand, stay studious in my schoolwork, and above all, stay close to my Best Friend through all of this. Because of what He has done for me, I want to give back and give honor to Him by submitting the best possible work that I am physically and musically able to do. To my close friend, It's all for YOU.

I've been waiting a good while for this journey..........see you at the end of the trail!!

J-man (Psalm 31:14-16)

Monday, October 27, 2008

My "first" trombone lesson

Hello All,

Well this fall break weekend will definitely be one to remember. Yesterday I was able to have a trombone lesson, with Peter Sullivan, principal trombonist of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. This is the first of many future lessons with different professionals. And it was a good one to start off with this new endeavor.

We scheduled the lesson to be at 10 in the morning, so I woke up at 7 A.M., warmed up at 8; ate brkfast and on the road just before 9. (I haven't been this structured in a long time, but I kinda liked it). btw, kudos to John's mom to making a "trombone" breakfast and allowing me to eat well. I arrived at his house, and it was kinda what I expected--basement with trombones everywhere. His first words when he saw me were, "Holy Toledo, you're tall!! Good lung capacity then"

So for the next hour and a half, I played excerpts for him. Basically the top 10 and some that I'm working with towards the ITF competition in December. He was very helpful in my approaches to the excerpts and with style for some of them. All in all, he reminded me a little bit of my current teacher, Jim Kraft, but he had different approaches to some excerpts which I was really glad about. In general, he was a really nice guy and was very helpful. I am particularly glad that towards the end of the lesson, he asked me "Now what are you gonna take away from this lesson?"

And so here's a few things I got from it: 1) I need to get in the "groove" before I play the excerpt--hear what else is going on in the orchestra and have that in my mind; 2) for some excerpts, it might be better to play the excerpts in a different style--for example, why not play the Wagner Die Walkure like a Bordogni/Rochut etude. It helps you listen for intonation which leads to 3) I have to be brutally disciplined when it comes to intonation and rhythm 4) and I need to work on getting a more orchestral sound--playing more fully and just round and whole. It's there at times, but needs to be consistent. Basically, playing in tune, in time, with a great sound will hands down get you that job.

All in all, Peter Sullivan had some really great helpful and encouraging comments for me. And it was great to have another person's "ears" and opinions with my playing, especially from a respected trombonist in a major symphony orchestra. What a fun day (more to come with that) and just another step, I believe, in showing this is what I believe the good Lord has for me. It really really is a fun journey!! :-)

J-man (Psalm 31:14-16)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Finding the Balance

Hello All,
So a couple days ago I was in the coffee shop on campus reading the Good Book like I normally do around 1 or so, and a thought formulated in my mind. While reading the book of Isaiah, I came across an interesting thought about Hezekiah. First, he was a man of prayer and was a God-fearing man. Second there are some pretty exciting stories involving his life. One being Hezekiah prayed for the Good Lord to deliver Israel from the Assyrians. And He does. kills 185,000 actually and delivers Israel.
Now I am not wanting to be a Bible-beater here; but there is a tie with trombone and God here--though you'll never get it off the bat. Two things, I got out of reading these two chapters were:
(1) Prayer is one of the most direct ways of communicating with God our desires, needs, and giving Him praise. And having that communication is effective--even though it may not be the answer we want, having a "conversation" with our Father is so key in our walk with Him. (James 5:16)

(2) I have to admit when I read that part about the 185,000 being killed and how God answered Hezekiah's prayer about sparing him death, I went "Whoa!" It's pretty awesome when I come across things like that. And pretty exciting!!

Then I got to thinking, I think there are more times that I'm excited about trombone stuff than about spiritual stuff. Now don't take me wrong, many times I get excited about playing the trombone and seeing the Lord's work in my journey with the trombone. But I think it may have been a while when I got excited just about the Good Book and the relevant stories pertaining to my life.

This is where that balance comes in. Maybe I need to do more reading with the Good Book, especially these kind of stories where I see the good Lord working. If anything, being excited about God should always trump being excited about the trombone. Ask my friends, I talk aheckuva lot about the trombone, and boy is it exciting!! But I'm beginning to think I also to need to talk a lot about God, the Good Book, and awesome spiritual things. It's funny too, because those things are there in my life--it's not that it's not happening--but to be a professing believer, maybe I should have that balance of professing my excitement about the trombone as well as professing my excitement about what a gracious, loving Father has done in my life.

Whelp have a good day today :-)

J-man (Psalm 31:14-16)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Results from my 540 Week

Hello All,
Well today is the start of a new week, and some of you may be wondering how I fared last week with my practicing and here are the results. I practiced a total of 375 minutes for the week. Yea it is a few shy of my intended, on the contrary, it was one of my best weeks of practicing. I made much much progress, and I could tell a difference in my excerpt playing especially. And I had one of my best lessons as well a few days ago. Progress is being made no doubt!!
So what do I do now? Whelp, I think I'm gonna shoot for that goal of 375 if not higher. I am not very consistent from a week-to-week basis. So for this week I will try to match and exceed that 375. I think it will actually be harder than last week, but I can do it :)

J-man (Ps. 31:14-16)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A 540 week

Hello All,
So I have decided to make this a 540 week, meaning I will practice 540 minutes this week. Sounds easy right? Actually, since I started going to college, I don't believe I have practice over 500 minutes (which is sad). So this evening I made it a goal to practice 540 minutes from Monday through Saturday of this week.
So to break it down to meet that goal, I would only have to practice 90 minutes a day from now until Saturday. which would be two 45 minute practice sessions--very attainable. May be wondering c'mon can't you do more than that. Possibly but factor in rehearsals daily (pep band, orchestra, brass), and there's a lot of playing going on.
But it can be done, then when I hit that, I'll move up the minutes. A lot of determination will be needed especially toward the end of the week. It will pay off, I'm sure of it; and this will definitely help with preparing for the upcoming competitions. I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes from Ed Kleinhammer, retired bass trombonist of the Chicago Symphony:

"World-class trombone players do not just happen. Their talents are forged in the dual furnaces of determination and diligence."

I have this quote taped to my locker. May be I should pull a Notre Dame tradition of hitting it each time before I practice. I'm already off to a good start for having gone 90 on Monday. Let's see if I can keep going. I'll update ya'll on Sunday regardless of the outcome.

All right practice room!!.....YOU'RE MINE!!


PS Almost wanna say pray for me.................nah...........for the sake of my brother I won't :-)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

So Far and Commitments

Hello All,
Well so far, I have had a good semester. Some of my classes are easy; some are difficult...but those are the ones I like. I have been spending much more time with practicing, and focusing on trombone stuff. I have been receiving information about graduate schools, and there are a few that have caught my attention. One of them is the San Francisco Conservatory. I know I know SAN FRANCISCO!!! It's hard to believe that I am considering the other side of the country, but I don't know if I am just a little crazy, or if this could be a possibility. Who knows but only the Good Lord. It's hard to say right now, and there are many factors involved in picking a school and getting into it, but I got more on my plate to worry about than grad school.
But for now I have been focusing a lot on excerpts and going through a top 40 list, just to know them backwards and forwards. There are a few competitions I am looking into entering. The Van Haney Philharmonic Prize which I entered last year, and personally wasn't too pleased with how I did. Another competition I am going to being looking into is the Zellmer-Minnesota Orchestra Trombone Competition which is much like the Van Haney Competition. The great thing is over half the excerpts asked are found in both competitions. One last thing that I will be sending a resume in for is the opening for a principal/assistant principal trombone in the National Symphony Orchestra, my teacher's orchestra right before he came to Grace.
So as you can see there is a lot going on this school year!! Oh and how could I forget my Junior recital in the spring. Even today I was looking into some possible pieces and can not wait to play. With all of these competitions, auditions, and recitals, I realized that I have to make some commitments....long-term commitments. The Van Haney Prize requirements are not due until December, so I have to (HAVE TO) start working now on the required excerpts. And I am excited about these next few months, and how much growth and progress there will be--especially with my "new toy."
I was talking with a friend a few nights ago about what I wanted to do in life, and they thought it was so exciting. Playing in a professional orchestra...exciting? I have to admit I just love talking about what I think the Good Lord wants me to do. I can't help but be excited about these opportunities. It can be a long journey, but boy oh boy, I think it will be a fun one. It has been so far! I'm enjoying this journey and absolutely can not wait to see where the Good Lord will take me in graduate school and/or an orchestra. San Francisco? Chicago? Nashville? Zurich? It could be anywhere, and that's what makes it so exciting, cuz I have no clue about anything!!
I close with being reminded of a scene in Gods and Generals where a adjutant asks General Stonewall Jackson what they should do about some desserters of the Stonewall Brigade. Jackson says that we are to do our duty by sending them through court martial; the rest is up to God. That's the way I feel about all of this--I gotta do my duty as a Christian trombone player, and let God do the rest.
Sure takes some pressure off of me!! :)

Whelp gonna go and practice some more William Tell and Rhenish!!

J-man (Ps. 31:14-16)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A New Toy

Hello All,
A few weeks ago, I ordered a new toy and it arrived in the mail last week. I am told that every aspiring orchestral trombonist should own a digital audio recorder so I finally had enough money to purchase a Zoom H2 Recording Device. It is inexpensive compared to other recorders, but the quality is superb. I did some research on them and it is very small (fits into my hand), but it can pick up the faintest type of sound. And it is a clear sound.
Digital recording devices are almost like a personal teacher because you are able to playback excerpts or anything that you record and be able to critique yourself. This summer I worked with one and noticed things I haven't heard before in just the little time that I used it. And wow!! Now that I have one, I have picked up many things in my playing whether it be something in my basic warm-up or working on the Bolero excerpt. Also a great feature is I can record something, put it on my computer, then burn it to a disc. This will be great for competition entries or just to make a recording. It will save money cuz I won't have to pay for someone to make a recording, and I can spend as much time recording to make sure it's the best I can do.
Having this new "toy" I think will help me take the next step in my playing and preparing for auditions. I can already sense that there will be much progress now, and I am very excited for the upcoming weeks and months to see how far I go!!

J-Man (Ps. 31:14-15)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Grow Spiritually. Grow Musically. Be a Good Friend.

Grow Spiritually. Grow Musically. Be a Good Friend.

As I embark on another year of college life, I decided that with all that has happened this summer, I need something to keep me going. These statements are going to be my goal/mission/motto for the 2008-2009 school year.
The first two phrases are something my father told me at the beginning of last year when I was dealing with some relationship things. He told me that the two things I need to worry about in my life are to grow spiritually and to grow musically and nothing else matters. I reminded myself of those things throughout the school and this past summer, but recently it has REALLY hit home with me. Grant it, I'm a year older but it is sinking in even more now.
The third phrase is one that I pondered quite a bit this summer, and realized that's all I can really do at times. Being a good friend to somebody can be worth more than anything else in the world. A person may not being looking for somebody at all, but they sure do need encouragement and someone to be there when the goin' gets rough. And I want to strive to be that friend.
So these phrases are what I think will drive to keep going in the faith, in the 'ole trombone, and in my friendships. It's gonna be a relatively easier school year than from past years, but my work ethic is going to keep improving. I have much free time during the days which allows me to practice practice practice, and also volunteer at a local high school marching band--giving back what the Good Lord has given to me. That is one thing I have learned big time while working at the theatre this summer.
There is much to look forward to this school year and the good Lord is gonna have somethin' excitin' for me--I know it.
Whelp now I'm gotta get in that "practice, practice, practice" mode!!

J-man (Psalm 31:14-16)

The end of my first professional gig

Hello All,
Well my first professional gig ended this past Saturday at the Wagon Wheel. Our last show was Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, and it was a real fun show to play and "move" to :) 50s rock 'n roll sure was fun to play, and will add a twist to me directing the Pep Band this year.
Theatre work sure has its ups and downs, but I certainly liked paying this summer. And the shows they did this summer had much variety in the musical world. Grant it, I haven't had much experience in theater beforehand, but the Wagon Wheel is quite a theatre professionally. Met some great people, worked in a great and new environment for me.
I loved playing though so much fun, especially the last show. Just enjoyin' the music!! Ya know, I was thinking recently that you know you are working at a great place when you forget what day payday is. It was so much fun, and great experience for me. Opened up new doors for me, and it would be great if I could do it again sometime in the near future.
Thanks for reading!!

J-man (Psalm 31:14-16)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Graduate School Lookout

Hello All,
Even though I still have two more years of undergraduate work ahead of me, it's coming around that time to look at schools. Before I go on I do wanna say that when graduation ends in 2010 if I have a choice between an orchestra or graduate school, I would pick the orchestra. But I must be ready for the next step, if the Good Lord wills it. And I remember it was the summer before my junior year in HS that I began looking at schools. So I prepared a list of schools I would be interested in and emailed them all today when I literally had MASSIVE amounts of free time during a tech rehearsal today. Here is the list of schools and their teachers, and as of right now, it's only a partial, but thorough list(no particular order):

Juilliard (NYC)--Joseph Alessi, Per Brevig, James Markey
Manhattan School of Music (NYC)--Per Brevig, David Finlayson, David Taylor
Mannes College the New School for Music (NYC)--Per Brevig, James Markey, David Taylor
Northwestern University (Chicago)--Michael Mulcahy, Peter Ellefson, Charles Vernon
Chicago College of Performing Arts (Chicago)--Jay Friedman, Peter Ellefson
Indiana University (Bloomington)--Peter Ellefson, Carl Lenthe, M. Dee Stewart
Eastman School of Music (Rochester)--John Marcellus, Mark Kellogg
San Francisco Conservatory of Music --Mark Lawrence, Paul Welcomer, John Engelkes
NC School of the Arts (Winston-Salem)--James Miller

It's quite a list, but nothing compared to my undergraduate looking (info from 40 colleges, visited 12 of those). However, there is much that goes into finding the right school. Two men I respect quite highly have written articles on choosing a trombone studio and teacher/student expectations. It would be great to maybe get lessons with a few of these guys listed above before I actually audition at particular schools 'n all.
Like I said, I sent emails out today requesting info about some programs, and some schools already emailed me back. San Francisco had an actual admissions person email a detailed note about the trombone program and ways to get in touch with the faculty. So they get a couple points in my book. Wouldn't that be something--an East Coast boy, going to a Midwest college, ending up at a WEST coast graduate school. Whelp the Good Lord has done stranger things :)
But we'll see all that the Good Lord has for me in the very small beginnings of a new transition. Gracious me!!! I still have junior and senior recitals to get through!!! But heck, those will be loads of fun and I can't wait.
In the meantime, I'll keep ya posted on all that goes on with grad school and/or when that BIG gig comes.

J-man (Ps. 31:14-15)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Redemption and 50s Rock 'n Roll

Wow!! We had our first rehearsal today for the Buddy Holly musical, and the music is awesome awesome!! We're playing some great music, and it's fairly easy music, which makes it more fun to play and I can enjoy what I'm doing. The horn section is great. I'm standing next to this Doc in Jazz music who plays a mean tenor sax. And all the other musicians? Whewwweee. Comment was made we might have to get my dance shows on when we ain't playing. We gonna be putting a little groove in the Wagon Wheel Theatre, and boooooy it sure is gonna be a lot of fun!!

On a more 'redemptive' note, I received an email from the Symphony secretary telling us that a conference over in Fort Wayne were in need of some musicians. I emailed them and they are in need of a trombone player for their orchestra. It is for Redemption 08 which will be held in the Coliseum over at the Fort in October. Apparently, we're going to be playing were artists,Steve Green, Jimmy Wayne, and a few other Nashville artists. I can't wait to play in this orchestra!! The music already sounds great, and it reminds of my days of playing in the Rejoice Orchestra...except it has a beat haha

Here's the website and I think my picture will be on the website as well.

J-man (Ps. 31:14-16)

Monday, August 11, 2008

My Week Off

This past week I took a week off from playing the 'ole trombone. Not substantial, but just some time to give the lips a little rest. Last sunday (8/3) I played in a close friend's wedding in Indianapolis not even 24-hours after a show in Warsaw. After playing for a half-hour straight, my lips felt like rubber, and I decided I would not play for a week since I would be off from the theater. It was a relaxing week, did some long biking and little running.
Today I got back into playing and grant it wasn't superb but playing the fundamentals felt really good. And actually purposely not playing last week got me more excited to start back up again. So I'm can not wait to get back into the thick of things with my playing :)

J-man (Ps. 31:14-16)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Wagon Wheel Theatre

Well my time at the Wheel is coming to a close for the summer. I have also enjoyed my time there. I don't really consider that my job; rather it is me enjoying what I love to do and getting paid for it :) I had a back-to-back show with Guys and Dolls and Unsinkable Molly Brown. Guys and Dolls definitely my favorite show so far. Molly Brown was a great show as well. The music was by the guy who wrote 76 Trombones, so you know there was some good bone stuff :) During this time, I was able to hang out with the company with skate nights and other things. They were a great group of people to work with, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with them.
Kinda sad we won't all be together for the last show, but I've been looking forward to this one all summer. Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story is our last show, and I will actually be performing on stage!! This will be sooo much fun, and i've heard the music is not hard at all. I cannot wait til rehearsals start for that show
Summer is comin' to a close which means school is a coming. Getting excited to getting back :)

From J-man (Ps. 31:14-16)

Masterworks Festival

Well it has been a while since I have written on here, but my summer has been going great. Masterworks Festival was extremely motivating and rejuvenating. My first week we played Brahms Symphony One and that brought the house down. All my life I have listened to and loved that piece. I have known of the famous chorale for years, and never dreamed I would be able to play it at this age. What an experience to play first part.
The second week was double duty. We played Dvorak's 6th symphony which though I never knew the piece it was an experience unlike any other. I don't think I have ever played that loud in my life. We reach 90-100 decibels that night (that's loud!!) Then the following night we played a patriotic pops concert (July 4th) which was fun as well. All in all, thoroughly thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to play with some great musicians and strong Christians. I definitely miss them all, and cannot wait to hopefully go back next year as a full-time student.
As a sidenote, musicians can be athletes and quite good. Over my two week period there, I played basketball with my orchestra conductor (how weird is that) and a member of the orchestra. He was quite shorter than me and beat me many times in One-on-One. And my buddy from Indiana University, he was good too (of course, he's from Indiana).
It was goooooood times, and I learned a lot about myself :)

From J-man (Ps. 31:14-16)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Cool Video

hey I found this video on Chris Rice's (the musician) Blog recently. Inspiring in some ways Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Masterworks Festival

Hello all,
These next two weeks I'm going to be playing in the Masterworks Festival Orchestra and helping them fill some spots in the trombone section.
The Masterworks Festival is a Christian performing arts festival that trains musicians, actors, and dancers in a rigorous environment. You could consider it the "Christian" Aspen festival because the teachers they bring are some of the best performers out there in major orchestras and teaching posts as well.
These next two weeks I don't have any duties with Wagon Wheel so I have been given the opportunity to play and intermingle with the masterworks people. The orchestra I'm in will be performing Brahms First symphony on friday. This piece has been one of my favorites since I was literally a little kid. And this piece is often asked on auditions due to the sectional playing in the last movement (the only place where the trombones play). So it is going to be great experience being able to play first part on this absolutely beautiful piece. :)

From J-man

The length of hair

So my hair is actually getting long. ya know the long kind that goes past the ears and is touching the collar (against certain standards in some parts of the world). Yea that long.........and it's AWESOME!!

from J-man

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Joy of God and Trombone: Together as One

Hello All,
A good friend of mine and myself recently were at an assisted living facility leading a group hymn sing-a-long with the 'ole folk there. I normally don't lead but the regular leader was out of town due to wedding bells. The last time we were at the hymn sing-a-long one of the gentlemen asked me if I brought my trombone to play. Sad to say, I didn't that Sunday but this Sunday I decided I would since it seemed like he was always wanting me to bring it. Well it was his lucky day because it was his birthday as well.
I played happy birthday for him and everyone sang to him, then we began singing some hymns. I led a few songs by voice and others by playing the trombone. Towards the end of the time, they were all just wanting me to play. So I did and let them join in with singing if they wanted to. It was a grand time. I thought of how Homer Rodeheaver used to do the same thing when leading Billy Sunday revivals. I never had really done that sort of thing, leading a sing-a-long by trombone.............but honestly I had always wanted to :-)
We got towards the end and I finished with a couple great hymns of the faith. I ended the time with the hymn "How Great Thou Art" because it has such a beautiful melody and truth. While I was playing I noticed one of the ladies had her eyes closed, head tilted back, smile on her face, and just listening to the words. This was so exciting for me for a few reasons. One was I remember hearing a story once of 'ole George Roberts (considered "Mr. Bass Trombone") playing simple melodies of the Sinatra era for his wife. And he always knew she was enjoying the song whenever she had her eyes closed and a smile on her face. As I saw that it made me think how a simple hymn melody allows a person to engage in the Joy of God and engage in praising/worshiping God. No words; just music.
It also reminded me that I play the trombone because I enjoy playing the trombone. It's that simple. And I enjoy the Joy of the Lord. What better way to enjoy both things at the same time with other people.

ENJOY the Joy of God and the Joy of Music

From J-man
(Psalm 31:14-15)

Sunday, June 1, 2008

My Purpose with the 'Ole Trombone

Hello All,
About a week ago, my parents and I went down to the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina for Memorial Day. This place at first sight looks dedicated to a man who literally has gone everywhere for one purpose--give the Gospel of Christ to others. But this is not the case. This ministry (billy graham evangelism association) has built a museum about Billy's life and ministry in order to proclaim the Gospel of Christ. It is just another tool God is using to further His Word. All in all, the library is very inspiring and motivating, showing how a man fulfilled The Great Commission.
We were in the Prayer Garden where Ruth Graham is buried and we're singing with some others and an elder man asked if any of us with like to give a testimony. So I did and explained how with my trombone playing, it is a ministry. Many times we consider ministry being working at a church or Christian organization, but everything we as Believers do is for ministry if we have the right focus.
And there is no difference in the music business. It can be a lost world, and very self-proclaimed world. I was reminded of Matthew 5 where Christ talks about being salt and light. Playing my trombone is a witness to others and it is my ministry. My Christianity, my relationship with Christ comes first. Christ is everything and nothing else matters. He gave me the talent to play the 'ole trombone, why not play really well for Him. So I have to work my tail to be just as good and better than the next guy.
My goal is to be a Christian who happens to be a Trombonist, not be a Trombonist who happens to be a Christian.

From J-man
Psalm 31:14-15

Wagon Wheel and Trombone

Wow!!! it seemed like the month of May would never end, but June is finally here. And it is the start of a truly exciting summer. Last time I wrote on here I was in the Dallas airport leaving from a successful experience with an audition is San Antonio. Leaving there has pushed me to keep going in my trombone experience. I emailed the audition coordinator with the SASO about if I could receive the judges' comments from the audition. I knew there probably wouldn't be much to comment being that I played for about a minute. But every little bit helps.
So I was able to receive a phone call from San Antonio's principal trumpet who was a judge, and she gave some very beneficial comments. She was encouraging about how to prepare myself for future auditions. Two things were gained from my conversation with her. The first was it's funny how she told me some of the same things my teacher told me, about constantly recording yourself and truly listening to pitch, rhythm, and just the sound. Second was particularly with the Mozart Requiem. I thought this was one of the best times I played it, but she commented on some pitch issues. This goes to show that had I listened more to myself taped I could have made adjustments. Plus my ear had come immune to what it was hearing and thought it was good. But all in all, a fruitful conversation on the phone.
A friend recently asked me what is next for Jeremy Smith. Well, this summer I have the opportunity to play at the Wagon Wheel Theatre in their pit orchestra. The professional theater is located in Warsaw, Indiana where Grace College is so I know the area very well. The music is difficult which is the way I like it because I can't blow it off. Our first show is the Wizard of Oz, and it is some fun music :-)
In regards to auditions, there are two competitions I'm going to work towards. One is in December. It is the International Trombone Association Lewis Van Haney Philharmonic Prize, which is basically a mock audition competition. I entered last year but didn't score too well. The other is in February. It is the Zellmer Trombone Competition sponsored by the Minnesota Orchestra. Again this competition is a mock audition competition. Both are first judged by audition tapes, so I will need to focus much more on listening to myself via recording myself.
Whelp that's what is going on in the life of Jeremy Smith and his 'ole trombone.

Jeremy (Psalm 31:4-15)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Wrap-up of my first symphony audition

Goooood morning,

Whelp this has been an exciting trip. Missing flights, sleeping in airports, walking from concourse to concourse. The list could go on and on. As I look back I have no regrets of coming here at all. It was a FANTASTIC first audition. Even though I did not achieve my goal, I learned so much from this experience, and how to prepare even harder for the next time this comes. I am still quite young and have many years ahead of me; but it is gonna come quicker than you think. So I have to start preparing now.
I enjoyed the experience so much. Being able to play the Tuba Mirum in a humongous sanctuary was a real treat. And it sound beautiful. That is what I'll focuson. Sure I made a mistake or two on other parts but if I focus on that gorgeous sound from the Mozart, and strive to have the other pieces be of that same quality, something good is gonna happen. It's gonna take a lot of work though, but I'm up for the challenge!!
This whole experience has just motivated me to work even harder because now I have a sense of what needs to be attained. It sometimes take a failure to be successful, and to show you where you are. I know where I am musically, and I have seen where I need to get. .
Whelp, I am currently in the Dallas airport waiting for my flight which is in a few hours---my brother kinda punished me for missing my flight by sending me here earlier than usual. Thanks again for all of your support and prayers. What a tremendous group of friends!!

Time to get some Mickey D's.

From J-man (Psalm 31:14-15)

Monday, May 5, 2008

One and Done (kinda long)

Whelp, I auditioned today. Woke up around 9:00 or so, got some breakfast and warmed up this morning (and it was a good warmup too, felt reeel good). Then my brother and I just sat around the room for a little bit, then we ate some lunch. Then we came back to the room and headed off to the First Presbyterian Church. I checked in and got more number to play and then I sat somewhere away from everybody just so I didn't have to hear people talk about their music classes or what school they go to (and they did). Naw, I just opened up the Good Book and starting reading some passages.
All morning and before the audition, my brother noticed I wasn't talking much, and I wasn't. I was thinking about the music I was to play, singing it through my head, and just trying to be focused on the task at hand. And even when I got there I wanted to be by myself to just stay focused. And I felt good going into the warm-up time right before the audition. It was interesting, once I was able to warm-up at the church I felt so much more relaxed when I started playing hymns. I was real glad that that happened. Whelp I still had the music going through my head 'n all, and I found out what excerpts they were specifically going to ask so I started looking over them much. I didn't play through them much, just motioning the slide positions 'n all. Then they called me again, and right before I went in to audition, I went to another room to warm-up. Then the moment came.....The audition room was the main sanctuary of the presbyterian church. And Holy Toledo was it big. It had this HUGE pipe organ in the back. It was awesome!!!
They have a screen setup so you don't see the judges, which doesn't make it as nerve-racking in my mind. The excerpts asked were (only will matter to musicians):
Mozart--Requiem "Tuba Mirum"
Berlioz--Hungarian March from The Damnation of Faust
Rossini--La Gazza Ladra Overture
Saint-Saens--Symphony No. 3
Wagner--Ride of the Valkyries
I started playing the Mozart piece (which if some may remember I played the solo for a symphony of the lakes concert), and boy was that a real treat to play it in the big sanctuary, and it sounded goooood. Then I played the berlioz, then the rossini and someone said "thank you." So I walked out, and the Monitor said the Mozart sounded really nice. So the results got announced a little while after, and I didn't make it and no one from that hour advanced. I didn't know if it was all six excerpts had to be played or if they cut short to save time. But I found out later that if they cut you short basically you won't advance.
So to wrap things up, I played three of the six excerpts, got to learn somewhat how the audition process works, and got to play the Mozart Requiem solo in a very big sanctuary. I was probably the youngest guy there, at least from what I could tell (saw many people with facial hair so I knew I was younger). Am I upset or mad? Ain't one bit, it was a great first experience. Still much more practicing to do, and work to do, but I am very glad I was able to have this great opportunity.
Thank you so much for the support and prayers. You don't know how appreciative I am of all of you supporting me. It means a lot. My brother gave me the idea to have a continuous blog going on about my journey to an orchestra so that is why the title changed.

God is good and I am excited to see what he's gonna do with me and the 'ole trombone:-)

From J-man (Psalm 31:14-15)


Well after spending 7 hours in Chicago O'Hare, I finally was be able to get a flight to Dallas by way of stand-by. Biggest lesson learned, don't ever miss your check-in time!!! I was so tired throughout those seven hours because I had to walk back-and-forth hoping to get on the next flight. I was able to get an hour long nap on the waiting chairs for those worried about my sleep. I got on the flight to Dallas at 1:05 p.m. and thankfully my suitcase was waiting for me at the baggage claim when I arrived (it left on the 9:45a.m. flight). I was able to do some buzzing while I waited for my brother and sister-in-law to pick me up. We left Dallas around 5:45 p.m. and pulled into San Antonio right around 10:00 this evening. I once again was able to take a short nap in the car, and was able to spend time just looking at the excerpts and singing them through my head with the slide positions as well.

So tomorrow is the big day, I'm excited, the family is excited, even the hotel clerk told me good luck. It could be a long day tomorrow, but I don't know for sure. I'll just have to wait and see. I appreciate your prayers and support; they do mean a lot to me. I'll keep ya posted on what happens tomorrow. (btw, i'll audition between 2-3 p.m. CST)

Off to get some more sleep.

From J-man (Psalm 31:14-15)

Sunday, May 4, 2008

God's Lightbulb

Well after a restless evening I made it to Chicago. My flight left Indy at 5:54 and arrived at Chicago just before 6:00 a.m. (CST). And let me to tell you, I got to see something that I don't think I have ever seen before. While we were flying into O'Hare, I had the city of Chicago to my left and Lake Michigan to my right. And looking out to the right I got to see the sun rise on Lake Michigan. Holy Toledo was it a gorgeous sight!!!! Not a cloud in the sky; all around the sun is a pinkish color fading into blue, and there it was--God's Lightbulb shining on a calm, serene lake that was smooth as silk. My oh my and it sure helped to have David Crowder playing in my ear with songs like "The Glory of it All" or "Everything Glorious" WOW WOW!!! In one sense it was worth it to miss my earlier flight, just to be able to see a picture that no artist could draw. What a Creator we have!!

Whelp now I'm gonna get some breakfast, and go back to watching more of God's most precious possession.

From, J-man (Matthew 5:14-16)

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Planes, Airports, and Chick-fil-A

Hello All,

Well today was a fascinating day. We ate then I packed up everything to send over to Byers. Unfortunately I took a little longer than expected--was signed up to check out of my room at 1:30 but didn't get checked out probably until around 2:30ish. A friend of mine was going to drive to Kokomo where another friend would pick me up to take me to the airport. Well I didn't leave Grace until 3:30 and my flight was at 6:42 p.m. in Indianapolis. We hurried but I got to the check-in line and found out that I was too late--I missed the check-in. I tried to see if I could get on the next flight out tonight, but I was not able to because my ticket was nonrefundable. Well I called the agency to see what to do, and I could have flown out on Monday (the day of the audition).
So I called my oldest brother, to see what strings he could pull. We looked everywhere from booking another flight to checking other airlines. Unfortunately the last flight out of Indy was at 8:40 p.m. which was not available. Well to make a long process and story very concise, My brother (what-a-guy) must have done the best sweet-talk you ever heard on the phone (probably said "i apologize for my IDIOT little brother"). They (United Airlines) worked it out for me to get on the next flight to Chicago and then to Dallas. The first flight from Indy to Chicago is at 5:54 in the morning. So i need to check-in around 4:30 and hope there is an opening for a seat on the flight to Chicago. Then the flight from Chicago to Dallas leaves around 8:00. So if all works out I should end up in Dallas around 10:30 Sunday morning which will work out perfectly fine to still get to San Antonio in good order.
So I am going to spend the night in the Indianapolis International Airport, and I am actually kind of excited about it. Once the whole process was complete, I got to get a bite to eat from Chick-fil-A (CFA) which was exciting. As weird as it is, I am looking forward to staying in the airport overnight. I could have got a hotel, but who would want to do that. It's all about the experience. So the more and the more I think about this, it is cool, kind of like of an adventure that everyone should go through.
But I hafta remind myself: JEREMY NEXT TIME BE READY TO LEAVE ON TIME and I could be in Dallas by now!!!! Maybe I pull out the 'ole trombone and play some hymns for a little worship service since it is Sunday.

Whelp that is where I am CURRENTLY, still in Indianapolis.

I'm gonna try to get some shut-eye now. Set the alarm for 4:00 in the morning (if you want to call to make sure I wake up you are more than welcome to) and I'll check-in at 4:30 when the kiosk opens up. I hope and pray it all works out for me to hit each spot tomorrow morning.

Thanks for the support and prayers :-)

J-man (Genesis 2:2-3)

Friday, May 2, 2008

San Antonio, Here I come

Hello All,
Whelp I leave for San Antonio tomorrow (Saturday) evening from Indianapolis. I'll be flying into Dallas around 11:00 pm (CST) then my brother and I will drive to San Antonio on Sunday. I am getting more and more excited to go down there, and the time is coming closer. I am wanting to make the most of this experience, and it is a great opportunity for me to do this, and I truly can not wait until Monday. Much preparation has gone into this, so we'll see how she goes. I probably will not be able to blog until Sunday or Monday evening. So until then: Lot's of luck to you 'n yers!!

Now off to practice.

J-man (Psalm 31:14-15)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Phone Call from San Antonio

Hello All,

I received a phone call during dinner last night and was invited to audition for the second trombone position of the San Antonio Symphony. I had sent a resume in many weeks ago, and was first declined an invitation because I did not have much depth of experience in the orchestra world. With a phone call from my teacher I received a recommendation to be put on the waiting list, and low behold I got the call. This works out quite well for me to go to audition because my brother lives in Dallas and I can fly and stay at his house for a couple days.
The audition is going to be Monday May 3rd at 2:00 p.m. (CST) in San Antonio. I have been working on the audition excerpts for quite some time, and I really excited about this opportunity to audition. This will be a great experience for me since this is what I believe I am to do in life--play trombone. So it's exciting to see God move.
I have set up this blog so I can journal the next few days as I prepare for the audition and eventually head to San Antonio. I would appreciate your prayers in these exciting times.

From J-Man (Psalm 31:14-15)