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)