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)