Friday, December 4, 2009

All in God's Hand now...and the Admissions Committees

Hello All,
Just wanted to let everyone know that I have completed and sent off my applications and supplemental materials to my chosen graduate schools--Northwestern University, University of Maryland, and Carnegie Mellon University. It is a big load off my shoulders! Now I just have to prepare for auditions which will be in January (and get ready for final exams and projects)
Everything is in God's hands now (it always has been), and I'll have to realize that for the next few months as I musically prepare and just be patient.
I would ask for your prayers these next few months as I get ready for auditions...and WAIT! pray for patience! These are exciting times!! :)

J-Man (Hebrews 13:21)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A good and different perspective on Orchestral Auditions

Hello All,
I found this blog post by the Bass Faculty (yes, the double bass) of the Peabody Conservatory of Music. And thought it is an excellent concept on preparation and comparing it to SATs

Enjoy and check out their other posts on auditions (there's part two to the "SATs of Music" post)

J-Man (Hebrews 13:21

Friday, October 30, 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Graduate School Update

Hello all,
Just wanted to update everybody on where I am applying to graduate school for Fall 2010 (which is QUICKLY approaching!!). After briefly looking at info from over 18 schools I narrowed it all down to 5 schools:

Northwestern University
Carnegie Mellon University
Duquesne University
Depaul University
University of Maryland

All have great teachers and good programs. Then as I started getting into the process of applying, I realized that I would not be able to afford the fees for all five schools plus traveling to all the audition sites. So then I narrowed it down to three.

University of Maryland
Carnegie Mellon University
Northwestern University

Why these three schools? Maryland has a great trombone faculty (trombone section of the National Symphony and Baltimore Symphony), plus my current teacher used to be on that faculty, and our Dean of the School of Music has his Master's and Doctorate from there. It is also in a central location along the East Coast for opportunities to play in gigs and is not far from Philadelphia or New York and other large cities. Plus, so many concert opportunities in D.C., with the NSO, and the military bands.

Why CMU? I have had a great opportunity to have a few personal lessons with Pete Sullivan, and find him to be a great teacher. Plus, the Pittsburgh Symphony is no slouch of an orchestra (sometimes I think they don't get enough recognition for how well they sound). And Pittsburgh is just a great city!

And finally why Northwestern? Well you have a great trombone faculty (members of the Chicago Symphony). It's Chicago so there are many great concert opportunities and chances to perform. Not much needs to be said about's that good of a school!

All in all, I picked these schools primarily for their teachers, in that they are still performing in major symphony orchestras. They are in large cities (much larger than Warsaw, Indiana), and all three have great academic reputations. So we will see where the Lord takes me now. A lot will happen in the next few months, and I will keep you posted. Please pray for me, and that God would give me wisdom about where to go. I would greatly appreciate it :)

Back to the applications!!

J-man (Hebrews 13:21)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Coming off a High (and MWF part 2)

Hello All,

Well it's been a week since I said goodbye to the Masterworks Festival. Quite a busy four weeks of my life, but oh so worth it. I had the great opportunity to play some great repertoire...the following:

week 1: Brahms--3rd symphony; Respighi--pines of rome
week 2: Sibelius--2nd symphony
week 3: Ravel--Daphnis et Chloe Suite No. 2
week 4: Berlioz--Le Corsaire; Mahler--1st Symphony

The last week was quite intense with some heavy duty playing (Mahler....*sigh*) but what an incredible concert. So incredible we gave an encore! AND by the way, my girlfriend came to hear the final concert--Mahler and girlfriend in the same weekend equals EXTREME joy! :):) Quick story, so we're playing along in the last movement about to end the concert after a great night, and my very last note...very last note of Masterworks (high A for those who care), I totally clammed. Wow was I depressed. Talk about ending on a bad note! After three standing ovations, the conductor turns around and asks the orchestra if we want to play again. Almost everybody was shaking their heads "no!"....except me and a trumpet guy. Fortunately (and thankfully), we played the very last part of the final movement again, and boy did I nail that last note. Yes it did make me feel better.

All in all, though it was an amazing festival and I got to play some good trombone music, it was so much worthwhile on a spiritual level. I learned so much spiritually from fellow musicians about the Holy Spirit and my personal relationship with Him, that I can literally say the festival changed my life for that reason. God placed me in an incredible Bible Study with two amazing Bible Study leaders. Wow! we learned so much from each other and oftentimes we went past our time limit. But there were so many times, you could tell the Holy Spirit was working in our lives. And the best part too is these are musicians who are desiring to please their Audience of One--Christ. And this festival was not a second rate because it is a "Christian" music festival. In my mind, Masterworks is an intense ARTS festival that is training Christians to be excellent musicians but in a way that is honoring to God and God only. Soli Deo Gloria! It was so so neat to meet and talk with professionals who took to heart the phrase, "A Christian who happens to be a professional artist."

But what is exciting now is that even though masterworks festival has ended, Lord-willing, what has been learned musically and spiritually is being taken out across the country and literally the globe to share with others the Joy of serving an amazing God. What makes it difficult is that we are not surrounded around those people all the time. BUT we are surrounded by the Holy Spirit :) and with his Power, I'm praying that He will keep that desire and fire to look to Him for guidance and strength as well as a desire to please and honor MY audience of One! :)

J-man (Hebrews 13:21)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Masterworks Festival 2009 Part 1

Hello All,
This summer has been so much good for me in many MANY ways :) :) One way is allowing me to attend the Masterworks Festival in Indiana. This music festival is amazing for one reason: They are an intense music "camp" traing men and women to be Christian artists in their respected fields.
A great aspect of this is the Bible Studies they split you into for the four weeks you are at the festival. My leaders are both truly amazing people and are husband and wife duo. It's so neat to have them because right now we are talking about Christ and his relationships with Holy Spirit and the Father, and they have given examples in their marriage that deal with what we are talking about. It is truly a God-thing that I am in their group :)
Even though the festival is heavily devoted to training Christian artists, it is also an intense music camp. This week I have the privilege of playing in the Festival Orchestra and we are playing some great literature: Brahms 3rd Symphony and Respighi's Pines of Rome as well as Weber Bassoon Concerto. Yes I'm very excited!!
I have a lot to learn and will talk more about it later. But for now, I must go get ready for my lesson! :)

J-man (I John 4:16-18)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Christian who happens to be a Trombonist

Hello All,

A while back, my dad had emailed me a link to an article written by Douglas Yeo, bass trombonist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Doug is one of the finest Christians I know and is a great bass trombonist as well. I finally read the article today on his website and was just amazed. He is one of the few men I know of who literally acts out the phrase, "A Christian who happens to be a trombone player." Reading this article was absolutely inspiring and motivational, and I wanted to share it with you all.

"Look for the Ancient Paths"

Please Enjoy! :)

J-man (Psalm 115:1)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Alabama and the Day After (part 2)

Hello All,
They did not advance me, which I already knew; HOWEVER, they did advance me the guy in front of me who I heard play. So immediately, I wrote down what he did in his audition that I remembered that I didn't do; it was good what he did I remember and what HE did is why he advanced.

All in all, it was a quick day. I wish I could have done better, but I'm not going to let that get to me. Sometimes you have those days. And when you do, you learn from what you do and just keep running. Either way advance or not, I'm still going to practice :)

I was able to also run into a friend of mine who I had played with in the Florida All-State bands back in HS. We have been in contact via Facebook, and after his audition, we went to a place and caught up with each other. He advanced to the next round (actually all the way to the finals!), so he still had much to do; however, I was glad we were able to talk. I was really happy for him with how far he progressed during the day. He is studying at New England Conservatory, and he is such a great player--heard him play over spring break--but he is even a better person. Just a really good guy.

So today, the day after, it's back to the "trombone lab". Back to work harder, and really work out things that can be done better--back to the drawing board. It was a great learning experience. Walking away from it, the best thing was I wasn't nervous or jittery about the whole thing. I owe a lot to my Father up above for giving me peace the night before and day of, but I also owe a lot to a very special friend of mine from college, who supported me the past entire week. Always praying for me and giving me encouragement to do my best and to "do it for God." Their encouragement just meant the world to me, and it made things much easier and calmer, and I thank them for it.

Whelp time to go practice. I just love the trombone, and it's always my prayer that I would honor God and give Him that 1st place that He deserves with my trombone--whether it's 5 or 50 auditions before I land that first position may it always be:

Soli Deo Gloria :)

J-man (Ps. 115:1)

Alabama and the Day After (part 1)

Hello All,
Well I haven't done so hot in keeping everybody updated, but yesterday was the Alabama Symphony audition, down in Birmingham. I got there Sunday night, spent the night in a hotel, and then woke up for the audition the next day. I have to admit, I felt really calm the entire time, was really confident about myself, and knew it was going to be a good day.

I arrived at the audition site on the campus of Univ. of Alabama Birmingham around 10ish. Thankfully, when I woke up I was able to warm-up in an old exercise room at my hotel. I had a good warm-up and was good to go. Once I got to the audition site, they gave me another warm-up room with the audition list. It was the standard list: Mozart Requiem, Berlioz Hungarian March, Ravel Bolero, and Wagner Ride of the Valkyries. Apparently they were going through the candidates pretty quick.

I touched the beginning of each excerpt then just studied them. A couple days before I was reading some articles on audition prep and the one thing that was common in the articles was just remember to have world-class breathing the entire time...and to take your time.

After I was in my warm-up room, they called me up and it was my turn to go. I was able to hear the guy in front of me, and he sounded really good. I liked it. Then my turn came up. I played a few notes then started. Tuba Mirum was good. Berlioz was fair--had a bad start to the beginning. Bolero had a real nice start, which I was happy about. Then they said "thank you" after the third one. Then I left the room.

It wasn't the greatest performance, but sometimes you have those days. Once I got back to the waiting room, I immediately wrote down some critiques since they were fresh. A little while later, they came in and announced who moved on.

(read part 2)

J-Man (Psalm 115:1)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Quit Work. Play Trombone.

Hello All,
Today was a good day with the trombone. I practiced the alto quite a bit, and then just when I was getting ready to practice the tenor, my trombone teacher, Dr. Kraft, asked me if I would be going to rehearsal or doing anything. I wasn't; Just told him that I was gonna practice. He asked if I'd like to play some duets and excerpts. I said sure cuz we hadn't played duets for a long time. His reason was he didn't want to do work. I laughed inside :)

So for the next two hours I got to sit next to my teacher and play some great duets and excerpts. And it wasn't even my lesson. One of the advantages of Grace School of Music is the small trombone "studio." And with having your teacher as the assistant dean, you always seem him in the office. It doesn't always happen like that (like I said it had been a while), but you take advantage of those opportunities when you can.

Yep today was a good day :)

J-man (Psalm 115:1)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Mock Audition

Hello All,
Well this past monday, I had my mock audition. And I have to tell ya I was getting anxious on Monday. It was exciting though, my first time to play these excerpts for some different ears...some non-trombone ears I might add.

My three "judges" were Mr. Marvin Perry, Principal Trumpet of the Indianapolis Symphony; Dr. Patrick Kavanaugh, Artistic Director of the Masterworks Festival, Conductor of the Symphony of the Lakes, and Dean of the Grace School of Music; and lastly, Mr. Gert Kumi, a graduate of Julliard and director of the strings program at Grace.

I made copies of all the excerpts I was to play, laid out some repertoire lists and blank sheets of paper for comments. I let them ask anything to desired from the list that they would like to hear. All in all, they listened to about six excerpts, wrote some comments, and then talked for the rest of the time about each excerpt or general comments about the audition. I won't go into details about what they said or wrote (why would I want to give info to other competitors!!) but it was all very very helpful in the sense that it was from ears that are not brass players (minus one) let alone trombone players. It was from a musician's standpoint.

Afterwards me and Mr. Perry talked about auditions and what he looks for specifically. What a great opportunity it was on Monday to do that. And thank you to them all for the help and support.

Now a little less than one month to go!! :)

J-man (Psalm 115:1)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Resurrection Sunday

Hello All,
As you all know this is a blog about my journey as a trombonist. However, the driving force behind my trombone playing is my Savior, Jesus Christ.

Today is a day of celebration a day of joy and renewed hope. All week I have been reminded of Christ's love for what He did for me personally. Whether it was attending Steve Fee's concert/worship experience at Grace, watching the Passion of the Christ for the first time, watching Francis Chan's video "Just Stop and Think," or merely taking a walk thinking about Christ. This week has been life changing for me. For the past month I have been reading Crazy Love, a book basically asking Christians to rethink about their lives and love for Christ. It is a book for everybody to read.

It is so amazing to think how the God of the Universe would love me. After watching the Passion my thought was that Christ is my Savior. He is my Lord. How can I not give back to him the Love that showed for me by dying on the cross then conquering death through His resurrection. It is amazing to think, how He loves me so.

And to think that nothing else compares to His love for me. No trombone job could bring more joy to me than KNOWING that the God of the Universe loves much so much, and that I will be spending eternity in Heaven. Because of His love and what he did for me, I must love Him and serve Him!

J-man (John 3:16)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Two Week Notice

Hello All,
I apologize that it's been over a month that I haven't written on here. Don't worry there have been some big things going on in the trombone world. Eastern Trombone Workshop in Washington D.C. was absolutely great during Spring Break.

God has been doing some great things in my life with this summer and what he has planned for me. But the purpose of this blog is to give some cool news. For a variety of reasons, I won't be attending the New York Phil Audition in June (yes, trombone world, one less person to worry about). Instead I'm going to an audition in Birmingham for the Alabama Symphony's 2nd trombone position.

What's really great is in two weeks, I'm going to be having a mock audition in front of some faculty from my school such as my trombone teacher (former 2nd trombone of the D.C. National Symphony), our trumpet teacher (principal trumpet of the Indianapolis Symphony), string professor (graduate of Julliard and soloist), and our Dean of School of Music.

I thought this would be a great opportunity for me to prep and get some critique from current professionals before I go to the real deal. It will be good practice. and I'm looking forward to it :)
I'll let ya know how it goes!

J-man (Proverbs 16:9)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Two Masterclasses in One Day

Hello All,
Despite the torrential downpour,y esterday was a great day for me! Dr. Kraft and myself left in the morning to head up to East Lansing to attend a 3-hour masterclass at Michigan State given by Joseph Alessi, principal trombone of the New York Philharmonic. I had been looking forward to this for about a week or so, and knew it would be a great opportunity to hear a great player and see how he interacts with students.
And I wasn't disappointed one bit! Mr. Alessi has one of the most even- controlled sounds I have ever heard--and this evenness occurred in all registers. His approach to teaching students was phenomenal as well. I actually enjoyed his teaching more than his playing! It was truly a great experience just sitting there listening. One day, it will happen to get a lesson with him.
As the title says two masterclasses, you might be wondering what was the other one. From Warsaw, Indiana, it is about 3-hours one way to MSU. This means I was in the car for 6-hours with my own trombone teacher! If you do the math right, for 9 hours yesterday I was being taught or mentored by two truly talented musicians!! You don't get those often (especially for free). The unique experience of sitting next to Dr. Kraft during the masterclass was that at times he would make his own comments to me about the student being taught at the time. Then we were able to discuss things on the car ride back. What is ironic is both teachers say the same thing about playing the trombone. I think this is a hint I should catch on to.
I am truly fortunate and humbled to have Dr. Kraft as my teacher at Grace College. Yesterday's car ride was absolutely magnificent. We talked about everything: trombone, orchestral life, and even girls and relationships! Among other topics of conversation it is great to see a man of God who wanted to honor the Lord while in the professional orchestra. And he still strives to do that. Many things in that car ride probably won't be made public--they don't need to be--but as for what was discussed his wisdom was truly helpful and motivational.
Whelp off to the practice room! Gotta get ready for New York!

J-man (I Corinthians 9:24-27)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Training Time

Hello All,
well I've been wanting to put this post up for a long time, but haven't had the time this week. Now that my recital is over, I can focus more on auditions coming up. I found out this week that I didn't get invited to go to the Cleveland audition after sending in the audition tape. No worries; it was kind of expected.
However, this allows me more time to be able to get focus on the audition for the New York Philharmonic. This preliminary audition is in mid-June, and by preliminary I mean that it is an open audition for anyone to come in. There will be many MANY people probably attending this audition (thankfully it is spread over a couple days) and there will be some sending in audition tapes.
The great thing about this audition is that it is four months away, and I already have the repertoire list, and they mailed the parts for the audition. From here until June, I will be in training mode. Practicing, studying scores, listening to playbacks of myself as well as recordings of excerpts, getting lessons with other "ears", sending out recordings--It could get intense!! But it will be fun training.
Not only am I going to train musically but also I am going to start training physically as well as spiritually. Getting stronger physically will help my playing, and getting stronger spiritually will help me keep my focus on WHY and WHO I am doing this for--for Him.
If you have ever watched Chariots of Fire, you know what kind of training I am talking about. I'll probably be watching this movie a number of times in the next four months to get motiviated. Just another journey, I think the Good Lord has placed in my life. Where He will lead me to, I don't know; either way, may I learn more about Him through this journey to the Trombone section.

J-man (Heb. 12:1-13)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Update on Junior Recital

Hello All,
well yesterday was my junior recital. I can't remember if I mentioned what I played on the recital. I played the following:
Fanfare by John Kenny
Trombonology by Tommy Dorsey
Nocturno by Franz Strauss
Concerto for Trombone by Launy Grondahl

It lasted about half-hour or so. It went much better than anticipated. There were times I could sense the Holy Spirit doing a work in giving a bit of strength. It is so neat when you have the Joy of Christ in you and you give him the glory for it all. This past week, that's all I was wanting to do: give glory to him, and show others the joy of Christ. I was reminded of the movie, Chariots of Fire, when Eric Liddell is about to run his last race, one of the greatest runners of the USA hands him a paper with the phrase, "It says in the Good Book, he that honors Me I will honor." That phrase somewhat hit me when all was said and done. If you truly and intentionally give God the glory, he will honor you.
(Note: I have good friends too. A friend who wasn't able to make it sent me a text right when I got to the church encouraging and reminding me to "do it for God." It made my day.)

There was one piece that I began to struggle with due to fatigue, and during that time a prayer to my Father helped saved the day. It goes to show that with God and ONLY God all things are possible. I'm not saying, ask God and your wish is his command. Rather, it goes back to that statement, "He that honors me, I will honor." You give him the glory, walk in His ways, commit to him, and He will help shape your desires. He'll be right by your side the entire time. And yesterday, I could sense Him truly there. Coincidentally, my biological dad could tell I was struggling and was praying during that same time :)

It was funny for me because during the last movement of the Grondahl, I knew I was getting tired (as expected). There were many many spots I had to pace myself and hold back, so I could save for the big moment--the end--which can be difficult if you know the last movement: especially ending with that selection. And pacing works if you want a big finish :)

All in all, I was very pleased with how I did. My prayer now is that God was pleased. May HIS name be praised for what HE did to me and through me. It is all because of Him, I was able to do what I did yesterday.

Psalm 115:1 and Romans 11:36

From J-man

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Monday unlike any other

Hello All,
Well I had a unique day today. I woke up this morning. Checked my emails and low and behold, there was an email from the Cleveland Orchestra. I sent in my resume requesting to be able to audition for their assistant principal position back in December. The email said they could not offer me an audition due to the number of highly qualified applicants. No big surprise there. I was expecting that.

The email did say that if I wanted to I could send in an audition tape that the judges would listen to and decide if to invite me to the live audition or not. If they like it, I'll be able to go to the auditions in March. So that was exciting to read at 10:00 this morning.


I practiced in the morning, had a noon rehearsal, then went to check my mail. Opened my box and there was a big envelope from the New York Philharmonic. Thinking I was not invited and they were just sending me the repertoire list, I was wrong. It was an audition packet asking for me to fill out an application and a repertoire list. Now with this audition, there are two options. You can either make a recording for a preliminary round, or you can go to a live preliminary audition in June. Now don't get too excited, because looking at this packet, I think this was sent out to everybody who sent in resumes. But I could be wrong. This audition is for associate principal in their orchestra, and will be held in June.

So yes this was an exciting day and good start to what will be, Lord-willing, a great week. A lot of stuff going on with preparation for my recital, and for these auditions. I would love to be able to get to go to New York and audition there and/or even go to Cleveland and audition there since it is about 4-5 hours away.

Some great opportunities that I have been praying about recently, and will continue to pray about: for God's leading, and for his provisions because it does cost money to audition. With all these exciting things going on, I better get some sleep so I can be alert for class and practicing the 'ole trombone. :)

J-man (Hebrews 12:5-11)

Monday, January 26, 2009

News and Update

Hello All,
So I just got back from practicing the 'ole trombone. I ran straight through my recital music for the first time tonight (without piano accompaniment), and all I can say is.....I'm smiling :)

PS And you remember how a while back I wanted to have a "540 week." That week I think I had a "375." Last week, I had a 540 week.....and I wasn't even trying to have one like that. Yea....something big is happening :)

J-man (Hebrews 12:5-11)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A "Rocky" attitude

Hello All,
It seems like it's been forever since I wrote on this blog, even though it has been about a month. This new semester is bringing new challenges as well as exciting opportunities.
This semester is going to be new for me in one way because from 4-6 p.m., I do not have an ensemble rehearsal. For the past 2.5 years I have been in Grace Brass, and decided (after much thought and prayer) that I would not be in the ensemble this semester. Why? I realized last semester that I have been doing a lot of playing but very little practicing due to the amount of ensembles I have been a part of--four groups last semester. Last semester I had a new desire to practice a lot and realized that I couldn't due to ensemble rehearsals. Some of you may disagree with me. Some may say that ensemble rehearsal is really good for the player. However, I never really had time to have personal practice to work on excerpts or solos.
So this semester I am not participating in Grace Brass, so I can focus more on personal practice for auditions, competitions, and most importantly for the semester--my Junior recital in February. So with the less ensemble work comes the responsibility of practicing during that time slot I would be in Grace Brass.
This semester is so exciting because of all the "free time" I have which will be spent in practicing and exercising. In Rocky IV, Rocky has to face the Siberian machine, so what does he do? He goes to Siberia and trains there for the fight. Basically secluded from everyone, he is able to focus hard and train well for a well-deserved victory.---Watch that movie if you ever get a chance!
I want to have this approach to my practicing: really focusing on my musical endeavors. Easier said than done though--especially that first week of classes. We'll see how it all goes as the semester continues.
I'm looking forward to it and can't wait to see how it all turns out :)

J-man (Hebrews 12:5-11)

PS the whole Rocky thing being in Siberia is kinda fitting too because Winona Lake is having one of its coldest winters in recent history. Adds a nice little touch to it. :)