Saturday, November 6, 2010

Two Lessons on Failure

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

It Wasn't a Failure

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

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

Thanks for reading!

From J-man
(Hebrews 13:21)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

First Month of Grad School ( a little long)

Hello All,
Well my first month of grad school is in the books, and I'd like to highlight a few things that have happened.
A great start to the week is my 8:00 am Brass Pedagogy with George Vosburgh, Principal Trumpet of the Pittsburgh Symphony (PSO). Then, after that, I have Brass Studio Class with Mr. Vosburgh again, playing some great symphonic literature. Then on Tuesdays, I have a theory class;Trombone Studio Class; and a Mahler Class. First, the trombone studio class is led by Peter Sullivan, Principal Trombone of the PSO. It is a great time as we dive into certain aspects of playing as well repertoire that the PSO is playing this season. It is a lot of fun. Then, if needed, I have rehearsal; and my day ends with a 3-hour class on the symphonies of Mahler (yes three hours!) It is an excellent class, and what makes it better is the professor is a Mahler enthusiast. What better way to learn about Mahler than from a guy who loves Mahler!
--Trombone Lessons
This is one of the biggest highlights of the week. My personal lesson with Mr. Sullivan. The lessons are great, and he plays a lot in the lesson, which is very helpful in playing excerpts and solos. I honestly look forward to Fridays and my time with him (It is the reason why I am at Carnegie Mellon).
--Pittsburgh Symphony Concerts
I really think the PSO is one of the most underrated orchestras in the world. They are good! Incredible! Maestro Manfred Honeck is such a wonderful conductor and really pulls every little musical thing out of the music and the players. The brass section is one of the best I've heard as well.
--Orchestra Manager/CMU Philharmonic
I get the great privilege of being the Manager of the Carnegie Mellon Orchestras. At first, it was a little stressful learning the new ropes of how to do things, but since then it is going much more smoothly. Our first concert was Mahler's 6th symphony (it was amazong!) and we even got to perform in the same venue that Mahler conducted the NY Philharmonic back in 1910. Other things looking forward to with the Orchestra is playing Pictures at an Exhibition as well as a concert at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C., (home of the National Symphony Orchestra, the orchestra of my mentor and former teacher at Grace College).
I have been able to find a wonderful church here in Pittsburgh. I first heard of the church from a family I stayed with this summer while traveling with King's Brass. The church is Allegheny Center Alliance Church (ACAC). It is such a great church..Very culturally diverse, but it is so awesome to see all walks of life worshiping as one together. The preaching is excellent, and I am looking to join a Bible Study (they are called Growth Groups...ironic, Gracies), as well as join their orchestra.
The cool thing of being is Pittsburgh is it is not far away from Kylee. I have been able to see her twice. She came to visit me for Labor Day weekend in which we went to two Pirates games and also went to my first Country music concert. I also go to visit her a few weekends ago. The three-hour drive is very bearable for a weekend to see her or her to come see me. (Still praying she can find a job in Pittsburgh though)
--Pittsburgh itself
Wow what a great city! I love it a lot. The city is big, yet small and quaint. People are friendly here! The nice thing too is CMU students get to ride the bus for free, making it very easy to commute to certain places. The people of Pittsburgh love Pittsburgh as well which is a plus. And how many places in the country can you pay the same price to see Major League Baseball and a world-class orchestra ($12 or less for each ticket!).
--Auditions (big news)
And some big news, I "won" my first audition. The Canton Symphony Orchestra in Ohio had substitute/extra auditions for trombone, and I went to take the audition. It went very well (probably the best I have played Tuba Mirum), and I received a letter in the mail the next week saying they would like to place me on their extra list, which was the purpose of my audition. So now we shall see when I may be called :)

All in all, my time here is fantastic! I'm loving it here. It is stretching me spiritually and causing me to be really active in pursuing Christ and my relationship with Him. And it's also causing me to practice a lot (and enjoy practicing). I have much free time, therefore I must practice and use that time wisely. I like the area, have a good place to live, (and am eating well thanks to Kylee), and I do believe that this is where God has me to be right is so evident :)

Thanks for reading. Sorry for the length.
(Hebrews 13:21)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Summary of King's Brass Summer Tour

Hello All,
Well now that 2010 King's Brass Summer Tour and has come to an end (and I'm settled into Pittsburgh) I would like to report a little bit of what happened over tour (don't worry it will not be a loooooong post). There were so many wonderful things about traveling with these musicians. One of the coolest things about traveling in a music ensemble is getting to visit places that you would otherwise not be able to visit. Places such as West Point where Greg Alley, a former trumpet player in the West Point Band gives us a special tour. Also there or own pianist/organist got the EXTREMELY RARE opportunity to play the Cadet Chapel organ, the world's largest organ in a church. Other places we visited included a complete day at Ocean City, NJ, (yes, it was needed);the opportunity to play at the church of Phil Smith, principal trumpet of the New York Philharmonic (unfortunately, he wasn't there). We also got to play on the Upper Peninsula in which we take about a half a day and visited Mackinac Island, one of my favorite places to visit.

The list goes on and on of unique places we played at. But the best place by far was the great opportunity to play at Central Moravian Church in Bethlehem, PA. This church has great historical significance for two reasons. First, in that very sanctuary was where Bach's B-minor Mass was first performed in the United States back in 1900. Second, it is at this church that the Bethlehem Moravian Trombone Choir was formed and it still exists as America's oldest instrumental ensemble after 250 years. Inside the church, the huge organ is in the back of the sanctuary. We gave our concert on Saturday night and then had the privilege of playing in the back for a special music service they had on Sunday. This organ is rather huge in that our brass group sat in between the organs and its pipes. Talk about a cool experience. It was some of the loudest playing we did that day. There was one moment I specifically remember I would remember for a long time. During our playing of "Holy, Holy, Holy," the organist, Rebecca Kleintop Owens, began to play an interlude into the final verse. Literally the floor was vibrating and it was full force with the sound. When we entered with our brass instruments it was literally at that time that I felt I was receiving a glimpse of what Heaven was going to sound like. The beautiful sounds were definitely loud but so glorious. Only one other time has that kind of thing happened. It was a special day for me :)

All in all, It was an excellent tour. Great music and great travelings, and Wonderful people. I was honored to be a part of such great Christians, musicians, and was a great summer "family."

Now on to graduate school at Carnegie Mellon University School of Music. (more to come later!)

J-man (Isaiah 40:31)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Play as if it were their Last Concert

Hello All,
Wow what a summer so far. I've had a blast playing with King's Brass. The first time I played with them I remember thinking, "Wow now that was Loud!!!" I've never been able to play that loud in an ensemble. It's so exhilarating to be able to do that on a regular basis and not get the left hand telling me to back off. Being on the road has been a lot of fun too. We meet great people at churches and other venues. Which brings me to something shocking that happened indirectly to our group.

Our second Sunday on tour, we were at Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, VA just outside of DC. We drove there the night before from Pennsylvania, and literally got 2-3 hours of sleep Sunday morning before we had to be at the church to setup and rehearse. We played in three services and for each service there was a church orchestra. It was kind of funny because some of us were in front of the string section. Naturally, they didn't like the loud noises so they either were covering their ears or invested in some earplugs. We played a few songs for each service, went back to the hotel for a little bit to rest, and then back to the church that night for a full concert. It was a busy and somewhat tiring day, but fortunately we had a day off on Monday and got to relax before heading out again.

As we headed out to our next location on Tuesday, Tim had told us that he received an email. We found out that early Monday morning a 15-year old girl who played violin in the church orchestra was murdered along with her mother by her father. And I will be honest, it hit me hard! I sat there in the Suburban thinking the performances we gave on Sunday was the last music that she ever heard in this life. Whew, it got me to thinking what kind of impact was the music on her. I remember specifically seeing her sit there and cover her ears; and being the typical brass player, it encouraged me to play louder.

All of this changed my thinking on how I perform. I remember someone in the group telling us at the beginning of the summer that they play every concert as if it were his last. It got me to think that I should play every concert as if it were the LISTENER'S last concert. Wow that kind of thing sure does change your focus on how you play. Every concert isn't going to be perfect, but it puts a different meaning on how you play. It causes you to really focus and really worship the Father with your music. It causes you to communicate the music in a different So I've decided for the rest of the summer, that I'm going to play every concert as if it were the listener's last concert. It gives me motivation for each concert to do my best. It is amazing how God can use one incident to indirectly change a life in a way that you would at least expect it.

If you think of it, please pray for the people at Immanuel Bible as they go through this very very difficult time in their church. Ironically, the 15-year old girl's name was Joy. Please pray for her father and the rest of her family as well.

J-man (Isaiah 40:28-31)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Cleveland Opera Audition

Hello All,
This past Monday I attended an audition for the Principal Trombone position of the Cleveland Opera Orchestra. This was the first time that I had prepared excerpts for an opera orchestra. It was unique in that they were different excerpts to prepare (big crashing melodies/phrases right after a tenor belts out a solo). A few "regulars" were also on the list.
As I was gearing up for the audition, I was also practicing/memorizing twenty-two songs for this upcoming summer tour with Tim Zimmerman and the King's Brass. This gospel brass group plays a wide variety of tunes from big band to hymns to patriotic to praise and worship songs. So it's been a wild few weeks working on all that.
Fortunately, I was able to work on Cleveland audition a lot prior to getting music for King's Brass. As Monday came, I arrived at the audition site in downtown. There were literally only 14 candidates auditioning for the position. According to union rules we had to draw lots for who would go first. I was number 7. As I waited I was able to really focus and center my thoughts on the task at hand. And I prayed a lot, something I haven't done a lot just prior to an audition.
As the time came, I got the list for the first round choices: a Bach Cello Suite solo, Tuba Mirum from Mozart Requiem, and two excerpts from Verdi's Othello. As I played, there were a few missed notes. As I left I felt that my confidence in playing was at a high, and I was calm and not nervous. Unfortunately I didn't advance, but looking back, there were many things pointing to not being able to prepare as much as I would have liked. But that's what happens when you are working two things at once.

It was a good experience for me. On a positive side, I was not nervous during the audition and was calmness even when there were mistakes. Also I am....once again....thankful for my girlfriend for the encouragement and support she consistently gives me. When I was waiting in my warm-up room, she sent me a text saying to remember the Holy Spirit is working in me so I already have an advantage. (this goes to show how wonderful she really is). Afterwards she was very understanding about how I felt but made sure that I would not get down on myself and move on from it. (because like many musicians, it's easy to dwell on failing). She encouraged me by saying that traveling with King's Brass will give me so much experience and help with performing in front of people (yes, this is from a non-musician). This is why I love her dearly for the constant encouragement she gives...and motivation to move on and play well :)

All in all, a good experience. I'll keep practicing and working towards the next audition. But for now it's time for King's Brass rehearsing and performing. I'm very excited about this wonderful opportunity to play with such an incredible group. More details about them and my time with them (maybe journal-like) as time goes along :)

J-man (Isaiah 40:28-31)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Email and Blog updates

Hello All,
I have changed my blog address. It's a bit more professional. It is Also, I have a new email address. It is


J-man (Is. 40:31)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Decision for Grad School (and Summer plans)

Hello All,
Just wanted to update real quick for where I am going to graduate school. After much prayer, I have decided to attend Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. The trombone teachers there are Peter Sullivan, Rebecca Cherian, and Murray Crewe, all members of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. CMU is a world-class university in a great city.
I am very excited about this new part of my life unfolding. Through much prayer, support, and patience, I believe the future is going to be very bright. God has had his hand through all of this, and honestly, it is very VERY evident that He is in control of what is happening.
For the summer, I have an exciting opportunity to travel with Tim Zimmerman and the King's Brass. The Christian professional group travels all over the country performing music ranging from Sacred to Big Band to Patriotic to Christmas music. It is an exciting yet humbling opportunity for me this summer as well as in the winter. For a tour schedule, go to their website to see if we will be in your area. The schedule is not set completely as churches and other venues are still being added.

Great times are ahead (including graduation!!) :)

J-man (Isaiah 40:28-31)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

recap on Northwestern audition (a month later)

Hello All,
My third audition (back in February) was at the Northwestern University. And to be honest, I felt good leading up to it. Felt prepared. What helped too was my girlfriend traveled with me this time. Felt like I was able to be a little more relaxed since she came. (she's that kind of girl) :) It was a long day, particularly because they were behind schedule. When I arrived at the registration table, I found out they were an hour behind. So I went to warm-up play a little, and came back a while later to find out they were now an hour and 20 minutes behind. (this is what happens when EVERY trombonist wants to go to Northwestern). So I waited and waited. Listened to the pieces via mp3. And waited some more.
My time finally came to play and it went well. I'll be honest out of the three auditions I had, this one was the second best. I gave it all I got. You always hope for some things to be better. Many things came out the way I had hoped for them to be. In the end, I left it all in the room :) I was pleased with how I did and knew the rest would be up to God's doing.
Once I was done, I ran into a former doctoral student at the school who talked with me for a good 30-45 minutes about the school, the trombone teachers, and just how I need to study with them if possible (Michael Mulcahy and Peter Ellefson).

All in all it was a great day :) and a good audition. Be looking for a post VERY soon about my decision!!

J-man (Psalm 40:28-31)

Monday, February 22, 2010

recap on second grad school audition (Carnegie Mellon)

Hello All,
I apologize for not getting this post out sooner. My second grad school audition was a complete success!! I arrived in Pittsburgh the night before the audition, went to the music building, and was able to run into a friend of mine from the Masterworks Festival. We were able to talk for a good while about the school, classes, and the performing ensembles. Later that night, I was able to lay in my bed at my friend's house and relax, and gather my thoughts for the next day. I listened to one of my recorded lessons with Mr. Sullivan that I had last April. This really helped me with listening to his comments on excerpts that I would be playing the next day.

It really is a mind thing when playing. Having a different focus at CMU helped me immensely. Once I entered I felt at complete ease when playing. I was very calm while playing but yet bold and confident. Mr. Sullivan and Ms. Cherian were very complimentary on my playing. The campus, once again, was very very nice and small somewhat (compared to Maryland). It is practically right downtown, and is in a nice neighborhood right next to the University of Pittsburgh.

As I left CMU, I felt a great confidence boost in my playing in getting ready for my last audition at Northwestern. However, I did have to wait almost an entire month for Northwestern. I will post my recap about Northwestern on my blog tomorrow.

Thanks for your prayers....and keep praying!!!!

J-man (Isaiah 40: 28-31)

Friday, February 12, 2010

My Response to the future of the Grace School of Music

A few days ago, as I received word about the future of the Grace College School of Music and its being shut down, I began to think about the effect it would have on me and my fellow musicians. And as I met with some fellow student representatives, I began to think in my mind, "God help us all." I also began to think, "We can get through this." So often, the easy thing to do would be to give up when tough obstacles come our way. And as tough obstacles come we try to avoid them or get around them. But as reality comes into view, we must face those obstacles. During the past few days, I am reminded of the fact that Jesus never gave up on me. This concept first came to my mind from a song written by the worship team at Elevation Church in Charlotte, NC. Jesus has never given up on me, and He will never let me go. So, I've realized, more and more that it is my obligation and duty, in the love relationship with Jesus, to never give up on never give up on the fact that He is guiding and orchestrating my life in some way.

As I look back on my time here at Grace, it is evident that this is where God had me to be at this time in my life. I would not have been here had it been for my trombone teacher, a strong man of God. I would not have made so many great friends, and met the strongest Christian girl I know whom I am fortunate to call my girlfriend had not God place me here. And yes, it is like a family. But as I began to think, so often we have to leave our family for various reasons. But wherever we go, that family of ours is always with us. We learned from each other during our time together, and God has called us into a different season, things we've learned during the time with our family, we are able to take elsewhere and share that love of God and music.

And I can't help but think that this is what God has for us to do. To share. At certain places whether it is Grace College or Masterwork--brings us together, teaches us, and then spreads us to do His will. And we know--we KNOW--that through all of this, God will never let go of us. He has never given up on me, you, or anybody else, and he wants us to do the same, to never give up on the power that He gives us and the trust He wants from us. He wants us to believe that He CAN work through all of this for us. And as we face the present obstacle, I can't help but think that for each and every one of us, God is preparing a GREAT opportunity for us. We may not see it now. We may never see the whole picture. But he wants us to trust in him, and that He CAN get us through these difficult situations. We must trust. We must NOT give up on Him. And we MUST be open to wherever He may lead us to share with others the love of music and ultimately, His love for each and every one of us.

On opposite sides of my desk I have these two passages of Scripture that have been great encouragement to me over the years:

1) Proverbs 19:21--"Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD'S purpose that prevails

2) Psalm 31:14-16--"But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, 'You are my God.' My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me. Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love."


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Recap on first grad school audition (Maryland)

Hello all,
This past weekend I went to my first audition for graduate school at U of Maryland at College Park. I drove onto the campus friday night to look around and to soak it all in. As everyone knows the school is very large. What really caught my attention first was how laid out the campus is. The performing arts complex contains three performance halls, practice rooms (obviously), and its music library is connected to the building. Beautiful facilities all around. The best part is the football stadium is directly across the street from the music complex. (yes, this will affect my decision if accepted).
I was fortunate to stay with a friend who attends Washington Bible College which is about 10 minutes from Maryland's campus. On Saturday, I had my audition at 11:00, and it went well. I was pleased with how I did (though, you always can do better). But the biggest thing was, I felt a peace with how I did because it is all in God's hands.
I had a "talk" with my Father up above the night before, and committed my playing and even the pieces all over to him. And I was reminded of one of my favorite movies, Chariots of Fire, here are some statements from it that really struck me and helped me. Here they are below:
  1. You came to see a race today. To see someone win. It happened to be me. But I want you to do more than just watch a race. I want you to take part in it. I want to compare faith to running in a race. It's hard. It requires concentration of will, energy of soul. You experience elation when the winner breaks the tape - especially if you've got a bet on it. But how long does that last? You go home. Maybe you're dinner's burnt. Maybe you haven't got a job. So who am I to say, "Believe, have faith," in the face of life's realities? I would like to give you something more permanent, but I can only point the way. I have no formula for winning the race. Everyone runs in her own way, or his own way. And where does the power come from, to see the race to its end? From within. Jesus said, "Behold, the Kingdom of God is within you. If with all your hearts, you truly seek me, you shall ever surely find me." If you commit yourself to the love of Christ, then that is how you run a straight race.
  2. I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.
I am reminded of Isaiah 40:31 which says those that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength, they will be lifted up with wings as Eagles... (paraphrase). This encouragement gave me confidence to know that however well I do, God knows what will be best. So, in a sense, I have nothing to worry about. I just need to do my personal best.

All in all, it was a great time at Maryland. I really really liked the school and the area. BUT there are two more auditions to go. It's gonna be hard to wait to know if I am accepted or not. But that allows time for prayer and for God's will to work in my life :)

Next stop?!? An audition this Saturday (1/23) at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Can't wait for that one either!!

J-man (Hebrews 13:21)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Now on Twitter

Hello All,
just letting everybody know I have twitter now. Here is my link.

Enjoy following!

J-man (Heb.13:21)