2014 Summer Music Conference Lectures

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I am incredibly excited to present my doctoral research on William Osborne’s chamber music theater works for trombonist Abbie Conant at The International Trombone Festival and The International Women’s Brass Conference this summer. The ITF will be held at The Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. I am really looking forward to Abbie’s performance of Street Scene for the Last Mad Soprano on June 4th at 4:30 pm– my presentation will be the next morning at 9:00 am. The IWBC will be held at Northern Kentucky University (just outside of Cincinnati). I hate that I will miss the beginning of the conference, but my presentation will be the last day, June 8th at 9:00 am.

It may be hard to attend both conferences, but I would encourage all brass players to consider attending one of these summer conferences. I always learn so much and enjoy the various concerts and masterclasses. It’s also nice to catch up with old friends and meet new people. After all, the music world is small– we might as well get to know each other!

2014 UK Brassfest

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Happy New Year! What better way to celebrate the new year than to attend the 2014 UK Brassfest?! This festival begins February 1st is open to all middle and high school brass players. This year’s featured ensembles will be the UK brass faculty and The Gaudete Brass Quintet. There are some amazing opportunities for young musicians to compete in solo competitions as well as a brass quintet competitions. Prizes include a full, in-state tuition scholarship to UK and Pickett mouthpieces! For those not wanting to compete, all registrants can participate in a mass brass choir. Registration is only $20– a great deal for an invaluable educational experience!

If you are interested in registering and possibly competing for some great prizes, then please register ASAP! The deadline for competitors to register is January 17th. Please check out the following links for more information:

http://ukbands.org/content/brassfest

http://ukbands.org/sites/default/files/2014%20Brassfest%20registration.pdf

http://www.pickettbrass.com/

http://finearts.uky.edu/faculty?tid=1

http://www.gaudetebrass.com/

All-Star Band Clinic at Asbury University

Today is the first day of the Asbury All-Star Band Clinic! Beginning today, November 21 and ending Saturday, November 23, high school band students will have the opportunity to audition and perform with guest conductor Dr. Bruce Moss from Bowling Green State University. I am looking forward to hearing some great auditions and working with some very talented young trombonists in our sectionals and clinics. I will be presenting What Makes a Great Warm Up Routine and Strategies for Effective Practicing.

For more information, please visit http://www.asbury.edu/academics/departments/music/all-star-band-clinic.

Lexington Brass Band in Concert

ImageI have had the pleasure of playing with the Lexington Brass Band. LBB’s first concert of the season will be on November 8th at Asbury University, 7:30 in Hughes Auditorium. This first concert of the season will feature alumni soloists from Asbury University such as Mark Ridenour, trumpet (Chicago Symphony Orchestra); Tom Bratten, tuba (U.S. Army Band); Shawn Okpebholo, composer (Professor, Wheaton Conservatory of Music); Stan Pelkey, organ (Dean of Arts and Sciences, Roberts Wesleyan University). 

This has been my first British style brass band experience, and I have enjoyed every bit of it! If you are in the Lexington-area, please consider attending the concert. It is free to the public with a reception following the performance.

Directions to Asbury University http://www.asbury.edu/about-us/map-directions

Press Release

http://www.asbury.edu/academics/departments/music/news/2013/10/11/20443

All-State Auditions

Many of my Kentucky trombone students are auditioning for All-State band this year. Here are some helpful hints as you prepare…

Not sure if you want to audition?

You can come up with as many excuses to not audition as you want, but the fact is– if you don’t try out, you will definitely not make the group. It seems obvious, but sometimes we set ourselves up to fail by not attempting new and challenging things. But, set your self up success by working hard, and you might just surprise yourself.

Preparing and performing your lyrical etude:

  1. The most important thing to remember is to play with a beautiful sound. Strive for a rich and resonant tone.
  2. Be musical! How expressive can you play? What emotions or stories can you reveal with your trombone?
  3. Just because it’s a lyrical etude does not mean that you can forget about time and rhythm. Be musical and rhythmically accurate. Try conducting and singing the etude with a metronome.
  4. How smooth can you make your legato technique? Let’s face it– playing legato on the trombone is challenging. Remember to always keep your air stream constant and move your slide quickly. Try practicing without using your tongue at all. You will hear lots of glisses, but you will also learn where the natural slurs occur. Be sure to identify the natural slurs in your music so that you don’t articulate more than you need to.
  5. Keep in mind that you can use alternate positions in order to facilitate ease and eliminate extra motion.
  6. Play all grace notes lyrically and with a beautiful sound.

Practicing and performing your technical etude:

  1. Again, most importantly– play with a beautiful sound!
  2. Aim to perform the etude at the requested tempo, but know that the judges would rather you perform a little under tempo if it means that you can be more accurate.
  3. When working on building up to a fast tempo, set your metronome as slow as you need to and gradually bump it up. Track your progress by writing down the tempo and date. Once you master a tempo, bump it up two clicks, then master that, etc.
  4. “Technical” does not mean “robotic!” You should still be musical and expressive.
  5. Practice in chunks. Isolate small portions of the etude and workshop them to perfection. Don’t just “run it”– work on specific things.
  6. Conduct and sing or conduct and tap out tricky rhythms.
  7. Consider using alternate positions when helpful.

Sight Reading

  1. Practice sight reading every day. Pull out any etude book and open it to a random page. Take 30 seconds to look at the material, and then play.
  2. Even though you are sight reading, play with a beautiful sound and be musical.
  3. During your 30 second review of the material follow the same protocol each time: key signature(s), time signature(s), tempo, clefs / clef changes, tricky rhythms, etc.
  4. Even if you mess up, keep playing.
  5. Try your best– that’s all that you can do.

The day of the audition:

  1. Get a good night’s sleep the night before.
  2. Don’t play too much the morning / day of the audition.
  3. Eat a good breakfast–nothing too salty or sweet. A banana might help with nerves and is a good beforehand snack.
  4. Bring a bottle of water in case you get dry mouth.
  5. Make sure your horn is in working order (smooth slide, quiet trigger, spray bottle).
  6. Bring all music you might need in a folder.

In the warm up room:

  1. Ignore the people who are showing off. Focus on your own preparation.
  2. Do a short warm up, but don’t over-play.
  3. Look at your music and do some “mental practicing.”
  4. Keep track of your audition time and know where you need to go.

It’s time!

  1. There will probably be a proctor. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them.
  2. Refrain from speaking once you enter the audition room.
  3. If the judges allow you to play a few notes to get used to the room, then choose wisely which notes you play. Be sure to make a good impression. It might be helpful to play the first note of your etude or a scale in the appropriate key.
  4. Play the best that you can. Remember, you prepared yourself well, so try your best and make some music.

Trombone Teaching Philosophy

As teachers we are always learning and growing. We have learned from our own teachers, our colleagues, and most importantly– our students. I finally decided to sit down and write my teaching philosophy. This will be an evolving philosophy as I continue to learn myself, but it was inspired by some truly great teachers and mentors that I have been fortunate enough to have in my life.

Teach the Whole Person

                Though I consider myself a teacher of trombone, the foundation of my teaching philosophy is that I teach the whole person, not just the instrument.  Students are all unique individuals with many interests and talents.  I respect my students’ diverse qualities and will tailor my teaching to their interests and goals—both musical and personal.

Goals

                With that in mind, I want to help my students formulate a series of goals each semester—long term and short term.  Together, we will decide what they need to do in order to achieve their goals.  From week to week, I will check on their progress and provide encouragement.  I want to be a mentor to my students, and I will do everything I can to make sure that they are equipped to accomplish any goal that they make for themselves.

Students as Developing Creative Artists

                I consider each of my students as developing creative artists.  As artists, we all strive to express ourselves.   Musical expression requires passion, intent, and thoughtfulness from the performer, and it should be the driving force behind each note that we play.  Expressionless playing by mindless technicians is not music, and I want my students to make music each time they put their instrument to their lips.  Musical expression is somewhat of a bearing of one’s soul, and I want to create an environment where my students feel safe and know that what they express has value.  Musical expression is the foundation in which all other aspects of playing are built upon, and an active musical imagination will allow one’s musicianship to shine.

Beautiful Sound & Listening

                Playing with a beautiful sound comes naturally to some players, and others have to work harder.  Regardless, I want my students to always strive to produce the best sound that they can.  This involves having an idea about what one wants to sound like—listening is key.  I encourage my students to be avid listeners of music.  I want them to learn how to describe what they like or don’t like about a certain performer.  Critical listening and discussion will help develop one’s concept of sound.  I also want to encourage my students to listen to all great instrumentalists and singers—not just trombonists.  There is a lot that trombonists can learn from other disciplines.

Technique & Creative Problem Solving

                All musicians must take the time to develop technique.  That said, I think that separating technique from music making is a trap that must be avoided.  Students must understand that a solid technique (articulations, slide dexterity, intonation, breathing, etc.) always revolves around musicianship.  I will encourage my students to be mindful and thoughtful when working on technique because problems and bad habits almost always arise when one mindlessly practices as a technician.  Mindfulness first begins with a slow, methodical approach.  This can sometimes seem boring to young musicians, but if done thoughtfully with musical intent, what first seemed boring becomes an opportunity to make a beautiful sound and musical phrase.  Practicing with a metronome is a good habit to have when working on “technical” exercises.  There are countless ways of approaching different technical aspects of playing the trombone.  I will always encourage my students to try multiple approaches when solving a technical problem.  Creativity is also a useful problem solving skill.  All students and players are different, and a single solution will most likely not solve every student’s problem or bad habit.  I want my student s to play an active role in pinpointing bad habits or deficiencies.  After locating a bad habit, it is important to replace it with a good habit.  Together, we will discuss different ways to work on the replacement habit and encourage repetition of good habits.  It is my goal to encourage sound pedagogical problem solving skills in my students.  Addressing problems and deficiencies is an opportunity for my students to become better musicians and better teachers themselves.

Technology: Recorder, Metronome, Tuner

                Recording oneself is an invaluable exercise.  I will record all of my students’ lessons and expect them to listen and take notes after reviewing their recordings.  In doing so, they can practice listening objectively to their playing and will most likely hear things that they weren’t aware of in their playing.  Sometimes it is easy to become overly critical of one’s own playing, so I will be sure, as the teacher, to draw the student’s attention to the positive aspects of their playing first, followed with thoughtful critique.  However, if a student becomes overly cocky or arrogant, I will be sure to place him or her in  situations that are more challenging and require humility.  No matter how proficient we get at our instrument, there is always room to grow. 

Art of Performance

                While it is my job to teach my students how to practice, it is also my job to teach them how to perform.  The art of performance is a skill like any other that must be refined by repetition.  I will encourage my students to perform every chance they get.  I will incorporate multiple performances for each student throughout the semester in trombone seminar, which will culminate into either a jury or recital performance.  I want to create a welcoming environment in my trombone seminars and encourage all of the students to contribute thoughtful criticism or praise after their colleagues’ performances. This will benefit both the listeners and performers.  There is always something to be learned from performing. 

                 In conclusion, my teaching philosophy centers on teaching the whole person.  This requires that I must develop a unique approach for each student.  I want to create a safe and positive environment that allows them to develop as expressive artists.  I will always welcome questions and encourage my students to become creative problem solvers.  Through a mutual respect and leading by example, I hope to inspire my students to become the best musicians and people that they can be.