Thursday, September 29, 2011

Opening Night

It's that time of year, back to school and back to performances!  Last night was the opening night of the UMKC Wind Symphony.  The concert took place in the week old Kauffman Center; a $330 million dollar building dedicated to performing arts in Kansas City.  The hall is incredible, and to fill the space the program included William Bolcolm's Concerto Grosso and Corigliano's Circus Maximus.  The Prism Saxophone Quartet performed both pieces with the band.

For those of you who do not know, Circus Maximus is an incredibly large work that fills any performance venue.  The piece is incredibly loud and includes several off stage trumpets, percussion, woodwinds, horns,  a marching band and a shotgun.  The performance is certainly an ordeal and a crowd pleaser.

For those of you who did not get to see a performance recently or do not live in a major city you can checkout live and recorded broadcasts of several ensembles.  Our performance from last night will be on youtube shortly.

The LA Philharmonic performed last weekend, but the concert is still on NPR.  Check out....... ridiculous.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Well folks, I am famous.  I know this might come as a surprise to most of you, but I am kind of a big deal.

I had no idea this video actually existed.  And I am a little ashamed at how little views this video has.  You will notice two CCM grads in the video, Jackie Arrington and myself.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Musicians are Geniuses

The MacArthur Foundation announced it's 2011 Genius grants today.  Among the top thinkers of the day are two musical performers.  Alisa Weilerstein and Dafnis Prieto both received the half-a-million dallor grant to do what every they want.  To make this even more impressive both of these musicians a relatively young, Dafnis is 37 and Alisa is 29.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Ride: in one

The ride is plagued with an incredible amount of thought.  The biggest aspects being the rhythm, tuning, and style.  Another large issue is making the accent on the downbeat and not hammering the dotted quarters.  Try thinking about the excerpt in one.

In my lesson last week, JoDee Davis, talked about the 1996 Chicago Lyric Opera production of the Ring Cycle.  In this production the Valkyries "ride" in on trampolines.  In this moment the singers are replaced by agile ballet dancers suspended from the ceiling.  Apparently, the dancers would land/jump on the downbeat of every measure.  In this production "the ride" is clearly in one.  Check out the article form the New York Times for an awesome image.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Just for Funsies

I am not sure why people feel the need to write all over their parts, however we have all done it.  I have seen copies of rental parts where other bass trombonists signed their name.  And, of course, the obligatory cursing over difficult passages.  Yesterday, I saw something new.

Yes those are single celled organisms and references to Star Wars.  Later on in the piece there are also dinosaurs and monsters....Oh my?

Now if there are any of my former students that miss me enough to get me a present, I found the perfect thing.

Order the t-shirt from Shirt.Woot.  E-mail me for my new address.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Visuals and Music

I read several other blogs in the inter-webs.  Most of the authors are my friends, teachers, or people I find interesting.  You can see a few off to the left.  I would recommend Alex Ross and Bob Sutton, who actually write for careers.  However, today I was presented with a paradox.

Bill Eddins wrote about musicians that move with music.  If you watch great performers, most move a little.  Even in large ensembles musicians move.  For some this can be "musical" and for others it can be functional, like when a principal player gives a little cue for the section. 

What happens when musicians are blind? The Ohio State School for the Blind Marching Panther Band is teaching young blind musicians to participate in a visually complex activity.  Incredible.

In studio class, Dr. JoDee Davis had the trombone choir close our eyes and listen for the breath to start playing.  This is a difficult task for twelve people to accomplish.  I love rehearsing in chamber groups with our backs to each other.  This lets you rely on your ears and to trust that your colleagues really will play on time.

Visuals do effect the performance of classical music both for the performer and for the audience. The audience likes to "see" the music either from the conductor or soloist.  And performers use visuals to inform what we do.  How else can you communicate silently over several feet of space?

Another Air Flow Analogy

Air flow, it must be important, everyone keeps talking about it.

The most common air flow analogy is probably the old water faucet story.  You turn the water on and then you just interrupt the water with your hand.

This past weekend, I rented a car to drive 600 miles along I-70.  Cruise control made my life easy.  Just like a solid consistent airstream.  Of course, I still had to adjust for traffic or construction, just like I have to adjust my air flow based on register, dynamic, or style.  However, the air or cruise control is always on and consistent.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Musical Creativity II

Joel Baroody is a great friend of mine.  Currently, he plays trumpet with the Coast Guard band in New London, CT.  He wrote the harmony, one verse, and recorded every part of this wonderful anthem.  I cannot thank musicians for their free time more.  Bravo, Mr. Baroody.  Check out his other youtube videos!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

San Francisco Symphony turns 100

In a financially driven artistic world that is threatening the existence of some of the oldest musical organizations in the country, it is nice to hear some good news.  NPR did a great spread about the San Francisco Symphony turning 100 this year.  At 11 o'clock EST check out to hear the orchestra play Billy the Kid and Young Person's Guide.  There will also be appearances by some incredible guest performers.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Simple Tunes and Duets

Ever since studying with Brad Edwards, playing simple tunes has been a part of me.  They were huge to me as a young player and I use them a lot when I teach.  Recently, I have been playing simple music to work on my own fundamentals .  Simply put, when playing simple music you can work on more complex concepts.  Brad even has a book full of simple tunes, Simply Singing.  I have not actually used this book but I hear it is fantastic.

A few days ago I found a new site.  This is a creation of Joe Schoonmaker.  This site is not about lip slurs, it is about simple duets.  The site is designed for young players (probably still in middle or high school) to have access to a large collection of duets.  The duets are available in a verity of keys, so playing with different instruments is easy.  

Here is the kicker.  Schoonmaker convinced Doug Yeo of the Boston Symphony to record a few of the parts.  Not only can you play with your friends but you can play with a member of the Boston Symphony!