Year of the Shed (2012)

After a few tumultuous years in a row, it is time for me to settle down and hit the shed. I am thankful to have worked with so many creative artists over the years; it’s time to close the practice room door and focus on my own art. Practice is the Path. The Path is Practice. Here are the seven guidelines: 1) mindfulness and sincerity 2) every day 3) (no electronics) 4) Shugyo 5) read 6) log 7) private The most important aspect of quality practice is to be fully aware of both your effort and the subsequent results. Mindfulness…

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Practicing in Airports

I’m just old enough to remember looking forward to flying on an airplane. Back then, businessmen were dressed in suits, meals were complimentary, and children (like myself) received free toys and/or packs of playing cards! Unlike today’s flights where people wear pajamas and flip flops, the tray tables look like the bottom of a cotton candy machine, and the microwaved cheeseburgers cost $6.00. As a young musician, I used to think flying was one of the more glamorous aspects of being a pro, something only the successful artists could enjoy. Ahhh, champagne all around. I keep waiting for a flight…

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Modern Range Expectations

This post addresses the range requirements of a modern professional jazz trumpeter, so it may be a little too specific for most people. You know… high notes and stuff… Professional jazz trumpet players are expected to play higher today than ever before in the history of the instrument. Perhaps the closest historical comparison would be during the baroque era, or, as Ed Tarr would say, “the golden age of the trumpet.” The picture above is a great example of a typical working trumpet section (L-R: Kelly Rossum, Seneca Black, Andy Gravish, Alex Norris). Tarr claims that the golden age of…

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Trumpet Bushido

[WARNING: Some of this post gets extremely technical and is primarily written for trumpet players. This is the obligatory musical equipment post.] The word ‘bushido’, the way of the warrior, thus requires some explanation. Bushi was the original term for the upper-class warrior. The Chinese ideogram used for this word has two component parts whose joint meaning has been variously interpreted. In any case, it seems to be a designation, in the Chinese cultural mode, of an upper class that ruled by knowledge (learning) and military leadership. Both qualities were considered essential to the “superior man” in China as well…

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Shugyo

What a view! This is what I see as I practice each day. This photograph was taken in late October from Fort Tryon Park overlooking the Hudson River. Some days are just amazingly beautiful up here on the hill. I can see the George Washington Bridge to my left and just barely see the Harlem River connecting off to my right. This is the perfect place to play, partially because I’m directly over the Henry Hudson Parkway (HWY 9A), which means that I will never bother anyone with my obnoxious trumpet calisthenics. The first priority in realizing the life (my…

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