Friday, February 24, 2012

ITG Jan 2012 - A reflection on my embouchure change

A day or so ago I got my Jan. 2012 International Trumpet Guild Journal.

It's always good to be reminded that there are thousands of trumpet players in the world who are just as excited about the art form as I am. Just reading the list of presenters at this year's ITG conference inspires me to consider my own potential as a musician.

I've come a long way since working I decided to change my embouchure in July 2008. Terrance Blanchard pointed out to me in a master class that by playing with my trumpet all the way to the left I would wear out the muscles and not be able to play very well after about 7 years. Both he and John Labarbera, who I also worked with that summer, said that mid-career they had to undergo embouchure changes. With daily coaching from John and Bobby Shew (during 2 weeks at Skidmore College) I came up with a routine to work on getting the mouthpiece in the center.

Immediately following the Skidmore Jazz program I went to play with the Tidewater Winds in Norfolk, VA for their 2008 summer season. With the support of the trumpet players in the band I could continue working on my new embouchure in a professional setting. Returning to the Crane School of Music that fall was difficult because my range, stamina and tone had lessend significantly.

Over the years I've been incorporating Maggio system into my practice and working regular on long tones, lip slurs, etudes and my Arban's, I can now play up to high G. My high G on my bigger megatone 3C has less body than when I use my Bobby Shew lead piece but so far my solo rep. and band rep only requires me to go up to high D.

I'm enjoying my last semester at Crane and my last semester as a student at SUNY Potsdam. I have come a long way since 2008. That fall I was placed on the third cornet part for large ensemble but this semester, for the fourth time, I am playing principal trumpet. I really love to lead the section, play the solos, and encourage a full, well tuned and blended section sound. As fun as it is to lead a fine, college large ensemble, reading my ITG makes me wonder: what's next for me as a trumpet player?

There are so many great players out there. When I first came to Crane I had one goal: become the greatest trumpet player in the world, at least as good as Wynton. A foolish goal (since it has no really quantitative or qualitative means of evaluating success!) but in many ways I still keep that goal with me. The biggest change to that goal since I established it for myself in 2006, is that rather than to practice and play to earn acceptance, I feel that more and more I simply love to play. Sounding good, playing well, playing perfectly, working on solo rep. and working with my quintet or the large ensemble, the sheer joy of music making only grows as I grow as a musician.

Do I still want to be the greatest? of course! But now I am striving for greater experiences, rather than to feed my pride, or sense of acceptance. Maybe one day, I'll be on that ITG list, too.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Musicians Effort: Freedom

I found this article today on the International Justice Ministries website.

"“Freedom,” a new two-disc album that supports IJM’s frontline work. Packed with new and never-before-released material from top-40, Dove- and Grammy-award winning artists, the album has already become one of the fastest-selling records in exclusive distributor Family Christian Stores’ history." - IJM

Above is the link to the website though I suspect it may change.

So there is one response to how musicians might end injustice. Compile an album and donate cash to the folks doing the work.

Friday, January 7, 2011

What to do?

My first post since my summer music projects class in 2010.

A few minutes ago I read this article,000_u.s._children_fall_prey_to_sex_trafficking/?page=entire

about children falling into the U.S. sex slave trade. That's plain awful. But I hear it's happening all around the world. One of my trumpet teachers back in high school, a former Navy music school instructor, had this bumper sticker that read: Evil triumphs when good men do nothing.

But what can I do to end child-trafficking?

I've got some time before I get into my career. I'll be earning my Master' Degree in music education at the Crane school of Music until 2012 so I've got plenty of time to ponder these issues. Even then, what can a musician or music teacher do to end child-slavery, trafficking and prostitution?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Key issues from reading that have influenced my thinking

I like the new taxonomy of educational objectives found on page 47.

The from lower to higher order the objectives are: Remember, Understand, Apply, Analyze, Evaluate, and Create. I took this order into consideration while designing my two projects this week. Using these objectives is helping me to think creatively as an educator.

Some old undergraduate assignments had me asking questions like "how can I get my clarinetists to remember to sit up straight?" or "How can I get my 8th graders to be able to recite the Bb scale?" (again, the whole idea of teaching as manipulation that I mention earlier in my blog).
Through my MUSIC MOVES US project I am encouraging my students to use a medium they may not be familiar with to draw relationships between music that might be new to them in an unfamiliar culture. First they analyze different videos and then apply the information. Thinking in terms of connection will also probably help them to be able to recall the information since they will be able to draw up the memory of a context and then fill in the blanks

I like the idea of literacy found on page 49. What does musical literacy look like in the 21st century? Reading and writing music is part of it but my guess is that the majority of people in the world do not read or write standard notation. A literate 21st century musician is one that can act and think independently, is aware of music and its facets, and is productive.

I like the idea of higher-order questions found on page 115. The authors say that these kinds of questions need to be a “regular part of the learning experience. (115)” These are questions that help the student to compare, analyze, evaluate and expand.

The authors mention that while the students are doing their work they may become stumped and come ask the instructor for help. Instead of giving the answer the teacher can guide the students thinking through higher-order questions. It dawned on me that an instructor of mine has been instructing me in this way for quite some time. It was quite frustrating at first (and still is sometimes) because I was used to just getting answers. After awhile I got used to it and got into the habit of using higher order questions as a part of my self-dialogue.

There are several teaching dispositions that arise from the idea of higher order questions.

1. Patience – the instructor has to be patient because the student may need more time to figure out a problem or grasp a concept.
2. Creativity – the teacher has to quickly come up with higher order questions that guide student perception rather than simply “get them to do stuff”
3. humility – the educator must be humble and not be rushing to show how they are masterminds of a certain subject.

I like the idea of higher order questions found on page

Practices to discard

I’ve got to stop taking my job as an educator so lightly.

Project-Based learning is both sophisticated and honorable. It requires tons of front-loading (preparation). A PBL instructor must be a master of the 重い手みちびき術 (omoi-te-michibiki-jutsu) or heavy-handed guiding technique. To guide students with a heavy hand is not to rule with an iron fist. To not use my knowledge and influence to manipulate students but instead use questions and preparation to help them to make educational progress.

Before and during the project I must be prepared and deliberately active. You can’t whistle your way through PBL…unless you’re doing a project on whistling.

Hopefully by being well prepare I won’t have to rely on my authority as a government employee to create an atmosphere where learning takes place.

I’ve got to stop taking my job so seriously.

There is a joy in helping others to arrive at places where at their understanding of existence has increased. Music is a big deal and permeates creation. As music (organized vibrations) is what makes up the universe we cannot rid ourselves of it. Each of us is music and our lives a symphony. Life runs in shuffle-play mode so you can’t get too hung up when things don’t go how you expect.
I have faith that God gives us what we need for each day. As an educator, this means that today I have what it takes to get done what needs to get done today. There’s no sense in taking responsibility for the workings of a universe I didn’t make and barely understand. Projects don’t “not work” they simply end up producing an unplanned learning experience. If I relax a little more maybe I can see how these alternate ends are really a part of the bigger picture - of my growing to understand and share my understandings of music (aka the universe).

Tranforming Practice

What performance practice am I going to transform?

I think that my group and individual lessons are a performance practice that I need to transform.

I do not like sitting around counting and clapping rhythms for teenagers so that they can make me look good. Life is sacred and can be used more responsibly than that. I think that I can use lessons to help cultivate some ways of thinking, like: resiliency of inquiry, wonderment towards music, problem solving, and creativity.

The few times I attempted to do those things I did not have a plan loaded enough to be successful in those ways.

Now, if I had a student who wanted to learn a solo piece or band piece, I might write up a little curriculum of questions just for that piece. I would encourage them to ask critical questions about the music they want to learn. We could treat the piece like a performance project. Throughout the process we could analyze, evaluate, apply and create. Sometimes, I simply taught !!!!REMEMBER!!!!

A long-term goal would be for the student to become musically independent, aware and productive. How is this piece they are working on a stepping-stone towards a richer experience of music and life?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Response to Reinventing Project Based Learning Chapter 2

2010, july 6th
PBL reading response pg 187 Question #2

What connections do I see between teacher collaboration and student learning.

I would guess that there are positive outcomes in student learning when teachers collaborate.
  1. When several people work on a project less will be overlooked in terms of preparation and problem prevention.
  2. The project will be richer since more teachers are contributing to the preparation. Each bringing unique skills and perspectives
  3. What happens in leadership percolates down to followers. Teacher collaboration will set the trend for student collaboration.

Where do I find opportunities to collaborate with collegues
  1. I collaborate with other RA’s to put together programs
  2. I collaborate with other IVCF leadership to put together programs

How could I bring more collaboration into my teaching life?
  1. By participating in education-themed social networks
  2. I think there is an attitude of humility that a collaboration requires. One can’t say “I have all the answers” or “I need all the credit.” I am reminded of a quote I read online “It is amazing what we can achieve when no one cares who gets the credit.”

Who would I want to incorporate into my dream team for collaboration?
  1. I’ve certainly met some innovative teachers this week up in Potsdam. I hope that I have to opportunity to work with such positively minded faculty. Educators who view their students as people not as walking labels.
  2. I have a couple ideas for where and who I’d like to educate but I can’t really say that I have an educational dream. This being said I’m not sure who I’d ask to be a part of my dream team.

How am I using technology to connect with peers?
  1. Well, I’ve started this blog as well as a wiki page:
  2. I expect that I will also use flickr, diigo, facebook, and gmail to connect with peers