Honored.

When I was 17, during my senior year of high school, I got accepted to the music program at the University of Wisconsin. I was using a school trombone, a Bach 42, and it was time to find my own horn.

My dad did a little research, and as it turned out one of the San Diego Symphony players was selling a horn (embarrassingly, I don’t remember who it was). The price was right and it suited me, so home came my very own Edwards tenor, with two(!) bells to swap in and out.

I’ve played that horn for almost 20 years now. One of the bells tragically lost a battle in the cargo hold of an airplane, and the original Thayer valve was eventually replaced with a newer Edwards model, but all the other parts remain the same. My horn and I have traveled the world, played every type of music, and become nearly inseparable.

And so I am greatly honored and humbled to have been asked to join the Edwards Instruments Artist family. I see my photo up there with some of the greats, some of my trombone heroes, and some of my incredibly skilled contemporaries, and I am gobsmacked. I know it’s just a title, but for the teenager who got her own trombone all those years ago, it feels like she’s made it.

You’ll be seeing more about this as I figure out how to milk it for everything it’s worth!

(Click on the link above and scroll through the list- it’s alphabetical) and you’ll find me!)

Not One, but SEVERAL Announcements!

So things tend to come in threes, and this post full of exciting professional announcements is no exception!

 

~ONE~
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My new clinic, “Ear on the Prize: A holistic approach to effective brass instruction” is now available for booking. Check out the link in the name for more information- I’m really excited to begin offering this clinic to schools in the region!

 

~TWO~Brass Lassie’s album is DONE and ready to be released! We are having a party and concert to celebrate the new album for local folks on September 7th. Details here! The album will be available to purchase in physical form or digital download on our website September 7th as well.

 

~THREE~

I am extremely pleased to announce that I have accepted the adjunct trombone instructor position at St Cloud State University starting this fall.  I am joining a faculty of incredibly talented musicians and educators, and I cannot wait to meet the students of this fine music department. Look for some great events, concerts, and opportunities coming from this direction throughout the academic year.

Welcome, August!

Hi all, It’s been a while since I’ve had an opportunity (or the inspiration) to write…I hope you haven’t missed me too much.

July was a month of travel and adventure, and lots of positive change. I spent two weeks exploring Scotland and London on vacation, taking in all the beautiful landscapes and culture. I took Brass Lassie with me, as you can see:

And someday I’ll come back with the whole band on tour.

Upon returning to Minnesota I got back to work teaching and performing, with some notable highlights:

-Brass Lassie performed at the Scottish Fair in Eagan on my birthday, July 21st, and it was a marvelous day of love and music all around.

-Subbing in for the TC Latin Jazz Orchestra at Jazz Central- truly a great group, great music, and a supportive crowd!

-Rebecca and I traveled up to St Cloud State to perform a few works (A Caged Bird and Loveletter, Postmark San Jose) and talk with the students at the Athena Band and Leadership Camp. I had so much fun answering the intelligent and insightful questions of these future musical leaders. I will have some more thoughts on what I learned from this day soon.

-I played in the live orchestra for MNKINO’s Film Score Fest on July 28th, joining a small orchestra in playing scores for about 20 short, independent local films.

Next up is a busy August: lots more Brass Lassie, a heavier teaching schedule, and trying to soak up all the remaining summer free time I can!

Here’s my two upcoming performances:

Brass Lassie at Crooners Lounge, Aug 2, 730-10pm

Brass Lassie at the Irish Fair of Minnesota, Aug 12, 12pm Main Stage

Hope to see you there!

 

#MusicAndMentalHealth: Then vs Now

When I set out this month to put focus on how I and my colleagues balance our careers and our mental and emotional health, I had no idea the myriad places each topic would take me. I’ve covered so many ideas: from talking about how I balance work & life, researching what burnout feels like (and discovering just how badly I had it), and giving myself permission to vacation; to highlighting some of my favorite folks (Rebecca Hass on rest, Leah Pogwizd on owning your animus, and Tully Hall on curiosity); to asking you via Facebook posts how you do self-care, design your perfect schedule, rock it out, and manage stress. 

I’ll admit that at the beginning of May I was a little bit of a wreck. I’d made an unforgiving and jam-packed teaching schedule for myself, and April and May were busy with gigs, recording sessions, and rehearsals. I was also navigating the resurgence of a traumatic episode in my past, which often happens around the event’s anniversary. In short, I was more than burnt-out, I was ready to sweep out the fireplace and move out of the building.

At the end of last year I set myself some hefty goals for 2018, and I started out January with my usual nose-to-the-grindstone pace & a to-do list miles long. It might be no surprise to anyone, but I have trouble taking days off. There’s always something I can get done if I have the time. Just sitting down- with no real agenda- is incredibly hard. Now, procrastination- that’s another story. I’m happy to set myself a task and then avoid it at all costs, only to rush the work just at the end of the time I’ve allotted for it.

What I’ve learned this month is that overwork does no one any good. I’m self-employed, and many of the tasks and goals I set for myself do not need to have deadlines or be rushed. No one but me is suffering if I don’t get a certain product out into the world when I said I would. If I let myself get it done as I’m inspired to do it, or even just forgive myself when I miss a day of work on it, it’ll get done, and be even better than I thought.

In June & July, I’m intentionally not setting a theme for the blog. I’ll be writing and checking in, but I’m giving myself permission to go back to freeform posting. I’ve also assigned myself only one big project- the marketing and pricing design of my music clinician business- and put a few others on hold. Less is more, this summer, as I give my tired mind a chance to reconnect with the inspiration music and teaching give me.

What have you learned in May? How will you move forward in new and healthier ways?

#MusicAndMentalHealth Wisdom Wednesday: Alexander Technician Tully Hall

Wednesdays this month, I’m aiming to feature the writing of a colleague who’s doing good work helping musicians find ways to balance work, life, and play. Whether they’re finding paths for themselves and sharing their journey, or actively guiding people through the process of gaining a good groundwork, these folks are truly thinking outside the box of our traditional grindstone mentality. The result is careers and people that are happier, more productive in the long run, and ultimately, more successful (and it all depends on how you define ‘success’).

This week I want to feature the insightful writing and mentorship of my Alexander Technique teacher, Tully Hall. Tully is as kind-hearted and wise a person as I have ever met, and we’ve really bonded over our mutual ideas about brass playing, movement, pedagogy, and life.

After many years of being intrigued by Alexander and thinking “I should try that”, last July I finally got a recommendation to contact Tully, and I am so glad I did. I’ve done just about every little bit of bodily self-care you can think of in order to manage chronic back, neck, and shoulder pain: acupuncture, yoga, physical therapy, cupping, massage, flotation tanks… Every one of them was great, and combining them helped a little, but nothing has made quite the difference that AT has, and in as short an amount of time. I stopped fighting my body’s tension spots and started reorganizing how I stood, sat, moved, and flowed through my day.  Talking with Tully about intention and external focus of attention has reminded me that the pedagogy I teach doesn’t just have to apply to brass playing. We can move through the world without grasping, without working so hard. We can be open and curious.

Here are some of my favorite posts by Tully on the topic of intention and curiosity, but I highly recommend her entire blog.

Where Intention Goes, Energy Flows

Descriptions of Alexander Technique can often include the dreaded p-word (Posture!), which can bring up a maelstrom of ‘shoulds’ and ‘shouldn’ts’ for many of us. But what is posture really? A few weeks ago I listened to ‘On Being’ host Krista Tippett talking with physicist Carlo Rovelli. The episode is titled: All Reality is Interaction. One of his phrases really stuck with me: “the huge wave of happenings which is a human self.”  One aspect of that wave is our interaction with gravity. We are made for gravity: we meet its presence with our own wave of anti-gravity. We’re so elegantly designed that we don’t have to exert direct muscular force to do it.

Get Ready, Get Curious…Engage!

My great niece has this uncluttered freedom that I admire very much. (It’s wonderfully common in the 1.5 year old demographic.) Using my Alexander Technique know-how lets me get some of that freedom for myself:

  • I can enter a listening, curious state rather than a “just let me get through this so I can get to the next thing” state.
  • If I don’t rush, I don’t tighten.
  • I don’t have to hold myself up, I can rest on whatever’s supporting me.
  • I can orient my attention outward into the environment surrounding me.
  • I can find a state of flow that makes me available to move.
  • If I’m holding or moving something, I can ask it, “how would you like to move?”

Have you experimented with Alexander Technique? How has it affected you, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally? Do you find, like I do, that after a lesson you feel like you could take on anything in your day with poise and grace?