April’s first round-up! I took a little break last week for R&R, so here’s what’s been on my radar the last two weeks:
Reading: The Etymologicon, by Mark Forseth: A circular journey through the hidden meanings of the English language. Highly recommend! Funny and smart.
Practicing: Red Dragonfly, Annie Laurie
Rehearsing: Easter has come and gone, and Metro gets back to work this weekend.
Performing: Two Easter services at St John’s in New Brighton.
Listening: Over my holiday I saw several amazing live shows: The Decemberists, OK GO, and the Vijay Iyer trio. Two were remarkably fun and one was inspirational and challenging.
Teaching: Recently someone shared a TED Talk with me by Amy Cuddy (I’ll embed it below) about the use of body language to help change your behavior and performance. Her key slogan? “Fake it until you become it”- the idea that even two minutes of practicing a power posture can lead to better performance in an interview, audition, whatever. I have several students going into contest competitions next week and we will be trying some of these ideas.
Relaxing: What a great week! I spent four days in Chicago visiting friends, seeing music and comedy and art, catching up with some of the special folks in my life. Upon returning to Minneapolis I continued the fun, hanging out with local friends, seeing more live music, watching college basketball (You’ll always be my number one, Wisconsin!). This week it’s back to business as usual, but I feel relaxed and happy to be back at it.
Reading: Still on a break from studying so I can focus on some arranging projects.
(Arranging: Songs for The Satellites; Da Pacem Domine by Arvo Part for Metro Brass)
Practicing: Red Dragonfly, and Arthur Pryor’s Annie Laurie which I may perform with Metro Brass in the future.
Rehearsing: Metro met on Sunday night for some quality rehearsal time. We are preparing a June 4th concert at Grace Lutheran in St Paul. More details soon! Lots of showcase pieces for members of this talented group.
Performing: Nothing on the calendar until Easter weekend.
Listening: Black Messiah by D’Angelo spinning nearly constantly. How is possible for human beings to lay back on a beat so hard? It’s mind-boggling.
Teaching: Blending and intonation. Using an exercise I learned from Tom Ashworth at the U, tuning unisons and various intervals with a partner.
Relaxing: Thursday evening I’m leaving for a long weekend in Chicago! I will see good friends Gabe, Matt, Becka, Candace, and Owen. I have tickets to see the Decembrists and the Vijay Iyer Trio!
No weekly roundup next week! Enjoy your spring break! (TAKE YOUR HORN HOME)
Reading: It’s been a busy week! I haven’t had a chance to start any music-related books.
Practicing: Red Dragonfly, and Arthur Pryor’s Annie Laurie which I may perform with Metro Brass in the future.
Rehearsing: Exultate recorded the Requiem on Thursday and Friday. There will be an album released in May! In the meantime you can watch our performance from St Mark’s online (see link in previous post).
We read Scheherazade (Rimsky-Korsakov), Lemminkainen’s Return (Sibelius), and Oberon Overture (Weber) in Minnehaha Repertory on Saturday.
Performing: After a busy week of performances and recordings, it’s nice to have a little break! Metro is gearing up for a showcase concert in June. More info soon.
Listening: Abigail Washburn hit my radar yesterday and I can’t get enough of her. She’s a banjo player and vocalist who creates some truly sublime music.
Teaching: Musicality involves lots of moving pieces, but in many situations if you can hear the whole picture, it makes it easier to pull it all off. This week I’m helping students play musically by incorporating the micro into the macro.
Relaxing: My friend David is moving to Seattle, and he stopped in Minneapolis this weekend to catch a breather from the road. We spent an afternoon walking around Minnehaha Falls Park and eating good food.
Reading: Creole Trombone: Kid Ory and the Early Years of Jazz by John McCusker. An engaging look at an early jazz trombone hero and how his style influenced the development of a genre.
Practicing: Red Dragonfly, Pryor’s Annie Laurie, Kopprasch Book II.
Rehearsing: Midnight in Moscow meets tomorrow night and I’ll be sharing some of my insight from the Kid Ory book.
Performing: Exultate performed Mozart this past weekend and it went very well! Sunday was my best performance, but they were all great. Kudos to my colleagues Keith and David for their stellar performances (in particular David nailed the Tuba Mirum solo every time). We are recording Thursday and Friday, so soon you can purchase a recording of our brilliance!
Listening: The new Brandi Carlile album (The Firewatcher’s Daughter) is fantastic. I can’t get enough of Sleater-Kinney’s No Cities To Love.
Teaching: Relaxation in the higher register, and how to use our ears to our advantage and avoid strain.
Reading: Keys To Natural Performance For Brass Players, Robert D Weast. An older book but a goodie.
Practicing: Red Dragonfly is still on my stand, as is the second Kopprasch book.
Rehearsing: Mozart Requiem with Exultate Choir and Orchestra. I’m playing bass trombone. See below!
Performing: 3 concerts of Mozart Requiem with Exultate, March 6, 7, 8. Various locations around the Cities! Come and enjoy.
Listening: M. Ward, End of Amnesia; Jenny Lewis, The Voyager; Heart, Dreamboat Annie; R&B songs (by the likes of Stevie Wonder, Thelma Houston, James Hunter, Etta James, etc) as research/arrangements for The Satellites, my soon-to-be-gigging soul/r&b group.
Teaching: Rhythmic recognition and dictation this week. Get ready. You’re going to clap and count.
Relaxing: Walked by the river last night with my friend Susan and her dog Maple. Signed up for 30 Days of Biking again (year 4 for me!). Dreaming about spring.
Reading: Taking a little study break for the week.
Practicing: Red Dragonfly, by Amy Riebs Mills, written for Megumi Kanda (of the Milwaukee Symphony). This was a house-warming gift from a friend and fellow musician. I’m excited to learn it and possibly perform it at next year’s Brass Chix!
Rehearsing: Thursday night I begin rehearsals for the Mozart Requiem with Exultate, a local choir and orchestra I have worked with before. Our performances are next weekend, March 6-8, so come see us if you can!
Minnehaha Repertory will be reading Franck: Symphony in D Minor, Sibelius: Lemminkäinen’s Return Op. 22 #4, and von Weber: Oberon Overture on Saturday.
Performing: Exultate Mozart Requiem March 6-8th, various locations around the Cities.
Listening: I have a big crush on Janelle Monae so pretty much her whole Metropolis cycle (so far). Also have you seen Jupiter Ascending? I mean, do yourself a favor. Seriously. The soundtrack, by Michael Giacchino, is real purdy, and over the top, and wonderful. He also wrote the music for Lost, the Incredibles, Star Trek, etc.
Teaching: Gearing up for a month of contest performances, so I’ve been encouraging my students to start incorporating performance runs in their practice sessions, and we’ve been doing the same in lessons.
Relaxing: I’m really dying to get outside and do some winter fun before spring, but negative degree days aren’t making that an option. Here’s hoping we’ll have some ‘reasonable’ winter so I can go for a hike in my new snow pants soon.
Teaching: Go. Slowly. Dang it. There are times when fast practice can be useful, but 95% of the time you should take things slowly so you can put all the pieces together. “Slow practice = fast progress; Fast practice = slow progress” -Per Brevig, Julliard School of Music
Relaxing: Getting friends together. Amazing how infrequently we do this in the winter, and how lonely it can get. Met up with a friend from college two weeks ago, and it was great to catch up. Had beers with a colleague last week, and enjoyed the opportunity to be a trombone nerd for a few hours. Brunch with another friend and colleague on Thursday. Hosted a gathering at my house on Friday night and it was a great collection of folks that brought positive energy in and left good vibes.
Reading: A review of Trombone Technique, the 1971 manual by Dennis Wick, was in order. It’s helpful to see where we’ve been, and what we’ve discovered since! Also, this article is a no-brainer but I guess we need to see things like this to keep funding art in schools:
Practicing: Blume, 36 Studies for Trombone with F Attachment: #19.
Rehearsing: St Peter Street Stompers rescheduled for tonight, so I still have that coming up. Metro Brass met on Sunday night and had a great rehearsal digging into the songs selected for our performance next weekend (which I unfortunately can’t make! There will be a sub holding down my chair). Minnehaha Repertory Orchestra is performing Franck’s Symphony in D Minor on Saturday, so that should be a good time.
Performing: Empty calendar! Send me gigs!
Listening: John Luther Adams, Songbirdsongs; Franck Dm Symphony; Arvo Part, Tabula Rasa.
Teaching: Later today I’ll have a post about covering the basics in practicing: hitting range, dynamics, and articulation as a part of your technical studies to give you more flexibility on the horn. Last weekend I sat in on my friend Melissa‘s lessons to get some insight and inspiration. I love how focused on her students she is, and how carefully she observes their progress. I’ve made copious notes on incorporating that into my own lessons.
Relaxing: Legend of Korra, Books 3 & 4, almost done (eep! what will I do then?). Reading Potluck Supper with Meeting to Follow by Andy Studevant for a book club next weekend. Great insights into the MSP arts community, and very enjoyable reading.
Reading: Beyond Talent: Creating a Succesful Career in Music (Beeching). A review of this great text for young professional musicians. Lots of stuff I’ve forgotten about in the past few years, too.
Practicing: Running through some Arban scale exercises and finding I’ve gotten lazy with my scale practice lately.
Rehearsing: Tonight I have a rehearsal with the St Peter Street Stompers, a trad jazz band I performed with regularly a few years back. It’s nice to be invited to sit in on their upcoming Mardi Gras gig. I’ll have details on my gig site when I have them!
Minnehaha Repertory Orchestra is back at rehearsals this month as well and on Saturday we read through Scheherazade, one of my favorite orchestral works.
Performing: Nothing on the calendar until next week.
Listening: John Luther Adams, Become Ocean; Fleet Foxes; Tallest Man on Earth; Smetana, Ma Vlast
Teaching: Encouraging my students to develop their routine beyond just warm-ups, and to start thinking of it as an integral part of their practice session. Several of my students have taken this to heart and are already sounding stronger and more confident.
Relaxing: Began re-watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer with my friend Meghan last night, because huge nerds. Reading comics, hoping for more snow so I can get out and play.
Reading: Still working on The Music Teaching Artists’ Bible.
Practicing: “Duo Concertante for Tenor and Bass Trombone” by Daniel Schnyder. I get together frequently with my friend Derek to sight-read duets and he had just gotten this in the mail. We got about four bars in and realized we’d never be able to read it cold, so I brought it home to get familiar with it.
Rehearsing: I haven’t had any rehearsals this week! Crazy!
Performing: No performances either.
Listening: Iron and Wine, pretty much his entire catalogue, always; Sleater-Kinney, No Cities To Love, which has me swooning it’s so good; Bjork, Vulnicura.
Teaching: Air air air air air. Follow the musical line. Don’t hold anything back.
Relaxing: Making cookies and watching The Legend of Korra.
Kind of a slow week! End of January doldrums, I guess.