The Daily Routine: Our “This is a Football” Speech

Vince Lombardi (1913-1970) was one of the most successful football coaches in the history of the National Football League, leading the Green Bay Packers to an extended period of dominance in the 1960s. Today the trophy awarded to the winner of the Super Bowl is named in his honor. A firm believer in the importance of playing fundamentals in building successful football teams, Lombardi famously began each year’s training camp by holding up a ball and saying “Gentlemen, this is a football,” followed by a review of the very basic elements of the game. His teams were composed of some of the most accomplished and successful athletes in the world and some no doubt though this approach to be unnecessarily pedantic, but they couldn’t argue with his results. Lombardi demanded excellence and pursued it methodically, beginning with building the foundations needed for successful competition.

Over the years I’ve come to realize more and more that the elements necessary for success in sports are very similar to those required for progress and success in music. In trying to teach my seven-year-old son just a bit about how to throw a football, shoot a basketball, or catch a baseball (and, trust me, I know only a bit about these things) I can see that his successes are tied directly to correct fundamental execution and his most marked failures come when he becomes so enamored with trick plays and lucky shots that he has seen on television or online clips that he ignores the basics and tries to do something spectacular. This is no different than most young boys, of course, and I was certainly no better at his age (in fact, I was considerably worse), but thirty added years of life experience and at least some success in the music business have provided me with some additional perspective on what is happening when he succeeds or fails in his sporting endeavors. He is slowly learning to focus his efforts on correct basic execution, and his skills are improving as a result.

In music I see very similar tendencies with my students. Even since high school I have been both a proponent and a practitioner of the daily routine as a means of reviewing and extending fundamental playing skills each day. Over the years I have noticed that diligence in this area has been tied to my greatest successes as a brass player, and negligence has led to failure. I constantly seek to impress the importance of this upon my students, but they usually require some convincing before they learn to develop their fundamental playing skills before tackling the most challenging repertoire. Despite my efforts, most have to learn this lesson “the hard way,” as I sometimes have.

Why is the daily routine so important? Part of it is because of the need to warm-up, to gently exercise the muscles and tissues used in playing, though this can be accomplished without the use of a repetitive and systematic routine. I think even more important is the mental aspect. The daily routine provides an opportunity to systematically review how to play the instrument, beginning with the most basic elements and moving to more advanced concepts. In essence, during the daily routine I teach myself all over again how to play the trombone correctly and fend off the development of unproductive habits.

In that sense, the daily routine is our version of the “this is a football” speech, given to ourselves each day. It worked for Lombardi and the Packers, and it works for us brass players, as well.


Posted in Alto Trombone, Bass Trombone, Daily Routine, Euphonium, Music, Pedagogy, Playing Fundamentals, Practicing, Teaching Low Brass, Tenor Trombone, Trombone, Tuba, Vince Lombardi

Encouraging or Demanding? … Yes!

This weekend I returned to my graduate alma mater, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, for the first time since completing my doctoral degree in 2005. The occasion was the 20th annual North Carolina Trombone Festival, for which I was the featured guest artist. I gave a recital on Friday evening, and then today performed one piece on a group faculty recital, conducted one of the trombone choirs, and gave lectures in the morning and afternoon. It was a busy but enjoyable and successful time, and after working extra hard for the past few weeks to prepare for this event in addition to my regular teaching and performing duties I am looking forward to, God willing, a calmer schedule for the remaining weeks of the spring semester.

Being here for the past few days has also reminded me of why I chose to come to UNCG, why it was such a blessing for me to be here, and the ways in which I seek to emulate my trombone teacher here, Dr. Randy Kohlenberg. Interestingly enough, UNCG was not on my short list when I first began considering graduate programs; I had never even heard of the school or its trombone teacher prior to my senior year in college. After I found that one of my top choices did not have a graduate assistantship available my teacher at Delta State University, Dr. Ed Bahr, suggested that I consider UNCG, where a doctoral school classmate of his was teaching. I sent a prescreening tape and later performed a live audition, and while I was here for that visit I observed Dr. Kohlenberg’s outstanding teaching. After that day I was hooked, and was very thankful when UNCG offered me a teaching assistantship and tuition waiver. I completed my master’s degree in only three semesters and they offered to continue funding my schooling for a doctoral degree; I never considered going elsewhere.

What had me so hooked on UNCG and Dr. Kohlenberg’s teaching? This: He was both tremendously demanding and unfailingly kind and encouraging. When I observed his teaching during that first visit I saw Dr. Kohlenberg work with students of varying ability levels, always pushing them to achieve more, admonishing them when lack of preparation was to blame for poor results, yet doing this without resorting to personal insults, mockery (except in an obviously kindly, joking way), or other negative behaviors. As his student then and now today years later in observing him with his current students I have seen and experienced this man demanding absolute perfection—on several occasions he spent an entire lesson with me on just a few bars of music—but at the same time treating every student with gentleness, kindness, and respect. The result is excellent playing on the part of his students both current and former, and even this weekend I know that I played better because of his encouraging words and actions toward me.

The music business is a tough one. The demands for quality are high, the employment opportunities far fewer than the number of qualified applicants, and the temptations great for musicians and music teachers to be either negative and self-serving in the midst of their demands or otherwise overly permissive and resigned to mediocrity. I’m therefore thankful to have had a teacher who so ably demonstrated how to be kind and encouraging while simultaneously demanding ever higher levels of skill and achievement. I hope and pray that I am such a teacher to my students, and am going home even more determined and inspired to strive to that end.

Posted in Alto Trombone, Bass Trombone, Education, Higher Education, Micah Everett, Music, Music Education, North Carolina Trombone Festival, Pedagogy, Performing, Randy Kohlenberg, Teachers, Teaching Low Brass, Tenor Trombone, Trombone, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Growth or Death?

I write this evening in the middle of what has been fairly satisfying weekend professionally. My students gave a fine performance of the national anthem at the Ole Miss Baseball game versus Mississippi State, and I have played one of two scheduled performances with Tom Walker’s Gospel Train Big Band, a touring group for which I normally serve as lead trombonist when they come through Mississippi. Yesterday’s experience with that group has in part prompted my choice of topic for today, as I was called upon to perform improvised solos with the band on several occasions and not only did so competently but also did so with practically no anxiety about the process. This was not always the case for me. While I studied jazz improvisation to some degree as an undergraduate student, I never became particularly comfortable or successful in the endeavor, and as a graduate student and young professional mostly set that training aside. I gave myself and others the (partially true) excuse that I was investing the energies that I might have spent working on improvisation on learning to play multiple instruments, but a truer statement would have been that I didn’t think I was very good at improvisation and wasn’t sure how to get better. I still played jazz gigs periodically, often laughing off solo opportunities by saying that “I improvise well enough to keep getting hired as a lead player” (since the second trombonist is the chair more often called upon to solo).

As I’ve written or alluded to several times over the years in this space, my career since beginning university studies 20 years ago has been characterized by rapidly increasing success, followed by a short plateau and steady decline, then a crisis brought about by that decline combined with health issues, and then over the past seven years or so a steady rebuilding. (I have written more detailed reflections on all of this here.) In most respects I play better now than I ever have, and am thankful for even the negative experiences that in God’s providence have led me to this point. In retrospect, I see that the decline in my abilities came about largely because I had unconsciously decided that I was “good enough,” and failed to realize until it was almost too late that what I thought was “treading water” was really a slow but steady loss of skill. Understanding now that my abilities as a musician will always be either increasing or decreasing, I am always seeking more refinement, better techniques, and new skills. Taking up tuba as an additional doubling instrument for performance (in addition to teaching, which I was already doing) is a manifestation of this, as is this newfound interest in becoming a better jazz musician. While I don’t presently aspire to become a great jazz player (at some point one realizes that he cannot be the master of everything), I am happy to have become a more serviceable one, and look forward to further developing these skills. I have learned that I must continue to grow as a musician if I wish to remain a skilled (and employable) one.

If you will indulge me in a bit of theological reflection in this vein, there is a comparison to be made here to the Christian life, to how one is to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Just as continued growth is necessary for maintaining one’s skill and vitality as a musician, so continued growth is necessary as one continues through life as a Christian. Our Lord used no small number of agricultural metaphors to convey spiritual truths, one of the most poignant being that of the vine and the branches. Speaking to his disciples just before his crucifixion, Jesus said “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). The Lord tells us that our vitality as “branches” comes from the life-giving, growth-producing nourishment of the Vine, and just one verse later he warns that “If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.” Think also of the Parable of the Sower as recorded in Matthew 13, Mark 4, and Luke 8, and which was recently addressed during the Sunday School hour at Christ Presbyterian Church. Here we have four groups of people represented as scattered seed. The first group demonstrates no spiritual life at all, and the last grows and produces a tremendous crop, but the middle two groups are the ones that are to me the most frightening, as these seeds do spring up and show some signs of life but as they are scorched or choked they wither and die. Jesus said frankly later in Matthew that “the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:13). The first hints of nascent spiritual life are not enough; one must diligently seek to grow to maturity and produce much fruit.

There is more to being a great musician than studying hard, practicing hard, and establishing a professional career. Growth in understanding and skill is necessary in order to maintain that career at the highest level, or else one will find that his skills slowly decline and with them his career. Similarly—though with infinitely higher stakes—there is more to being a Christian than a simple affirmation of the facts about Christ or even the initial signs of spiritual life. The true Christian is marked by growth, endurance, increase. He diligently uses the means of grace (Word, sacraments, and prayer) in order to become more like his Lord and Savior, and as the Westminster Shorter Catechism (1647) puts it, he diligently seeks to “more and more die unto sin and live unto righteousness.” Jesus never offers hope for those who fail to do this, except that they truly come to him in repentance and faith before it is too late.

So, fellow musician—and more importantly, fellow Christian—will you have growth or death?


Posted in Christian Worldview, Micah Everett, Music, Music and Theology, Performing, Practical Christianity, Practicing, Providence, Salvation, Teaching Low Brass, Theology, Trombone, Tuba

Play Like Obi-Wan Kenobi, Not Like……Darth Maul

Those who know me even a little bit know that my family and I are Star Wars fans. We are so not because we think the stories are great literature much less present a philosophical system that is compatible with our own Christian worldview, but simply because the universe George Lucas (b. 1944) and his successors have created provides a fun bit of hugely imaginative escapism. We not only enjoy the movies but also a few of the novels, and especially the animated series The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels. My writing here has to do with Episode 20 of Season 3 of the latter series, which aired tonight and is entitled “Twin Suns.”

The events of this episode take place approximately 16-17 years after the events of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, and thus 2-3 years prior to the events of the original Star Wars film, Episode IV: A New Hope. Here we find Darth Maul, who during The Clone Wars series had been found to have improbably survived being cut in half during his duel with Obi-Wan Kenobi in Episode I: The Phantom Menace, and has spent the past 30 years planning and occasionally exercising some vengeance upon Kenobi for his shattered life. Through some clever psychological manipulation of Jedi Padawan Ezra Bridger Maul has discovered that Kenobi is living in exile someplace on the desert planet of Tatooine, and at the end of the episode at last finds and confronts Kenobi, seeking a fight to the death.

twin-suns-08_f1bea50fKenobi, here cleverly portrayed for the first time in an animated version more like his elderly self as first played by Sir Alec Guinness (1914-2000), is reluctant to fight but resigns himself to doing so once Maul begins to divine Kenobi’s purpose on Tatooine as Luke Skywalker’s guardian. The two aged warriors draw their weapons and study each other for an extended period, evidently not only planning their own attack strategies but also seeking to anticipate one another’s moves. Kenobi begins with an attack posture like that used by his younger self in the Star Wars prequels, but soon settles into the simpler, more economical style of Guinness’s swordplay. In the end, this economy wins the day, as after parrying just twice Kenobi with a simple gesture both severs Maul’s double-bladed lightsaber and mortally wounds his opponent in the chest. Both before and after the encounter Kenobi seems to regard Maul more with pity than anything else, as he has been used and discarded by the Emperor just like the Jedi Order, the Republic, and the former peace which prevailed in the galaxy.

Kenobi vs. Grievous

At this point, you’re wondering “What on earth does all of this have to do with brass playing?” In a blog post several years ago I used a somewhat tortured description of the duel between Kenobi and General Grievous in Episode III to illustrate something about brass playing, namely that just as the more economical actions of Kenobi won the day over the busier activity of Grievous, so greater efficiency in brass playing yields better results than lots of extraneous effort. This new duel between Kenobi and Maul makes that point even more dramatically. In brass playing—and evidently in lightsaber dueling—efficient, economical actions always win the day.

Now back to practicing…and seeking to “practice what I preach!”

Posted in Alto Trombone, Bass Trombone, Education, Euphonium, Music, Performing, Practicing, Star Wars, Teaching Low Brass, Tenor Trombone, Trombone, Tuba

Appreciation of Beauty is Natural; Ignoring it is Learned

Today I’ve been coming down after a busy but enjoyable few days at the American Trombone Workshop (preparing for the trip is one reason I missed blogging last week), and haven’t been particularly productive. While scrolling through my Facebook feed I came across what was certainly a bit of “click-bait” but indulged in it anyway. In the video a little girl puts a bit of money into the hat of a bass-playing street musician, and over the next few minutes a flash-mob assembles, performing an abridgement of the fourth movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (i.e. the “Ode to Joy”). The performance was of good quality, especially considering the venue and circumstances, but not particularly remarkable. What struck me about the video was the reactions of the children in the area, who happily danced, conducted, and generally reveled in the beauty of the moment. One is reminded of the experiment of a decade ago when world-renowned violinist Joshua Bell played for an hour or so in a Washington, D.C., Metro station. Few adults took notice despite the exquisite playing of masterpieces of the repertoire, but “every single time a child walked past, he or she tried to stop and watch. And every single time, a parent scooted the kid away.” The children recognized that something special was taking place, but the adults wore blinders.

That our children have an innate sense of beauty should be unsurprising. After all, the God who made us has revealed himself both in Scripture and in Creation to be a God who values beauty for its own sake, so human beings made in his image could be expected to do the same. And yet, the American way—and this ethos has crept into other cultures as well—has typically been to prize utility over beauty, with the creation and enjoyment of the beautiful for its own sake without any quantifiable economic or social benefit being seen as a waste. The same attitude has crept into the church, where millions of dollars are spent on facilities and programs but the idea of raising artistic standards by, say, training and compensating musicians is sometimes viewed with suspicion, to say nothing of offering rudimentary musical instruction to congregations so that the quality of singing improves. And, sadly enough, sometimes even our own arts institutions have contributed to a loss of this simple, childlike love of beauty—ask yourself, what would happen if a parent allowed his child to joyfully dance and conduct along with Beethoven at an actual orchestra concert?

Now, am I arguing for the abolition of the mores governing concert etiquette, or for an expansion of publicly funded arts programs, or for bigger and more professionalized music in the churches? No. I have written frequently in opposition to the latter (music should be of good quality but not overshadow preaching), I view the question of public arts funding as a state or local matter rather than a federal one, and I think that some decorum in concerts is helpful and necessary. Nevertheless, I think it is appropriate for us to examine ourselves as individuals and as a society and ask what we are doing that by the time we reach adulthood snuffs out the appreciation for beauty that our children seem to have innately. More importantly, we should ask what we can do to recover it. This is not only good for us subjectively; it is a divine command!

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)


Posted in Beauty, Christian Worldview, Education, Music, Music and Theology, Music and Worship, Performance Videos, Performing, Practical Christianity, Society

“…in Godliness with Contentment”

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going. (Ecclesiastes 9:10)

The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. (Ecclesiastes 12:13)

Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. (1 Timothy 6:6-7)

This weekend I was asked a question that I have heard periodically throughout my career. “So, is Ole Miss a destination for you, or are you planning to move on to bigger things?” In the past I was asked the same thing about the University of Louisiana at Monroe, where I happily taught for seven years. I will admit to always being taken aback by that question. For one thing, I have always thought that the institutions where I have worked and the students and colleagues there deserved better than to be treated as stepping stones. Even years ago at the University of Northern Iowa, where my term-limited teaching position was by nature impermanent, I acted as if the job there would be mine for an extended period and endeavored to build foundations for future growth in case my place there became more long-term. At ULM my position was tenure-track and then tenured, and while I thought it unwise to totally rule out the possibility of another move I intended to stay there permanently. I worked not only to build my position at the university but also to put down roots in the community, roots whose severing was painful when I decided to apply for and ultimately accept my present position at Ole Miss. Here also, and especially after being awarded tenure, I have endeavored to establish permanent roots and foundations in my professional life as well as in church, community, and family activities. Am I willing to predict the future and say that I will certainly retire here? No, but unless some great change in circumstances takes place I expect that to be the case, and will be happy and thankful if it is so. While I have worked to bolster my place in the profession by performing, presenting, and writing (including, in a small way, this blog), I do this to better promote Ole Miss and to build my case for further promotion here, not to position myself to move on to another job some might perceive as better.

Perhaps the rapid trajectory of my early career has led some to wonder why I was so quick to “settle down.” After all, I deliberately worked through three university degrees in eight years (as opposed to the usual nine or ten, or more) in order to get out of school and into the profession (and making money!) as quickly as possible. Maybe that ambition appeared to indicate that I would be a person who would continue to leap from one job to the next up the proverbial ladder until reaching a position that my colleagues would view as a “pinnacle” type of job. I suppose that is the case with many others, but it was never so with me. My professional ambition was always to get through school as quickly as possible, then settle into a university position (big or small) and set about building a career and a life from there.

Why is that the case? Part of it is that my undergraduate training was at a small university with a small music department, and I have a special affection for that type of situation. While the smaller pool of students necessarily means that the course offerings will be fewer and the student ensembles not always as good, there are opportunities for quality instruction and interactions in those smaller, close-knit departments that do not exist in larger ones. As a smaller department within a large research university, the music department at Ole Miss in some ways offers the best of both worlds, and it is rewarding to be here.

Another part of my seeming lack of ambition (or, more accurately, a differently directed ambition) is that I dislike large cities. While large metropolitan areas offer a great many more performing opportunities for a classical-and-sometimes-jazz musician such as me, they also bring higher costs, more crime, and a general unsuitableness for family life. In Lafayette County, Mississippi, my family and I can live quite well on my salary from the university. This would not be the case in a more urban environment where housing in particular is much more expensive but the salary would be similar. A related consideration is that my positions both here and in Monroe placed us within three hours’ drive of both my wife’s parents and mine, a luxury not afforded to many in this business.

Ultimately, though, my desire to quickly establish myself, put down roots, and grow is rooted in my Christian understanding of work and contentment. An unhappy side effect of my rapid ascent into the university teaching profession (remember, I started as a teaching assistant at age 22 and had my first adjunct position at 24) is that while still in very early adulthood I had reached all of my immediate professional goals and in effect asked “is this all there is?” After spending years of intense work effectively “checking off boxes” and “doing all of the right things” I found myself at the end of all of that and looking ahead at years of relative sameness. To a certain extent, that dissatisfaction was relieved only when health challenges threatened to end my playing career and I was jolted into remembering just how blessed I am to do what I do.

Even more important, though, was my settled knowledge even as a very young man that my career could never satisfy, could never be “all there is,” and that I was to find contentment and fulfillment in Christ in the midst of even the best professional circumstances. In the Book of Ecclesiastes we read the reflections of an aged King Solomon, a man who was afforded but largely squandered every worldly advantage. He had political power, unsurpassed wealth, and great wisdom and understanding, yet wasted so much of his life in extravagance, polygamy, idolatry, and rebellion against God. As an old man here he seems regretful and, one hopes, repentant, realizing that the things upon which he bestowed his time, strength, and resources were mere vanity, and that joy and satisfaction ultimately come only in the loving worship and service of God.

Happily, as a music teacher I have no hope of obtaining great wealth or power, and I am perfectly satisfied with having only one wife! Nevertheless, the temptation to seek my greatest fulfillment in my work is always present, either explicitly by essentially making work an idol, or more often implicitly by giving God lip-service while my time, efforts, and thoughts are focused upon work. In some respects, musicians can be more susceptible to this than those in other professions due to our often erratic hours combined with certain social pressures unique to our profession. Music becomes an insatiable god if allowed to do so—after all, one can never practice enough, perform perfectly enough, or gain enough praise from peers and audiences. Instead, a right and healthy perspective is that while music is often rewarding, it must remain only my job, not my raison d’être.

Does all of this mean that I lack professional ambitions? Of course not. I hope to write at least one more book, record another album or two, and continue to perform, lecture, arrange, write, and generally build my national and international profile, but I am content to do all of that while based in my comfortable and reasonably well-paid teaching position in Mississippi. After all, while all of those things are fulfilling they can never provide ultimate satisfaction, and could not even if I were based in the bustling musical environments of Nashville, New York, or Los Angeles, or teaching graduate students in a large music school or conservatory. Ultimate satisfaction comes only in fearing and obeying God, in serving his church and spreading the gospel, in raising my little family in “the discipline and instruction of the Lord,” and even in pursuing my professional life to the best of my ability not as an end in itself, but as an act of obedience to the God who says to do our work “heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”

When my ambitions are thus directed, I can pursue them with great contentment for the next thirty years in Oxford, Mississippi, or anyplace else and in any other endeavor to which I am called. And in that, there is great gain.


Posted in Bible, Christian Worldview, Church, Doctrine, Doctrine of Vocation, Education, Higher Education, Micah Everett, Music, Music and Theology, Music Education, Pedagogy, Performing, Practical Christianity, Practicing, Teaching Low Brass, The Future, Theology, University of Mississippi

Do Your Homework!

As is the case with just about any good job, my teaching position is usually rewarding, most often enjoyable, and generally enviable. After all, lots of fine musicians go through years of training and education in hopes of landing a university professorship like mine only to find that the number of qualified candidates is much larger than the number of available full-time jobs. Indeed, to some extent I deliberately sought a position where I would infrequently work with music performance majors and have little expectation of recruiting them, as I could not in good conscience prepare dozens of students for jobs that do not exist. Most of my students pursue jobs as school band directors and succeed in finding such positions immediately upon graduation.

Having a part in training the next generation of music educators is for the most part quite gratifying, though a common frustration is when students who are not training for performance careers neglect the daily practice that I require for their weekly lessons. At least three years of individual instruction on a major instrument is required for all music degrees (more for music performance), for reasons that should be obvious. To put it briefly, how can a music teacher who has never demonstrated a reasonably high level of musicianship expect to teach others to do so? While we don’t expect every music teacher to attain the level of artistry expected for performing careers, successful music teachers at least learn during their university training to go into the practice room, work out solutions to problems, and devise pleasing interpretations of their assigned pieces. These skills are not dissimilar to those that they will one day use when rehearsing their ensembles from the podium. I regularly emphasize this in lessons with music education students and they usually agree, though they don’t always translate that agreement into action.

The area in which lack of practice most commonly manifests itself is in the neglect of daily and systematic playing fundamentals work. I shared my thoughts regarding such practice in detail on this blog several years ago and will not repeat myself—see here and here for those posts. Even students who can be relied upon to practice assigned etudes, solo repertoire, and excerpts with some diligence frequently neglect the work that they are assigned in these areas. This is to their detriment, as daily and systematic (these concepts are key) fundamentals practice ultimately reduces the amount of time needed to learn new works. In other words, neglecting fundamentals to practice “real music” ultimately doesn’t save time at all. More time is needed to learn those works, and without the benefit of developing a broader skillset that readily transfers to music studied and performed in the future. This is not to say that fundamentals practice is always, well, fun—it often is not. But, playing music well is fun, and fundamentals practice is a key to getting there.

And yet, amazingly, even after I explain all the reasons why daily practice of both fundamentals and repertoire is beneficial for both playing and teaching, some students neglect this week after week. Few try to get by with no practice, but many do less than expected. (A corresponding number do not receive grades of “A” in their weekly lessons.) Strangely enough, these same students would not dream of neglecting homework in other courses, but seem to expect few or no consequences when their assigned practice is neglected. To those folks, perhaps all that is left is the basest of all motivators: “If you don’t practice you won’t pass my class.” Poor encouragement to be sure, but it’s there.

office-space-quotes15The flip side is happier. “If you practice, you’ll not only pass my class, but you’ll also be a better musician, play in better ensembles, enjoy playing more, and ultimately by becoming a better musician will be a better music teacher.”

My dear students, don’t your future students deserve to have their teacher be the best musician he or she can be?


Posted in Alto Trombone, Bass Trombone, Education, Euphonium, Higher Education, Music, Music Education, Pedagogy, Playing Fundamentals, Practicing, Scales and Arpeggios, Teaching Low Brass, Tenor Trombone, Trombone, Tuba