Rhythm is More Important Than Pitch (but Don’t Miss Pitches, Either)

Auditions for the Mississippi Lions All-State Band are coming up in just a couple of weeks, so in addition to our regular work on fundamentals, scales, and etudes, sight-reading is presently a major component of my high school students’ lessons. While some students seem to have a very natural aptitude for sight-reading, for most it is a skill acquired only after the overcoming of many obstacles. Foremost among these obstacles is the unhappy habit of prioritizing pitch over rhythm. The vast majority of students that come through my door will stop repeatedly during sight-reading exercises in order to make sure that they are playing the correct pitches, apparently unaware that this practice eliminates any chance of playing the exercise with accurate rhythm. Ironically, in seeking more accurate performances these students deliver renderings that are hardly recognizable.

One of my professors in graduate school was in the habit of saying that “the wrong pitch in the right place is half-right, but the right pitch in the wrong place is completely wrong.” My students have heard me repeat this saying ad nauseam, and a few have begun to take it to heart. Think of it this way: if you play something with accurate rhythm but miss every single pitch, you are still placing sounds where sounds should occur, and silences where silences should occur, and the piece remains somehow recognizable. Conversely, if you play every pitch accurately but pause and fumble and “test the waters” frequently so that the rhythm is obliterated, your “correct” sounds are happening in all of the wrong places, and the piece is nearly unrecognizable.

My suggestion, then, is to prioritize rhythm over pitch. Theoretically a sight-reading performance in an audition with entirely correct rhythm and no correct pitches would still receive half-credit, which is more than you are likely to get if you completely mangle the rhythm by “chasing after notes.” What is more likely, though, is that as your rhythm and timing become more secure your coordination of breath, articulation, and embouchure will improve, and greater pitch accuracy will follow as a result. Strangely enough, by making correct rhythm your first priority you might just achieve greater pitch accuracy than you experienced when prioritizing pitch. The end result? Higher sight-reading scores in auditions, and the development of a skill that will serve you well in the “real world” should you continue in music professionally.

After all, in “real life” sometimes we have to sight-read the gig!

Posted in Alto Trombone, Auditions, Bass Trombone, Euphonium, Music, Pedagogy, Performing, Playing Fundamentals, Practicing, Teaching Low Brass, Tenor Trombone, Trombone, Tuba

Scripture, then Creeds, then Confessions, then Self

Americans can be a strange people, and this is perhaps especially true of American Christians. Although the percentage of the population claiming a Christian identity has fallen in recent years, the majority of the population still professes adherence to some form of Christianity. However, it is one thing to profess Christianity; it is another thing entirely to know or hold to anything resembling an orthodox expression of the faith. Surveys like this one have repeatedly demonstrated that American Christians in general possess a rather low level of biblical literacy, even in groups which profess strict adherence to the scriptures. And don’t ask about knowledge of important personages and doctrinal disputes throughout church history; the level of knowledge is even lower. While evangelicals at least profess to believe and revere the Bible, too many have very little idea of what it actually teaches, and doctrinal standards often consist in practice of “that’s how we’ve always taught it,” “my church does it this way,” or even worse, “God told me.” Leaving an unpacking of the last statement in particular for some other time, let me set forth a less subjective (and, I hope, therefore superior) approach to forming, reforming, and defending the Christian’s faith and practice. I like to summarize this as “Scripture, then Creeds, then Confessions, then Self.”

1. Scripture. In 2 Timothy 3 we read the following words:

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

If the Bible is what it claims to be, the Word of God in written form, then we are bound to affirm what it affirms, reject what it rejects, and obey what it commands. It should be the Christian’s ultimate and inviolable rule for faith and life. This means at the very least that we should make every effort to develop a full knowledge of what the Bible teaches so that we might live and believe in a way that pleases God, and ultimately find eternal life in Christ.

Still, the Bible is a big book (or collection of books), encompassing multiple authors, time periods, and genres. Some of its teachings are not as clear as others, and the sheer volume of material means that some systematization is helpful in increasing our comprehension of it. That brings us to…

2. Creeds. The great ecumenical creeds (the Apostles’, Nicene [or Niceno-Constantinopolitan], and Athanasian Creeds) are summaries of biblical doctrine that have served the church well for nearly two millennia, setting forth basic understandings of who God is and how people can be saved. It is safe to say that these contain the minimal standards of what might be considered orthodox—Christians of different denominations or traditions that differ on any number of secondary and tertiary issues can receive each other as brothers so long as there is agreement on these core issues. For more specific areas of doctrine, we move on to…

3. Confessions. The confessions of faith of various denominations are the next level of specificity. Whether you know it or not, if you are a member of an organized Christian denomination your church probably officially holds to documents such as the Westminster Standards for conservative Presbyterians, the Three Forms of Unity for those in the continental Reformed traditions, the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith for Reformed Baptists, the Baptist Faith and Message for Southern Baptists, the Book of Concord for confessional Lutherans, and similar documents for other denominations. While members and even officers and clergy of these denominations might take exception to one or more individual (usually minor) points in these documents, in general these represent faithful efforts to systematize, promote, and teach the beliefs of a particular denomination or group—subject, of course, to Holy Scripture.

4. Self. Lastly, self. Rather than making one’s own personal opinions or experiences the ultimate rule and arbiter in matters of faith, it is safest to subject one’s personal opinions to the standards listed previously. For example, I am a member of a Presbyterian church, which means that I subordinate and check my own opinions on matters of faith by the doctrinal standards of my church, the Westminster Standards. For the most part, that is as far as I have to go, as the Standards are demonstrably faithful to the scriptures in practically every respect. In the very few cases (one or two only) in which I take exception to Westminster, I don’t simply say “I don’t like that,” but rather move up the chain as it were, making sure that my opinions are at least consonant with the creeds and, then, with Scripture itself. As it turns out, the areas in which I take exception are some where the Bible is not as immediately clear as it is in others (a circumstance acknowledged by the Westminster Standards themselves), and faithful Christians can be found holding several opinions on these matters. So while I am in very nearly 100% agreement with the stated doctrinal opinions of my denomination, I dare not depart from them at all without believing that there is a scriptural argument for my deviation. The Christian’s primary commitment should be to Holy Scripture; one should never knowingly go against that.

To put my view even more briefly, one should hold tightly to the Bible as the ultimate rule of faith and life, then a little more loosely to the ecumenical creeds, still more loosely to the confessions of one’s denomination, and very loosely indeed to one’s personal opinions. Rather than taking the quintessentially American approach of making primary the beliefs and experiences of the individual, the correct and ultimately safer approach is quite the opposite, subjecting every religious belief to the test of Scripture, in most cases as interpreted by the (not infallible but certainly helpful) creeds and confessions.

Posted in Bible, Christian Education, Christian Worldview, Church, Confessionalism, Creeds, Denominations, Doctrine, Practical Christianity, Theology, Truth

The “Problem Solver” Approach to Music Execution

Regular readers here know that performance anxiety is a topic which I have addressed on several occasions in the past five years, both because I am an occasional sufferer and more importantly because I regularly encounter students who deal with this not only during public performance but even during their weekly lessons with me. Although I’m not sure I’ve said this in so many words in previous posts, one thing I absolutely do not do when students (or I) encounter this issue is admonish them to “not be nervous.” Such a suggestion would be a nonstarter—if one is prone to nervousness that emotion is there and is likely to be there at least for the foreseeable future, and a more successful course of action is to accept it and figure out how to achieve great things musically in spite of it.

Happily, there are a number of steps that one can take which in the short term will minimize the effects of nervousness, and in the long term will help to minimize or even eliminate its presence. Increasing the efficiency with which one undertakes the physical act of playing the instrument, making mental notes of the feeling of playing relaxed when it occurs, performing more frequently, prioritizing service to the audience over exaltation of the self, choosing repertoire wisely, and (obviously) practicing diligently are all helpful steps, and are discussed in more detail here. In a certain sense, these methodologies and others related to them serve to create a certain emotional detachment in the performer, where the act of performing is not so tied to one’s emotional state that anxiety or other negative emotions can derail a performance when they are present.

Instead of investing tremendous emotional energy (whether positive or negative) into a performance, I have found it sometimes found it helpful to think of my role on stage as that of a “problem solver.” In this case the “problem” is that I have to deliver an effective and satisfying performance of the piece of music at hand, and my task is to “solve” this problem by devising and employing means that enable me to achieve this end. This includes technical execution, of course, as well as responding to variables that occur in the midst of performance such as extremes of temperature, poor piano tuning, audience distractions, etc., but it also includes emotive elements. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, the expressive content of a piece can and should be planned in advance, and so programmed into the performance that this content can be conveyed regardless of the emotional state of the performer. After all, as one person remarked on Facebook in response to that article, our job as performers is to give the listener an emotional experience when listening to our music, not necessarily to have the same experience ourselves (though if we do, great!). When I approach performing as a problem solver, I often find that I am much too engaged in this task to have time for performance anxiety.

As with many things in music, this suggestion can be taken to an unnecessarily and unhelpful extreme. The famous tubist and brass pedagogue Arnold Jacobs (1915-1998) said that we all needed to have an “investigator’s hat” and a “performer’s hat,” the former to diagnose and solve problems in the practice room, and the latter to enable effective performance. He warned against wearing the investigator’s hat while performing, lest one become so wrapped up in thinking about how to play that he becomes unable to engage in the simple act of delivering a beautiful performance. This warning is well-taken, and I don’t mean to suggest that the problem solver should be one who obsesses over the minutiae of physical execution during performance, thus experiencing “paralysis by analysis.” Rather, the problem solver should focus primarily on his mental concept of how the piece should sound, and make adjustments as needed in very basic areas of execution (breath, intonation, physical relaxation, etc.) in his quest to realizing that concept. There must be a right way someplace between overanalysis and a “mindless yet hopeful” approach, and at the moment this is the best description I have for it.


Posted in Alto Trombone, Bass Trombone, Euphonium, Music, Pedagogy, Performance Anxiety, Performing, Playing Fundamentals, Practicing, Teaching Low Brass, Tenor Trombone, Trombone, Tuba

Every Piece of Music is a “Song”

stepping-stones-for-bass-trombone-vol-1The advent of iTunes, Amazon music, Spotify, Pandora, and all the other legal means of purchasing, streaming, and distributing music and other media electronically has been a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it has never been easier for artists both new and established to get their work seen and heard by thousands of people in a very short period of time. The severely diminished role of record labels as gatekeepers for new music means that just about anyone with the performing skills, time, money, and marketing savvy needed to produce and promote an album can do so with a much smaller number of middlemen than before. Of course, there is a “flip side:” while it is perhaps easier than ever to produce a professional quality album, it is harder than ever to make a reasonable amount of money from doing so. Fewer listeners than ever before actually buy whole albums, much less albums distributed on hard copies like CDs, and royalties paid even from legal download sites and streaming services are extremely small, on the order of a fraction of a cent per play. Artists who once made thousands of dollars per night selling recordings after concerts now make practically nothing in that way; solo recordings have become little more than expensive business cards. I don’t even have to look to other people’s examples to illustrate this. My own solo recording, which cost well over $10,000 to make, has yielded less than $300 in royalties for me since it was released in 2015. Of course, my reasons for creating an album were as much academic as artistic—the target audience was teachers and students, and my university provided the lion’s share of funding for the project. I never expected to make money. Had I needed to make a profit—or even break even—for the recording to be considered a success, I would have never done it in the first place. If there ever was much money to be made in recording brass music, there isn’t any longer.

SongsWhile I could go on about the effects of electronic downloads and streaming on the recording industry, my main purpose in writing today is related to a less serious effect of the advent of iTunes: the labeling of every track, every movement, every piece of recorded music (and even spoken text and other non-musical sounds) as a “song.” While I have no desire to be that snarky musician who constantly reminds people that “it’s not a song; it’s a piece,” as a music teacher I have a reasonable expectation that my students will be more precise in their writing and other classwork than in colloquial speech. When writing and speaking about music in this way, the word “song” refers to a piece of music that is, well, sung, thus using that word in reference to a concert band piece, a movement of a symphonic work, a piece of chamber music, or anything else that is not a song is sloppy and will receive a merciless rebuke from my red pen. (Yes, I still grade in red, but that’s another topic altogether.) Needless to say, as we move closer to having a generation of college students who do not remember a world without the iPod (the current freshmen were two years old when the first iPod was released), imprecision in speaking of music with regard to genre has lamentably increased.


I’m in good company in thinking this way. Who am I to argue with Mr. Vernon?!?

My desire for precision in speaking and writing about music might make my main point for today even more surprising: I am finding it increasingly helpful for both myself and my students to think of the pieces we are performing as “songs.” The first time I said this to a student who had suffered through having papers marked up for such usage the student was understandably surprised, but all have quickly come to understand my point in using the word figuratively in this context. Although this tendency manifests itself differently with players of different instruments, instrumentalists of all stripes are prone to making playing a more physically demanding activity than it is, recruiting muscle groups that are not immediately necessary and with all this effort adding tension and diminishing response and quality of sound. Low brass players in particular have long invoked the metaphor of singing to illustrate the method of playing we should instead choose, one which involves a relaxed body, the free movement of air, and an approach to phrasing that mimics that of a great singer. While the utility of this approach is particularly evident when playing more lyrical pieces, even the most technically demanding works can benefit from a more intentionally “songlike” way of playing. This weekend I’ll be performing the both the Trombone Sonata and the Tuba Sonata by Paul Hindemith (1895-1963) at the National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors National Conference, and I have written the word “song” on multiple pages to remind myself of the importance of this approach. Even the intense and not-traditionally-tonal works of a composer like Hindemith benefit from a more “singing” style.

So, students, I guess I’m backtracking a little bit. There are times that you can refer to your “pieces” as “songs,” as long as you are doing so figuratively and with the intended ends of relaxing the body and enhancing performance. Otherwise I’ve still got my red pen in my front pocket!

Posted in Alto Trombone, Bass Trombone, Beauty, Breathing, Digital Revolution, Euphonium, Higher Education, Music, Music Education, NACWPI, Pedagogy, Performing, Playing Fundamentals, Practicing, Recordings, Stepping Stones for Bass Trombone, Vol. 1, Teaching Low Brass, Tenor Trombone, Trombone, Tuba

It’s Okay to “Go Through the Motions”

Several times in the past few weeks when I have asked students how they could have improved their performances of various playing assignments I have heard responses something like “Well, I could have put more emotion into it.” To be sure, their playing did lack the expressive qualities inherent to great performances, but I am always quick to caution these students that depending upon some mysterious reserve of deep feelings to magically generate emotive content is foolish. As I noted in a post last year on a similar topic, in performance often the most powerful emotions being experienced by the student on stage are fear, anxiety, and apprehension. Drawing upon those feelings will not yield the desired expressive performance, except in the unlikely event that those negative emotions are the ones that the player desires to communicate!

Instead of depending upon manufactured emotional hype, musicians are better served by ensuring that their playing fundamentals are solidly maintained, and then by considering in advance the musical devices (especially variances in tempo and dynamic level) that will best communicate the desired expressive content of the pieces being performed. In other words, I encourage students to plan and program the feelings they intend to convey. This ends up being a little bit like acting, with the musician conveying not the emotions he is experiencing at the moment, but rather those which he believes inhere in the piece. Interestingly, and as I also noted previously, the emotional highs students too often think are necessary to generate great performances are actually the ones that follow from great performances (and when they do it is a great joy!). Generating those performances, however, is often a much more cerebral affair than most non-musicians realize.

Yesterday in our men’s Bible study group (which we have lovingly dubbed the Council of Skateland since our church meets in a converted skating rink) someone asked if the faithfulness of Old Testament-era Israelites who might sometimes have merely “gone through the motions” of offering the prescribed sacrifices could be considered genuine, even if feelings of love and devotion toward God were not always as evident as they could have been. My answer—as well as the consensus of the group—was that it could, for believers both then and now, the latter bringing the “sacrifice of praise” described in Hebrews 13:15, to say nothing of the “living sacrifices” of our very selves (Romans 12:1). Faithfulness to God need not always be characterized by the emotional “warm fuzzies” which are too often considered synonymous with “worship,” though we might sometimes experience those feelings. But sometimes life isn’t happy. Sometimes it’s all we can do to drag ourselves out of bed each day for any reason, including to attend to God’s worship. Some days we can only lament with Habakkuk,

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. (Habakkuk 3:17-18)

The Bible is full of songs and other expressions of lamentation, putting to death any notions that God’s people will be or are expected to be always happy. Yet we continue in the public and private exercises of God’s worship, even when we don’t feel like it, even when it seems that we are only performing outward exercises. And do we not, interestingly enough, sometimes find that the positive emotions we failed to bring with us to worship follow from it? Do we not sometimes enter the Lord’s house empty and leave it filled? Maybe “going through the motions” isn’t such a fake thing to do, after all.

Longtime readers of The Reforming Trombonist know that I like to draw connections between my work as a musician and teacher and my Christian faith, and while this one might seem a bit tortured, in my own experience it is quite obvious. The music student (and sometimes even the professional) wants to give an expressive performance, but finding only fear and doubt within learns to mimic the outward characteristics of musical expression and finds—to his surprise and delight—that the feelings he thought he needed in order to perform well actually come as a result of performing well. Similarly (though more importantly), the weary Christian, finding “the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10) to be a hollow quotation, nevertheless forces himself to perform the rote observances of God’s worship and finds—likewise to his surprise and delight—that the warm feelings of love and devotion that seemed so foreign just a couple of hours before are rekindled as God’s Spirit ministers to him through public and private worship.

Can “going through the motions” be wrong for the Christian? Sure it can. There have certainly been many individuals over the centuries that made an outward show of Christianity but ultimately proved to be false brethren. But for the true believer who is simply “not feeling it that day,” those outward actions might just constitute a tremendous act of faith that God will bless and multiply.

For the musician the parallels end here, because I don’t know how one could be a “false musician.” For you the “the motions” are “the thing.” Learn what great performance sounds like, and then figure out how to create it, regardless of your own feelings. In time, you’ll find that your actual emotions and the ones you seek to convey become increasingly alike as your skills improve and your fears largely (if not completely) subside. That’s when performing starts to become fun!

Posted in Christ Presbyterian Church of Oxford, Christian Worldview, Lord's Day, Music, Music and Theology, Music and Worship, Pedagogy, Performance Anxiety, Performing, Playing Fundamentals, Practical Christianity, Practicing, Teaching Low Brass, Theology, Worship

“Counterfeit Detection Training:” A Short Reflection on Colossians 1:15-20

I mentioned in my last post that this year I am sharing responsibility for an adult Sunday school class at Christ Presbyterian Church on the letter to the Colossians. Given that this is the focus of any focused theological study on my part at the moment I’m sure the reader will be neither surprised nor offended that my monthly blog posts on theological topics might in the coming months sometimes contain reflections from that study. First of all, the passage at hand, just six verses from the first chapter of Colossians:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:15-20)

In some ways determining what the “main theme” of Colossians is can be difficult. While the letter to the Galatians is clearly focused upon the doctrine of justification by faith (and not by works of the law), 1 Corinthians addresses some serious sin issues in that church, and the unsigned letter to the Hebrews exhorts Jewish believers to not return to their former faith, teasing out the focus of Colossians is a bit of a challenge simply because the Colossians are so well-behaved. Paul commends their faith and practice throughout and offers little in the way of criticism. Nevertheless, the presence of false teaching in Colosse becomes increasingly evident as the letter progresses, so commentators more or less agree that Paul’s purpose in writing is to thwart any attempt by outside forces to introduce a counterfeit gospel into the church there.

51jmtbXp44L._SY291_BO1,204,203,200_QL40_The way Paul approaches this in these verses—some of the most densely-packed theologically in all of Paul’s writing—is interesting and instructive, particularly because of its positive presentation. We get practically no indication anywhere in Colossians of the identity of the false teachers that he was aiming to refute when writing this letter, and no real mention of the presence of false teaching all until Chapter Two. Instead, Paul positively presents and reminds the Colossians of the true doctrine of the Person and work of Christ. He seems to understand that “the Colossians are not willfully unfaithful. It is simply that they are young in the faith.” And that “this positive instruction, once its implications have been grasped in terms of the sufficiency of Christ, will be the Colossians’ best protection against error.” (Dick Lucas, The Message of Colossians and Philemon, p. 45)

Have you ever heard of how law enforcement agencies train their officers to detect counterfeit currency? While I’m sure they spend some time studying the various techniques that counterfeiters might employ, the focus of this training is upon becoming intimately familiar with the characteristics of real currency. The better one knows the genuine article, the better equipped he will be to spot a fake.

Paul is evidently employing a similar approach here, and one Christians today would be wise to emulate. While there is certainly a place for familiarizing oneself with and mastering arguments to refute the teachings of cults, heretical groups, other religions, and secular philosophies, the best protection for our own souls is to know better the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. The more we “consider him” (cf. Hebrews 12:3)—who Christ is and what he has done for us—the better equipped we will be to spot those teachings which are contrary to the gospel.

Posted in Bible, Christ Presbyterian Church of Oxford, Christ's Person and Work, Christian Worldview, Colossians, Practical Christianity, Reading and Study, Salvation, Theology, Truth

Fall Concerts and Activities Preview

Once again this year I have a very full teaching load, with 28 applied students when high school and other private students are taken into account, 20 players in the University of Mississippi Trombone Ensemble, and 13 players in the University of Mississippi Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble. Those ensembles share a number of musicians, which is in keeping with my philosophy of encouraging students to double on multiple low brass instruments. Other than lots of teaching and a couple of short trips, this will be a relatively calm semester with regard to performances. Since the spring and especially next summer are looking to be rather busy, a comparably restful fall is welcome.

September 16: Northwest College Brass Festival, Powell, WY
Later this week I’ll be leaving for a short trip to Wyoming to teach at the 15th annual Northwest College Brass Festival, for which I received a kind invitation back in the spring. Much like the North Carolina Trombone Festival, for which I was a featured artist this past April, I will lead three clinics, play a couple of solo works, and participate in festival ensembles. I’m looking forward to an enjoyable but exhausting day!

October 6-8: National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors National Conference, University of Montevallo (AL)
I have been a member of NACWPI since I was a graduate student and have always appreciated its Journal because of the opportunity to read articles by teachers of other wind and percussion instruments. This will be my first time attending the national conference, and I am looking forward to hearing those same perspectives in person. My performance will be on the final day of the conference, in which I will be performing both the trombone and tuba sonatas by Paul Hindemith (1895-1963), along with indomitable pianist Stacy Rodgers. Although both sonatas have a characteristically “Hindemithian” sound, the tuba sonata (1955) is much lighter and more playful in character compared to the sense of impending doom communicated by the trombone sonata (1941). I suspect that this reflects the vastly different circumstances of both Hindemith’s life and of sociopolitical happenings worldwide between those two dates, and I hope to have enough time to talk a bit about that between performing the two works. I am also beginning plans for a longer program of Hindemith’s music to perform at Ole Miss hopefully sometime in the spring.

October 28, December 2, and December 9: Performing with the North Mississippi Symphony Orchestra
This will be my fifth season with the North Mississippi Symphony Orchestra as first trombonist, and the schedule for this fall is similar to those in past years, with a classical concert, a performance of The Nutcracker with the Tupelo Ballet, and a Christmas program for chorus and orchestra. While my role in the orchestra is usually as a tenor trombonist, at various times I have found myself playing alto trombone, bass trombone, or euphonium in the group.

November 28: University of Mississippi Low Brass Ensembles
Our low brass ensembles concert is once again just prior to the Christmas holiday, so there will be a couple of “seasonal” selections. Other highlights will be a trombone ensemble arrangement of the theme from the film The Magnificent Seven, and a new tuba-euphonium ensemble arrangement by UM alumnus Allen Carroll of the Six Choral Folk Songs by Gustav Holst (1874-1934).

Besides these events, there will be a number of student solo and ensemble performances, a large tuba-euphonium junior recital shared among three students, activities yet to be scheduled with the Mississippi Brass Quintet and Great River Trombone Quartet, and the usual mix of “church gigs” and other smaller engagements for me. In addition to all this “musicking” (to borrow a word from Christopher Small) I’m serving as president of the local Gideons this year, as well as sharing an adult Sunday school class at Christ Presbyterian Church, lecturing biweekly on the letter to the Colossians. There is plenty to do!




Posted in Alto Trombone, Bass Trombone, Bible, Christ Presbyterian Church of Oxford, Christian Education, Church, Conferences, Education, Euphonium, Music, NACWPI, North Carolina Trombone Festival, North Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, Northwest College Brass Festival, Pedagogy, Performances, Performing, Teaching Low Brass, Tenor Trombone, The Gideons International, Trombone, Tuba, University of Mississippi