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Pearls of Wisdom

These are a few lines I came up with for my students. They can be used as inspiration, thought provocation, or simply to remember what I try to portray in lessons on a daily basis. Enjoy and I hope they bring something to the table for you too. (these are in no particular order...) Pearls of wisdom (No. 1): BALANCE. Balance of air vs. resistance of the horn. Balance of the musical phrase. Balance of dynamic contrasts. Balance of resonance and projection. Balance of excitement and control. Balance is the key to your success and to your advancement. You must ALWAYS look for the balance in your playing, at all levels.

Pearls of wisdom No. 2: SING. Sing your concept. Sing the notes. Sing the rhythms & the melodic intent. Sing the subdivisions. Sing with outstanding pitch center. Sing to match & to project. Sing your articulations. Sing the nuances. Sing for inspiration. Sing for more center of tone & enhanced resonance. Sing for a better physical balance in your playing. Sing for improved concentration. In other words, you must SING in order to present your product. Without it, you may never come close to the bull’s-eye.

Pearls of wisdom No. 3: BE CREATIVE. Be creative with the musical line. Be creative with your dynamics. Be extra creative in the way you practice and they way you arrive at solutions. Be creative in the way you listen. Being creative is an action; it involves concentration, it involves movement towards a goal. Test yourself, dare yourself, push yourself to be more creative in every aspect.

Pearls of wisdom No. 4: PERSEVERANCE. Defined as "steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success" - you need to preserver in your daily musical life. Hold fast to your warm-up. Hold fast to your daily routine. Fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals. Hold fast to your dream! Dreams can become reality, if you truly want them to be. It takes work, it take perseverance. Perhaps a little blood, sweat and tears. Hopefully, not much blood! If you don't like doing the same sorts of things everyday, then try a different major. If you are in music, you are in it for the long hall - you should always be learning something, gaining insight, and tweaking to make things better, easier, and more efficient. If you think you know it all and have reached your limit, then you really have no clue....

Pearls of wisdom No. 5: PULL THE TRIGGER. Go for it! Lessons are finished, you've done all the necessary preparation, the finishing touches, you have a clear concept in mind. Now, you need to let go! Letting go can be difficult. What about control? Well, you must trust yourself, trust your preparation. Learn from it. When the red light comes on, we must pull the trigger. We only get one shot and we need to make it the best shot we can in that moment in time. Aim for the bulls-eye (concept) and pull the trigger! Go! Make it happen - just do it!

Pearls of wisdom for my students No. 6: PREPARATION. Easily said - you need to prepare. Everything. Yes, this includes practice, yes you are already practicing. BUT, practicing well is a skill! And you must practicing everything! Once you have your pieces ready, then you must practice preparing the actual performance. By practicing the performance, you learn how to adjust on the fly. Listening and adjusting are two crucial and key elements to success in a performance. Those that do it well are rewarded. Those that fail to do so, are not. Stand in front of a mirror, record yourself, play in front of friends, family, church members, other professors!! Anybody! Prepare your pages turns with copies, prepare your muted passages, prepare your communication with your collaborator/s. Limit Murphy's Law, prepare. Prepare everything, including your performance!

Pearls of Wisdom No. 7: SOLVE THE PROBLEM. We all have them, they creep up on us all the time. But, when a problem occurs you need to ask THE question - "Why"? Problems occur when you are going too fast for you to handle. We all have our "speed" at which we can handle ourselves. Slow it down, go for the sound, the end result. Here it clearly in your mind and reproduce it as clearly as possible. All at a VERY comfortable speed. Once you "catch up", then you are able to play the piece more and more and the speed you will perform it at. Practice should be methodical. Enjoy it for what it is! When you have a problem while practicing, solve it - at THAT moment. Don't let it go. There's no "it will be better tomorrow." A problem is always a problem until its solved. Don't allow yourself to have these problems stockpile-up against you. Solve them when they occur. Take the time, slow it down, be methodical. You'll feel better about it afterwards, I promise.

Pearls of wisdom No. 8: RESPECT. Respect the fact that you need to practice daily. Respect the fact that fundamentals always need to be addressed. Respect your colleagues. Respect your teachers. Respect the time needed to listen and assimilate. Respect the patience thats necessary to show your improvement. Respect your hard work, and celebrate it. Just because we respect something that is serious, doesn't mean you cannot like it or even enjoy it. Besides, thats what brought you to the place you are at this moment in the first place. Unfortunately, respect is not a two-way street, but that doesn't mean you don't need to learn how to do it!

Pearls of Wisdom No. 9: LISTEN & ADJUST. You need to learn to hear. Really hear. If you can't hear it, its impossible to fix it - you're just guessing and guessing is bad. You must first be able to hear. Solfege is the second most important class you will ever take as a music student (behind your trumpet lessons)! Once you can hear it, you must adjust. Don't play a note out of tune and just leave it there because "you are not sure" or "you are right". Listen and adjust. Just like anything it will take some practice, but you must do it. Listen to your concept and adjust. Listen to your song and adjust. Listen to the ensemble and adjust. Listen to the section and adjust. Listen to your stand partner and adjust. Listen to the piano and adjust. Listen to what you actually sound like and adjust. Listen and adjust. You must do both. The listening is major, while the adjusting should be minimal. Listen and adjust.

Pearls of wisdom No. 10: INSPIRATION. Inspiration can take many forms and can come from unlikely people, places and things. Often, these drive us to do things well above our ability. Personally, I feel it is the ability to find inspiration yourself that will ultimately helps you reach your final goal - seek it out, be active. Crave it, want it, and accept it. Perhaps you'll even inspire yourself! There are several people that have really inspired me in my musical life. Some are well known, others are unsung heroes, but they are all the same to me. They have all made a huge impact. I can't forget my early heroes, Wynton Marsalis, Maynard Ferguson, Adolph Bud Herseth, and my band director John M Fecker, who always encouraged me to reach for the stars. My teachers Michael Sachs, Randy Gardner, James Darling, Mary Squire & Alan Siebert were role models, mentors, and great influences (I was just speaking to Randy about this very thing yesterday - thank you Randy!). While in school I had colleagues such as Susan Sievert Messersmith, Ryan Anthony, Lauren Eberhart, Mary Thornton (and many, many others) that taught me, inspired me to be better and made me realize that there is more than one way to get the job done right. During my professional life, I have met and worked with unbelievable musicians (just too numerous to mention) that have had a deep impact on me, both artistically and in a true humanistic sense. I would be remiss if I didn't mention that my belief in a higher power has always humbled me and inspired me greatly. Looking back, you never truly realize (or at least I didn't have the intuitiveness then, perhaps even now) who or what will have an impact on you, mold you, and affect you. That, when you add it all up, its you - its who you have become; your standard. It’s our inspiration that keeps driving us to become better - something or someone greater than we are today. I'm thankful to have had so much inspiration in my life and I look forward to more everyday. Look for inspiration. Seek it out daily, accept it & use its power. With it, there truly is no end to your success!

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