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June 8- Going Away

I will take the opportunity I have in the next week to catch up on the things that have been slipping by here in blogland. It has been very busy right up until today. I am now on my way to visit my parents in California and for the next should have very few responibilities. Brass band is on a week hiatus and there should not be much to do while I am gone because I think I have everything taken care of. Short breaks for the band are good. There is a little time for individuals to prepare their music. We have a ton of rep to get thru in the next few weeks.

Right now I am in the Atlanta airport waiting for the flight to LA to board. There are a lot of people walking by. I shipped my food out to CA and it arrived yesterday. So I will not go hungry and will be able to stay on the plan. I am missing 3 or 4 training sessions with my trainer which I am not upset about at all. Not because of the trainer, who is great. Just glad to not have anything scheduled. I am planning to do a bit of walking around the beach and stuff while I am there. There is a nice walking path called the strand that I hope to trek on a daily basis. That’s the plan. We will see if it actually happens.

May 31- Good Weekend

Today is Memorial Day, which is the beginning of the summer for me, really. Work is about to slow down just a bit, though there is still plenty of organizing and panning to do this summer. The past year has been about the busiest in my life and so many cool experiences have occurred. I consider myself to be fairly patriotic, and I always love doing American/Patriotic concerts. It is a great way to celebrate how great our country is, and the freedoms we have because of it. The youth bands playing with the Triangle Wind Ensemble last night was the top. Also this weekend, the new drum and bugle corps I am working with had a camp and it went very well. Starting a corps is extremely difficult, and the challenges are great. Thankfully, we have a core of people that are so unbelievably dedicated to making this work, and they have been working so hard to make it work. each camp is getting better, and we are on track to have this show on the field at the next camp in June. We are struggling with numbers, and we have people quit the day our camp starts every month. We have 25 kids that show up to everything and are in it for the long haul. Then we have a bunch that try it out, say they are committed to it, then drop, mostly without a word to us that they are not coming. We start camp each time thinking we will have one thing, get another and have to adjust everything on the fly. I wonder if people have always been this lackadaisical about honoring commitments, or if people are just getting lazy about this these days? Either way, anyone that quits this late in the game has character issues, and has done as much to prevent a new corps from getting off the ground as anything DCI could have done to make things difficult to organize. Maybe everyone should drop an AP class and replace it with a character building course.

Also this weekend, a friend from college got married. I was lucky enough to have enough time to drop by the ‘pig pickin’ to wish them congratulations. Erin and Grant are wonderful people and deserve the very best. Good luck to them!!!

Saturday morning was my last gig for several months. Summers are dead for tuba playing, at least for me. St. David School had their graduation and I subbed for a tuba player in a quintet with the music teachers at the school. I didn’t know this school existed, but I was very impressed with it. There were about 70 graduates, and the ceremony was brief and classy. The people in the quintet were very nice and I enjoyed meeting them. its funny how you can live somewhere and be in a small world for so long and still be meeting people. Anyways, the student speeches, there were three of them, where very well prepared, short, to the point, and were not overly blah blah blah about graduation and going to new things and experiences and crap that usually goes on for ten minutes. Maybe three minutes tops. The headmaster was amazing. I loved his message, and the approach he seems to take instilling character and responsibility into the students. With such a small school, and it having a larger sense of community being based at a church, it seems he can spend more time molding these young minds to be better, and do better. The things he talked about I strongly believe in, and it was refreshing to see a school talking about those things, and seemingly on a regular basis, not just on graduation day. The guest speaker was the Chief Justice of the NC Supreme Court, which was also very cool. He was funny, articulate, clear, and had a very interesting and entertaining speech with a great message. The best part was the choir. They sang twice, and they were really freaking good. I don’t know who the choir director is there, but she does an amazing job. Well Done, St. David School.

For the best news… Jenny Hunter gave birth to a linebacker Saturday. Jenny and Robert are parents, and I will no longer be seeing them as they raise their kid, Jackson. Everything went well, and all are healthy. Congratulation to the Hunter family.

May 31- 1812 Mayhem… Again

The Youth Bands joined forces with the Triangle Wind Ensemble tonight on their Memorial Day Collaboration patriotic concert with the Concert Singers of Cary. We joined in for the ending of 1812 and Stars and Stripes Forever. The extra brass and percussion players are all members of the Triangle Youth Brass band and Brass Ensemble. We do some big events like this from time to time. This is the second time we did this with TWE on this annual concert. The last time was with the TYBB and Alumni when we did a big alumni concert at Meymandi and played 1812 Overture there as well as Elsa’s, Pines of the Apian Way and some other cool stuff. All with 65 brass players in the band. Tonight featured over 50 players from the youth bands. They memorized the parts and handled it like pros. Enjoy this video excerpt of the performance…

May 28- Why
May not be the most positive post. I went about 5 weeks with things going very well, losing 5 pounds a week. I get to pounds away from the 100 pound loss mark, and it goes the other way. So, test the thyroid again. Its fine, but the doctor ads another med to help my T3, whatever the heck that is. So another week in the wrong direction, but not as much. Every time I have gone through this, I get to 100 pounds and hit a brick wall, and thats all I lose. So the question… WHY? (well, I cleaned it up a bit… WTF is more like it). (guess I didn’t really clean it up)

Consuming under 1300 calories a day, and still gaining weight, is depressing. When normal people do that they lose weight. It is easy to see why I am so big in the first place, and how it can happen so easily. My metabolism is interested in going one direction only. Granted, I am responsible for living a way that didn’t help, but its just too easy to gain weight for me. This program is consuming me, and as much effort that I put into it, to still gain weight…DAMN. I am going to stop blaming myself 100 percent for my condition, and lay 10 percent on my Thyroid. Maybe that will make me feel better. OK, it doesn’t. But it does help to understand how someone can get as big as I am, and maybe why I am a grumpy bitch some of the time, especially the last couple weeks.

I am incredibly thankful for Dr. Schmidt, who tells me I am her most difficult patient (of course). She is so nice, and concerned, and I am convinced she will help figure this out, and will stick with me. She is adjusting things a bit to include some real food for one meal a day. The calorie intake wont change, but maybe a shake up will get me back on the other direction.

Another positive thing is that I have been working out with a trainer since February, and she is fantastic as well. I am in horrible physical condition, but not nearly as bad as I was a month ago. last summer was terrible for me when I had to cut the grass. I used to use a push mower but had to get a riding mower, and even that was draining for me. granted, I never cut the grass regularly… I absolutely hate doing it. Mostly for the allergies, but also the physical beating it gave me. I did, however, cut the grass this afternoon, with the push mower. Aside from a runny nose and other crappy allergy things, I got through it only getting out of breath at the most difficult parts, like the massive hill at the bottom where the ditch is and its hard to get to. I am in much better shape now. Conducting doesn’t wear me out like it used to, also. This is due to the work that Lauren is doing with me. I know its small, and I have a long way to go, but it is the right direction.

There is so much more going on. This weekend should be the last of the REALLY busy times and I should get to slow down, even though there is still a ton of stuff to take care of. Jenny Hunter is in the hospital preparing to have a baby. She went in this afternoon, and I am happy for Robert and Jenny and hope it all goes well. I hope it goes fast, too. I am his back up for Sunday’s concert if he has to miss it for the delivery, and it scares the crap out of me that I might have to actually do it. C’mon, Jackson… Save me!!!!

May 24- Fail
I have been failing at putting updates here. I have been meaning to get to it, even though the last few weeks have been brutal for me. As far as the weight loss goes, it has been on a steady pace. About five straight weeks of losing 5 pounds a week. last week went the other way, gaining 4.5. can not figure it out. It is very depressing. There is so much going on, so I will try to catch things up in several posts over the next few days, in between getting all of the other things taken care of.

April 29- Update

The weekly total is 5 pounds, total of 87.  I am almost at the 6 month mark and will be very close to 100 pounds.  If I can lose 13 pounds this week I will make it.  Maybe I wont eat this week.

April 23- NABBA
It has been almost a week now and I have just about fully digested all that happened last week. The TBB rehearsed every night last week except Monday, which was the youth band rehearsal night. Rehearsals all went very well. Thursday evening is when people started arriving into town, so I went to the hotel downtown to meet up with some people. The Marriott is a very nice place. Cool place to hang. I saw some Fountain City people and talked to Helen Tyler a bit about starting up some youth band programs. Some cool stuff is going to be happening on this front.

Friday was an early morning to workout with my trainer, then head to the solo and ensemble events at the hotel. Two kids from the youth band played solos and did a very nice job. I was there to make sure any people that needed badges to get in could get them. Turns out they didnt need them. I left briefly to get mark Norman from the airport, then went back to the hotel to hear a couple more solos, including Peter Pirotte, who was awesome. All three bands rehearsed Friday evening, then I went back to the hotel to hang with Tom Bratten and some others.

Saturday came hard. Late nights prevented me from getting downtown early enough to see the first bands. I needed to pace myself for the afternoon with two bands performing. Still, I should have gone to see the early bands. I know what it is like to play that early and no one shows up to hear it. My bad. The afternoon started with TBB going through its schedule. It starts off with me finding out we can not warm up in the warm up room because it is under the stage and the sound bleeds into the hall. Brilliant planning. So the instrument storage room became the individual warm up room and that was about all we would get. They made us take a group picture, which cut ten minutes off of that. It was ok, though, because Ginger was hot. We managed to play a couple of things in the warm up room while the band on stage was setting up, but hen had to sit in the sauna room for a half hour, then go on stage and play. Our stage performance was the absolute best we could play, and the best the band has played in ten years or so. Everyone is so pleased with how it went. I heard the tail end of New England BB and I loved the performance of Central Ohio BB, who eventually won it. Then it was time to get the youth bands through their performances.

Both bands played well and did a wonderful job. Same deal in the warm up room, which made it hard to get them completely focused and prepared on the music. The bands played very challenging music and did them well. I think the shame it is that they got no mention, or recognition for being there at all. I do find it troublesome that the NABBA organization did not make any effort to make bands feel welcome…well, maybe they did to some bands, but certainly not to me, or any of the three band I was involved with. The President did not even bother to talk to me, even though I saw him several times. Not even a hello, or thanks for being there. Maybe he is pissed at me, but certainly no more than I am at the NABBA org for eliminating the youth open section. I can see why no youth bands want to go to that competition, and we will no longer attend, either.

The evening was awesome listening to the champion section bands. JMU and Fountain City were stand outs, as usual, but great to see none the less. FCBB gave one of the best brass performances I have ever heard. Of course the hang afterwards was fun. The awards part was lame. My overall impression was that the bands performed very well, and made the contest. Despite the fact that the people I met running the contest were super nice, the only thing I can say for it was it was amateur hour. No warm up room, judges tapes that dont work, etc. NABBA is going backwards and the organization needs an overhaul. maybe this can happen if the top brass band people start to run it. Man I miss Doug Yeo.

The TBB is not a regular competing band at NABBA, and had the contest not been in Raleigh, we would not have participated. I do not see this changing in the future. It could best be described as…we made an appearance. We spent eight rehearsals on the music. Mid March we played a concert with Allen Vizzutti and the band is in agreement that we would not trade that experience for a top placement at NABBA. I am convinced that had we planned our whole season towards NABBA, and rehearse the music for months and done all of the things that these really good bands do, we could definitely have competed for a placement. We have the players to do it. We are not disappointed with our placement because we have it in perspective, and did the best we could. It was a real treat to hear so many good bands. And results usually come about in direct proportion to what you put into it. We did not put into it what everyone else did, but did put into it what we could and wanted to.

It was a very good week.

April 12- Playing Catch Up
I have not been keeping up with this for the last week or so. I resolve to do better. There is so much going on right now, it is tough to keep it all straight. So here is the latest…On the weight loss front, this week was not good. I didn’t lose anything. I am holding at 73 pounds total. I seem to be at a strange thing where I lose one week, nothing the next. This should be an “on” week, but I would like to put a couple weeks together where it is all loss. Workouts are still going strong.

Last weekend was the annual Easter Fest at Duke Chapel, which was well done as always. The big thing was the immediate influx of spring, which left a layer of yellow pollen on us that was seemingly thinker than ever before. It wreaked havoc on my allergies and I was pretty miserable all week. A whole box of tissues and a sore nose later, and it pretty much done with. That being said, here is a list of things that are on my plate that I am either working on, or have done:

  • Repertoire planning for Summer Pops with brass band
  • Personnel planning for sumer pops.
  • planning for May concerts
  • planning for 2010-11 season
  • Scheduling 2011-12 season
  • working out major commission for 25th anniversary
  • investigating youth brass band camp and youth festival, possible for next year
  • last minute planning for NABBA this week
  • Drum Corps camp all this past weekend

All of this is ongoing, so my head is spinning with keeping it all together. Add to that the big week. This week is the brass band competition here in Raleigh, so we have rehearsals every night. I will be pretty work out by Sunday and looking forward to a good nap. It is very busy, but I am really looking forward to a great weekend of listening to brass bands and seeing some friends.

March 31- Day 119

119 is actually today, which is 118.  The weekly loss is 6.5 pounds for a total of 73.5 pounds.  Had my weekly visit one day early due to vacation times for the medic.  Maybe if tomorrow was the day it would be over 7 for the week.  6.5 is what I should be losing every week with the calorie deficit I am experiencing every day.

March 30- Yes I Did
Friday evening I went to Denton NC on an invitation to teach the low brass at the divisional salvation army youth band camp. I did a masterclass back in December and this time I worked withthree e low brass and a little with the full band. They do a really nice job there and the kids sound pretty good. It was good to see Daniel and Jamie again and I hope to do things with them again.

The weekend of course was ruined by the cats losing in the elite eight. I hate it when they lose and it sucks now because they were so good and played so bad. Ugh.

Went to julias birthday party and had a great time talking to some really cool people. So not a bad weekend except the cats.

March 26- Day 112

Back in the right direction.  3 Pounds last week.  I should be losing 6 pounds  week, but I will take three, rather than any gain.  The total is 66 pounds, I think.  Even better news, the Cats are looking great in the tournament.  Looking forward to the game Saturday.

March 24- Music in Schools Month

Here is an article (column) that came across my news feed on Facebook that I thought was worth sharing. The opening is pretty catchy:

If there were a course to teach your child self-discipline, time management and self-reliance, would you enroll him? If this class would raise his SAT score by an average of 107 points and significantly increase his mathematics proficiency, is it worth your tax dollars? If that same course would place him in the group with the lowest lifetime and current use of alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs, would you camp out to guarantee him a spot?

You don’t have to. Just support the music programs in your school.

March is “Music in Schools” month. More than ever, taxes are being scrutinized, school budgets slashed. Even worse, parents have less discretionary funds for elective classes. Music and the arts are the first casualties in the battle for educational dollars. Before we unholster, load and blast a few more rounds at music and the arts, it’s worth considering the value of music education…….


While most of what is there is really true, I do not believe you can attribute band to raising your kids SAT scores. I think that SAT scores are higher for band kids because smarter kids do band. Its a collateral statistic. However, all of the other things are true to the highest degree, plus more. When you read this, post the things band/music study does for you… comment away…

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