Stolen from david Zerkel….
This is a handout that I provided my studio on the last day of class. Just some practical advice on how to stay engaged in music and music making over the summer break. Enjoy!
Making the Best of Your Summer Away From School
Congrats on making it to the end of the year! As we all limp toward the finish line, feeling the cumulative effect of exams, performances, papers and real life, I know that you will be looking forward to a break. I will be, too! So, by all means, after your last exam ends and your last paper is turned in, exhale. Relax. You’ve earned it.
The trick for you will be to not let a week of chilling out turn into two weeks of chilling out, which quickly becomes a month of chilling out, and by the time you look up, you’ve chilled yourself into a coma. So, my advice is take a week or two to find yourself again and get some sleep.
After that time is up, I would ask that you consider the following activities:
- Sit down and write an essay about why you are studying music. Everyone comes at this from a different angle, so be honest with yourself. Clarifying your sense of direction can frequently have an empowering effect.
- Once you have determined why you are studying music, give some thought to the following question: “If I really care about music, why would I ever give that pursuit anything less than my best effort?” The world is full of musicians who are at different talent levels. That is a given. The one thing that we have all in common, though, is that we are all blessed with the same capacity to try. I am not suggesting a vow of myopia here, where all of your other interests are ignored, but instead a vow of conscientiousness and earnestness. We can all try harder.
- All of us have a pile of etude books. Make your goal this summer to finish at least one etude book, cover to cover. These books are not like a video game where you have to level up by having your teacher “check off” on your work. Read ahead. Devour these etudes. You might find that you will want to do the same with the next book on your stack.
- Listen to something new every day. At the end of this document, I have provided you with a list of great performers and a list of composers with whom every well-read musician should be familiar. Sometimes, when I enter a bookstore or a library I am overwhelmed by the choices and the sheer number of things that I know absolutely nothing about. This list is designed to lead you to great art and great artists. This list will keep you busy. Use it!
- Improvise for five minutes a day. Make something up using only your ear. Be fearless—there are no points off for mistakes. Doing this will allow you to generate greater trust between your brains and your fingers, which will come in very handy once you start reading from the page again.
- Identify your biggest weakness in your playing. Now, kill it. This is where I actually do encourage a bit of myopia. Spend serious time there every single day. Make your own exercises. Research exercises that other people use. Suck until you don’t suck. By dedicating yourself to eradicating one specific technical issue, the problem will get better.
- This last one is a suggestion for not only this summer, but for the rest of your life: Be Curious. Great achievements in life do not occur because people are content with knowing what they know. Great accomplishments come as a result of seeking out what you don’t know. Read. Listen. Occupy your mind with things that will enrich you as a person. Live life. Nourish your brain and body with new experiences.
We only have this one life to live. Determine what matters and go for it. Quoting Dr. Martin Luther King:
“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’”
Have a great and productive summer!
Some Great Classical Pianists
Some Great Jazz Pianists
Some Great Violinists
Some Great Violists
Some Great Cellists
Yo Yo Ma
Jacqueline du Pre
Some Great Double Bass Players
Some Great Guitarists (Classical)
Some Great Guitarists (Jazz)
Some Great Flutists
Jean Pierre Rampal
Some Great Oboists
Some Great Clarinetists
Some Great Saxophonists (Classical)
Some Great Saxophonists (Jazz)
Some Great Trumpet Players (Classical)
Some Great Trumpet Players (Jazz)
Some Great Horn Players
Some Great Trombonists (Classical)
Jorgen van Rejin
Ben van Dijk
Some Great Trombonists (Jazz)
Some Great Euphonium Players
Bob and Nick Childs
Some Great Tuba Players
Some Great Percussionists
Some Great Orchestras
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
New York Philharmonic
San Francisco Symphony
Budapest Festival Orchestra
Some Great Chamber Ensembles
Emerson String Quartet
Juilliard String Quartet
Gaurneri String Quartet
Turtle Island Quartet
Center City Brass Quintet
American Brass Quintet
Aurelia Saxophone Quartet
Prism Saxophone Quartet
Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet
Alarm Will Sound
Some Great Wind Bands
The United States Marine Band
Dallas Wind Symphony
Tokyo Kosei Wind Ensemble
Some Great Jazz Ensembles
Woody Herman Big Band
Buddy Rich Band
Louis Bellson Band
The Bill Holman Band
Thad Jones/ Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra
Lincoln Center Big Band
Stan Kenton Band
Rob McConnell Boss Brass
Toshiko Akiyoshi/Lew Tabackin Big Band
Some Great Singers (Classical)
Some Great Singers (Jazz)
Great Entry Level Operas
The Magic Flute
Barber of Seville
Composers to Try
Aaron Jay Kernis
Howard HansonGustav Holst
Nicolai Rimsky- Korsakov
Camille Saint Saens
Ludwig van Beethoven
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Johann Sebastian Bach
George Frideric Handel
Georg Phillipp Telemann
October is gone, so marching band is now officially done for me for the year. Sometimes I feel like I am an anomaly amongst my friends and colleagues in the music biz, because I like marching band and I like the things that high school marching band does for kids. I simply do not share their dis-taste for this activity. I enjoy teaching brass skills and music designed for the football field. There is a level of emotional enjoyment and performance skill to be found in marching band that is far greater than even orchestral playing. It is a bit of a crazy process to get to that point, but never the less, it is undeniable. Maybe one day I will try to clearly state what it is about this activity that draws me to it, but lately it seems enough for me that I am just really good at teaching it. It won’t be long before that isn’t enough, but for now, there it is.
I work with two band on a regular basis, and I get great enjoyment out of them for different reasons. While both bands grew a lot this season, only one had true competitive success. I will not get wrapped up in winning marching band competitions, as that is so not important, but the process getting to high quality does matter, and what the kids learn in that process is the true gift.
Sanderson is an average sized band in NC. Roughly 70 members. To me it is a good example of how to have balance in a band program and quality in a marching band without over-doing it. The kids work hard and seem to know the value in limited rehearsal time vs. achieving goals. I have been running this brass line for about 5 years and it is one of the fundamentally sound lines out there. They are a lot of fun to teach and get a solid product in the end.
Cary is a larger than average band for NC. They might be the largest HS band in NC. We are dealing with growing pains there and maybe even modernizing a bit. The kids there are also great to work with and want to be really good and work hard. We have a great working relationship and the future looks good for them. The off season looks like it could be fun as we look for new and better ways to make that program top notch.
I also judged a couple of shows this year, early in the season, and I continue the debate with myself on whether or not I should do more of that. It misbecoming clearer and clearer that there are not a lot of people who understand how to judge true music effect, and how that differs from Ensemble Music Performance. So many shows we end up with three ensemble tapes and no effect tapes. I feel I have a good handle on Ensemble and Music Effect captions, but would prefer to be in the trenches helping my bands get ready to perform. Maybe it will come down to money deciding it in the end. Who knows.
So now what? The youth brass band just held their auditions and I was not involved at all for the first time in 13 years. It sounds like it will be awesome and I am happy for that, and glad that I left a program in such good shape, and in great hands. The adult brass band has a concert this week, and then we start on our holiday program next week. The quintet will be pretty active the next couple of months as well. Throw in some NC Symphony work and other gigs and it should be a good couple of months leading up to the holidays.
Had a pretty good weekend out in the mountains for the Western Carolina University Band competition. It is a really big show with a lot of great bands and it is a real challenge to make finals there. Add to that the WCU Band which is a spectacle for sure (see video). My brother came in to town for the weekend which was fun. He made the trip with me out to the mountains to work with the band. We stayed at Lake Junaluska and rehearsed there before the gig. The band (Cary HS) had a solid prelims performance and it was strong enough to make finals. We had a better finals show, which was not the case for all of the bands, it seemed, and I was really pleased with how the kids performed up to the level they had been prepared for. They did their job wonderfully.
The best band there was Dobyns Bennett HS from TN and they were very good. We will see them again this weekend at the Winston Salem Regional so I may make it a point to watch their show again. We are not getting very strong rating from the judges this year, but I think the kids are really working hard to get better. We will keep working to the end and be the best we can.
Here is a video of the WCU band. : )
Its been a jammed up week or so. Rehearsing marching bands all last week as they prepared for their first competitions, with a long Saturday in Spartanburg, SC judging a show, and the brass band performing at Edenton St. UMC Sunday morning seemed to keep things rolling along. It has been a pretty good week, though. I really enjoyed the judging gig in SC. Saw some really good bands and I felt like I got the scores right, with the correct spreads. Hope everyone was happy with it, and my comments were useful.
The brass band played well in church and was very well received. Hopefully some people who saw us will attend some of our concerts in the future. We will play a concert at Edenton St. UMC in May, so maybe this will help with that. We start rehearsals for our next concert in November this week. We are using a lot of subs. Its such a busy month.
Jonathan made a quintet website. Its my turn to do a blog post for the quintet, and I am struggling to find the time to do it. I have to get into that soon. There is a trumpet post and horn post, so keep an eye on the quintet site for more brass tips.
The Sound Sport thing is beginning to pick up steam. We now have our website up and running and have already begun getting interest from potential members. It will be in the planning stages for a couple months, but we will look to hold auditions in April and we will rehearse and perform in June and July. I will be building a team of staff soon, and will be announcing things on our website and facebook page.
This weekend will be busy with judging and football, and a lot of marching band this week getting better for this weeks shows. So far, I am pleased with how the bands I work with are progressing.
Until next update…
It has been a busy couple of weeks here, but all seemed to go pretty well. The quintet has been meeting a lot to do some weddings, educational concerts and our first big concert at edenton Street UMC. We had a great audience at Edenton St. and all of the education concerts went really well, and the kids where great with their questions. The quintet is pretty motivated to drive traffic to our website, so Don eagle posted a great article about practicing trumpet, which was sent all over the place for people to see. We have plans to follow up each week with a post from others in the quintet. We are not meeting this week, but have several rehearsals set up for next week to get ready for the next thing. Its a ways off, but we seem to be staying ahead of the game right now. Pam and I will be meeting this week to work out details on our brass chamber music camp which will roll out this summer.
The brass band has been in full swing. We started our season with rehearsals and a free concert in Cary last weekend. There was a huge crowd and they were very receptive. The band sounded really good and the weather was perfect for a concert. We have been auditioning players to fill some holes in the band and will be announcing the new members this week when we finish the auditions. We are now working on music for our performance at Edenton St. UMC on Sept. 29 for their Sunday services. This is a new thing for us, as we try to get in front of more people who may not have heard of us. We launched our new website, and it looks pretty good, so check it pout here...
The biggest news is the new Triangle Brass Sound Sport Team that I just started here. It is sponsored by the Triangle Brass Band and is in the early stages of development. We will be fielding a team this summer and details will be trickling out over the next couple of months. Our website will be up soon, but in the meantime, you can see info here…
This weekend will be fun. I am playing with the Wilmington Symphony and my best friend from college will be visiting. I will most likely be getting the new iPhone 5S on Friday and will go off the grid for the weekend to play the tuba and hang out with my buddy.
While doing some research on youtube for the Liberty Bell March, I came across these gems performed by the Marine Band in Washington DC. No one can play Sousa marches like the President’s Own, especially Semper Fidelis. So, enjoy these awesome videos of the world’s best band. I love how they stand up at the end of each video. Hahaha.
The last few weeks have been mostly teaching brass sectionals at marching band camps. I have been doing this since July 22nd and its been pretty good. I work with two bands and I am really enjoying working with the kids. I am excited for the seasons these bands will have as I think we are off to a good start and should be making some really good sounds this year. I know that as I get older, I get less enthusiastic about marching band, but I am really happy that I am working with these kids, and the other staff people with the two bands. I do feel it is really easy to work with these people, and it is refreshing in this activity. I hope they feel the same way towards me. I know I am a pain in the butt, but I am trying to be more amiable.
On other fronts, I am working out a few school concerts for my brass quintet, the Boylan Bridge Brass. We are setting aside two weeks right when school starts to go into the school band programs and play chamber music for them, and talk about brass playing. The quintet has been around for about a year and a half, but we really spent the first few months just rehearsing and getting to know one another. We are now ready to get out in public and play. We are really excited to start our new partnership with Edenton Street United Methodist Church in Raleigh. We will be performing many times there during the year, starting with a recital with organ on Friday Sept. 6. We have plans for starting a brass chamber camp next summer, and will be performing weddings and recitals at several locations. If you would like us to come to your school and play, let me know.
On the brass band front, I am still looking at programming things, and should go by the shed today and look through the files to see what tunes are there that want to be played this season. I have a few spots to fill. I just had a good conversation with another Director about Christmas programming. Its funny that he is in the same situation I am. Its tough to program for holiday shows every year and to keep it fresh for the payers and audience. The rep is a little limiting. We bumped around some ideas and it is helping me get over the hump a little.
The summer is coming to an end, and it is looking right now to be a very busy fall. I am excited to be playing the tuba a little more than usual this time of year, and it looks to be getting really jammed from now until Christmas. Good luck to me in keeping it all together.