Greetings, trombone and percussion friends! If you’re a trombone or percussion student living in Central North Carolina, All-District auditions are coming up on January 5th…so we’ve created some video performances of several of the audition pieces to help you with your preparation.
If you have any questions or need any help working up your audition material, please get in touch with Christina or Andrew. We will be happy to help!
Greetings, fellow trombonists! Below are some recordings especially for students who are planning to audition for All-District Band here in Central NC on January 7th.
When making these recordings, I focused mainly on bringing out the style, mood, and feeling of each piece. The idea was to interpret these not as “those solos everyone has to play at District”, but as beautiful works of art. I encourage you to spend a great deal of time in your practice working on your own artistry…it’ll make you stand out from the competition!
In case you’d like to use these tempos, the Spanish Dance is at about 117bpm (with the dotted-quarter getting the beat), the Andante is at 68bpm, and the Allegro is at 116bpm, until the Brillante when it pushes up to 120. Have fun, and I’ll have some tips videos up soon.
Greetings! Lately here at Summerglen, we’ve been working on 2 big summer projects: Trombone Ensembles for students, and our original CD (tentatively titled It All Started in the Middle of the Road). Both the students and our new material are truckin’ right along, and we’ve created Facebook pages for each of them, so that you can check out our progress over the summer. Please drop by and “like” us!
I’ve been studying Anusara yoga for several months and thoroughly enjoying it, and lately I’ve felt the urge to learn even more. So, last Saturday, I took a class on how to practice yoga at home. The class was really interesting, but not just because it deepened my knowledge about yoga–it also was a great opportunity to get ideas from the way people in other disciplines practice! This week, I adapted a couple of ideas from yoga into my trombone practice, and here’s what happened:
At the beginning, set an intention. – When practicing yoga, one of the first things our teacher suggests we do is set an intention to guide our practice. We may choose to focus on things like staying in the moment, expressing gratitude, or a using a certain yogic principle. Doing this has really helped me in yoga, especially during those poses that are, er, not so comfortable! :0
So, I thought, why not do the same in trombone practice? Each day this week, I’ve set some kind of intention before starting to play. On Monday, I felt sluggish, so I set an intention to have a flowing practice session. I noticed that I grew more energized as the session went on, because the intention would pop into my mind whenever I’d start to sit a little too long between exercises. On Wednesday, AKA “potentially frustrating recording work day”, I set an intention to be nice to myself. Instead of succumbing to the urge to beat myself up, I was able to listen to my recordings more objectively–and I gained some valuable insights as a result. In short, setting intentions REALLY worked!
Finish with Savasana – At the end of yoga practice, we take a pose called Savasana, in which we lie down, chill out, and savor the results of the work we’ve done. My teacher has cautioned that Savasana is a non-negotiable part of yoga practice–you’ve gotta do it every time, or else you’ll find yourself frazzled instead of relaxed!
This made me think of all the times I’ve abruptly ended my trombone practice and gone to do something else, with no real transition in between. Like yoga, practicing trombone brings us into a different state of being: our senses are heightened, and we’re challenging the body and mind to perform complex functions in flawless harmony. When I think of it that way, it makes no sense at all to just pack up the horn and go watch TV–there should be a transition back out of the elevated state of practice! So, after each session this week, I’ve taken a couple of minutes to stretch my chops out and relax before leaving the studio. During this time, I write down a couple things I’ve accomplished, and allow myself to savor what I’ve done. This musical chill time has worked just like Savasana, allowing me to feel satisfied with the progress I’ve made, rather than anxious about everything I still need to do.
Have you found ideas from other disciplines that work really well in your trombone practice? If so, please feel free to share them in the comments section! Until next time, namaste!
Every year, I hear all kinds of people knocking the month of January. Some say that, now that all the decorations are put away and holiday festivities are wrapped up, January feels dull and bleak and depressing. Others complain that it’s too cold, or that there’s nothing to do. But I think that poor January has gotten a bad rap–because by taking a different perspective on this season’s chilly calm, it’s possible to turn January into a monthlong creative and musical retreat!
I get into this creativity-friendly perspective simply by turning around the wintery subjects I’m tempted to whine about. For example, if my first thought is, “Man, it’s too cold outside to do anything!!” I spin that thought around until it says, “But it’s super-warm indoors. What are some things I can do inside?” (And for a musician, this question has some awesome answers: practice, compose, arrange, harmonize, study, improvise, jam, experiment…and the list goes on!)
Here are 3 more typical January complaints, and how to turn them around to give you a creative boost:
1. “I’m SOOO tired!” – January is quite a dark and gray month in many parts of the country, so it can be a nightmare trying to get out of bed in the morning…or at all. Sometimes it may feel like all we want to do is sleep! But what if we looked at this urge to hibernate as a good thing?
Extra sleep can feel luxurious, especially when we lay aside our worries about what we think we “should” be doing and just rest. When we allow ourselves small luxuries like lazy, carefree relaxation, we contribute to the health of our Inner Artist. And when our Inner Artist is strong and happy, our creative ideas flow more easily!
2. “I’m SO bored; there’s nothing to do!” – After the craziness of the holiday season, adjusting to the calm of January can be very difficult. One great way to turn this complaint around is to view a sparse schedule as a golden opportunity to pursue those things we never seem to have time for. For many freelance musicians, January is a time when nobody’s calling us to play their music. So, we can turn it into a chance to make OUR music! When we start feeling bored or stuck, we can use it as a signal to sit down and work on music we’re passionate about.
3. “Everything looks so depressing, now that all the Christmas lights are down.” – It can be a real drag taking down all the pretty holiday decorations we put up last month. But who says that decorations are only a December thing? We can also have great fun decorating for January! Each year, I make January fun by doing up Summerglen in calm, meditative winter stuff. I only decorate for January once a year, so it’s a special thing that I look forward to. And…changing up our environment can stimulate our brains, bringing us new ideas to bring into our musical lives.
So, how will you make this month a fun and musical time? Best wishes, and happy January!
Greetings, Summerglen friends!
So, it’s been quite a long time…5 months or so really, since I took an unplanned sabbatical from the Summerglen blog. It was weird; one day, I just didn’t want to write anymore. And trombone tips videos? Blegh. If I tried to make myself get on here and write or record because I thought I “should”, any words or ideas stubbornly stayed out of reach. I knew that as an artist, forcing myself into doing work I didn’t want to do could wreak some serious creative havoc…so I just followed my gut, and ceased to blog.
But it seemed like letting go of the blog for a while allowed me to learn and grow in many other areas of my life. I’ve had experiences this year that I’ve never had before, and these sparked a deeper understanding about how I work, how music works, and what our world is really like. It’s been quite a journey, and I’d love to share it with you…but maybe in a slightly abbreviated form, so you don’t get bored.
Six cool experiences and things I learned this year:
1. Realized that the arts truly are jealous masters. If my trombone doesn’t want me to write, I’m not gonna write!
2. Discovered that watching Dr. Phil every morning with a misbehaving pet rabbit can bring out the nicer side of its personality. Our biting, thumping bunny turned into a snuggling, affectionate bunny over the course of a few weeks.
3. Completely broke and with little prior planning, my best girlfriend and I ran off to the mountains for a weekend in August. We ended up staying with complete strangers, playing trains with their young son, and cleaning the New River in kayaks.
4. Found out that if I maintain a repertoire of “tricky spots”, and take time to practice and record them on a regular basis, it beefs up my technique and makes it much easier to keep several different pieces at performance level.
5. Even when working with friends, we musicians must use contracts, and we must take the time to establish boundaries and expectations for everyone involved in the project. I tried to neglect this truth earlier in the year, and my Inner Artist took a serious beating.
6. I started doing Anusara yoga this year, and it’s been such a fulfilling experience in many different ways. I feel more balanced, spiritually connected, and full of energy…but one of the biggest things it’s given me is a reminder to approach life and music with a Beginner’s (open) Mind. It’s easy to play the “expert” and try to have the definitive answer to everything. But really, the longer I play and the longer I live, the fewer answers I have. And that’s a good thing.
Thanks for reading, and until next time, take care!
Over several years of teaching private trombone lessons, I’ve noticed a trend among students to focus their practice on the ensemble music assigned to them by their band director at school, and shy away from doing anything else. Unfortunately, band music for young trombonists doesn’t tend to be very challenging…so when it’s all that kids work on, they don’t make the musical progress that they’re capable of making. Also, when there’s no more band stuff to work on in the summer, many kids assume that they can put their horns away because there’s nothing to do!
So, our next three videos will present a challenge for young trombonists–to move away from homework-only practice, and add a healthy dose of solo trombone literature to their sessions. Enjoy!