Always a pleasure working with animals.

Just stumbed across the soundtrack for StarCraft 2, Heart of the Swarm.

If you enjoy the music, please support great music and musicians by picking up the album on iTunes!

I had the distinct pleasure to play some tenor and bass trombone including my friends, mentors, and colleagues Mr. David Ridge (San Francisco Opera), Paul Welcomer (San Francisco Symphony), John Engelkes (San Francisco Symphony), Jeff Budin (San Francisco Ballet), Mark Lawrence (San Francisco Symphony, Emeritus), Peter Wahrhaftig, and many other talented musicians.

Thanks guys, and to the great Ms. Janet Ketchum for a fabulous time.  It's always a pleasure working with you.

Dr. J

 A photo from the Articles of War recording session.

A photo from the Articles of War recording session.

Source: topsites://

Thoughts on rejection

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I received some very interesting feedback from an audition today-- to be honest, it kind of bummed me out.

I heard from two prominent players in the same section, feedback that was exactly diametrically opposed--one said if I'd played in any other hour, I'd have easily advanced-- the other, was underwhelmed.

(sigh)

Auditioning, and receiving feedback is a weird, and ego-challenging thing. Just stumbled on an interesting article that really made me think.

The first comment really struck home though: People that reject me are doing me a favor.

They're not rejecting me or my product. They're rejecting the combination of me and them together.

They're telling me we would have a bad relationship. And they're probably right.

Just because THIS time you didn't win, it may not be for the worst, and it may not be because you 'biffed it'-- it might just not be a good fit.

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How to Eat an Elephant

Q: How do you eat an elephant? A: One bite at a time.

 

OMG. HELP. I want to curl up in a ball and CRY. WTF? NO WAY MAN. It's Impossible. I'm out. I quit. I can't.

I'm want to say that I'm embarrassed/ashamed to admit that I too, have had all of these feelings. When a piece of music, audition, passage, solo, etc. comes before me that makes my inner 7 yr. old boy start whining, (otherwise known as "extreme concern, focus, nervous, ) - my first instinct to avoid the piece.

Play something else, do what I'm good at, distract myself, or even, NOT PLAY THE HORN. When I was a high school student, and even through graduate school, I was always afraid of "What will other people think? I can't play that, what if they hear me?"

Otherwise known as F.E.A.R. F: Frequently E: Eagerly A: Avoiding R: Responsibility

Let's face it- it's my bed. I made it. Whatever I have chosen to practice or work on to this date has put me in this position. There's nothing to be gained by lamenting over what I didn't do, or can't do, but EVERYTHING to be gained by FACING my fear and owning the passage.

Maybe I won't nail it today. I might not even get it right in time for the concert. BUT, I can make progress, get better at it for whatever short term goal (concert, audition, etc.) I have in front of me right now, and more significantly, make significant progress in ensuring that it won't plague me in the future.

So my friend, what's to do? - When you find a piece of music (or your piece you're currently avoiding) look it over, and let your gut be your guide- what part are you avoiding, what part do your eyes skip past, what part do you wish wasn't on the upcoming gig? - be bold, be brave: START THERE.

If you take care of your chops with a good routine (warm-up) and spend 70-80% working on the "problem" or challenging passage, you will ALWAYS be in better shape than if you either run the piece down & spot check, or avoid it entirely.

Tips:

  • Always use a metronome
  • ISOLATION & REPETITION: Pick a tiny area and work it back and forth, upside down, in different keys, etc.
  • SLOW IT DOWN!, then incrementally increase the tempo- by BABY STEPS.
  • Start SLOWER than you want. Take the tempo you think you should start at, then subtract 20bpm. If you're super brave, divide it in two!
  • Take the horn off your face: Sing it, clap it, tap it, play it on a piano. If you don't have the passage firmly in your ear you're fighting a losing battle.
  • Record yourself: Yes. It's humbling. It hurts. Do it. Do it again. Be gentle, but be constructive. You will always be a worse critic of your playing than others, but it's the only way to truly hear what's coming out of the horn.
  • POSTURE, RHYTHM, SOUND, AIR . . then notes. As odd as it sounds, I increasingly find that when I focus on good airflow, body posture, rhythm, and tone, I ALWAYS do better. If I do goof, I find that I am much more quickly aware of it, and more significantly, have a better idea what to fix. If you blow down the center of the tone/pitch/note, you will nail it, or know immediately "this is not the note I'm going for." Trust yourself, go for it.
  • WRITE IT DOWN. I am amazed at how often I see no markings in students music. I have made it a mission to rebel and WRITE EVERYTHING (in solo repertoire, not band music). By marking it in, I am making a statement to the ape who moves my slide (the unconscious mind)d WHAT I am looking for, and more importantly, WHAT I'm trying to fix here.
  • Never begin a passage without a goal clearly in mind- in the beginning, literally say it aloud, ask yourself in a full voice, "What am I looking to accomplish here?" or "What do I want to sound better?" I think you'll be surprised at how much it helps, and how much more effective your practice time will be.

Please comment below:

  • How do you face your fear and get to work on something you want to avoid?
  • What specific practice tools/methods do you use when tackling a passage?

Pardon me, my elephant is ready, time to hit the woodshed!

$0.02 Dr. J


Deep Thoughts at 3AM (My Educational Philosophy)

As I am up FAR too late tonight- I had the opportunity (read here: obligation) to write down my current "Educational Philosophy".

A couple of things come to mind: First: This is what I believe now. Today. Check in month, decade, eon, and things surely will have evolved. Second: Rather than write a narrative about the typical "How I teach" I decided to use the opportunity to be starkly FRANK. Honestly, I'm a little bit afraid and nervous how this might be read or interpreted by the recipient, but have decided rather than "play it safe" do what I've been urging my students to do, and take a risk. This has been percolating for the past few years and finally has emerged as a "moderately coherent" document- We'll have to see what it looks like tomorrow morning though. :)

'nuff said: Here's What *I* believe, as an educator. Friday, April 22, 2011

Statement of Teaching Philosophy Dr. Jonathan Brummel

In the summer of 1997 I was forever ruined as someone who merely “teaches” as a backup plan, and was doomed to lead a life of continued development. I think I have to blame my father and the Boy Scouts of America for raising me with a strong work ethic and moral compass, but it was my summer employment at the Cazadero Music Camp that truly ruined any possibility of becoming a teacher who simply ‘settled.’

I had recently completed my first taste of being a professional musician, having performed daily for thousands of park guests at Disneyland. The following summer I was destined to be a music instructor in a thousand year old forest with a tradition for educational excellence dating back to the 1970s. Founded by Mr. Robert Lutt, the Cazadero Music Camp has a history of attracting conductors and staff that are highly accomplished musicians, but are more significantly some of the most impassioned and talented educators in the field. Working with people for whom music education was not merely a job, but a lifestyle and joy, I fully engrossed myself in the selfless art of music education. The skills I learned that summer were many, but the approach which I adopted was one of full engagement with the people I was working with, and doing whatever it took to help them either accomplish their goal or take their abilities to the next level- and enjoy themselves in the process.

Education is an interesting thing--as I have grown through the years, I have morphed from a fledgling educator who was desperate to prove how much I knew in order to mask my underlying ignorance, to now fully embracing not only how ignorant I am, but also have learned to acknowledge and enjoy my mistakes. With each day, I become more competent, more accomplished, and make daily distinctions that take me further down the path of mastery. I have made it my mission to not be perfect, right, or amazing-- but simply to be better, every day, than the one before. This has led me to a greater level of skill and knowledge in my subject area.

In my youth, I found it necessary to always have the “right answer” and often taught my students in the same fashion my mentors taught me- simple rote instruction. The advice given was often good, always meant well, but I now take a very different approach with my students (often to their initial surprise, and occasional discomfort) -- I teach them how to teach themselves. The mechanics of playing a brass instrument are quite simple indeed, however the conditioning of the various skills, musculature, and psychological aspects of playing (and reproducing them on a consistent basis) are extremely complex. The biggest distinction I had to learn as an educator was that it is my duty to make the student responsible for their own development. If I can help the student become not only accountable and engaged in their own development each time they pick up the horn, then not only will their development accelerate rapidly, but they become responsible for all of their own accomplishments. When I coach my students now, rather than simply give them a list of things “to do this time,” we spend time exploring why it did or didn’t work, and how we can apply that to either get greater positive results, or use it as a data point of what “doesn’t work.”

By putting the focus on continued development and refinement as opposed to our internal judgements of “right or wrong” I have seen improvement that far outpaces both my, and my students progress. In our exploration together, I will use any tool or tactic necessary to keep the student in a positive state of mind and keep them mentally present and engaged. Levity is often used, but the mood can also be extremely focused and intense-- it is all dependent on what the particular student needs in order to progress.

I work with students ranging from third grade through professional musicians, and my mission is constant- how can I help this person grow, through the vehicle of music? Some of my students have gone on to significant success in a musical career, but all have not only gained a deeper understanding of music and ability ability to perform it. The greater benefit is a gain in self-confidence, focus, determination, planning, and problem solving - skills which are beneficial in all aspects of life. The curse, and gift, of my summer at the Cazadero Music Camp, was that I am driven to give my students the best of my abilities and current understanding of the topic they are studying or struggling with (because in five years I will certainly have a refined opinion from that of today), and that I am compelled to enhance my own skills so I can offer them more.


MWM 5 - Live Panel at Summer Music 2010

On Tuesday, July 6th, three outstanding trombonists came and played for the students at Summer Music to promote their upcoming recital at the Lafayette Public Library, July 18th, 7PM. Mr. Timothy Higgins (newly appointed principal trombonist of the San Francisco Symphony), Mr. Paul Welcomer (second trombonist of the San Francisco Symphony), and Mr. David Ridge (principal bass trombonist of the San Francisco Opera) played music that is being prepared for the upcoming recital, conducted an open rehearsal, and participated on a panel discussing music and performing arts along with the Summer Music faculty.

The live panel at Summer Music (www.summermusic.us) featured musicians from the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Opera), and San Francisco Bay Area Educators and freelance Musicians.

Panel Memebers include: Dr. Jon Brummel, Mr. Timothy Higgins, Mr. Paul Welcomer , Mr. David Ridge, Mr. Troy Davis, Mrs. Danna Mitchell, Mrs. Alicia Telford, and Mr. David Martell.

Questions came from middle school students attending the workshop, while the discussion was facilitated by Dr. Jon Brummel.

Direct Download Link
Subscribe in iTunes!

Don't forget to check out:
Tim Higgins Trombone Recital, July 17, 2010 3:00PM in Atherton, CA
The Trombone Triplets (Higgins, Welcomer, Ridge) at the Lafayette Library, July 18th, 7PM, Lafayette, CA


Meeting with Masters: Podcast Launch

It's the quick (and unofficial) launch of my new podcast:

(submitting the formal RSS feed to iTunes today, but available now)

Meeting with Masters: Thoughts on Music with people who don't suck.

Purpose:

  1. Share the life stories and musical insights of outstanding musicians, craftsmen, repair technicians, music businessmen, creative professionals, and people that impress me, with the world.
  2. Provide an avenue for students and listeners to ask a question of a seasoned veteran.
  3. Provide an opportunity (bully pulpit) for outstanding professionals to share their wisdom with the next generation of musician, and their thoughts on the craft and art of music performance and pedagogy.
  4. Learn, be inspired, and gain pearls of wisdom to fuel our need and desire to become better musicians and humans.

The first episode features Mr. Alex Iles, Los Angeles studio trombonist, college professor, and all around 'good human'.

He's an inspiring trombonist who has seen great success in all genres of music ranging from touring with Mr. Maynard Ferguson, nearly a decade as a trombonist for cartoons with the Animaniacs, numerous movies and recordings, Principal trombone with the Long Beach Symphony, and professor of trombone at California Institute of the Arts.

Alex is a Conn/Selmer performing artist and plays King and Conn trombones.

I hope that you enjoy, and learn from this interview as much as I have.

I'll be putting up information on how to subscribe to the podcast in iTunes once it's confirmed in the iTunes store, but for now, you can use iTunes (or your preferred Podcasting program) with the following feed://drjbone.libsyn.com/rss

Open iTunes, click on "Advanced" ---> "Subscribe to Podcast", then enter in feed://drjbone.libsyn.com/rss and you're set!

Please let me know what you think, thanks so very much for the generous donation of time and knowledge by the artists, and I thank you for your time and support!

RSS Link for iTunes

Happy Thanksgiving!

Best,
DrJ

Upcoming Artists to include:


Step up, Son, and be a musician!

Be still the cockles of my old bitter heart- that nearly brought tears.


Wow.

I posit a question to you, the trombone community, and tangentially address Allen's question:

HOW, as artists, teachers, humans, and musicians, do we/you convey to our students and the public en masse, that MUSICALITY, and specifically lyric playing of the sort demonstrated by Mr. Shultz is SO much more challenging as an artist and a technician.

I find that to be the largest struggle in the pedagogy of the instrument, the craft, but more importantly, the ART of music making- teaching musicality, emoting, with absolutely uncompromising technical demands.

Doing everything through word, written marking, expression, recording, and experimentation to help them open up there ears, mind, and heart to another level of musicality-- it's something that I struggle with too, but more importantly in an age of technological advancement with immediate results, digital flashing things to distract (and trust me, I LOVE em), how can you teach the tightness you get in your throat and share the ache you get in your heart when you hear something so beautiful, honest, and well presented?

And, how do you inspire your students, colleagues, and self to constantly strive for that higher level of achievement?

DrJ


Bill Watrous at Trombone Day - This Saturday, Hayward, CA FREE!

Don't miss trombone virtuoso, Mr. Bill Watrous, this Saturday at California State University, East Bay.

Rarely do you get the opportunity to hear a world class musician playing and giving advice "in your backyard" for FREE.

This event is graciously sponsored by Mr. Dick Akright at A&G Music, coordinated by Mr. Dean Hubbard, and hosted by Mr. Dave Ridge.

Trombone Day is always an outstanding event- Don't miss it!

Full Schedule and details are may be found here.
Details on where it's at, and how to get there.


Podcast coming soon!

Look out! "Meeting with Masters, or Thoughts on Music with people who don't suck" is coming soon!

Artwork candidate

The premiere episode to feature Mr. Alex Iles, Los Angeles studio trombonist, pedagogue, orchestral musician, and inspiring human.

Recorded episodes to come include:
Mr. Rod Gilfry - 30 year career as an international Operatic Baritione, star of South Pacific's National Tour, and faculty member at the University of Southern California.

Masterclass by Los Angeles trombonist, Mr. Andy Martin--Trombone Day 2008

Mr. Rick Walsh - San Francisco Trombonist, Arranger, and Music Copyist.

Mr. Glenn Cronchite - Inventor of Reunion Blues Gig Bags

And many more (top secret- if we told you, we'd have to kill you.)

ETA: this week.


Moment of Silence for Trombone Great: Steven Witser

Steven Witser dies at 48; L.A. Philharmonic's principal trombonist - Los Angeles TimesThe loss of a stellar player, teacher, and human: Steven Witser.

I did not have the pleasure of knowing Mr. Witser personally, but I do have several close friends and colleagues who were students and friends of his--through which, I have learned greatly.

The picture above is a scanned "Baseball trading card" style production by the Los Angeles Philharmonic's outreach program. This was shared with me by colleague Alisha Ard. These "trading cards" were passed out to children during the orchestras educational outreach program in an effort to involve children in classical music. Of the 76 trading cards assembled, Mr. Witser was the only trombonist represented. Upon inquiry as to why the only trombonist was Mr. Witser, Ms. Ard was told "SOME sections aren't as good about getting their information back to us."

:) As we all know, life often gets in the way of returned calls, email, greetings, and human contact. It's impressive to note that amongst the busy schedule with the Philharmonic and life, he took the time to share with the next generation of audiences and musicians.

The overall resonating vibe surrounding Mr. Witser's legacy through his students and peers always surrounded two facets--he was an impressive and inspiring musician, but also, or more importantly, a good human.

Thanks for all the great inspiration Steve, through your recordings and your students-- god bless you and your family, and may we aspire to similar evolution as musicians and humans.


What made me weep like a baby. . . and impressed me to get moving again.

You have no problems.

I have no problems.

It's too easy to get overwhelmed, overloaded, pessimistic, and want to just "check out."

Don't know what I'm talking about? (Must be nice to be an alien)

For the rest of us, it's the daily journey, challenge, and effort to keep on "keepin on" and make progress-- in your life, in your skill set, your career, your marriage, your relationships.

If you know what I'm talking about, and have found yourself "stuck", take 5:18 seconds today to witness a true hero--a champion of the human spirit.
By 3:00 I choked up like a schoolgirl. Make sure you at least watch from the beginning through 3:55.
Now, I'm off to contribute something to the world, and my family.


Thank you Ian Bousfield: I will never play the ride the same again.

I finally get it. One of the best things about playing in the YouTube Symphony was the chance to collaborate and be coached by Mr. Ian Bousfield, solo trombonist with the Vienna Philharmonic.

His constant urging for more precision in articulation and rhythmic accuracy not only helped me with some issues I've had in my own playing, but drastically changed the way that I play, and more importantly HEAR the rhythm in Wagner's Die Walküre (Ride of the Valkyries).

I think that I may have worn out the saddle that he rode me with, but his incessant demand for rhythmic purity has helped me approximately 100% in just two days, and I will continue to use it, and teach it, for the rest of my career.

I took this video during the dress rehearsal at Carnegie Hall to both observe his impressive slide technique and to remind myself of the Viennese style for Die Walküre.

In short- THANK YOU Mr. Bousfield--your passion, time, intensity, and integrity will impact both myself and my students for generations to come.


The YouTube Symphony brass section was impressive, and a pleasure to work with!

Dr. J


YouTube Symphony Orchestra: Initial Thoughts

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Upload, Upload, Upload

Eep.

Ok, I admit it, I WAS SKEPTICAL. C'mon, Google + YouTube and a "global" symphony picked by pros and regular Joe's?

It turned out to be one of the best groups I've played with, and I learned much more than I could have possibly hoped for during the course of three days.

I'm running now to teach & deal with a dead car, but will post updates and information over this coming weekend.

3 things: 1) The musical depth and talent of the participants was OUTstanding. Really impressive. 2) The quality of the program was truly impressive. I will never play Wagner the same again (Thank you Ian Bousfield!) 3) Be skeptical, but never be close minded. :)

Listen to the first half of the concert or the Second half of the concert and let me know what you think in the comments below!

Until we talk again- work hard, play hard, and be a good human!

See you soon!

Dr. J

P.S. Thank you so VERY much for your support- without your help, I would not have had this amazing experience!


Bonehead hits New York

Made it to NYC, quick 4-5 hr nap and it's go time!


I really should have taken a photo- it's a neat feeling (even when you're flying coach) to approach the baggage carousel and see "that guy" with the sign is actually waiting for YOU.

OK, it's probably petty, but it's the little things that are nice- as I become a little more road weary I begin to truly appreciate the convenience of things like a nicer hotel, the workout facilities at a hotel, a decent meal (instead of fast food). (Maybe I'm just turning into an old fart?)

I must say that despite the initial lack of details, the YouTube and Google coordinators for the project really have gone all out to "take care of the talent." It's really nice to arrive at the hotel at 2 A.M. in a car (rather than subway or the Taxi) and settle into a really nice room (instead of the fleabag joints I have often frequented in the past).

Check-in at the hotel was effortless, and they had a "swag" bag with some goodies, a t-shirt, a really sweet hard drive from Samsung with the YouTube logo on it, schedules, and meal vouchers. Quick note on the hard drive- I've owned, and own, many small portable hard drives, but this new one is really quite impressive. It's a little under half the size of a normal "mini" hard drive, has a nice plastic grip on the bottom, and a variety of cables. I just transferred all the video from my Flip Mino onto it, and it copied multiple gigs onto it at a quite speedy rate. I'm actually going to use it for all of my future video editing & photos for the laptop. It's my new mobile jump drive of choice. It'd be nice to have a 500GB version, but I assume that's to come later as technology improves.

I kind of feel like I'm going to All-State Honor Band for Adults. :)


Creativity: Inspiration & Perspiration

In a never-ending quest to "suck less" I find myself at times drifting, dealing with projects that "aren't critical or important" but nonetheless have merit--but don't seek to fulfill my purpose, or bring me closer to my destiny.

Without getting mushy & metaphysical, I think we all face an internal battle--doing that which is truly important to US and is doing good--either in the world, or in our own physical, character, emotional, intellectual, or skill set "muscles".

I recently underwent a surgery for a torn meniscus of the left knee and was reminded by a physical therapist of a tenet that I hold most keenly in my trombone playing, a "muscle has only two states- growth and atrophy." Simply, a muscle is either getting stronger, or getting weaker.

I believe that as players, teachers, and humans we struggle with a similar challenge- either being on track, or getting distracted.

I had a young student contact me regarding the outcome of a recent audition. He stated firmly that he was ready to "knuckle down" and "do whatever it takes." With that in mind, I think it important to reflect on the two primary elements to achievement - Inspiration & Perspiration.

You must have the inspiration to get better, achieve, suck less, , or you won't have the desire, or the energy, to get your butt out of bed and get to work! Sure, we have the short term pain of deadlines, job, gigs, school concerts, etc., but the LONG game goal- where do YOU want to be, and WHO do you want to become--that's the real game, which requires a bigger vision and plan.

Second: PERSPIRATION. Simply put- get off your butt and get to work! Have a plan, get a coach, and go gangbusters toward your goal with everything you've got- and then go a little more. Check in, mark your progress, plan your practice sessions (or life/project/work/etc.)

 

With that in mind I wanted to share two quick things that have spurred on my thinking, then it's back to work:

Gang, Constraints & Blocks: Merlin Mann, a great thinker in the organizational field (and very funny) recently re-fired his defunct podcast with a great 10 minute audio post on blocking time.

Get Inspired: I worked with my friend and colleague Barry Green, author of The Inner Game of Music recently doing some PowerPoint presentations for his recent book The Mastery of Music. In in there's a great anecdote by Dave Brubeck and his inspiration for some of the rhythmic complexity found in his later compositions- astride a tractor in the Central San Juaquin Valley. I found this video and couldn't help but smile.

Bottom line: GET INSPIRED, then GET YOUR BUTT IN GEAR! What am I doing to do this for myself? Well friend, I wrote this article (to publicly put me on the line) and am enjoying a great cup of coffee, listening to my favorite trombonist play the Michael Haydn alto trombone concerto (which I've committed myself to do in a month ) - now that I'm fired up and REALLY WANT to practice- it's on.

I'm headed to the woodshed to practice- what are you going to do TODAY to make yourself more happy and FULFILLED as a human, player, parent, teacher, etc? (regardless of career) - I'd appreciate your thoughts in the comments field below, then GO AND GET YOUR BUTT MOVING!

Best, DrJ "I suck, You suck. I practice today so that I will suck less tomorrow."

 

Gears of War 2 Soundtrack commercially released!

[caption id="attachment_158" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Gears of War 2"]Gears of War 2[/caption] I played tenor and bass trombones on the Gears of War 2 soundtrack for the XBox 360.  Working with the incredibly talented musicians up at George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch is always an INCREDIBLE experience. I had the pleasure to work with San Francisco Opera’s Mr. David Ridge (bass trombone and contra-bass Trombone), and freelance trombonist Mr. Bruce Chrisp (tenor trombone).  They are both incredible musicians, and two of my favorite people to play with.

It's truly exciting to see more video games using live symphonic orchestras for the game soundtracks. The video game industry is quickly growing--their budgets easily rival blockbuster movies and game production can take several years from conception to final publication. This past weekend I played the game for several hours with my brother in law, and I can attest that having the depth of a symphonic orchestra truly takes game immersion to a new level. I hope that this trend not only continues, but becomes the standard for game development to come.

I’ll followup with more information shortly, but am very excited to see the score published commercially- the music was fun to play, and features some pretty beastly sounds from the brass section.  An article at Music 4 Games.net features pictures of the session and an interview with the composer, Mr. Steve Jablonsky.  Mr. Jablonsky has also composed music for Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Transformers and other movies.