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://

Maintenance Videos back up!

Whee! It's that time of year again- everyone is receiving from sunburns and soccer camp- now it's back in the saddle and BACK TO SCHOOL!

Each year there is an influx of new brass students that all need instruction in how to take care of their new instrument, but we ALL need to take better care of our instruments, not just the new crew.

I created a series of videos to make sure that students worldwide could have a head start on taking care of their instruments.  As a lifelong student myself, and admitted GEAR NERD, I am always interested in how to take care of your instrument so it will last a lifetime.  

By taking care of your instrument, it will be:

  • easier to play
  • last a lifetime
  • save money on repairs and maintenance
  • keep you from getting sick (really)

    My favorite thing I've heard is, "It's a school horn, I don't need to clean it."

    Ummm. . . sonny. . . . . if anything, you REALLY NEED TO CLEAN IT, because you have no idea where it's been, or what's growing inside of it.  Plus, you deserve a horn that is in top shape, and your school deserves a horn that will last for years to come.  You owe it to the next group coming down the road, and your school - take care of it.

    Check it out, and let me know what you think!

    Alex Iles - Refresh!

    Under Construction

    Under Construction

    As you may have noticed, the site has recently gotten a facelift  - we've moved to a new hosting solution, and are trying to get things back up and running.

    As a result, the podcast is being reuploaded, and refactored.  I've got a couple of great interviews with Trombonist John Swallow, and jazz piano great Mr. Eric Scott Reid in the can- they'll be edited and uploaded in the next few weeks - really.

    In the meantime, I've just stumbled across the first episode, a great interview with all-star trombonist, Mr. Alex Iles of Los Angeles, CA.  Please excuse the Skype challenges, but think you'll really enjoy the interview.  If you're ever in Los Angeles, do seek him out for a lesson- he's one of the best.


    You may download it directly, and it will shortly be back in the RSS feed and available via iTunes.


    P.S. The iTunes Link will be back up early next week! #Sorry

    P.P.S. Want to really lose some time down a rathole of awesome?

    P.P.S.S. While you're at it, check out this great interview with Jerry Hey, the great trumpet player and arranger Alex references at 36:00.

    Thoughts on rejection


    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.


    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.


    Hip-Bone U launched!


    Getting stuck in your warm-up?

    Hit a rut lately? I've been doing the Remington warmups (the foundation of the 15 Minute Warm-Up book) since I began my brass career thirty years ago. When I came across the 15 Minute Warm-Up I was thrilled to have something to:

    • Make sure I don't waste time during my warm-up
    • Get 'er done
    • Have more fun
    • Have something to reinforce my pitch accuracy, tonal center, and rhythmic sense

    I have to say, the 15 Minute-Warmup, and the 20 Minute-Warmup are a boon to keeping my chops in shape. When I'm running about, I've got it on my iPod or iPhone, and can buzz along with it even while driving. (Note: Please drive responsibly and safely.)

    If you've found yourself in a bit of a rut lately, I would highly recommend checking out these new videos, and picking up a copy of the book(s). If you don't own either, start with the 15 Minute Warm-Up -- it's the meat & potatoes of any solid brass players warm-up. Solid fundamentals presented in a logical and methodical progression, with accompaniment that takes the tedium out of warming up.

    You definitely need to check out the new videos that Mr. Michael Davis has launched at Hip-BoneU.

    Mr. Davis has launched a set of three videos (with more to come) at Hip-BoneU as a companion piece to his 15 Minute Warm-Up and the 20 Minute Warm-Up series.

    The current video lineup at Hip-BoneU includes the following videos:

    There are more lessons coming soon, including team lessons with studio legend Bill Reichenbach, improvisation lessons, and more!

    Mr. Davis has also released a new Bone2Pick feature, which will feature free interviews with leading brass musicians. Don't miss the great interview with legendary studio musician, arranger, and producer, Mr. Jerry Hey

    I suck, I'm not your favorite Student!

    I suck, I’m sure I’m not your favorite student. . .” muttered my young dejected friend recently. I was taken aback for a moment, but then had to laugh. Not at him--but at the concept. I suppose I can understand his perception that my “favorite student” is going to be the person who:

    • plays the best
    • has the most talent
    • worked the hardest that week/practiced the most

    In all honesty, he couldn’t have been further from the truth.

    I see students that run the gambit from beginners through adults, advanced college students, and professionals. I truly do love working with each and every one of my students (although some of them do make me want to pull my hair out on occasion) -- I don’t think I could have a “favorite” student, but if I did, it’s certainly not based on talent or ability.

    What gets me excited, engaged, and switched on, is a student that loves to play, and works his or her hardest to get better. Sometimes they have prepared their material, at other times, not--but they have an infectious joy of learning and truly WANT to be better. Attitude, energy, and a desire to learn is what makes a relationship really take off between a teacher and student--when there is a breakdown in communication, or if one of us is feeling overwhelmed by schedule/life/family/deadlines/etc. it can create a truly challenging environment for both teacher and student.

    Something that definitely can lead to student anxiety is a lack of preparation.

    (OK- My students, don’t read this part--we’ve ALL DONE IT. Face it, stuff happens. We’ve all had a week or two from hell, gotten lazy, didn’t prioritize, etc. If I could go back in time, I really wish I could kick myself in the head, then practice more as a youngster. I guess we all figure it out eventually-- I did make up for lost time, but as you age, life becomes increasingly complex, forcing you to fight for every spare moment- DON’T waste this time guys- life it going to get complex quickly.)

    Tom Ervin, former professor of trombone at Arizona State University has some great thoughts on practicing, and some particularly insightful ideas on the relationship between a teacher and student that I found very enlightening. In a nutshell, the professor is responsible for sharing everything he can to help you become a stronger player and person (even when you may not have the current perspective to realize its benefit). Mr. Ervin asserts that it is approximately 50% of the student responsibility is to prepare the material, “so neither of us dreads your next lesson.”

    I find this particularly poignant as I reflect on challenges with students, and my own lessons where I felt things really fell apart (or felt attacked) -- I now have the distance, maturity, and perspective to realize that when I was defensive in a lesson, or it went poorly, it was almost always due to:

    1. my own defensiveness (My Playing = ME as a person) - and any feedback was interpreted as a personal attack, criticism, etc. rather than, “hey, this needs work”
    2. I just wasn’t prepared. (No matter how much I might have convinced myself at the time that I was.)

    It’s been an interesting week, as we enter into the Thanksgiving holiday, students (and we teachers) are entering a truly frantic time of year. Students are realizing that finals are coming up, deadlines are approaching, final projects become due--blood pressure rises and patience runs thin.

    As a teacher, and performer, this is the busy time of year for us all- student and studio deadlines occur simultaneously with one of the busiest upcoming seasons with Nut-cracking, holiday parties, casuals, and touring acts doing holiday shows. I realized last week, as I forgot to pack my slide, that I might be a bit overwhelmed myself.


    As I think now upon all the things I am thankful for-- my family, my talent, my friends, and those I am fortunate to work with--I want to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving, and I am truly thankful for the opportunity to speak with you here. Thank you, for reading this, and for the influence and impact you have had on my life.

    For those of you that are currently struggling, feel overloaded, and are feeling a bit lost- I have a quick bit of advice that I hope will help:

    1. DO NOT COMPROMISE YOUR STANDARDS. Set incredibly high goals. Work your butt off- practice hard, get in the time you need, and don’t ignore what you dislike in your playing--work on it!
    2. Be a little gentle with yourself. If you truly are giving your best, or even if you have MOMENTARILY slipped up, realize, that was then-- let’s move forward. Have rigid long term standards for yourself, but be FORGIVING and KIND in the short term. Something might sound awful today (since you’re trying something new) but, it might make EVERYTHING easier in the long run.

    Realize, you are playing a LONG game, (lifelong), and that as you get better, you will raise your new standards, and you’ll keep working on this your entire life.

    I suck.

    You suck.

    ________ sucks.

    Your job is not to be as good as __________, just be better than you were yesterday. Even if it doesn’t sound better today, what have you learned? What did you try that was new? What have you discovered about your playing that may help in the future, or will help someone else?

    See you at the top.

    Dr. J

    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.


    • 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.


    Trombonanza 2010

    WHAT: Trombonanza 2010! (Holiday Trombone fun!)

    WHEN:  Friday, 12/17/08 1-3PM

    WHERE: Papillon Coffee, 67 Lafayette Circle, Lafayette, CA 94549

    WHY: Festive Merriment Silly!, To feature the talents of top Bay Area Trombonists, to give young musicians an opportunity to hear some great players!

    • Trombonanza Flyer 2010 - Please share this flyer with anyone who enjoys holiday music, kids, trombones, and OUTstanding coffee! (Coming Soon)

    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 ( 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

    MWM What happened.

    Where did I go?Has the podcast died? 'What Hoppened?

    Never fear true believers- we're coming back strong later thus week. In a crazy period entitled "I wish I had another six hours a day and a tail" (heretofore referenced as- aJust became a new stay at home Dad, moved, and still maintained my studio, workshop, gigs, and auditions) all I can say I'm- sorry!

    Three Great interviews in the can, coming shortly- I promise. Much more coming to the site as well. Please feel free to drop me a line regarding things you would like to see here.

    Best, Dr. J

    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.


    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://

    Open iTunes, click on "Advanced" ---> "Subscribe to Podcast", then enter in feed:// 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!


    Upcoming Artists to include:

    Step up, Son, and be a musician!

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


    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?


    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.