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.

Instrument Maintenance - How to take care of your brass instrument to ensure a lifetime of fun!

Instrument maintenance is perhaps the most often overlooked area by students (and professionals).  I have created the following twelve maintenance videos on my YouTube channel.  They were recorded in hi-def 720p, and I will be working in the next few weeks to improve the sound quality for you. It sounds simple, but if you follow this tenet, it will prove true "take care of your instrument, and it will take care of you."   Playing a brass instrument is hard enough without making things even more challenging by having an instrument that does not play well.   I've spent the last twenty-eight years studying not only how to play better, but also how to take best care of my instrument so it will be "ready for battle."  I've borrowed from colleagues, repair gurus, and experimented to come up with the following advice.

Please take a moment to watch the following videos (get a good cup of coffee first) or better yet, watch one, GO PRACTICE, watch another, GO PRACTICE, watch another, (you get the idea). Please comment below, let me know what you think, and if you have any other advice of things that have worked well for you.  Maintenance is often a lot of religion and mythology- I urge you to openly consider what I say here, and try it out, see what happens if you apply it consistently for a minimum of 2-3 months.

See you at the top!

Dr. J

Maintenance Video 1 of 12 - Introduction & Overview

Maintenance Video 2 of 12- Snakes

Maintenance Video 3 of 12- Slides that Tune & Grease

Maintenance Video 4 of 12- Thirsty Bones

Maintenance Video 5 of 12- Your Trombone needs a Tine

Maintenance Video 6 of 12 - Yamaha Slide Oil

Maintenance Video 7 of 12 - Slide o Mix Cleaning Rod

Maintenance Video 8 of 12 - Bath Time 1

Maintenance Video 9 of 12 - Bath Time 2: Bathing with Trummy Young

Maintenance Video 10 of 12 - Bath Time 3 Scrub it Out

Maintenance Video 11 of 12 - Bath Time 4 Slide Grease & Valves

Maintenance Video 12 of 12 - Application of Slide Lubricants

Where the heck are the videos you promised?

Where the heck are the videos you promised? Hi there!

Sigh- technology is fun and challenging. I'm running out now to play with the Four Tops, and am having some difficulties with the website. All will b fixed by Monday.

Please visit DrJ YouTube Channel to see the videos until I get them, and the sample video up this weekend.

Thanks very much for your patience!

See you at the top!


Summer Lessons!

I hope that you’ve had an outstanding year, and are ready to relax, recharge, and have a great summer! It has been a privilege to assist your child in their musical development this year, and I would like to thank you for that opportunity.

I am available for private instruction this summer, and would love the opportunity to work with you further.

Please check your calendar, then contact me via mail, e-mail, or phone at your earliest convenience, and we’ll get everything set up!

MIX & MATCH SUMMER! - As everyone has an incredibly complex, fun, and exciting summer schedule, the summer lesson policy is a bit different from that in the year. You have the option to create a lesson schedule that suits you best. You may request either a ½ hour or 1 hour lesson time. I will put you in as close to your request time as possible, so act quickly to reserve your desired time! In order to provide the best possible lesson environment, all lessons this summer will occur in Danville, CA (less than 10min from Lafayette)

Thanks for your time, and hope to have the privilege of serving you this summer!

Dr. J

Summer Lesson Flyer

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.

New Logo design!

Working with the fabulous Scott Johnson to get a new logo in place for Bonehead Music.

I originally planned to have a trombone bell in place of the head (kind of like the Pixar lamp), but am thinking that his artwork is so good that I'll keep it as is, and have the bone bell slung on the back, peeking over the shoulder.

What do you think? Please give me some advice below!

Dr. J

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


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. :)

How to keep the suck out while on break

Oh No! It's Spring Break/Christmas/Hanukkah/St. Mary the patron saint of Brassologist's Day/etc. and I've got a big gig/audition rich after break! Well friend, let's face it: there's no quick fix, and no magical fairy to having chops--trust me, I've looked.

Here's just a few quick tips to keep you focused and come back perhaps stronger than ever:

1) "Repetition is the mother of all skill."-Anthony Robbins. Face it- if the horn is on your face you have a 100% greateter chance of increasing your strength, flexibility, range, stamina, or your audition piece than if it's in the case until the day you come back (or night before). -You cannot rush muscle building or fast track the learnng of repertoire. Remember what Mom told us about the tortise and the hair? Slow and steady wins the race. -now what? Well, sit down with a blank piece of paper, or better yet, your planner And start blockig out 30-45 minute chunks 1-2 (or more if you're a crazy person like me) times a day. Make sure you get in at least 5x a week, and do not take two consecutive days off if you can possibly avoid it.

2) If NOTHING else, get a good daily routine (if you don't have one, take a lesson with a great coach in your area-- find the top classically trained player you can afford and ask them what they do, and what they reccommend for a player your age, ability, and aspiration level. -"Wait a mintute Dr. J, a CLASSICALLY trained teacher? I study with Bernie Kerschmilowicz and he's freaking AWESOME!". --Indeed, as a regular performer in Jazz, Salsa, Rock, R & B, SOME players really have a good understanding of the fundamentals of the instrument. In truth, they all have some level of comprehension, otherwise they wouldn't be good--however, a highly trained classical artist will have years of study on the expreme minutia of tone production, range, articulation, and more-with a much finer degree of nuance and success. You can literally save yourself YEARS here. I know, be aide I personally have completely changed my philosophies on breathng, embouchure, tone production, and range- all in the last 10 years. Want to guess when I've had the most explosive growth in my results? --If you have no time to practice anything, then practice the fundamentals, as they are constant in every style of music.

3) "But I'm in ______________ and can't bring my horn." -Awesome! Do daily lip fluttering for 40-60 seconds 5x a day, AND bing your mouthpiece. "What do I buzz?" --A) get a good warm up book with a CD accompaniment, buzz your warm-up with that, go have fun, then later that night do 10-15 minutes of the items below --B) buzz simple songs you know by ear (Old MacDonald, Jingle Bells, Mary killed a little rat, etc) --C) turn on the radio and find a pop/rock station you like. (WHAT?!?! Pop musik?) Yes, pop music. The melodies are quite repetative, have great rhythmic backgrounds to work on your internal sense of time, and the melodies are lyric in nature (don't hop around a lot--they're more scalar). --D) if you have a laptop download (SmartMusic and buzz along with one of the 50,000 technical exercises, 15 Method Books, or a Baroque Solo.

As I right this, I'm in the air from San Francisco to New York to play principal trombone with the YouTube Symphoy- a contest I won after not playing for three days.......really. My smartest choice? NO. But, I was forced put of town on business, then upon my return spent two days building my practice studio and moving the office to create space for our coming baby.

Here's the skinny--had I not had several weeks of chops (good warm ups and practice sessions) I would have fallen flat on my face. I did lip flutter and do a little buzzing in the car, but I'll be honest, my face felt like garbage.

So, final thoughts before I wear out my phone by typing this non-stop tome?

Just one: Practice for YOU, not Mom, your band director, your private teacher/etc. By building up your chops and skills you become more as a player, but also as a human. You will do better in band and at in your musical battles, but more importantly, you will develop discipline and character that will serve you in LIFE, and all professions.

Have some fun with it! I suck, you suck. I practice today, so that TOMORROW, I will suck less than I do today! ;) :) :0

Chief Bonehead, Dr. J

Mobile Blog test

Easter gig done: Happy Easter everyone! I'm running to the airport and testing the ability to Mobile Blog (moblog) in preparation for my jaunt to Carnegie Hall.

Thinking of traveling only with a Zoom H2 recorder, a Flip Mino HD, and my iPhone.

I'll capture plenty of clips of the blog and to kick off the podcast.

What would you like me to ask members of the YouTube orchestra, and our world class mentors?

Please leave comments below, or drop me an email!

Dr. J

Streaming Trombone Concert featuring Jacques Mauger- Paris Conservatory Professor of Trombone

Streaming Audio: WEDNESDAY, February 18th, 6PM Pacific Time

Press Release Below:
Distinguished Trombonist to Perform in Free Concert at Catlett Music Center

"This will be a very special concert," says Irv Wagner, professor of trombone with the OU School of Music. "We have Jacques Mauger as a guest soloist with the Trombone Choir."

The University of Oklahoma School of Music presents the Trombone Choir with featured guest soloist Jacques Mauger, professor of trombone at the Paris Conservatory of Music in France. The concert will begin at 8 p.m., on Wednesday, Feb 18, in Sharp Concert Hall. The program will consist of Triumphal Symphony by Hector Berlioz, Deux Danse by Jean Dufay and other works. Wagner says one of the thrills of his career was as a guest soloist with the Paris Conservatory Trombone Choir in 2007 under the direction of Jacques Mauger. They played many of his compositions as well as accompanied him on the solos. Wagner invited Mauger to come to Oklahoma and perform with the OU School of Music Trombone Choir. Mauger agreed if Wagner would set him up with the top five Trombone Schools in the country including the University of Oklahoma.

While in the United States, Mauger will perform with the OU School of Music, University of Texas in Austin, University of North Texas, Julliard School of Music and the Eastman School of Music. "It is very nice to be included in the company of the top five Trombone Departments in America," says Wagner.

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."