Retrace your steps

I’m back at writers’ block. I think it should be good for me to just start writing and then send it out into the world, but I don’t think there much to mention. All I want to do is watch the NBA Playoffs and listen to music. So I’ll tell you about that. Perhaps if I retrace my thoughts, I can send out something worth mentioning.

For work, I’m listening to a lot of Percy Grainger. The is something truly satisfying about his orchestration for both band and orchestra. It’s been fun unpacking his music with my students. Between Grainger and Anderson Paak, I can’t decide who’s music I have spent more time listening to the past month.

Anderson Paak was a students’ suggestions and I’m so glad he reminded me of the incredible musician. Check out the Tiny Desk Concert if you think I’m kidding.

NBA Playoffs and Trumpet

Once again, I find myself multitasking during the NBA playoffs and somehow settle on a practice routine while watching games. This year it’s been four books, the Max Schlossberg Daily Drills and Clarke Technical Studies, Charles Colin Advanced Lip Flexibilities and finally any variation of flow studies.

The first quarter involves mouthpiece buzzing of Schlossberg Long Tone exercises 1-3, then played on the trumpet. Numbers 8 and 9 on mouthpiece then on the trumpet and eventually numbers 31 and 32. All of these exercises played with a metronome running at 72 beats per minute.

The second quarter is when players off the bench start to contribute, this is Clarke Studies time. I like to either pick a key and play as many exercises in that key as possible, or I pick one of the studies and work through those exercises and end with the Etudes.

Half time is snack time and rest time.

The third quarter is for Lip Flexibilities. I’m a fan of Vol. 3 for this part of the game. Play and rest are key, these exercises can be taxing.

For the 4th quarter, flow studies like the Snedecor Lyrical Studies or Concone Lyrical Studies. 

Music and Words

Last month my school had an assembly celebrating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Every year I think about how my school celebrates MLK. In years past, when I taught at a small independent elementary and middle school, we kept it to many of his highlights and events.  Students learned about nonviolent protest, marches and other key figures of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Most of it was done to not upset young students or parents.

In that setting, I would use my lesson plans and classes as a space to explore more of the civil rights movement. Since I teach music, I could use several avenues or artist to explain the artistic reactions to many of the injustices that came as a result of Jim Crow laws or segregation. However, it still felt like I was just addressing the surface of this subject.

Now I teach at an independent middle school and high school so I can dive a bit deeper and have students explore more. It helps that students are also studying the civil rights movement and are becoming social-activists. But still, as a new faculty member, I don’t want to upset the apple cart and do too much too soon. So when the opportunity came up to include music in the MLK assembly, I jumped at the chance.

At first, the planners of the assembly didn’t want the school orchestra to play. It would have been a lot of moving parts with a for a fifty-minute program. Eventually, we compromised and had a string quartet playing arrangements of Lift Every Voice and Sing and We Shall Overcome. In between the two pieces, an excerpt of the speech Dr. King gave in 1966 came over the theater speakers. Toward the end of his speech, we started the play our version of We Shall Overcome.

This moment may be the turning point in how I address teaching MLK and the civil rights movement. This proved to be a powerful moment for the audience and set the tone for the assembly.