Safe places for me

My kid has anxiety, and I had anxiety as a kid until I started doing music. 4th and 5th Grade I was in Mr. Osborn’s boys choir. I took a few ass kicking those years. In the 6th grade I did my best (with a great deal of success) to not be seen at all. I was robbed a few times that year. During my 7th grade year I was transferred into a class that did music, then I joined the marching band. That’s when things started to change.

jhs_22_jordan_l_mott_157_st_morris_av_jehMost people who we recognize as important, carve their own path. Me, well… I’m just lucky the path set before me was the right path for me. If not for one thing in my life, I would be a totally different person. What is that thing you ask? Fear…yes fear has shaped me and molded me into the man you see today.

I’m not going to advocate living your life full of fear and hesitation, however my case it worked for me. Fear and safe places to practice being a person. Where ever I played music felt like a safe place.

Coping with first day of 1st grade

000255x_rain_on_pavementMy breathing becomes labored, I don’t know what to do with my hands. By the time I get to my car, I’ve got several tears rolling down my face. Luckily it’s raining…so if anyone saw me they might think it was just the rain. It’s 9:30 in the morning on the first day of first grade for my kid and I can’t deal. The car door closes and I can’t hold my tears any more…

A few simple words sent me into this state. First I apologized to my kid for forgetting to give her, her medication. Then she said “It’s okay daddy, things happen. This will help me with my day, I’m really nervous”.  We talked some more and by the end of the conversation she gave me a hug and a kiss, then went back to her new classroom and I walked back to my car.

img_1024The image of her walking towards her classroom stayed with me the rest of the day. If I had this moment back, I might have ask her for one more hug.

Middle of summer worries for a music teacher

music-school-560x328 It’s the middle of summer, my kid is watching cartoons while I look at my units of study for the up coming school year. Since I am a middle school band director, I tend to worry about how effectively I am helping students learn specific skills on their instruments and the other parts of music299de70a6b898c2b2e89733edb73c3e4, like music theory and music history. Never mind connecting them to other subjects studies at out school and finding ways to stay in touch with anything current and relevant to middle school kids, while thinking about making global connections to all we do.

Just for fun (or because I’m a glutton for punishment) we will be tackling intro to music theory, the Romantic era of music history, beginning conducting and beginning composition. IMG_2308

And yes, this will be the work 6th, 7th and 8th graders will explore with me. Should be a fun school year, so why am I worried about it in July?

 

New Food

Sometimes when you’re looking for something to eat, you just need to take a chance and try something new. Recently my wife and I found ourselves with an opportunity to enjoy each others company for a meal without our kid. Unlike most nights out for a meal in which we deliberate where we should go, we made a snap decision and chose to try a new place. We had driven by this place about a 100 times but only recently noticed the sign.

Photo was obtained from the SuRa Yelp page.

Since I’m not a food critic and don’t want to bother with the play by play with of our meal, I’ll just say that sometimes it’s good to notice something new.  At least new to me and it was good.

Photo was obtained from the SuRa Yelp page.
Photo was obtained from the SuRa Yelp page.

Sia is my kid’s spirit animal

The idea of a spirit animal is a cool concept. If you look online you might find a test that might match you with a creature which may best represent you.R-2150791-1309692006.jpeg However, the topic at the moment is Sia and how my daughter has committed every song in her catalog to memory. I can’t explain why she like her music so much, but I appreciate her good taste. When ever I find an acoustic version of one of her songs I try to share it with my kid. And she loves every version my wife and I find for her.

A Reminder of Why I Teach

Sometime I listen to a podcast called Snap Judgement hosted by Glynn Washington on NPR. The show melds fascinating stories with a hip-hop  backdrop. NPR_ Snap Judgment Podcast

Last week I listened to a story by Joyce Lee called “Dropping The Ball” about her experience with a former student. It gave me pause and reminded me of why I teach, why it’s important for me to be a good father. And most of all, why it’s important to listen.

Take a listen and enjoy the show.

Waiting Rooms Ramblings and Trumpet Routine

Having a few opportunities to sit and think while waiting for my kids appointment to end, I have become accustom to letting my mind wonder about all sorts of thing. There is always something that needs to be done, like grading papers, lesson plans, practice mouthpiece buzzing, stick in a practice mute and pray it’s not a distraction for my kid. Sometimes it’s even simply lining up the next appointment or any number of parent related tasks.

Lately, I’ve taken to learning some new skills from several tutorials. A few I’ve downloaded on my laptop and some show up on Youtube. In any case I can’t figure out how many different ways to occupy my brain during these times. Games, podcasts, work related stuff, call my mom and dad…the list goes on. Either way I am frustrated and am now choosing to blog about a feeling I can’t put into words.IMG_3778

For now I’ll just look into the bell of my trumpet and wonder about what’s coming out of it. Conicidently, my latest practice routine has me working through:

  • Irons 27 Groups of Exercises
  • The Gekker Articulation Studies
  • Vincent Chicowitz Flow Studies
  • Verzari exercise.

Pick one group from the Irons then a set from the Gekker. Followed by one of the flow studies and etudes tongued and slurred, and finally closing the session with a Verzari exercise. The routine can take from 15-40 minutes, depending on how much time you have in a waiting room.

IronsGekker-Articulation-Studies-600x800 Front-Cover-VC-Vol-2-231x300Verzari_TPT_Exercises-detail

Planets from my house part 6

My night started off with thoughts of jazz and beer. Brother Thelonious is great for both.

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Eventually I stayed up long enough to keep up with my latest hobby… Looking up. My kid calls Jupiter “daddy’s planet”, which lets me know the level of my geek is strong.

This may potentially be the last time I post about which planets I can see from my house. In general I feel the pictures I take with my iPhone does no justice to how cool I think this event is. The idea that I get to watch this pattern unfold before my very eyes is simply awesome. I think I’ll start saving up for a telescope. Perhaps my kid and I will enjoy looking up.Planets from my house part 6

The Mouthpiece Question

I know what your thinking, yet another trumpeter writing about the importance of mouthpiece selection and striking the perfect balance between back-bore and throat size. I happen to follow all those trends religiously but this isn’t another one of those rants. Coincidentally, I currently play a Laskey 75C with a standard throat and back-bore, not that it matters. The question about mouthpieces comes up for me at least twice a year. I’ve noticed this pattern over the past 5 or 6 years.DV016_Jpg_Large_471542.908_75MD

The question comes up because I want to improve my performance on the trumpet. Which usually leads me to examine my approach to the instrument and the art of creating music. In reality it’s a small question that leads to bigger thoughts. The progression of questions might start off like this:

 Should I play a 22 throat with a symphonic back-bore like I did for 12 years or stay with what I have currently?

  Am I producing the sound I want the audience to hear?

  Am I performing music as the composer’s intended and am I being true to the style of music I am performing?

  Am I growing as an artist and educator of music?

•  Can I continue to perform music and have a meaningful family life?

•  Do I make enough money as a musician and educator?

•  Am I doing everything I can to provide for my kid?

•  Should I finish this bottle of wine or just go to bed?

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4-up on 12-11-14 at 5.30 PM #9 (compiled)This is jus a small sampling of the rabbit hole I fall into late at night/early morning. It starts off with the idea of playing a different mouthpiece and whether it’s the “Right Move”. Then there are the other question… Can I afford it financially….Can I afford not to make a change?

Too many questions … Maybe I’ll open up the back-bore next month.

Fuzzy Unicorn

I am not someone who has ever cared what other people thought of my style of dress. I’m pretty confident with my look, however I’ve noticed more than a few heads turn when I’m out with my kid.
When we are out she gives me one of her toys to hold on to while she plays. Sometimes I forget how odd I must look to other people when she’s about 10 feet away from me and I am holding a fuzzy stuffed unicorn and a tiara.

Photo on 8-5-14 at 6.38 PM
It’s cute…