When I was first setting up my Twitter account, I was stumped by my title. At first, I thought, I should just use what’s on my business card… The only problem was which one should I use. At the time I was a freelance trumpeter, with about 498 cards from Vista Print and a music teacher at an independent private school in Lynnwood.
Okay…now for the next problem. I can’t just be a trumpeter, I want to stand out as more than an instrumentalist. I am a musician who plays the trumpet. Right, so don’t use trumpeter go with “musician”. Now for the other business card. I could go with teacher or instructor…time to pull out the thesaurus…EDUCATOR in big bold letters was the first word I saw. So I went with “teacher” for a while (probably because I had a narrow view of what I did at the time) however I recently changed it to Educator. (and I like that decision)
I had another problem…which comes first. Am I, a musician who educates or an educator who is a musician? The answer to this part of my online identity was very similar to my own personal struggle with personal and cultural identity. My parents are from the Dominican Republic, so I am Dominican. When I’m with them, my brother, and all of my aunts, uncles, and cousins (lots of cousins) I am Dominican. But I was born in the United States, In the Bronx to be exact. So I’m American! I am both, 100% American and 100% Dominican. So I’m 200%. (I’m not sure that’s how that works, but remember I’m a musician, not a mathematician).
Eventually, I settled with musician first, because I feel that is the seed for all that I do in a professional capacity. I can’t teach music unless I am a musician. I certainly can’t perform music on the trumpet without being a musician first. At least that’s how I feel.
But the truth, (like my personal and cultural identity issue) is that I can do both and am both at the same time. I can’t divorce one from the other because “that’s who I am”.
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.
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?
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.
There are certain stress points for musicians, traveling with your instrument is definitely one of them. Some of my friends have had horrible stories about how they and their instruments were treated. This video however is a hilarious look at some of the funny thoughts and rules concerning traveling on commercial airlines and musical instruments.
I grew up in a city where there are a lot of people. Which means you get to watch and observe folks as they go through their daily rituals. I am also a musician who on occasions gets to watch people as they sit at church. I try not to let my mind wonder during a church service, although it is inevitable, my mind will search for entertainment after the 3rd or 4th listening of the same homily.
One of the games I play is “What’s that person about”. It consists of giving a person a story based on nothing. I would look at someone and think…well that person is going to go home and wash his vegetables, then try on his new driving gloves. They tend to get more and more ridiculous as the game progresses. I’ve created resumes for people with jobs titles like Aglet Sales Person and Professional Mouse Milker.
Today I flipped it, and imagined what someone might think of me sitting there with a trumpet on my lap. “That guys eats too many plums, he’s obsessed with the valve caps on his trumpet and probably has nothing to offer the world except more pollution.” I laughed to myself then thought…I’m not going to be bothered by someone who doesn’t like plums.
There aren’t many ways to occupy your time while driving to and from work. Especially with when you have a four year-old diva sitting in the back seat belting out the hits like she preparing for an audition to “the Voice”. Before my kid, I had time to decompress after a long day, take long phone calls or just think in silence.
Now, I tend to listen to a myriad of podcasts, from the news to music and science. I guess it’s a good representation of my level of geek. Recently I marveled at the a podcast about music business and my immediate thought was “my students need to hear this…this is exactly what we’ve been talking about!” So I’ve made it a point to share these moments with my students as often as possible.
The reality is that I am really excited to be excited about things. I am interested in listening to interesting people talk about things they are into doing. Sometimes I feel like I am discovering something new that is only meant for me to observer at that very intersection of time and opportunity.
Here are just a few of the podcast I love listening to…