Monday, January 26, 2015


For quite sometime now, I have been asked about composing and my process within it. Well, a man named Andrew Kuhlman sent me some questions in an email and I thought they were excellent questions about this. So, I got his permission to answer his questions via a video. With some further thought, it seemed like a good thing to start a specific video series on composition, which I am calling the "Frequency Bone Composition Connection" series. Here is "Video 1" which deals with Andrew's first two (out of twelve) questions.

Practicing Rochut Etude No. 66, a Frequency Bone Summer Music Connection 6 extra!

This was a video I made in the summer of 2014 as part of "Frequency Bone Summer Music Connection 6" (FBSMC6). It was meant to be part of that video series but, as you can tell from the abrupt cut off, I did something and the recording stopped suddenly. I had the intention of making another video on the rest of this etude but have not yet. So this really is a video extra from FBSMC6.

As spontaneous as this video is, there was a plan of action. It was more focused on the unfolding process of bringing the spirit of the music through and integrating the technique into it. The technique of any given instrument is its language and the manner in which we speak that language is flavored by our training - and what we are trying to say beyond our training. This last point, I find most intriguing. To go beyond our training is not to totally throw it out. It means not to be so trapped by it that it closes our perception of other possibilities. The real intriguing part to me is that which is real (genuine), in a person and does their training facilitate that unique realness in a way that keeps active and deepens their unfolding development process. 


At the same time, if a person feels satisfied trying to be an example of a particular training or school of playing, and it feels right for them, of course this is fine for them. I am not saying if a person does this they are missing out. I am coming from a certain location and sentiment about human possibility and the potential that it has to use the medium of Art to do extraordinary things as it does and has done throughout the ages. 

Here is one person's approach to a Bordogni that perhaps on another day could be quite different! 

Musical Interpretation

This video was made last March and was prompted by questions that Jacob Elkin asked me about musical interpretation. At the same time, a student of mine at New England Conservatory, Kens Lui, was asking excellent questions about what it means to be true to the composer. I asked both of them if they would mind my answering their questions publicly and they agreed. So, here is a video on these musical interpretation questions.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

What Does it Take?

In the midst of a day, what does it take?

In the duration of a year, what does it take?

In a moment of a quick needed decision, what does it take?

To be what you want to be, what does it take?

To know yourself, what does it take?

To understand another, what does it take?

What does it take to find out what it takes?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


During this celebratory time of holidays, family, warm feelings, vacation or a break from school or employment, it can also be an opening for reflection. Many traditions enjoy an exchanging of gifts between friends, colleagues and family. This is done for certain reasons but hopefully it comes down to expressing value for one another.

For me, this time of year, reflecting and having gratitude are very important. Personally I see this as one of the great gifts of being human. To be able to have the opportunity to be thankful for what we have and continuously are given and to look and see what our return responses are for those things we say we value and are grateful for. 

How about our education? Are we making the most of it? What does it really mean to make the most of it? Let's take a look at this. 

Students and parents pay a huge sum of money to have a good quality education. So it must be important because it is a giant investment of time and money.What is education in the first place? It is to be informed about the territory one is studying, (in terms of schooling.) Not only informed, but to lay out the map of development of what it takes to be able to be active and thrive in ones chosen field. To have enough tools and know-how to get the job done well. How do we get educated in Art? What is the special magic in Art? Can it be taught? Can it be transferred? What kind of person is qualified to open up the realms of someones potential genius? That last bit is at the deep end of education. On-the-job experience is the most potent form of education, (occupationally speaking and life speaking), but you need to have tools and a personal assembly of attainment to get the most out of on-the-job training. Because it is on-the-job training where the big lessons and perceptions can come in. These lessons have to be experienced personally. Then you will see, how these lessons were surrounding you your whole life but maybe you weren't ready to see them. Sometimes a whole career or lifetime can go by without seeing them. That is tragic actually.

MAKE THE MOST OUT OF YOUR TIME. This means playing your part and not blaming teachers or anyone else or anything else. It is vital for you to take responsibility for your time by putting in the efforts and discovering through your own trails and efforts what you need to do and what you need to drop. An interesting acronym for P.A.R.T is Preparation, Attentiveness, Responsibility, Timeliness. 

A good way to approach this acronym to assist in your reflections and trying to improve what ones best is, is to ask questions of self inquiry for each of the words. For example: How prepared am I for my lessons, classes or jobs? How attentive am I in my lessons, classes or jobs? Am I taking responsibility for my education by being prepared and attentive? Am I timely with my assignments for lessons or classes?  Am I timely in my preparations? Here is another great question: How much do I want what I say I want and what is the evidence that would support my answer? One of my classic questions is, "What have I done with the lessons I have been given?"

Sometimes as musicians we think improvement is getting more accurate, playing cleaner, playing with a more stable in tune sound, building our endurance and so forth. Yes of course this is part of it, ONLY PART OF IT. The other part of the journey, and to me in the end, the vital key, is the potency of your desire and your determination to see it through. On top of this, and this is only for those who are interested beyond job stuff, what about the meaning, potential and importance of ART? IT GOES WAY BEYOND A CAREER. But, I understand this topic might not be for everyone because it could interfere with ones plan (in a persons mind), about what it takes to 'win' a 'position.' 

In either case, it is vital that you play your P.A.R.T. For if you are prepared, which goes way beyond just knowing notes, rhythms, key signatures, tone and technique, the ART part will lift you and guide you into the realms you are thirsting for. So education is the field of deep preparation which includes a map of the territory, the needed tools and know how and how to get there with insight based in wisdom. A complete three overlay system.* 

If this is too much to take on during the break, I understand! But you can keep it to refer to every now and then if it catches your interest. Think of it as a gift for the holidays from me! :-)

At this time let me express my value for you all. With your promotions and interest more comes out of me which benefits me as much as I hope it benefits some of you. It is a mutuality of trying to play our parts better. And if you are a person who reads and watches or has personal contact with me, my hope is that we can always be tuned to the Art, which is the essence of the spirit where elevated Art comes from. Not all art is the same.(Huge subject!) But we can I believe, as people being endowed with the gift of choice, look into the magnificence of Art and become instruments of transmission for greater humanity and uplift in the world. 

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to All!

*I have written and done videos on the Overlay System at other times. More will be coming out about it.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Welcome to Frequency Bone Summer Music Connection 6, Making the Most of the Time You Have

Finally! Frequency Bone Summer Music Connection 6 has arrived. This year, thanks to my wife Carol, it is named "Making the Most of the Time You Have." This is approached from looking at organic time and man-made scheduled time. The two timings don't always fit together well! I am sure many of you have noted this in all sorts of ways. An easy to see example is when we have a playing commitment and our chops are shot! Our face is saying, "No, please take it easy today with a nice long warm-up and do not play any loud high stuff!" But the playing commitment says the complete opposite and you need to play it. What to do? These videos address certain very important aspects to consider that even extend to other things besides playing. It is a reality that we have these two different time frames to deal with.

I hope the videos offer some insight and some needed help for those who need it.

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Companion Post 2 from Orchestral Trombone Playing Video

In continuing the posts from the video on answering questions on orchestral trombone playing, this post comes from a certain section of the video.  At various times in the video, I speak about the era we are in and what seems to be the acceptable fashion in many orchestras for trombone playing. Near the end of the video, around 22.37, I raise the question, "Is there a even need for greater and greater nuance?" This was asked concerning this particular era that we are in. The answer is YES, there is! But if the fashion and employment opportunity says NO, meaning if you do this or that you won't pass through the gate, (the various rounds  in an audition), then one could say there is not. So much of education is based around job placement. Employment based education is not just happening in music schools but overall in any school of learning. 

That is why I have witnessed people knowing orchestral excerpts, just the excerpts, and not knowing the rest of the piece at all. There is a 'formula' being taught on how to make excerpts 'attractive' in an audition setting. If we are only trained in our schools to play good at the audition, what in the world is that doing for the music and our own sense of musical connection, meaning and purpose? Depending on how heavy and intense that training is, it could be extremely difficult to retrain ourselves  to be more flexible, if that should become a desire. Years ago if you saw a staccato on the page you would play it really short, almost pecky. That could have been viewed as extreme for certain musical styles but very fitting for others. If you went to an audition then and didn't play really short or sounded really heavy on tenor trombone at a tenor trombone audition, it would most likely not have fit that style and you would not advance into the next round. 

This brings up a great territory about being true to the composer's wishes. A student of mine at NEC asked a great question about this that I will answer on video soon. But to just start probing the territory, can any age, given that they have changes in style, actually know the original  wishes of the composer? Especially if the performer is being 'true' or totally attached to a particular school of playing?

Here ends companion post 2.