Have Yourself a Very Merry Christmas

As I’ve done over the past several years, I created a unique version of a Christmas Carol. This year I chose “Have Yourself a Very Merry Christmas”. I only go through the form of the tune one time but I vary the feel and treatment of each of the four sections. I enjoy experimenting with…

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The brain-friendly way to practice

I just wrote an ebook. The full title is: The Brain-Friendly Method for Musical Instrument Excellence. This is a modest-sized ebook on things you’ve probably never been told about practicing. I don’t think that the skill of practicing is taught, or at least not well enough. Learn things like: How to increase focus whenever you practice…

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Quick tip on improvisation

Here the audio file that I mentioned in my quick tip video. https://youtu.be/5StE2kQS2i4 It comes from my book Trombone Improvisation Savvy.: The point I make in the video is that it is common and typical for musicians learning to improvise to be told to learn the scales associated with the chords. As I say in…

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Your journey toward musical instrument improvement

I’m going to Los Angeles next month for the Taxi Road Rally conference. Taxi is an independent A&R company that helps composers submit their music for film, TV and games. I am excited about networking with producers and musicians, and learning more about that part of the music business. There will be lots of opportunities…

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The skill, power and presence of Trombone Shorty

My long time good friend Jeff bought tickets for last night’s Trombone Shorty concert called the Voodoo Threauxdown and asked me to join him and his lovely wife. Even though we all arrived early, we walked into the hall as a warm up band was in the midst of performing. We soon realized that this…

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Bill Watrous performing 40 years ago

Stan Pethel, the Professor of Music Emeritus from Berry College, sent me a cassette he found recently that was recorded 40 years ago at the 1978 International Trombone Workshop. The gem on the cassette was the performance of then 40-year old Bill Watrous.  With his trademark facility throughout the trombone’s entire range and unparalleled lyricism,…

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The brain-friendly way to master an instrument

I’ve noticed something about all the videos I’ve studied on learning an instrument like piano, guitar, and others. So many of them do a great job showing you where notes are, how to hold your fingers and hands, the nature of chords and scales, and a bunch of other technical things. But where do you…

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How to start out recording electronic music

Frequently I  am asked how to start recording music using digital recording technology. People hear the things I and others are doing and are intrigued by the possibilities. We live in amazing times when for only $200 one can buy Logic (Mac only) and have an abundance of sounds, processors, and sophisticated sound altering functionality…

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An online resource for learning the real book jazz tunes

There are a lot of online resources for learning piano and jazz improvisation but I want to recommend one site in particular for reasons beyond knowing how to comp B half diminished with two hands. After all, if you’re here you’re probably a trombonist or at least a brass player. Ron Drotos is KeyboardImprov.com. As…

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Effective practicing of a musical instrument

I’m reading a fascinating book called Musical Excellence by Aaron Williamon. Its subtitle is Strategies and Techniques to Enhance Performance. It’s a thoroughly researched book covering subjects as broad as how to practice, physical fitness, memorizing music for performance, mental skills training, and even drug use and its effects on performance. Early on, Williamon writes…

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