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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A new alto trombone from a surprising source

I’ve been traveling pretty much solid since the ITF in Iowa City a few weeks ago. It feels like I’ve had a few birthdays since the event. My son and I had a great time at our table where I got to meet some great people and sell a few books. Staring me down, directly…

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Music minus bass trombone for Dry Cleaner from Des Moines

Playing last night with a trombone quartet, I brought in my arrangement of Dry Cleaner from Des Moines from my CD Roads Less Traveled. Our bass trombonist did an excellent job and enjoyed the challenge. The original bass trombone in the CD was performed my my good friend Gerry Pagano. The part is basically a…

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