This has been the busiest July and August I’ve had in over a decade and I haven’t had much time to write. But here is a quick update to get everyone caught up on what we’ve been working on lately.
Photo by Pin Lim – Forest Photography
Taylor High School Master Classes
I was hired to do two weeks of master classes at Taylor High School, in the Katy area. The students have been wonderful and I think they are enjoying our time together.
My emphasis, and it is almost always my emphasis when I teach in any context, is on teaching them how to practice. This is even more important in the context of these summer master classes because of the damage I’ve seen done to some of my students at similar events.
A lot of trumpet teachers like to use this time to cram all of the All-State music into two weeks. For students who are serious about competing for the All-Region and All-State bands, those two weeks can be disastrous. Anyone who knows anything about proper practice knows that you cannot get All-State level results from two weeks of cramming.
So I approach this differently from other master class teachers. Like I said, my emphasis is on teaching the students proper practice techniques. I have already told them that we are not going to cover all of the music in the time we have together. They need to take what I have taught them and apply it to the music in their own practice time.
Which, really, when you think about it, is how it should be anyway.
Wouldn’t you agree?
New Trumpet Book – The Calling
Pearl and I are also working on a new book release. I have compiled most of my unaccompanied trumpet works into a single book (over seventy pages long). At this point I am spending my spare time editing the music and trying to wrap up the text.
I’m very excited about this book. It is sort of my version of Fisher Tull’s Eight Profiles. I’ve been wanting to put this together for years now and recently decided to jump in there and get it done.
I am considering writing one more composition the finish the book off. And if I do decide to go in that direction, it will take a couple more months before it’s ready to go to the printers. But aside from that, we really are in the final stages of the content creation phase of the book. Of course, there’s a LOT more effort that goes into it after the content is finished.
Programming Again – Spider Chords Becomes Love Notes Chords
Over the past couple months, I’ve been teaching myself how to program in JAVA.
Why would I be learning yet another programming language????
It’s kind of a long story, too long for this quick update, but I will share it in the not too distant future.
For now, just know that I am working in Netbeans and the functional aspects of my new Love Notes program are completed. I’m actually ready to begin writing compositions with the chords it is already generating for me.
This is such a big deal to me. Ha! I don’t want to tell you the full story yet. It’s kind of hard to not spill all of the beans. Let’s just say that something I thought I had failed at fifteen years ago is actually working now because of a few modifications I made to this new version of the software.
I wrote the original chord generator in the mid 90’s. Yes, for those who didn’t know it already, I have been an amateur programmer (aka “hack”) since I bought my very first PC. I’ve learned about half a dozen different languages and actually thought I was going to quit all of that – due to time constraints. But I’m back in the saddle again, chunking out code…and to be perfectly honest, I think I like JAVA more than all the other languages I’ve ever learned. So maybe I’ll keep coding for a while after all.
The original software was called Spider Chords. I never distributed it, so you won’t know it as a piece of software. But if you have been playing my compositions, or use my duet book, you may have seen the word “Spider” pop up hear and there. Those were compositions based on the results of the software.
Yes, I know that sounds cold. But believe me, it’s anything but.
But like I said, I will have more info for you about all of that in a later blog post.
Ok, so I’m a little embarrassed even mentioning this new recording project because there are two other recording projects that, on the surface, seem like I have forgotten about. But it’s not how it appears. I’ve been working on the “Quasi” recording since I first bought my home recording equipment. I lost track of how long it’s been, but I’m thinking at least four or five years???
This recording is a collection of some of my trumpet works. There are unaccompanied trumpet solos (like the ones that are included in the new book, “The Calling”), some duets, and a hand full of trumpet ensembles.
Probably the most important piece in the collection is an ensemble I finished composing about six months ago that I call Trumpets of Jubilee, scored for twelve trumpets. I had been working on that piece for about seven years and I’m very excited about the way it sounds.
I’m calling the recording Quasi because of a comment someone made about my music, back in the early 90’s. He said he liked it, and he liked the way I played, but he said, “It’s not classical music. It’s quasi classical.”
He he he….
Little did he know that I took that as a great compliment! I like that what I do is classical enough to be in the genre, but different enough that someone like him needed to add a prefix. 🙂
Anyway, like I said, this recording project has been in the works for years and the fact that I’m beginning to wrap it up now does not mean that I have forgotten or changed my mind about the other two CDs, Rivers of Life and Faces of Praise. Those two CDs, God willing, are going to come to fruition just like Quasi is. It’s just taking me a little longer to get it done than I had expected.
So, that’s all I can think of right now. There is more going on, but I will update this post with that info as I remember.
Because The Calling and Quasi are still in the working stages, please feel free to share your thoughts and ideas with me.