Congratulations Sean S. – First Chair

We want to congratulate Sean S. for making first chair in his school band this week. Sean is a seventh grader and I believe he is in a mixed grade band. He started lessons almost a full year before sixth grade beginning band. Now he is seeing the results of getting a head start.

Congratulations Sean!

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No Concession Blues in Senior Recital

Cesar Hinojos, one of the trumpet students at U.T.E.P. (where I was a student in the 80’s) ended his senior recital with one of my original trumpet quartet pieces, No Concession Blues. I am always honored when anyone chooses to perform my music when there are so many great trumpet pieces for them to chose from. For someone from U.T.E.P. to chose to perform my composition is extra special.

Coincidentally, someone just bought a copy of this sheet music on Sheet Music Plus today! No Concession Blues is my highest selling composition at Sheet Music Plus!

No Concession Blues was original composed for a performance with my jazz group, Living Rhythms, at Cezanne’s (Houston’s most prestigious jazz club). The title makes reference to a political atmosphere where no one is making any efforts to get along. We now have a “take no prisoners” mentality in politics today and in my opinion it has become very destructive. It saddens me because of what it does to people. Some of my kindest, gentlest friends behave like monsters because of their political beliefs. It is difficult for me to see so much hatred in their eyes. The left hate the right and the right hate the left. Not only is our nation divided, but friendships are torn apart.

That’s what No Concession Blues is about. It’s a piece about people actually going out of their ways to NOT get along.

What’s funny about No Concession Blues is that it’s not a blues. 🙂 It’s a rhythm changes tune with some bluesy lines in it. We perform this every time Living Rhythms performs, and when I tell the audience that it’s not a blues, they always get a kick out of that. The unreconciled title mismatch represents how I see all this political stuff. It’s all lies and half truths! Neither side is right. Neither side is trustworthy…in my opinion.

Anyway, enough of the politics! I just wanted to share this video with you. It really is an honor to have one of my compositions in someone’s senior recital. Thank you Cesar!

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G Above Super C

So, here’s a short clip of me demonstrating high notes at a summer masterclass. The funny thing about this video is that I don’t typically demonstrate high notes in public this way. There are only a few contexts when I might do this. Usually it is to show that you don’t need a different mouthpiece to play high.

This video was taken at Taylor High School during one of the summer master classes that I taught last year (2016). One of the students sent me the video on facebook but I never got it until today.

It’s true that my method and my books will help you develop a better range. It’s true that my students, when they follow my method, also develop great ranges. It is also true that most of my gigs are for playing lead trumpet. But I do not consider myself a high note player nor a high note guru. I guess the difference is philosophical. To say that I am a high note player would leave so many important aspects of what I do out of the equation. I am not JUST a high note player. The high notes is actually one of the least important things to me, not only in my trumpet playing, but also in my performance.

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Shofar for Rosh HaShanah 2017

I was hired this year to do the shofar calls for the Rosh HaShanah celebration at the meeting of a synagogue without walls service. Thank you, Kelly Dean, for thinking about me for this. I enjoyed it!

Here’s a note from the Rabbi Scott:

Thank you so much for all you brought to our Rosh Hashanah morning service! You were terrific! I’ve never known that the shofar could sound like that!!

For those who don’t know how the shofar  Rosh HaShanah service works, the calls each represent something specific. They are not just random blasts. There are three basic calls which are blown in response to the cantor. When the cantor sings “T’kiah”, the shofar plays on long note. According to the literature at the service, that one note represents wholeness…as in “once we were whole”. When the cantor sings “Sh’varim”, the shofar plays three long notes. When the cantor sings “T’ruah”, the shofar plays at least nine short notes. These represent brokenness. Then the cantor sings “T’kiah” again and the shofar plays the long note, which represents being made whole again.

The video above begins after the first T’kiah.

When I first spoke to the Rabbi, he asked if I had ever done the shofar before. I told him yes, but that it had been many years ago. It was actually several decades ago. But I did my homework and knew what I was doing by the time I got there.

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Congratulations Jazz Region Students

Well, it’s the first time this has happened in many years. Over a decade ago I decided to limit my student load to a fraction of what it used to be. I did this so I could give each student all the attention they deserved. But that also meant that I send very few students to the various competitions anymore. When I say “so few”, I mean in comparison to how it was in the 90’s when I was teaching over seventy students per week.

This week, for the first time in over a decade, I had multiple students win spots in the same band. TMEA Region 23, which is probably one of the most competitive regions in the state for jazz, had their jazz band auditions on Tuesday. Four of my private lesson students one chairs in the band as well as two students master classes that I taught over the summer:

  1. Lily P. is currently a freshman at H.S.P.V.A. and has gotten off to a good start with lessons over the summer.
  2. Christopher L. is a senior at Lamar High School and has become one of my most creative students.
  3. Cristian C. is a senior at Elsik High School. Cristian won some sort of scholarship that paid for his lessons with me over the summer.
  4. Richard C. is my newest student, a junior at H.S.P.V.A. Richard made it into the first band.
  5. Sebastian S. is a student at Taylor High School where I’ve been giving master classes in the summer for three years now. Sebastian is first chair in the first band.
  6. Ryan N. is also a student at Taylor High School.

I typically don’t lump all of the congratulations into one post like this, but there are so many and I am short of time. Congratulations Lily, Christopher, Cristian, Richard, Sebastian and Ryan. You each did a great job.

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Congratulations Abi

We want to congratulate Abinand for making All-Region Jazz in TMEA Region 17. He placed in the first band (top five) and should be qualified to compete at the All-State Level.

Abi is one of our short term students who signed up for lessons with one specific goal. He wanted to make All-Region Jazz. Mission accomplished!

That is part of our teaching philosophy. It is your goals, not our goals. We are here to help you get where you want to go, in your music, on the trumpet.

Congratulations, Abi! You did a great job!

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Taylor High School Trumpet Master Classes

It was an honor to be invited again to do the summer band master classes at Taylor High School in Katy, Texas. This was my third year and I hope they have me back again next year.

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