I’m working on a piece for trumpet, trombone, and piano that is based on tourist traps and crazy roadside attractions. Two movements are available (in cheesy MIDI demo) below.

“Cheshire Cheese Press” is a meditation on democracy, based on the statue commemorating a 1,234lb block of cheese that the citizens of Cheshire, MA sent to Thomas Jefferson.

“Pedro’s South of the Border” is a Tango-Passacaglia in honor of the famous tourist trap on I-95 on the NC/SC state line.


Cheshire Cheese Press

Pedro’s South of the Border


Two straight days of practicing, and I can already tell a small difference. I’m not putting in *that* much time (40 – 60 minutes or so per day), and by the end I can feel my chops giving out, but my sound was better yesterday than the day before.

Fair warning, family: I’m bringing the horn home and gonna try to practice during the holidays.

(The title, of course, refers to the old joke “Does your face hurt?”)


So, to begin the process of getting good again, I dug out the Arban and Rochut, and bought a copy of the Gordon Jacob trombone concerto. Might try to put together a recital; thinking Barat’s Andante et Allegro, the Halsey Stevens Sonatina, a Vivaldi sonata, the Jacob (maybe not all three movements) and perhaps something like Elegy for Mippy II or a jazz thing to close.

Trombonists – any other lit suggestions/substitutions?


I miss it.

I used to play, sing, conduct, compose just about every day.

I miss it.

I used to be really good at some of those things. At one point, I was a good enough player to be principal euphonium in the Kentucky All-Collegiate Band and back up acts like the Temptations, Melissa Manchester and Aaron Neville. In the past year I wrote about 50 minutes of new music, 35 of which got performed. I’ve conducted bands, choirs, orchestras and pit orchestras. I even got to conduct William Warfield once, though that was more along the lines of “You do what ever you want, Dr. Warfield, I’ll make sure we follow.” I tell you all this not to toot my own horn, but rather to give you some sense about what has been missing.

I miss it.

I’m going to say something bold here: It may have been a mistake on my part to pursue the PhD in theory. This is not to say that I shouldn’t have done it, but I shouldn’t have done it in the way that I did. I got away from music-making while working on it, and consequently, my analyses, while thorough and solid, were often amusical. The music that I studied deserves better. I stopped being a good musician during the process, and my work suffered because of it.

So…what does this mean?

There are some changes coming up in my life, and I hope for the better. I am going to take advantage of these changes (and I’m letting you all know this in the hopes that the hive mind will help me keep to them) and get good again. Get the horn on the face. Dig out the Hanon exercises and a metronome. Write something as often as I can. Learn the literature and take those lessons with a big-shot conductor. Write analytical and theoretical papers that resonate with actual music-making.

It won’t be easy, but it needs to be done. I need to get good again. I need to let music – this wonderful, wonderful discipline – work its magic on me again. Those musicians who got me to this point deserve no less. I deserve no less. MUSIC deserves no less.

Who’s with me?