Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Buddy's War #39- End of the First Month

After Action Report
80th Armored Medical Battalion
10th Armored Division
1 Nov – 30 Nov 1944

There were 33 officers and 364 enlisted men. During the month one of the battalion was killed and five wounded. Five replacements were assigned. [Note: The member of the battalion who was killed was not in Company C. No death is noted in the company's morning reports.]

At all three clearing stations of the battalion in November 1944 there were:
    •    1962 admissions
    •    319 were returned to duty
    •    7 died in the stations
    •    1581 were transferred and
    •    55 remained in station on 30 Nov

The battalion commander had the following recommendations:
a. In some operations dissemination of information in regard to the tactical employment of the combat units did not reach this headquarters. Direct distribution of field orders and G-3 reports to the medical battalion would aid in the future employment of the supporting medical companies.

b. That all medical companies be employed in each action. ­ There is no useful purpose served by holding one entire company in reserve.

Fredrick D. Loomis
Captain, MAC.,
Battalion S-3

Looking at the daily admissions shows when the battalion's companies engaged in the heaviest battles. Again, from the 21st to the 29th, Company C was near the front.

Buddy and Company C were now back attached to the Reserve Combat Command (CC R). Located at Sierck-les-Bains, they were less than two miles from Division HQ at Apach and still only 12 or so miles west of the front!

Filling in some of the background on the medical battalions and companies:

The Army Medical Department's history describes Collecting Companies as:
...the forward echelon of the Division Medical Service. They were the connecting links in the chain of evacuation between Aid Stations and Division Clearing Stations. Their mission was to:

1) Remove evacuees from Infantry Regiment Aid Stations to Collecting Stations,
2) Prepare evacuees at the Collecting Stations for further evacuation, and
3) Transport evacuees by Ambulance from Collecting Stations to Division Clearing Stations.

Again, from the Army history:

The main task of the Clearing Company was to make decisions about what the next stage of treatment might be. This included such aspects as triage, sorting of casualties according to the nature and severity of their injuries, treatment- administering appropriate treatment to save lives, reduce suffering, and prevent permanent disability and determining which of the slightly wounded casualties could return to duty with their units.

(1) The medical detachment of the tank battalion moves in close support behind the tank companies, and directs its principal efforts at emergency treatment, either in vehicles or on the battlefield….

(3) [The] clearing stations reflect the characteristic high mobility of armor; they are organized and equipped with extremely mobile surgical trucks, and are capable of treating casualties in a short time after movement has ceased.
(pp. 1,2)
According to the manual for Armored Medical Battalions, they were in three parts:
(1) Division surgeon’s office. [Connected to the 10th Armored Division HQ]
(2) Medical detachments- provide first echelon medical service. [That is, they were at the front, near the battle.]
(3) Armored medical battalion- provides second echelon medical service. [They were behind the front lines, but, as can be see above, still well within battle distance. The greatest range of German artillery was about 18 miles, but they were often hampered by logistics and lack of ammunition.]
The manual continues with more specifics for the battalions:
Standing Operating Procedure
The armored division operates tactically in two or more combat commands… formed for a particular operation. Normally an armored medical company is included in each of the two combat commands and a part or all of the Third Company in the reserve command.

Medical units follow procedures best suited for the medical support of their individual unit. During combat, because of rapidly changing tactical situations, it may be found impractical to follow a predetermined plan. The employment of the medical detachments and the medical battalion is kept flexible and within control so that unforeseen tactical developments may be dealt with promptly.
(pp. 4-6)
A footnote to this history: What we are seeing in the development of this medical organization are the precursors of MASH units. (Wikipedia)

Other unforeseen- or unplanned for issues always arose.
The most glaring example in these early months of the 80th Medical Battalion- and most of the medical groups in the area had nothing to do with battle.

It was trench foot.

Poor planning and a sense that the war might not last all that long now that the Allies were fully engaged led to one of the most surprising, unexpected medical concerns- trench foot. By all accounts, the fall-winter of 1944-45 was the coldest and wettest in years. Trench foot did as much damage to the Allies as the enemy due to its duration of disability and its tendency to recur. Inadequate winter supplies only added to the crisis. During November and December 1944 the total number of cases of cold injury on the Western Front was more than 23,000. This was the size of one and a half infantry divisions.

Gen. Omar Bradley Commanding General of the 12 Army Group wrote that this had seriously crippled the United States fighting strength in Europe. Medical officers estimated to Bradley that the majority who were evacuated from the front lines would never return to combat. At times this would reach as such as 38% of all hospital admissions to the 6 hospitals in the Paris area!  This obviously added to the burden at collecting companies like Company C and the 80 Medical Battalion! (Medical Department of the United States Army in World War II)

Monday, December 02, 2019

Tuning Slide 5.17- Giving Thanks- A Story to Tell

Weekly Reflections on Life and Music
Music can heal the wounds which medicine cannot touch.
Debasish Mridha

The past two weeks have been difficult, which is why there wasn’t a Tuning Slide post last week. One of my older and deeper friends had a major health event two weeks ago tomorrow. We waited and prayed. A lot! My wife and I spent his last day at the hospital with his wife and daughter. We said goodbye about an hour after the life-support was disconnected. Five minutes after we walked out the door, he passed. Over these weeks, music was the grounding force of my life. This week, then, I have a couple of stories to tell. Since last week was Thanksgiving, the stories connect with the holiday and the gratitude I have felt in the midst of the difficulties.

The overall story goes back many years- thirty-five, to be exact. This friend was a highly talented musician. He was more than just excellent at guitar, banjo, and mandolin. He had played in many groups over the years. He was also our neighbor, he had children the same age group as our daughter, and was a member of our church. We did a lot together- if it wasn’t about church, faith, and family, it usually involved music. He was often encouraging me to work on my musical skills at the trumpet- and the guitar.

One day we were sitting having a conversation over lunch or some meal or other. We began talking about music in the church- and church musicians, many of whom were our friends in our church as well as in the larger community. We were commenting about something or other of those things that often bug pastors, even pastors like myself who were also musicians. For some now long-forgotten reason, I made some comment about myself not being one of those church musicians who would give pastors headaches. He got this “oh, really?” look on his face, paused and said:
“If you practiced more, you might.”
He looked satisfied with that- and dropped the subject.

I didn’t forget, however. I especially remembered it a number of times in the past 8-10 years when I did start practicing more- a lot more! I remembered it as my skills did improve. He was one of those smacks up the side of the head that made me wonder what it was I could really do with music if I put my mind to it.

As part of that ongoing subtle prodding, he suggested I go with him up north one year to a bluegrass jam camp he had discovered. While I have tried to learn to play guitar a number of times over the past 50+ years, I never progressed. I wanted to be as good at the guitar as I was at the trumpet, but without the years of practice. He told me there would be a number of others at the camp with the same skill level as I had- and that it would be fun. Since I have always enjoyed bluegrass music- the jazz of country music- I finally agreed. It was everything he said- and more. He and I then organized a couple bluegrass jam camps of our own at our church’s camp in Wisconsin and had the chance to meet, work with, and become friends with Monroe Crossing, one of Minnesota’s top bluegrass groups. I even went to several monthly jam sessions in the Twin Cities before moving.

After the move, my bluegrass chops began to fall away when my trumpet chops and engagement in a number of groups grew. I continued to love bluegrass and listened to it. I attempted to work on trumpet or brass quintet arrangements of some bluegrass classics. They haven’t fallen into place, but my friend did encourage me at it.

Back in September our community band was putting the music together for our fall concert. I was overjoyed to see an arrangement of a bluegrass classic, Arkansas Traveler, in the list. I took the first part with the short 16-bar solo in the middle of it. I knew it would be fun and would fit right in with all my many musical interests.That piece became the closing number of the concert.

The concert was last Saturday, only three hours after my friend died.

I had told his family about it and we were all humbled by the timing. Over the past couple of years I have lost most of my fear and anxiety of solos. As we came to my three measures of rest right before the solo, I said a brief “Thank you. This is for you, my friend” and just played.

But the story isn’t quite over. The next night my wife and I were at another concert in the Twin Cities with the incredible guitar duo of Rodrigo y Gabriela. They both talked during the concert about how powerful and important music is. It is, they both said, “a force for healing.” My friend knew that in his life. One of the groups that he played with for a number of years was a faith-based group. He often talked about how the music they played in concert or for church was more than performing. It was spirit. It was faith being lived and shared. He often talked about how when they sand and the audience or congregation sang with them, it was a “boomerang” effect. The music and faith, and healing, that they sent out was echoed back to them.

As I put all this together, and our big band played a gig this past Monday, I realized that is what has been happening in my life over these 55 years since I started playing the trumpet. It is what I discovered playing in many groups over the years. It is what I am continuing to discover, even when I sit and play long tones or woodshed a difficult part of a piece. It is what happens when our big band plays for a senior citizens group- and they smile, tap their feet, and even sometimes yell “wahoo!” when we’re done.

Music. What a joy, what a gift both to give and receive. I am thankful to overflowing with it. Never lose it. Keep playing, keep practicing, keep performing. You and the people around you will discover healing and hope.

My friend’s memorial will be next Saturday. It will be a celebration of his life- and it will be filled with music!

Friday, November 29, 2019

Buddy's War #38- Thanksgiving 1944 and Beyond

Diary Entries, Beula Keller Lehman

    •    November 21, 1944
Dora called and said she was coming up for Thanksgiving

    •    November 23, 1944- Thanksgiving Day
Dora came at 9.20. Had dinner. It was a lovely day

    •    November 26, 1944
Dora and I went to Bethlehem.

For Thanksgiving, Dora made her second trip to Pennsylvania since her new husband had deployed. Beula, as usual, shows no emotions in her diary about what is happening. Dora has become another person in her life who can help fill her loneliness. She and Dora go to the movies, visit Ruth in Bethlehem, sharing what must have been a very subdued Thanksgiving. Beula regularly comments that she receives letters from Buddy and that she writes back. There is never anything indicating she knows where he is or what is happening. Most likely, he downplayed the events knowing that in any case, the letters were censored.

In Europe, on November 21 Co. C was moved to support CC B. It was their first time on the “front line” and not with the reserve unit closer to Division headquarters. It would only last a week, but they were finally, truly, in the midst of combat casualties.

    ✓    21 November 1944
    ✓    Company C Morning Report
Departed Kaltweiler 1300 via motor convoy. Traveled 9.4 miles to Ritzing. Arrived 1600. Billeted troops and set up Clearing Station. (MR)

During this week that Buddy’s Company C was assigned to CC B:

    ⁃    21 Nov- the north column of CCB received a heavy counterattack just west of BUDINGEN but it was repulsed with heavy loss to the enemy.

    ⁃    22 and 23 Nov- CCB was patrolling to the front to determine exact location of enemy positions.

    ⁃    26 Nov- CCB cleared the woods east of WALDWISSE and then entered the town of BETHINGEN. Although the town was taken by surprise, heavy enemy artillery concentrations soon necessitated a withdrawal. General PIBURN now had three columns within four miles of his objective, the bridge of MERZIG. The head of the northern column was just east of BUDINGEN with a good road leading into the city of LERZIG.

    ⁃    27 – 28 Nov- The Germans had realized the importance of the city of MERZIG, the key to the SAAR Valley, and had taken extreme care to block all avenues of approach. The terrain along with the soft subsoil afforded the defender an excellent position. The roads, the only avenues of approach for armor, were covered with numerous roadblocks, which made going extremely slow.

    ✓    29 November 1944
    ✓    Company C Morning Report
Left Ritzing 1100. Traveled 5.2 miles via motor convoy to Sierck-les-Bains. Arrived 1200. Billeted troops and set up clearing station. (MR)

[Co C reassigned back to reserve combat command (CC R) and they moved back to the vicinity of Division HQ.]

    ⁃    29 Nov- Both the northern and the center columns of CCB pushed to the built-up area of HILBRINGEN, only one mile west of the bridge in the afternoon

    ⁃    30 Nov- As the elements of CCB were preparing to complete their mission of seizing the bridge intact over the SAAR River at MERZIG, a terrific explosion shook the area. The Germans had blown the bridge just as the engineers reached it.

All this action with CC B is taking place in an area smaller than the New York City borough of Brooklyn! It was 11 miles wide and 7 miles long.

It is interesting to note that there are no morning reports for Company C from 23 Nov - 29 Nov, the period they are assigned to CC B. While I have the end of the month After Action Report for the whole 80th Battalion which shows the activity at the clearing stations, it is not broken down by company. (I will post that at the beginning of December.)

Following the 80th Armored Medical Battalion and10th Armored Division in World War II has given me a new perspective on the planning and execution of war. I have never been in the military; I have read many books (novels as well as non-fiction); I have watched many movies; I have never studied the tactics of warfare. It is intriguing and educational to look at war from a tactical perspective, even if it is with the “perfect” vision of seventy-five years.

The staggering number of troops involved is far more than my mind can handle. As I stare at the maps I realize that each map is but a small slice of a huge story, even within the area covered by the maps. I remember that the whole 10th Armored Division would have been between 10 and 15,000 troops.

An armored division’s organization included

    ▪    a Division Headquarters and Headquarters Company,
    ▪    two Combat Command Headquarters (CC A and CC B),
    ▪    a Reserve Combat Command Headquarters (CC R),
    ▪    three tank battalions (of three medium and one light tank companies),
    ▪    three armored infantry battalions,
    ▪    three eighteen-gun artillery battalions,
    ▪    a cavalry reconnaissance squadron (battalion),
    ▪    an armored medical battalion.
    ▪    an engineer battalion, and
    ▪    division services,

The division was commanded by a major general, the combat commands by a brigadier general (who was also assistant division commander) and two colonels. The division included

    ▪        77 light tanks,
    ▪        168 medium tanks,
    ▪        18 M4 105mm assault guns,
    ▪        54 M7 105mm SP artillery pieces,
    ▪        54 M8 armored cars,
    ▪        450 halftracks,
    ▪        1,031 motor vehicles, and
    ▪        8 light observation aircraft.

(Military History Online)

Eastern France was a city in the mud and rain that November seventy-five years ago. To organize, direct and carry out the maneuvers must have been incredibly complex and, of course, based on the fact that the German troops weren’t just going to fall over and quit.

So I look at the maps and read the descriptions and am finally, after seven years of this, beginning to figure it out.

    ▪    First there’s the work of Combat Command A or B (CC A, CC B). CC A went one way with one job, CC B went another.
    ▪    Then there are the different Task Forces sent out from the Combat Commands. One might come in from the rear and another from a flanking maneuver.
    ▪    On top of all that this had to be coordinated with other divisions, Combat Commands, Task Forces, air support, medical support.

The movies make it look like all the tanks did was just barrel on forward crushing everything in their path. That is obviously not what happened. There were the days or weeks when a particular group might be less involved than at other times. There were the times after a battle when they could (sort of) relax.

How much could the medics relax? What could the soldiers do in the “downtime?” It must have been nothing short of maddening on some level of awareness that they must have had to sublimate, push away, forget.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Thanksgiving Day 2019

It has been a difficult two weeks with friends and family concerns. Yet today IS Thanksgiving Day here in the United States. I am grateful for so many things today, I cannot even begin to list them. The poem below was posted on the On Being website several years ago. It is perfect.

I pray that everyone enjoys this day and can move through the downs of the past and look forward with grateful hope.

Three Gratitudes

Every night before I go to sleep
I say out loud
Three things that I’m grateful for,
All the significant, insignificant
Extraordinary, ordinary stuff of my life.
It’s a small practice and humble,
And yet, I find I sleep better
Holding what lightens and softens my life
Ever so briefly at the end of the day.
Sunlight, and blueberries,
Good dogs and wool socks,
A fine rain,
A good friend,
Fresh basil and wild phlox,
My father’s good health,
My daughter’s new job,
The song that always makes me cry,
Always at the same part,
No matter how many times I hear it.
Decent coffee at the airport,
And your quiet breathing,
The stories you told me,
The frost patterns on the windows,
English horns and banjos,
Wood Thrush and June bugs,
The smooth glassy calm of the morning pond,
An old coat,
A new poem,
My library card,
And that my car keeps running
Despite all the miles.
And after three things,
More often than not,
I get on a roll and I just keep on going,
I keep naming and listing,

Until I lie grinning,
Blankets pulled up to my chin,
Awash with wonder
At the sweetness of it all.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Buddy's War #37- A Birthday in Europe

    ◆    75 Years Ago
    ◆    November 19, 1944
Buddy’s 39th Birthday

    ✓    15 November 1944
    ✓    Company C Morning Report

Left Audun-le-Tiche 0001 Traveled 15 miles by motor convoy to Soetrich. Arrived 0700 and billeted troops. (MR)
    ✓    17 November 1944
Left Soetrich at 0700. Crossed Moselle River at 1007. Arrived at Petite Hattange 1130. Traveled 13 miles. Established bivouac and set up Clearing Station. (MR)
    ✓    19 November 1944
Departed Petite Hattange 1625 via motor convoy. Traveled 6 miles to vicinity of Kaltweiler. Arrived 1715. Bivouacked troops and set up Clearing Sta. (MR)

Buddy’s Company C of the 80th Armored Medical Battalion left Audun le Tiche after five days there. The goal was to connect with Combat Command B where they had their new assignment. They were approximately 2 - 2 1/2 days behind CC B in heading east. They were to join CC B at Ritzing on 21 November. By the time Company C set up the clearing station at Kaltweiler on 19 November 1944, CC B had already made history only 12 miles to the northeast.

    ◆    75 Years Ago
    ◆    19 Nov 1944 at 1032

Combat Command B (CC B) of the 10th Armored Division reached the Saar and crossed into Germany.

A few days before the historic moment of the 19th, the 10th’s armor was well inside German positions. It had happened so swiftly and easily they had already taken 250 prisoners. The division was in two Combat Commands, A and B.

CC A (lower left, east of front line) started one flank of the attack southeast from Kerling to Laumesfeld.  Their job was to draw fire and find the positions of the German heavy guns. It worked. The positions were located and the Tigers started hitting back. The Germans fought hard and the Tigers lost three tanks and 12 men were wounded.

CC B was to head on a direct 11-mile line to seize a bridge over the  Saar at Merzig. Smaller bridges along the way had been destroyed. CC B was slowed down waiting for the rebuilding of those bridges by the engineers. By November 17 the rebuilding was accomplished and they were ready to move.

One task force entered Launstroff; another, against heavy pressure, reached Schwerdorf.

Then, at 1032 on 19 November, TF Cherry of CC B was near Eft. Lieutenant William Brown checked his maps. He dismounted from his Sherman and walked across the German border. He was the first man of Patton’s army to step onto German soil.


    ◆    19 Nov 1944
This was one of only a handful of times in his life that my dad hadn't been home for his birthday.

 Instead, he was only a few miles from CC B when they made that first symbolic step onto German soil.

Meanwhile, his wife of only six months was preparing to spend the upcoming holiday with her new in-laws, both trying to get to know and understand each other. Two families who had come from such different worlds.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Tuning Slide 5.16- Beyond the Notes

Weekly Reflections on Life and Music

In the end it’s not about the instrument. It is pulling out everything in your soul.
Benjamin Zander

Benjamin Zander is the founder of the Boston Philharmonic and the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. He is an author and an engaging speaker. I first came across one of his music interpretation class videos with a young man playing the trumpet solo from Mahler’s Symphony #5. (Link) He is working with a young trumpet player he introduces as the greatest player his age anywhere in the world. As you listen and watch, Zander does some of the most incredible bits of teaching I have ever seen. Beyond the simple pleasure of hearing this music played so well, it is a deeper pleasure to watch and learn from Zander. “I want to hear more than trumpet playing,” he says at one point. “I want to hear the meaning of this piece encapsulated in this opening.”

Wow. Really?

Yes. It is about what is within us that we bring to the music to give it an aliveness. Even if we could play a Mahler piece like this just as Mahler wrote it, we would not be adding the elements that make each of our performances of a piece unique. How many different recordings are there of, say, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony? (A quick search on Amazon showed 193 hits under CD and vinyl; 367 under digital music.) Why is Bernstein different from Karajan or Barenboim or your college director? The soul and spirit of the conductor.

The conductor of an orchestra doesn’t make a sound. He depends, for his power, on his ability to make other people powerful.
Benjamin Zander

And none of these will ever get close to what Beethoven heard in his mind when he wrote it.

My task then, as a musician, is to learn to put my soul into the piece I am playing. It is to find that space in my spirit and life that connects with that piece of music, pull it together, and then let it play through the horn. I wish it were that easy. He does that with Elmer Churampi in the video mentioned above. See how Churampi shits the music ever so slightly through the video as he is urged on my Zander to make this amazing solo his own.

Zander then takes this idea from different starting places in other videos. “The audience doesn’t hear notes, it hears phrases,” he says at one point. He illustrates this in a TED talk and shows what happens when the musician moves beyond notes to the music itself. All the notes of western music are, in essence made up of the same 12 tones. I heard a musician joke once that he had been given a request for a particular piece. He said he didn’t know that one, but it is made of the same notes he was about to play. The differences are in how you use the notes, how they fit together in a flow (or phrase) and what the musician brings to it.

Zander is telling us that to get from the beginning to the end of a piece, we have to stop thinking about every single note along the way! That may be how we first learned to play our instrument- and it may be a bad way to learn- but it is the way we usually do it. We end up understanding a lot of individual notes, but do we know the music? Do we know the soul of the piece? Finding that can be a journey of an entire lifetime. In one video Zander, talking to a young musician, talks about the sensuality that the particular composer used to inform the composition. He looked at the young man and told him, “You are a wonderful musician - but you don’t have the depth yet.”

He connects this with what he calls “vision.” And this type of vision is the long-term view of nothing less than life itself. That will come, if you practice and see it more than just notes. Here are two possible exercises to build this:

✓ Start with something familiar and easy; something you know well or can learn in an instant. Take “Mary Had a Little Lamb”.Spend some time getting the feel of the song under your fingers and into your head. The normal flow, the way you have always sung it or heard it.
⁃ Then move to changing the rhythm a little. Swing the notes.
⁃ Add then change accents.
⁃ Think about what the words of the song are saying? What are the feelings they bring to mind?
⁃ For example, do they remind you of a wonderful childhood memory? Play it with joy. Do they remind you of the loss of a parent who used to sing it to you? Play it with sadness? Do you remember singing it to your younger sibling or a child you were babysitting or your own child? Play it with comfort.
⁃ Do this regularly until the song itself is expressing you.

✓ Go to something more complex and do some of these same things, but also let your understanding of the music change it. Play it in the relative minor key to the usual key. Perhaps even play it in all 12 major keys and see how it sounds different in different keys. What is your favorite key to play it in? Is it the one that is easiest to finger, or is it the one that captures the tonal quality you like in the music?

Yes, it takes time. But take the time. The self-factor will shine and illuminate the music. Just don't let it outshine the music. No matter how you view it, it is not about you- it is always the music!

The major difference between the 'best' and the 'average' is that the 'best' get as much pleasure from practice as performance.
Benjamin Zander


Videos mentioned above.
Mahler’s 5th Symphony Class:

TED Talk:

Haydn Cello Concert Class:

Interpretations of Music-Lessons for Life:

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Buddy's War # 36- The Final Waiting

    ◆    75 Years Ago
    ◆    3 November 1944 - 8 November 1944
Waiting for the Green Light

After arriving at the staging area at the end of October and knowing their place in the battle line, they waited! Buddy’s Company C of the 80th Medical Battalion stayed at Lauchassee, near the 10th Division’s HQ at Mars la Tour.

    ◆    9 November 1944 - 15 November 1944
The Encirclement of Metz Begins

    ✓    9 November 1944
    ✓    Company C Morning Report

Left billeting area Lauchaussee at 1545. Traveled 46 miles by motor convoy to Audun-le-Tiche. Arrived 2345 (11:45 pm)
    ✓    10 November 1944
Established clearing station at Audun-le-Tiche and evacuated patients.
Buddy's Company was still assigned to the reserve combat command for this period. Their nearness to the division HQ continues to show that.

The 10th Armored Division was to be part of the encirclement of Metz. On November 9th they were assembled in the area around Ottange, far enough west to be safe from enemy observation. There they waited for General Walker to give the order committing the division east of the river.

The terrain in the zone assigned for the 10th Armored Division drive had little to recommend it to an armored force. The road net was limited. … Any cross-country movement would be most difficult, particularly after the autumn rains had beaten into the clay soil characteristic of this country.

On receipt of the order from the corps, it was supposed to cross the Moselle in two columns, pass through the 90th Division bridgehead wrested from the  Germans and strike quickly to effect a deep penetration. The capture of this sector would give the Americans command over one of the main corridors through which German reinforcements might be sent to Metz, or through which a retreat from that city might be made.

For five days … the 10th Armored waited for the word to cross the Moselle.  The five days were marked by orders and counter-orders, new plans and estimates--all contingent on the caprices of the flooded river and the degree of success achieved by the enemy gunners shelling the American bridge sites. At this point, the floodwaters of the Moselle were constricted by two relatively high retaining walls, and the stone piers of an earlier bridge still stood.

The 1306th Engineer General Service Regiment set to the task of building a Bailey bridge on 12 November, under orders to continue on the job regardless of enemy fire. German mortars and field guns threw in one concentration after another. Once, during the late afternoon of the 12th, work had to be suspended for a couple of hours.

On the morning of the 13th, the wind shifted, blowing away the covering smoke. German gunners laid their shells within a hundred yards of the bridge but could not get a direct hit. This time work on the Bailey continued, the engineers climbing into the superstructure clad in flak suits.

Moselle River crossing at Thionville (B)

Finally, at 0930 on 14 November, the Thionville bridge was ready--the largest Bailey bridge in the European Theater of Operations. On the afternoon of that day, CCB (Combat Command B) began the move across the Moselle, the head of the column winding along the east bank northward to the 90th Division sector. Before daylight on 15 November, the whole combat command had assembled near Kerling (about 10miles NE of  Thionville) behind the screen formed by the 359th Infantry.

From US Army in World War II, The Lorraine Campaign by Hugh Cole

So what's a Bailey Bridge? According to Wikipedia:

The Bailey bridge is a type of portable, pre-fabricated, truss bridge. It was developed by the British during World War II for military use and saw extensive use by both British and American military engineering units.

 A Bailey bridge had the advantages of requiring no special tools or heavy equipment to construct. The wood and steel bridge elements were small and light enough to be carried in trucks and lifted into place by hand, without requiring the use of a crane. The bridges were strong enough to carry tanks.

What's a Combat Command? Again, according to Wikipedia:

A Combat Command was a combined-arms military organization of comparable size to a brigade or regiment employed by armored forces of the U.S.  Army from 1942 until 1963. The structure of combat commands was task-organized and so the forces assigned to a combat command often varied from mission to mission.

The combat command was a flexible organization that did not have dedicated battalions. Instead, tank, armored infantry, and armored field artillery battalions, as well as smaller units of tank destroyers, engineers, and mechanized cavalry were assigned as needed to accomplish any given mission.

This Combat Command organization would become very helpful to all concerned within the next six weeks when the Germans made their last push in what is known as the Battle of the Bulge.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Tuning Slide 5.15- Teamwork as Harmony

Weekly Reflections on Life and Music
You don’t get harmony when everybody sings the same note.
— Steve Honey

The teamwork required of musicians is something we can
~ take for granted,
~ ignore (at our own peril), or
~ find ways to take hold of and learn to use.

It seems to me that musicians playing in ensembles of any size absolutely must find ways to build that teamwork. We all know that part of it is to learn to listen while we play, paying attention to the dynamics of the group, and learning how all the sounds meld together into a sound richer than the sound of any one instrument. A few years ago Esther Murimi wrote an article on the website for the Merriam School of Music highlighting nine lessons that musicians can give about successful teamwork. It came from members of a group called “A Far Cry”. Reflecting on music and life and how they can interact will almost always come to look at this. In my (sort-of) humble opinion, the lessons from musical teamwork are as significant as what can be learned from athletic teamwork.

Here are several of them, in italics, with my comments included between them.

• Play Your Part
      ⁃ The musicians [in the group] spend countless hours scrutinizing their individual parts so that they not only play their individual roles well but also to ensure their interpretation of the music is accurate. This requires a significant level of human thoughtfulness.

~~ I will be the first to admit that I don’t always know my part well enough I really have to. The quintet had a few new numbers and when we rehearsed last week I was not prepared on one of them. I thought I knew it well enough to get by at that rehearsal, but I didn’t. It was not that the part I was playing was difficult, it was how my part fits with the others. I was not prepared for that. I just could not put it together with the whole quintet sound. This week I am working at it and listening to a recording of the piece to get the feel of the overall fit. Teamwork!

• Don’t Compare
      ⁃ Although any good musician will have several external influences, he or she will ultimately need to let go of comparisons and make the music personal.

~~ There are all kinds of ways to make comparisons of ourselves. Sometimes it is to show how much better we are than others; then it can be how much worse we are (as an excuse to give up?); or it can be the style of some mentor or famous musician. Some of this might be helpful when trying to get the feel for something new or to learn a new style. In the end, though, what is YOUR style, not just you, but you and the group? Make it yours!

• Spend Your Energy Wisely
      ⁃ When a violist’s part is similar to that of the violin, the violist should put his or her energy into adding depth. In contrast, when a cellist’s part is a variation on the melody, he or she will try to echo the other instruments’ parts while giving it his or her own spin.
• Anticipate Needs
      ⁃ Musicians need to watch one another intently so they can sense where they are taking the music and how the rest of the group should support that.

~~ These two remind us that we are each to play our part- and sometimes our part isn’t the most important at that musical moment. Sometimes it is our task to support another part. My colleague trumpet player in the quintet and I were working on a couple pieces together one evening. We came to a certain place and I realized that what I was doing should not be played “forte” like the music indicated. I was a sound floor under a far more interesting first part. We decided that I should stay at no more than a “mezzo forte” to give the more interesting part something to build on. It worked- it was teamwork.

• Know The Score
      ⁃ When there’s no conductor to point out changes in the melodic or harmonic structure, each musician must fully understand what other players are doing so they can fully understand what they need to do to enhance the overall performance.

~~ The big band ensembles I have been playing with, like the quintet, do not have conductors. Our biggest issue can often become an understanding of the whole picture. No matter how good we may be at listening, what is happening in our part will often skew what we are hearing. How do the trumpets, whose sound goes out over the top of the band, help the sound merge into a balance? That’s where all of us working together in rehearsal can point out what any one of us individually is unable to hear. We often don’t know what is supposed to be happening in the score at certain points. We need to let each other know. Teamwork!

It is important to remember that each team is a unique blend of personalities, skills, and levels of ability. Teamwork takes those differences and helps us meld into a cohesive organization. Each team has a set of goals for that particular project, music, or performance. When we take the time to listen, distill the differences into strengths, and then put the parts into a whole, the vital importance of teamwork becomes the foundation. In music, business, athletics, or just plain old play, Ken Blanchard says it well:
None of us is as smart as all of us.

(Link for the nine lessons on teamwork.)

Monday, November 04, 2019

Tuning Slide 5.14- Acting Like a Pro- Attitude

Weekly Reflections on Life and Music

Discipline is for professionals.
Motivation is for amateurs.
― J.R. Rim

I know I must be a professional musician- I’m not getting paid. (Rim shot.) Okay, just kidding. But I got to thinking one day about one of the most surprising aspects of what I have learned over these past five years of growth and musical development. Professional musicians are often just like non-professionals- just different in how they think. When I first connected with the group of musicians at Shell Lake Big Band Camp and the Trumpet Workshop, I came at playing and practicing trumpet just like I always had. I was, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was an “amateur” and I would never be anything but an amateur.

1. a person who engages in a pursuit, especially a sport, on an unpaid rather than a professional basis.
2. a person who is incompetent or inept at a particular activity. (Google)

I knew that the first was true, and the second? Well, if I wasn’t inept, I was at least less than many others. I didn’t think about becoming a professional. I just enjoyed playing the trumpet at whatever level I was able to reach and then just try to maintain it. What I discovered in the group at Shell Lake was that there is something different about professional musicians- their mindset. They have a different attitude, they have an outlook on playing music that is far from what I was doing. That quote at the top of the post this week is one of the things I learned. Motivation and discipline produce different results, although motivation can, and does, often lead to discipline and the resulting change of mind. (But that’s a whole other story for a different time. See Daniel Pink’s book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.)

For this week I just want to talk about what it is that I have experienced with this change in mindset.

On their website, the magazine Inc. has an article about motivation vs discipline. In it retired pilot David Burke, who spent 23 years as an elite fighter pilot, says that:

"More than any other quality, discipline is what drives a person to succeed when faced with adversity. And that's what the real world is: adversity." Discipline, Burke continues, is what "drives you to do the work you don't enjoy, but is required. Discipline conquers fear. Discipline keeps you going when your curiosity, motivation, and excitement evaporate." (Link)

When I walked away from my first summer at Shell Lake, I was motivated! Man, was I motivated. But I wasn’t yet disciplined. It wasn’t that I didn’t know how to become disciplined, (I've been a professional in other fields for 40 plus years), I just didn’t think it was anything special in this area. After all, I was “only an amateur.” It was after a number of months of increased practicing, discovering a daily routine and the inner joy of just playing music at a higher level, that I ran across the dreaded “boredom.” Long tones! Clarke 1, 2, and 3! Over and over. Day in and day out. I was learning and growing, but the excitement did begin to evaporate. So I switched to willpower. But (and this is also for another day) I knew that willpower is a limited resource. If I had used too much of it just to get through the day, I wasn’t going to have any to pick up the horn.

That’s when discipline began to set in. Back to the article from Inc. Jim Rohn is considered to be America's Foremost Business Philosopher. He says:

"It takes consistent self-discipline to master the art of setting goals, time management, leadership, parenting and relationships. If we don't make consistent self-discipline part of our daily lives, the results we seek will be sporadic and elusive."
"It takes a consistent effort to truly manage our valuable time. Without it, we'll be consistently frustrated. Our time will be eaten up by others whose demands are stronger than our own," writes Rohn.
"It takes discipline to conquer the nagging voices in our minds: the fear of failure, the fear of success, the fear of poverty, the fear of a broken heart. It takes discipline to keep trying when that nagging voice within us brings up the possibility of failure." (Link)

What kept me going was that I had changed my attitude, my mindset. I know that sounds like willpower, but it wasn’t. It was routine and habit. It was not a whim or a “well, let’s try this now” kind of attitude. That is what the professionals really bring to the table and what we can learn from them.

There is one aspect of this that I can’t overlook- I had to believe it was worth the time and effort, or else why would I do it? If all I got out of it was a sense of drudgery, boring long tones and scales, well, that isn’t enough to keep going. I also began to experience what I am sure drives most professionals in any field, including music- the sense of accomplishment. Disciplined and intentional practice began to give better results. I was enjoying the music and the routine. The habit was real- and I began to feel like a musician. Yes, that is motivation producing because my goal became I wanted to continue to improve. I was no longer afraid of succeeding or willing to say that at my age, why try?

Consistency, done daily, with good time management overcomes the fears Rohn mentioned above. It conquers the nagging voice that says, “Yeah, that’s nice, but you’re just an amateur!”

Not any more. No, I am still not getting paid for being a musician. But thanks to that incredible group of trumpet players I engaged with at Shell Lake, I am in the midst of becoming a “pro.”

Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.
— Amy Poehler

Saturday, November 02, 2019

Buddy's War #35- Entering the Battle

    ◆    75 Years Ago
    ◆    2 November 1944
The 10th Armored Division officially joined the front line forces.

The 10th Armored and attached troops have now been on the Cotentin Peninsula for a month. They have trained, planned, waited, and watched the weather. The troops were no less frustrated than Patton himself was. They were in Europe, but not yet in the war.

As October ended it became time to move.

The 80th Armored Medical Battalion, Company C, consisted of 18 officers and 104 enlisted men.

    ✓    Company C Morning Reports- Record of Events
    ✓    26 October- Departed bivouac area 2.1 mi NW of Quettehou [at] 0405. Traveled 127.2 mi via motor convoy to bivouac 1 mi east of Falaise arrived 1715. (MR)
[13 hours travel. 9.8 mph]
    ✓    27 October- Convoy left bivouac area 1 mi east Falaise [at] 0905. Traveled 74.7 mi to bivouac area 1/2 mi east of Damville. Closed bivouac 1830 (MR)
[9 1/2 hours travel. 7.9 mph]
      • Charles M. Province in the book Patton’s Third Army, reports that During this week the “10th Armored continued to move toward the XX Corps assembly area."
    ✓    28 October- Departed area 1/2 mi east of Damville at 0906. Motor convoy arrived at bivouac sire 1/2 mi west of Claye Souilly at 1725. Traveled 83.4 mi  (MR)
[8 1/2 hours travel. 9.9 mph. Co.C most likely passed around or through Paris on this day.]
    ✓    29 October- Departed area 1/2 mi west of Claye Souilly at 0907. Motor convoyed 69.2 mi to bivouac 1 1/2 mi east of Bar Le Duc. Closed bivouac 1632. (MR)
[7 1/2 hours travel. 9.2 mph]
    ✓    30 October- Left Bivouac vicinity of Ba Le Duc 0907. Traveled via motor convoy 98 mi. Billeted company in village of Lachaussee.  Arrived 1700. (MR)
[8 hours travel. 12.3 mph]
They have traveled 452 miles in 5 days, on the road for 46.5 hrs, with an average speed of 9.7 mph. Today that trip could be made in 8 1/2 hours (with tolls).

    ✓    31 October- Set up clearing station and evacuated patients. (MR)
They were assigned to the Reserve Combat Command (CC R) and were located 8 miles south of the 10th's Division HQ at Mars Le Tour and about 20 miles southwest of the fortress city of Metz where they would soon be engaged in their first battle.

They were bivouacked in an area that was unfortunately too small for movement. Then it rained and rained  providing a very muddy, but relatively quiet few days. Nichols in Impact says that it was perhaps the worst bivouac area of war for them. Their purpose was to assist XX Corps in the containment of enemy troops in preparation for the attack on Metz. They were to move around behind the forts and cut off the retreating enemy.

The 10th was to fall into line, one-by-one behind the 90th Infantry then move through providing support and cover. From all that was reported, it was not particularly  good geography (or weather) for the tanks, but the 10th managed and found its place.

This was part of what Province in Patton's Third Army says was the continuing practice of rotating and regrouping Third Army units in contact with the Germans. It had two purposes. One was to give as much rest as possible to those troops in extended contact with the Germans for the greatest amount of time. The other was to keep the enemy guessing as to the plans of the Third Army.

When November and time for the battle around Metz came, the XX Corps (part of the Third Army) under General Walton H. Walker had a total of 30 infantry battalions, 500 tanks, and more than 700 guns. Their  plan had two phases. One was to destroy all German forces around Metz and then to switch the advance to the northeast to catch the enemy as they pulled out of Metz.

On November 2, 1944, the 10th was pulled into place and had their first awareness of combat. It was a generally quiet area and not much else was to happen for the next two weeks, but the enemy had been engaged for the first time.

War was now a reality.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Tuning Slide 5.13- The Tools of Mindfulness

Weekly Reflections on Life and Music

“What day is it?” asked Pooh.
“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
“My favorite day,” said Pooh.
— A. A. Milne

Last week a friend and I were emailing back and forth about “playing the lead pipe” of the trumpet. He was trying some different practice techniques and was sharing what he found with me.

He had just experienced the fundamental foundation of the teaching of Bill Adam- playing the lead pipe to get started each day. (No, I admit, I don’t do that on a regular basis.) Its purpose is to get the player to listen. The goal is not to play the lead pipe in tune. Each lead pipe plays a slightly different note based on length, etc. The goal is to hear the rich, full sound of the proper airflow into the mouthpiece and lead pipe. There is no tuner use with this- we tune the instrument with the tuning slide which compensates for the different tunings of different lead pipes, horns, etc. Play the lead pipe, I was told, and listen for the sound to center and become more full. Some claim to even hear a sound like an old phone ringing when you reach that point. The rest of the goal is to remember that we play every note on the horn that same way. The lead pipe sound and airflow are the foundation. From his experience, my friend had just reinforced for me the insights that Mr. Adam and his students have built over all these years.

[Side note: here is another take on this:]

As I was responding to my friend I realized that some of the reasons this works as it does are because it tunes the ear to listen as well as the lips to form the right shape, the breath to flow smoothly, the arms to hold the trumpet in the right position, and the brain to get in sync with what we’re doing.

In short, it develops mindfulness. And as one moves deeper into what one is paying attention to through mindfulness, it rewires the brain to play the music. It is both muscle memory and aural, hearing memory being developed. I have talked many times over the years about mindfulness. It is a basic, and for me, essential daily skill. Jon Kabat-Zinn, one of the most famous modern proponents of mindfulness, defines it as “awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally…”

When I talk about being more consistent with the mindfulness portion of my routine, I mean I need to slow down and pay deeper attention to what I’m doing. I need to continue the ongoing re-wiring of my brain that improves my musicianship. I am talking about the times I do long tones and flow studies and building awareness through lead pipe playing.

There are mental tools that can be used to strengthen our mindfulness. Wikibooks has a series of articles about what are called “Core Mindfulness Skills.” In that, they present three WHAT tools and three HOW tools.

The WHAT tools
Observe: is simply experiencing, with awareness, your feelings, your thoughts, and sensations directly without the use of words. (Link)
Describe is putting words on experience and experience into words. (Link)
Participate is the skill of throwing yourself into your objectives whole-heartedly without self-consciousness. (Link)

For example, when playing long tones or flow studies, I start by just observing, listening to what I am playing. I (try to) make no judgment, just listen and pay attention to what it sounds like and what it feels like. As I listen, I try to describe what I am hearing or feeling. I will then be participating in the experience. The sounds are with me and come through me. It is at these points that I begin to notice differences as I play. It is at this point that I begin to use the HOW tools.

The HOW tools
Take a nonjudgmental stance. See, but don’t evaluate. Just the facts. Focus on the “what,” not the “good” or “bad,” the “terrible” or “wonderful,” the “should” or “should not.” (Link)
One-mindfully is sustained attention on the present moment which develops concentration. (Link)
Effectively- Focus on what works. Do what needs to be done in each situation. (Link)

This is where you begin to develop the insight into playing and are allowing the sounds to adapt and deepen. Notice I am not saying that the sounds “get better” or that the sound is “bad.” This is not to be a judgment on our part as we listen. It is about the sound and what the sound is like. We do this with a focus that is important. We need that focus or we lose the sound. We notice that and maintain the concentration in the present moment. In this time we then learn what works and what doesn’t. We discover what and when the sound falls into place, becomes richer, closer to what we are listening for and how it just sounds centered.

This can work in other ways when playing in a group of some kind. We are often told to listen to the group. Next time begin by listening, non-judgmentally and with a focus on the person next to you and try to play with them. One of the directors at the Birch Creek camp this past summer suggested we do that. I was amazed at what it did to my awareness of the music- and then my own playing. It is the same thing- mindfulness, in the present moment.

The result, among other things, will be what those working in this call Wise Mind.

Wise Mind is the integration of emotion and reason, where the two overlap.
Wise Mind is a state of mind in which you experience yourself as being calm, centered, and in control of your emotions.
◦ In Wise Mind, you act in accordance with your beliefs, principles, and values which deepen feelings of coherence and integrity.

Again, this is to be non-judgmental. It is based on more than dichotomies of good/bad. It is based on what is working to make music. It is based on the merging of reason and feeling, thinking and emotion and allowing our music to flow from that intersection.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Buddy's War #34- Metz Before the 10th Arrived

    ◆    75 Years Ago
    ◆    25 September to 31 October 1944
The Battle of Metz stalled due to material and fuel shortage.

The battle for and around the ancient city of Metz began well before the 10th Armored entered the fray. The Third Army, under General George Patton had been activated in August in Normandy. Then, beginning in late July the swept across 400 miles of France in one month. It got to the Lorraine region where it met the German First Army intent on defending the line along the Moselle River. This began the Battle of Fortress Metz.

Here is a summary of the battle for Metz prior to the beginning of November. It is abridged and adapted from the Warfare History Network.

Metz before the 10th Arrived
    The 12th Army group was running short on fuel. On September 25 12th Army Group commander Lt. Gen. Omar Bradley had ordered Patton to go on the defensive. That meant that Patton was unable to follow up his plan that might have allowed his troops to reach the West Wall before the onset of bad weather.
    Patton was too impatient to sit idly by with German forces within striking distance and no amount of  grumbling would help. At the end of September 1944 fuel wasn’t the only commodity in short supply for the Third Army. Patton’s men also lacked howitzer ammunition, rain gear, blankets, and sufficient rations. Morale dipped as a result, and Patton set about finding a way to keep his troops in the fight––regardless of the dismal supply situation.

    [He] submitted to Bradley a plan …to continue limited offensive operations. “The whole plan was based … on maintaining the offensive spirit of the troops by attacking at various points whenever my means permitted it,” Patton wrote in his memoirs. In addition to keeping his various units in fighting trim, these limited attacks were meant to adjust the Army’s line in key places so as to give the units favorable departure points for resuming full-scale offensive operations once more fuel became available.

    Meanwhile Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force General Dwight D. Eisenhower and his staff envisioned a two-pronged offensive to capture the Ruhr and Saar industrial regions that fed the Third Reich’s belly. … First Army and Ninth Army would lead the primary attack against the larger Ruhr in the north, while in the south General George Patton’s Third Army would strike at the smaller Saar and therefore face Metz.

    Metz was an  ancient, 1500-year old fortress town on the Moselle River. It had been virtually  indestructible over the previous millennium with defenses that had prevented any army from conquering the city since Atilla the Hun in 451 AD. The sprawling fortress system spread six miles west of the River and reached back another four miles to the east of the old city. Metz was therefore the most heavily fortified city in Europe at the time, consisting of 43 forts arrayed in an inner and outer belt that together mounted 128 heavy guns.

    Bradley arranged for Patton to receive three fresh, untested divisions for the upcoming offensive…  [One of these was] Maj. Gen. William Morris’s 10th Armored Division, which did not take up its place on Walker’s left flank until November 2. Patton waited as the battle went nowhere for a month and a half.
    The fuel began arriving the first week of November. The only thing holding the Third Army back now was the inclement weather- neither the first nor last time that the weather would have an impact. Heavy rains transformed fields into quagmires, swept bridges off their moorings, and made existence miserable for GIs who lacked the most basic foul-weather gear. Shortages of galoshes and waterproof shoepacs caused an epidemic of trench foot.

It was in this stalled offensive that the 10th Armored Division would soon get its introduction to war.

    ◆    75 Years Ago
    ◆    25 October 1944
        The 10th Armored Division and Buddy’s 80th Armored Medical Battalion were spending their last day on the Cotentin Peninsula. Tomorrow morning at 0405 they will start their move toward the war.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Tuning Slide 5.12- More Fitness for Musicians

Weekly Reflections on Life and Music
To keep the body in good health is a duty - otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.
— Buddha

A disclaimer that I should make every time I write about fitness and exercising- many times the person I am trying to convince most is myself. Not that I “should” workout and take better care of my fitness. I already know that. I have been a certified group fitness instructor. Over my whole adult life, I have worked hard (every now and then) to get into or stay in shape. Most of the time it has worked without too much pain. But time (i.e. age) does take its toll and over the past fifteen or so years I have had to work more diligently to maintain a tolerable fitness level. I have been a member of a gym or fitness center for all these years and, believe it or not, actually enjoy working out and the endorphins I get from it.

One doesn’t need to be in physical shape to be a musician- unless you are in a marching band or act out onstage like Mick Jagger. But for me, when I am in better physical fitness my playing improves, my attitude toward my music is better, and I have better endurance. I know I am not alone in this. A quick Google search will find all kinds of articles about fitness for musicians.

Bill Plake is a musician and fitness person. He has this to say:
It’s not as if you can’t play well if you’re not physically fit (lots of very unfit virtuosi out there). It’s just that you might do better if you stay fit. … Exercising regularly improves your mood, your memory, learning and processing information…your overall mental acuity.
In my experience as a teacher, I find that students who are physically fit tend to have better concentration, efficiency and endurance in their musical practice as well (again, there are exceptions to this observation). (Link)
He reminds anyone who is new to exercise to make sure you have some kind of medical approval, that you take it easy at first, that you make sure you are doing balanced fitness exercises (see below), and use a trainer, at least to get started. Some of the things I have learned about why this is important.
◦ Utilizing all types of fitness= balanced fitness. Balance is one of the key words of life. If we go to extremes, trying to hard can be just as bad as not trying enough. Balance can help keep us focused.

◦ Working on a variety of fitness areas can do things like helping in holding the instrument longer and with more steadiness or the endurance that can give you the ability to play for longer periods (not counting the embouchure)

◦ Working on the core and strengthening the abs=better support of body- and of air. The abs help keep the back supported, not to mention that diaphragm breathing is important.
Let’s look at the four types of exercise and fitness that the NIH lists on their website and their ideas behind them. (Link)


Endurance or aerobic, activities increase your breathing and heart rate. They keep your heart, lungs, and circulatory system healthy and improve your overall fitness. Building your endurance makes it easier to carry out many of your everyday activities. Endurance exercises include:
**Brisk walking or jogging
**Yard work (mowing, raking, digging)

For musicians, as I have said, endurance helps sustain you through longer playing times, allows better lung capacity for playing wind instruments, keeps one mentally sharper since exhaustion doesn’t come as quickly.

Strength exercises make your muscles stronger. They may help you stay independent and carry out everyday activities, such as climbing stairs and carrying groceries. These exercises also are called “strength training” or “resistance training.” Strength exercises include:
**Lifting weights
**Using a resistance band
**Using your own body weight

Strength for musicians is the ability to utilize the muscles at a higher level of performance. That supports the ability to increase endurance.

Balance exercises help prevent falls, a common problem in older adults. Many lower-body strength exercises will also improve your balance. Balance exercises include:
**Standing on one foot
**Heel-to-toe walk
**Tai Chi

Balance is my biggest problem. Due to nerve and muscle weakness from some back issues, I work at trying to gain better balance. I’m not sure I could pass a field sobriety test- and I haven’t had any alcohol to drink in over 30 years! It is important for me, and what I think has been happening is that I am finding ways to compensate for the balance issues in the other areas of fitness. Hence the need to have a broad range of fitness exercises!

Flexibility exercises stretch your muscles and can help your body stay limber. Being flexible gives you more freedom of movement for other exercises as well as for your everyday activities, including driving and getting dressed. Flexibility exercises include:
**Shoulder and upper arm stretch
**Calf stretch

Flexibility is also a state of mind. Musicians need to have the flexibility to play different styles, under different circumstances, with different people. The ability to go with the flow is supported by the flexibility of the body.

I guess I would sum this up with the broader idea that hat happens with the body can happen with the mind. Look at the above as mental supports as well as physical.

Take it easy if you are going to start exercising, don’t expect overnight miracles. Find one of the many fitness centers that are all around and find a trainer who will guide you. The changes will show up if we do.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Buddy's War #33 Patriotic Music

Back in July I posted about the popular music of 1944 and its place in the home culture during the war. It is interesting to note that there were two ways music added to the war culture. One was the popular music. Some of the pop songs were aimed at the moods and emotions of wartime and others were the tunes heard by the troops as reminders of home and those they were missing. Since 1941 these included reminders and longings of everyone:

Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (1941)

Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree (1942)
American Patrol (1942)
Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition (1942)

I’ll Be Home for Christmas (1943)

G.I.Jive (1944)
Sentimental Journey (1944)

Other pieces were written by “classical” and other composers to inspire and uphold the values of the United States. They were not pop culture as much as they were ways of maintaining the morale of those at home.  One example is Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man (1942).

One song has inspired me since the first time I played it in band more than 50 years ago. It was based on a war-related song written long before World War II- When Johnny Comes Marching Home. According to Wikipedia it was “a popular song from the American Civil War that expressed people's longing for the return of their friends and relatives who were fighting in the war…. [It]was immensely popular and was sung by both sides of the American Civil War." (Link)

Morton Gould (1913-1996) was an American composer, conductor, arranger, and pianist. He did everything from symphonies to Broadway. His range and ability to cross styles and genres made him a remarkable musician. In World War II he was called upon to write a piece for inspiration to America. He chose When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again and titled it, American Salute. I have played it countless times and it never fails to move me. Here, talking about his ability, is a description from a U.S. Marine Band booklet on Gould.

Nowhere is [his skill] more evident than in his iconic “American Salute,” based on the tune “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.” Written in 1942 in the early days of World War II, it was composed at the request of a government radio program producer who wanted a “salute to America.” The composer insisted that he had no idea that the work was destined to become a classic: “It was years before I knew it was a classic setting. What amazes me is that critics say it is a minor masterpiece, a gem. To me, it was just a setting. I was doing a million of those things.” A million may be an exaggeration, but not by much. The pace of Gould’s schedule in those days is astounding. By his own account he composed and scored “American Salute” in less than eight hours, starting at 6 p.m. the evening before it was due (with copyists standing by), and finishing at 2 a.m. Although the ink couldn’t have been dry, the score and parts were on the stands in time for rehearsal the next morning and ready for broadcast that evening. (Link)

Throughout the years I have been researching, reading, and writing on my Dad and World War II, I have attempted to keep the music and atmosphere of the times in mind. Beula, my grandmother, talked very little about the popular culture of the day simply, at times, mentioning that they went to "a show." Underneath it all was often the music of the day. As I listen I can feel the connection of culture, longings and fears, and the hopes of those times 75 years ago.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Tuning Slide 5.11- Interview a Musician: Yourself

Weekly Reflections on Life and Music

Courage doesn’t happen when you have all the answers. It happens when you are ready to face the questions you have been avoiding your whole life.
― Shannon L. Alder

I came across a post a few weeks ago that was aimed at journalists who were to interview musicians. It was a good list of questions to ask in order to write the story you were assigned. As I looked at it I realized that it was also a good list that could be used by the musician to review where they are and what some goals might be. They might not all apply to you or me in particular, but the idea is good.

First, the list of questions from the post:
▪ What drew you to the music industry?
▪ Who are you inspired by?
▪ Please explain your creative process
▪ What’s an average day like for you?
▪ Is there a hidden meaning in any of your music?
▪ Do you collaborate with others? What is that process?
▪ Please discuss how you interact with and respond to fans
▪ What is your favorite part about this line of work? Your least favorite? Why?
▪ Have you ever dealt with performance anxiety?
▪ Tell me about your favorite performance venues
▪ What advice would you have for someone wanting to follow in your footsteps? (Link)

To the list I would add, for personal reflection:
▪ What area(s) need(s) to be worked on?
▪ Where do I hope to be in the next year?

Me? Well, I’m glad you asked. Here are some of the things I discover by using some of these questions to interview myself.

▪ What drew you to music?
⁃ I don’t remember any time when I was not drawn to music. It almost comes naturally. I like most music and love some even more. It might have been the piano in the den or the old 78 rpm vinyl records in my grandpa’s record cabinet. Sheet music of “Show Me the Way to Go Home” and “Yes, We Have No Bananas” was fun. Records of “Tennessee Waltz” and “Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania” were almost magnetic. I took piano lessons in the 3rd and 4th grades but was kind of bored. Then came the trumpet in 8th grade- and I haven’t looked back!

▪ Who are you inspired by?
Today- My mentor and teacher, Bob Baca; Doc Severinsen who is still going strong at 92-years old and Herb Alpert at 82; John Raymond, friend and up and coming trumpet player! Historically- Al Hirt, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, among many.

What’s an average day like for you? (I revise that to What’s My Practice Routine?)
⁃ With very few exceptions, due usually to a way to busy schedule some days, I play the horn every day. Generally, it is in several parts:
⁃ Warm-up time of 30-45 minutes. This usually starts with long tones done mindfully. I have discovered that using my mindfulness training as the foundation of the long tones, I can be far better at centering and locking-in the sounds. It settles me into the music and allows me to hear better. I will talk about this a little more in two weeks. That is usually the first 10 minutes then I move to some form of scales and Arban/Getchell-type exercises done slowly(!) with a sense of flow. After another 10 minutes or so I may work on a few of these with a little more speed and take them up an octave.
⁃ I may then spend time at that time or later on jazz scales and simple improvisation.
⁃ Work on pieces on the playlist for one of the groups I play in. This is usually at a time later in the day and might be anywhere from 20-40 minutes.
⁃ Rehearsing with the groups, usually 3 evenings a week. If not I will work on etudes, Arban exercises, extended jazz improvisation.
⁃ All together on any given day my playing may be from anywhere around 40 minutes minimum to upwards of 2 - 3 hours.

▪ What is your favorite part about this line of work? Your least favorite? Why?
⁃ The favorite is all about the playing. First, it’s the mindfulness/centering that starts my musical day. It focuses me for the day. When I don’t do it in the morning, I feel somewhat disconnected. Second, it’s the sound and the melodies moving through the horn. Third, it’s the opportunity to be part of groups that make music together, which is often a great deal more than the sum of the parts.
⁃ The least favorite is musicians who don’t focus. It can be very difficult to play in a group of any size if those around me aren’t focused. I don’t mean people who haven’t reached a level of ability, yet. Many of these do focus and are working at improving. But whining and not paying attention to what is happening around them is frustrating to those around them! (Not that I’m perfect at that. It is easy to get distracted and unfocused. But I am learning through my mindful playing of long tones that playing music in and of itself can bring that focus.

Let’s bring it to the goals, now. I put all these things together to realize what and who I would like to become, musically.
✓ First, looking at my last section, I probably need to work on some tolerance. Maybe I can start with myself and accept my own shortcomings in a non-judgmental way that allows me to relax about it and toward others.
✓ Second, to improve my practice routine and be a bit more consistent with the mindfulness part. That will continue the “wiring” of my brain in healthy ways to the playing of music. Slowing down and paying better attention to that simple action will help. (Again, I will talk more about this in a post in two weeks.)
✓ Third, in the next year, I want to move my jazz improvisation (and comfort level) beyond the blues or simple jazz changes. I have been moving toward some slightly more complicated changes, thanks to iReal Pro, but I have a ways to go. More consistent and intentional work needs to be done.
✓ Fourth, the flow studies need to be built upon. Slotting into the correct note without all kinds of movement and slipping is one of my current focus points. That, along with the fingering exercises that help that happen, may be the most important technical work I need to work on to move to a new level of musicianship. Altogether, all three of these will improve my “ear” and tone, part of that new level.

How about you? Take some time this week to interview yourself and see what needs you can identify- while all the time remembering what it was, and is, that draws you each day to your music!