Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Tuning Slide 5.29- Experience the Music

Weekly Reflections on Life and Music

Music is forever; music should grow and mature with you,
following you right on up until you die.
— Paul Simon

I have talked before about the impact of music on musicians- or at least on this musician. It has been known to happen in a rehearsal that I get so caught up in allowing the music to flow around and through me that I lose my place. That happens especially in concert band music since there are more than a few times in any concert when the trumpets are resting and other interesting things are happening around the band.

One thought when playing a more famous and familiar piece from some well-known composer is the honor I am having by playing the piece. My part may be as simple as some moving accompaniment line that few will hear separate from the whole or it could be the wondrous melody line played by the whole section. It doesn’t matter- it is still participating in something that has been around for years or centuries and here I am in that same line of musicians privileged to be able to play it.

One particular concert I remember was one where the director chose a complete concert of numbers by George Gershwin. I have been in love with his music since 9th grade when in music appreciation class the teacher played the opening of "American in Paris". From the moment I heard the “traffic noise” and the mood of the crowds in the street, I was hooked. Over the years I have played a number of arrangements of his works. A whole concert with selections was almost more than I could bear.

“I am playing Gershwin,” would go through my mind as we rehearsed. “This is immortal music,” was my next thought. I was in awe and the music flowed. That concert was one of the more enduring memories I have of playing music. To be able to actually be part of making the music was in itself a significant life moment. I probably am still working from the store of endorphins from that one concert alone. It went far beyond just playing music, it was experiencing the music from within.

I love going to concerts as a listener. It can anywhere from bluegrass to blues, Mozart to Mahler. It can be ensembles or wind bands or brass bands. At one concert last week I was being moved by the music and, as I am often led to do, I closed my eyes. My wife thought I was falling asleep and nudged me. I later explained to her that when music like that is at work I will close my eyes so I can shut out the extraneous “noise” and sensory input from vision. I need to allow the music to do what only music an do. I describe it in four words.

• Music Moves.
Music is not static. It doesn’t just sit there. Even when I am practicing and playing long tones, no note ever remains still. I visualize it leaving me as I hold that “whisper G” and heading out the bell. Music is sound, of course, which means it is made up of waves, moving waves. The music is coming at you- or if I’m playing- moving away from me. When it doesn’t seem to move, when it might be blah or nondescript we can often say that the music didn’t “move me.” But most of the time there is, I believe, a sensory but unconscious awareness that music is movement. But it is, I believe, a special movement that our brains are made to pick up as unique and important.

• Music Flows.
What that movement is can be called “flow.” We use that word to describe a state of being that we can experience. We can be “in the flow” as psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi called that special state of being energized and focused resulting in creativity, enhanced learning, peak performance, and life happiness. I believe there is a correlational and causal relationship between music and “flow” because it can often be a flowing movement. Some compositions naturally do not “flow”, or more to the point may actually interrupt flow for good reasons. But even a martial march often gives a flow to the movement forward. As a result of that movement of flow, I often sense that the music is surrounding me, moving past me, circling back and coming toward me again.
This may be why when a band is playing in a “dull” room where the sound is lost and never seems to come back, you lose the sense of flow. The music seems to leave the end of the horn and kind of drop somewhere out there. Sure it is still music and it can, I am sure, have an impact. But in the right place at the right time with the right movement, music is an unstoppable force.

• Music Infuses.
Simply put, this means that music gets inside us, into what I could call our psyche, our soul, our spirit. It is not just something outside of us, it becomes part of us. Even people who may be “tone deaf” or can’t carry a tune in a bucket can still have this happen. When the movement of music connects with the energy within us, they interact in either harmony or discord. Sometimes the music provides the discord, sometimes our lives produce it. But in that interaction, the music as waves become part of the energy of our lives. Some of that may be in the production of the hormone oxytocin- the feel-good hormone- that can help improve our sense of well-being. This is far beyond the limits of what I am talking about, but they are in some ways interconnected.

• Music Transforms.
Finally, through the movement, the flow, the infusing spirit and release of oxytocin, music transforms us. This may be why music is often seen and utilized by protest movements to energize their supporters and by the powers-that-be to combat such movements. The transformation of music as an expression of emotions, desires, anger, or hope is often irresistible. Musicologist Ted Gioia, famous for many great writings on jazz, has a recent book simply called Music that explores this from our primitive pre-historic music to contemporary movements.

I have discovered that when I play music these same things can happen to me. I am never the same when I am doing practicing. I am never the same when I am done playing a concert or another gig. When practicing I am learning to experience the movement and flow, the infusion and transformation in my own life and how to join with it in my playing. When I am rehearsing with a group, I am finding the ways that we as a group can move and flow and together, interacting with each other in some kind of synchronization so we can perform it for others. Finally, when I am performing I am taking what I have learned and experienced in the practice room and rehearsal hall and giving it as a gift from me to the audience.

So, my advice- pay attention whenever you are making music, even if the music is on the radio or coming from your computer speakers. Pay attention and, at times, you will discover that you are part of this amazing transformation that music provides.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Buddy's War #51- With Skill and Daring

    •    Monday 19 February
Got up at 9.30. Gee it is so lonesome. So I am not doing much. Wrote to Buddy and Dora.
Diary, Beula Keller Lehman

Field orders # 11 and 16 were now implemented. The 10th Armored and the 94th Infantry Divisions were set to make their coordinated attack. The 10th had been at Metz for nine days. The headquarters would not remain that long in any place again until the end of the war. By the 19th were in Apach, FR, just across the French/German border from Perl. They were to take the Saar-Moselle Triangle.

On Monday, 19 Feb 1945: In spite of some of their numbers on furlough in Paris, the advanced troops left at 1800 that evening and some raced as much as 75 miles to begin the attack the next morning at 0700. The 94th had already done its job and all was set for the 10th to roll through.

    ✓    Company C Morning Report
    ✓    20 February 1945

Left Metz, France, at 0001 via motor convoy. Traveled 25 miles to Metrich, France. Arrived 045. Supporting CC B. Billeted troops (MR)
 This movement of Company C was overnight, six hours behind the first troops of the Tenth, in order to be in position. They would be 7 miles from Perl as the attack began at 0700 on 20 February- just shy of three hours after Company C arrived in Metrich.

Nichols in Impact! says:
Now the preliminary rounds were over. In the course of the next few days, the 10th Armored Tigers were to overrun the Saar-Moselle Triangle- one of the most heavily fortified areas in the world- and capture the important supply and communications center of Trier, oldest city in Germany. This battle operation was performed with skill and daring, and it brought praise to the Tigers from all quarters as General George S. Patton, in open admiration, termed this battle “one of the war’s most audacious operations.”
Company C was assigned to Combat Command B (CC B) at this point and much of the first attacks appear to have been made by CC A and CC R. Company C remained at Metrich on the 20th and then moved into Germany the next day.

    ✓    Company C Morning Report
    ✓    21 February 1945
Convoy departed Metrich 1015 and traveled 7 miles to Perl, Germany. Arrived 1325. Entered Germany 1320. Set up clearing station and billeted troops. Roads muddy. Weather clear. Morale of troops excellent. (MR)
Also on the 21st according to Nichols, General Patton visited the Division HQ. He studied the maps and the situation and ordered them to “cross the Saar and take Trier.” Nichols continued

When Patton returned to his Third Army Headquarters that night, he phoned SHAEF and got permission to do what he had already done, in committing the Tenth Armored Division across the Saar.
By the end of the day on 21 February, the Tenth had penetrated “northward almost to the junction of the Saar and Moselle.” The press communique, written originally by Nichols, goes on:
During the two days, the 10th Armored Division has captured 23 towns and approximately 1250 prisoners and has occupied approximately 85 square miles of German soil.
Resistance encountered in the second day of the 10th Armored’s drive consisted of mine, roadblocks, small arms fire, and craters in the road.
    •    Thursday, Feb 22
Got up at 10-. Did not do much. Wrote to Buddy. Ruth called. Baked a cherry pie.
Diary, Beula Keller Lehman

Province, in Patton’s Third Army, lists the work of the 10th during this time:
2/22 Reducing Moselle Triangle and destruction of German artillery
2/23 Expanded bridgeheads
2/24 Building bridges and increasing size
Both CC A and CC B managed a quick crossing at Taben, in essence bringing the Saar-Moselle Triangle to an end. In his communique on 25 February Nichols told the press:
The Tenth Armored completely cleared the Saar Moselle Triangle in four days of slashing attacks, thus setting the stage for new offensives east of the Saar.
Halted temporarily at Ayl, above Saarburg, where enemy fire repeatedly prevented construction of a pontoon bridge, the Tenth Armored nevertheless resumed its offensive. Elements of age Tenth were ferried across the Saar Thursday night [22 Feb], under heavy artillery, machine gun and sniper fire. … During the late afternoon and night on Saturday, [24 Feb] three armored infantry battalions of the Tenth had been transported across to the vicinity of Ockfen.
More action will occur as the Tenth heads to capture Trier over the next several days. The Tenth was in Germany and would remain there for the rest of the war.

    •    Saturday, Feb 24
Got up at 9.30. Went to the store. Did not do anything all day.
Diary, Beula Keller Lehman

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Tuning Slide #5.28- Improvising- Need to Know

Weekly Reflections on Life and Music

What all my years in improvisation have taught is that - if you’re going to grow as a performer - you have to try some new things. You’ve got to be willing to take a few risks.
— Jack McBrayer

Last week I riffed on my thoughts about improvisation. It is something that I have wrestled with for years and only recently have begun to feel some very amateurish progress. For me, improvising is how I face life- or more to the point- it is really how many of us live life. We face daily diversions and things that are not part of our plans. Wing it! Take it and improvise. As I often do when working on a subject I went Googling my way around the Internet and found a post by Eric on the web site Jazz Advice: Inspiration for Innovators. It was 20 Things Every Improviser Should Know. I went through and picked out the nine things that caught my attention. My thoughts are in italics.

◆ Keep going back to the fundamentals
When it comes to improvisation, your improvement stems from the basic building blocks of musicianship…. Start by building a solid foundation of technique, ear training, and language and go from there.

I am amazed at how much going back to the fundamentals of trumpet playing has helped me. They are part of my daily routine. It is easy to skip when I want to work on something new or different. I better not. It’s almost as unhealthy as skipping the day’s practice.

◆ Talent is great, but skill and perseverance win every time
A natural affinity or ability for something is great, but to succeed at improvisation you need to tirelessly develop your skills day in and day out.

Daily practice. What a concept. And what’s more, it actually works- if done with plans and goals and direction!

◆ The process of improvisation seems like magic
It looks like divine inspiration when people are on stage creating these amazing improvised solos out of thin air. The truth is, this is all just an illusion to the untrained eye (and ear)… When you hear a great solo, you’re really hearing the result of hours upon hours in the practice room…. Anyone that sounds great has definitely put in the time.

I still remember the first time I realized that all those great solos on all the great jazz recordings were improvised. Wow!!! Then to listen to a live performance recording of one of these great numbers and find that it is significantly longer with a different solo- Double Wow!!

◆ Improvisation can be as serious or fun as you want it to be
Take a look at your musical goals. If you want to be a great improviser then practicing, transcribing, and listening to music should be at the top of your daily priorities…. However, if you just want to get enjoyment out of being creative every now and then, practicing on weekends may satisfy you. It can be whatever you want it to be! Just make sure that your practice time and commitment reflects the goals you’re setting for yourself.

Again and again, have goals. Be intentional. Have a vision for your life in music!

◆ Practicing is about notes and rhythms, improvising is about life
The things you do in the practice room are important for your playing. These practice habits and acquired skills will give you technique and knowledge, but you still need to have something personal to say when you improvise. To do this, get out of the practice room and live. Experience everything that you can and then bring this into your playing, communicate this with your audience.

It has taken me a number of years to get out of the practice room with my improvising. I have been doing it in relatively safe ways- but I’m doing it and that means it will improve.

◆ There’s always room for improvement
The musicians that we love to listen to were always looking for ways to improve and evolve. It’s as if they were never quite satisfied with themselves musically…. find a way to improve your playing on a daily basis. This becomes hard once you’ve made some progress and begin to feel confident in your abilities; you become complacent and lose your drive, but don’t stop there. Every day, strive to get to that next level.

Perhaps the most obvious bit of information in this post. When I get complacent, it is almost as unhealthy as (1) not practicing and (2) skipping the fundamentals.

◆ Quality over quantity is the name of the game
Don’t rush through the elements of your practice routine. … Rushing through your practice will only leave you in the same place where you began.

Take the time and be focused- intentional- about what you do. If all I do is put in the time without it being quality time- I will never reach quality music.

◆ Keep an open mind
Your perspective can change in an instant, your ears are continually evolving, and your goals in music will inevitably shift. That player that you couldn’t make sense of may become your new favorite improviser after a little study. You never know what can happen so be open to new experiences and keep the door open to new musical possibilities.

I have been working on digging into some of the more difficult pieces from Miles Davis. ("Bitches Brew" comes to mind.) They are in a language I have difficulty understanding. Some of Coltrane’s "A Love Supreme" fits that as well. I keep listening and am finding it very helpful. They help new connections be made in my jazz brain which leads to a better understanding of the world around me. Not an exaggeration!

◆ You gotta love it
If you don’t love this music, you’re not going to be successful – plain and simple. Every time you hear your favorite records you should be reminded of why you do this. The sound should excite you, the swing should give you hope, and it all should give you the determination to continue pursuing the music you love.

I love music. I love jazz music. I love playing music. Even long tones and scales for twenty minutes can change the way my day is going. Why would I want to stop?

(The basis of this post’s information on the things improvisers need to know- 
Copyright ©2019 Jazzadvice)

Buddy's War #50- Back to the War

Since mid-January, the 10th had been in reserve in Third Army territory. The Third Army was made up of III, VIII, XII, and XX Corps. It was mostly in a “mopping up” role from the Bulge. Meanwhile, planning had been in progress to resume the drive toward the Rhine that had been stalled with the German attack in the Ardennes. Patton was worried that his Third Army might be left behind. Nathan Prefer in Patton’s Ghost Corps says that one thing Patton did not want to do was “follow any other Army into Germany.”

The XX Corps was the only one of the four corps of the Third Army that was not engaged. They were the corps who, prior to the Bulge, had been significant in clearing the way into the fortress city of Metz and gave Patton a much-needed boost of ego. It was during that time that they came to be known as “The Ghost Corps.” The name came from POW interrogations where the  German prisoners referred to them in that way. As Prefer reports it, they “moved so fast and so often that the Germans couldn’t keep track of them.”

Now in early 1945, the XX Corps was made up of the 90th and 95th Infantry Divisions and the unattached 10th Armored sitting in reserve for refitting and regrouping after their rough time in the Bulge. To use the 10th as part of the XX Corps, approval was needed from SHAEF, Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces, i.e. Eisenhower. If they were to take the Saar-Moselle Triangle, much convincing would need to be done.

The Triangle was a small portion of the old German defensive line known as the Siegfried Line. A change was made in this area from Tier in the north down the triangle formed by the Saar and Moselle Rivers. The movement of war had formed the triangle and Patton needed to break it and capture Trier.

Throughout early February there were some skirmishes, attacks, and counter-attacks by other units. Due to being somewhat under-armed and understaffed, they were unable to bring the full resources to bear. Little significant progress was made. Nathan Prefer in Patton’s Ghost Corps says  “what gains were made was thanks to the skill and daring of the infantry, engineers, and artillerymen.

By mid-month decisions were being made both at SHAEF and in the Third Army. XX Corps would be going into action. The Tigers of the 10th Armored would be going with them. It was time to move back toward the war.

Company C of the 80th Medical will be assigned in support of CC B all month. They had been in Eschwiller since January 20. The Division had been in the territory of the Seventh Army. On 9 February they were ordered to move back to Patton, the Third Army and the XX Corps.

    •    Saturday February 10, 1945
Got up at 9.30. Went to the store. Did not feel so good. Came home and did not do anything
Diary, Beula Keller Lehman

    ✓    Company C Morning Report
    ✓    9-10 February 1945

9 Feb: Left Eschwiller at 1900. Traveled 39 miles via motor convoy enroute to Metz, France. Weather fair.
10 Feb: Convoy arrived Solgne, France at 0035 and billeted troops.
Departed Solgne and traveled 17 miles to Metz. Arrived 1250. Set up clearing station and billeted troops.

    •    Tuesday, February 13, 1945
Got up at 9.30. Did not do much. Called a taxi and went up and had my hair washed It is snowing.
Diary, Beula Keller Lehman

This movement was meant to be a stealth move for the Division. Company C left Eschwiller at 7:00 in the evening, were billeted just after midnight and started out again about 12 hours after arriving. Nichols, in Impact! reports that the return to Metz was surrounded by secrecy to keep the Germans from being aware of the movement. They removed all ID from the tanks and troops. When the leading forces arrived in the city which they had helped conquer in November they found a French boy with a sign:

Welcome back to Metz 10th Armored Tigers. 

They were the only Division remaining from the first assault on the Saar-Moselle Triangle in November-December 1944. This time, Nichols says, they would “set a model for tank-infantry teamwork.”

Charles Province in Patton's Third Army: A Chronology Of The Third Army Advance In World War II, described this time for the Division as :
12 Feb 1945- The 10th closed into the area around Metz
15 Feb 1945- The 10th continued rehab and training
18 Feb 1945- The 10th began movement to near the front to an assembly area
Prefer reports in Patton’s Ghost Corps that the decision was made by 16 February that the Allies would bring their full strength against the Germans on the morning 19 February.  This was issued in Field Order # 11. The 10th Armored would be used together with the 94th Infantry Division (which had replaced the 95th Infantry Division) as ordered in

Field Order#16- Clear the triangle!

The 10th was ordered to move and assemble at Perl on the left flank along the Moselle River. They were given three different plans depending on such items as advances, weather, and the development of bridgeheads. Be there and ready by 20 February. Since the 10th had been resting for less than a week behind the lines, they actually had a number of their troops on leave in Paris. They had to be quickly rounded up to return.

They were about to go back to war.

    •    Sunday, February 18, 1945

Got up at 9.30. Got dinner. It was a nice day. Ruth and I had a nice time. She left at 6. Called at 9.00 from the station
Diary, Beula Keller Lehman

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Buddy's War #49- Surprises in the Earlier Story

We are about to enter a very busy period in the activities of the 10th Armored Division and the 80th Medical Battalion. This post, though, is a momentary jump back to before they were in Europe and the uncovering of more mysteries from my dad's army years. I should have known there would be more. There are many skirmishes and battles in the whole of Buddy’s war.

Since I have been digging into things that happened before I was born to people who have been gone for over 55 years, there are more than enough unknowns to fill several volumes. I have no letters, one person’s diaries, hardly any pictures from the time before the war. There are a couple from my dad’s high school, a profile in a college yearbook, bits and pieces of the family story. But nothing else of any substance.

Even from the years I am covering through my grandmother’s diary there are so many blank spots, most big enough to drive a Sherman tank through. But as has been said, one does not know what one doesn’t know. Which is why I still dig, still keep looking for new information.

I did some of that through a researcher in St. Louis who was recommended to me from a mentor. I wondered what might be in the National Archive in St. Louis from back there in 1942-43 that I had not yet discovered. The unit Morning Reports for the companies of the 80th Armored Medical Battalion were out there. Was my dad in there somewhere?

I was shocked when some things were found. In these I found information that I hadn’t seen any hints of in Beula’s diary entries. Maybe I should have.

This series of events started at Christmas, 1942. Buddy was in Georgia with the 80th Medical. It was only a few months since he had been activated in August and assigned to the 10th Armored at Fort Benning, GA. Then that December Beula says in her diary that she was “looking for” him on Christmas Eve. Did he say he was coming home? Just that one little statement.

    •    Looking for Harold

The next day, Christmas Day, she reports that she

    •    Looked for Harold. I am disappointed.”

He didn’t show up. When I first read that a couple years ago I just assumed it was a mother wanting to see her son who was now in the Army- wishful thinking that he would come all the way from Georgia for Christmas. But with no advanced warning? It didn’t make sense because it didn’t say she missed him being home or that she wished he was there. There was action in it- she was looking. I passed it by.

In the information from St. Louis, however, I found something intriguing that may be connected. The morning report for 24 Dec 1942 from HQ Company, where he was assigned at that time, for T/5th Lehman:

    •    DY to Hosp. (Duty to hospital.)

What? It looks like he was one of five from the company who went from duty to hospital in a five day period that month.

Move forward to January 14 and Beula comments in her diary that she has received a letter from Harold and that he

    •    might be home soon.

Two weeks later, 28 January, the Morning Report records that

    •    T/5 Lehman hospital to DY.

Apparently he was in the hospital these entire five weeks.

Okay, he’s back to duty? But there's more.

Also on January 28, when he went from hospital to duty, Beula says in her diary that Harold is in Atlanta, which is two hours north of Fort Benning. She says that he is traveling home and

    •    Gee, I’m nervous.

On the 29th she says that he is
    •    delayed in Washington

and then on the 30th that he arrived home. I do not have the Morning Report pages for January 29-31 so I do not have confirmation of “duty to furlough” at this time. But on 12 February I find in the Morning Report that

    •    Tech 5th grade Lehman fur to DY.

That correlates with Beula’s diary from the day before,  February 11, that he left to return to Georgia.

Once again, he’s back on duty? Once again, it appears not to have been the whole story.

    •    MR for 13 Feb 43
Tech 5th grade Lehman duty to abs in hands of civil authorities.

Six weeks later:
    •    Beula’s diary entry for March 23 1943
Harold called. Gee, I was glad to hear from him and to hear everything was O.K.

Then, after about 40 days:
    •    MR for 25 Mar 43
T/5 Lehman fr conft in hands of C Auth to dy.

So here I am today, mere months from the end of the war in Europe and I am quickly transported back to Dad’s first six months in the battalion. In that period he has been promoted twice, from Private to Private First Class to Tech 5th Grade, a specialist rank equal to corporal. But he has also been in the hospital for over a month followed immediately by furlough for two weeks and then immediately absent into the hands of civil authorities, obviously for confinement for over six weeks.

Are there no end to the surprises?

To be clear, I do not have all the diary entries in front of me. All I have are the ones I entered into the timeline that at the time seemed different or out of the ordinary. I will have to wait to get home to look these dates up and see what else was around them. But let me do some reflecting and ask a whole set of questions, in addition to “What the hell is this all about?”

Here goes.
  • Why was Beula “looking for Buddy” to come home on that Christmas Eve when I am aware of no indication that he had said he was? That needs to be verified, of course. That this is the day he goes to the hospital is interesting.
  • Why was he in the hospital? That there were four other members of the company in the hospital at the same time may be an indication of some flu or other bug going around. Since I do not have all the morning report pages, just the ones that mention Buddy, I don’t know when the others went back to duty.
  • He wrote to Beula, obviously, it seems, from the hospital, and she mentions it at almost exactly the half-way point in his hospital stay. No apparent mention in his letter about even being in the hospital.
  • His return to duty from the hospital seems to be on the same day Beula gets a call from him in Atlanta. Was that where he was in the hospital?
  • Was he delayed in Washington the very next day? He is most likely on furlough since he returns from furlough, according to the Morning Report, on February 12. It is unlikely that he was AWOL. I may just be missing the pages that might give some hint.
  • One tiny bit of intrigue from his furlough at home was that there was one night when he didn’t come home. That was, of course, an old pattern of his as I have mentioned in earlier posts from that time period. Was this perhaps Buddy’s last “fling” before the next issue arises a few days later?
  • But then the big surprise, his being in the hands of “civilian authorities” for what would later be called “conft”, confinement. It does not say where this confinement was. One assumes in nearby Columbus or further? No hints, no family lore, nothing to go by in anything I have or have ever heard. Beula seems relieved when she hears from him again in March a few days before he is returned to duty from civil authorities. She was “glad… that everything was ok.” What role might have this played in who Buddy became? It didn’t seem to have an impact on his status in the Army.
Maybe we can call them skeletons in the old closet, or maybe I have overlooked something, or maybe it is hidden in some now unavailable letter or report. Time will tell.

When one digs into the unknown, there are always things of interest that pop up.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Buddy's War #48- In the Greater War

While the 10th Armored and 80th Medical Battalion were refitting and recuperating from mid-January until mid-February, there were other events happening. Here are some of them. (Link)

75 Years Ago
January 1945
    19: Hitler orders that any retreats of divisions or larger units must be approved by him.
    20: The Red Army advances into East Prussia. Germans renew the retreat.
        : Franklin D. Roosevelt is sworn in for a fourth term as U.S. President; Harry Truman is sworn in as Vice President.
    25: The American navy bombards Iwo Jima in preparation for an invasion.
    30: The Malta Conference (1945) began with Winston Churchill meeting with the Combined Chiefs of Staff on the Island of Malta in the Mediterranean to plan the end of WWII in both Theaters, and to discuss the ramifications of the Soviets now controlling most of Eastern Europe. President Franklin D. Roosevelt would join the Conference for one day on 2 February 1945; both would fly to Yalta on 3 February for the Yalta Conference with Stalin.
    31: The Red Army crosses the Oder River into Germany and are now less than 50 miles from Berlin.
        : A second invasion on Luzon by Americans lands on the west coast.
75 Years Ago
February 1945
    1: Ecuador declares war on Germany and Japan.
    2: Naval docks at Singapore are destroyed by B-29 attacks.
    3: The Battle of Manila (1945) begins: Forces of the U.S. and Philippines enter Manila. The Manila massacre takes place during the fighting.
      : Heavy bombing of Berlin.
    4: The Yalta Conference of Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin begins; the main subject of their discussions is postwar spheres of influence.
      : Belgium is now cleared of all German forces.
    9: The Colmar Pocket, the last German foothold west of the Rhine, is eliminated by the French 1st Army.
    13/14: The bombing of Dresden takes place; it is firebombed by Allied air forces and large parts of the historic city are destroyed. [Note: the future novelist Kurt Vonnegut was an American POW in Dresden at the time. His novel, Slaughterhouse Five was based on his experiences there during the bombing.]
    14: The 1945 Bombing of Prague: American planes bomb the wrong city.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Buddy's War #47- The Hardest Job?

In a hard war theirs may have been the hardest job of all. But together with Army doctors and Army nurses, [the medics] worked something very close to a miracle in the European theater.
— Stephen Ambrose

Stephen Ambrose in his book, Citizen Soldiers gives a whole chapter to the medical corps, "Medics, Nurses, and Doctors" Buddy was a surgical tech, which I assume meant he was not at the front but behind it in the field surgical hospitals, the forerunners of the M.A.S.H units. Overall, though, the work of all the medics was almost that of miracle workers. Here are some of the reflections from Ambrose.
It wasn’t any different getting killed in World War II than in the Civil War, but if the shrapnel, bullet, or tree limb wounded a GI without killing him, his experience as a casualty was infinitely better. The medical team, from the medics in the field to the nurses and doctors in the tent-city hospitals, compiled a remarkable record. More than 8 percent of the soldiers who underwent emergency operations in a mobile field or evacuation hospital survived. Fewer than 4 percent of all patients admitted to a field hospital died. In the Civil War, it had been more like 50 percent.

Wonder drugs and advanced surgical techniques made the improvements possible, but it was people who had to get the wounded into a hospital before it was too late for the nurses and the drugs and surgeons to do their work. Those people were the medics. (P. 311)

At least to some degree, there were soldiers assigned to the medical units because of a desire to be non-combatants, often “conscientious objectors,” usually for religious reasons. While this was obviously not a common occurrence since the Army had clearly recruited for the medical corps, it still had an impact on some of the impressions of the troops concerning the medics. While Buddy was not, to the best of my awareness, not a conscientious objector, he may have had to face some of this prior to the war. As a trained pharmacist, though not doing that work, he no doubt was assigned to the medical corps for his training. Ambrose addresses this.
The medics had gone through the same training as any infantryman, except for weapons. In training camp, they had been segregated into their own barracks and kept away from the men they were learning to save, apparently for fear of contaminating the real soldiers. The rifle-carrying enlisted men and the medics developed little mutual camaraderie. One lieutenant confessed that he and his platoon “mildly despised” the men of the Medical Corps for being conscientious objectors. Their mere presence cast a moral shadow over what the infantrymen were training to do. The nascent medics were ridiculed, called such names as Pill Pusher, and the tourniquets and bandages they put on imagined wounds in field exercises were joked about. So was their only real work, treating blisters and the like.

But once in combat they were loved. “Overseas,” the medic Buddy Gianelloni recalled, “it became different. They called you Medic, and before you know it, it was Doc. I was nineteen at the time.”

On countless occasions when I have asked a veteran during an interview if he remembered any medics, the old man would say something like “Bravest man I ever saw. Let me tell you about him.. . .” (P. 312)
 Something I had not known was mentioned by Ambrose. As non-combatants, there were certain limitations beyond not carrying any firearms.
To preserve their non-combatant status under the Geneva Convention, the War Department did not give any medics combat pay (ten dollars extra a month) or the right to wear the Combat Infantryman Badge. This was bitterly resented. In some divisions, riflemen collected money from their own pay to give their medics the combat bonus. As for their right to wear the badge, five enlisted medics in the European Theater of Operations (ETO) were awarded the Medal of Honor, and hundreds won Silver or Bronze Stars. (P. 313)
 Overall it seems very clear that the army was bound and determined to keep their GIs alive, even if they weren’t going back to battle.
The remarkable rate of recovery for wounded GIs was based on mass production assembly-line practices. How well it worked, from the medic to the aid station to the field hospital to England, can be judged by the reaction of the men of the front line, who were almost certain to get caught up in the process, with their lives depending on it. As one lieutenant put it, “We were convinced the Army had a regulation against dying in an aid station.” (P. 321)
While Ambrose is referring to the doctors at the end of the chapter, I would guess that the attitude, training, and support of the other medical personnel were as critical to the mental health “treatment” on and near the front lines.
The doctors had to be shrinks as well as surgeons. Some of the patients— as many as 25 percent when the fighting was heavy—were uninjured physically but were babbling, crying, shaking, or stunned, unable to hear or talk. These were the combat exhaustion casualties. It was the doctors’ job to get as many as possible back to normal—and back to the lines—as soon as possible.

In the field hospitals, the American doctors treated the men as temporarily disabled soldiers rather than mental patients, normally categorizing them with the diagnosis “exhaustion.” For the sake of both prevention and cure, the doctors tried to treat such patients as close to the line as possible. Typically the doctors at battalion level kept the exhaustion cases at their aid stations for twenty-four hours of rest, often under sedation. The men got hot food and a change of clothing. For as many as three-quarters of the cases, that was sufficient, and the soldier went back to his foxhole.

Good company commanders already knew that to be the case. Captain Winters of the 101st commented that he learned during the Bulge “the miracle that would occur with a man about to crack if you could just get him out of his fox hole and back to the CP [command post] for a few hours. Hot food, hot drink, a chance to warm up—that’s what he needed to keep going.”

Men who needed more than a quick visit to the CP or battalion aid station were sent back to division medical facilities, where the division psychiatrist operated an “exhaustion center” that could hold patients for three days of treatment. The bulk of these men also returned to the line. Those who had not recovered went on to the neuropsychiatric wards of general hospitals for seven days of therapy and reconditioning. The extreme cases were air-evacuated to the States.

The system worked. Ninety of every hundred men diagnosed as exhaustion cases in the ETO were restored to some form of duty—usually on the line. As they had done with the men wounded by bullets and shrapnel, so the medics, nurses, and docs did for the exhausted casualties: under the worst possible circumstances, superb medical care. (pp. 329-330)
All quotes from-
"Medics, Nurses, and Doctors." Citizen Soldiers by Stephen Ambrose (also online at American Heritage as Medic!)

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Tuning Slide 5.27- Improvising on Improvisation

Weekly Reflections on Life and Music

Improvisation! That’s what I’m about to do. I know that improvisation is kind of like making it up as you go along. But it isn’t built on nothing. I was trying to explain that to a non-musician the other week and it was harder than I thought it would be. (By the way- I will not edit this when I get ready to post it. That would not be true improvisation.)

But improvisation IS based on several things, as I understand it.
  • Background knowledge
  • A structure of some type
  • Personal experiences
  • The mood of the moment.
Beyond that, I am convinced that most of life is improvisation based on those four building blocks. It doesn’t matter what your profession is or what you might happen to be doing at any moment- you make it up as you go along. Or- more formally- you don’t stop and plan every step of every action of everything you do every day. You what comes naturally to you.

As a preacher I built my knowledge on my educational background. From kindergarten on I learned the basics. In college, I learned to think critically. In seminary, I learned the specifics of the faith and the roles of a pastor. I then learned from those the structure of sermons, how to do worship, pastoral care, church administration, etc. Out I went into the world to play my pastoral role. Some sermons were good; others made my wife question my approach. I would sit in a board meeting and wonder what to do next. I would try new ideas and I learned how to think on my feet. I experienced the different moods of different times- one does not sing Christmas hymns during Lent and you don’t go bouncing and smiling at people at a funeral.

Okay- you see where I’m going, I hope. By the time I retired, I didn’t have to look up how to do things. I had a readily available storehouse of knowledge, structures, experiences, and hopefully, the wisdom of doing what fits the situation.

When I first tried improvising on my trumpet, well, it was worse than my early sermons. I knew next to nothing about the theory and practice of jazz music. Sure, I knew it when I heard it, but I had no idea what or how to get there. It took more s study and listening. I discovered the different ways a jazz solo can be built- chords, modes, melodies, chromatics, silence, rhythm. But whenever a chance came up to play an improvised solo, I smiled politely, shook my head, and declined.

Until I couldn’t do that any longer. Shell Lake Adult Big Band Camp pushed me to try it; iReal Pro gave me some structure; the big bands I play in gave me some opportunities; friends gave me suggestions. I stopped being terrified of it. Although still scared I decided to add more experiences, like playing in the praise band at a church during my winter in Alabama where the music is often just the chord changes. Soon I found it was making some sense. Finally.

What then IS improvisation? To sum it up for this post, it is how we live life. It is taking the raw materials of who we are and applying them to what’s in front of us at the moment. What we have done, what we have succeeded- and failed- at, what we are feeling at the moment. These we place on the structure of our days, relationships, and lives.

In the addiction recovery world, there is one of those sayings that is often quoted-
  • Do the next right thing.
That, in a nutshell, is improvisation.

I wish it was as easy as it sounds. One just has to work it!

——— [End of writing improvisation] ———

[Note: The writing was improvised as I said. I did add the formatting I generally use in this blog. That was the structure.]

Next week I will present some of the ideas I found online to add to this general review. Since I was “improvising” in the above section, I didn’t start with a quote at the top. So here’s one to end with. It’s an oldie but goodie that I’ve used before, but if it works, don’t change it.
What we play is life.
— Louis Armstrong

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Tuning Slide #5.26- What You May Not Know

Weekly Reflections on Life and Music

Look, man, all I am is a trumpet player.
— Miles Davis

What you may never have known about the trumpet.

I needed a break from all that serious, professional stuff I’ve been writing about here. So I went digging for trumpet history and trivia. I found it at a couple different sites including 20 Facts about the Trumpet You Should Know and Top 10 Little Known Facts about the Trumpet. I did some editing and came up with these 12:

◆ The trumpet has been around since 1500 BC
The first metal trumpets were made around 1500 BC. Before that, silver and bronze trumpets (or trumpet-like instruments) existed and have been found all over the world, including places like Asia, Scandinavia, and South America. In fact, archeologists found bronze and silver trumpets in King Tut’s grave.

◆ Trumpets contain more than 6 feet of tubing!
Trombones, by the way, have 9 feet of tubing and tubas have between 12 and 16 feet of tubing. Originally, many primitive trumpets were made of wood or even conch shells.

◆ The longest trumpet fanfare line consisted of 91 trumpeters
Ninety-one trumpeters, all in military uniform, played the Wedding Fanfare in England during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. They could be heard all across the city.

◆ The oldest playable trumpet is over 3,000 years old
In 1922, archaeologist Howard Carter discovered a pair of trumpets from King Tut’s tomb. The trumpets are engraved with depictions of Egyptian gods and were made with silver and copper. In 1939, the trumpets were played live and broadcasted through BBC radio.

◆ There is a trumpet-playing robot!
In 2005, Toyota debuted a trumpet-playing robot – and it sounds better than you’d expect! There is also a robot that can play drums and violin.

◆ Trumpets are part of the aerophone family
Aerophones are a type of instrument that uses airflow to vibrate the instrument in order to make a sound. Aerophones are some of the most complex instruments and include trumpets, french horns, oboes, flutes, and other wind instruments.

◆ The trumpet’s cylindrical bore is what gives it its unique and vibrant sound
Essentially, this means that the diameter of the tubing stays the same width throughout its entirety until you get to the bell flare.

◆ A trumpet can play 45 different notes [or many more]
A trumpet might only have three valves, but it can play an impressive range of notes. A B-flat trumpet can play from F#3 to F#6, not counting pedal tones. Did Maynard go higher than that? Of course. According to Yamaha:
But there are ways to produce even higher notes. It’s actually not a question of the highest note that a trumpet can physically produce, but a matter of the highest note that can be played. In fact, performances by skilled musicians often extend up to two octaves higher than the instrument’s “highest” note.
◆ Trumpets are more than “just” musical instruments.
Trumpets are known for being used in bands and orchestras, but they also have a military component. Armies dating back to medieval times have used the trumpet as a signal device because of its loud, rich tone that can be heard over long distances.

◆ They have not always had valves.
The early precursors to the trumpet, cornetto and natural trumpet, didn’t have valves or keys.

◆ They are not the same as cornets or flugelhorns
Unlike the trumpet, cornets and flugelhorns have conical bores. The tubing diameter of these instruments gradually gets larger towards the end of the instrument.

◆ Famous people who (you might not know) played the trumpet
Richard Gere (Actor)
James Wood (Actor)
Steven Tyler (Aerosmith)
Samuel L Jackson (Actor)
Paul McCartney (The Beatles!)
Jayne Mansfield (Actress)
Clint Eastwood (well Flugelhorn anyway!)

Well, to expand my horizons after that, I looked for trivial facts about music and found some at Best Life online in 40 Facts About Music:

These include:
✓ In 2016, Mozart Sold More CDs than Beyoncé
✓ Finland Has the Most Metal Bands Per Capita
✓ The British Navy Uses Britney Spears Songs to Scare Off Pirates (Culture clash)
✓ Barry Manilow Didn't Write "I Write the Songs"
✓ Loud Music Causes You to Drink More in Less Time
✓ Cows Produce More Milk When Listening to Slow Music
✓ Heavy Metal and Classical Music Fans Have Similar Personality Traits (Creative, at ease with themselves, and introverted)
✓ Monaco's Army is Smaller Than Its Military Orchestra
✓ Prince Played 27 Instruments on His Debut Album

And a few from Music Radar just to round things out:
✓ In 1996, Ringo Starr appeared in a Japanese advertisement for apple sauce, which is what "Ringo" means in Japanese.
✓ Pete Townshend has smashed more than 90 guitars in his Who career, including at least 23 Fender Stratocasters, 12 Gibson Les Pauls, and 21 Gibson SGs.

And in case you think I have abandoned the trumpet altogether, a final trivia:

✓ The oldest artist to top the UK singles chart was Louis Armstrong (aged 66 years and 10 months) in 1968 with What A Wonderful World.

“So what?” you ask.
“Why not? I respond.

Here's why?
Trivia questions are very good for your memory. Trivia keeps us smart and engaged. Just like your body benefits from exercise, so does the brain. ... Trivia is great because you are trying to recall information from inside your brain that you don't use a lot.
Being Better Humans
See you next week.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Buddy's War #46- More Prep, More Waiting

    •    January 17, 1945, Wednesday
Got up at 10. Went to the store. Did some cleaning. It is a beautiful day.
Diary, Beula Keller Lehman
Not a great deal happened in January for the 10th as a whole. CC-A and CC-R spent the first 16 days at Metz. During that time, Nichols tells us in Impact!, that
The Division’s battalions, which had been shot up during the Bulge, were considerably strengthened with tough and experienced replacements. Almost all of these fighters came from an airborne division which has participated in a disastrous jump in Holland months before. After recovering from their wounds in hospitals, they were sent to the Tenth and proved to be superb in combat. [While plans for return to action were made,] the rest of the Division was engaged in training the new replacements.
By mid-month, after its historic and heroic defense at Bastogne, CC B had rejoined the Division. The whole 10th Armored then moved to be in a position for the renewed offensive in the Saar-Moselle Triangle. Division HQ moved first from Metz to Dieuze, FR (17 Jan 45) then to Falquemont, FR (22 Jan 45) where they would remain until mid-February. This will be the last time the HQ and troops stay in one spot for more than a week until the end of the war.

Nichols reports:
This time, the elements, not the enemy, made the movement south one of the most difficult ever attempted by the Division. Rain and snow teamed up to send one Tiger vehicle after another off icy roads and into the ditches.
He tells the story of one sergeant who discovered that some simple hand pressure on the side of the tank was helpful It was a “treacherous" 180-degree turn near Falquemont. That pressure was enough to provide the needed traction.

According to the Morning Reports, Buddy’s Company C of the 80th Medical Battalion had been doing “usual organizational duties” both before and after they moved from Metz on 17 January. They ended at Eschwiller on 20 January where they would remain until mid-February.

    ✓    Company C Morning Report
    ✓    17 January 1945

Left Metz 1350. Traveled 38.5 miles via motor convoy to Bezange-la-Grande. Arrived 2230. Roads icy. Weather cloudy, occasional snow flurries. Set up Clearing Station. (MR)

    •    January 20, 1945, Saturday

Got up at 10. Went downtown. Cleaned some and rested for I am tired. Mrs. M____ was in this evening.
Diary, Beula Keller Lehman
    ✓    Company C Morning Report
    ✓    20 January 1945
Left Bezange-la-Grande 1515 and traveled 36 miles via motor convoy to Eschwiller, France. Arrived 2400. Set up clearing station and billeted troops. Roads icy. Weather snow. (MR)

Both of these movements started in the afternoon and lasted well into the night. The pace of around 4 mph was necessitated by weather and road conditions. But I also would guess that part of it was a nighttime movement in order to avoid detection by enemy intelligence. Through this whole time, Co C was assigned to CC-A.

    •    January 23, 1945, Tuesday
Got up at 10. Went to the store. Packed Buddy a box and sent it. Wrote to Buddy, Ruth, and Dora. Father and I went to banquet down at the I.O.O.F. Hall. Had a nice time. Of course I got a pain. Had to take a pill.
Beula, who was 69 at this time, has had some type of health problems for years. In 1940, after Buddy had left home, she spent a month in the hospital in apparently critical condition. Throughout these years in her diaries, she often mentions not feeling well, suffering from some type of pain, feeling tired. She would live another 3 years, dying in January 1948 of a cerebral hemorrhage caused by high blood pressure. I never met her as she died eight months before I was born.

    •    January 31, 1945, Wednesday
Got up at 9:30. Washed and ironed the kitchen curtains. Wrote to Buddy. Had a letter from Buddy. Gee but it is cold today.
Diary, Beula Keller Lehman

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Tuning Slide #5.25- Professional Action

Weekly Reflections on Life and Music

Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.
— Carl Jung

Last week I talked about being a professional or procrastinating? Part of it was based on this article by Mayo Oshin.

There she gave a two-part answer to how to become (and stay) “pro”:

◆ Thou shalt commit to a schedule.
A schedule is simply a pre-commitment to consistently put in your ‘reps’ and hours in your craft. Just like any new habit, your willpower and ability to delay gratification will also affect your consistency levels.

◆ Thou shalt believe that thou art ‘Pro.’
This is why it’s so important to shift your identity. You have the power right now to believe that you’re a professional. [But] To say that you believe you’re a pro isn’t enough because actions speak louder than words. Prove to yourself that you’re really a pro and do the things that a pro would do every day.

I then concluded that I have recently been guilty of procrastination. Being inspired by her directions, I said I needed to answer three final questions from Oshin’s article. So let’s see what happens.

◆ Am I committed to being a professional in any area of my life?
Two old statements I’ve used before came to mind as I worked on this:
  • How you do anything is how you do everything and, from author Annie Dillard,
  • How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.
What these both mean is simple and two-pronged. First, it isn’t in whether I say I want to be professional at something, it’s whether I am truly committed to it. True commitment means action, it means doing the things that lead to becoming professional. I have worked at that over these past 5-6 years and it has been exciting. I know it can be exciting and rewarding to get beyond my amateur mindset because I have done it in my life in other things, namely my careers and my commitment to a recovery lifestyle. I was not- and am not- just playing with those, I am committed to them. I have taken the time to do the preparatory work beyond just the basics. I have worked at improvement on a weekly, even daily basis. If my preaching after 30 years or my counseling after 25 hasn’t improved, well, I have not become professional. I have not done the deliberate practice.

This also says that I have been willing to commit to what is important to me in these areas, then I can do it in other things. I suppose I could do it in everything, but that would take up far more than the standard 24-hour/168-hour week. Other things can be hobbies, interests, likes- but I can’t spend the time to become “pro” in all of them. But I have become a professional, therefore I can do it. It can be how I spend my life. That means I can honestly answer “yes” to the first question. (By the way, it is always a good idea to take some time to reflect on this question about many things. Am I still committed to this particular professional area? Is it still a driving force of my life? That’s why I am still not 100% retired!)

◆ Is there anything holding me back from going pro?
Ah, now the self-reflection needs to get into deep honesty. There can be all kinds of answers to this, some of which might even indicate that one might need to look at NOT becoming “pro” in that area. That’s back at the commitment level. But having answered that question first, we can look at other things. A few that I have discovered over the years and in the past week include:
✓ Fear of failure
✓ Being overcommitted, i.e. not being able to say “No!” to myself or others
✓ Procrastination
✓ Having too many interests and hobbies
✓ Boredom with the mundane routine of every day
✓ Getting easily distrac… Squirrel
✓ Procrastination
✓ Self-Esteem
✓ Putting off until tomorrow what I should be doing today. (Procrastination!)

When I reach a procrastination point, that does not mean that I am in failure mode. It usually means that in one or more areas I am at a “stuck-point” or a “plateau.” When I move to the next question I can begin to put these in some order of what must be done while the stuck-point or the plateau is happening.

◆ What can I do to create the schedule and identity of a pro?
Now, the whole quote from Annie Dillard hits just as hard as the initial quote we usually hear.
How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time. A schedule is a mock-up of reason and order—willed, faked, and so brought into being; it is a peace and a haven set into the wreck of time; it is a lifeboat on which you find yourself, decades later, still living.
So last week I sat down and did the first step of a schedule, I made a list of the different projects and areas of my days (how I live my life!) and listed what needs to be done. That helps focus me, ease my distractability. If it’s written down it is less likely to get missed. I don’t call this a “To-Do” list. It is the raw material that tells me what is ahead, what deadlines I have made for myself, and allows me to do some planning of how much time needs to be spent at it. Once I get this I can now begin to think about how I want to do the schedule. I now see the skeleton of the day coming into being. I can put a timeline on some of them. For example, I need to have the Tuning Slide post done every week by Monday evening, latest. I need to take the time every day to practice trumpet. I have a monthly deadline for a book-writing group that requires writing and research. And so on…

That has helped me move beyond the plateau. I can now put some time frames on these. I know how much time I need and want to spend on my music routine. I know how much time I want to give to my physical fitness routine. I know what my different writing gigs will take. That means it’s time to move on. Stop worrying about the stuck-point or procrastination. I have a hunch I needed this time to put these all together in a new perspective.

As yourself, am I doing my “professional” stuff effectively? Am I putting my action and commitment together? Then make the plans- be deliberate. And, well, just do it.

Monday, January 27, 2020

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Birkenau múzeum - panoramio (cropped).jpg

By pzk net, CC BY 3.0, Link
The Auschwitz concentration camp was a complex of over 40 concentration and extermination camps operated by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland during World War II and the Holocaust... The camps became a major site of the Nazis' Final Solution to the Jewish Question.

As the Soviet Red Army approached Auschwitz in January 1945, toward the end of the war, the SS sent most of the camp's population west on a death march to camps inside Germany and Austria. Soviet troops entered the camp on 27 January 1945, a day commemorated since 2005 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Buddy's War #45- The End of the Bulge

    •    January 1, 1945

New Year. It is a terrible day. It rained and snowed all day. Mabel and Carl came for dinner. Carl went back to Hornell on the train.
    •    January 2, 1945
Got up at 11. Did not feel so good. Father is home. Wrote to Buddy and sent him a box of cigars.
Diary Entries, Beula Keller Lehman
So far for Co. C and for most of the 10th Armored Division, the war has been moments of battle- and then waiting. Since the rush north in mid- December and then the return south to Metz, most of the 10th Armored has not been in battle.

    •    January 5, 1945
Got up at 10.30. Father went to work. Cleaned downstairs. It is not so cold today.
Diary, Beula Keller Lehman
From the 55th Armored Engineer Battalion (of the 10th Armored) After Action Report (AAR):
The most outstanding characteristic of the operations in which the division was engaged was the impossibility of employing the armored elements off the roads. The soil and weather were such that armor booted down except on the top of hills, and often even there. Although this may seem to be a special case, experience both in the United States and in  France indicates that operations on the roads are the rule rather than the exception. [Difficulty reading the next section, but  it indicates that] until changes in tank design are made to reduce the ground pressure [to less than the] present 13 pounds per square inch, [this will be the case.]
Another from the 55th AAR talked about an
engineer Lt standing on the front of a buttoned up medium tank, beating on the turret with a hammer, and trying to get the tanker to open up so that he could be told to move over for all engineer equipment to come forward past the column.
The AAR, as was customary, ends with reflections on the action from a future planning view. It concludes that while this may have been a unique experience with Combat Commands as much as 50- 100 miles from HQ, they felt it was worth pointing out that many changes were
needed in equipment and operational methods, [it] has brought out very clearly the soundness of the basic training and of the basic doctrine. The principles are sound even though the means for accomplishing them need some revision.
The 54th Armored Infantry Battalion of the 10 Armored AAR reviewed enemy action in mid-month at Bastogne:
When this battalion was committed the Germans winter counter offensive was at its peak. His aggressive high morale was evident on all sides. Employing tanks and infantry with occasional air support, he was able to push forward almost at will. His recklessness accounted for his losing heavily in armor and infantry. The recommendations here reflect the quickness in which decisions had to be made and ways to move more quickly such as wire men be included, more telephones be issued for gun platoons and not lowering the ratio of tanks to infantry. 
 Two other recommendations indicate the distance issue again. With Combat Command B so far away from HQ and the Division support these two became obvious:
When operations where kitchens cannot support [the troops], one cook [should] be assigned to each platoon and that company [and] battalion maintenance stay within supporting distance.
A number of AARs do report, very simply, that the particular battalion or platoon of the 10th Armored had no engagement with the enemy in January.

Even with the 80th Medical Battalion, I found no end of January AAR with hospital admissions and discharges since in the month there probably were few if any. The Company C morning reports indicated that they were involved in “organizational duties.” In February, that will change.

At the end of Bulge, these words of FDR from D-Day strike me. They are a fitting conclusion as well to the biggest battle the American troops faced in Europe.
The road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph. They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest -- until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men's souls will be shaken with the violences of war. For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home. Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom. ― Franklin D. Roosevelt
    •    January 13, 1945
Got up at 10. Went to the store and it was awful icy. Did not do a darn thing all day. Today is Carl’s birthday.
Diary, Beula Keller Lehman
[Sidenote: I realized recently that I have not been posting excerpts from my grandmother Beula’s diaries except when they specifically relate to my Dad and Mom or the war. That does not give as full a view of life on the homefront as I would like. I will start doing that regularly.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Tuning Slide #5.24- Professional or Procrastination

Weekly Reflections on Life and Music

The difference between an amateur and a professional is in their habits. An amateur has amateur habits. A professional has professional habits. We can never free ourselves from habit. But we can replace bad habits with good ones.
— Steven Pressfield

Little did I realize when I set up my schedule of posts for these months that I would need to hear what I am writing about today. I originally planned this post as another reminder of what the differences are between “amateur” and “professional.” It is not, as I have said before, about getting paid versus not, it is about attitude, perspective, and mindset. It’s in the things like these from Jeff Goins at Medium:

✓ 1. Amateurs wait for clarity. Pros take action.
You have to know what you are before you can figure out what you want to do.
✓ 2. Amateurs want to arrive. Pros want to get better.
You have to become a student long before you get to be a master
✓ 3. Amateurs practice as much as they have to. Pros never stop.
You have to practice even, maybe especially, when it hurts.
✓ 4. Amateurs leap for their dreams. Pros build a bridge.
You have to build a bridge, not take a leap. It’s the daily practice. The amateur is concerned with the big break, whereas the pro is more focused on delaying immediate gratification in exchange for long-term success.

All well and good. Over these last five to six years I have made many changes and improvements. I have learned to take action, to strive for ongoing practice, to build bridges through that practice toward where I am going. It has been an exciting and fulfilling journey. I have finally accepted that being a professional musician is not just about making a living and having a career in music. It is living in those things in all of one’s life. That is how I grew and improved in my careers as a pastor and counselor. It is where I am still going in my life as a musician.

But it is not a straight line of constant improvement. In the past, when I reached certain points of “being stalled” or “plateaued” I just kept moving. The answers usually came. "Don’t stop" may be the best advice at those moments. More is coming.

Well, today I am writing to remind myself of all this in ways far beyond just my music. I noticed this especially when I reviewed the following from behavioral psychology writer Mayo Oshin (link):

▪ 1. Amateurs wait to feel inspired. Professionals stick to a schedule.
Professionals don’t let their feelings dictate their actions. They intentionally create and stick to a schedule come rain or shine.

▪ 2. Amateurs focus on goals. Professionals focus on habits.
Amateurs struggle with ‘resistance’ and procrastination because of their intense focus on the end result. Professionals treat success like a marathon and not a sprint. They focus on developing the habits that will naturally help them to achieve their goals as a by-product.

▪ 3. Amateurs strive to achieve. Professionals strive to improve.
The professional understands that achievement is simply an indication of how much they’ve improved. They are focused on continuous growth and seek to find new ways to improve themselves.

▪ 4. Amateurs stall after failure. Professionals grow after failure.
Amateurs try to avoid failure at all costs. They fear criticism and worry too much about what people would think if they failed. Professionals treat failure and criticism like a scientist—discarding the irrelevant information and using the relevant feedback to become better at what they do.

[Mumble] How did I know that I would be where I am today when I set up this schedule back six weeks ago? [Mumble] There must be some outside force that plans these just to keep me from getting too comfortable. [Grumble] I guess I need to live what I suggest. [Grumble one last time.]

Over the past month or so, I hit one of my walls in much of what I am doing.
~~ My trumpet practice routine got sidetracked by minor surgery. In my frustration, I have struggled with getting centered again.
~~ My workout routine got shifted by travel, though I have managed to keep my weight-loss goal steady, though at a plateau.
~~ My writing of this blog and two other projects started to become a chore, so I would just put it off. Part of this is because I am in a different setting than usual and haven’t gone to “The Office”, i.e. the coffee shops where I do most of my writing. I even thought of putting The Tuning Slide on hiatus for a few weeks. [Horrors!]

It reminds me of the saying I used here several years ago:

◆ How you do anything is how you do everything.

Over these weeks something (it) has shown up in anything and everything.

Okay, it is procrastination.

I need to name it- and the first step is to know that I am procrastinating and I need to do something about it. I need to remind myself that this isn’t an either-or choice. I am by nature one who likes to be inspired, to set goals, to achieve, and to avoid failure. Because I will bring that into my “pro” attitude, I remind myself that:

⁃ Professionals get inspired because of following schedules.
⁃ Professionals have goals as well as habits (which help them reach their goals).
⁃ Professionals achieve because they improve.
⁃ Professionals do get stalled, but they keep moving.

I go back to Mayo Oshin’s post. She gives a two-part answer to becoming (and staying) “pro”:

◆ Thou shalt commit to a schedule.
A schedule is simply a pre-commitment to consistently put in your ‘reps’ and hours in your craft. Just like any new habit, your willpower and ability to delay gratification will also affect your consistency levels.
◆ Thou shalt believe that thou art ‘Pro.’
This is why it’s so important to shift your identity. You have the power right now to believe that you’re a professional. [But] To say that you believe you’re a pro isn’t enough because actions speak louder than words. Prove to yourself that you’re really a pro and do the things that a pro would do every day.

Having been found guilty of procrastination and inspired by these directions, three final questions that I need to answer from Oshin’s article.
  • Am I committed to being a professional in any area of my life?
  • Is there anything holding me back from going pro?
  • What can I do to create the schedule and identity of a pro?
Take some time this week to look at those questions for yourself. I will, and then continue this next week. Be honest, rigorously honest, with yourself. It always helps to do that since we are good at keeping the truth from ourselves, though we usually know it’s BS.

You can never be true to others, if you keep on lying to yourself.
― Gift Gugu Mona

Monday, January 13, 2020

Tuning Slide #5.23- Learning from Fitness and Exercise

Weekly Reflections on Life and Music

Fitness needs to be perceived as fun and games or we subconsciously avoid it.
— Alan Thicke

Trumpet playing, making music, like fitness takes discipline. While discipline doesn’t sound like fun and games, I have discovered over these years of music and exercise that it isn’t always in the moment that it feels that way- it is the result when you are done.

Trumpeter Davy DeArmond is both an athlete and trumpet player. He is the trumpet instrumentalist in the United States Naval Academy Band. In this position, he leads the Brass Quintet, performs with the Concert Band, Next Wave Jazz Ensemble, Brass Ensemble, the New Orleans-style brass band Crabtowne Stompers as well as several ceremonial and marching units and has recorded and toured nationally with many of these groups. He is also a member of the International Chamber Orchestra of Washington. As if that isn’t enough he is a competition-level triathlete! A number of years ago the blog Trumpet Journey interviewed Davy about the things he has learned about music from his athletics. It is not a surprise that he had some good things to say. As I have said before, there are many lessons to be learned from music about life- and vice versa.

Here are some of the things that DeArmond reported as important lessons. (As usual, my thoughts in italics…) (Link)

… As a trumpet player you might find yourself saying, “I can do this short gig without a warm-up,” or “I’m just going to go through the motions today.”… If I take off on a track workout without warming up, I’m probably going to pull something—ending my workout early and possibly affecting my bike ride the next day. The same principle goes for trumpet. If you don’t take care of yourself on a daily basis, it will catch up to you and be extremely detrimental.

[I used to be afraid that if I warmed up on my trumpet for too long, I wouldn’t be able to play. So I kept the warm up as short as possible. I learned the importance of warming up from fitness training. In my music, it is just as important. The difference starts in the planning. Hence DeArmond’s next lesson:]

In school, it is easy to get in six to eight hour practice days. As your time becomes more valuable and you have more responsibilities, it is imperative that you have thoughtful sessions. When I began training … I found that I couldn’t spend more time on fitness, so I realized that I needed to work smarter and more efficiently. … I realized that I needed to do the same thing with my trumpet playing. I don’t have the luxury of practicing six to eight hours anymore, so I need to ensure that the time I do spend is thoughtful and productive.

[When I began to plan what I wanted to do, it all became part of the discipline. My fitness warm-up time on the bike or elliptical is just as important as the weights or machines. It’s all part of the whole. Make plans and carry them out.]

[DeArmond talks about the necessity to take easy days after pushing the body to its limits in a race or competition. He says it is important to not push yourself to a point of getting hurt. He then goes on…]
… My trumpet playing colleagues and I have a phrase we use—that we have to “undo the day before.” What this means is simply that we take care of our chops the day after a big blow. Some days are more punishing than others, so, if you do have a rough playing day, take care of yourself the next day, and “undo” the pounding that you took. It might be an extended easy warm-up with soft articulations or maybe even a day completely off, but make sure those muscles, just like your leg or arm muscles, are not getting overworked.

[I am aware of the danger of days off. They can become habits- bad habits. The trick is in the planning of the “slower” days, and not in the “doing nothing.”]

If you’ve never run a marathon before, you don’t really know what to expect, so you get a plan and follow it to success. Unfortunately, as trumpet players, we fall into these ruts of practicing or performing. We stick with the same practice patterns we’ve had for years, and we remain good at the trumpet. However, if you take the time to set and accomplish goals, you can improve on your trumpeting skills no matter how accomplished you are. Simply set a goal (recital, audition, etc.), devise a plan (I will work out of the Goldman book for articulations, Schlossberg for flexibility, Top Tones for endurance) and execute the plan. When you are done, you will be better, but it is of utmost importance to….

[Goals are the natural extension of plans and discipline. Set the goals. Learn the new stuff!]

As musicians, it is easy to become too emotional when assessing our performance or progress. When I’m done with a long race, first and foremost, I am happy for my accomplishment. At that point, I can think about how I could have gone faster, trained harder, slept or ate better, but I am still happy there is a medal around my neck. For a long time, it was hard for me to assess my trumpet playing, because I was worried about missing notes. Now, I assess the two similarly. I have found that I can assess it fairly without falling into the depths of depression if I miss some notes! Was I relaxed? Did I do what I wanted musically? At what point did it start to feel uncomfortable? Why? Once you can ask yourself questions like this without getting too emotional, you can adjust your training plan and get ready for your next performance.

There’s one more that I have learned over the past five years from my fitness work and applying it to my music. After all these things that DeArmond lists,

You never get better doing only what you did yesterday. I need to push that extra ten minutes on the bike (sensibly) just as much as I need to take the time to do the Arban characteristic study, the Charlier etude or the slow, methodical work on the basics. I have to keep moving or nothing new will happen.

All progress takes place outside the comfort zone.
— Michael John Bobak, digital artist

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Tuning Slide # 5.22- Building Blocks of Creativity

Weekly Reflections on Life and Music
The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul.
— Dieter F. Uchtdorf

A few months ago I bookmarked a link I thought might be interesting to dig into:

Creativity and the Brain: What We Can Learn From Jazz Musicians (Link)

It was an NPR interview and story about Charles Limb, associate professor of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at John’s Hopkins University. It seems that Limb was studying jazz musicians and their creativity to discover the workings of the brain when we are being creative. The article said:
Creativity may even be hardwired into human brains, an essential feature that has allowed the species to adapt repeatedly over the course of history. “Very early on there’s this need for the brain to be able to come up with something that it didn't know before, that’s not being taught to it, but to find a way to figure something out that’s creative,” Limb said. “That’s always been essential for human survival.”

Creating is core to the human experience throughout time, Limb says. “The brain has been hard wired to seek creative or artistic endeavors forever”…

Interestingly, the creating brain looks a lot like the dreaming brain, one of the most creative states humans can enter, but one associated with unconsciousness. Similar to what Limb observed in jazz musicians, when people dream the self-monitoring part of the brain is suppressed and the default network in the brain takes over. (Link)
While it didn’t give me any direction about how I could get more creative in my life, it did affirm two things. The first was that music, and jazz, in particular, can be a source of developing creativity. The second was that the actions of creativity, making new things happen, may actually be part of our human evolutionary survival mechanisms. Creativity is essential, if for no other reason than to keep us from being bored. Creativity makes things new, not just making new things.

Creativity, then, is one of those ideas that can apply in many different areas. I wondered what the experts of the world might say about developing creativity so I Googled the question, “How do I learn creativity?” Among the landslide of links were a number that gave specific lists.
  • 9 Ways to Dramatically Improve Your Creativity | Inc.com
  • 17 Ways to Develop Your Creativity - Verywell Mind
  • 6 tips for building creativity and innovation | Management ...
  • 3 Ways To Train Yourself To Be More Creative - Fast Company
  • 5 Habits for Building Creativity Into Your Team - Brightpod
Creativity doesn't wait for that perfect moment.
It fashions its own perfect moments out of ordinary ones.
— Bruce Garrabrandt

So how then do we develop it? Looking over the web sites mentioned above, I came up with some ideas that struck me as basic. Here are some of them, with my thoughts on their importance in italics:

▪ Be Willing to Take Risks
Often the fears (see below) get in the way, or the opportunities to do something different don’t occur. When I went to my first Shell Lake Big Band Camp it was a big risk. I knew little about improvising, but I went to a safe place to try it out. It was so-so, but it was a start.

▪ Build Your Confidence
Just going to Shell Lake and playing music outside of my comfort zone did work. I found out that I might just be able to do something more with it. It was a few years before it fell into place away from the safe confines of the camp, but it has been a steady growth in confidence.

▪ Keep a Journal
Part of the way I know these things is that I have kept a journal. That is a place for me to be honest and open with no one but me! I can express what I am feeling, including my fears. I can wander in my thoughts and take note of new ideas and possibilities.

▪ Overcome Negative Attitudes that Block Creativity
By taking risks, I end up confronting that wonderfully negative inner critic that every artistic person talks about. I can document the many times that those negative attitudes have gotten in the way and then prove them wrong. This leads to new ideas and new challenges because sometimes I fail at being as creative as I want to be.

▪ Fight Your Fear of Failure
But failure is okay. If you haven’t failed, you haven’t tried- and you probably haven’t learned anything new.

▪ Ask for Advice
Be a learner, a student at all times. Other people can make a difference with a different point of view.

▪ Learn a New Skill
Sometimes it helps to find different areas to build creativity. I love photography- it is a great creativity booster since it sharpens my vision. I love putting videos together- it makes me think in a melding of sound, pictures, and motion.

Surprisingly there was very little overlap in the lists I looked at. Creativity is quite varied. But there were two items that were in more than one list. First was some variation of:

▪ Exercise.
It may be doing workouts or, as one put it, taking a walk. Exercise is a source of energy that can help boost creativity. It works with the mind to take you into new things.

The other common suggestion is even easier than that:

▪ Do nothing!
Introspection time. Be mindful. (I knew that would show up somehow to another in all this.) Take the time to let the mind wander into nothingness. Be aware, non-judgmentally of what is happening around you. In your quiet nothingness, a great deal can happen. As long as you are listening to the inner voice, the creative muse.

The word [music] derives from Greek μουσική (mousike; "art of the Muses”)…. In classical Greece, [the term "music" refers to] any art in which the Muses presided, but especially music and lyric poetry." (Wikipedia)

Listen to your muse. Play your music. Be creative. You will come up with something that no one has ever done before. Then go ahead, and do it some more.

You can't use up creativity. The more you use the more you have.
— Maya Angelou