Wednesday, September 02, 2015

The Tuning Slide Blog- Introduction

Weekly Reflections on Life and Music

“Writing about music is like dancing about architecture - 
it's really a stupid thing to want to do.” 
― Elvis Costello 

So why do this? I’ll start back in June when I first went to a Shell Lake Arts Center Workshop on Big Bands. I was inspired and motivated. I have been a trumpet player since 1961 to greater and lesser degrees, but always still playing. As part of the workshop we had a Master Class for the trumpets. Bob Baca, the leader, did one small thing on playing trumpet. I was blown away. My playing changed almost immediately.

That’s part one.

Part two was the first week of August when I went back to Shell Lake for the Trumpet Camp Workshop. Unlike the Big Band weekend, this was for all ages, although most were high school and first year college students. This was even more exciting and motivating, led also by Bob Baca and a faculty of diverse trumpet players. They were a class act that saw trumpet playing as more than just the techniques, but included the motivational, psychological, and social insights about success.

Again, I was challenged and blown away. This time my embouchure (lip) was in good shape and I was able to play longer and in better tone than in June. I also discovered again the real joy of being in a place where music ruled. One of the other “adult” students commented that it was great to be around a large group of “trumpet nerds.”

The faculty gave us lessons, challenges, and opportunities to play. The showed us how to practice and shared their many stories and experiences with us. On the last morning we all sat in the rehearsal hall and were asked to share what we remembered from the week. Since most of us only remember things for about three days without reinforcement, this was an important part of the “taking it home” process. Most of what was remembered were the ideas and thoughts that motivated us.

As I took notes I thought, “This would make a great blog series!” Next I decided that it needed more than just my usual Wanderings of a PostModern Pilgrim blog. It needed a blog of its own, even if I cross-post on both. Since much of what we learned and experienced is more than applicable to the ways we live each day I knew that it would also be a reflection on how music and our experiences at the workshop made a difference in the rest of the year. So why not do a weekly post that keeps the ideas and motivation going for the 48 weeks left until the next camp?

Which brings me to the title: The Tuning Slide. On a trumpet, that’s the curved “C”-shaped tube at the opposite end of the lead pipe from the mouthpiece. (To the right in the trumpet above.) The slide is to be used to bring the trumpet into tune with the other instruments.

When you are in tune
  • The music flows much more smoothly. 
  • You tend to get into sync with the other musicians. 
  • You don’t get as tired while playing since you are not constantly trying to “lip” the notes into tune. 
In short, the tuning slide keeps us moving more smoothly in the right direction. That is what I hope comes from this blog and these blog posts- ways that even non-trumpet players and non-musicians can discover how to keep life more "in tune."

Each Wednesday I will post on an idea from the camp, share some thoughts about it, apply it to life, all inspired with some quotes about music and life from both musicians and non-musicians.

I may post other ideas, videos,resources and the like on other days of the week, but the main post will be on Wednesday.

So join with me and the faculty and students from the trumpet camp of August 2015. There are some neat things to share and hopefully you will find yourself staying in tune to yourself and others around you.

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