ITG 2014 Wrapup

It’s official: two ten-hour car rides and several sleep-deprived nights later, I have successfully taken a prelude ensemble to an ITG conference and back, without suffering any casualties.* It was truly an honor to be able to conduct members of the Ball State University Trumpet Ensemble, in what I think may have been the school’s first-ever appearance at an ITG event. Special congratulations to composer Devin Fanslow, whose piece our group performed.

For those who weren’t able to attend this year’s event and might be looking for a recap, here are the takeaways from my own experience: Continue reading

The Dark Side of Mastery

Thanks to Malcolm Gladwell, most of us have heard of the so-called “10,000 hour rule,” which posits that an individual must invest approximately 10,000 hours of deliberate, focused practice in order to master a complex skill (i.e. trumpet playing). Visit the business section of any major bookstore and you’ll find titles such as The Talent Code (Daniel Coyle); Talent is Overrated (Geoff Colvin); The Little Book of Talent (also Daniel Coyle); Mastery (Robert Greene); The Sports Gene (David Epstein) (which contests the 10,000 hour rule); and, of course, Gladwell’s Outliers, which popularized Anders Ericsson’s original study on this topic.* Clearly, our society is interested in mastery and how to achieve it. Continue reading

New Lessons From an Old Horn

When I arrived at Ball State, someone asked if I had bought a new car. I suppose this is what college graduates do when they land full-time jobs: buy cars. While we could argue that this may be in my future, as evidenced by a number of untimely complications courtesy of my 2002 Ford Focus, I haven’t started that process yet.

Instead, about a month ago, I did the other thing I swore I would not do with my new salary: I bought a new trumpet. Continue reading

Contacting Established Professionals (go ahead, send that email)

When I was in college I had a colleague who wanted to play a relatively unknown, unpublished piece by a relatively well-known living composer. She emailed him, asking how she could acquire the music for her recital. He responded, and she programmed the piece. While preparing for the same concert, she also had to contact a very well-known trumpet player. She wrote in her program notes, “I guess I like emailing famous people.” That comment has always stuck with me.

Earlier this week I stumbled across a book offering career advice for recent college grads. Among its many salient points was the suggestion that graduates should consider contacting their idols. While this idea is sure to strike terror into the hearts of probably 90 percent of young people everywhere, it is an idea worth adopting. Continue reading

To Teach or Not to Teach: Is This Really the Right Question?

I’ve always intended to run a blog through my homepage. I’ve held off because so many of my ideas are better presented on, the sister site to this one. However, my recent transition to Ball State has given me a new set of topics to consider, and a college-aged audience that might like to read about them.

So this week I’ve decided to address, on both websites and with a slightly different perspective on each, the question I have received most frequently since arriving at Ball State University: “Should I major in music education?” Continue reading