We’re Getting the Band Back Together!

Actually not, but it’s been almost 2 years since I did a blog entry (darn facebook) and I have decided to resurrect my old computer bulletin board systems (BBS) and I figured I’d post some info about that.

BBSing was a big part of my life in the 90s. I pretty much lived and breathed BBSing. I met a lot of friends and some of those friendships continue to this day. Both in the virtual world and in the real world. BBSes created a sense of community that some of us just can’t always achieve in real life.

To keep this short – head over to the Razor’s Domain website for news and information on the different BBSes that I will have online and be working on over the next few months.

The Gift of Music

music069I have always loved good music, it doesn’t matter if it is rock, metal, jazz or classical. The word “good” is a subjective term though. My definition of good music is definitely different than most people. When I listen to music I listen for something that will catch me and pull me in. Lyrics, music, keys, rhythms, chords… whatever it might be. Something that catches my attention and will “Pull me Under” into a whole new consciousness. Continue reading

Pain in the Neck!

For the last 3 years or so I have been dealing with pain and discomfort in my neck area that would eventually lead to a headache. I am not real positive when it started, but at the time I would take a few Advils and be fine. My initial concern was the headaches, they would all start off with a feeling like my neck needed to be popped. If I could not relieve that feeling, then it would eventually lead to a headache. Well, that got to be several times a week at one point. After a few months I asked the doctor about it and we tried some muscle relaxers. That really didn’t help much.

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Tales from Band Camp IV

The McAllen Symphonic Band’s reading session has come to an end. I really didn’t do much better at the reading on May 6th, but I survived yet again. There was definitely less people there this time We only had 4 trombones, there was 1 french horn, 1 tuba, several euphoniums. I was the only 2nd trombone player, I guess I scared the new guy from last week off.

I did get called out once by the director, I had gotten lost and it just so happened it was at a point where the trombones had an important part (yes, that occasionally does happen). I had stopped playing to try to figure out where they were at and when he stopped he asked if there was a 2nd trombone part. Arghhh! Well, I definitely wasn’t the only one to make a mistake over the last 3 rehearsals, so I don’t feel too bad about it. But, the lesson has been learned and I am going to try to figure out a way to work on my sight reading.

We don’t have any more rehearsals for the rest of the month. They will start back up on June 3rd with practices for the 4th of July concert. I would like to keep practicing, but I need to send off the bell section of the new trombone back to Getzen. It has a defect on the lacquering and the lacquer started flaking off, so I am sending it back to get stripped and re-lacquered. I will be sending it off tomorrow and will hopefully have it back for the rehearsal on the 3rd. Steve at The Horn Guys has been a big help communicating with Getzen to get this resolved. If it does not get back to me in time for the rehearsals, I will just use the King trombone until the Getzen gets back.

 

Tales from Band Camp III

Another “reading” for the McAllen Symphonic Band on the 22nd of April. I wasn’t as nervous this time around, but I probably should have been. Again I showed up early to help with the chairs and music stands, but they were already prepared (I guess I need to show up an hour early to be able to help with that). I went ahead and got my things setup and did a bit of mouthpiece buzzing and picked my parts out of the stack of trombone music. I also over heard there would be a new trombone player joining us, so I felt a bit more at ease, another newbie to share my jitters with. Well, I was wrong in that department.

The “newbie” turned out to be a band director from Roma High School. Probably the fact that he was carrying an Edwards trombone with a Thayer valve should have tipped me off that this guy was a real player. But I really didn’t realize how good he was until he started doing some warmups. He was breezing through lip slurs that I try to do myself, then hitting pedal tones I could only dream of playing, and following that up with lip trills… maybe I should pack up my horn and go home…. Wow, it was impressive. Then watching him pretty much breeze through every song we sight read, getting the rhythms right, alternative positions, not fluffed notes. I was amazed! And I did not let the moment get by and not learn something from this guy. And I hope to learn more from him in the future. Just hearing and watching him play I can learn things.

Again this “reading” I struggled through, but I think I was able to actually play more music this time. It did help having someone else playing the 2nd trombone part as well (last week I was the lone 2nd trombone player). At this point I think the sight reading is my weakness. Checking the key and time signatures, watching for changes and catching those odd rhythms like dotted 1/8th notes. Luckily I have several method and etude books to practice with at home.

There is no practice next Monday and then we have one more reading on May 6th. Then we break for the rest of May and start up rehearsals for the next on June 3rd.  We have several practices for a concert coming up on the morning of July 4th in Archer Park. It will be so much nicer when I can practice the music before I show up for rehearsal :)

 

Tales from Band Camp II

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I am now a member of the McAllen Symphonic Band. Laura’s Dad (Art) has been playing with them for a number of years. Laura and I occasionally would attend the concerts, but since my renewed interest in playing trombone, we’ve attended every concert they have had. After I got my new trombone, I have been thinking it would be nice to join the band and start playing in that type of environment again. Well, with the help of Art, that has all come to past.

On April 15th I had my first practice with the band. The rehearsals they are currently having are what they call “readings”. Where they read through pieces of music, one after the other just to find material for the next season of concerts (2013-2014). So in other words, they are doing what I hated to do while in the EHS band – sight read! So, needless to say I was very nervous. In fact, I was nervous pretty much all that day leading up to the practice.

I got there about 30 minutes early to try to help get things setup (chairs and music stands) but all of that was pretty much done, so I had a chance to talk with Art and he introduced me to several people, including two of the other trombone players in the band. They figured I would be playing the 2nd trombone part so I setup my stuff next to them (they were playing 3rd trombone and bass) and started to do a bit of mouthpiece buzzing to get warmed up. Just before the rehearsal started the 1st trombone players sat down and then I started to even get more nervous. Vern, then 3rd trombone sitting next to me helped me relax a bit when he said he was 80 years old, he chops were not as good as they used to be, his hearing was not as good as it used to be and his vision was not as good as it used to be. Still, I think he played me under the table!.

The “reading” was a fast paced run through of a lot of songs. Pretty much a blur for me now. I would say it was probably 8-12 songs, ranging from easy to fairly complicated (for me anyways). As we started I was very impressed with not only the 1st trombone players sight reading and playing abilities, but both Vern and John’s (bass trombone) both were doing great as well. The 1st trombone players were playing all the parts and doing it really good, whereas I think I was only able to played about 40% of the notes that night. I started out really bad, but it got a bit easier as the night went on.

Once it was all over, I was glad I still had some chops left and wasn’t completely blown out. I packed up my stuff and went headed home on a bit of a high. It was great to be playing in a trombone section again, in a full band. Yes, I was nervous, but at the same time it was a lot of fun and it felt great being back in that environment. When I got home I told Laura that I wished they practiced every night (not only because I ended up having fun, but because I really need the practice!).

 

Tales from Band Camp I

Time for an update on my venture back into the world of music! It’s been almost 8 months (!!?) since my last post, so several things have changed. I’ve been back playing the trombone now for over a year and things are starting to come together. I am probably not where I wish I was at, but I cannot complain about the progress I have made so far.

My range has improved over the last year. I cannot remember what my range was a year ago, but back then I would normally struggle getting high Gb and above, and my pedal tones were non-existent. Currently using my “symphonic” mouthpiece (a Denis Wick 5BS) I can get up to double high D and down to Ab pedal tone. Using my “edgy” mouthpiece (Denis Wick 7CS or Bach 12C) I can get several notes higher, but I my lower range suffers. My F-Attachment range is still rather stuffy, but I just recently got my Bb/F trombone, so that will hopefully clean up soon with more practice.

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Speaking of F-Attachments, yes I did get my new horn. I spent several months (if not many months) researching trombones. Although I would have loved to get a nice professional horn. I just could not see spending that much money on a trombone at this time. Maybe in 5 years if I am still playing I will look into getting a pro horn. Until then I concentrated on finding a good intermediate horn. I was looking at several different models, but decided on a Getzen 725 horn. It is a dual bore horn (.525/.542) with an open wrap F-attachment. It’s a beautiful horn and sounds great. Like I said my trigger notes are a bit stuffy, but they will work out with more practice. I still plan to use the King 606 horn that my Father in Law Art is letting me use. It’s a student horn, but because it is smaller bore, it has a brighter sound/tone, where as the Getzen is a mellow sound. And I still have my original blue P-Bone.

I am playing with the church band usually every other week. And that is a bit more stressful on me than a normal concert band situation would be. I am the only brass instrument playing with the band and therefore my parts tend to stand out a bit more than if I am playing with a full section of trombones. But, I think it has helped my “stage fright” a bit. Since I got the new Getzen trombone, I have been playing it, but I am

With some help from my Father In Law, Art Ratley, I now have a seat in the Mcallen Symphonic Band and have recently started attending rehearsals. That first rehearsal was really a nervous time for me, but I made it through. But that’s a another blog post by itself. thinking about switching back to the King for the church band since it seems to sound better in a “solo” environment. Maybe someday I’ll get a better “straight” trombone.

 

My Musical Journey

Red tonnet Search for Tonnet and you won’t find much information on it, but if you try “Recorder” you might find some information or you may have played one in elementry. When I was in early elementry music class, we played on Tonnets and our accompaniment was either a pedal organ or auto harp. Ah the good ole days! Actually I never liked the sound of the auto harp but it was a cool device and I thought the pedal organ was pretty cool. My Father is a Hot Rodder, hotrods have pedals, therefore, an organ with pedals couldn’t be all that bad! Continue reading

Summer is over!

Well summer is not really over, but it is starting to wane. It’s not actually cooling off yet, hitting 100+ just about everyday lately. But school started up again, and first run shows should start showing up soon.

I have been slacking on the blog as of late. And I figured it was time to get that some-what “uggh” post about my last surgery off the top of the blog. I do have plans for other blog posts, I just have not gotten down to actually formulating my ideas and getting it down in text. I want to blog about my re-entry into the music world. Also some more blog posts on how Laura and I use technology in our life, both personal and professional and a few other ideas. Speaking of blogs, be sure to check out my Sister’s blog The Zen of Sweeping and also her husbands Flip Flop Vector. They are currently on a year long RV trip all over the US. I envy them, but I also like to keep my feet firmly planted in Texas.

Laura started up the fall semester yet again, much to her dismay, this semester she has the privilege of traveling Rio Grande City twice a week. She is not real happy about that (me neither) but it is her turn in the rotation, so it only comes around once in awhile. And it get a change to stretch my cooking skills, what little I have of them. Today I made Stuffed Bell Peppers, and it turned out fairly well, but I am making some changes on the recipe for next time.

Another upcoming blog topic might be my participation in the design/setup/use of the new Audio/Lighting/Video system that we’ll be putting in our new church building soon. The system we have now was hastily put together by me and our previous worship leader. And amazingly it works fairly well. But this time we are wanting to hire a professional and have them do the design, install and setup. That should provide some good content for the blog and keep me occupied as well.

Until Next Time!