As was the case with my previous post, I’m writing this morning from a hotel room near Iowa City, where I am still attending the International Tuba-Euphonium Conference at the University of Iowa with my students. The University of Mississippi Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble had a successful performance on Tuesday, and we have enjoyed the remainder of the week attending concerts, lectures, master classes, and exhibits. This was my first time bringing a large student group to a conference like this, so this was a new experience for most of them. As we were preparing for this trip a few students were obviously skeptical that attending ITEC would be worth the trouble and expense (some of which the students bore themselves), but in the end I think all of them decided the trip was worth it. Some seem to have preferred the concerts, others the exhibits, and still others simply having the opportunity to meet and get pictures with their “tuba heroes,” but all have greatly enjoyed the experience.
For me, this experience is not new at all, and yet it is. I attended my first ITEC in 2002, when I was a graduate student at the host institution, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Because my entire career has spent with one foot in both the trombone and tuba-euphonium worlds and funding is limited, I have not been able to attend the ITEC or its counterpart, the International Trombone Festival, every time they have been held, but I have been to both events enough times that attending is, in a sense, “old hat.” While I enjoy attending and participating in performances and presentations, as well as making and renewing connections with colleagues, I see little at these events that is truly “new” for me. But watching my students experiencing all of this for the first time has been reinvigorating, and reminds me of the sense of amazement that I had when attending events like this for the first time. I told the students all along that their opportunity to take in everything at the conference was more important than their own performance, but I’m not sure I realized just how true this was until I actually saw it. I find myself even more excited now about taking my “other” student group to the International Trombone Festival in a few weeks, and determined to find ways to fund more and more frequent opportunities to participate in conferences like this.
Speaking of which, I should stop writing and get ready to leave—this morning’s class with tuba virtuoso Øystein Baadsvik begins in less than an hour!