Welcome to The Reforming Trombonist! This page will give you a general idea of what kinds of topics are discussed in this blog, who its author is, and what I hope to accomplish by writing here. As of the latest substantial update of this “About” page (December 2020) there are over 270 articles posted here on a variety of topics, so I hope you’ll stick around a bit, read what’s here, and subscribe to future updates.
Who is The Reforming Trombonist?
You can read about me here, but I will provide a short biography.
I am “fortyish,” married, with one son and two dogs. I am a music professor at the University of Mississippi, having held previous teaching positions at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, the University of Northern Iowa, Elon University, and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. As you will have gathered from the title, I am a performing trombonist, euphoniumist, and tubist, and my primary teaching responsibilities at the university include individual and group instruction on those instruments. My degrees are from Delta State University (B.M.E.) and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (M.M., D.M.A.). I also have a Certificate in Systematic Theology from Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, attend College Hill Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Oxford, and am a member of The Gideons International. This explains the “other” topic of this blog, but more on that later.
What Will Be Discussed Here?
My goals for blogging are quite modest. When I began writing here in 2012 I was able to write nearly every week, but as I have become busier with both work and life I have not been able to post as often. Still, I try to write at least twice a month, usually on topics related to music, particularly low brass playing. These topics might include pedagogy, performance, product reviews, new music and recordings, information on upcoming performances, online resources, etc. Additionally, I sometimes write regarding my more “avocational” interest in theology and the Bible, and specifically Reformed theology. I particularly enjoy bringing all of these ideas together to discuss how matters related to music and Christianity intersect. My thoughts in this realm are rarely new to those who have read the authors I have read, but at the same time they are not at all in the mainstream. I’m sure I’m not alone in that I very much enjoy thinking and writing in those areas where all of my various interests intersect.
I jointed the blogging world somewhat reluctantly. I am not convinced that the “democratization of publishing” that the internet has bequeathed to us is an altogether good thing. In an age when anyone can cheaply and easily reach a worldwide audience regardless of the truth and quality of his ideas, the sheer volume of information that is out there is staggering, and it is impossible for one to sort through all of it to find what is good and what is bad, or even to read all of the good that is there. I have not always relished the thought of adding to the morass with a blog that perhaps very few will read. While the old system of gatekeepers such as editors, reviewers, and publishers had its flaws, it did keep the amount of information available to a more manageable level, and the amount of junk released for public consumption was perhaps lower.
I have accepted that the future is in electronic media more so than print, and so this is something of an attempt to “get with the times.” That said, one of my goals for this space is to provide a forum for fleshing out ideas that I might one day work into a more publishable form, for submission to the aforementioned gatekeepers. My predilection for material that has been reviewed, critiqued, corrected, edited, and then printed still remains, but I have begun to realize that much of what appears in print today was, in fact, first introduced on a blog. In fact, this was exactly what happened with my first book, which was published in late 2014. The publisher contacted me after reading a few of my blog posts and asked me to develop those ideas into a book-length project. In that respect, blogging has already been very successful for me!
Regardless of how many of my writings here make it to print, I do hope that these posts will be useful to people. “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever” (Westminster Shorter Catechism 1), and his second objective should be to love and serve others. Self-aggrandizement is not really on the list. So, whether your interest is brass playing or theology, or both, I hope that the material written here will be helpful and edifying to you.
Why the Title “The Reforming Trombonist?”
Working backwards, the “trombonist” part should be obvious. I am a trombonist, and the bulk of my time and energy is spent working in that realm.
By “reforming” I don’t mean that “I used to be a trombonist, but now I’m sober,” though that is perhaps how it sounds at first. No, by “reforming” I am making a loose reference to a popular slogan of the Protestant Reformation, semper reformanda—“always reforming.” Our Protestant forebears thought that we should always be about the business of reforming both faith and practice—indeed, our very lives—according to the Word of God. My changes of theological position over the past ten years or so reflect this attitude. I grew up in essentially Arminian Southern Baptist churches, and wound up Calvinistic, confessional, and Presbyterian. My commitment to Scripture as God’s inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word remains unchanged (if not strengthened), but changes in my own church affiliation became necessary as my understanding of that Word increased.
Moving back to the question at hand, I chose the term “reforming” for the title, rather than “reformed,” because the latter term conveys a sense of having “arrived,” and I don’t think I’m there yet.
Thanks again for visiting. Enjoy!