The Boring Part Comes Before the Fun Part

Our society’s obsession with fun is, I fear, one of our most harmful collective traits at the present moment. We see this in the workplace, where positions in challenging yet necessary and well-compensated trades go unfilled. We see this in family life, where most parents—and I am at times as guilty as anyone—make it a mission to see that their children are never without stimulation of some kind. We even see it in the church, where people have seemingly little desire to engage with the sacred and the holy unless it is presented in an entertaining fashion (perhaps that could be a topic for a future post). The reader could no doubt cite other examples of how as a people we have little taste for that which is not immediately rewarding, and too often forego that which in the long term is more pleasing, more enriching, even more fun in favor of that which gives an immediate reward yet is really unenduring, trite, and banal.

This creates a particular challenge for those of us engaged in the fine arts, as our best works demand of both performer/creator and audience a level of commitment, of preparation, of “pre-engagement” that is off-putting to most. Speaking specifically of music, popular songs are often entertaining and even clever, but most are one-dimensional; there are no deeper levels of meaning to be found through repeated listening. The same is true of Muzak and other forms of music intended to serve only as background noise. They are not without redeeming qualities, but there is little depth. Art music, on the other hand, is usually more complex, with multiple layers of both compositional craft and expressive meaning that are revealed progressively through repeated listening and even musical analysis. The great composers are recognized as such not because their works yield an immediate emotive effect (though they often do) but because repeated engagement is rewarded with additional discovery. The same can be said of great works in other artistic media.

Of course, the ability to comprehend music (or literature, or visual art, etc.) at this level often requires years of study. Even the dedicated amateur reaches the height of his understanding through repeated engagement, if only as an audience member. The music theorist who is best able to understand great works reaches that point after a great deal of analytical training and examination of scores, often specializing in the works of a particular composer or school of composers. This training is not always immediately “fun”—in fact, I can testify from my somewhat limited training in music theory that it is often manifestly not so—but the perceptive tools that it engenders lead to music reading and listening experiences that yield a deeper, better “fun,” one which makes both listening and performing better for all involved.

Many readers will recognize what I’m speaking of as the concept of delayed gratification, the idea that the payoff after hard work—whether monetary, emotional, experiential, or some combination of these and other types—is greater than when one takes the first superficial reward that presents itself. In brass playing this is most evident in the practice room, and not in the repeated playing of exciting musical works. I am often amused when I hear “overnight success stories” in our little corner of the music business. Almost without exception, these “overnight” successes were born out of years of a different type of overnight, the kind that involved staying in a practice room into the wee hours honing one’s craft. And what do these successful players work on? Concertos? Sometimes. Entertaining chamber works? Occasionally. Jazz and popular standards? Sure. Orchestral excerpts? Yeah. How about long tones, lip slurs, scales, and arpeggios? All the time. I am reminded of a story one of my teachers told of a visit by a popular touring jazz ensemble to the university where he then taught. The students asked the visiting trombone section what kinds of materials they practiced, hoping to spur a curriculum change to more entertaining and popular fare. To their disappointment, the guests listed the same “boring” fundamental studies and method books that the students were already studying as the materials for their training and continued practice.

As a teacher, I strive to assign enjoyable and rewarding solo and chamber works for my students’ performances, but rarely do I assign something that they will be able to achieve on a first reading, much less something that they will have the strength and flexibility to play without regular fundamentals work. My students are assigned a rigorous daily fundamentals routine and accompanying scale and arpeggio studies in order to help them to hone these skills, yet many of them will skip some or all of those “boring” calisthenics in favor of going immediately to the “real” music…and then wonder why they fail to reach their potential. They don’t understand (or refuse to accept) that the boring part comes before the fun part. A precious few really “get it.” They succeed.

I am aware that the concept of repeating a consistent daily routine has fallen on hard times among many in the brass teaching world. Some say that the routine should be varied, and while I freely modify my routine to address peculiar issues that a student or I might be facing, I still find undeniable value in the daily and systematic review and extension of fundamental playing skills. Others advocate accommodating the desire for “fun” by inventing “cool” MIDI accompaniment tracks for otherwise “boring” exercises. I am not opposed to this, but it seems to me that this would work for only a limited time before that which was once cool became boring through repetition, and I am not inclined to constantly compose and create new tracks to satisfy a perceived need for what is in the end an only superficially more enjoyable approach. At some point if you want to be a successful brass player you will have to buckle down and do the hard work, even the boring parts!

I am not opposed to music being fun—far from it! But the best fun comes after diligent practice and study of materials which do not yield immediate enjoyment, for it is mastery of these “boring” things that makes the musician a better player, a better listener, a better “understander” of music.

Now if you will excuse me, I need to go and practice some long tones.

 

 

Posted in Alto Trombone, Bass Trombone, Daily Routine, Education, Euphonium, Music, Music Education, Music Theory, Musicology, Pedagogy, Playing Fundamentals, Practicing, Scales and Arpeggios, Society, Teaching Low Brass, Tenor Trombone, Trombone, Tuba

Why I Still Hand Out Printed Bibles

While as an older child and teenager I was always keen on having the newest technologies available to me—particularly with regard to entertainment—as I’ve gotten older I’ve definitely become a “late adopter.” I resisted exchanging my desktop PC for a notebook until 2008, was slow to start using text messages and smartphones, and I have only recently begun using a tablet computer for displaying sheet music in practice and performance. And after years of resistance I have at last sharply curtailed buying printed books in favor of using a Kindle Paperwhite. Both my wallet and my shelf space have benefited from these changes, and traveling is certainly easier with a small device or two replacing the multiple books and sheet music scores with which I once stuffed my carry-on bag. I have even begun doing my daily Bible reading on the Kindle, something I would never have imagined even a couple of years ago. I may be slow to adopt new technologies, but once I feel that a new piece of hardware or software is proven I am happy to put it to use.

540700717The proliferation of Bible reading apps in particular perhaps calls into question the continued mission and activities of The Gideons International, the association in whose scripture distribution ministry I have participated for the past twelve years. We are coming close to meeting our goal of distributing 100 million scriptures annually by 2020, but in a time in which even committed church members have exchanged printed Bibles for reading from phones or tablets during corporate worship, is giving away printed Bibles passé? Even The Gideons International itself has a free Bible reading app! Still, I don’t think the time for distributing printed Bibles has passed. Here are a few reasons why.

1. Printed text is an enduring technology. Digital archives are a wonderful thing. Because of the multiplied thousands of articles available in PDF format even 10-15 years ago I was able to complete my doctoral dissertation in considerably less time and with less expense than if I had done so a decade or two before. I well remember reading British brass band journals from over a century ago on my computer in my basement; in previous years I would have had to exchange my own basement for a musty library archive someplace in England. Despite the great promise of digital archives, though, I have also heard stories about how digital resources from even 40-50 years ago are no longer accessible because the hardware needed to access them no longer exists. Conversely, library books from the same period are still enjoying a long and useful shelf life. What does all of this have to do with Bibles? The Bible apps on my phone, tablet, and eReader are useful and convenient, but sooner or later (probably sooner) they will be obsolete. I have a Gideon Bible from the 1910s on my shelf, and its text is as plain and readable as it was when it was first delivered from the printer. Printed Bibles endure.

2. Electronic Bibles are not everywhere convenient. One of the most remarkable developments in the “Two-Thirds World” is the proliferation of digital communications to rural areas that were entirely bypassed by their analog counterparts. Cellular telephones are relatively common in parts of Africa that were once chronically underserved with regard to telephone service, electricity, etc. Still, digital media can be expensive and unreliable, whereas the Gideons have managed to bring the cost of printed New Testaments down to around $1.20 on average. Those Testaments rarely break, and never run out of battery!

3. It is still nice to hand someone something tangible. One of the things that I sometimes do not enjoy about my teaching position in a secular university is that religious expression is often effectively curtailed by regulations and expectations both real and perceived. I don’t have as many opportunities to personally hand out Bibles as would someone in a working environment more amenable to proselytizing. Still, when I do have an opportunity to place a Bible in a hotel room or hospital room or hand a New Testament to someone personally there is a sense that something tangible, something real is being given, something that came at a cost to the giver. People still appreciate that, even as we hope and pray that those receiving scriptures will read therein of the ultimate Giver, the One who gave Himself that we might live.

Giving Gideon New Testament4. God still uses these Bibles to save souls. Last night our Gideon camp held its annual banquet for area pastors, and while I regularly speak in churches to raise funds for buying Bibles I very much enjoy hearing others speak about how God is using the Gideon ministry, hearing new testimonies of lives changed through the giving, receiving, and reading of His Word. Will the time come when printed Bibles are no longer useful or relevant? Honestly, I doubt it, and in any case it is clear that God is still pleased to bless the distribution of scriptures around the world, now in 201 countries, territories, and possessions, and in 107 languages. I’m happy to still be a part.

Posted in Bible, Books, Digital Revolution, Evangelism, Practical Christianity, Salvation, Smartphones, Tablet Computers, The Gideons International, Theology

A Reliable Predictor of Music Majors that Succeed…and Those that Quit

Nearly ten years ago now I began a certificate program in systematic theology that consisted of five courses plus a substantial final project. I completed that program in 2011 and still consider it to have been a great blessing to me, one about which I have written here in a previous post. At the same time, the process made me aware of a major flaw in distance education that, while not entirely negating the value of online instruction, represents a marked lack in that model compared to on-campus instruction. That flaw is the lack of mutual support and camaraderie among fellow students and even between students and faculty. In traditional face-to-face courses students often study together, share ideas, and even socialize outside of class. Occasionally professors are involved in such informal gatherings, and “unplanned teaching moments” can end up being as vital to the student’s development as the lectures and activities during class. While online instructors sometimes try to replicate this via discussion forums and even scheduled “virtual gatherings” in chatrooms, the spontaneity of these interactions and even the “ministry of presence” among one’s peers is difficult to replicate in a virtual setting.

In the course of my online theological instruction I became aware of how men studying together for vocational ministry formed support groups which continued throughout and even beyond their time in seminary. The pastorate can be a lonely calling, and I can’t help but think that those in that profession who either lack a seminary education or who were educated online or via correspondence keenly feel the lack of this support group. In a similar way, albeit with much less eternal significance, music educators form similar support groups. The band directors whose former students I teach and then send back into that profession operate in a largely friendly professional milieu that builds upon relationships built during their time as college music majors. Over time one’s peer group within the profession expands to include mutual friends and acquaintances of others within the group until a very healthy and effective support network exists. Something similar exists among my colleagues and acquaintances within the university low brass teaching community. Being a band director or other type of music teacher can be, like the pastorate, very lonely, so having a support group in which one can confide and from which one can receive counsel is vital to success. And like I said, this begins in college.

In a healthy college or university music department students are hanging out at the music building all the time. Sometimes they are practicing, sometimes they are studying for theory exams, sometimes writing drill or arranging music, and sometimes they are just “hanging out.” The point is that they are together, learning together, performing together, and simply being together, helping one another through what might not be the most difficult degree program on campus, but it is certainly one of the more labor-intensive ones. This group that helps one overcome the challenges of the music degree program—especially the music education program—forms the nucleus of that support group which will last throughout a student’s career. Without it, succeeding in the degree program is difficult, to say nothing about the rigors of the music profession itself.

While I don’t have hard data to share in this little essay, over twenty years’ casual observation tells me that a significant percentage of students who begin their university careers as music or music education majors do not complete the program. Most simply decide that the “music life” is not for them and choose some other major in which they can be more successful. Others drop out of college altogether and pursue some other path, and some simply seem to “wash out.” Regardless of their reasons for leaving, a common factor that exists among many of these folks is that they are rarely in the music building more often than they absolutely have to be. They don’t participate in study groups, they don’t practice at the same times as others or engage in mutual critique, and they don’t spend time just “hanging out” with their fellow musicians. I am never surprised to see such students end up pursuing some other profession or way of life. The support of fellow students is too vital to success, and even continuation.

Now, please do not take me as somehow judging those students who leave the music program for some other pursuit. I’m glad whenever students build careers that enable them to have happy, fulfilled, productive lives, whether inside or outside of the music field. Students leave music for any number of reasons, but a common thread is the lack of engagement with and building support groups among their peers. Students looking to become musicians or music educators should find friends among their fellow music majors, and do it quickly. Trust me, you’ll need them!

Posted in Career Choices, Distance Education, Education, Higher Education, Instructional Technology, Music, Music Education, Pastoral Ministry, Teaching Low Brass, Theological Education

Performance Anxiety? “That’s a Boggart, That Is!”

I’ve written periodically about performance anxiety over the nearly six years that I’ve been blogging for one primary reason: I suffer from performance anxiety myself! I remember as a student thinking something to the effect of “I can’t wait until I’m really good and don’t have to deal with getting nervous anymore.” At the time, I’m sure I defined “really good” somehow in terms of “has a university teaching position and/or orchestral job.” The problem is, now I have that university teaching position and, at least on a part-time basis, an orchestral job, and yet in some respects my performance anxiety is worse than ever. This makes sense if you think about it—now that I’m “Dr. Everett” people’s expectations of me are higher, and thus the pressure I place upon myself to perform well is greater.

Happily, although my internal experience of performance anxiety has increased I have mostly learned how to minimize its external manifestations and its effects upon performance, and usually after the first ten minutes or so of a “big performance” I settle in and feel fine. In fact, I have sometimes been complimented on just how calm and collected I seem before going on stage (it’s an act!). If you would like to read more about the approaches I have taken in order to realize this amount of success in managing anxiety symptoms, here is a listing of my previous blog posts on the topic.

One approach that I have recently taken more often with myself and with students who suffer from performance anxiety is to encourage them (and me) to face the anxiety and the circumstances which precipitate it, to acknowledge the presence of the anxiety rather than attempt to deny its existence, to accept the anxiety as a more or less normal response to the factors which precipitate it, and then to dismiss the anxiety as a harmless feeling, one which has no power to disrupt performance unless we allow it to do so. Again, far from denying the presence or even the intensity of performance anxiety, by accepting it and then setting it aside we short-circuit the downward spiral in both our emotions and in our performing that comes from trying to suppress the anxious feelings. Once acknowledged and accepted these feelings begin to seem less monstrous, and are eventually set aside.

snape riddikulusIn this way, performance anxiety is a bit like the boggart, a magical creature which appears periodically in the Harry Potter series of novels by J.K. Rowling (b. 1965). We first encounter a boggart in the third novel, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999). In that story, third-year students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry are introduced to a boggart in a controlled exercise supervised by Professor Remus Lupin. Although essentially harmless, when a boggart encounters a person it immediately assumes the form of that individual’s greatest fear, and in the class exercise the boggart is seen to take the form of a giant spider, Professor Severus Snape, one of the fearsome dementors (a much more frightening magical creature from the stories), and other genuinely scary forms. The boggart is defeated by using the spell Riddikulus, which causes its terrifying form to suddenly become a humorous parody of itself (such as Snape suddenly wearing an old woman’s clothing). In other words, once the wizard understands that the boggart is not truly threatening it can be easily banished.

Thus with the musician and performance anxiety. The solution is not to deny its presence, or to run from it, and certainly not to submit to it. Rather, we face it, acknowledge it, accept it, and then dismiss it. Is this approach always 100% effective? No—neither did the Riddikulus spell always succeed on the first attempt—but it is much more effective than cowering in fear. To feel heightened emotions in advance of a big performance is normal, but don’t allow them to keep you from succeeding!


Needless to say, I am speaking of temporary, run-of-the-mill anxious feelings experienced by just about everyone in advance of major performances or other important events, and which dissipate once the stressor is removed. This post should not be taken as denying the existence or seriousness of long-term anxiety disorders, or the necessity of treatment of such by medical professionals.

Posted in Music, Performance Anxiety, Performing, Worry

Only One Trombone in the Pit? Try the Bass Trombone!

For some reason I can remember as a high school student looking at the liner notes to an original cast recording of Les Misérables and being rather taken aback by the small size of the orchestra and especially the fact that there was only one trombonist listed—a bass trombonist. At that time I had no experience in pit orchestra work, so I knew nothing about the logistics of seating in orchestra pits, much less the periodic negotiations between the American Federation of Musicians and the League of American Theatres and Producers, in which musicians and theatre companies argue regarding the minimum size allowed for orchestras in live Broadway productions. Theatregoers—particularly those who travel from “flyover country” and only see Broadway shows on rare vacation outings—might be astonished to know that if some producers had their way live orchestras, which many see as a highlight of these productions, would be replaced by “canned music” and synthesizers. In any case, the small size of some orchestra pits combined with the shrinking numbers in these negotiated “minimums” has led to new shows whose brass sections consist of one or two trumpets, one or two horns, and a single trombonist. While older shows with fuller compliments of musicians are sometimes simply performed with parts missing, a recently more common practice is to have a composer or arranger rescore the program for a smaller orchestra. This generally leads to a more satisfying result than “taking stuff out.”

With both new and re-orchestrated small orchestra programs (including not only musicals but also opera and ballet) the single trombonist usually finds himself playing a chameleon-like role, sometimes acting as an additional horn, trumpet, or bassoon, or assuming the role usually occupied by the tuba. Occasionally he will even play an actual “trombone” part! While some of these scores ask the single player to double on tenor and bass trombones, or bass trombone and tuba, in my experience the part has usually been labeled simply “trombone,” and in any case there is not always adequate space in the pit for additional instruments. I have performed in pit orchestras for several productions like this in the past fifteen years or so, and have nearly always found the bass trombone to be my instrument of choice for these “one trombone” shows, even when the tonal range does not absolutely necessitate the larger instrument. Here are a few reasons why.

1. In these scores the trombone plays a foundational role in the brass section, and to a certain extent in the orchestra as a whole. In the absence of tuba and contrabassoon, and with usually a small number of celli and basses, the single trombonist often finds himself providing the “bottom” for the orchestra. Even when the notes are not incredibly low the bass trombone is still better suited to this than is the tenor.

2. Playing “third horn” and “second bassoon.” While the bass trombone’s heft at louder dynamics enables it to adroitly accomplish the above task, its mellow sound at softer dynamics is an asset when the trombonist is called upon to perform delicate section passages once assigned to now-missing horn or bassoon parts. A skilled bass trombonist will be able to add the additional notes to these passages without significantly disrupting the prevailing “horn” or “bassoon” timbre.

3. The second valve often proves useful. Most orchestra pits are rather cramped spaces and if you find yourself performing one of these reductions you will probably be seated in a back corner with very little room to operate. Alternate fingerings afforded by the second valve on most bass trombones can sometimes prevent extended handslide movements that are difficult in small spaces and even facilitate page turns. I’ll be doing the latter in such a performance later today, using the two valves combined to play D3 in first position and holding the handslide with my left pinky while turning the page with my right hand. This is a handy trick not possible on an instrument with one or no valves.

4. Adding additional low notes. This last suggestion should be taken only rarely and with special attention given to remaining in good taste. Orchestrators writing for a single trombonist often write with the tenor trombone in mind, and leave the trombone in a higher octave at cadences which would benefit from a bit more “bottom.” While blatting pedal tones would not be appropriate sometimes a well-placed note in the valve register fits very nicely. Of course, this should only be done with the (sometimes tacit) approval of the conductor.

There are, of course, instances where the bass trombone might not be the instrument of choice, such as productions with more jazz or pop influence which clearly demand the timbre and nimble movements of the small-bore tenor trombone. Often, though, the bass trombone just makes sense in these orchestrations. I guess that Les Mis orchestrator was on to something!

Posted in Bass Trombone, Music, Orchestration, Performing, Pit Orchestras, Tenor Trombone, Trombone, Tuba

“With Gentleness and Respect”

But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. (1 Peter 3:14-16)

I mentioned last week that social media has not been an unmitigated good for our public discourse. In fact, it has in many ways been decidedly bad. Whereas people once shared their opinions on the issues of the day only in appropriate contexts—and reserved sharing more unsavory or controversial opinions for very selective occasions among those who shared those opinions—today people not only demand the opportunity to speak but also claim a right to be heard. What’s more, most of the new fora for such sharing of opinions are of the online variety, where it is possible to deliver spite and vitriol in previously unheard of quantities, all from the safety and relative anonymity of a keyboard behind a computer screen. It is easier to dehumanize one’s opponents when looking them in the face is unnecessary.

I’m not pointing fingers here at those of particular political, social, or religious persuasions. Each of us undoubtedly holds to certain opinions that someone else would find intolerant, intolerable, unpalatable, strange, or even mean. And yet, simple politeness has for generations allowed us to function as a society despite great diversity of views on any number of subjects. Only in the age of social media do we find ourselves increasingly unable to peaceably coexist with those who do not share our views. One might argue that the contagion dates back further, at least to the advent of cable news programs which long ago discarded reasonable argument in favor of having people yell at—and past—each other.

Certainly we can do better, and Christians in particular are called to do better. In an age when biblical ethical and moral standards—to say nothing of the exclusivity of the gospel message—are held in disrepute, Christians who wish to represent their views in the public square and ultimately win converts will do themselves no favors by being harsh, boorish, or mean-spirited. In the above passage Peter calls us to be ready to defend our faith, but to always do so in a gentle and respectful manner. In the following chapter he makes a similar statement negatively, commending those who suffer for the sake of the gospel but not if they are guilty of some crime (cf. 1 Peter 4:12-16). The Christian message is offensive enough on its own without us making things worse through poor attitudes or actual evildoing.

We must also take care to deal similarly with those within the church with whom we might differ on secondary and tertiary matters of doctrine. Just as children (and adults) who are well-behaved and polite with others sometimes treat their family members with great discourtesy, it is possible even for Christians who are careful to treat outsiders kindly to be more harsh and unreserved with fellow believers. I have sometimes been guilty during theological or related practical discussions of a curtness that is unbecoming, and would have done better to extend that same winsome kindness to all. Christ does not call his people to waffle on important matters of truth, of course, but he does demand that we express those truths in the best possible way.

I sometimes think that everyone should have to spend some time working in an environment where their religious, social, or political views are in the minority, as I have done during my entire career as a conservative Christian working on university campuses. Knowing how rare my views are in this context has a way of limiting the manner and occasions on which I choose to opine on religious, political, and social matters. Most of all, it has a way of forcing me to strive to represent my Lord and his people in a way that is endearing rather than offputting. This is strategically advantageous, it follows Peter’s directive quoted at the beginning of this article, but perhaps most importantly it leads me to treat people as the bearers of God’s image that the Bible says they are.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)

Every human being—no matter who they are, where they come from, or what their views are—bears the image of God. Thus all deserve to be treated with kindness, gentleness, and respect. When we do so, we might even see some of them consider and eventually believe the message of Christ.

Posted in Apologetics, Christian Worldview, Digital Revolution, Practical Christianity, Salvation, Society, Theology, Truth

“Gadgets and Gizmos:” Facebook Groups for Low Brass Players

fbToday’s installment of my occasional “Gadgets and Gizmos” series highlights not a physical piece of technology or other equipment, but rather a fairly recent forum for the development and exchange of ideas with regard to pedagogy, equipment, repertoire, and other matters of interest to low brass players. Despite its now ubiquitous presence in our society, social media in its current form is a phenomenon well less than twenty years old, and few would argue that its influence has been universally good. Certainly even a cursory glance at the present political and cultural landscape will show us that it has perhaps not been a net good, since one can argue that social media has been a major contributor to our present fractiousness.

Despite this demonstrated potential for ill, some individuals and organizations have figured out ways to use social media as a tool to improve relationships, institutions, and professions. For low brass players, Facebook groups have been a boon to the sharing and refinement of ideas regarding our craft. In a way, this is a natural extension of activities we knew going back into the mid-1990s, when the Trombone-L and TubaEuph email distribution lists were in full swing, followed by the development of online discussion forums such as The Trombone Forum and TromboneChat.com (two sites whose interrelationship is complicated and not worth discussing now), TubeNet BBS, TubaEuph, and others. The low brass community has always had its share of nerds and techies, and that is not a bad thing!

The adoption of Facebook groups by our community has been fairly recent, but extremely successful, not just in terms of numbers of members but also in the fruitfulness of discussions had in these usually well-moderated groups. Here are a few of my favorites, with short commentary on each.

Trombone Pedagogy. This group is, in my opinion, the best of the Facebook low brass groups, with numerous daily discussions covering topics related to trombone teaching and performance. Discussions of equipment, performances, and other matters are relegated to other pages, so the mission of this group has remained focused and helpful. This is thanks largely to an effective moderating team that keeps things on track without becoming draconian.

Trombone Equipment. While the title might suggest that this is a sales-oriented page, it is instead a place where questions and ideas regarding equipment can be discussed separately from the pedagogical discussions on the above page.

Tuba/Euphonium. There are some discussions here like those at Trombone Pedagogy, but interspersed with more performance videos and other “links of interest” rather than having content limited to serious discussion. Equipment-related matters are also discussed here.

Bass Trombone Appreciation Society. Somewhere between the Trombone Pedagogy and Tuba/Euphonium groups in terms of consistency and seriousness of content, but more or less limited to bass trombone-specific topics.

Low Brass Pedagogy. For some reason, this group is not as busy as some of the others, but occasional topics of interest do arise.

TromboneForum.org/TromboneChat.com. As the title suggests, this group somehow functions as an extension of the aforementioned discussion forums outside of Facebook. It is not as strictly moderated as Trombone Pedagogy.

Trombone Marketplace and Tuba/Euphonium Marketplace. Buying and selling used instruments—and avoiding eBay fees where possible—has always been a key function of low brass groups online, and Facebook is simply the latest forum for this. There is a certain “buyer beware” aspect of such transactions, of course, though online low brass communities are fairly good at self-policing, warning members about possible fraud, bad deals, and even known unscrupulous sellers.

I’m sure there are other groups like these on Facebook and other social media sites, but these are the ones with which I am the most familiar and which I find most helpful. I would be remiss if I did not also mention the Facebook pages for the International Trombone Association and International Tuba-Euphonium Association, but these mostly serve as places for advertising conferences, journals, and articles, as opposed to the almost organically growing discussions on the other pages listed here. While there is certainly still an important place for high-quality published books, articles, sheet music, and other resources that have been filtered through “gatekeepers” such as editors, publishers, and reviewers, the internet has provided and through social media continues to provide fertile ground from which new streams of information, ideas, and sounds can edify, inspire, and challenge us.

At the very least, it provides a place where I can share these blog posts!

Posted in "Gadgets and Gizmos", Alto Trombone, Bass Trombone, Euphonium, Instructional Technology, Low Brass Resources, Music, Online Resources, Pedagogy, Teaching Low Brass, Tenor Trombone, Trombone, Tuba