The Virginia Tech Trumpet Festival was originally designed to continue the legacy of Professor Emeritus, Alan Bachelder, and his trumpet scholarship. This scholarship is used to help standout trumpet students at Virginia Tech met their academic goals through additional financial support. After this past weekend, I believe that this scholarship will continue to provide that support for generations to come.
Since this past weekend, I have been reminded how much I love teaching and performing in this setting. Getting the opportunity to help shape young performer's musical lives is truly a powerful feeling. Watching their eyes light up when they see an immediate change in their performance is the sole reason I made the decision to pursue this career. Not only does teaching provide that positive feeling, but also sharing repertoire with students through live performance. Being able to teach through live modeling what these students can accomplish provides the same feeling. Finding new works that students may not have been exposed to allows them to make their own choices on musical interpretation.
In addition to having the opportunity do my own teaching and performing, I was lucky to see Vincent DiMartino and Gabriel DiMartino do the same. I had never met either Vince or Gabriel before, but I was blown away by their ability to diagnose and address issues each student was facing with a simple statement. They provided quick descriptions of what they were hearing, but then gave each student several paths to fix each issue. Along with their description of the diagnosis, they modeled for them their remedies. Each had their own way of presenting the information, whether it be with more or less information in words. No matter, they each resulted back to modeling their findings and solutions to the students. This type of teaching is something that I value the most. It not only allows the students to hear what is wrong and how to fix it, but the teacher presents an aural example of the correct performance style for the student to model. This allows the student to then compare and contrast their own music products, both during the lesson and later in practice room.
The weekend culminated with a solo performance of Kevin McKee's Centennial Horizon and a featured performance with Dr. Jason Crafton and the Virginia Tech Wind Ensemble of Kevin Mckee's Under Western Skies. Both performances went fantastically and the students seemed very receptive to both pieces. Having the opportunity to do things like this make my time spent in school (and paying back the student loan debt) worth it! Finding ways to shape young musical minds creates a lasting love for the art of teaching and performing that no other outlet can accomplish. It was truly a magical weekend that created lifelong memories and new friendships.
*Below is the handout I created for my warm-up session. It is based on exercises that I have performed with previous teachers and trumpet performers. Each exercises is a duplicate of their instructions or a slight variation. Be sure to only move to the next exercise once you have become familiar and somewhat proficient at the preceding exercise. This will prevent injury and enable you to add to the knowledge learned from exercise to exercise. Take each exercise with an open mind and focus on the instructions given to each. After, you may begin to pick and choose which exercise works best for your issues and personal playing style. Feel free to contact me for more information on the exercises. I am always happy to help or redesign these exercises to better suit what you need in your own practice. *
WARNING: This post does not contain reflections on trumpet related material, but rather provides an opportunity to vent feelings about a recently decision in my life. This article will contain vague descriptions of two positions, as well as provide me with a therapeutic opportunity to publicly present my thoughts and feelings in a public forum.Those of you who know me can probably figure this information out, but things are left vague none-the-less for anonymity for the positions . Whether you read this article through, or skip it altogether, it is intended to provide me with closure on a hard and somewhat hurtful decision I had to recently make regarding my future and employment.
I was recently presented with an opportunity to step into a position that would have been the culmination of years of study and practice on my instrument. This also would have been an opportunity that would have enabled me to begin a career in a field that I have been working towards since I declared my major as a freshman in my undergraduate. At the same time another opportunity was presented to me, but with an outcome that was not 100% secured. This position however, would have enabled me to stay in my current location and start a similar life in my field of study without having to be separated from my wife and to start a family sooner.
Now, the subject of distance in regards to our occupational localities between my wife and I have never been an issue in our future as a couple. We knew what we were signing up for when we got engaged that this would be the life of two musicians, especially in the early years of our careers. The only kicker is that one of us has a position that does not allow for very much leniency in where we live. The other issues is that I can not just apply to university teaching positions near me without those universities posting a vacancy. The same issues exists in the realm of performing in that where I currently live is oversaturated with fine musicians and in many cases subbing opportunities in numerous major and minor ensembles are often non-existent.
The overarching issues with these positions was that the timeframe of response for one position was not flexible AT ALL, while the other (less secure, but more geographically beneficial position) was scheduled to respond with an answer 5 days after the first's hard deadline. As the confirmed position's deadline loomed, I reached out to as many colleagues and mentors as possible to discuss the Pros and Cons of my predicament. In the end, I was somewhat forced to say NO to the confirmed position in hopes of the other position would come to fruition.
The part of this story that relates to the title of this article is that due to personal health factors, the second position's outcome has drastically dwindled in it's potential! These factors are not ones I can control, but things that have been given to me at birth. Several years ago, these factors could have been overlooked or even given a direct waiver, but in the current state of these positions and organizations, tremendous cutbacks are changing their screening processes. This is where it hurts!
I REALLY wanted to accept the first position, but I needed to find out my potential in the second position. The need to know the second positions potential outcome was because it would have allowed my wife and I to live together and start our family sooner than our original plan - which is what we wanted as a family. As mentioned, I requested an extension on the deadline from the first position, but they would not budge. I was forced say no to a confirmed position in hope of position that would have allowed my wife and I to be together in the first several years of our marriage. The sad part now, is that even with the health factors that are slowing my screening process, the timetable for the second position's potential has been drastically shifted. So much so, that it almost seems like it will never happen.
That is the hurt! That is the pain of saying No. Now that I have been given the information about the second position's potential, it hurts that I had to say No to the first opportunity due to their timeline only to find out the poor outcome of the second position. I was given the opportunity to start a career in a job that would have allowed me to do what I originally set out to do, but the second positions immediate benefit to my family's near future was too appealing to let pass. It only makes it worse that I was not given a bit longer of a deadline to hear from the second position before I had to let the first know. I would have only need 5 more days, but they were not willing to bend on that deadline. 120 hours! That is all I would have needed to be given in order to not feel this pain of saying no to something that now, is in many ways, was my only potential of doing what I love in the near future.
I know that decisions in life are not all easy, especially the ones that present information later indicating that you now are not getting anything when you could have had something great. This is the struggle of life, and the pain of saying No. These are life lessons and in many ways events that help shape who I am as a person. The only difficulty is that now I am not just responsible for myself, but I have my family and potential family to keep in mind during these decisions. Was it wrong for me to take that gamble on the potential of having a position with my wife and to start our family at an earlier date? Or was it wrong of me to turn down something confirmed in hopes of something unconfirmed that would have benefited my family sooner? These are decisions that, in hindsight, are obvious now but in the moment hard to make. What would you have done? Did I make the right decision at the time, or did I gamble on something that shouldn't have?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. I want to hear if you would have handled it the same way or differently.
Again, ignore the poor grammar or conversational style that this article provides. It is providing an opportunity to let me present my feelings in a therapeutic format.