I have always preached that each musician should have his/her own internal metronome and that the musician should not have to rely on the rhythm section to keep a steady beat. This is true. A great horn section will swing with or without the rhythm section. However, you get a weak rhythm section in your band and everything gets off kilter. I do not have this in my band, thankfully, but I have sat in on some bands with some weak subs. This is especially pivotal with the drummer. The drummer can single handedly bring down the band if he/she does not have a good sense of time - that is the importance of the position. If you have a fluctuating ride cymbal or high hat, or worse a sense of time that is not on Duracell batteries, and you can kiss any unity, swing or musicality goodbye. This may sound harsh but what I am really saying is that my hat is off to drummers everywhere for taking on this burden of responsibility. I would be sweating buckets if I was in that seat.
I have been messing around the mouthpieces recently. I was never a "mouthpiece" guy before and for the longest time, I was playing the Bach 61/2 AL that I was given in Grade 5. Someone said I was working too hard, since I was playing a lot of principle and lead trombone, and I switched to a Bach 11C and that worked well for a time, especially with my King 3B horn. Although, when I bought my Courtois Xtreme horn, I found that I blew out the sound too easily, so I used the Courtois 6 1/2 MP mouthpiece that came with it. A nice dark sound, but again, I was working too hard. So, now I am trying out the Yamaha Al Kay mouthpiece and from what I can see, it seems very close to a Yamaha 12C mouthpiece. Nice sound all around the range and some assistance in the upper register. I can not "bark it" out just yet in the lower range but I think that will come in time. I think with any mouthpiece there is some transition time. Coming back to the title, I think we need to be more like trumpet players and try a bunch of mouthpieces, as it really changes how you play the horn. Too often as trombone players, we stick with one mouthpiece (the one we were originally given) and we have no idea how another one might benefit us. So be more like a trumpet player and try a new mouthpiece today!
It has been a few years since I was with the BCO. I will be sitting-in on lead trombone tonight and I'm jazzed to be doing it. Bob is a real character who I met while doing a Rat Pack show in Niagara Falls, ON. He was actually my roommate for the duration of the run. This man has stories upon stories about all the great big bands, and he has played in most of them. A real treasure and a great guy. Should be a real treat.
Ok, sure this is a blatant advertisement for the website, "hits" are down, but it is also true. Just had a talk with Vince Gassi and he emphasized that you have to fail numerous times when attempting to publish your music before you succeed. It is the same with publishing research and applying for jobs. You keep putting yourself out there and getting rejected until you are finally rewarded. At that point, those other dark and frustrating times fade away and become a distant memory. So if you have a passion, keep at it and learn from your mistakes. What can you do differently the next time? Do it and get back out there.
Here is one of my more recent arrangements that I wrote for the Sheraton Caswell Orchestras. The mock-up is using Noteperformer's most recent upgrade, which makes the playback enjoyable and at times, believable. Check it out, along with my other charts, here.
Dr. Michael Kearns
Musician, educator, husband, father, web designer ... my life is like a mosaic with each piece vying for my attention.