Celebrating Phil Smith's Legacy

It was an honor to be on stage this week surrounded by so many former teachers, colleagues, and friends as we paid tribute to the 36 year career of Phil Smith upon his retirement as Principal Trumpet from the New York Philharmonic.  He’s contributed so much to the trumpet world, and I don’t think I will ever forget the look on his face as he conducted all 54 of us through The Great Gate of Kiev.  

The Value of Music

James Ehnes asks a great question.  Why don’t schools ask students to listen to a Beethoven Symphony or Miles Davis in the same way that they demand students study the works of Mark Twain or Shakespeare?

One of the reasons I love my job as a teaching artist at the New York Philharmonic is that I DO get to draw students deeply inside the cannon of great musical literature.  

I went to public school, and remember being assigned to read a few Shakespeare plays, a work or two of the ancient Greeks and several of the notable “coming of age” novels of the 20th century.

But never once was I told to listen to a Beethoven symphony. Continue reading the full article.

What is the value of a Beethoven Symphony?

A City Comptroller Who Supports the Arts

(via The Brian Lehrer Show: Missing: Arts in Schools - WNYC)

It may be unusual for a city comptroller to show up and speak about public policy in front of an audience full of arts educators, but that’s exactly what NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer did yesterday. He was making a special appearance at Face to Face, the annual conference for arts educators and arts organizations sponsored by the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable.  It was inspiring to hear him speak about the importance of investing real money back into arts education programs - especially focusing on putting full-time certified arts teachers back in our public schools.  Mr. Stringer had more than just words to back up that vision, he’s done his homework and crunched the numbers too.  Read his full report State of the Arts: A Plan to Boost Arts Education in New York City Schools.

Decoda in South Carolina

I’m particularly proud of the work my colleagues in Decoda are doing this week. Cellist Claire Bryant is leading a team of musicians during a weeklong workshop with inmates at Lee Correctional Facility in South Carolina.  It’s truly amazing stuff, and what the video was able to capture is just the tip of the iceberg.  

Happy Birthday Colin

My 5th graders at Santa Maria School in the Bronx heard that Colin is celebrating a special birthday soon.  We’ve been studying how to compose “variations” in music this year, and so we hope he enjoys this special remixed variation of Happy Birthday just for him! 

Online Trumpet Lessons

Call me a luddite, but I’ve been somewhat skeptical of online music lessons when compared to traditional lessons that take place face to face.  After all, a virtual teacher can’t play duets with his/her student, hear a true representation of someone’s sound quality, or even get an accurate sense of a student’s rhythm and timing.      

But…maybe I’m being too negative.  Online lessons are clearly becoming a trend (see this article in the NY Times) and perhaps if both teacher and student are driven to succeed and creative in adapting to the limitations of the technology, there might be a lot to gain.  

Instead of being an old curmudgeon about this, I’ve decided to give it the old college try and hang up my virtual shingle to teach trumpet lessons online. I think that the platform might be especially successful for more advanced students and adults. Let me know if you want to give it a try! 


'Boardwalk Empire: Volume 2: Music From the HBO Original Series' | Album Reviews | Rolling Stone

I only play on a couple of these tracks but had a blast doing it!  Rolling Stone’s review… 

September 3, 2013

On Boardwalk Empire, Prohibition is a time of corruption, violence and really painful cures for gonorrhea, but musically it was a clever and lively era; many of America’s greatest songwriters peaked in the 1920s. On this second volume of Boardwalk songs, a variety of crooners and warblers are paired with the redoubtable revivalists Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks. Elvis Costello channels Bing Crosby while whistling like a lark; David Johansen belts through the booty­licious “Strut Miss Lizzie”; and Rufus Wainwright, on the jungle-feverish “Jimbo Jambo,” suavely lusts for a “dark-skinned bimbo.” Even Nucky would smile.

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/albumreviews/boardwalk-empire-volume-2-music-from-the-hbo-original-series-20130903#ixzz2zZWaIyCQ 
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