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I am an experienced low brass instructor (trombone, bass trombone, euphonium, tuba) in all musical genres with a passion for making students perform at their best, understand basic music theory, and enjoy playing. I’ve taught privately in public schools and my home studio for over 30 years.
Past students have become music educators on the high school and collegiate level.
If my students can have even a portion of the experiences and fun that I have with my horn, then I have succeeded as a teacher.
I come from a musical family. I met my wife in bands at the University of Illinois, and we still perform together. I am the father of a musician and understand how kids learn. Our daughter is pursuing her master’s in music composition at DePaul University.
I am an active performer in the Chicago area. I have been a member of the Illinois Brass Band (IBB) for the past 26 years. IBB is a British-style brass band, that typically gives 15 – 20 performances annually. IBB performs all styles of music – Brass Band, classical, jazz, pop, rock, hymn tunes, etc. IBB has traveled all throughout the United States, Canada, and England. Every spring, we compete in the North American Brass Band Association Championships and are six-time champions. I have performed on all six of the Band’s professional recordings. We were been featured on WTTW Channel 11’s “Time-Out Chicago”. I have been a featured soloist on tenor and bass trombone multiple times.
Recently, I have taken up a new challenge in the band - Eb Tuba! What a great instrument! It can be anything and everything from off beats to a solo instrument! Look for me at IBB gigs in the back now!
I also do freelance gigging throughout Chicago.
I started teaching after graduation from college back in the 1980s as a way to pass my knowledge onto the next generation of low brass students. I studied trombone performance at the University of Illinois under Dr. Robert Gray and his influence on me was great. My goal as a teacher is to motivate my students to constantly be better via the basics: scales, rhythm, and repertoire knowledge. Fundamentals are the key to learning anything new, and my warm-up sheet I have developed emphasizes that via long-tones, articulation, and lip slurs. I based my warm-up sheet on the teachings of Emory Remington.
I start with a new student by doing a thorough exam of where they are in the learning process of the instrument. I take my warm-up sheet and determine the student's ability. Scales and key knowledge is critical to becoming a good musician, and the circle of fourths is introduced as soon as possible. Basic music theory knowledge is always a part of my process, and the level of detail discussed increases as the student matures.
All students are told upon the first lesson, that they are playing a wind instrument, powered by their lungs. The importance of a big, focused air-stream is constantly reinforced. Younger students lungs aren't developed, but through time, they will be able to take a full breath each and every time, and their tone quality will improve. For older students, the concept of a strong set of core muscles will help them fill up their sound.
For younger students, we work on their method book from band, but my goal for all my students is to be ahead of everyone else. We can achieve that quickly and the student is motivated to work ahead of their peers.
For advanced students, they are advised to work on Arban's Method or Melodious Etudes by Rochut. Advanced students are encouraged to audition for the Illinois Music Educators Association District 9 band (held annually in October). Over the years, I have had multiple students make the band, as well as All-State Band.
All students are encouraged to enter in their school's solo and ensemble contest. I help my students choose a solo, and we prepare for this important event in any students growth. Auditions are a part of every ensemble and level, and I always determine when the next audition is, and prepare the student accordingly.
My teaching style is to be passionate about music and a learning for it. If my students learn and have fun with their instruments, then I know I've done a good job. I like to have a good time during my lessons - because I love what I do, and I want to pass that on to my students. I am constantly playing either with the student, or as an example. I am definitely not a singer, but I'm constantly singing along with my students, as a way to teach pitch recognition. This is critical for all musicians, but even more so for trombonists, since they are playing what I like to call, a giant tuning slide. Music theory is always introduced at every level of student.
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