Clark Media Productions

Clark Media Productions is a place for me to share my love of audio production, music, trombone, and music technology. Subscribe to my email list for late breaking blog posts, videos, and educational content!

Filtering by Category: College

"Excuse me, sir?  What should I do if I want to make it as a trombone player?"

   Blind Boys of Alabama   Moog factory tour

  Playing with fun toys 

 At a concert the other day, a young man approached me at intermission and, literally, asked me the question above.... 

After I said, "practice", I asked him if he listens to a lot of music.  He said, "not really."

Now, I will admit that I wasn't surprised to find a young player that doesn't listen to a lot of trombone recordings. However, I was surprised that someone who doesn't listen much did have the curiosity to ask the question in the first place. 

It is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL that you, as an aspiring musician, listen to as muc music as your ears and brain can stand. Preferably music that is directly related to the styles in which you want to be fluent. If you play the trombone, and you tell me you've never heard a recording by Joe Alessi, Christian Lindberg, or JJ Johnson, then you have some serious work to do!  I discussed with the young man where he might go to hear great performers: YouTube, iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, etc., and most of it for free!  

The fact of the matter is, you will play the sounds you have in your head. If you can hear it, then you can proceed towards reproducing that sound. 

Second, you should be listening to music that you might think doesn't interest you. Over the past two weeks, I did two things that were eye openers for me: I toured the Moog synthesizer factory in Asheville, NC, and I heard the Blind Boys of Alabama while we were in Birmingham. The Moog tour was interesting because our tour guide, besides giving us a great overview of the history of Moog, pointed me towards some fantastic musicians and bands whose work I discovered I really enjoy, such as Deltron 3030 and Dan the Automator. Those are bands and music styles I would have NEVER discovered on my own!  Likewise, the Blind Boys of Alabama do play a style of music that I already enjoy, gospel, but their live show was so much more than that. Backed by an absolutely fantastic 4-piece band, they played gospel, soul, country, rock, and put on a live show that was as entertaining as it was musically amazing!

So, listen, listen, listen. No excuses!  That is, IF you want to improve and broaden your horizons.... :)

Yours virtually,


Blind Boys of Alabama Bombassic Deltron 3030

How far will you go?

Teachers, I have a theoretical scenario for you....

How far would you go for a student with a bad attitude? Say it's a kid that's very talented, but resistant, even hostile to criticism, and is disrespectful to boot. How far would you go to help and teach them? Where do you draw the line? What if the institution where you teach doesn't support you in your dealings with the student? Are you morally and/or ethically obligated to try to teach them, and to what extent?

I'm really curious to hear everyone's responses!

Thanks, Chris

Healthy Habits During Marching Band Season

OK you young trombone jocks, I'm on to you! I know exactly what you do every day beginning in August: standing outside, slide parallel to the deck, running set after set in the hot sun, and playing AS LOUD AS YOU CAN PLAY! Yeah, I know that's what you're up to! How do I know? I know because I like to do that too! Who doesn't love to go out on the football field on a hot August morning or a cool October Friday night and play loud in your pre game warmup, loud in the bleachers, loud at half time, and loud during the 4th quarter? That's all well and good, provided you are playing with a good sound. You are thinking about your tone quality out there, aren't you?!?!

I want to address one way that we, as brass players, stay healthy. Well, what the heck does "staying healthy" mean? Do you ever have those moments where you play really hard and loud at a game or contest, and the next day your face feels like a brick? Maybe it's hard to warm up, your sound is super fuzzy, articulation and starting notes is difficult... sound familiar? That feeling is not healthy and it's a sign that you could be overdoing it! LISTEN TO YOUR BODY, it is trying to tell you something!

Now, I'll be the first to admit that restraint is not a common virtue among trombone players! We tend to have the reputation for getting a little excited at times, maybe overdoing it a bit... So, I want you to think about your practice habits during marching band season! BALANCE is key! If you are outside playing loud during rehearsal or performance, then the vast majority of your practicing should be easy. Work on soft long tones, lip slurs, Rochut etudes 8ba and in tenor clef 8ba. This is also a good time to catch up on listening and studying recordings of new pieces. You might work on music theory or ear training practice. There are many options. When I have had a period with a lot of loud playing, especially if it's outside, I balance that with easy, soft practicing on my own. Try it, I think you will feel, and sound, much better!


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