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 Tag: performance

ATW Events

Hi Everyone, Well, Jim Nova just tore out of here in his M3 on his way back to Pittsburgh... what a great week!  I have been attending the ATW (formerly Eastern Trombone Workshop) most years since 1993, and I can say it just keeps getting better.  The folks at Pershing's Own, U.S. Army Band just do a fantastic job of putting the week together.  For those of you that don't know, the workshop is run by the trombonists in the Army Band, and they all do it on a voluntary basis.  It is clear what pride they, and the entire Band, take in putting on this fantastic event.  If you are so inclined, WRITE to the commander of the Army Band, Col. Timothy Holton, and let them know how much you enjoyed the week!  Chris Branagan and Sam Woodhead and their crew did a superb job once again!

Here's a few more things I heard that I really enjoyed:

Tim Higgins and Steve Menard performing an arrangement of Brahms Four Serious Songs on one of the noon recitals.  Sophia Kim Cook played piano for them, and she is fantastic!  Tim and Steve sound like they were trombone-cloned at birth, or at least studied with the same well-known Australian in Chicago.  Really beautiful playing, and the guys even looked like they were having fun, despite the "serious" nature on the music.

Tim Higgins, recital.  Tim sounds so beautiful, and he's one of those players that when you hear him, you just want to hear more.  Notably, Tim played a piece he composed, Three Selections from Poesis, which was a really interesting combination of solo trombone (2 movements) and writing for trombone section (1 movement).  He was beautifully assisted by Steve Menard, Chris Davis on bass trombone, and Seth Cook on tuba.  Following his own work, Tim premiered Radiant Spheres by David Biedenbender.  The composer related to the audience an interaction he had on a flight with a woman who was dying of cancer, and spoke of her realization that time was moving both quick and slow... The piece reflected that and was very touching.  Really beautiful playing, and friendly guy too.  Go get his solo CD, HERE...

Jim Nova gave a very cool presentation on his whole overdub process.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, visit here and here... With the proliferation of software that facilitates overdubbing and "looping", it's easy to lose sight of the time, artistry, and sheer musical ability that goes in to creating Jim's recordings.  Jim has performed with the Boston Pops for going on 19 years, and John Williams knows Jim and his playing very well.  Jim's passion for this music is totally evident in his performance, but also in the way he is willing to share his creative process for making his recordings.  During his class, he took the audience (that were connected using multiple headphone amplifiers, hubs, and provided earbuds) through the process of recording one of his arrangements.  He demonstrated by live recording on bass, tenor, and alto trombone, then he had two trombonists join him on stage to work on standard orchestral excerpts using some of the same recording techniques.  It was a great way to bridge the learning gap and relate what you hear on a recording to what you might do in your own practice.  Jim's grasp of current technology, and more importantly how to use that to your advantage to foster true improvement was very inspiring.  Jim has some exciting ideas in the works for his recordings... stay tuned!

Another highlight this year was the playing of both Angel Subero (bass trombone) and Wesley Hopper (tenor trombone).  Both players are members of Triton Brass, and they demonstrated amazing flexibility performing different styles.  Angel has such a fat bass trombone sound, and plays with such style and energy, I really enjoyed everything I heard him play.  Wes has such a beautiful, clear sound, and he was a joy to hear.  I really liked his mohawk, too.  Triton Brass' performance of the Anthony Plog Concerto 2010 was very well done, and the piece was interesting and as another attended said, very "Plog-ish"!  Valor Brass will be giving that piece a serious look in the coming months!

Another great highlight this year was the playing of Brian Hecht.  Brian is currently bass trombonist of the Atlanta Symphony.  Brian played in the US Navy Band in Washington, DC, for a hitch, and I am sorry to say I never ran into him when he was in DC, and the Sail Loft where the Navy Band works is literally about 200 yards from the Marine Band's facility.  Yikes.  Well, I'm happy to say I got to hear him this year.  He played a bit on one of the noon guest recitals, and then again in a master class on friday and Saturday night with Col. Holton and the Army Band.  He sounds fantastic!  Great guy, and beautiful player.

Well, that's it for now.  It was a great week and I hope that if you didn't make it this year that you will consider it for next year.  I heard a rumor that next year's workshop will occur a week earlier in the calendar, so think about your plans now!

Your Virtually,


Cold Weather "artistry"

So the cold and gloomy weather in Washington, DC got me thinking lately about some of the work I do outdoors with a trombone in my hand! I have had a number of questions over the years from people interested in how I deal with performing in less-than-ideal circumstances. For now, I will talk about cold weather, as I think that is, for me, the greatest weather related challenge I face. I define "less than ideal", for myself, as basically under 45 degrees Farhenheit, and outside with no heaters or weather protection. This might include sitting on a stage that's covered, but has no wind protection, or it might include rain or even snow. This also usually means doing this for greater than an hour or two. Think 8 hits outside in 40 degree weather, 10mph wind, and occasional spurts of playing.

Here's a list of essentials that I remember when I head out the door to play in cold weather:

1. Plastic Kelly mouthpiece - this thing is indispensable. I used to play a mouthpiece with a delrin rim, but in extreme cold, having the entire mouthpiece made from plastic is a huge improvement. It warms up very fast and stays warm longer. That's important, because endurance can be extremely reduced in the cold. For me, playing in the upper register becomes much more taxing, and the sound tends to thin out greatly on a cold metal mouthpiece.

2. Trombones slides start to freeze at about 25 degrees. At 15 degrees, they may freeze so solid that you are unable to move them at all! Ask me how I know! When forecasted, fill a small spray bottle with antifreeze and try not to use the F attachment valve!

3. Under Armor 4.0 long underwear. Expensive as hell, but it works great and fits tight so you can fit it under whatever clothing you are performing in.

4. Gloves... Boy, this is a hard one. I don't have gloves that are remotely effective at work for keeping my hands even moderately warm while holding a metal object in the cold, not to mention when it's raining! For trombonists, mittens combined with chemical hand warmers would be the way to go if you have the option. Once the hands get cold, it's all over. Let the pain begin!

Speaking of chemical warmers... I have found them to be very unreliable. They have to be fresh (expiration date) and they can't be in an enclosed space as they depend on air circulation to generate heat.

5. Be reasonable with your playing expectations. Expect to have less endurance, range, and facility and plan for it. If you are in charge of music selection, pick something that seems "easy" in a comfortable rehearsal setting. Go easy on the loud dynamics and use your "safe soft" piano dynamics as needed.

This is just a few of my best suggestions for dealing with the cold! Everyone has their own special sauce when it comes to layering, mouthpieces, and staying warm. If you can add to it, please leave some suggestions in the comments!

Stay warm,

The Virtual Trombonist

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