Sean Jones

Trumpeter-Bandleader-Composer-Educator

Tip Tuesday: Having Strong Opinions

Tip Tuesday tip: On having strong opinions... I often hear folks say "I don't like this type of music or this type of jazz... this style vs. this style... etc. Be careful to not form too strong of an opinion about certain things early on in your development ... or, period... for that matter. 
As you're exposed to many things in your development, something may not hit you right away or may jar you. Just give it a chance. Don't discredit it right away... you may be able to take something from it. A couple of brief points regarding opinions:
1. What is your opinion based on? Are you able to clearly state why you like or dislike something? "I just don't like it" in my opinion, is not the best answer. If you don't prefer a style, be able to explain why you don't prefer it. By studying what you don't like and being able to explain why through a clear understanding of its idiosyncrasies, it may help you solidify the sound that you want to make.
2. Did you form your opinion from hearsay?: Too often we allow our mentors, peers, or friends to either discount or force us into a style that we aren't necessarily drawn to because THEY believe that their style or preference is THE only way. I'm sure most of us have encountered the "jazz, classical, funk... (name a genre) police", and we've heard them say "THIS is where it's at ... or, this music is sad"... or, "why are you listening to THAT?" Respectfully hear their point of view while taking what's useful and discarding what isn't. Take knowledge in like sifter... keep the good stuff and discard the BS.
3. When you express your opinion, are you discrediting other genres, styles, etc?: Remember, music of all types all over the world exist because MUSIC wanted to be heard and that music spoke through another human being which makes it valid. It may not be your thing or your preference, but that does not invalidate its existence and purpose! If I style wasn't meant to exist because it was "bad, sucked, not hip",etc... it wouldn't have been heard, cultivated and introduced to the world. 
I have been guilty of this in the past and I truly regret it for two reasons. 1. I may have stunted someone's growth due to my own inability to see or hear beyond myself. 2. I stunted my own growth by not being able to open up to the world around me and learn from it. 
In a nutshell, have preferences but be open to learning from things that you don't really like, understand or care for. I remember a day when I HATED cognac... well, I eventually ended up at a bar that only had cognacs and scotches... guess who became a cognac drinker that night? 
Hendrix said it best "I used to live in a room full of mirrors; all I could see was me. I take my spirit and I crash my mirrors, now the whole world is here for me to see"
#shed #doyojob

 

Tip Tuesday: New Equipment

New Equipment: When considering new equipment, it's important to consider two, maybe three key points.

1. Does it sound good? Does the equipment that you're checking out give you the sound and clarity that you're looking for? Is it one dimensional? Does it give you a wide range of "colors" or is it just bright, dark, etc... There isn't anything wrong with one or the other... I'm only saying that it's important to know what sound/sounds you want to draw from the equipment. SO... have a clear sound conception!

2. Does it feel good? Often times we sacrifice physical comfort to achieve an extra "big/dark/weighted" sound. Big mouthpieces, heavy equipment etc, although very useful for some, is not useful to all. It's important to consider the first point that I made in conjunction with the physical requirements of your daily musical output. Consider those that use certain equipment for certain purposes and ask yourself...

"Where do I fit in here?"

If you primarily play jazz quartet gigs on the trumpet that last 4 hours, salsa gigs, or long wedding gigs.... you may want to consider NOT using the biggest, darkest horn you can find. Likewise, if you're playing concert halls and your gigs last about 75 minutes (Orchestra gigs, recitals, shorter intimate gigs)... you may not want to chose something that's brighter or compromises resonance just to make it easier to play. Balance is KEY! Know exactly what your "work load" is in conjunction with the basic sound you want.

Last point is this

Are you consistent? Have you been playing and practicing consistently on the equipment that you're currently using? If the answer is no... you likely will run into a brick wall with any equipment you chose. Prof (William Fielder) always said this....

"The trumpet is the mirror of the mind"..

Meaning that the sound comes from your aural conception and not just the equipment you use... SO.. in order to have a strong aural conception, you need to refine and reinforce that concept through constant daily practice. One of my favorite moments in the J@LC orchestra was when Wynton sat in on a jam session with my horn and he sounded EXACTLY like Wynton... How can he do this? He has a solid foundation and a clear conception that supersedes the equipment he uses... The tools that he chooses enhances what he already does, not creates it.

"On this day you can do anything, sleep, play in the take a walk, etc
So remember!

1. Does it sound good?

2. Does it feel good?

3. Are you consistent with the equipment you have?

Three important things to consider when checking out a new toy!
#doyojob

First Tip Tuesday Tip of 2017

First Tip Tuesday tip of 2017:

New Years Resolutions regarding practicing/playing/projects etc...

My advice... don't make them...

DO THEM!

 

The year changing, time changing, or date will not change who you are and what you do! Everyday is a new day and a new opportunity to be better than you were yesterday. The key is to resolve to do these things NOW, and pursue them until they are complete! Many times we place goals in our paths with "start and end dates"... time can get in the way, leading to disappointment or a false sense of a real resolute start!
So, don't get caught up in the hype of the "new year"... it's just another day in time

However, you can become "new" at any moment in time by starting and working until the work is done!
 

Tip Tuesday Tip: "Where do I start?

Today's Tip Tuesday Tip: "Where do I start?"

This is a question I'm asked often and I've come up with a variety of answers over the years... However, I think there's only one real answer to this...

You start at the beginning... YOUR beginning.

Everyone has a unique starting point. We're all different and are on different journeys. In fact, we've all come to our profession, career, passion many different ways. Some folks, like me started with Gospel music..others, blues, jazz......etc... However, paths have intersected, knowledge gained, knowledge expanded...

I think the key is to start at your unique beginning... then make steps... deliberate steps along the way while being open to what comes your way.


So, pick up that etude book, that recording, learn that tune, learn that set of chords... grab that instrument... And, start with whats in front of you. Don't worry... you won't miss anything. The first scale I ever learned was a Db pentatonic scale because that's what key was used in church... At some point, I got around to the Bb scale!


All this being said, know that general knowledge comes in many variances of thought... Truth comes in many ways... Just start with the way the truth is presented to YOU! Then, walk into that truth.


Your first step is uniquely yours, starting you on your unique path to uniquely shape the world around you!

"A Journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step" Lao Tzu

 

#Shed #doyojob Berklee College of Music Brass Department Berklee College of Music

Tuesday Tip: Lesson preparation

Here's a quick tip Tuesday Tip regarding lesson preparation...

It's simple... A lesson is only going to be as good as your preparation for it... Often times, students enter lessons feeling as if it is their instructors job to teach them everything there is to know about a certain etude, tune, exercise, etc... not realizing that this is almost impossible for even the greatest pedagog to achieve in a finite space of time... That being said... if you wish to maximize your lesson... time with your teacher, it's best that you get the basic nuts and bolts out of the way before the lesson takes place so that you and your instructor can get to advanced concepts faster...


Far too often, instructors waste time teaching notes, reminding folks about crescendo's... teaching musical terms...etc that students can take care of before they get to their lesson. THEN suddenly.. the half an hour or hour is gone and the student finds themselves reviewing things that they could've on their own... leaving frustrated.


So, I say... DO YOUR HOMEWORK!

Lay the ground work for a successful lesson by giving your instructor or teacher something to work with. Remember: You're in the drivers seat! Your instructor is a tour guide! If you want to maximize the journey... make sure there's gas in the car, engine checked, wind shield wipers working... etc...before the journey begins...or you'll spend the entire trip at the service station! #Doyojob #shed Berklee College of Music Brass Department

Tip Tuesday Tip: Awareness vs. obsession...

It's important to be aware of what your body is doing and how it's reacting to the process of "getting to know" your instrument without obsessing over the details of the change...

As you practice more and develop a closeness to your instrument, your body will begin to "adjust" to it. Often times your jaw may feel like it's setting, teeth may shift slightly, certain "discomfort" may come into play..(NOT PAIN..., but DISCOMFORT... t...here IS a difference) or even a change in your posture... It is my belief that these incremental changes are somewhat normal as your body adjusts to becoming one with a foreign object.

In my experience, I've noticed my body adjust slightly to the instrument the more I practice it. I notice certain muscles develop, my tongue get faster, my ability to hold breaths... measured pressures... etc ...

These changes have been taken into account without me obsessing over them. It's important to rehearse the successes of your practice through repetition and reinforcement without worrying about every little tweak, shift, adjustment, etc that the body makes...

Remember... you were not born with an instrument attached to you...so the body has to adjust to it so that the body and the instrument become one...

Feel yourself adapting and know that the changes are generally beneficial! You're growing... so, be AWARE and not Obsessed. #shed #doyojob #growth
Berklee College of Music Brass Department

"The trumpet is the mirror of the mind."

"The trumpet is the mirror of the mind." This is a quote that I've heard time and time again from Prof. Fielder. The quote has new meaning for me today as I was explaining to a student the importance of having have a "sound that is so clear that it doesn't distort the musical imagery you wish to be reflected in it". I told the student to imagine your sound being a mirror... Reflecting the emotional content of the melody and its "intent". I then told him to imagine that mirror... having streaks in it, distorting the "imagery" that is to be conveyed by the melody! Brass players, this is why we play long tones, do flow studies, painstakingly EVERY day! Your trumpet sound is the mirror that reflects the beauty of your musical thoughts! If your mirror is distorted, has streaks, or is unclear... then your musical ideas, melodies, and ultimately musician projection is the same!

Tip Tuesday: Don't Stop Learning

This tip Tuesday tip is a little long...

It's important to know the difference between having information or being knowledgeable, and the execution or being able to DO what it is that you're informed about. I often come across folks that say, after my offering a suggestion, that "I've already done that or I've already covered that"... I then ask them to play what they've "already covered" and they can't....

Folks, just because you know about something, doesn't mean that you are past it in your development. This will always be why private instruction is key to long term development. Your instructors job is to not only provide information which in many cases, you can get from anywhere, they are also charged with guiding you through the application of that information!

The "apprenticeship" part of your development which is often slow, tedious and requires a lot of patience on the student and instructors part, is crucial in your long term development. This also applies to many areas in life.

Just because you can google information, doesn't mean you're "knowledgeable".... Knowledge without application to real life and progress is meaningless....

Especially in music performance!

No one wants you to say what you know on stage...

They want to hear it!