Find It Yourself

Several times each year, potential students ask, “What can you tell me about the trombone studio at IU?”

While I am happy that young players have an interest in the trombone area at the Jacobs School of Music, I am discouraged by their lack of motivation to find the information, which can easily be found online, through the JSoM website. Mind you, these are likely the same people who have their nose buried in their “devices” all day and can find any obscure detail on the Internet in order to impress their friends. Somehow it doesn’t seem to occur to them to use that same process to find out about where they might want to further their study.

Being a successful musician is all about being inquisitive. One of the most basic first steps is researching where you want to study.

Unfortunately, I find that too many students want success to be handed to them instead of working harder than the next person to achieve it.

Here is a warning to prospective students: I won’t hand it to you. I expect you to work for it.

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

Now's the Time

This is a very good time for the “non-distracted.”

The curse of the current generation that I teach is DISTRACTION. In addition to college age students, I also see it in every age category in the outside world. Drivers texting, joggers running on city streets with earbuds/headphones, cyclists riding with earbuds/headphones. We can’t seem to do anything without being distracted. What ever happened to silent contemplation?

Are we so insecure as a society that we cannot go even a few minutes without distracting ourselves? Why not listen to the world around us? Outside of the obvious (at least to me) danger of the above practices, I mean, really…cycling or running without being able to hear traffic? Are you kidding me? I guess Darwin’s theories are still being tested and in some cases proven. I like running. I like cycling. I like listening to the world around me. I depend upon hearing the car that is about to hit me (likely because they are also distracted). Just remember that any encounter between a car and a person will result in more damage to the person than to the car. Yes, as a pedestrian, you (almost) always have the right of way… but are you willing to become a quadriplegic to prove it? Cyclists, legally, you are supposed to follow the same rules of the road that cars follow. That means, stopping at stop signs and not weaving in and out of traffic. Yes, you are saving the environment and getting exercise but please show respect for traffic instead of smug arrogance and frequently, militant defiance.

I digress…

I lived in the era referred to as B.C. (Before Cellphone…Before Computer)

I used to have all sorts of time before I got a cellphone and a computer---yes I am THAT old. All kidding aside, in the B.C. era, I had time to engage in real activities. The cellphone used to be a tool to bridge the gap between being traveling from one landline to another---sometimes only for emergencies. I remember when cellular phones first started to appear---they were the size of a brick. I distinctly remember the first time I talked on one while driving and how distracting it was. Of course, I got better at it---but in retrospect, was that a good thing? What am I missing because I am focused on a cellphone conversation? This type of conversation is different than a conversation inside the car because the person on the other end of the cell phone call cannot see what you are seeing (whereas a passenger can and will adjust their contribution to the conversation accordingly). Anyway…what used to be a tool has gotten more and more “smart” and is now a toy; a toy that distracts. A toy that tethers us to everything that has suddenly become all-important: Social Media. Apparently it is very important to know everything your “friends” find compelling enough to post. I can go into a discussion about how I tried Facebook, found very little positive about it and after a couple of years, deleted my account. I could write about how I didn’t have time for it…and I am successful. How can those of you who are not yet successful justify the time you spend on it? I could go on about how it is egotism, narcissism and voyeurism all rolled into one. Are you living your life or suffering through that of your friends? Does your sense of self rely upon this? Are you “somebody” merely because you have a presence on Social Media? Can your brain digest both all that everyone else is posting and still have enough resources left over to dedicate your mental and emotional energy to being the best that you can be? Apparently not.

It’s the dumbing down to the lowest common denominator.

If you can avoid the temptation of distraction at this time of ubiquitous distraction, you will be successful. If not, you will be just like everybody else, and that is the goal of Social Media.

Now is the time to strike, the opportunity is there…for those that choose to not be distracted.

Have you ever wondered how Joe Alessi, Michael Mulcahy, Gene Pokorny, or the younger generation of Tim Higgins, Toby Oft, Steve Lange, Craig Mulcahy, Jim Markey, Christian Ganicenco, or the even younger generation of Sam Schlosser etc. (the list goes on and on) got so good? When they were practicing, they were not distracted by their devices and Social Media.

Think about it.