Sitting in my Teacher's Chair

It has happened. Over and over.

It first happened in 1992.

Then, again in 2004 and every year since.

When I was a student, the thing I wanted most was to do what my teacher was doing…play in an orchestra. The thing I REALLY wanted most was to do exactly what he was doing…by sitting in his chair. This feeling began when I was 18 and studying with Warren Baker in Oregon. “Bake” was the principal trombone in the Oregon Symphony and there was nothing I wanted more than to do what he did.
10 years later, I was. When Bake took time off for a hip replacement, I got to play his job for many weeks…time has erased just how many. I was thrilled to do it and thought I had “arrived.”

The next time this feeling hit me was in 2004 when I started working with the Chicago Symphony. When I sat in Frank Crisafulli’s chair, I saw what he saw for over 50 years. It is an awesome experience…and I never use that word lightly.

During my weeks with the New York Philharmonic, I only play principal trombone and again I am sitting in my hero’s chair…an awesome responsibility.

When I played the Tomasi Concerto as a student at Indiana, little did I know that I would return to the same stage to play the Rouse Concerto 15 years later, as a faculty member.

The room in which I teach at Northwestern is not Mr. Crisafulli’s old studio. Barbara Butler teaches in his studio. I have taught in her studio one or twice and the first time I just sat there for several minutes in silence to listen to what the walls had to say. The same room that was pivotal in my career. The walls had a lot to say.

It has been an amazing journey and I look forward to what comes next.