Trumpet Happiness, month four

Me, in front of Op. 7 by Richards, Fowkes & Co. in Westminster Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, TN

Looking back on my trumpet happiness project up to now: 

December was focused on beginning my effort to get fit and to start blogging consistently.

January was the beginning of my attempts at meditation, hugging people and focusing on learning French. I did a recital. I also did an on-campus interview for a college trumpet teaching job. It turns out that I wasn’t the best fit for that place, so I didn’t get the job. But it was a great experience. More on this interview later.

I wasn’t successful in everything I set out to do in February, but I made some great headway in getting more sleep. I also was able to be much more consistent in my morning rituals:

  1. being grateful for something
  2. affirming something positive about myself
  3. thinking about what I liked from the previous day
  4. looking forward to what I would do for the rest of the day

These four rituals have kept me grounded.

Since December, I have gotten much fitter, physically (and lost some weight!). I have been doing a combination of walking and jogging three times a week, which is a huge breakthrough for me, since I had been suffering from shin splints for the past eight years. Additionally, I do calisthenics three times a week. Here are some of my cumulative numbers now: in one session, I do 180 push-ups and lunges, 230 sit-ups, 224 squats and 32 pull-ups (all of this over five sets).

Also, I am making huge progress in my French (I’ve just completed 600 straight days on Duolingo, and I am almost finished with Level 3 in Pimsleur French).

My performing focus is getting better (thanks to my meditation!)–my recent recitals were actually quite a pleasant experience. And I loved touring with the Washington Cornett and Sackbutt Ensemble in Tennessee.

Unfortunately, I let a number of days go by without blogging at the end of February, but I felt I needed to recover a little from my blitzkrieg since December of last year.

What’s up for March? What are my goals?

  1. Ear training (working with the Online Ear Trainer).
  2. Orchestral excerpts, solo pieces and some jazz playing (I now have a student who wants to mainly study jazz with me, so I will need to stay ahead of the curve!)
  3. Getting my composition muse back
  4. Reducing my blogging to two or three times a week; looking forward to some nice interviews coming up this month.
  5. Keep working out, sleeping more, eating better.
  6. Keep improving in French–I want to get to level 20 in Duolingo French and get well into Level 3 of Pimsleur French.
  7. Keep hugging





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Five Things Friday: Teamwork in the Trumpet Studio

Trumpet Hang at the German court of Swerin (18th C.)

There is a trend that I am noticing in my life–there are fewer opportunities to hang out with trumpeters. Fewer opportunities to play together and chat about trumpet things. Nevertheless, there are big benefits to working together with other trumpeters, especially in a studio at a school of music. If you are looking for ways to get better, try getting together. Here is some motivation:

  1. Data points to significant health benefits to belonging to a group.
  2. When you combine group class, trumpet hangs, workshops and conferences to your lessons, you will learn more and be more motivated.
  3. When you’re hanging with other trumpeters, not even talking about the trumpet, you are building strong social bonds that help prevent burnout.
  4. You are a team with your teacher. Although online instruction is better and more accessible these days, you should put more importance into lessons with a real person.
  5. More experienced members of a trumpet studio help to mentor the less experienced–they get experience to help them become successful teachers. Less experienced members of the trumpet studio learn faster, because they get extra mentoring, and because they see the kind of workflow that goes with purposeful practice.
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What do you do with core values and a purpose statement?

If you have worked alongside me in getting a purpose statement and core values that describe yourself, then congratulations! You probably know a little more about yourself than you did before. You know what makes you tick. Now–what do you do with them?

Put them places. 

You can tape them onto your desk, computer, trumpet case, music stand, mirror, hallway or ceiling. Any place that you think you might need a little reminder about WHY you’re doing all this hard work. Put it on your computer desktop or phone lock-screen. Commit your core values and purpose statement to memory, so that you can confidently convey the real you in an elevator statement (a short statement that can be easily finished during an elevator ride).

Do you need to tell people your actual core values and purpose statement? I don’t think so. These are for you. What you tell others about yourself is INFORMED by your values and statement, but they can remain secret–a guiding principle in your trumpet journey that only you have to know.

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More on purpose statements

A couple of days ago I blogged about making a purpose statement. I came up with “I want to inspire others to be the best version of themselves by sharing my most authentic, creative work.” I like this statement, but the whole process of thinking about core values and purpose statements has me thinking deeper about what fundamentally motivates me. Just like the core values that I reworked yesterday, I wanted a chance to re-visit the purpose statement. Here are some of my drafts for a new and improved purpose statement. I’m not sure which one I like the best–maybe I can keep them all on rotation!

  1. To make it easier for everyone to learn trumpet and music.
  2. Increase opportunities for children (of all ages and backgrounds) to learn the trumpet.
  3. Inspire others with the wonder of music.
  4. To have a beautiful heart and see it in others.
  5. Heal souls with music.
  6. To be the most inspiring teacher I can be.
  7. To inspire with achievement, adventure, authenticity, wonder and happiness.
  8. To heal and inspire souls with a sense of wonder and beauty.


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Tweaking core values

I hoped you were inspired to make your own purpose statement and core values after reading yesterday’s post. I was so inspired, I re-did my core values after just one day! Remember, you can re-do these whenever you want!

I really wanted to get my core values right, so I thought more about my big list of core values and re-grouped them into five themes. Yesterday’s list of my core values was achievement, authenticity, creativity, learning, forgiveness, happiness, and patience.  I added to that adventure, wonder, curiosity, daring, diversity, resilience, reliability, vulnerability, focus, joy, diversity, gratitude, inspiration, honesty, humility, vulnerability, teachingquality and healing. Here are my five groups. I made the most compelling core value bold:

  1. achievement, resilience, reliability, quality, focus
  2. creativity, adventure, daring
  3. authenticity, honesty, humility, vulnerability
  4. learning, curiosity, teaching, inspiration, wonder
  5. happiness, forgiveness, gratitude, patience, joy, diversity, healing

Thus, my core values now are just a little different, and I think a little more compelling to me:

  1. Achievement is still important because it gives a sense of importance to the actual “products” I want to give to others in life. I want to give the very best version of myself. I want to give the very best music. The very best teaching. The very best engagement.
  2. Adventure is more interesting to me than just creativity, because it implies horizons to aim for, not only in artistic and musical things, but also in travel, personal development and philosophy.
  3. Authenticity remains a key core value, because I am drawn to what is the most “real”–be it in music, the facts of history, or the myths of the mind.
  4. Instead of “learning,” I focused on the idea of wonder, adding an element of enthusiasm and emotion to the process of gathering and sharing experiences, facts and ideas.
  5. Happiness remained a key word to describe the mood I want to be in and convey to others. That’s why I am taking a whole year to write about happiness.


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