Let’s get happy

What’s on your to-do list?

You all remember that I’ve set out on a year-long project to see if I can figure out some ways to be a happier trumpeter (and happier person). I am giving myself a kind of regimen to work on each month that I hope will help. Plus, I throw in impromptu things every now and then throughout the month that I think will weigh-in on the happiness side of things.

The regimens, or resolutions, are designed to help me grow in a deliberate way. I have started by focusing on my fitness, trumpet practice organization and recording, getting better about my to-do lists and acting the way I want to sound as a trumpeter: confident.

In addition, I’ve made one resolution to kind of bind everything together. I have decided to blog daily, because this keeps track of my progress.

How am I doing? Pretty good. I am definitely fitter with near-daily workouts.

My trumpet practice has been near-optimal for some upcoming performances, which has resulted in a more consistent tone, better range and articulation and a more-dependable repertoire. A reader suggested that I try his practice program, which is a kind of internet-based reminder system to get your practicing done. I almost went through with it, but it seemed too overwhelming, so I gave up on it, preferring the simpler style of practice discipline that I do. Nothing wrong with this suggested program, and I recommend that you try it if you have plenty of time to figure it out.

But I need to follow my commandments. Number 1 is “Be true to Stan’s musicality” and Number 7 is “Choose the more imaginative or enjoyable way, when possible.” Discipline is good, but it has to resonate and connect with your own sensibilities.

I’m staying on top of my to-do list pretty well, not only because of my intention to do so, but also because of more energy from being fitter!

Finally, my playing sounds more confident, and I feel more confident. But I can’t say for sure that my confidence is making me sound better or the other way around. Sometimes feelings are like that.

And, since I’ve been throwing in poetry from time to time, here’s another. You’re welcome.

Bento Love


A sliding lock
locking love,
in a divided box
of borders—I can’t
get out, and you can’t
get in. Glad we have
good boundaries.


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Happiness app review. Also a poem.

“Death” playing the cornetto, and escorting someone to the “other side.” The medieval genre is called the “Dance of Death.”

Do you want a quick recommendation for an app designed to get you in the flow of happiness? It’s a little counterintuitive, because its focus is on death. Your death. That’s right. Here’s the write up from the makers of the WeCroak app (website here):





Find happiness by contemplating your mortality with the WeCroak app. Each day, we’ll send you five invitations at randomized times to stop and think about death. It’s based on a Bhutanese folk saying that to be a happy person one must contemplate death five times daily.

The WeCroak invitations come at random times and at any moment just like death. When they come, you can open the app for a quote about death from a poet, philosopher, or notable thinker.

You are encouraged to take one moment for contemplation, conscious breathing or meditation when WeCroak notifications arrive. We find that a regular practice of contemplating mortality helps spur needed change, accept what we must, let go of things that don’t matter and honor things that do.

Here’s the quote that I am looking at right now in my WeCroak app:

The best thing to hold onto in life is each other

–Audrey Hepburn

And, going along with this existential theme, here’s a poem I wrote about Arlington Cemetery, where I’ve sounded “Taps” many times for military funerals there:

My Other


It’s eighteen in Arlington,

and snow fell last night.

I was dreaming at two of a river and you,

while three waxwings flew by.

You aren’t my lover, my son or my mother,

nor the old man wrapped in tatters.

You are my other that I glimpsed only once,

in a sideways glance.

A glance over the cold grass of death.



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