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Shanghai Honor Band

24 hours of transit later, and I have arrived in Shanghai! So great to see my former students from Colorado State, Mark and Jessi Miller! Some initial photos…KFC? They do chicken  right, or so I hear.



Guest Conductor


May 2015…a momentous event at UD in
the making…

Wind Bands of Every Flavor Episode 12: Fall 2011 Repertoire Guide is UP!

Wind Bands of Every Flavor is here to help you select the right music for your bands in the upcoming year!

Click HERE to join host Chad Nicholson and his guest panelists as they make suggestions for a variety of concert openers, chorale/lyrical pieces, “big” pieces, and closers to help directors plan their concerts! Matt Brunner from Temple University and Matthew Arau from Loveland, Colorado, discuss their favorite pieces–from Bernstein to de Meij, from new works to old Hindsley transcriptions, there will be something for everyone!

If you would like more podcasts that focus on wind band repertoire, let me know at windbands@gmail.com, or leave a comment below!

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Band Students Make It Happen!

The students here at Indiana-Purdue University in Fort Wayne have had a busy spring semester.  They helped host IMEA state ensemble rehearsals, they served as a demo group for a lecture I gave on “Finding the Sweet Spot” of band sound, and they were selected as a featured university ensemble and did a fantastic job with a challenging concert program.  This week, those same students helped in hosting our annual Three Rivers Honor Band Festival for middle school and high school students.  With faculty masterclasses, performances for the attendees, and endless logistical concerns, that same core group of students rose to the occasion and resolved problems indepedently and professionally. (As more seasoned directors know, there can be some eyebrow-raising surprises when you pool together several hundred 7-12 graders…!)

Both of these experiences went beautifully, depite the long hours and high expectations on these students.  I could not be more proud!

Nor am I surprised.  This “make it happen” mentality is not unique to my university.   It is not unique to university students.

My years spent teaching high school in Beaverton, Oregon, revealed a similar “go big or go home” attitude amongst an invaluable core group of students.  They were completely dedicated to having great musical and social experiences, regardless of the hours of required effort.  I was amazed by their endless energy and genuine desire to see the entire group succeed.

I was not surprised.  This “make it happen” mentality was not unique to my high school.   It is not unique to high school students.

I have friends and relatives who are teachers (not music) and those who are professionals in other fields.  Many of them do not get to see this side of our culture.

When reflecting upon how we, the wind band folk of the world, accomplish meaningful things like commissions, massive festivals, contests, parades 1,000 miles from home, halftime shows that entertain and elevate, performing groups from combos to chamber groups to 300-piece athletic bands, combined performances with hundreds of students, and so on, and so on, and so on, a singular truth remains.

We are one of the few “make it happen” core groups in our society.  This may sound like an over-estimation of what we do, but after 15 years of teaching, I simply do not see this desire, commitment, and ability to function at a high level of organization outside of the band world.

The ability to plan into the long term, to develop programs, concerts, and student skills patiently and methodically, and the willingness to believe that the end result is greater than the sum of its parts is a hallmark of our industry.

And that is why we do it!

Perhaps, someday, we can impart this attitude across a larger swath of our society.  There is no question that the greater good would benefit from this attitude that is common to our teachers and students.

As teachers, we’ll keep doing what we can, one student at a time!

Now, all of this talk about organization makes me feel the need to clean my desk….

…nahhhhh!  I’ve got a rehearsal to plan!

ECU Marching Band Rocks!

A huge shout-out to Dr. John Franklin and the East Carolina University Marching Band–they did a terrific job with my Proud Mary arrangement this weekend!

Click here to see it on the field (Facebook video):


Wind Bands of Every Flavor Podcast: Episode 11 is UP! Composer Steven Bryant Returns! The U. S. Army Band, “Pershing’s Own” hosts a new competition!

Click HERE to download the newest episode of the Wind Bands of Every Flavor Podcast! Composer Steven Bryant joins host Chad Nicholson to discuss the completion of his massive new work for winds, the Concerto for Wind Ensemble, to be premiered by Jerry Junkin and the University of Texas Wind Ensemble!  Then, Staff Sergeant Leigh LaFosse stops by from Washington, D.C. to talk about an new competition for college students–the grand prize is an all expense-paid trip to D.C. to solo with the United States Army Band, “Pershing’s Own”!

Recently finished the Concerto for Wind Ensemble

Subscribe for free via the link above, or click here to subscribe through iTunes for free!

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My Day with Samwise Gamgee

Mr. Frodo, I marched trumpet once!

Perhaps the title is an overstatement.  Unless “day” also can mean “5 minutes”.   If so, then yes, I spent the day with Sean Astin.  Funny things, I had just finished carrying 2 euphoniums, a 35-year -old bari sax, and another unusually empty bari sax case (don’t ask…band directors know what strange things are found in storage), and just as I walked out of the band room, BOOM!  Samwise!  Rudy! Goonie!  Trying to find the door to get into the hall where his lecture would later occur…a helpless Hobbit whom I was happy to aid.

“Just..a..few…more..steps..Mr. Frodo”….was what I thought, but did not say, as I have a suspicion that Sean Astin gets more Lord of the Rings lines thrown at him than an Orc who can’t hear through the his helmet.  Yes, I resisted to gush over the Goonies, rollick about Rudy, and be a general fanboy.  Just a regular Joe helping out a guy who’s not altogether unlike me.

Except I never went to Notre Dame to play football.

Nor did I stop an Italian crime family with Cory Feldman.

I do think my house is about the same size as his was in the Shire, though.  That counts for something, right?

Maybe doing my spot-on Golem impression was a bit much.  But it IS really, really good…