When I was eighteen years old, I packed up everything I owned into a green 1995 Pontiac Grand AM, and moved across Texas to Canyon, just south of Amarillo, to become a music major at West Texas A&M University. Not long after settling in, I met two older music majors that changed the course of my thinking about brass playing. The first, Eric Gilley, was a junior trumpet player, and the second was Jason Arnold, a junior tuba player. We formed a brass quintet, and started rehearsing on a regular basis. We hung out, and we talked shop. It was tremendous for me in multiple ways. These older music majors "walked the talk." I made lots and lots of bad decisions which were confirmed by both Eric and Jason regularly. Each had their own style, but they were both effective at encouraging me. Most of the time, just knowing that I had disappointed these guys was enough to make me think twice.
It is my hope that each and every one of you finds your "pack" - a group of friends that helps define your college experiences and memories. If you have a "pack" from the past, you should try to get them back together!
While Eric and I see each other all the time, Jason lives up in the northeast, so we don't see him much. This past weekend, Jason was in town visiting, and we "put the band back together" for an afternoon. It's been more than fifteen years since I met these guys, but we fell back into our old rhythm right away. We had lots of great laughs, but also some serious geeking out over two Chicago Symphony/Solti VHS tapes that Jason bought from the CSO Store and played until the tapes broke. Jason was special amongst us - he had taken a trip from West Texas to Chicago for a lesson with some old tuba player named Arnold Jacobs. He was a recording fanatic, and he was always sharing his collection with others. By introducing me to the CSO and the concepts behind their playing, he changed my thinking about playing brass instruments, too. It took me right back to the late 1990's, and it really was great spending time with both of these buddies again. :) Take a little time and enjoy these great performances. It would be even better if you could watch them with friends.