DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a medical doctor. From time to time, I might offer insight into exercises for good "chop health" as it pertains to the instrument, but nothing I say in this blog should be considered a substitute for a proper medical diagnosis!!!
In the final volume of this three part blog post, I will discuss a concept that may seem like a "no brainer" to many, but one that took me a long time to understand and accept. For years, I considered the process of mastering an instrument to be like a race, with a finish line.
I couldn't have been more wrong!
The best players in the world maintain their positions at the top because they are always working towards a new goal. While many face physical, emotional or psychological problems along the way, they accept these changes and manage to sound their best well beyond the point when most would put the horn in the case for good.
The lessons I learned after my car crash certainly helped me mature as a player, and in time, I was able to break through to new levels of achievement. However, the biggest lesson I learned was that more questions and new ideas are waiting just over the next hill if you just keep moving forward. In short, unlike a race, this journey has no ending...it is a continuum! This is a good thing.
I was fortunate to have very patient teachers who looked past my stubbornness to see untapped potential just beneath the surface. I often wonder what might have happened if I had really hung on their every word and done everything they told me to do, every single day.
While the slow, deliberate path I took to recovery certainly made a difference, realizing two facts helped me make the transition from trombone operator to musician.
1. My ability to express emotion through music was directly tied to my ability to execute on the instrument. (my music making was limited by my abilities)
2. The competitive nature of the musical job market made it necessary to be detail oriented, and barely scratching the surface, which was my M.O. for many years, wasn't going to cut it if I wanted to do this for a living.
Even into my mid twenties, I hadn't completely let go of my old thinking. While I understood on an intellectual level what was needed to play at my best, I hadn't made the emotional connection needed to really go for it in the right way. I'm here to tell you that there is hope. It is never too late, and no matter where you are now, you can become the musician you've always wanted to be. With the proper perspective and experiences, I found my way, and it is my hope that no matter what struggles you might face, that you might find your way, too.
If I can offer any further words of encouragement or insight, please feel free to contact me here.