- How long have you been playing?
- I started playing piano at the age of six, but permanently switched to the brass family at age nine, when I received my first trombone. I have been playing professionally since 1987, and was a member of the American Federation of Musicians from 1989-1998.
- How many instruments do you play?
- I play cornet, trumpet, fluegelhorn, soprano trombone, alto trombone, tenor trombone, bass trombone, contrabass trombone, trombonium, baritone horn, euphonium, Eb helicon and BBb tuba. I am a novice pianist, though I have improved of late under the excellent tutorship of the faculty at the local junior college. I play no stringed instruments nor any of the members of the woodwind family. I do have an Epiphone electric bass guitar which I am currently teaching myself to play.
- What is your favorite brass instrument to play?
- Probably the euphonium, simply because of its lovely tone, but I enjoy playing the EEb helicon immensely and the trombone is also a favorite. I prefer the lower brass to the upper brass, both because of the tone and because I am a better performer on the lower-pitched instruments.
- What brass instrument is most difficult?
- That is a hard question to answer – each instrument has its own positives and negatives and each player will have different strengths and weaknesses vis-a-vis those instruments. For myself, the trumpet/cornet has probably been the most difficult to learn, and the euphonium the easiest – probably because of my prior experience on trombone. Transitioning from euphonium to BBb tuba was also quite easy for me. However, that certainly will not be everyone’s experience.
- Is is difficult to become a professional musician?
- Being a professional musician is like any other career that relies on talent- it takes a lot of very hard work. And unless one is blessed with talent to begin with and is willing to put in that work, then you probably should not think of a career in music as a performer. In addition, unless you are planning to pursue a career in classical music, you should be aware that music is extremely irregular- unless you have a regular second job, be prepared for hardships, especially in the pop or jazz fields. Music is like acting- it takes luck, talent and perseverance to make a success of music as a career. Business or sales acumen is also very useful, as you can spend a great deal of time, especially when you are trying to become known, in selling yourself or your band to prospective venues.
- How much do you make?
- That depends. If one is looking only at the hourly rate, I do pretty well. However, if one looks at the daily or even monthly rate, then I do very badly. Musicians do have a scale, which is set by the union, but as the union has very little power to enforce said scale, the reality is that each musician or group negotiates their own rates with the venue at which they are playing.
- Can you teach me to play?
- I am not accepting private students at this time. However, if you are interested in taking lessons, leave me a comment and I can refer you to someone who does teach. If you are interested in learning the traditional jazz style and repertoire, then I can give you some pointers and put you in touch with various organizations where you can hone your skills.
I will be adding to this page as time progresses and other questions occur to me or are asked of me. Stay tuned!