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A Letter of Thanks to my Students

A little context: As you may be aware, Since August of 2014 I have been serving as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Jazz Trombone at Florida State University’s College of Music. An opportunity that for me, seemed to come out of nowhere. It came to be as a product of being prepared at the right time. I was in this position for the past two school years leading the school’s second big band, a graduate level improvisation class, teaching private lessons in trombone and composition, and coaching a small ensemble. I did this all while keeping up an active touring schedule, leading my own band, teaching in New York, working as a sideman in the city, and even subbing on the occasional broadway show. Although I’ve decided to continue to focus on my performing career, I’m very glad to have had the opportunity to work with the students at FSU. I think that I learned as much or more teaching them, than they learned from me! I’m proud of the work my ensembles put in every semester, reaching into parts of their musicianship I’m not sure they knew were there. We explored the depth and breadth of the jazz tradition with an ear towards the future, keeping tabs on what is happening on the scene today in addition to being attuned to the history of this music. 

Montana and Washington, November 2012

Wow! What a great 10 days. I just concluded a whirlwind tour of Northwestern Montana and Eastern Washington, with my non-profit: The Institute for Creative Music. Last summer, my drummer friend Chris Teal and I decided to put our heads together to formalize some of the educational clinics/touring that we had done between 2007 and 2010 and the Institute for Creative Music was born!  You can check out the IfCM at

Thanks to a generous grant from the Plum Creek Foundation, we were enabled to travel to Kalispell, Montana and work with five high schools there, as well as with the surrounding music community. We presented workshops, clinics, and performances for almost 1400 students, and taught for a combined total of 37.4 hours! We had two appearances in the local papers (with a third on the way), and a big hit was of course, free IfCM stickers! After our time in Montana, we traveled west to Spokane, WA (Chris’ hometown) and had a day of whirlwind visits to Mt. Spokane HS, Eastern Washington University, and Whitworth University. It was a productive tour for sure!

It is an amazing thing to spend time with energetic and passionate music students. Their energy and willingness to try new things (even if they are foreign or challenging) is truly inspiring. We worked with concert bands, orchestras, jazz combos, big bands, and choirs. Each and every one of the students we worked with was improvising and participating in creative music making.

Spending time teaching with the co-director of IfCM Chris Teal, and our teaching artists: Mike Kaupa (trumpet), Chris Ziemba (piano), and Matthew Golombisky (bass) was a real treat. We are excited to be moving ahead with a number of projects to continue the momentum that was started this past week!