The Letter T

September in Japan in marked by two activities which occur almost without fail. The first, which is actually under control, is the taikusai or sports festival. If you’re familiar with Japan at all, you’ll recognize that if it’s under human control, the Japanese will not waver from tradition and will slavishly adhere to that tradition,…

In Memoriam

This normally isn’t a video blog, but I’m going to break format this week. I felt like video captured the emotion I wanted to convey much better than words. I didn’t do any editing or scripting of this video – this was the first, and only, take I recorded. Given that this past weekend was…

Music Theory

All of you that are non-musicians or just casual musicians may not be that familiar with the concept of music theory. To those of us for whom music performance consumes a good portion or majority of our time, however, it’s an essential concept. It’s the underlying building blocks on which music (whether it’s good, bad,…

Placeholder

I realized that I hadn’t posted anything yet for this week, but it’s too late in the evening to write anything now. This is just a placeholder – or, rather, a promise – for an article which will definitely be posted tomorrow. I’m sure both of my readers are disappointed, but there’s not much I…

Back to School

Classes start back tomorrow. In a change from most teachers I know back in America, I’m actually looking forward to it. The teaching part of this job isn’t incredibly taxing, since we’re assistants to the native Japanese teachers of English (I have to word that carefully because it sounds really weird otherwise). It’s nice because…

Yosakoi!

Last week, I teased an article about the annual Yosakoi festival, so here it is. Since yosakoi is primarily a Japanese event, I’ll begin by explaining what it is. The short version is that the Yosakoi festival is a traditional Japanese dance festival. It’s the first festival I attended after arriving in Japan 3 years…

Concert Season

We’re less than 3 months out from our annual concert. While that may seem like plenty of time, in reality it’s much less time than you would think. As a band, we get one practice a week, with an additional practice the last Sunday of the month. That’s effectively 14 practices remaining. We’re almost to…

I’m Back

As I feared, my internet connection in Manila was suspect at best. It would be fine for a few hours and then suddenly drop me for no reason. Sometimes I could reconnect immediately and other times I had to wait an hour or more. Add to this the fact that I came down with a…

Vacation

I am going to be out of the country for the first time since arriving in Japan nearly three years ago starting this Saturday. I’d like to say that I’ll post pictures while I’m away so that you’ll get your weekly update, but I honestly don’t know what my internet situation is going to be…

Progress

Last week, I told you that I had taken up harmonica as a second instrument. It’s a pretty steep departure from the trombone, which I’ve played essentially since I was in the sixth grade. Being as different as it is, I expected there to be some growing pains. Techniques that I would struggle to learn,…

Pushing Musical Boundaries

I have played trombone since I was in the sixth grade. I took a ~20 year hiatus after my first stint in college, but even during that time I always considered myself to be a trombone player. It’s just part of who I am. Something that really defines me, and it’s really been the only…

Wednesday Grab Bag

I’ve got a couple of topics that I want to touch on this week, so even if the first one doesn’t particularly interest you, I hope you’ll stay with me for the rest. The topics are completely unrelated to one another, but rather than try to turn either one into a full-blown article, I’m just…