Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Time to talk about why I'm here! For those of you who don't know, I'm playing in what's called the production orchestra. We play whatever is required for anything that happens in the auditorium (play ons for comedians, backing guest vocalists). On Sunday and Monday we do the farewell and welcome shows, which consist of pep-band-like tunes (Chicago, mambo #5, Neil Diamond) and some kind of cheesy number that includes the singers and dancers. 2 days out of the week we do a shows with the singers and dancers. One is called Boogie Wonderland (disco!), and the other is kind of a modern take on classic Broadway tunes called Rhythm and Rhyme. A couple other nights we back guest vocalists or entertainers who need us (the ventriloquist for example). We also do Big Band on Friday nights after whichever production show is that night. Talk about a chop busting day! I'm always grateful for it though, because it's my one chance to do what I'm really good at (improvise)! On top of the shows, we have a mini-rehearsal/sound check which is usually at 5:30. It's usually quick and painless. That leaves us 1 or 2 nights a week off.

The music really isn't as hard as I expected. There are definitely things here and there that are really difficult. Some of the arrangers seem to forget that I actually have to move my arm to play, and what range my instrument is in. They often put me up an octave from the recordings for no apparent reason. “trombone is sorta like trumpet, let's just put him up there with them!”. I find myself taking things down pretty often, not for my chops sake, but because it actually sounds better (and it's how it was originally done). For those of you who understand, my parts range from the low E two octaves below the just above middle C to about...high D (an octave up from middle C).

I've really already improved like crazy. I've done a lot of work with our lead trumpet/assistant musical director Carlos. He's given me tons of good advice. I do a good deal of long tones daily. My tone, endurance, and control have improved drastically. I've made some real improvements in my improvisation as well. I'm really getting some cool things under my fingers, and feel like I sound more and more like a professional (improviser) all the time.


Emily A. W. said...

Scott, I didn't know you were such a great writer. Wow. Everthing you wrote sounds so natural. :)

Well, it sounds like you are learning a lot and improving more and more at trombone. Will you be ready for that solo career when you get home?

Maybe you can be the Gordon Goodwin of your own big band.

I love reading the details. Thanks for writing it all down. Keep up the good work. Oh, and I want to hear you play Chicago and Neil Diamond when you get home. Sounds interesting.

Jonah said...

Sounds pretty repetitive, but I'm sure you get to improve and do other stuff enough to make up for it. Glad to hear your chops are improving. Western is trying to make me learn instruments. I had an alto sax for the first half of the quarter and now they stuck me with a clarinet. I liked the sax, but the clarinet makes me unhappy. WHY CAN'T THESE INSTRUMENTS JUST CALL A NOTE WHAT IT IS!!!!!! grr. anyway, glad to here that you're having a good experience and can't wait to hear how much more bad-ass you are now! take it easy, bro.

Nick said...

Stan you are too great! That's awesome your doing well and not feeling like a prisoner on a war ship or something.

I'll pretend to play a dota game for you lol. Only played once or twice the whole time you've been gone. Same with magic.

Have a great rest of the trip not sure when you're going to be back. Catch ya later man.

A Girl Called Dallan said...

I agree with Emily that we have one more great writer in the family. I love both this post and the food one. It is the next best thing to being there with you. Without the rocking.

I know what the Chicago would sound like. I do think you owe us all a little Neil Diamond when you get back. Something about "no one heard but the chair." (It says something about cruise ships that they treat their passengers to Neil Diamond tunes, doesn't it?)

Jessica said...

Holy Cow I miss you. It's great to hear about how much you've improved!