Posted in About Craig

I learned the wrong movement!

As I shared in my post yesterday, music has always been around me. Whether that was church, home, all around me, I love music and have been surrounded by all styles. But back in high school, there were 3 musical passions that fueled me. Choir, playing the trumpet and playing the organ. In those 4 years, I had unbelievable experiences in these 3 areas that inspired and shaped me to become a musician. I want to share one of them today.

My junior year of high school, I was preparing for our annual solo/ensemble competition. I had worked hard at playing the trumpet, was very self confident, and was looking forward to being 1st chair trumpet my senior year. I had excelled on my first 2 solos my freshman and sophomore year and was looking forward to doing great on this one.

I picked my piece, and it was a piece with 4 movements. I was supposed to play 3. So I start working on the 3 movements that it said (so I thought) I was supposed to perform. And I’m getting down SO good. Of course, being 17 years old, I decided to procrastinate going through it with my band director until 2 days before the performance.

So there I am playing it for him with my accompanist. I’m just nailing it, and it’s sounding REALLY good. After I finish, my director says, “Craig, which movements did you play?” I replied with movements 1, 3 and 4. And the 1 and 4 were correct, when he looked in the book, but it was supposed to be 1, 2 and 4. OH NO!! I learned the wrong movement! The 2nd movement was slow, lyrical, and had a difficult accompaniment. My poor accompanist did a great job of making it sound great on such short notice.

After 2 days of cramming and preparing, Saturday comes. I go in and play the correct movements, and I’m feeling good. I get good feedback from the judge. I wait for my results, and when they are posted….it’s a STARRED 1st! That’s the best you can do, and it moves you on to state competition. WHAT? That’s amazing! I was floored. I then went and played it at the state competition (after much more practice on the right movement) and got a 1st there.

So, the moral of the story. First, pay attention to details. Had I fully read what I was supposed to do, there wouldn’t have been a problem! But, at that point, I was regularly practicing, and between band and choir, auditioned ensembles, along with singing in church choirs and playing the organ, I was fully immersed in music and music theory. So, I had already established good practice techniques, I was thinking about and surrounded by music all the time, and so that helped me a bunch in fixing my error.

I’ve learned from that mistake, I look back at it and laugh at it, but it helps me to encourage my students to focus in on details and establish those habits of practice, along with surrounded themselves with music. Music is a language, and the more we “speak” it (by playing and practicing), the easier it gets. Keep speaking it, keep surrounding yourself with it, and it will help you immensely!

Posted in About Craig

Why Do I Teach?

I’ve been wrestling with this question for a while. And there are a bunch of answers I could give. I love music. I’ve spent 39 years of my life making music, studying music and learning about music. I had amazing teachers that encouraged me. All of that is completely true. But that’s not the full reason why I teach.

As I thought about it, the answer became very clear to me. Music is transformative. That’s why I teach. Music has always been a major component of my life. Listening to records, cassettes and 8 tracks are some of my earliest memories in life. Hearing music in worship (my dad was a pastor) and singing along with hymns in church has been the rhythm of my life for as long as I can remember. And I think that’s why I missed it being the most important reason. Because it’s always been there.

Music has transformed me in many ways. As a child and into my teenage years, it gave me an outlet to build up my self-confidence and show my God-given abilities in many different ways. In high school, it transformed me from just being focused on church music (and pop music that I listened to on the radio) to being immersed in madrigals, vocal jazz music, musical theater and many other choral styles of music. And that transformation made me want to teach. I wanted to pass on that joy and enthusiasm to others.

It’s been 20 years since I graduated from college and been a “professional” teacher. I don’t use quotations around professional to knock myself down, but more to remind myself that I am still learning, just as much as my students are. In going to college and getting a music education degree, and spending 18 years in church music, the idea of building a business, marketing, social media and teaching lessons online were never really a thought….until March of 2020. Then everything flipped, and I had to learn on the fly. While I have 39 years of musical experience, I’m by no means an expert. I’m still learning and growing, just as every musician and every teacher is.

I teach because I love music. I teach because I had great teachers that encouraged me in so many ways. I teach because I love helping my students learn. I teach because I love seeing my students transformed. Not just learning the basics of music, but learning how discipline, perseverance, focus and everything else that goes with learning and performing music transforms students into people who are more in touch with their emotions, creative, driven and hard working. And that’s why I teach.