Over 30 years later than first intended, then delayed even more by a pandemic, please join me for a live stream of my Junior Recital from Westminster College’s Wallace Memorial Chapel in New Wilmington, PA on Sunday, August 9 at 4 pm. Due to the pandemic, I am only allowed a few people into the chapel for the event, so I will be live streaming the recital on Facebook. Click here to find the event page/livestream.
The program consists of works by Kent Kennan, G.F. Handel, Peter Meechan and an arrangement of a traditional Irish melody arranged by Phil Snedecor. Here is a link to the pdf file of the program: Tim Hering – Junior Recital Program
I will be joined by Mr. Jeff Wachter on piano (and organ), senior trumpet major Vincent Buell, and Associate Professor of Trumpet, Dr. Timothy Winfield.
I may still have a few seats available in the socially distanced, mask-wearing audience in Westminster College PA’s Wallace Memorial Chapel, so if you would like to attend in person, drop me a line and I will see what is available!
I have been awarded a fellowship through the Drinko Center at Westminster College for undergraduate research and am studying The Causes and Effects of the Involuntary Activation of the Valsalva Maneuver in Brass Instrumentalists. In layman’s terms, the Valsalva maneuver is when the glottis closes to block the airway, which is a normal function of the glottis, but it can cause problems in brass players if it happens at the wrong time.
Symptoms vary from person to person but can include lightheadedness, clicking or a guttural sound in the throat, pressure buildup in the chest and/or esophagus, inability to play a note, and/or “musical stuttering” or a sudden burst of a repeated note. For some players, these issues can be cleared up with regular practice, but for some, the remedy is not very clear.
My ultimate goal is to find out what is happening in the vocal tract at the time these issues occur and to develop a pedagogical approach to helping the player overcome these issues. The goal of this initial 6-week fellowship is to collect data from as many brass instrumentalists as I can about issues they and/or their students experience related to the involuntary activation of the Valsalva maneuver and to gather data during the playing of the instrument as to what actions trigger the issues.
The current research is focusing on two main areas to collect data. The first is an online survey and the second is a playing study which involves playing a series of exercises on their main brass instrument and answering questions about what they feel and experience during those exercises. They can participate in both (if they play a brass instrument) or just the survey (as a player and/or teacher) or just the playing study (again if they play a brass instrument.)
For the online survey, I’m in need of brass players and people who teach brass players (which can include non-brass instrumentalists, such as someone who is a band director) to take a survey about their experiences playing their brass instrument and/or their experiences teaching someone to play a brass instrument. The survey can take up to 30 minutes, depending on if they play and teach or if they just play or teach. For those who just play or teach, the time to take the survey will be shorter. Click here for the link to the survey. It can be taken any time up to at least August 9. It may run later but I ask people to take it sooner rather than later so I can begin analyzing the data. If the link doesn’t open, please copy and paste the following into the browser:
For the playing study, I have a series of exercises that include long tones, single and multiple tonguing, chromatics, range, lip flexibilities and an etude. The exercises are not meant to be difficult. The point is not to test skill but to try to see what is happening in the vocal tract while the exercises are being played. If the instrumentalist is unable to play any of the exercises, we just move on to the next.
These playing tests would ideally be done in the Westminster College School of Music in New Wilmington since I have arrangements to do my research there, but arrangements can also be made to do it via SKYPE or other video conferencing software if travel to the college is not possible. I will be taking video during the playing test, but only so I can review them later and will not be used in any presentations of the data.
The playing study will take about an hour to an hour and a half but realize that much of the time is not actually playing but talking about what was played so it is not a solid hour or so of playing. Anyone wishing to participate can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and/or if they are taking the online survey, can provide contact information at the end of the survey. I am currently scheduling these between now and August 9, 2019.
And just like that, there are 3 weeks left until classes begin. My email has been buzzing the past few days. Reminders about parking passes… Informational emails about auditions for various musical groups… Don’t forget to purchase a meal plan… Check to see what textbooks you will need… Rehearsal time for trumpet ensemble… Trumpet lesson day and time… Group trumpet warmup times… The list goes on a bit…
Then, yesterday, a total of 23 emails and text messages telling me that items have been uploaded for my Religion in China class.
WHAT HAVE I DONE?
I’ve had more than a few of those moments over the summer. I feel behind before I’ve begun. For all intents and purposes, I am starting over, even though I do have enough transfer credits to be considered a sophomore it is unlikely that I will graduate any sooner than if I were to start completely from scratch. Many of those transfer credits are just there unless I find a way to fit them into a minor of some sort…
A Music Ed major is rather involved and after discussion with the head of the music department and the trumpet professor, I declined to take any transfer credits for music courses even if eligible. In part, so I can get the most current information and not have to try to piece together information I received 30 years ago with something new. I also want to give myself time to catch up on my playing.
It has been only about 2 years now since I picked up my trumpet and began playing it on a fairly regular basis. Other than a few false starts a few years prior to that, it had been about 30 years since I had played it so being in a position to go back to school for music still seems to be rather far fetched to me. And yet, in 3 weeks, that is exactly what will be happening.
I’m not downplaying how far my playing has actually come in a short period of time. After all, I only played in a group for the first time in about 30 years in June of last year at the International Trumpet Guild conference. I joined a community band the following September, which led to joining two others, and only became aware of Westminster College in November at which point I started taking lessons from the trumpet professor, sitting in with the trumpet ensemble and by the end of April was auditioning for the school of music. All of this with an embouchure that is completely different than it was 30 years ago. Not just changes from getting older, but completely rebuilt on the inside.
Forget “What have I done,” it’s more like “How is this even happening?”
The first time around, I was more confident in my playing abilities and less interested in actual classwork. I’ve learned a lot over the years and forgotten more than that. I am approaching this chapter from a much different angle than I was back then so I am looking forward to seeing what happens from here. I’m a bit disappointed in not being in the marching band this year, but given the short period of time I’ve been playing, it is probably best to wait on that.
Regardless, it is almost time to roll up my sleeves and get to it. I’ve spent the summer practicing technique and while I’m not at the level I want to be, I am where I should be.