Review The Stories Whiteness Tells Itself: Racial Myths and Our American Narratives by David Mura

The Stories Whiteness Tells Itself: Racial Myths and Our American NarrativesThe Stories Whiteness Tells Itself: Racial Myths and Our American Narratives by David Mura
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Stories Whiteness Tells Itself – Racial Myths and Our American Narratives, by David Mura, is a collection of essays aimed at showing how white America is brought up to believe a set of ideals about itself that allows systemic racism to continue and proliferate, even among those whites who consider themselves as liberal thinkers.
Muir’s essays are often a bit dry, but that can be forgiven as much academic writing cannot hope to be riveting material. His essays cover contemporary news stories such as the police killings of Philando Castile, George Floyd, and Daunte Wright, to slavery, the founding fathers, and Abraham Lincoln. Muir also compares the differences in how blacks and whites tell stories.
In the section titled “Racial Absence and Racial Presence in Jonathan Franzen and ZZ Packer,” I felt Muir strays from a factual analysis of his subject and loses objectivity, albeit briefly. However, I felt that the subject of this particular essay, Franzen, wrote something that Muir did not find believable but was not precisely on the topic of whiteness in literature.
Regardless, I feel this is a must-read for anyone who wants to see positive change from the current divisive rhetoric in today’s political and social arena.

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Junior Recital

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!

Hope to see you online or in-person!

A Study of the Involuntary Activation of the Valsalva Maneuver In Brass Players

Photo provided by the Drinko Center for Undergraduate Research at Westminster College in New Wilmington, PA.

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 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.

Thank you,

Tim Hering

Research Invitation

Some notes to start

Tim playing TrumpetMy name is Timothy Hering. Most people call me Tim. Family still calls me Timmy, though I wouldn’t suggest that if you aren’t. I’ve also been referred to as a variety of other things as well, but you probably haven’t been doing it right if you haven’t been from time to time. I turn 49 years old in May of 2017. That’s not that important, or so I’ve been told, but it is part of the story.

Music and creativity have always been a staple in my life. As a young boy, I would listen to my parents collection of records (yes, the vinyl ones before they were retro.) Among these recordings were the Canadian Brass, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, and The Philadelphia Brass. I somehow always imagined myself up there playing Amazing Grace ala Ronn Romm or A Taste of Honey with the Tijuana Brass. My favorites were the timeless classic sound of the Philadelphia Brass playing Christmas Carols. A recording that can still be heard every holiday season in shopping centers around the country. When the time came, it was only natural for me to choose the trumpet as my instrument in the school band.

Throughout the course of the rest of my middle and high school years, I played in everything I could and played for as many people as I could. I also sang in the various school choirs and acted in the drama club so when it was time to graduate and go off to college. the road was all mapped out. But, and you knew it was coming, when you are eighteen preparing to graduate high school and begin college you seem to have everything planned out. You know exactly where you are, where you want to be and how you are going to get there. You passed all of your entrance exams, you know where you will be next year, in three, five and even ten years from now. But, sometimes, what you believe is the path you must take isn’t the one you were really meant to be on. At least, not yet. At first it may seem like there’s just a few bumps in the road. Nothing you can’t handle, until suddenly you swerve to avoid one of those bumps. Your car slides off the road and you careen completely off course. “Recalculating,” the voice says repeatedly from your once trustworthy GPS.

It’s now about three decades since the first of many of those scenarios in my life. A scholarship each for trumpet and theater at a good school and the perfect route plotted out. Turns out there were more than a few bumps and quite a bit of construction on that route. “You end up exactly where you are meant to be.” Life is a seemingly endless string of cliches but I do firmly believe that one. While I cannot say I enjoyed every minute of the scenery of the multiple detours, I would not be the person I am today without them. The people I have met, the relationships I have made and the experiences I have had would likely never have happened. I thought at that time that being unable to play my trumpet due to dental issues was the end of everything. Financial and family issues also seemed to redirect me. I pushed music out of my life for quite some time while I learned to deal with that. Over time, even as the scenery changed and I adapted to it, I learned that music had never really left. It just took different forms. My creativity still drives me forward as I take on new challenges. From restaurant management to becoming a personal chef to designing the branding on a line of body care products, my road is nothing like it had been planned.

It has been quite an adventure, however, and I have learned to simply add new destinations to the existing route. What I had thought was a direct route many years ago is no longer in the rear view mirror but is the new destination as I have reconnected to that road from long ago.  The voice saying “Recalculating,” no longer speaks over top of everything else.  What I believed had been insurmountable dental issues have been resolved and while there may be a few more gray hairs on my head,  I am grateful for the experiences I have had and as hopeful and excited as one just out of high school looking forward to new experiences and chances to learn and share on this new road forward.

This blog is my attempt to document my road in finding music and the trumpet again. There are and will always be trumpeters better than me and that is great since it gives me something to shoot for. I’m not here to wallow in self pity or lament what may have been. I just want to keep a record of my own little journey. No judgements, no ego. I just want to create a safe space to grow and maybe it will inspire someone else to reconnect with a road they thought was no longer on their map of life. Over the years I have picked up other instruments so while the intent of this blog centers around my journey with my trumpet, there are guitars, keyboards and a variety of small percussion instruments in my life as well.

My intent is to write about things as they happen, or shortly there after, but I do have a bit of catching up to do so from time to time, there will be posts about something that has passed but is still a part of this little journey.

Constructive comments are encouraged. Mean spirited comments are not.