Since I've arrived in Portland (Memorial Day weekend 2016), I've made two observations:
- Everything here is built around people's high standards for quality of life. People here care about things in a deeper way than I would ever encounter in Texas. From the quality/sustainability/locality of things that are made (food, beer, furniture, clothes, crafts, etc), to the methods in which things are used and discarded (trash is a HUGE one, but so is traffic control and zoning).
- People here really, really, really love music.*
The latter is great, because there are numerous opportunities to sit in, play, and be welcomed. Portland residents are extremely friendly, and the supportive environment helps when you don't know the people (or the unspoken "jam rules") very well. In my short time here, I've been fortunate enough to hear and meet some fine musicians.
Recently, I have performed and recorded with the Rose City Trombones, an ensemble with a gifted pedigree of established musicians and educators from all over the Portland and Vancouver area. We went into Blue Heron Studio for a long day of recording new works and arrangements for trombone ensemble:
"Christus Factus Est" (Bruckner), arr. Randy Malmstrom
"O Magnum Mysterium" (Lauridsen), arr. Andrew Poirier**
"Amazing Grace" & "Laura", arr. Dave Parker
"Beauty & the Bass Trombone" (Mencken), arr. Douglas Grieve
That's right, I recorded on a CLASSICAL session. And everyone tolerated it, too! That being said, it has been a while since I've been a part of such a polished recording session. Here are my takeaways (and tips):
- Practice, practice, PRACTICE! You can never be too prepared for any recording session. Knowing your part inside-out comes in handy when you are not only required to perform, but also when you need to LISTEN to the other players in the ensemble. Knowing your role and being prepared helps you understand what it will take to make music happen in the moment. (Related: show up early to warm-up and be present).
- Be yourself. You are never as great as you wish you were. Sorry. Try your best and rely on your talent, experience and (most of all) work ethic to get you through the tough spots. Listening back to your own performances can be tough, especially when they're not so great. Trust that you will always be your own worst critic.
- Don't be nervous — see above. Being nervous and counting your mistakes only results in more mistakes down the line. Forget about it and move on.
- Be a teammate. Don't ever forget that you're working TOGETHER in an ensemble. Bad attitudes are toxic and very contagious. Don't bring the party down if you want to get invited back.
- Have fun. You're doing something you love and you never know when you'll get to do it again.
I am looking forward to hearing the final productions and will update here whenever that may be.
* There is so much music going on that I get FOMO from looking at listings. Not only is there a LOT, but most is of good quality and easy to get to!
** My personal favorite, and one of the hardest pieces I have ever perform.