I’m back! Wow, what an awesome convention!!! I didn’t get to as many clinics as I had intended but a lot got done and I’m very re-energized and ready to tackle the rest of the year. I met some really extraordinary people and had the opportunity to start and continue some cool relationships I didn’t really take a lot of pictures because I lost my camera for a while (story to come).
I started my trip down to San Antonio with having to get my brake pads changed. I wasn’t really budgeting for doing it last week but I’m sure glad I did! My car just seems to drive so much better. Isn’t that funny…I get the device to stop my car fixed and the feel of the general drive is much better. The power of mind over matter!
I got to San Antonio in the early evening and got checked into the hotel and the convention successfully. From there, I found my friend Ronnie Rios and we hung out for a while. Saw the All State Jazz Band rehearsal and saw lots of friends (already) that I was looking forward to seeing. From there, he went to support his students auditioning for specific seats in various All State ensembles and I went to see the Baylor Jazz Ensemble, featuring Wycliff Gordon. At the concert, I saw my buddy Woody Smith. We met last summer when I worked the A&M Commerce Jazz Camp together. He and I sat and fully enjoyed the concert and after, went to get Mr. Gordon’s autograph and picture taken.
On Thursday, Catrina, Kelly & I got over to the convention center fairly early and got to business. I had some technology stuff to participate in so I had BOB (Big Ol’ Bag) with me. He’s a great rolling bag but still fairly cumbersome so I asked the Band/Orchestra Office to store him while I didn’t need him. They are SO nice for doing that. When the exhibit hall opened, we walked through there then I headed to a few clinics. After the technology clinic I went to, Ken Johnson from M-Audio and I headed to lunch. It looks like I’ll be presenting a technology clinic myself next January at the IAJE Convention in New York, NY!!! I went to a few more clinics and I also got to help Wiff Rudd with his clinic on being a better trumpet player (he’s not much on technology and I popped in to help with some of his presentation) so BOB came in handy yet again! He’s the coolest guy. I’ve known him since he was my judge (and I was his monitor) at Texas State Solo & Ensemble Contest my junior year.
Later Thursday evening, we went out to Swigs where I met up with quite a few old friends. Daniel Montoya was there and I finally got to meet the famous Sarah Stern!!! It’s about damn time, Danny. With Daniel & Sarah was John Mackey. I was honored to be a Baylor University to hear the unofficial premier of “Strange Humors”, his recent composition for wind band. It is an amazing piece that one day I’d like to conduct with a group of my own (it’s quite a bit too difficult for my current group, however). I found his blog via Daniel’s blog and commented on how much I liked it. The very next day, Kevin Sedatole, the current Director of Bands at Baylor (as well as my co-worker’s brother) came by the band hall and told me that John had talked to Kevin and mentioned my post. It was very cool to be able to meet and hang out with John. He’s so much fun!!!
Let’s see, that leads us up to Friday. I didn’t make as many clinics on Friday (I never seem to) but I did get to have lunch with Ronnie Rios & the leadership of IAJE Texas at The Palm. That was really cool – everyone had so many funny stories about everything they’ve seen. Not everyone in that room was too much older than I but they certainly had had a few more opportunities to experience cool jazz band stories. One day….
From there, I went to probably THE BEST clinic of the whole convention. Shelly Berg was giving a clinic on how to make jazz improvising not so scary for you or your students. When I got there, I found out that Steve Houghton (who had played with him the night before at a concert I missed 😦 ) was going to help give the clinic. I’ve been a fan of Steve Houghton for YEARS. I saw him speak at the PASIC convention in college and what he said about keyboard playing really made sense to me. First, Mr. Berg talked about the jazz improv stuff then, he and Mr. Houghton talked about how to communicate with correct verbage to your rhythm section and have them give back what you’re looking for. In fact, they had just published a book series with CDs & DVD to do just that. Again, when they spoke, everything they said really made sense to me. I had just made a note to self to go down to the exhibit hall to purchase the book when all of a sudden, they said they were giving away a copy of the teacher’s manual with DVD & CD to someone who could answer a trivia question from the session they’d just finished with us. I had taken stellar notes and so I raised my hand and WAS CALLED ON!!! I answered the question correctly without my notes – Q: What are the two important things you need from your rhythm section? A: Clarity and defference – so I won the book!!!! How cool is that? They even autographed the inside and we took a picture together! I was the happiest gal in that room, let me tell you.
Of course, I purchased the books for the students today. The rhythm section has probably been the biggest challenge of my teaching jazz band. I’ve always relied on them to be there but just never had to think about what to tell them to get them to do the things I’ve always relied on as a player.
So, the camera story. After I took the picture above, I went to the UT Wind Ensemble Concert (stellar performance) and was showing Josh (my friend & the SPHS private trumpet teacher) my pictures. I guess when I went to put the camera back into my bag (not BOB), I didn’t do it very well so it dropped out. When I got to dinner later, I went to show my pictures to other friends and realized the camera was gone. Talk about sad! Not only did I lose my camera (which can be replaced) but I also lost those pictures I’d taken with those wonderful folks (not easily replaced). Today, I went by the lost and found booth and it was there! I can’t thank that random honest person enough. Apparently, many valuable lost items were turned in to lost and found this year. There are some really good people out there!
Friday night, I got to see all my old friends from school and have some drinks with them at Medusa. Very fun time overall!