Dr. Carrillo's Trumpet Blog

This page is targeted at my trumpet students here at James Madison University and any other trumpet students or enthusiasts. I hope you find something helpful to your path here.

Survival isn't enough...

Today, spring semester classes resume here at James Madison University and the halls bustle with the excited return of music students to the music building.  As the semester begins, I find myself reflecting on the thoughts the trumpet students here shared with me last semester during a studio class in November.  Those of you who may have spent some time in academia know that November can be the most busy/stressful/trying time of the fall semester.  From a motivational research point, around week 8-9 is where students’ (and faculty for that matter) motivation tends to waiver as we scurry about completing tasks and assignments.  Last semester, I tried implementing something one of my colleagues Kenn Barron calls a “motivational intervention.”  

For this “intervention” I kept it simple.  We had a studio class discussion and talked about the big Why?  Why do we spend all this time going to class, rehearsing in ensembles, spending hours in the practice room, etc… (the list goes on and on).  Why are we doing this?  Well the answer is not at all surprising: because we love music.  Of course, no big surprise there really, but what does that mean.  What does, “because we love music” really mean?  So, I have each of my students an index card on which to write an answer to this simple question:  What does music mean to you?

Here are the student responses:

 

Pure representation of feeling

Model of the tension and release that we feel in our lives

A medium that responds to and shapes our world

 

——

 

Music to me is a sense of revival.  I discovered music at a time in my life I was becoming desperate to find a sense of purpose and a way to fit in and be happy.  When I picked up the trumpet, I felt relieved to finally find something in my life that I loved, and a group of people I fit in with.  Music saved me from a time of my life that was rather dark.  With music, trumpet specifically, I met so many people and got involved.  I started drum corps and came to JMU.  Music to me is happiness.

 

——

 

Expression literal or abstract

Identity

Communication of thoughts and feelings that can’t be said in words.

Livelihood

Music is the best way I can make sense of my surroundings.  Reaction to my surroundings.

 

——

 

Music is what takes my emotions on an endless journey.  Whatever I am feeling, happy, sad, pain, delight, romance, hope.  I know exactly where to go because music guides me there.

 

——

 

Music means everything to me.  It is one of the only international forms of communication and feeling.  It is something that everyone can understand even if there are lyrics in a different language.  If there are no lyrics, everyone can imagine their own situation that is happening.  Is is just simply and complexly wonderful.

 

——

 

Music means communicating a certain passion I have within me.  There is always a sense of joy after any performance that I have when I know that I was able to communicate to the audience what I am feeling inside whenever I play the trumpet.

 

——

 

Music is a way for us to express our thoughts, emotions, and passions with others through a universal language as well as connect with others through these thoughts and emotions.

 

——

 

To me, music is the tool I use to express how I feel.  Music is the one thing that keeps me grounded no matter what I’m dealing with good or bad.  Music is the thing that lets me be me.

 

——

 

I think music for me is a comforting consistency.  It’s always there and not matter what is going on I can always play or write or simply listen.  I can focus really hard on a trumpet piece or barely pay attention to the radio in the background.  It’s always been around and I make an effort to keep it that way for the future when I begin to teach and give that same consistency to someone else.

 

——

 

A way to describe that which is otherwise indescribable.

The purest portrayal of self other than silence.

 

——

 

Music to me means that we are able to take what is aurally present or visually present and make it meaningful to the individual playing or to one or more people listening.  I think of it as an art, too.  Having the spectrum of colors at your fingertips you are able to create or play a work that best represents and resonates with you.  Music is where the inner voice is heard.

 

——

 

Music is a way to express myself without words.  Sometimes the correct words don’t exist, but the music is always there.

 

——

 

Music is a form of expression that can’t really be expressed through anything else.  It’s my 2nd language.  Safe haven that I can escape to.

 

——

 

Music is expression of emotions too abstract for words, or a way to help define and understand those emotions.

 

——

 

For the longest time, I’ve had difficulty expressing my emotions, whether it was to a girl I really liked or to my parents.  Music was that escape from hardship, from the harsh reality of tumultuous trials of life.  It gave me a voice when I was too afraid or weak to speak; it consoled me when I first experienced heartbreak.  My life would be empty without it.

 

——

 

Music is my escape from the many problems in my life.  It helps me heal and helps me know what is good.  Playing for other people gives me happiness because I know music can help other people also.

 

——

 

Music is about connecting with every emotion we have, especially those that we don’t have words for.  Music allows people to communicate in a special way with other people.  Music is about making connections.

 

——

 

My way to connect with something greater than myself, whether that is a bigger group of people or a greater force all together.  It’s also a way to express emotions that no other actions can express.

 

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Music means giving your emotions life through sound, preventing them from building up in the should and blocking your connection to a higher state of existence.

 

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Music is my world of relaxation and escape.  My instrument or voice is the keyhole in the door that I struggle to squeeze through just to experience for a while that other world we all desperate seek to find.

 

——

 

Music is an emotive analogue, a mentor, a guide, a best friend, a companion.  It’s a vehicle for self reflection.  It challenges our beliefs, thoughts, and fears.  Music can be who we were, are, or want to be.

 

——

 

Music means communication

It expresses things that just can’t be expressed through words or any other medium. It brings a light where there is darkness and allows us to communicate with the world.

 

——

 

Music means everything to me.  It is what motivates, initiates, and drives our everyday thoughts and actions.  It’s so powerful that it can never be stopped, but will continue on even when our days are up.  Everything from the low pitch drone of a machine to a fanfare of the trumpets up high.  From the baby crying to the jingling of the chain as a dog passes by.  Music is everything.  Life.

 


What an amazing group of students here in the JMU trumpet studio.  Sometimes when we are at our most stressed, we lose sight of the big picture.  Let’s start this semester thinking about the big picture or goal and how our daily actions align with that goal.  Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below...

 

(now go practice)

 

 

Articles referenced:

Barron, K. E., & Hulleman, C. S. (2006). Is there a formula to help understand and improve student motivation? Essays from E-xcellence in Teaching, Volume 8. Retrieved [August 7, 2006] from the Society for the Teaching of Psychology Web site: http://list.kennesaw.edu/archives/psychteacher.html

Fairchild, A., Horst, S. J., Finney, S. J., & Barron, K. E. (2005). Evaluating existing and new validity evidence for the Academic Motivation Scale. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 30, 331-358.