What is your favorite part about teaching?
Those wonderful lightbulb moments where a student is learning something brand new, and suddenly shows on their face "A-ha! Now I've got it!" I take it as the greatest honor to be able to help my students learn musical concepts for the first time, or even expand their knowledge on a concept they have already been taught.
What is the next instrument you would like to master if you had the time?
Considering I already play saxophone, clarinet, flute, oboe, trumpet, trombone, and didjeridu, the next instrument I would like to learn and master is something with strings! I've played the upright bass and viola a little, so those instruments might be a good starting point for me to join the world of strings. There is hardly any orchestral repertoire that is written to include saxophone, so one goal of mine is to be able to learn a stringed instrument well enough to play in an orchestra. Green Bay Symphony, here I come!
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I like to compose and produce electronic music on my computer, play didjeridu, and listen to music. I also conduct the Neenah Community Band each week, so for my conducting preparation I like to watch video recordings from famous orchestras and bands, such as the Berlin Philharmonic, LA Philharmonic, Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra, and Eastman Wind Ensemble.
What or who is your greatest musical inspiration?
My greatest inspirations come from past teachers, like my saxophone professor Steven Jordheim and conducting teacher Andrew Mast. Not only does their wealth of musical knowledge surpass that of anyone else I have ever met, but they are both the best teachers I've had the privilege to learn from. The way they would impart their wisdom was something to study by itself, and I hope that my style of teaching today reflects the detailed and informed advice that Dr. Mast and Mr. Jordheim gave me while I was their student.
I saw Danilo Pérez give a masterclass to a jazz combo at Lawrence University, where he was speaking about efficient practicing habits. He said that everything you do when you practice must be in rhythm. It doesn't matter if it's fast or slow, but every time you practice something on your instrument you must put it into a rhythmic context. To this day I always practice with a metronome, all the time.
What is the best musical tip you ever received?