The Man Cave

One of the features that attracted us to our condo was the semi-finished attic, with a large storage closet and enough space to consider it a third bedroom. In the last two years, the attic has been home to several long-term guests, but now that our dear friend Amy has moved to China, the room is once again free and clear to be put to the use I had originally envisioned for it – welcome to my music studio!

Building my musical cockpit

I began the process last month by moving the bed to the other side of the room, under the sloped ceiling. This opened up much more space in the main part of the attic. I moved my old computer and desk into the corner, and look forward to loading the computer with music production software so I can start recording some stuff. My keyboards fit very nicely against the adjoining wall, and it just made sense to build the percussion section out from there, facing the rest of the room. Here’s a more thorough look at the whole set-up:

It’s still far from finished, but it’s a good start, and something to do when I’m not looking for work. Some tapestries would be nice for aesthetics, but I really ought to put some soundproofing up first. For now, it’s just fun to be surrounded by all my toys and to have a place for my friends to come over and jam without taking over the living room. The drum wall can be pushed out a little further to allow another keyboard player to slide in behind me. There’s room for 2-3 guitarists with small amps, as long as they don’t mind hauling their gear up 2 flights of stairs. When I have more money to throw at the project, I’ll outfit the place with an amp, some mics, and maybe a cheap bass. Most importantly, all of the stuff I’m most likely to need for a gig can be easily accessed and removed.

Can’t wait to try it out! Who’s up for a jam?

It’s All Coming Back to Me Now

Same as it ever was...

The taste of metal, the tingly sensation after the first vibrations on the mouthpiece. The slight soreness above the upper lip, and the tightening of muscles in the corners of my mouth. Deep breaths through the nose, pushed right back out through the embouchure with a buzz that would be considered unacceptably rude were it not for the 9 feet of twisted brass through which it is directed. The mind starts to recall what the muscles still seem to know. C# sounds in tune, not because I remember where to put my hand, but because my hand already knows where it needs to be.

I can still fake my way through the first sight-reading, marking spots in my head that I’ll need to woodshed later. Second rehearsal much smoother, even starting to drop in little bits of personality that make the flute player giggle. Playing them with confidence helps me get away with the parts I’m still faking. Things have gotten better and better with each rehearsal until now, five days from showtime, the reality seems to be sinking in – I’m a trombonist again.

The whole experience of preparing for the Magenta Theater concert this Saturday has me remembering what it is like to juggle so many performing ensembles. In college, it was band, jazz band, choir, then later orchestra, but at least it was only trombone and voice, maybe occasionally drums in my fraternity band. Now, not only am I in four bands, but I’ve also got to be ready to play drums, percussion, voice, trombone, melodica, harmonica, pennywhistle and calimba. Sometimes I feel like I did when I was 12, in an arcade with a roll of quarters. I just can’t decide what to play next!

Most importantly, the theory is coming back. Remembering how it all fits together. Having people ask me questions I don’t expect to be able to answer, but somehow helping them understand what I’m feeling when I play and sing. Reminding the guitarists when they have forgotten their capos. Maybe I’m reminded so much of college because I’m on a college student schedule lately, but 2010 is feeling like a year of inspiration and education and I hope to soak in as much as I can.

Come see my first trombone concert performance in 18 years this Saturday