Friday, October 30, 2009


I always thought I was good with change.

I don't think I all of a sudden got bad at it, I just think I was looking at it in a non-productive way. Or maybe it's because there are so many changes right now in my life and how I thought my life would be that I'm having a hard time adjusting. Either way, change is something I am learning to embrace and be empowered by.

I recently had the revelation that I can make my own decisions when playing, teaching, or just having conversations. People are always asking my opinions, when I play an audition or concert, teach, or offer advice. Being a student for a good portion of my life I looked a lot to my teachers (who 99% of the time had great and helpful things to say:) and dilligently assumed the student role. I thought of what they said as the 'right' way. I mean, these people had jobs and sucessful careers by doing exactly what they were telling me to do. Who was I to argue or even disagree?

The answer? I am me. Being me gives me the right to decide for myself. An audition or search panel is interviewing me because they want to hear what I think about Tchaik 5 or how to teach someone to play low. Most importantly, I want to hear and express what I think. Being me is unique and one of a kind. My life experiences have allowed and earned me this one of a kind voice. It's about time I started listening to it.

This paradigm shift has really opened my eyes and changed me for the better. I feel more confident and sure of myself. I feel more open to expressing my ideas not as the 'right' ideas but as another voice and opinion. It has allowed me to share my experiences in a way that services and speaks to others. It builds clear and quick connections that bring about meaningful relationships. The change in attitude has helped me see opinions and ideas of others as exactly that, opinions and ideas, and use them at my discretion.

Change can be rewarding and exciting when trust is built and believed. It's about time I gave myself the respect I have been giving to others for so long. I'm looking forward to seeing what's next......

Monday, May 18, 2009

Fearless Diaries - In the Moment

After having a little time to digest Saturday evening's performance, I still feel good about it!  YAY! When performing, I don't actually have the time to think about and decide how I feel about my performing.  That is something that has taken some time to understand.  

One more for the good habits learned column.  YAY!

I also learned that I like to be around people and be busy throughout the day of a performance.  It helps me keep my brain busy.  I've gotten pretty good at deciding I can't do anything about a particular thing until I get to that moment.  Thank you Andre' Watts!  

What's great about compartmentalizing is I felt like I was still on vacation and enjoying spending time with family and new places.  It has been a while since Greg and I have had the opportunity to take a vacation. These past few years have been full.  

I think the biggest revelation is that my life is not defined by my horn.  My life is not defined by my successes or failures.  In fact, I think my life can be free of definitions.  Anytime I label myself it becomes potentially limiting.  In order to create opportunity I have to be able to be anything at anytime.  Keeping clear of definitions can help me open those opportunity doors.

I like the idea of just being and knowing by doing that, it is impossible to fail.  The more I can be me, the more I can be free of fear, doubt, and instead believe in the power of who I am.

The performance was a great experience.  The most fantastic thing was to look at the ensemble when I walked on stage to a sea of smiling faces.  Not only was it a great confidence boost but a touching personal moment, as well.  To know they were routing for me made me feel good about my ability to connect with them through music and just being me.  

I was proud of many things throughout the performance.  I was proud to just be there and to have decided my voice counted enough to be heard.  I was proud that even when something wasn't perfect, I added my voice immediately.  I was proud that I was so into making music that even when things were different I was able to go with it.  I took risks.  Many of which added to the excitement!  YAY!  

Most of all I was proud that I made those choices.  In the past, I was waiting to see what was going to happen.  Saturday, I decided what was going to happen.  I made those choices and I believed in the power of making them.

After the concert, many people approached me to say thank you for playing and to offer compliments.  It's so nice that people take the time to share their feelings and thoughts.  The things other's hear can be very different from what I hear.  It's a nice reminder to have EVERYTHING count.

Looking back, I feel proud because I connected with the students, the audience, the music, and myself.  It feels good to be in the moment.  It feels good to decide to be in the moment.  

I am enjoying residing in the moment.

Photo by Kimono Photography,

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Fearless Diaries - Singing MY Voice

I found my voice today.

Logistically, today was the second rehearsal for my first performance with a large ensemble in Las Vegas.  Optimally, it was an opportunity to learn and grow.  I have been working on having each rehearsal, performance, and/or practice session be opportunities to move forward rather than carry as baggage. Baggage has so many stipulations.  You never really get to move forward, it always refers to the past for answers.  I am never the same person from day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute.  So how exactly does baggage serve me?  I'm beginning to really believe it doesn't.

Even as recent as yesterday, I found myself saying, 'here it goes again, another not optimal experience'.  But, unlike the past I recovered from this negative, large brush stroke quickly.   When I get nervous and choose to micromanage I fill my brain with unnecessary clutter.   Choosing this clutter gets me further from me.  And, further from my voice.

As the band sounded the opening E-flat major chord, everything sounded different to me.  The sound rang in my ears with a new clarity.  It was pure music.  I could argue it was the acoustics, or there were more people at rehearsal, but I'm choosing to believe it was clearer because my brain was free from clutter.  I had clear priorities about what I wanted to do.  Pre breath beat, breath beat, and go.  It was all about the timing.  Everything fit into place despite tempo variances, missed notes, and intonation discrepancies.  Now, like other lessons I have learned, this one was presented to me very early.  What makes the musical line encompass everything is having good timing.  I now realize that timing can be deafening, above a 50 piece band, when I am actually listening to it.  

I choose to be free from simultaneous critique, but rather diagnose and cure.  If I actually have time to hear something, decide how it makes me feel, then decide to back off and evaluate, then find a cure, I could easily be about 8 bars behind the ensemble.  As I have heard many times, if I'm listening and the audience is listening, who is actually performing?  

This morning was the perfect opportunity not only to find me, but to share it.  Yesterday, I was so concerned with making each note, rhythm, articulation, dynamic, and style choice perfect that I forgot about something very important.  The thing I forgot, is the thing that I think could be another answer to yesterday's question.  I forgot about my voice.  Strauss wrote this amazing work for his father and since then, many others have painted this canvas.  I wasn't even holding a paint brush yesterday.  I was still sitting in class reading the instruction booklet.

I am learning to be the artist at all times, when practicing, listening, doing score study, and even while visualizing performing.  I felt the freest I have ever felt while performing this morning.  Not only did I find my voice, but I actually had the confidence in myself to share it unconditionally and without fear of judgment.  The music sang from my bell because I finally decided that my voice counted.  There may be many other horn players in this world, but there will always be room for me as long as I keep showing up and really participating.  And, at this moment I'm the one in the spotlight.  It doesn't make me more important.  But what is does do is prove my voice is worth listening to.

I'm singing with my voice, today.  

Photo by Kimono Photography,

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Fearless Diaries - Where is My Head?

Photo by Kimono Photography,

Today was my first rehearsal with the Coronado High School Band, conducted by my amazing friend and sister-in-law, Dani.  Greg and I made this trip to Vegas for this event (and to see family:).  I have been waiting for a moment like this for a long time! 

During our travel day, yesterday, I was so excited about the opportunity to play a solo with an ensemble.  It was finally my turn to be the one standing in the spotlight. Kind of like a day of reckoning for me.  This has certainly been a year full of ups and downs and this was an up I had been looking forward to for whileJ.  I felt in a really good headspace.  I was prepared and believed I was capable of performing in a way I could be proud of and happy about. 

I have been reading a book called "You’ll See it When You Believe It", by Dr. Wayne Dyer.  He is a master of creating simplicity.  Dyer’s text really sang to me, especially his words about failure.  He says, “…you cannot fail at being you.  You can only produce results.”  Although I have probably heard this concept a hundred times, this particular setting really made sense to me.  It also helped me ‘get it’ again.  Being me is enough regardless of what results I produce.  For the first time in a while, I felt good about being me.  I was ready for a good night’s sleep.

It’s still dark out.  What time is it?  I roll over and it’s 3am.  6am my normal tim:).  My brain is up and running, already deciding how things were going to go at this morning’s rehearsal which was GREAT!  I slept very little from 3am-6am when the alarm went off.  I was convinced I was going to be great today.

I walk into the 7am rehearsal, with very little warm-up.  I have prepared myself for this situation on a weekly basis in case something like this were to happen!  YAY!  It was a weird walk from the parking lot to the band room.  One I have made several times before, in my high school days, but now was out of practice.  The rehearsal rooms was bustling with a familiar chaotic energy of getting out instruments, music, setting up the chairs, etc.

I was no longer a student. This sentiment has several strings attached.  On one hand I felt relieved.  I could do my own thing and decide my own schedule.  And, on the other hand, I had to do my own thing and decide my own schedule.  I tend to gravitate towards the freedom the first option presents.  I’m still growing in this respect.

I got out my horn, which felt brand new and awkward to me.  I immediately reminded myself of all of the preparation I have done for the past many years.  This moment wasn’t set forth a few months ago when I was booked for this gig, but several years ago when I refound, or was reminded, of my love for making music.  I immediately turn on my Fearless Playlist.  You can show them some wonderful music!  Believe in yourself and see it happening exactly the way you want it to go.  Oo, there’s some other faculty here, I wonder what they will…..they want me to play well.  I got this.

Dani introduced me as Dr. Thoman.  Wait, what?  I am still uncomfortable with the potential distance that title creates between human beings, but, I stay in it.  I am here to create something beautiful.  The students seemed fairly unimpressed.  That makes me feel better about the distance.  And we’re off.

The band starts on the huge E-flat chord.  I take a shaky, big breath, here I go. 

Driving home from the rehearsal I think to myself, rehearsals like today are the reason I don’t have a job.  What am I doing that makes me feel this way?  I had some memory slips and a few cracks.  Why did I feel so horrible while actually playing?  This is the question I need to find answers to.

It’s always neat finding out how different a piece can feel when played with an ensemble as opposed to a piano.  I am quickly reminded that I am now driving a bus, not a sports car.  This is where I think I can start finding some answers to my pivotal question.  What am I doing that prevents me from getting the results I know I am capable of and so desperately want? I think the question itself presents an answer. 

Let go.  My capabilities and skill are already in place.  My training, especially with Jeff, has been good.  He has led me through some dark valleys and I am now in a position to feel the sun on my face again.  Let go of the view of the dark valley and replace it with the brightness and awesomeness of the now stellar landscape.  Leave expectations at the door and freely create as the moment moves me. 

As, Greg was driving me home, I felt angry at myself for ‘not playing well’.  ‘Not playing welI’ is so generic and not serving.  I need to be more specific with myself in order to do it better the next time.  What didn’t I like, and then decide what I need to do to make it right.  Greg patiently reminded me that I wouldn’t understand how to do make these changes in the moment if I don’t keep putting myself in the moment.  So, get back in there and do it again.  The whole ‘getting back in the saddle again’ thing.  He also helped me to remember my results do not define me.  It is important for me to quickly learn, really learn, from these results in order to produce new results.  Use intelligence to evaluate content and be smart when producing results.

Today’s rehearsal was a moment for me not in the way I expected.  It was a  moment to take stock.  What are my priorities, what’s important to me, and how can I best express myself?  How can I create simplicity? 

The answer, Where is MY Head?