The Trombone Studio at Arizona State University

The trombone studio at ASU is driven by basic principles…


As a student, you are expected to take ownership in the learning process. I can guide, explain, suggest, prod, and demonstrate but, in the end, the only person in that practice room day after day is you.


We are working together to serve something larger than ourselves. We can achieve more if we find ways to support each other. I want to have a strong trombone community at ASU. By harnessing our collective energy and creativity we can create a positive learning community for everyone.


You are training to be a professional. The best way to do that is to act like a professional now. I have seen so many examples of people succeeding or failing in life largely because of how they comported themselves. You never know what the future holds.

  • Communicate with good grammar.
  • Be courteous to others even if you don’t like them.
  • Don’t stab people in the back.
  • Have good hygiene.
  • Don’t complain without having a solution to propose.

Ear-Driven Learning

If I’ve learned anything over my years of performing and teaching, it is the importance of your ears! Expect to do sight-singing and possibly sight-buzzing.

  • Expect to learn pieces without any printed music in front of you.
  • Expect to learn to sing your repertoire.
  • Look at the first note of your piece and see if you can sing it before playing it.
  • “Strong in the mind, strong out the bell!”


Closely related to the idea of ear-driven learning is the idea of key sense. Beyond just playing scales and arpeggios is the development of a deeper understanding of the key itself.

  • Expect to be asked to transpose simple tunes, excerpts and etudes into other keys.
  • Can you play Happy Birthday in all 12 keys?
  • How about the Tuba Mirum solo from Mozart Requiem?
  • How about Blue Bossa?

A strong key sense will make you a much stronger musician.


Whenever you practice, you are building a habit, good or bad.  As a teacher, I am often focused on the underlying habits which impact the musical result.  As you build your musical ‘building,’ your attention may be focused on adding the 7th floor.  I’m more like the building inspector, looking for cracks in the basement.

  • What’s your tension level?
  • How’s your posture/poise?
  • Are you keeping things simple and natural?
  • Can you clearly hear what you want?
  • Did you clearly hear what you played?

Resonance and Direction

These two words are at the root of so many things! Resonance is simply the most vibration for the least effort.  Direction is the aural sense that the notes are moving somewhere.

Implied in Resonance are the ideas of good intonation, clean note beginnings and well-tapered endings.

Implied in Direction are the ideas of note-grouping, steady time (when appropriate) and dynamic contrasts.