LISTEN ON –
This episode of the podcast features Jeremy Wilson. He is the professor of trombone at the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University, as well as a successful soloist and clinician. This interview with Jeremy is packed full of great content. It was hard to boil it down to a few key points, but I did my best. Here are a few takeaways:
Body, Mind, Spirit
One of Jeremy’s most successful teaching tools he shared with me is an approach to music that he calls “Body, Mind, Spirit”. While most musicians might be most concerned with physically playing a piece of music (body), this method ensures a more holistic approach. It is important to develop methods to learn pieces of music, but that process needs to be informed by the sounds you are trying to make (mind) and why you want to make them (spirit).
In general, this process requires some digging. Listening to recordings is certainly a good start, but it’s not enough. Look at the score to find out what else is going on when you play. Research the piece, see if there are any stories behind it. Research the composer to find out what might have been going on in their lives when they wrote the piece. An example Jeremy gave is that it’s helpful to understand how much personal loss Mahler experienced in his life when performing the funeral march trombone solo from the first movement of his third symphony.
While this method can be exhaustive, it is also incredibly useful during a performance as well. Before you play, if you take a moment to think “What is this music about? What do I want the audience to feel? What sound is appropriate to convey that message?”, it can serve as a great reminder for your music making. It can also help make your setup more consistent, which in turn will make you a more consistent player.
Embrace The Process
Jeremy is a believer that a career in music is process oriented, not results driven. Having a desire to achieve a career goal can be a good start, but it won’t serve you forever. If the goal is what drives you, how will you progress when you reach that goal? Jeremy says it well in this quote from the episode:
“I preach to my students all the time that the process is actually what we’re here for. That, if all you’re chasing that job you want to get, or that piece you want to play, or that album you want to record.. That’s a really great motivator, but that’s not actually why we study music in the first place. We study it for what we learn along the way. And that there’s a lot of beauty to be had, and a lot of fun to be had in that process. Of course there’s also a lot of ugliness, or a lot of disappointment and discouragement along the way.”
Find Your Purpose
If you don’t know anything about Jeremy, you’re in for a great story. At the tender age of 24, Jeremy won a position with the Vienna Philharmonic, his first orchestral audition he took. He thought he was set for life, but as he describes in the episode, that feeling began to fade as time passed. He realized his passion for teaching was something he couldn’t ignore, and that passion is ultimately what led him to leaving the orchestra.
Jeremy found his purpose. He enjoyed playing in the Vienna Philharmonic and he treasures those memories, but it wasn’t his purpose. Being true to ourselves isn’t always easy, but we can’t deny our true calling. Here’s another quote from Jeremy:
“I was actually happy in my job and I loved my job. And I was good at it. Things seemed to only be going upwards. There was also some possibility as Ian was getting ready to leave the orchestra that I could have made a run for the principal position with the orchestra. There wasn’t a career reason to leave, it just wasn’t what fulfilled me.”
I hope you enjoyed the interview Jeremy. Here are few places you can find him.
Jeremy’s Website – www.jeremywilsonmusic.com
Jeremy’s Instagram – www.instagram.com/jeremywilsontrombone
Jeremy’s YouTube channel – www.youtube.com/jeremywilsontrombone
Follow me on Instagram – www.instagram.com/thatsnotspit
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Until next time,