“Welcome to the Blast Family”

I’m postponing an entry about my day today to finally publish an entry I’ve been working on for several days. Today we had a GREAT pep talk and I’ve just polled my cast mates to see their feelings after the talk. I’ll publish it if/when I get some responses. It was a talk worth recording!

Right now I want to write down how much I love this cast…

They are truly amazing people. Sure, they are talented musicians and impress me daily with their diverse interests and skill sets that they’re able to achieve at such a high level, but they’re also genuinely amazing people. I can’t believe how supportive everyone here is to one another. It’s an incredibly positive atmosphere and I love it. I love that LACK of competition among individuals and the drive to simply get better for the sake of getting better. After being in a ton of different trumpet sections for the past 17 years I’ve become accustomed to the competitive nature of the people that sit on each side of me. There’s always this undisclosed contest going on. ‘I can play higher than you,’ ‘I can tongue faster than you,’ ‘I can transpose better than you,’ ‘I can play this faster than you,’ and so on. I have hated meeting trumpet players because it always goes something like this: we shake hands, say hello, and even though they’re saying “Hi, my name is ____” the only thing I can actually hear (due to the amount of arrogance and egotism oozing from their pores) is, “Hi, I’m better than you.” Ask any trumpet player you know – I would guarantee they’ve experienced THAT trumpet player. It sounds ridiculous, but try to imagine that reality for a moment, and then imagine my utter surprise and love for the culture that exists here… a culture that is nothing but positive, complimentary, and supportive. Everyone is (or, at least SEEMS) genuinely invested in the continued growth of one other as musicians. Everyone in this ensemble understands that when one of us is getting better, we’re ALL getting better, and that’s the ultimate goal. I don’t know where or when this culture started being bred, but I think it’s great. It also helps me really believe what Donnie said to me when he called and offered me my position. He said to me, “Well, Jordan, I’d like to officially welcome you to the Blast family.” It really is like a family here. In NO other ensemble that I’ve ever played with have I seen people so willingly offer advice to each other AND it be received so warmly. We’ve got professional musicians from so many places; they do cruise ships, have masters degrees, are pursuing DOCTORAL degrees, write music, lead and teach professional ensembles, were soloists with DCI corps, and so much more. We all bring a lot to the table and everyone is their own sponge when it comes to absorbing all that information. It takes a humble person to unselfishly offer advice and/or receive it from others. When a Madison Scouts soloist can go to the lead player in the One O’Clock and give him a recommendation and it be received with open arms, I think that’s saying a lot about the humility and professionalism of the people in this group. Or when I’m practicing on my own and someone comes over to tell me another way to work on the technique I’m working on, and then 10 minutes later turn around and pay me a huge compliment on my tone quality. Or when the soloist that I’m supposed to swing for tells ME that he loves my sound. Me! Little ol’ me! And, like I said before, Hiro is INCREDIBLE, so to have him tell me he loves MY sound blew my mind. And it’s not just in the hornline, it’s across sections. Percussionists paying compliments, visual ensemble being so open to helping us in our movement blocks, it’s the same supportive culture across the board, and it’s reflected as deeply as the instructional staff and stage management.

Have I mentioned how much I love it here?

The soloists generally respond to compliments with some humble, “thanks, but I gotta fix this for next time” statement, and it’s so inspiring and encouraging to know that 1) I’m not the most amazing player, and 2) that’s freaking OKAY, because 3) we’re all a work in progress. We’re all growing as musicians through this experience, and I’m trying so hard to soak up as much information as possible. Victor, Rigo, and Mark have all given me methods to work on that will help me with the things I’m currently working on, and I can already see improvements. Rigo’s even agreed to go through the Flexus book with me, and that’s REALLY exciting for me since I’ve had the book for 10 years and haven’t known what to do with it 😅

That’s all I wanted to relive for tonight. Shout out to Mark and Amanda for keeping me UP LATE tonight reliving drum corps summers in the ‘good ol days’ while I finish this post. <3

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