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Michelle Willits
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Amazing Roll Clouds Caught on Camera: http://youtu.be/Vw3Yiai9t78

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It's No. 4, but I think it's No. 1: "Resist the urge to try to make them more like you." #WorkplaceMojo  

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Recalling a UM Jazz Workshop of olde with Rich Matteson on euphonium. #HornBandFriday

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This is absolutely wonderful, and if you don't print it out and give it to Lance, I will.
A Gentleman Knows How to Play Trombone, But Doesn't.

Prof. Lance Boyd, the director of jazz studies and trombone professor at the University of Montana since years before I arrived there in 1983, is retiring. This weekend will be his final run with the annual University of Montana jazz festival he started from scratch and built into the event it is today.

I knew nothing when I arrived there in 1983. Though I'd played lead in my high school jazz band because of my range, I knew I wasn't qualified to play in one of Lance's bands and I didn't even audition at first. I did, for reasons I'll never completely understand, wind up playing second trumpet in the Missoula Symphony as a freshman. And that meant I sat next to Lance, who was the principal trombone player. And that meant he got an up-close-and-personal dose of my struggles to play in tune. Once, when I got caught up in the excitement of whatever the orchestra was playing, I started vigorously tapping my left toe. Suddenly, Lance's right cowboy boot appeared and firmly clamped down on my left foot to stop the tapping. Now I try not to tap at all, and if I find myself doing it I stop as soon as I notice.

Eventually I did start playing in his lower jazz bands. I had decent range and a vague sense of swing, but that was all. I can remember what a shock it was to be expected to actually play the articulations written over the notes exactly as designated. Each year, especially in the lower bands, he passed out a mimeographed set of instructions that laid out exactly how he wanted each of the several possible different combinations of articulation markings to sound. And he expected us to do it. And if you didn't, you would stick out of the ensemble sound. And he would hear it, and chew your ass. He singled me out and chewed my ass so hard in one rehearsal my sophomore year that I felt like vomiting and was ready quit playing altogether.

But eventually the craftsmanship he was trying to teach started to penetrate even the thickest skull. A year or two after that disastrous sophomore year rehearsal, we were sight-reading a piece and came to a short syncopated passage where the composer had deliberately reversed the normal and anticipated sequence of long vs. short notes. If your guard wasn't up, you would play it the way you were used to hearing that type of lick and it would be exactly backwards from how it was notated. He heard me playing it as written and called it to the attention of the rest of the band. I'm sure this seems pretty minor to anyone who has never played in one of his bands, but I was awfully proud of it at the time and it's still a fond memory a quarter-century later.

Eventually, after 4 years of undergrad, 1 year of grad non-degree, and three years of law school, I had 8 years in and around his programs and his teaching. When I started my last year of law school, I had a hole in my schedule at the same time as his top jazz band rehearsed, so I auditioned and ended up as the lead trumpet player in his top jazz band. That would have been flat-out unthinkable when I arrived there in 1983, and I was and continue to be proud of it.

Even now, in symphony, I find myself recalling and doing things Lance taught me, even though his role wasn't to teach us how to play classical music. For example, there will be a big brass section passage coming up and as I prepare to play it for the first time, I will remember Lance yelling at us to
"play it connected unless there's a reason not to," and then I'll hear the principal trumpet player playing it connected and the conductor yelling to everyone else to play it connected. To Lance, it was all music and it all had to be approached with a combination of passion and craftsmanship.

You had a fine career, Lance. I learned a lot from you, and I know I'm not the only one.

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The trombone focus is in honor of Lance Boyd, jazz professor at the University of Montana, who is retiring this year. His last jazz festival is this weekend. #HornBandFriday

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Primarily because of the name of the town...
The Serendipity of Summer -- Willilts, CA
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Searching YouTube for my Horn Band Friday submission.

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My favorite radio station plays a local band's version of this every Friday morning at 7:45. I went with the original.
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