I was recently invited out to Ithaca College, courtesy of trombonist extraordinaire Hal Reynolds and jazz director Mike Titlebaum. Admittedly, this was my first experience as a guest artist, and traveling to an east-coast school of such renown left me feeling…intimidated. Nonetheless, the reception was warm, and I soon realized that Hal & Mike are two of the coolest guys I’ve ever met. We shared experiences, beers, light-hearted banter, ridiculous musician stories, deep life talks, and of course, beers.
The students at Ithaca impressed me greatly. When I audited their trombone rep class, I immediately sensed that Ithaca is a place of humility – the older students were tremendously supportive of the less-experienced students, the feedback was mature and thoughtful, and egos were nowhere to be found. The young players were deeply immersed in their studies, and it was clear that both Hal & Mike had done exceptional work teaching them the fundamentals of being a great musician. It definitely inspired me to reconsider how I approach teaching.
The night of the jazz ensemble performance went exceptionally well. The students really brought it all to the performance, and the vibes were great.