“Don’t forget to use your dynamics!”

“Don’t forget to use your dynamics!” was a phrase that I heard before every single solo and ensemble performance in high school. Somehow, my mom understood that, by obsessing over every technical detail, frack, and/or missed line, I would overlook every element of expression in toto.

I still think about that before most performances (though she rarely tells me anymore), and, in retrospect, it is astounding how learned expression is, when it seems as though it should be natural and inherent.

It took me years to have ANY sort of expression in my playing–much to the frustration of my mom, I’m sure.

I’m certain that these words carry particular resonance as I prepare for the culminating weeks of my undergraduate degree, including my first solo performance in front of a wind band–this Friday, Concerto for Two Trumpets, with Julia Bovee. I’m very excited and grateful for the opportunity to perform in front of the GVSU Symphonic Wind Ensemble–because they’re such a talented group and because the group has been so pivotal to my development at Grand Valley (Facebook event here, livestream here).

I’m also playing my senior project with Lukas Schroeder–an ambient electronic setting of six of Walt Whitman’s poems–in the Art Gallery on Monday (Facebook), and my jazz combo is opening for the GVSU Jazz Orchestra on Thursday night.

And no, mom, I won’t forget to use my dynamics.

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