Year 1

It’s been a little bit short of year 1 for me in the music business as a full-time musician. I am writing this blog to reflect on my career change and how things have developed in 525,600 minutes (or 525,960 to be precise).

There are several topics that come to mind when reviewing the year. I have listed them below.

To social media or not to social media

I noticed that there seems to be a divide amongst musicians with regards to how to use social media. Some musicians seem to be regular bloggers, facebook posters, and twitter-ers(?!). The question that came to my mind early was how to use social media effectively to get my brand out there and stand out amongst all the other brands without coming across as someone that says “Hey, look at me, look over here, see what I’m doing!!!!!”

On one extreme there seem to be musicians that post about every aspect of their life. Opinions on everyday social events and circumstances, gigs they are doing, how many gigs they have done, awards won, the colour of shirt that should be purchased, how lame this is, how awesome that is and so on. At first I wanted to see what reactions were like if I was more like this, so I started a twitter page, Instagram, was more active on facebook, and put out semi-regular blogs. This was the first half of the year.

For the second half of the year, I was a bit less active on social media. This is to experience the other side of the social media position, which is that social media while nice to have shouldn’t be an integral part of promoting the brand. If a musician is good or amazing at what they do, the skill alone should carry them (the brand) through their career.

In conclusion, I found that I would likely be somewhat in the middle, but for sure leaning towards the former point of view. I believe that social media is an important tool that musicians who want to get their brand out there need to use. However, it seems that some are better at using this tool than others with regards to maximizing the effectiveness of social media. One item that I for sure can improve on is the frequency at which I put my postings out there as well as recognizing that different social media platforms require different standards based on the trend of those social media platforms. This for sure will be a focus of my second year as a full time musician.


I have set myself a monthly financial target that I wanted to measure my income by. At the start of the year it was rather slow and I relied on other household income to make up the difference. As the year progressed and I put more effort into marketing strategies as well as search for more revenue streams, the target was very close or exceeded. As I enter year 2, my interest is to see a trend in terms of monthly income from one year to the next. For example, will Jan.2016 look like Jan.2017? If I see a 2 or 3-year trend, I will be able to better plan on how to manage my finances throughout the year. Below is a breakdown of the percentage of my monthly goal I obtained as well as how much of my income was performance, teaching, and other based.


Month % of Monthly target income achieved
January 2016 49.5%
February 2016 58.45%
March 2016 47.2%
April 2016 61.3%
May 2016 103.9%
June 2016 83.3%
July 2016 122.75%
August 2016 98.75%
September 2016 117.25%
October 2016 92.5%
November 2016 194.13%
December 2016 102.25%


78% of my income came from performances

18% of my income came from teaching

4% of my income came from other services, such as ebook formatting, transcribing work, etc.

From a business point of view, I hit 94% of my business plan, which is amazing for a business that’s only been in the market for a year. The question is, do I raise my monthly income target for 2017 or keep it the same? Since I am new to this full-time musician gig, I will likely keep my 2016 targets the same for 2017 to see what trends I can observe. If I notice however that the first 6 months are all at 100% or higher of my business plan, I may choose to increase my targets for Q3 and Q4 of 2017. If I win the lottery however, I likely won’t bother with targets at all.

Trumpet progress

This year my focus was to push my chops ahead with regards to achieving endurance as well as increasing strength. While I still have a lot of work ahead of me, and what serious trumpet player doesn’t feel this way, I believe I have some measurable improvements in my playing. I can for sure more consistently hit notes in my higher register than a year ago. I have spent a lot of time paying attention to my body and finding ways to make playing the trumpet more efficient. I could write another blog on the specifics, however, the number 1 contributor to my development is smart-practice, which of course isn’t a surprise to anyone that does want to achieve a higher level of playing.

Life Balance

While I had the optimistic goal of practicing every day for 240 minutes on top of gigs/teaching, I quickly came to realize that I am no longer at Humber where I can take this time selfishly to focus on what I want. There is no way that I would repeat the unbalanced life style that I had while working a day job and replace it with music. It wouldn’t be fair to my family. While I am finding that there is a certain struggle to achieve work/life balance, I am getting more used to how to properly manage my time. If I don’t have a weekend with a gig, it’s important to appreciate this opportunity and spend it with my wife and son. Currently this is what we’re enjoying as my playing schedule has gone from extremely busy to not busy at all. Also, I am getting used to the need to be self-driven. For anyone that has had a day job, the fact that you are always on the go without having to think about where you’re going is obvious. The switch to a one-person operation makes it important to realize that self-motivation is a key to success in this industry. Just because there is no gig tonight doesn’t mean I cannot do something that will in the long term add to my growth in this industry.

2017 Goals

My goals in 2017 will be similar to 2016 with the addition on focusing on the creative aspect of who I am as a musician. I have always wondered how I can discover my creative voice. I read books, played through exercises, got a degree, but I always felt that I am trying to progress creatively without trying to find my own path to my creative side. It’s good to read books, go to school, and listen to others however, I believe there is a point where one needs to reflect on the information received and determine a means of digesting and perhaps even finding a different way to finding one’s creative voice and indeed learning the language of jazz. This is what I would like to focus on in 2017. I have a few coals in the fire and am hoping that in a few months I’ll be able to share my progress via a life performance.

My Ideal Balance

The more I dive into this music business, the more I realize that it truly is a self discovery journey vs finding out what music business is about. I am finding out what I want out of life and how to achieve balance between the various elements that make up the life I want.

I was watching a TED talk by Nigel Marsh who talks about work/life balance. He talks about being a “classic corporate warrior” and essentially realizing how to achieve a work/life balance. I watched this fairly close to or right after I decided to quit my day job and dive into music and have been thinking/re-watching this video ever since.


This TED talk made me reflect on my own work/life balance. I consider myself “lucky” as I now have music and family that make up my work/life balance. I have a fantastic opportunity that perhaps some don’t have. After quitting my day job, I did have another skill and passion to draw on, music. Some friends I have recently talked to don’t know what they would do if they stepped out of their current job. They wouldn’t just want to step into another job that there was no passion for, otherwise why do so in the first place. I also recently talked to a music colleague who said that s(he) is thinking about doing the opposite of what I was doing. This person is successful in music and is playing a lot, but isn’t happy with the fact that the musician’s schedule doesn’t line up with his/her partner’s “9 to 5” schedule. The work/life balance is not at an equilibrium for this person.

Once you experience a balanced day, it is amazing! I haven’t had this until this past weekend. It took the motivation of my wife to achieve this day as I had a rather late gig the day before and was understandably tired. Likely balance can be achieved on your own, but it is amazing when you have a life partner that supports you and every now and than, kicks you gently in the right direction.

Nigel Marsh outlines four observations he made about work/life balance. I’m quoting from the video and suggest you take the 9min57s to watch the video, but here is my high level outline:

  1. Honest debate is needed about work/life balance
  2. Face the truth and take control and responsibility for the type of life you want to lead
  3. Be careful with the timeframe you choose upon which to judge your balance
  4. Approach balance in a balanced way

For observation 3 I thought about what my balanced timeframe looks like. Nigel discusses the importance of judging balance not based on a day, not based on what may happen 35 years from now when I’m hopefully retired, but to have some form of reference between these two extremes.

I will start with my balanced day that I recently experienced and will project what a balanced week, a balanced month, and a balanced year would look like.


My Balanced Day – as I lived it on Saturday July 9th 2016


Woke up rested thanks to my wife who took care of our son in the morning, allowing me to get a few extra hours of sleep after a late night gig the day before. I would have gotten about 7 hours of sleep.

9:00am to 10:00am:

Do the usual morning routine of having breakfast/shaving/showering.

10:00am to 10:30am:

IMG_1175 Do 30 minutes of warming up / practicing on the trumpet

10:30am to 11:15am:

IMG_3181 Go out with my wife and son to do some grocery shopping (domestic chores)

11:30am to 1:00pm:

IMG_3190 Family activity time. Today we went for a walk near the waterfrontIMG_3183

1:00pm to 1:30pm:

Lunch and get ready for gig#1

2:00pm to 4:00pm:

Play a small band gig with a singer/songwriter in a park

4:00pm to 2:00am:

IMG_3209 Go to play a wedding gig IMG_3214

2:00am to 9:00am:

IMG_3179 Get home, check in on Sebastian, go to bed and Sleep for 7 hours

My Ideal Balanced Week (keeping in mind that my wife also has a day job)


  • 4 hours spent with Sebastian in the morning
  • 2 hours spent on domestic chores
  • 4 hours spent on music related items such as practice, professional development, and music business
  • 2 hours spent with my family, perhaps having dinner or playing in the yard/playground
  • 5 hours spent earning money with a music related activity, for example playing a gig or teaching private lessons
  • 7 hours spent sleeping


  • 4 hours spent with Sebastian in the morning
  • 2 hours spent on domestic chores
  • 4 hours spent on music related items such as practice, professional development, and music business
  • 2 hours spent with my family, perhaps having dinner or playing in the yard/playground
  • 5 hours spent earning money with a music related activity, for example playing a gig or teaching private lessons
  • 7 hours spent sleeping
  • 4 hours spent with Sebastian in the morning


  • 4 hours spent with Sebastian in the morning
  • 2 hours spent on domestic chores
  • 4 hours spent on music related items such as practice, professional development, and music business
  • 2 hours spent with my family, perhaps having dinner or playing in the yard/playground
  • 5 hours spent earning money with a music related activity, for example playing a gig or teaching private lessons
  • 7 hours spent sleeping


  • 4 hours spent with Sebastian in the morning
  • 2 hours spent on domestic chores
  • 4 hours spent on music related items such as practice, professional development, and music business
  • 2 hours spent with my family, perhaps having dinner or playing in the yard/playground
  • 5 hours spent earning money with a music related activity, for example playing a gig or teaching private lessons
  • 7 hours spent sleeping



  • 4 hours spent with Sebastian in the morning
  • 2 hours spent on domestic chores
  • 4 hours spent on music related items such as practice, professional development, and music business
  • 2 hours spent with my family, perhaps having dinner or playing in the yard/playground
  • 5 hours spent earning money with a music related activity, for example playing a gig or teaching private lessons
  • 7 hours spent sleeping


  • 8 hours spent with family
  • 2 hours spent on domestic chores
  • 7 hours spent earning money with a music related activity, for example playing a gig or teaching private lessons
  • 7 hours spent sleeping


  • 12 hours spent with family
  • 2 hours spent on domestic chores
  • 3 hours spent on music development, for example practice
  • 7 hours spent sleeping

My Ideal Balanced month/year

In a given month or year, I would ideally like to spent an equal amount of time on my family and on music as well as having some time left to myself for sleeping/working on things I enjoy.

What does your balanced day/week/month/year look like?





Business Standards

On a Business note

I’ve been reading a lot about the frustration of some musicians with the current state with the music business. I share in this frustration; I live in it!

Music BUSINESS is no different than any other business. You put yourself out there as a product in a market that has been over-saturated with other similar products. There for sure is a supply and demand imbalance. For me I wanted to get beyond the obvious surface issues, those being for example that clubs/restaurants aren’t hiring musicians like they used to or that musicians are often viewed as a lesser important entity, this becomes obvious if one is ever asked to do a “charity” or “fundraising” gig. The caterers get paid, the venue at which the event is held gets paid, but the musicians are almost like an afterthought, an idea the organizers come up with after their budget is allocated to the obvious.

I have realized that no matter what I do, as an individual I cannot just change the rules of the music business overnight. I have to treat it like any other business and be smart about knowing the current state of affairs and deciding if I am willing to operator within the framework of the music business. I use the word sustainable which will be relative to where one is in life. Sustainable out of college for me meant something different than where I am now, paying off for a house/car and having a family with 3 members. Right now, I will use making $30,000 per year per individual (not household) at least as sustainable.

When I think about this, I come up with two different models:

One Source Sustainable Income Model (OSSIM)

This model depends on a single stream of income which takes enough time where it is harder to do other projects. In the OSSIM, one pro is that the income you do receive is a bit more secure and dependable. Of course there are always risks, but this may be a low-risk environment. A con is that every now and than you might get called up to do a really interesting gig which unfortunately conflicts with the OSSIM. The choice is risking losing a long term revenue stream for a one off “sweetheart” gig.

Some examples within the OSSIM are:

  • Full time music teacher at a school (I would personally think of Colleges and University, but some may also bundle high school into this category. Also notice FULL TIME vs part time or contract. I’m thinking fulltime only within the OSSIM catagory)
  • Doing musicals at an A-house venue (Mirvish and Stratford for example. Even these may only be seasonal and dependant on who you know, however, if you are connected to the right MDs, you’re likely going to get a call if the production requires your instrument/skillset)
  • Being a band leader in a high demand sector (wedding bands for example)
  • Being in a high demand sector band (again, wedding bands come to mind, but there are certainly other niche bands and musicians that have the drive to have several of their own projects on the go which generates enough sustainable income)

Multiple Source Sustainable Income Model (MuSSIM)

This model likely is where most full time musicians fit into. It requires a bit more creativity and being open minded. Being comfortable with exploring new or lesser familiar territory is important. The attitude and strong work ethic will yield a better reputation, and as more and more people know about the dependability you bring to the table, the more income streams you’ll have.

Some examples within the MuSSIM are:

  • Being a freelance musician available for gig opportunity on an on-call basis. Being familiar with various genres of music will lead to an increase in calls
  • Providing various traditional services such as teaching, transcribing, arranging, or recording
  • Providing various non-traditional services such as ebook work and social media income channels

Of course, there are lots of part time musicians that may have a day job, there are hobbyists, weekend warriors, etc. This is a reality in today’s music industry. I as an individual cannot change this. I can choose to let this unfortunate reality make me bitter or I can come up with ways of adapting.

A direct example of operating like any other business is having standards under which business is conducted. For example, I have a price sheet for services I perform. No matter what happens, I adhere to this price structure. I have heard a few musicians indicating that their rates for services is variable pending on how busy they are. If it is a dry month, they may take the $25 gig at the local dive bar down the street. If it is a busy month, they will not take this type of gig. I decided for myself that I will not divert from the standard I have set for me. This gives me a certain pride in the work I perform. If someone is offering me a gig that pays less than my standard, I will thank them for thinking of me and will professionally let them know my rate. Of course, this standard isn’t just inclusive of the monetary element, but is perhaps the most direct example I can come up with.

Closing Thoughts

In the end, we all have the power of saying “NO”. While there isn’t much I have turned down in the past 6 months of working as a full time musician, there are a few instances where I have said no. One time it was even to a good friend of mine, who was understanding after I explained my position on the subject.

Establishing one’s own standards is an important step towards being sustainable. Your standard MAY NOT be equal to someone else’s, that’s OK! As long as you stay true to what you decide as an acceptable standard. Now, there are of course industry standards that you need to be aware of. If you are not sure what an “industry standard” is, seek out advise from a person that has been in the industry for a long time to get their viewpoint.  For me I try to have a standard that I stick to for a longer period of time, perhaps 3 months. Than you can analyze where you are at and if the standard still makes sense. It is so easy to go day to day and raise and lower your standard based on how hungry you are. For me, this isn’t what makes a model sustainable. If I charge X/hr, that is the price. If I lower my standard based on not making much money one week, two things happen:

  1. I feel dishonest to my self for sacrificing my own standards
  2. I put a vibe out to the clients (band leaders) that I’m flexible and will adjust my rates

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this topic. Please feel free to comment below.

April 3 2016 – On the horn / Off the horn


It’s been an odd couple of weeks with regards to my chops. I almost feel like I’m going through some sort of transformation. Perhaps it’s my body getting used to playing everyday. I imagine someone who has played like this for a long time might say “yah, so what!”, but for me it is a bit of a body shock, much like suddenly deciding to go to the gym everyday, which is something I should likely be doing as well. For now, the main idea is to keep to a structured dynamic routine. This might seem like an odd statement. For me, this would look like this:

  1. First thing played is my static warmup routine (as per the videos)
  2. Than I incorporate some musical element, it could be playing an etude, jazz, or even just playing along with the radio. The point is, don’t forget the musical part of playing. I did and got lost in routines, forgetting that truly the end result of a routine is to make the musical component as easy to achieve as possible.
  3. After doing something musical, I’ll dive into a practice routine which right now includes a rotation of a number of routines.


Inspired by a recent lunch get together with two friends, the topic of creative voice came up. I have never taken the time to give this some thought in terms on how this relates to me.

What is meant by “creative voice”? When I mention this during a conversation, I was asked to expand on this topic. It was put to me that “Creative Voice” is an industry buzz word. This made me think a bit more about what I mean with this and the conclusion I come to is that really what I’m doing is finding “my” creative voice. If this is an individual task, I would think that there isn’t one definition for “creative voice”. After doing some research, I found a great article on this subject which has opened my mind into the mental aspect of finding my creative voice:

The article mentions 4 stages with each stage having several questions that help the reader navigate the concepts of each stage. I have started answering the questions for me and am finding myself between two stages.

All-Around-This-World-Smiley-Face-Note-300-dpi-for-USPTOON A BUSINESS NOTE

I keep on getting reminders that having a business plan for musicians isn’t the norm. Having a target is important to me as it will give me a sense of achievement when I reach certain targets. You don’t have to write an official business plan for yourself. You may want simply have a financial target and some campaigns that you are working at. I have provided an example below of what I am currently building myself for various “buckets”. I’m finding that for me, I will not have one bucket that will provide me with a lot of revenue, rather I have many small buckets. One benefit is that if one of these smaller buckets falls through, in the big picture it will not be devastating to my overall revenue. Some buckets for me include: Teaching, Gigs, eBook work, Transcriptions, Recordings, Special Campaigns (Church for example). For the example below, I’m only listing my “church” bucket.

2016 Business Plan for Klaus

Revenue target per month: $2000

Church Campaign:

Develop list of 150 churches within a 30km radius around home base. Make email list and provide short write up with video clip to key administrators.

Revenue seasonal based. Typical hot days include Easter, Christmas, Remembrance Day, Church Anniversaries.

Anticipated 2016 Monthly revenue

  • Church Campaign
    Jan – $0
  • Feb – $0
  • Mar – $175 to $350
  • Apl – $0
  • May – $0
  • Jun – $0
  • Jul – $0
  • Aug – $0
  • Sep – $0
  • Oct – $0
  • Nov – $0
  • Dec – $175 to $350

By doing the above for the various buckets, I can get an anticipated revenue model. For me, I have only started being in the career music business for a few months, however, as time passes and as I get more actual data and experience I’ll be able to base my model on more actual data vs anticipated data.

VideoProd Video BLOG

I am excited to announce that Matt Jefferson from the Maniacal 4 has voiced his interest in helping me develop my video blogs. You can check his work out by going to YouTube. I am thrilled to have him work with me. If you ever require video services, Matt is highly recommended. He’s an experienced and passionate videographer.

Oh hey, haven’t seen you in a while



As I haven’t written a blog in over 4 weeks now, I can certainly find a lot of topics to discuss. However, I wish to keep my blogs to a reasonable length and would offer one element that has come up, both in discussion with other players as well as a student of mine:

“The body likes consistency, it truly is the holy grail of trumpet playing”

What do I mean with this? If you want success on a brass instrument (or perhaps anything you do), you have to earn it and put the time into it. Nothing is obtained because you think that you deserve it. A question that has come up is “Where should I be after 3 years of playing?”. The answer to this question has a few factors, one of which is “That depends on how many days out of 3 years or 1,095 days you have practiced”. This made me think about my own playing and how I can help my students, depending on what kind of player they want to be.

From my own experience, I can categorize my playing journey into three phases:

The hobby phase

When I was in high school, I wouldn’t necessarily say I was a trumpet player. Not a serious one at least. I enjoyed playing trumpet, it gave me tremendous pleasure and enabled me to participate on some great trips. I didn’t really take it serious though. I had no routines, no mindset of what kind of player I wanted to be. All that mattered was that I could pass my exam and hang out with my friends.

I did have a few trumpet lessons, both with Wayne Tindale (Principle trumpet for the Kingston Symphony) as well as Mark Pydra. This was likely the most serious element in this phase of my playing.

The good: I had a fantastic time playing the trumpet, it didn’t matter that I missed half the notes or that I wasn’t improving in a measurable way.

The not so good: I had no idea what the capabilities of the trumpet really were, nor did I care. However, It would have been good to have some element of “here is what a good trumpet player sounds like”, as this would have given me a target at least and might have provided some motivation.

By knowing that a student is in this category, I can design a lesson plan based on my own experience that is not too time demanding but would still increase productivity marginally, pending on how often the trumpet makes it out of its case (or bed as my son calls it). I reminded my student that consistency is the way to success. You cannot accumulate “points” every time you play and trade them in for an increased level of playing.

The part time musician, full time professional corporate sheep

This would likely include my time at Humber from 2004 until just recently, November of 2015. What I found during these 11 years (wow, I can’t believe I’m looking back this far) was that I did make some headways in terms of playing. I developed an “OK” sound, however, depending on how often the trumpet would make it onto my chops, I would have a tremendous difference between “Good” and “Bad” playing days. It seemed that some days, could sound half decent while other days, I would not have the skillset to figure out how to get out of the sinking hole we trumpet players call “bad” days.

The good: I was more focused than in my previous “hobbyist” phase on fundamentals. Going to Humber certainly helped with that. I got a little taste of what it feels like when you’re having an AMAZING day on the horn. For me, when I have days like this it’s amazing how for that moment, there seems to be no worries in life, nothing matters but playing this piece of twisted metal and making it sound as good as I can.

The not so good: Without consistent practice, the strength built up quickly went away when one day off turned into one week off and even one month off. There are very few exceptions to the rule of consistent playing. I am not even aware of a player who said “I took a month off and when I picked the trumpet back up, it was EXACTLY the way I left it”. For me, endurance and tuning were the first issues that developed after only 2 minutes of playing in a band. Forget playing lead when you are in this position, as the stamina needed just wasn’t there. When the sax player in front of you complains about not being able to hear the lead trumpet part, you know you have an issue.

Phase 3: the final frontier – nothing but trumpet, all day, any day, every day

The professional musician, or as I call it, the career musician. I should say that there are certainly some fine players that are the exemption to the rule from the other two phases. However, by far the most notable players that can achieve an undeniable mastery of the horn are those that have dedicated at least some, if not all, of their life to nothing but playing trumpet. You have to breath and LOVE the instrument. Practicing, while there are days that I feel less inspired to do so, is almost like waking up and brushing my teeth these days. It’s just part of my daily routine. I feel fortunate that my 2-year-old son also shares in this routine. In fact, there are days when he say’s “OK daddy, trumpet!”. I have seen more growth in the last 3 month waking up and doing a 20 minute warm up (always the same) and than incorporating other routines. I likely practice between 2 and 5 hours on a given day, pending on other life events that take place (my wife like’s that I’m doing something I love, but also needs me to still do chores).

The not so good: I have taken a 75% reduction in my pay.

The good: I LOVE PLAYING TRUMPET AGAIN. The bad days are still here, like that neighbor next door that should just move!, however, it’s no longer an issue of being in shape. Overall it’s been a fruitful 3 months. Everything about trumpet is elevated by consistent practice: endurance, confidence, dexterity, range, etc.

Now, I realize that not everyone has this luxury. Unlike when I went to Humber, I’m embracing this moment in my life and making the most of it. I LOVE PLAYING THE TRUMPET!



I have started teaching at a private music school, Lippert Music Centre (, located on Pape north of Danforth. If you know someone in the area, I am there every Tuesday.

I also wanted to discuss the importance of communication, something that has been a source of inspiration. After leaving Humber, it became less and less frequent to communicate with other musicians. There are of course close friends that I have kept in touch with over the years, but talking to professors who I admire and inspire to be like was less and less. My advice to anyone at Humber or any post secondary, make sure you take advantage of the professors that you have access to while at school. It is easy to get lost in the internal bubble of the college or university, forgetting that once you leave this place of higher learning, staying in touch with these fountains of knowledge becomes harder and harder. If you don’t ask your professors questions every day you are at school, you are not realizing the true potential!

Thanks in part to my blog and increased social media activities, I have been able to talk to several people that I’ve either never really had interactions with, or re-connect with past teachers. Andy Gravities called me one day. I love talking to him about trumpet and music business and seeing what he’s experience has been like. A musician from the city I grew up in (Kingston ON), reached out to me when I was having a rough week. Thank you RICK! Steve McDade decided to call me and give me some cold-hard facts about life as a musician. I was also able to connect with Jerry Caringi because I realized that even though I went to Humber, I had no idea what to charge for certain gigs. I don’t want to undercut and don’t want to lose gigs because I over-charge. I’m finding that the stage I’m sharing with people that have been in the industry for a long time is less like a “shark tank” where we all swim around waiting for the next gig, and more like a community where open and honest conversations can be had. Reach out to people in the business, young and not so young.

ON ABusinessAll-Around-This-World-Smiley-Face-Note-300-dpi-for-USPTO


If you read my last blog (and who in their right mind hasn’t: P), I have an update on my efforts with regards to the churches I’ve contacted. Out of 150 contacted, I got 5 requests to play. As it happens with a few key days in the year where there doesn’t seem to be enough trumpet players in town, the requests were all for Palm and Easter Sunday coming up. I had to give gigs away to other players. On Easter Sunday, I’m able to play two Easter services (lady luck!). My message to anyone who’s trying their kick at making a living with music:


I realize the state of the music business is not the same as in the 1980s. However, I WILL NOT give in to the notion that music is obsolete. As my friend Matt Jefferson from Maniacal 4 pointed out the other day, when considering the global community, we are in 1% of the population that can send a message by playing an instrument. I’m not able to qualify this statement, but tend to believe Matt, even though he is a trombone player.

DON’T SAY NO to revenue potentials. Over the past 3 months I have done things I didn’t even think of doing:

Transcriptions: I’ve done a total of 5 horn transcriptions for various clients

Recordings: I have been asked to record up to 10 trumpet parts for a Latin band, in the comfort of my home

eBook: I have been asked by a Bach endorsed trumpet artist from the USA to assist him with his new eBook, laying it out in MS Publisher and also doing transposition work in Sibelius.

The Band-Aids: A friend of mine and I have started a concept that will hopefully contribute to breaking down the financial barriers in hopes to restoring equity in elementary and secondary schools that have underfunded music programs. Our children DESERVE the same opportunities I had when I went to school. Music, despite what some might say, is an important developmental tool that can be a medium to teach life lessons such as team work, leadership, and will directly show kids the difference between “Earning” and “Deserving”. I deserve to play a high C, but I won’t get to unless I earn it by putting in some serious time on the horn.

Yes, the music industry is not like it used to be. NO! the music industry is NOT like the milk delivery man and has gone obsolete. Instead of having a golden goose lay a really well paying gig on your breakfast table, you now have to go out into the wild. Some days you will return with a handful of worms, other days you will have a Rib Eye steak cooked medium-rare. What you put in is what you get out. There are some great younger players that have started diversifying. Have you?



As if this blog isn’t long enough, I wanted to start following up on the advice of my friend Matt and start making some videos.

The first series of videos are aimed at students and well, me! I am interested in having some form of recorded documentation to measure my own progress throughout the next year. I want to see what having the drive to practice every day will achieve.

Given that I have never done a video before, I thougth I would offer something to my students or anyone who’s interested and/or asked “Hey, what in the world are you doing these days, blowing that trumpet like some addict who just can’t wait for the next line”

I wanted to offer a “first take” on everything. This is not about a polished ready for performance video, more a behind the scenes look at the undocumented grind that I’m sure all trumpet players go through.

My Warm up: Warm up Explained (click here for video)

My Warm up: Mouthpiece (click here for video)

My Warm up: Ex.1: Long tones (click here for video)

Mind over trumpet


On the horn

Mind over trumpet! As I’m getting addicted to practicing the horn, I am finding that there are measurable improvements that I’m achieving on the horn. Taking into consideration that I’m trying to tell my story, these blogs are meant to put my story and thoughts on paper, or the screen rather, and have a documentation of my progress from day job to musician. In no way do I wish to come across as having an ego or a “HEY, LOOK OVER HERE WHAT I CAN DO” and hope that readers interpret my writing as such.

So now to mind over trumpet. I started thinking about this as over the past two weeks it became obvious that others around me are also noticing the fruit of my labour. I must admit, practicing every day and having a well thought out approach has made playing the trumpet a lot more enjoyable as the skills are augmented by my efforts. The one question that has come up a lot is “Hey man, so what are you doing these days in your practice sessions?” I thought about this question and here is my answer:

“I’m thinking about the mental aspect of playing rather than the physical”

What I mean with this is that I’m paying more attention with my mind whenever I’m physically playing trumpet. It’s no longer a question of “Am I in shape”. By this I mean that I know I’m going to the trumpet gym every day, lifting weights (playing), and having a well thought out routine. My “cage” as some people refer to this is set up, and while it’s not fully developed yet seeing as it’s only been 2 months of solid practice, I have a level of confidence that I have not had in many years.

There are of course still good and bad days. Yesterday and today during my usual warmup session in the morning I would say that things are more of a “bad” day. However, I’m learning how to manage bad days. For this, I have come up with a “Mental Checklist”. Keeping with my theme of ‘trumpet self discovery’, I will talk about what my mental checklist is, however, I would think that everyone’s mental checklist looks a bit different. There are four areas that I think about when I am analyzing the feel of the day when playing trumpet. Of course, there are more elements to playing the trumpet and this list will change with time:

Lips: I have gained an understanding of what is meant by “cage” or “gripping” the mouthpiece with your chops over the past little while. Mentally I now focus on engaging muscles in and around my lips so as to get the most efficient means of generating a pleasant note on the horn. This for me typically means focusing on the muscles of the corner of my lips/cheeks, as well as muscles underneath my lower lip. When this is in place, I almost feel like my lips are pushing the horn away from my face. What might really be happening is that I’m providing a bit of a better cushion of tissue for the mouthpiece to be placed on.

Shoulders: I have noticed that when I’m tired or I’m putting in more effort than I should or not sounding well, my shoulders might be in a forward and down position. When this is the case, I almost feel like there is unnecessary force placed on the area where my lungs are. By rolling my shoulders forward, up, back, and down (sorry, hard to put into words), I get a feeling of the area of where my lungs are as being more free and at the same time supported.

Arms: At times my arms seem to be pointing down and towards my body. Some days this doesn’t seem to matter, however, there are days where this is a definite impact. When I watch other players with what I consider “good posture”, I get a sense that their arms are further way and up from their body, almost as if they are resting their amrs on a beach ball. After I mentally focus on my arms being in this position, I again feel as though my upper body is further free but supported and doesn’t seem to produce any “negative tension” which impacts the ease of how I play the trumpet

Lower body: When taking a lesson with Paul Baron, he described to me his posture as one that resembled a bellows, which is a device used by blacksmiths to force a strong blast of air. The nozzle of the bellows is a point on stomach, for me just below my rib cage and above my belly button. This is where I try to create compression when needed for higher notes on the horn. Even when playing lower notes, I try to be mentally conscious of this point.

Once these elements are lined up, I am able to execute on the horn with more ease than not mentally focusing on these points.

On a last point, I have always been able to “squeak out” certain notes, but this was done by not properly focusing on this newly developed mental list. Some players have told me “a squeak will develop into a note”. I often felt that this wasn’t the case with me as I was likely using a different approach to get these squeaks. By focusing on my mental checklist, I was able to do a range study well above what I had been able to do previously and now feel that the “squeaks” I’m getting might develop into a note. This might indicate that a player who’s getting squeaks might also wonder about the type of squeak. Am I doing something different to achieve this squeak? Does it sound/feel drastically different than the notes I can play? This is an area which I will focus on over this week’s practice sessions. For a reference, I have recorded some of my practice sessions and have a clip of what I mean. While I’m not overly comfortable posting this as I don’t want to be perceived as someone with too much ego, I think it might support my point a bit better of what I’m trying to put into words:


Off the horn

The past week I completed what I call the “Church Campaign” in my pursuit of finding playing opportunities. It took many hours of researching online, however, I was able to find almost 150 churches in my target area online. I then went on each website and obtained an email address for each church. Last, I put together a small video as well as poster and packaged everything into an email ad campaign. 2 churches replied about a day or two after the email went out, and one church expressed strong interest in booking me for two upcoming services. I now have an email list which I am intending to utilize in the future in hopes of getting church service bookings, something I actually enjoy a lot!

My next campaign will focus on putting together my own trio as well as focusing more on getting workshops in schools as I love being able to add to the community of music education.


On a business note

Creating your own gigs is important if one wishes to be in the artistic business sector. What are you doing to create your own gigs? This for me means building contacts/networks, focusing on proper marketing, and making sure that I have a product that can be delivered to the right audience. Interestingly I find myself doing as much off the horn with my business endeavours as I do practicing the trumpet.

I am putting together a list of ideas for myself for the business aspect of being a musician. Including this blog, I so far have:

  • Don’t say NO to opportunities just because they seem to be outside of your comfort level.

  • Set a standard for yourself and uphold it!

  • What are you doing to create your own gigs?

On the horn / Off the horn 20160117


On the horn

I have been giving some thought this week about routines. As mentioned in my previous blog, I have been going through Clarke’s Technical studies, focusing more on playing the studies clean vs as fast as I can without regard for fluffed notes. I feel this has helped me focus on dexterity and while I believe it will take more than a week of this, it gave me a good sense of how much time it takes to go through each study.

I have always felt overwhelmed by all the routines out there. Clarkes, Schlossberg, Charlier Etudes, Arban’s, Claude Gordon books, etc. The list goes on and on. My nature was always “give it all or don’t bother”. However, the past two months of practicing every day, some days more than others, have made me realize again that playing the trumpet, and perhaps any instrument, is a path of self-discovery. In that spirit, I have made my own routine book. I’ve always had what I dub the ‘Dave Dunlop’ warm up, since he’s the one that showed me this. That’s what I do every day no matter how I feel. To this I’m now adding two keys of Clarke 2, 3, 4. My next plan is to pick a routine/method and follow that method for one week to really get to know it. Now, I’m not going to master the method in one week obviously. It’s more about saying “Hey there, what’s your story” to the method and seeing what I am drawn to in the method and how I can incorporate that specific method into my own routine.

This upcoming week I am going to focus on a version of the Bill Adam routine, as adapted by Paul Baron. I took a lesson with Paul and thought it was one of those eye opening lessons. This is the routine he uses. I am skipping Clarke study 1 as it is similar or almost the same as number 2 in Paul’s routine. I will keep track of what is similar in each routine so as to always have material that address a fundamental but in a different approach. For example, Clarke study 1 is similar (or the same) as study 2in Paul’s routine, therefore they are interchangeable when I built my own routine book.

As before, I am tracking my progress in a spreadsheet to see if I have improved when I repeat a study/key. In the end, I will pick and choose different elements of the various methods and build a routine that makes sense for ME. This after all is what is most important in my opinion, the process of self discovery and progress. In the end, I have my idea of what kind of trumpet player I want to be, and I will work towards that for as long as I’m able to breath.

Off the horn

I have mainly focused on my private teaching goal this week. In fact, I had a student this week in my newly setup lesson space. Creating a well thought out space has proven important to my practice/lesson sessions. This might be obvious to some, however, to me I never really focused on putting thought into how I want to use each space. When I took lessons from Chase Sanborn, I was always impressed with his organization of space. He took me through lessons, never wasting time on looking for material that applied to the lesson, and always gave a print out of lesson notes and next steps. I thought this was a great way to organize a lesson and wanted to imitate this concept. I made a template which incorporates some basic concepts.

I’ve created two spaces, one for lessons/practice without electronic distraction and one for doing work that requires a computer or other electronic equipment.

Practice/Lesson Space:


  • Space for a printer/laptop to take notes and create custom print outs of lessons for students to take homre
  • A keyboard
  • A mirror
  • A metronome/tuner
  • Wall space that is geared to brass playing/music theory

Work Space

trumpet practice, media edit, recording, transcribing

Work Space

A computer with essential software

  • TASCAM US-1800 interface to record session (a great interface by the way)
  • Yamaha Studio Monitors (Thanks to my father-in-law)
  • All books/sheet music organized and readily available

I also spent some time going through my neighborhood handing out flyers. As my wife says “you got to pound pavement”. Even in our digital age, this seems to be a great way to generate some business. In fact, with a new student I just got we had an initial consultation meeting. This was a great way to seeing how teacher/student mix and if the goals of the student would line up with the style/experience of the teacher.

Lasts, in order to have access to the information I’ve gathered throughout the last 20 years of playing trumpet, I have created a spreadsheet of all my material. Method books, Jazz/Latin books, General music books, Composing/Arranging/Theory books, Sheet Music, Classical pieces, Transcriptions, etc.. The idea being immediate access to information. I have wasted so much time looking for something that I want. To take this wasted time, make it more efficient, and use that ‘gained’ time to do something else, for example practice or write a blog, adds up to a lot. Kind of like “Watch your pennies and the dollars will come” or to update the saying to modern day “Watch your nickels and the dollars will come”.

Since I am a bit older now, it’s all about time efficiencies. I have to practice to up my playing ability, and thus I need to find time that was previously spent in other ways. I don’t look at this as a negative or dwell on this situation. I just have to have a strategy in order to be able to achieve my goals.

On a business note

On a business note, I have listened to a lot of players, especially over the past two months. Players that have been in the industry for many decades to players that are relatively fresh. There probably isn’t one defined path that will make a player successful in the industry. That is part of what draws me to being a “carrier” or professional player. Figure out what makes sense for me and come up with a business strategy. There for sure is a new way of doing business with social media being a main differentiator between now and what happened before now.

I have come up with a price sheet for the various services that I get asked to do, for example how much I charge for doing church services, remembrance day, trio gigs at restaurants, etc. My thought is that if you don’t have a price for each service, the price you give to a client will be dictated by the mood of the day one is in. The standard that a lot of seasoned players quote is “union scale”. I have not been in the union for over 5 years. The discussion on the music union is one that I’d rather not get into here, however, my approach is that I have set my own “scale” that I will stick to and that makes sense for my situation. For example, I have played in pro-am bands and rehearsal bands for many years. This entails playing gigs for free at times. I have always not felt right about this, but especially now that I want to be honest to myself and make music my livelihood, I don’t want to do gigs for free. I have set a minimum amount that I need to get in order to play a gig. There have been two people in the past two weeks that called on me. I gave my price to one person and they said “Great, we can do this”. The second person said “I’ll look for someone else.” Both of these answers are fine with me. I am desperate for money, however, it’s important to set a standard for yourself and uphold it.

Thank you for reading. I look forward to next week’s blog where I will have completed putting my thoughts together on the James Morrison DVD amongst other things.

On the horn, off the horn

When someone suggested I start a blog, I though who would even read this. However, I believe that my story of day job to music is one that might be good to document. I am finding thinking about what to put in a blog a great way of organizing my thoughts. I am going to call my blog “On the horn, Off the horn” as I would like to talk about my approach to becoming better on the horn as well as what I am doing on the business side.



On the horn

One challenge which I’ve always faced is the shear amount of material available to practice. I found old practice logs where I would plan out every minute of the day. While this approach has some benefits, I believe it’s a question of quantity vs quality. This week what I wanted to focus on was my dexterity, something that I’ve always admired about other players.

I decided that I would use Clarke’s Technical studies to improve my dexterity. Everyday I picked two keys to work on and went through all 10 studies in those keys (where applicable). I developed a spreadsheet to keep track of my progress. This spreadsheet lists all 190 exercises, the key of each exercise, the tempo I could play the exercises cleanly at (clean tempo), a target tempo based on the marking of the exercise, and I calculated a percentage, for example if the clean tempo is 50bpm and the target tempo is 100bpm, I am playing the exercise at 50%. As the next few weeks go on, I am interested in seeing how I progress and getting my clean tempo closer to the target tempo. Contact me if you’re interested in seeing this spreadsheet.

Klaus Anselm School Poster

Off the horn

The first order of business for me was, well, business. The past roughly 10 years I have spent working for a company where you have to have a business plan in place. I know how to create this and wanted to apply the past decade of learnings to my new music endeavor. A friend of mine sent over a great video pertaining to business. ( , One take away from this video was the difference between working in an office and working as an individual in a home business, music in my case. I was always accountable to someone at the day job, to set targets or have targets set for me and needing to reach those targets. As an individual, I am only accountable to myself. This was one of the first challenges.

I was no longer needing to get up early enough to beat the dreadful Toronto traffic to commute from Ajax to Etobicoke. A little extra sleep, not needing to necessarily change, were great luxuries for the first few days of being freed from a demanding day job. However, I quickly realized that I need to get up early (a 2-year-old son makes sure that is done), and I need to get dressed. I do this to be in the right mindset.

I was lucky to have a friend help me develop a business plan. My friend Jeff had one benefit which I didn’t realize was a benefit at the time. He wasn’t a musician. He is a dedicated visual artist with a passion for business. One question he asks me was simple to answer at first, but rather hard to focus in on: “Who is your target client”. One answer I had was people that want to hire me for gigs. This is such a broad answer which took a bit of thinking to focus in on. The real question might be, what do I want to do with my passion for music? For me, I want to play trumpet in a diverse array of settings and I want to focus on private teaching. I love teaching one on one.

I addressed the latter by researching private music schools in Toronto. I made a spreadsheet to keep track of where these music schools are, when I contacted them, if there was a reply, when I did a follow up. My goal was to get a list of 50 music schools. Of course, the issue was timing as I was in December contacting music schools. However, the point here is to put some tangible targets down, come up with a plan, and following through. It’s important to me to measure success, which is why I wanted to go a step further and keep track of who got back to me and/or who I’m sending a follow up email to.

My immediate goals or targets and my strategy are:

Private teaching: I made a spreadsheet to keep track of where these music schools are, when I contacted them, if there was a reply, when I did a follow up. My goal was to get a list of 50 music schools. Of course, the issue was timing as I was in December contacting music schools. However, the point here is to put some tangible targets down, come up with a plan, and following through. It’s important to me to measure success, which is why I wanted to go a step further and keep track of who got back to me and/or who I’m sending a follow up email to. Other strategies included putting up Kijiji/craigslist ads, print and distribute flyers in my neighborhood. I have started to volunteer at a high school, given that my current resource that I have a lot of is time for the time being. I am also setting up my home studio, a discussion I will expand on in next week’s blog.

Church Gigs: As with the music school strategy, I am in the process of finding 50 churches in my neighbourhood and putting together a package to send out to them. This package will include a write up of my experience playing in churches over the past 10 years and a video of me playing at a church. This brings up a discovery I made this week. I ran into a posting by another trumpet player who also wanted to target wedding ceremonies. In this player’s posting, a youtube link was included with instructions to go to a specific minute mark in the video. When I did this, I discovered that the video was of this player in an orchestra. I found it odd that the target audience is wedding ceremonies and made me realize that a package that is meant for a specific client target needs to make sense. If I wanted to sell a car, I wouldn’t put advertisement in place picturing motorcycles. While the two are related, it doesn’t seem to attract the right clients.

Trio: I’ve always wanted to put together my own project, and while this isn’t an urgent goal, I have decided a target audience and am putting material together that makes sense for this target audience. More on this over the next couple of weeks.

Next week I will go into greater detail on setting up and organizing my music studio and will expand on my business plan.

Thank you for reading my blog and I look forward to having you join me next week.

“Maybe you should do music and I should find a new manager”


 With these words in November of 2015 I made the decision to leave a corporate job that paid fairly well and was somewhat satisfactory in the passion department to go back into a world that I care about, makes me happy, love, and am passionate for, music!

To provide some context into who I am, music has always been part of my journey since moving from Germany to Canada at the age of 12 back when the Blue Jays last won the World series, 1993. My English was rather limited if none existent. I was certainly not able to communicate to peers at the new school that I was attending. One morning, a marching band gave a presentation at my school, which I thought I should join so that I can at least have something to do. This was an introduction into the world of trumpet, an instrument that has been part of me ever since. I was lucky to have attended a high school with a rich music program, providing me with life long learnings, which I am just realizing now. Skills like team work and leadership come to mind.Of course there was the music aspect. We attended a lot of competitions, in fact I was part of a student run organization that put on the regional Music Fest in 1998. As part of the music council, serving as president for two years, we put together trips to California and Florida to name a few.

After high school I attended a community college and studied Civil Engineering Technology. This was in part due to the social pressure and stereotype of music not being a future. Of course at this stage of my life any potential future was measured by earning potential, something that I have learned is not the only life ruler to be measured by. After two years of attending classes which I wasn’t really passionate about and still doing gigs in Kingston, I decided to follow my heart and moved to Toronto to attend Humber College. While attending Humber I always had part time jobs, usually 2 or 3. I also wanted to be active in the music scene outside of Humber, something that I encourage anyone attending a music school to do. I had some great playing opportunities including touring with a circus band one summer and playing with Dan Aykroyd. Still, the attractiveness of a steady paycheque kept me partially in the 9 to 5 world and partially in the music world. This, as anything does, has its pros and cons. I typically never worried about cash flow. Every two weeks I got an adequate paycheque that covered my lifestyle at the time. However, I never had enough time or energy to focus on practicing the Trumpet. Any trumpet player will tell you that if you don’t practice, the trumpet will not be too kind to you. Still, I always managed to find gigs here and there and have reasons to keep my chops in shape enough to play these gigs at a reasonable level.

The struggle of these two worlds has always been in my life and I didn’t mind this, until a year and a half ago, when there was a change in leadership at “the day job”. This new person was extremely corporate minded, to the point where I was expected to sacrifice time with my wife and son as well as music. “Maybe you should do music and I should find a new manager” were the words that made me realize I am at a fork in the road. To the left was a job that paid well and had all the promise in the world to be lucrative if I was willing to give up time with family and music. To the right was music and the ability to spend time with my family. I spoke to my wife who is the most supporting person in my life and we decided that music was the road we needed to travel on at this point in our life. With this, I handed in my two-week notice and started making plans to focus on my music career.

The purpose of the blog is to tell my story and discuss the transition from corporate to music life, merging the business learnings I have gained and transposing them to music.

Thank you for reading my blog. Over the next coming weeks I will be discussing my approach to music life, both on and off the horn.