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by Tom Varner

Special thanks to Gabiella Ibarra for the Spanish translation es flag icon


Informal thoughts and a survey: How do we keep up our chops AND keep our sanity intact when we are horn players AND full-time teachers, and have other commitments (spouse, kids, aging parents) as well?

varnerDear IHS friends,

When Mike Harcrow and Kristina Mascher-Turner asked me to contribute something for the August 2017 E-Newsletter, exploring the subject of that old teaching/playing/life juggling act came to mind, and so I ran with it. I’ve been a “jazz/improvised music/everything” free-lance hornist and bandleader my whole adult life, but I’ve only been a full-time college music teacher for five years now (going on six, and eight if you count the time as an adjunct as well). Frankly, the past five years have truly been a challenge in a way that they never had been before, in terms of keeping up playing chops while teaching a full-time load and having a family (now with two busy teenagers). Not that I am complaining, as I am very grateful to have my job, and I love my students and fellow teachers, but wow, this balancing act is not easy. (Horn-playing teachers who have been doing this for 10, 20, 30 years, feel free to laugh at me!)

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Tom Varner is an Associate Professor of Jazz Performance at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. Please check out his recent cd “Nine Surprises” at iTunes, Amazon, and CD Baby. 

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