TROY TROMBONE STUDIO

Welcome to the Troy Trombone Studio page!

Greetings y'all!  The Troy University Trombone Studio is a vibrant community of undergraduate trombone students on tenor (some double on alto) and bass trombone. We perform in all of the instrumental ensembles here at Troy University, and we love chamber music! We are active in our community with performances at local venues in addition to the Troy campus. 

On this page you will find some information regarding the 'nuts and bolts' of being a trombone student at Troy University. While some of this information will be specific to policies at Troy University and will only apply to Troy students, I consider it to be based on valuable ideals regarding any training musician. Near the bottom of the page you can find links to information regarding auditions for the Troy Trombone Studio should you be interested.

Want to audition to become a member of the Troy Trombone Studio? Read to find out more!

APPLIED LESSONS - One of the best parts about being a music major is the one-on-one class that meets regularly, known as applied lessons. Musical training is still largely based on the apprenticeship system and is unique among modern academic disciplines. Most classes will have dozens (or even hundreds) of students with little personalized attention provided to individual students. In the music program, students get about fifteen 30-minute private lessons every semester. Additionally I serve as the academic adviser to some of my applied students. This aspect of the music curriculum is one of my favorites- I LOVE working with students. I love that it is a great challenge for both teacher and student. There is a tremendous amount of responsibility on the student to adequately prepare materials so the lesson time is not wasted and there is a tremendous amount of responsibility on the part of the teacher to help direct that energy in a productive way that fosters discovery (you cannot force discovery with the same long-term result). I take this responsibility very seriously. Here is what is expected of the trombone students at Troy University: LESSON TIMES - Lesson times will be determined at the beginning of the semester. Lessons will happen weekly. There will be occasional dates and times where lessons will be cancelled or rescheduled. We have 30-minute lessons regularly throughout the semester. PREPARATION - You are expected to practice every day. Though the quantity may vary from day-to-day or person-to-person, Here are some GENERAL guidelines: - Students enrolled in MUS 1124 (non-major lessons) and are receiving under $2200 of band scholarship assistance are encouraged to practice 14 units per week (roughly 30 minutes a day). - Students enrolled in MUS 1124 (non-major lessons) and are receiving $2200 or more in band scholarship assistance are required to practice 21 units per week (roughly 45 minutes a day). - Students enrolled in MUS 2224, 3324, or 4424 (music majors) are required to practice 42 units per week (roughly 2 hours per day). This will be a challenge in the fall as Thursdays and most Saturdays will be loaded with band obligations. Therefore a student will need to plan the week out in advance to avoid coming up short. Remember that these numbers represent a MINIMUM, not a maximum amount to practice. For students that wish to go on to graduate school, take auditions for summer festivals or regional competitions, etc. should be practicing at least 56 units a week to remain competitive on a regional scale. For those students that want to play professionally, 64 to 72 units per week is recommended to progress at a productive enough rate. Every student will have a slightly different schedule that will change their availability, however these numbers reflect a reasonable standard from which you can base your schedule. Your practice is your homework, and the work you do outside of the lesson is extremely important- it will determine how much growth can happen in the lesson! Most graduates of a music degree attribute the largest part of their development to the time and work put forth toward applied lessons. This growth will only happen if your individual practice time represents one of the biggest uses of your time as a college student. LESSON REPERTOIRE - I have several exercises to develop technique and fluency on the instrument, and students should be working through these exercises regularly (making sure they cycle through and alternate to maintain balance within the week). Visit the resource section for lesson repertoire lists. PRACTICE CHARTS - All Troy Trombone students are required to keep track of practice sessions with the studio practice charts. More information about practice charts can be found in the Resources section of this site. MICROBREAKS - Always remember to take care of your mind and body. Use the resource section to see great examples of stretches and body rehab exercises you can do in between practice sessions. PUNCTUALITY - With 45 minutes (including transition time between students) we will all have to work together to get the most out of this precious time. Please be ready and warmed up precisely at your lesson time. When it is your lesson time, please knock, and enter the room. Knock loudly so we may hear you. Enter. Do not wait for an invitation - it is YOUR time! I will be wrapping up with the previous lesson and sometimes your entrance will signal to us that it is time to go. PLEASE DO NOT BE EARLY - When a student is early, I understand how this is usually interpreted as a student respecting the time of their teacher and showing how motivated they are. I also understand that in an ensemble setting, it is advantageous to show up early, get set, play some notes, and be ready for the downbeat. In a ten-person ensemble, one person showing up three minutes late is the same as the group losing thirty minutes of productivity (since the other nine members cannot function optimally with one part missing). Different rules apply to a private lesson, however. Showing up more than a minute or two early shows a few other qualities that are less desirable. First, it shows that a student is not being productive. For example, if a student sits outside an office door for several minutes when they could be practicing, it shows me that they do not use their time efficiently or effectively- at least not to the level where those minutes are of value to them. It makes no sense to show up 5 minutes early and sit when you could hop into a practice room, play for 2-3 minutes, then show up warm and ready to go. Second, if a student sits outside an office door when they could be doing any one of a number of other things, it might indicate that they value other people’s time over their own. In college, we need to strike a balance between valuing other people’s time as well as our own time. If we give our own time away so easily, then we will not progress enough and it shows we have not yet mastered a balance between the two. The saying “To be early is to be on time; to be on time is to be late; and to be late is unacceptable” can be overdone. In this context, more is not more. Remember playing a note early is just as ‘wrong’ as playing a note 'late’. If I had to choose between a student showing up two minutes late or two minutes early, I would choose two minutes late. It shows me that you are busy- you should be busy. You are in college. We will easily absorb those two minutes in our schedule. I want to see students that are running around getting things done. I will gladly take a student that is two minutes late because they are taking care of other responsibilities than a student who is not productive, yet they are early to their lesson! These are my views on the matter, not everyone's. THE COMPLETE LESSON EXPERIENCE - I recommend using the 30 minutes before your lesson to practice (so you are warmed up and mentally ready to go when you arrive for your lesson) and using the 30 minutes after to practice (so you can go through and solidify the goals for the next week). Over the years my students have found that this time was just as valuable as the lesson itself! Though it is not always possible, try to pick a lesson time that enables this kind of schedule for you. RECORDING YOUR LESSON - Students are encouraged to record their lessons. I record lessons but cannot provide this footage in a timely enough manner. If you want lesson footage immediately, I recommend getting a recording device of some kind. Phones, voice recorders, camcorders etc. are all valuable resources. Being able to review your lesson will greatly increase the quality of your retention and therefore your long-term productivity. IF YOU HAVE TO MISS A LESSON - Whenever possible, you should inform me with as much advance notice as possible. Obviously, emergencies are a different consideration, however, many conflicts can be anticipated. If it is less than 24 hours before your lesson, it will affect your grade (see 'grading' for more information). HOW TO CONTACT ME - Stop by my office (Smith 109E), email me at sulliman@troy.edu, or call me (cell phone is in the syllabus). Having a friend or classmate with a similar conflict who tells me is not an acceptable way to handle it! Part of what we are learning here is professional communication skills and schedule management. Do not rely on general announcements to take care of it for you. All emergencies (including last-minute illnesses) need to be followed up with official documentation (a receipt from health services or a doctor's office, etc.) in order to be excused from grading protocol. It is on you to get this information to me. I will not remind you- you must take this responsibility very seriously and be proactive.

STUDIO CLASS - Studio class will meet on most Mondays at 1 p.m. in Long Rm. 104 (Band Room) providing there isn’t a student recital (which you should attend). TYPICAL STUDIO CLASSES - There are a number of goals that we try to accomplish in studio class. PERFORMANCE - It gives an opportunity for studio members to perform for their peers. Performances can be accompanied or not, solo or chamber. Students wishing to offer presentations are encouraged to do so (by request). EDUCATION - it provides an opportunity for students to develop their communication skills by offering verbal critique to performers. This is of great value to both performers and future educators. LOGISTICS - Studio class is a great time to ‘check in’ with announcements on important dates in the semester, reminders regarding deadlines, etc. Expect a few announcements at the beginning of class that you will not want to miss. PRESENTATIONS - Every so often there might be few performers, few announcements, etc. I will often utilize this time to present concepts and words of wisdom to the entire studio. While I would love this aspect of studio class to be zero (because we have so many performers week after week!), I will take advantage of available time to offer guidance on how to teach, play, and succeed in college. SPECIAL STUDIO CLASSES - There will be, from time to time, unique studio classes that do not follow the above formats. Some of the types of studio classes I have done in the past are: "THE BARREL" - Everyone’s name goes into a ‘barrel’ (usually a hat), and we draw one name. That individual gets 20 minutes to practice a piece (that they have never seen before) while everyone watches and observes the practice methodology. That student then performs the piece and the studio offers critique on both the practice methods as well as the performance. “THE ALL-SKATE”- Everyone performs 2 minutes of a solo/etude/excerpt. GUEST PRESENTATION - From time to time we will have guest artists in town that will come and present during our studio class. Sometimes due to scheduling conflicts, the guest artist will not be able to utilize the studio time. We will schedule a time that is convenient for them. Attendance is still required if adequate notice is given of the event. “LISTENING PARTY”- Everyone will be assigned a piece to find their favorite and least favorite recording of the work. They have to either bring in a CD or send me a link to an online performance. We listen, compare, and discuss.

CONCERT ATTENDANCE - As a music major, you are expected to attend a variety of live performances throughout the semester. This is to broaden your musical scope. It will change how you hear music, your internalized concept of sound, and hopefully inspire you! You are required to attend all student and faculty recitals that specifically showcase the trombone. Additionally, any master classes or performances of trombone guest artists are also required. I will add dates as they emerge, which makes any list subject to change and revision without notice, so check back frequently and check the school's performance calendar for updates. Should a date be added that you have an academic conflict with, please contact me so we can discuss options. Here are some additional goals for the Troy Trombone studio: - 1 performance that does not involve your instrument in the semester (i.e. no trombones!) - 1 performance that does not involve musical instruments (including voice) in the semester (e.g. live theater) - 1 performance that is not held on campus - 1 faculty performance (they represent the best musicians of the region and country and offer recitals on campus FOR FREE. You should go). - 1 low brass performance not involving Troy University (Check out Mobile, Montgomery, Pensacola, etc.- learn about the scene in greater Alabama!) - 1 performance where there is no one you know performing.

DEPARTMENTAL RECITALS - Student recital takes place on some Wednesdays at 1 p.m. (in opposition of studio classes). In addition to a strong suggestion to perform on these recitals, you will be supporting your fellow music majors and friends, listening to student performances (which is valuable for many reasons), and learning about the process of performance that you will have to partake in at some point.

JURIES - Juries are considered the ‘final exam’ for applied lessons. Any student enrolled in MUS 2224, 3324, or 4424 must perform a jury at the end of each semester. Additionally, if you are receiving $2200 or more in a band performance award and are enrolled in lessons (even in MUS 1124) you also have to perform a jury. If you have enrolled in MUS 1124 lessons and your award is less that $2200 from the band to play the trombone, then the jury performance is optional. REPERTOIRE SOLOS - Solo repertoire is chosen during lessons (usually half way through the semester- around the 8th week of classes) and performed with piano accompaniment. DO NOT WAIT to provide music to your accompanist. As soon as you know what you will be playing, make sure to get them a copy of the piano part. For examples of recommended solos for juries and recitals, click the link here. SIGHTREADING - In addition to solo repertoire, you will have sight reading. Please Note: MUS 3324 Students will be expected to sight read in tenor clef in order to advance into MUS 4424 lessons. WHAT TO WEAR - Treat your jury as a performance. Business casual or more formal attire is appropriate. Though it is not a fashion show, you want to give the impression that your jury performance is important. What would you wear to a job interview? What would you wear to church? Avoid sneakers, jeans, hats, anything too revealing, ripped, or cut-off. Avoid t-shirts, especially with loud logos or designs. Use common sense and good judgment and you will be fine, but as you will learn, the first impression people will have of your playing is how you carry yourself as you walk on stage. This includes your appearance, so demonstrate that it matters to you. COMMENTS AND FEEDBACK - I will send a digital copy of the faculty comment sheets along with my own comments via email. Make sure you print (clearly) the email address to which you prefer to receive comments from on the jury sheet. ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS FOR JURIES FRESHMAN JURIES - You may be asked to demonstrate any major scale randomly selected in either the fall or the spring jury. SOPHOMORE BARRIER JURRIES - In order to pass out of your sophomore year into your junior year for lessons (214 level to 314 level), you will need to successfully complete a Sophomore/Barrier Jury. In your 4th semester of lessons, you will sign up for 2 adjacent jury times. The second time will be a barrier jury, and you will be asked to demonstrate proficiency on any major, natural minor, harmonic minor, or melodic minor scale. You will need to fill out the following jury form IN ADDITION to the regular jury form. The low Brass Studio uses the following scale pattern. Download the scale pattern and start practicing! JUNIOR JURIES - You may be asked to demonstrate symmetrical interval patterns of minor seconds, major seconds, minor thirds, major thirds, or perfect fourths. NOTE- If you have successfully completed a junior recital, you will not be required to perform a jury for the semester that included the recital. For example, if you are a junior and you schedule and perform a junior recital in the spring semester, then you will be required to perform a jury in the fall, but not in the spring. GRADUATE JURIES - In addition to solos, scales, or intervals, graduate students may be asked to perform standard excerpts from the orchestral repertoire.

SENIOR RECITAL - The Senior recital represents the final capstone project of applied lessons. The 'final project'. It is an opportunity for graduating students to show what they have learned through their musical performance. With the right preparation throughout your college study, this can be an amazing experience- a victory lap. I have also seen the senior recital be a terrifying exercise of torture and survival for those that haven't prepared. You cannot cram recital preparation. It is my job to help prepare you for this occasion, and when you are prepared it can be one of the most fulfilling events in your life. We will work together to make this event special. Here are some guidelines and helpful tips. CHOOSING REPERTOIRE - For Troy University, a senior recital should consist of at least twenty-five minutes of solo repertoire and an additional five minutes of chamber music. Solos should represent the highest level of achievement by the performer and I would recommend utilizing various solos previously performed for juries and studio classes to make up at least half of the repertoire. You should learn at least one new piece, an entire recital constructed of music you have never performed is a huge undertaking and should only be attempted by the most ambitious of students. If you are looking for repertoire, please visit my repertoire page where you can find common repertoire for brass soloists (found HERE) PROGRAM NOTES - An absolute must. More information coming soon. SCHEDULE A MEETING WITH ME DURING OFFICE HOURS - We can chat in more depth about finding an accompanist, choosing a recital date that works for your family as well as the committee, and prepare for the faculty approval jury. Repertoire selection will be a collaborative effort. We will work together to set you up for success, but in general, the earlier you start to plan, the better it will go for you!

GRADING - The following factors will determine your grade: ​ATTENDANCE - There are 15 weeks of studio/recital classes that meet on Monday at 1:00 p.m. Special recitals include faculty brass recitals, studio member senior recitals, or special guest artist master classes/recitals. MATERIALS - You are required to procure equipment and repertoire for the semester. An etude book (not every semester but you might have 3 or 4 etude books by the end of your studies) by week 1, the Doctor Drone app (by week 2), and a new solo (by week 4) are required to be purchased by the assigned deadlines. HOMEWORK - Each week students will be required to upload a video of the etude assigned for that week (this is in addition to any solo preparation). In addition, practice goals will be discussed in week one and meeting these goals will be graded. For example, if we decide that 42 units (which is the standard requirement for undergraduate majors) is doable but you only practice 28 units, then your grade will reflect this. Each lesson may include a technical challenge (a specific exercise I prescribed to you in a previous lesson). The first thing we will play each lesson is your weekly technical challenge, which will be graded on preparation. PERFORMANCE - You are required to perform an etude or solo movement in two studio classes (or one studio class and one student recital).

 

AUDITION FOR TROY UNIVERSITY! Please note that I provide links to official Troy University pages, but any information I provide on my site is my opinion and my opinion alone. I am not speaking for the entire school of music and it should be known that my opinion is for the purpose of sharing with students that are specifically interested in studying with me in the trombone studio at Troy University. I do not speak for any Troy music faculty other than myself. Please visit the Troy University School of Music website for basic school information. There you will find information for prospective students, including links to audition information (dates, scheduling, repertoire, etc.) AUDITIONING FOR COLLEGE MUSIC PROGRAMS - A GENERAL GUIDE Going to college to study music is a huge undertaking. There is so much information that students have to learn- so many skills that students have to develop over a few years that it takes a dedicated and focused student to be successful. You have to be motivated to handle the rigor of a college music program. The audition process is a great opportunity for us to see how much work you have already done and what your current level of motivation is. ​IN THE AUDITION Ultimately the goal of every brass player playing any audition should be to demonstrate (as much as possible) the following four attributes. Basically, I am using the audition to figure out if the potential student: #1. IS IN CONTROL OF THEIR INSTRUMENT To be in control of one’s instrument, one must make sounds that always reflect clarity, ease fluency, and purpose. This is most easily broken down into three aspects of sound: IN TIME - Does it sound like the student has done a fair amount of work with a metronome, and does it sound he/she can play in time? Do they rush or drag due to technical limitations? Poor timing sounds different than playing expressively to a trained ear. Do they demonstrate that they understand the difference between the two concepts? IN TONE - Is the Sound beautiful and interesting? Is it consistent through the range? IN TUNE - Does it sound like the student has worked to develop their inner ear? Can they play in tune? These Three aspects need to be demonstrated over a certain depth. Over what depth and range can they demonstrate control? Do they demonstrate ‘ownership’ over a 2-octave range? 3-octave? At what point do they show weaknesses in time/tone/tune within their range? Do they lose clarity in fast passages? Do they lose ease in loud/soft passages? Can the potential student demonstrate these skills while sight-reading? Has the student just drilled their respective All-State scale pattern, or do they know their way around the instrument in different keys? #2. IS WELL-INFORMED OF THE REPERTOIRE The "Repertoire" refers to solos, etudes, and excerpts common to their respective instrument. SOLOS - Has the student studied and performed solos, or just the solo they prepared for their audition? How well do they know the standard repertoire of their instrument? ETUDES - Does the student know several etude books or just the few excerpts that they prepared for their audition? EXCERPTS - Has the student prepared any orchestral excerpts that are commonly asked for on professional auditions? Does the student know what common excerpts for the trombone are? If a student has not yet started to work on excerpts, I am fine with that (frankly I think too many students start drilling excerpts too early) but if a student comes to an audition with a few excerpts well-prepared and demonstrates control and understanding, it will work to their advantage. #3. IS THE STUDENT PASSIONATE ABOUT IMPROVING THESE TWO AREAS? Though this may be difficult to ascertain in an audition setting, it is not impossible. Has the student prepared materials easily found on my website? Has the student contacted me ahead of time in preparation for the audition? Are they familiar with various resources that are freely available to help prepare? If not, do they seem excited at the opportunity to learn? It amazes me how many students show up to an audition and clearly have done no homework to learn what is out there. #4. HAS A GREAT ATTITUDE TOWARDS LIFE, LEARNING, COMMUNITY, AND THE ARTS This is probably the most important thing I am looking for. I want to work with students that (in addition to being motivated) are courteous, respectful, mature, and conduct themselves professionally. Does it appear that you will represent the trombone studio at Troy University with dignity, professionalism, and class? Did the student interact with anyone before coming into the audition (getting directions from the front office, meeting other students while warming up, conversing with other students waiting to audition, etc.) Sometimes this information presents itself outside of the room and sometimes it can show up in the room too. If there is any evidence of a potential student (either positive or negative) in this category, it can make or break an audition. If you cannot fit into a supportive positive environment, you will not fit in the Troy Trombone Studio. I do not expect any student to come in and play perfectly, but the above information is meant to shed light on what I am trying to assess in a student's playing and attitude. Many times I can hear deficiencies that I am eager to help a student address. Potential is a powerful thing. Prepare so you can show your potential!