I retired from a 30+ year professional playing career in May 2018. Retire is a funny word because I hardly feel retired. Since before that date, I have been the president of the Denver Musicians Association (Local 20-623 of the American Federation of Musicians). That keeps me in close touch with lots of great friends and colleagues - it also keeps me very busy.
I'm also trying very hard to be disciplined and stay in touch with my other musical passion - writing charts for brass ensemble. For some reason, lately I have had the transcription bug and have been working on a few BIG charts. But for me, that is a different kind of arranging than what has been my main focus for decades - writing chamber music for brass.
I use a streaming service at the union (the one that actually pays artists for plays) and it randomly exposes me to a lot of great music with which I'm not that familiar. Every once in a while, a piece queues up that might work well for brass, and when that happens I send myself an email to bookmark the piece for later exploration. That list of charts has grown rather long.
We had a serious weather event here in Denver recently which closed everything down. It presented an opportunity to make a small dent in the pile of would be musical projects. So this morning, I logged into IMSLP to download some Brahms piano music that I had bookmarked and decided to tackle one of them.
It's just 50 measures of mature Brahms and, likely, it will not get programmed much. But that's not why I take on these projects. For me, arranging a piece like this is the equivalent of polishing an etude - a chance to sharpen my skills writing chamber music and work on some musical problem solving, and to shake off some rust.
Nothing else to report here - the title of this blog post kept going through my head all morning.