Making a Difference…


These are my Band One kids! They’re awesome!


The whole Mammoth Group

The ability to make a difference in people’s lives is something that we all hope to have one day. I am so lucky because I get to do it every summer, continuing an already very long legacy in which I was lucky enough to be included many years ago. I was inspired then, and have had the desire implanted in me to inspire others. We continue to inspire, and the legacy lives on.

I know it works! I have seen it in action, and I have experienced it first hand. As long as I am around, it will never go away. I’m talking, of course, about the summer jazz camps here in California. I attended them as a student beginning in 1990, when I was 12 years old, and since 1996, I have been on the faculty. Our job is to inspire people to find the creative passion inside of them. Our medium is music.

This year, here in Mammoth Lakes, I have seen what our inspiration is doing on a grand scale. In my teachings this week, I have seen more lightbulbs turn on and more outbursts of creativity in my students than I ever have before. I had the beginners for band this time, and though they came in as beginners, today on the last day of instruction they have become creative stars! My kids are playing music at an ability level far beyond what would have been expected at their level even as recently as last year. I have never seen anything like it!

All but one of my students are here for the first time this year. They have been inspired, and will continue to do great things. If they return again next year, they will become part of the chain of inspiration. All of our veteran students inspire the newcomers on an entirely different level than the faculty can. The ability to show teenagers that they are not limited, and that their world is very open and waiting for them to contribute something, is one that permeates all of us who take part in this great event. It truly is a beautiful thing, and I plan to make my contribution a thousand times over. If we are able to show others what is possible in this world, then it becomes our duty to allow ourselves to be seen.

Let’s keep contributing!


Flying to Mammoth


What a great day! I had the best trip into Mammoth Lakes ever! The reason for this is because I flew. Driving here from San Diego is the worst thing in the world. Actually, that’s not true. The worst thing in the world is planning to fly to Mammoth from San Diego, only to find out that the flight was cancelled at the last minute, meaning that driving there is necessary. That’s what happened to me last year. On top of that, I missed the Jazz Camp auditions last year.

Not the case this year! The flight was short and sweet, and I was able to audition my piano players just the way I like to. We’ve got some good kids this year! I had a tough time placing everyone into bands, but I think the results will be great.

It looks like I’ll have Band One this year. Not only am I instructing, but I will also be playing in it, since there aren’t enough pianists to fill all the bands. I even auditioned myself. Yes, the students beat out their instructor for band placement! Maybe I’ll make Band Five next year. 😉

It’s the Little Things in Life…

I had a fantastic day yesterday! I went in to teach, and had only 3 students, so the morning was super-easy. And then the best part: I got home only to find that there was no one there. I had the house to myself for 5 hours. I got to work undisturbed on whatever I felt like, a luxury that I love. Then Denise came home and prepared to give a piano lesson to one of our neighbors.

Then came the bestest part! Little old Joey walked into my life when Denise was about to give the piano lesson. Joey is a cocker spaniel, probably about 10 years old I would guess. He was wandering around trying to find his home. He came straight to our house and would not leave. It was as if he knew I would help him out. He looked tired, but could not have been lost for more than a few hours. He had a bandana and a chain collar on, but no tags or license.

I leashed him and took him for a walk, trying to see if he would eventually find his way home, but making sure that he wouldn’t get hurt. He took me through and out of the Monet complex (our condo area), through Treviana (the adjacent condo build), and into a single-family-home neighborhood, about half a mile away. He walked as though he was on to something. After about 200 yards, he stopped and laid down on a patch of grass near the street in front of an abandoned house that was for sale. I figured he was pretty tired after walking so far, and at such a quick clip. He had literally been pulling me along, tethered by the leash. I let him rest a bit, and then decided he needed water, so we went back to our house.

He hung out with us for a little while longer, and I decided to walk him again. Wouldn’t you know it, he led me at the same quickened pace to exactly the same spot as before. How odd… I knocked on the door of one of the houses, no answer. The abandoned house obviously had no one in it. I asked some passers-by if they knew whose dog I had, and everyone I talked to said they had never seen him before.

OK, time to be a little more scientific. No license, no tags… Maybe he’s microchipped! Alright, time for Denise and I to take him on a quick trip to the vet. It turned out that he WAS in fact microchipped! That was good news. We called the number to match him up, and found that the code didn’t match anything in their records. What were we going to do?

The company behind Joey’s microchip was called “AVID”. We gave them a call. They found a match that had only been put in their system that morning. Hmmm… the owners must have reactivated the code when they found their dog was missing. Avid contacted the owner, who in turn contacted us. We gave them directions to our house, and they came by to pick him up. That’s when I learned that his name was Joey. I also learned that his owners live over near where he had stopped on his two walks with me. Apparently, Joey was staying with a friend about 3 or 4 miles away when he got lost. He had traveled a long way and crossed a lot of very wide, very busy streets to find us. He was literally finding his way home. I’m so glad he didn’t get hurt.

The owners were overjoyed and very thankful that we had taken the time to take care of Joey. It made me very happy that we could help. It’s the little things like this that make you feel better about yourself. Thank you, Joey, for entering my life yesterday! 🙂

Holiday?? Nah…

So what do I end up doing on Independence Day? Not relaxing like I said I would. I end up, as on all my days off, working. I’m trying to overhaul my website, and therefore move my entire blog over to this nifty WordPress site. I’m really liking WordPress a lot. It seems pretty simple to use, and I can blog from anywhere!

For those of you wondering about my blog, its transfer has mostly been completed. Almost fifty entries! That’s actually quite good for me. I’m hoping to blog a lot more now that I have an easier way to do so. However, before I start doing that, I still have a few more entries to transfer from my Whrrl account. Most of you are probably not very familiar with Whrrl. It is an extinct service now, but it was quite an all-inclusive, short-snippeted, picture-posting, location-tracking, boring-story-telling, everyday-life-tracking (also boring) blogging tool. The company was purchased by Groupon, who shut them down and has done nothing comparable since. Imagine, if you will, a service like FourSquare, but with storytelling. It really was fun to use… Anyway, if you see any entries on here with lots of pictures and very few words, those are from Whrrl. I admit it will be nice to go over those little tidbits of history again.

Guess I better get on that. Oh, and keep an eye out for my new website design! I’m pushing the big red button on that soon.

If it still looks cartoony and stupid, I haven’t updated it yet. If it looks all black and slickified minimalist, then the little internet gremlins finally did what I told them to do…. little bastards!

Happy 4th!

Happy Independence Day everyone! Today is the day that we celebrate everything that makes us American! Yes, that includes jazz, apple pie, and being unsatisfied with the way things are!

I’m celebrating my day-between-off (weirdo Wednesday holiday) by eating apple pancakes! It’s like apple pie that you eat for breakfast. The beaches are crowded, and it looks like rain today, so all the crazies at the beach will be disappointed. I’ll be staying home and relaxing. They don’t even sell fireworks here in San Diego anymore, so I guess I’ll have to look out the window to Mexico. They’re usually pretty good about putting on a show for us.

Anyway, some of the events going on in DC lately are definitely making me feel un or anti American… Thank goodness for the Olympics coming soon to reinstate our patriotism once again! Exciting stuff.

Anyway I want to keep this short, so be safe today, everyone! Happy 4th!

By the way, if you are wondering why this post is so boring, it’s because holidays are boring.