Britton Watson Posts

The Jazz of Physics and the Physics of Jazz

Music has a mysterious power. In his TedTalk, Stephon Alexander explores the parallel between jazz music and the functioning of our universe. Stephon’s journey in becoming a physicist started in high school when he encountered a teacher who believed in his potential and introduced him to the magic of jazz while fostering a connection between John Coltrane and Albert Einstein. The narrative  takes us to the present day with the world of physics attempting to understand the origin of the universe, which may in fact have its own parallel to a jazz improvisation. In closing, Stephon challenges us to live a life of improvisation. 

Stephon Alexander is the EE Just Professor at Dartmouth College of Natural Sciences, Physics and Astronomy, focusing on theoretical cosmology, quantum gravity and particle physics, and a National Geographic Emerging Explorer. Stephon studied at Brown University and conducted postodoctoral research at Imperial College, London and at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Laboratory. He also plays jazz saxophone and sees improvisation as an extension of his scholarship. Stephon is the current President of the National Society of Black Physicists.

Interested in more of Dr. Alexander’s work? He recently appeared on The Portal podcast discussing jazz, theoretical physics, politics, race, and other timely topics. His book The Jazz of Physics is available at book store.

Summer Sale at Paige’s Music

Through June, Paige’s Music is offering a special promotion on all brass and woodwind step-up instrument rentals!

We are offering up two months free use of the instrument before any rental payments are due. All you need to do to redeem this special offer is begin renting an intermediate or professional instrument in the month of June.

Which Valve Oil Is Right For Me?

Choosing the right valve oil at Paige's Music

At Paige’s Music, we are frequently asked “what valve oil do you recommend”? This answer can vary depending on the type and age of instrument as well as specific player preferences. Here is a short overview of our most popular options.

5 Tips For ISSMA State Solo and Ensemble

ISSMA State Solo and Ensemble is just around the corner. Here are five tips to prepare for everything you need crush your performance!

Finding Balance: Why “Perfect” Is a Point-of-View

Professional or advanced instruments will make you play and sound better. However, the actual instrument that is best for you is very subjective. We have students come in all the time with the intention of getting the best trumpet and mouthpiece. Those students don’t know that there is NO universal best trumpet or best mouthpiece. There is ONLY the best trumpet and mouthpiece for a particular player.

A Music Performance Lifestyle is an Athletic Lifestyle

If I had a dollar for every time someone has said “marching band is a sport!” I could by the entire S&P 500. It is a truly silly argument. It’s like saying a tomato is a fruit and not a vegetable—it may be technically correct but it doesn’t have any real-world implications. You can put tomatoes in a salad or in a salsa—one of which is mostly composed of vegetables, and one that is mostly composed of fruits. See—it’s just a point of view for the sake of having a point of view. This is not an editorial on such matters—it IS an editorial on approaching music performance like an athlete instead of purely as artistic expression.

3 Books for Crushing It in the Practice Room, and in Life

 

1. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

“Resistance cannot be seen, touched, heard, or smelled. But it can be felt. We experience it as an energy field radiating from a work-in-potential. It’s a repelling force. It’s negative. Its aim is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work.”

It’s easy to get distracted. I’ve been distracted by outside noise in writing this sentence. Everything seems designed to distract us. That’s what the entire discipline of marketing is for–to distract the potential user or customer. Google and Facebook are companies that literally pay engineers, psychologists, and etc. to find new ways of grabbing and making use of your attention. Other things do it too–our desire for attention, affection, recognition, and so on and so on ad infinitum.

The War of Art is antidote to that. If we want to succeed in the arts, in business, in life, we must control the resistance that surrounds us. This resistance is “any act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long-term growth, health, and integrity.”

We can choose to put our higher nature (art, creativity, health, etc.) first and make it truly great, or we can give in to our lower nature (everything else). The choice is yours.

5 Tips For ISSMA Solo and Ensemble

ISSMA Solo and Ensemble is just around the corner. Here are some tips to prepare for everything you need crush your performance!

  1. Be There Early

I am quite sure your director and private instructor has told you to be early for rehearsals, concerts, and etc. You definitely want to be early when it comes to Solo and Ensemble. You never know what could happen—the weather might be terrible and your commute time will double. The performance order may change. A performance room might change. You might have issues with your instrument…anything that can happen will happen! Being early doesn’t fix these problems, but if definitely gives you the chance to get in the right headspace and deal with problems effectively.