Ted’s essays

Bitterroot Blues Band reality check

I thoroughly prepared for my first class night.

I marketed the heck out of this class. If there are any musicians in these here woods, I shure shoulda shaken them out of the trees. I was also hoping a real leader might pop up.

The Darby Schools music teacher set me up with a beginning jazz band book. I had 4 trumpet parts, 4 trombone parts, books for saxes, flutes, clarinets, guitars, drums, keyboards and so on.

I studied the director’s book, score, first trombone book, played along with the audio training tracks.

For a guy claiming no band leader skills and wanting to hide as 3rd trombone in a big band, I was as ready as I could get.

Then the ‘students’ arrived.

2 electric bass guitars
3 acoustic guitars
2 electric guitars
1 soft spoken beginning vocalist
and my trombone


and that was the good news.

Turns out one bass player can read musical notes, two guitarists can read TAB, while none of the rest can convert marks on paper to organized sound.


I ran through my lesson plan for a bit, played trombone with the practice tracks a bit, but it was clear that what I had in my classroom was not at all what I was prepared for.

Five auditory learners wating for a strong soloist to repeat some blues tunes over and over as they slid in to join me along the way.

So that is what we did in the last 20 minutes of class… well, kind-of.

That and came up with a list of tunes for next week.

I need to e-mail out links to the tunes as we will play them; an agreed upon key and style …

and for me, some bass-clef written musical notes in that same key so I can lead the band and play lead horn.

Plus, when possible, some lyrics for the vocalist.


Something about the best laid plans of mice and men comes to mind.