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I am trying to stay positive but…

Prepare yourself for negative Jen. Here is a giant fluffy bunny to counteract any negativity.
Image result for giant fluffy bunnies

I am struggling after hearing the news that The Jazz Standard, one of the best jazz clubs in NYC, is closing.

I’m asked a lot by friends how I’m doing. How I’m surviving. “Can’t you teach?” I’m expected to keep my chops up and be ready for…..what exactly?

Musicians are a hearty bunch. We weather all sorts of storms. We pivot when we must but always drop anything for a gig. We are constantly chasing success… and the happiness is in the chase. The hang. Even the slog. When you’re on you’re fourth Radio City show of the day or the first show of the week or the 10:30 set at the Django, the familiar faces and prospect of making music is enough to get us through most situations.

COVID has robbed us of our chase. And now it’s robbing us of our space. The Jazz Standard closing felt like a gut punch that you knew was coming but still couldn’t brace for. I heard so much music there, played so much music there, ate so many meats there.

Imagine something taking your career away and having to watch while pieces are slowly dismantled and destroyed.

It’s death by a thousand cuts.

Last night, the Rockefeller Christmas Tree lighting was on TV. I wanted to scream. How dare they pretend like ANYTHING is normal? How dare they stand there without masks on? How dare they live like my world isn’t on fire?

I know. The entertainment industry will survive in some form. As the Broadway League of Producers salivate over being able to chip away at our contracts next year, I’m sure we won’t be on the winning side.

As you all consider what you want to spend money on this year, think about where your life would be without music. If you had no Spotify or Apple Music or Amazon to stream. What would you think about in that silence?

BUY MUSIC. If you have a job, BUY MUSIC. And if you buy music already, please support causes that are helping live music venues and artists right now.

My industry is dying and the only people that can save it are the fans.

Read Emily Olcott’s love letter to The Jazz Standard here on
Read NPR’s article about the club closing

Here are some worthy causes to donate to:
LOGO Save NYC Musicians #1.pngSmallsLIVE Foundation logo

Here are some projects you can support:
Andrew Gutauskas Look Out! | Andrew Gutauskas (
Artemis Artemis – Artemis – Artemis – Music
Uptown Jazz Tentet Uptown Jazz Tentet – Store
South Florida Jazz Orchestra South Florida Jazz Orchestra – Cheap Thrills: The Music Of Rick Margitza – Music
Black Art Jazz Collective BLACK ART JAZZ COLLECTIVE – Ascension – Music
Marshall Gilkes CDs and Downloads (

Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society in DUE TO COVID-19 on te%

Destructive Tendencies in Playing and Practicing

I am guilty. I confess. Most days, I hate how I play. It’s been a part of who I am for as long as I can remember. I have realized that it isn’t a healthy attitude and though it does occasionally rear it’s ugly head, I thought I might share how I learned to deal with it. 



We can all recognize that negative self talk is detrimental to progress. The first step to surviving and moving past these thoughts is compartmentalizing them. Take the negative thought when it occurs and put it away – you are going to revisit it later. Continue through your practice/rehearsal/gig as normal. You don’t want to be that person on a live gig who screws up and then draws attention to yourself further with a look on your face or a gesture of frustration. 
When you are done, examine these thoughts. Your initial reaction might have been negative but what can you learn from your mistake(s)?  I can now make mistakes and move on pretty unscathed on live gigs but I’m still working on this while practicing. 

Continue reading Destructive Tendencies in Playing and Practicing

PSA – Scam Alert

I have heard of this scam a couple times so I thought I would do my part and put the word out there. 

Youll get an email from a parent like this:

From: Paul Oxley <>
Subject: Tutor


I’m Paul, During my search for a lesson teacher that would help in taking my son (Kenneth) During is stay in your location. I found your advert and it is very okay to me since you specialize in the area I’m seeking for him, My son would be coming to your city before the end of this month for a period of time with his friend, I’ll like to know if you can help in taking him for the lesson? just to keep him busy and refresh. Kenneth is 11 years old, So kindly let me know your charges per hour/lesson in order for me to arrange for his payment before he travels down to for the lessons to commence.

He will be staying there for 2 weeks and Please Reply back on:

(1). Your charges per 2 hours (3 times a week for 2 Weeks):starting from 17th November until 30th November 2017

(2) Total Cost For 6 class/12 hours lessons in 2 Weeks

(3). The Day you will be available to teach him During the week:

Well am very happy that i see you as my son tutor and about your years of Experience there is no problem about the lessons, My son will be coming with his caregiver. So there is no problem for the lesson to commence by next week, my son caregiver will be bringing him to your location for the lessons and you can teach him anywhere around you including the Library or your home if that is okay by you so i will like you to teach my son the best of you when he get to the city for the lessons. I will like you to email me with your schedule for the lessons,I will like you to email me with the name on the check and Full mailing address where
the check will be mailed to and including your Home and Cell phone number for my attorney to issue out a check to your before leaving the the state, by this week, I will be awaiting to read from you soon with your name and address.

What happens after is that they mail you a fraudulent check and when you try to cash it, your bank dings you. 

The email above was sent to my husband and when my husband responded he doesn’t teach beginners, the scam artist first said John could teach his 18 year old daughter. Then he asked for the names of other teachers, which I can only assume he’d try to scam. 

How do you know it’s a scam?

1. Their command of the English language doesn’t sit right with you. Misspelled words and random capitalizations are a clue.

2. Lacking specifics. Do they call you by name? Do they mention your instrument? Do they know what city you live in? People truly searching for a teacher will know and mention these things. 

3. The lessons are only for a week or two and multiple times a week. A real student will want a lesson or two. 

4. Payment is sent ahead of time and will almost certainly be for more money than you requested. They will then ask for you to send them back the overage. Not only are these checks fraudulent but your bank will penalize you for depositing a fraudulent check. .

Have you discovered any ways to combat scammers? Let me know in the comments!

Stress Ball!

When I was young, Christmas was a big deal in my house. And when it was all over, my Dad would get really down. You know, you had this huge event with an enormous build up and then it’s just….over.

I never really  understood what was going on until I experienced it firsthand. Whenever I have done a big event in music or Triathlon, I get pretty down afterwards. The stress of getting ready for an important performance (or an Ironman!) has to go somewhere after the gig. For me, it turns into aches and pains and the blues. Continue reading Stress Ball!

Try To Fail

I am a stubborn person but I’m never as stubborn as when people tell me I can’t do something. That’s how I became a professional trombonist – my whole family told me I couldn’t and I did it just to prove them wrong. I did an Ironman triathlon (140.6 miles) a year after having hip surgery just because someone said I might want to consider not running anymore. That’s how freaking stubborn I am. 

Continue reading Try To Fail