Born and raised in the Detroit Metropolitan Area, I began playing the cornet in 5th grade. I was incredibly fortunate to attend the Fraser, MI public schools, where Donald C. Schultz was my band director from 5th through 12th grade (except 10th, during which I learned from the legendary Seymour Okun). Mr. Schultz was a member of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra trumpet section during the late 1940s. He had such a beautiful, clear, and musical approach to the trumpet, I credit his example with lighting the "trumpet fire" in me.
I've done a lot of stuff, and things, as a trumpet player over the years, but I won't bore you with too many details. I have degrees from the New England Conservatory of Music, Arizona State University, and Michigan State University. I've performed all over the world and with all kinds of people. I'm the Principal Trumpet with the Flint (MI) Symphony. I taught at Wayne State University and Saginaw Valley State University for several years.
John Williams, Theme from JFK with the Saginaw Bay Symphony
Haydn Trumpet Concerto (@15:00)
Bradshaw Trumpet Concerto I & II
Bradshaw Trumpet Concerto III
During all this time, I've also continued to pursue an avid interest in computers, and especially programming. I caught the computer "bug" (see what I did there?) in middle school, learning BASIC programming by reading the source code of programs that I could get access to. This expanded to pascal, and finally 6809 and Z80 Assembler. Throughout college and beyond, I've been fortunate to fill the income gaps that inevitably come with a music career by taking odd jobs in tech. I've worked as a network specialist at various firms, and even spent a short time as Network Administrator of a small ISP.
In 2014 I finally found a way to combine my passions for music and computers with Dr. Flegg's Structured Practice Method.
Recently, my wife Betsy's work brought us to Connecticut. I'm still commuting back to Flint for select concerts, and doing an increasing amount of freelance trumpet performing in CT, and I'm finally getting to give my Structured Practice Method the time and focus it needs.
I don't remember exactly when, or how, or why I originally started keeping practice journals, but it was right around when I finished my Masters degree and began taking professional orchestra auditions. I clearly remember keeping a journal as I prepared for, and finally won, the Principal Trumpet audition with the Flint Symphony. That was back in 1995, so I guess I've been doing this for a while.
Over the years, my journaling evolved. I grew frustrated with hand-written journals and developed printed forms to help prompt myself to write what was useful instead of just writing random stuff. But now that I had useful information, I wanted to retrieve it when I practiced. Paper notebooks were really inefficient for that... it was irritating enough to page through my journal, trying to find notes from the last time I worked on something, that I often just didn't bother.
After a while, I moved to the computer, and developed a system where I kept a separate document for each piece I was working on, along with a master document to track and plan what I would work on each day/week/month, etc. This made it much easier to retrieve my notes about a specific piece, but became a little overwhelming, as it grew to dozens, then hundreds of separate files. I knew there had to be a better way.
I searched the interwebs and asked around among my colleagues, but was unable to find a solution that solved the issues I was trying to overcome. Finally, I realized I needed to take matters into my own hands. In 2014 I began work on what would become Dr. Flegg's Structured Practice Journal .
The SPM, as I like to call it, is now in it's third year of operation, and has grown to be so much more than a practice journal. It solves all the original issues I had with paper journals, to be sure. But now it also helps with self-recording, and handles private lesson notes and assignments, and so much more. I'm immensely proud of it, but I'm not done, and probably never will be. I'm currently modernizing the entire application, which will make it possible to allow offline use, and dedicated smartphone apps, plus a long list of new features I can't wait to add!
Copyright (c) 2017 Mark V Flegg