Ericson Interview, part III: Horn Matters and other creative activity

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Part III, interview by Komsun Dilokkunanant.

8. As a horn student from Thailand where information is still quite limited, your articles and resources on hornmatters.com is one of the oasis that I could find online. What was your inspiration behind this creation? How do you come up with new topics?

First, I am very glad that you found Horn Matters helpful in Thailand! A goal we have had is to reach out to the horn world as broadly as we can. I am very happy that it has become such a go-to resource for community and amateur hornists in particular.

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The inspiration for Horn Matters has a short story. Going way back in Internet years, Bruce Hembd was the original developer of the IHS website, and I was brought on board as an editor/manager by Jeff Snedeker, who was then the editor of The Horn Call. Bruce and I had known each other at Eastman and we worked well together. We worked together on that from 2001-2007. At that time the IHS Advisory Council was asking for some big changes and, ultimately, we came to feel that they mostly wanted someone else to do the site, so we both retired.

Independently of each other, Bruce and I both had started blogs. His was The Horndog Blog and mine was the Hornnotes Blog, which was then a part of my Horn Articles Online site. We were not making money off either venture, we just liked writing and sharing horn news and information with others.

After a few years of doing this, I was talking to my wife one day and said to her something like “If I were thinking big, Bruce and I would combine our blogs into a giant website.” She thought that was a good idea, Bruce thought about it too and we went forward. He owned the domain for Horn Matters. It was a big move but the new site went live in September of 2009. The rest, as they say, is history.

As to coming up with topics, in a way it was easy … for a while! Ultimately the articles all relate to my teaching and interests. I have partial drafts of many more articles than are posted as well, so do keep watching for more. At one point I was posting three articles a week, but at this point I aim for three or four a month.

9. Is doing hornmatters.com part of your tenure-track promotion? If not, what do you need to do for applying for the promotion?

Horn Matters was not created to specifically be a part of my creative activity, and was developed after I achieved tenure/promotion at Arizona State.

But, backing up a bit, within our system at ASU when looking at promotion, from Assistant to Associate Professor and from Associate to Full Professor, ultimately, they consider very specifically four “products” (of our choice) of our scholarship and creative activity. In the case of performance faculty such as me, one typical type of product is the CD, and in my own planned full professor case (yes, I am actually still an Associate Professor) I have two recent CDs as products, my Rescued! CD and also Table for Three (horn/trombone/tuba works). Beyond that I also plan to include my natural horn book and yes, Horn Matters.

[Confused by academic ranks at universities? More info here.]

Including a website is a bit unusual, but it really is my most widely recognized “product” and will be a part of my case.

10. As an applied music teacher, is it necessary to published any articles, journals, research? should this be a requirement for applied music teacher as well?

Surprisingly I am actually going to say no, it is not necessary. Within our tenure system, at least, the main thing is that performance faculty perform and be nationally/internationally recognized for that performance. Typically applied faculty focus on that type of performance and on products related to performance.

But publications are great and easily understood by the people looking at your tenure case outside of music. I think publications do really help toward that solid case. What each individual faculty member will do to build that case in the end depends on interests and skills.

If I were to offer one general advice, big picture, it would be this. Do as much as you can and build the strong resume to get the job. Then, in the job itself, carefully read the exact tenure guidelines of your school and do your best to angle your research and creative activity toward “checking off the boxes” in those guidelines. I did not really do this, actually – if I had I might have been able to go up for full professor earlier….

Continue to Conclusion of Ericson interview