My Education Accolades and Experience
Currently, I am the Teaching Assistant for the trombone studio at the University of Colorado Boulder College of Music in which I am pursuing my Doctoral degree in Trombone Performance and Brass Pedagogy. I started my career at the age of 10 in the internationally acclaimed “Simon Bolivar” Symphony Orchestras of Venezuela known as “El Sistema”. A few years after I received my bachelor degree from Florida International University and my master degree from the University of Miami Frost School of Music. I have always considered MUSIC as a whole language for which I have been fortunate to have many accomplishments in different genres including classical, commercial, and as a recording musician. I have worked with professional organizations and artists such as the Florida Grand Opera, the Miami Symphony Orchestra, the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra (Spain), the Orquesta Filarmonica UNAM (Mexico City), the Jalisco Philharmonic (Mexico), Andrea Bocelli, The Manhatten Transfer, Wicked and Disney’s Frozen super star Idina Menzel, Arturo Sandoval, Wycliffe Gordon, Bob Mintzer, Paquito D’ Rivera, Eddie Daniels, and most recently the recording of 2015 Latin Grammy winner Dr. Ed Calle presents Mamblue, among many others. I have commissioned and premiered solo pieces written for the trombone such as Monolith Concertino by Alex Guardia published by Potenza Music and re:Joyce for Bass Trombone and Electronics by Thomas Sleeper for sleepermusic.com Temenos I Faculty Recital, University of Miami. I am a Performing Artist for the British brand Michael Rath Trombones and Colorado’s based band Facet Mutes.
As a private instructor, I feel fortunate to have served to different settings such as public schools and private institutions, youth orchestras, clinics, conferences with students of all ages. My students most recent accomplishments include acceptances and scholarships recipients to different institutions such as the University of Miami, the Juilliard School of Music, the National Youth Orchestra (USA), the International Trombone Association trombone competition winner, Oberlin Conservatory, Boston University School of Music, New England Conservatory, The Interlochen Music Academy, among others. If you want to know more about me and/or my students, feel free to visit www.joseleonardoleon.com.
My Approach to Teaching
My teaching method is adaptable and takes into consideration the students’ abilities, level of comprehension, and age. It is based on the combination of what I consider the three major aspects to achieve a student’s successful experience:
- Performance: Giving my students the guidance to follow the correct path to a technique that will allow them to achieve their personal goals and gaining a sense of achievement in the process.
- Scholarly and self-discovery: Teaching my students useful tools such as music YouTube channels, recordings, books, or other sources that might ignite curiosity to set a better and achievable musical goals.
- Education: Covering the musical aspects of music that will open their horizon and better understanding of the performance aspect of a musical instrument such as basic introductory music theory and history applied to their instrument.
One of My Practice Techniques
Due to the physical endurance a brass instrument requires, I encourage practicing a minimum of 30 mins to an hour max daily. These times should be spread throughout the day in two or three blocks of 10 to 20-minutes blocks. These small practice blocks should cover warm up -technique, scales, and repertoire all done in that order for a more effective practice time. This approach allows the students to practice throughout the day and achieve a sense of accomplishment, or as I call it, “winning my daily gold medal.”
My Favorites in These 5 Styles
- Rock – Chicago
- Pop – Michael Jackson & Prince
- Jazz – J. J. Johnson & Maynard Ferguson
- Classical – Gustav Mahler
- Musical Theater – Wicked, Hair Spray, The Sound of Music
“Quality is not an act, it is a habit.” Aristotle
How I Started Playing Music
I started playing trombone at the age of 10 when my dad introduced me to the music of the Empire Brass, Canadian Brass, and German Brass. I did not pick trombone, the trombone picked me. It was the only instrument left and nobody wanted it. When I had that trombone in my hands for the first time, I immediately felt in love and felt so lucky nobody else chose this wonderful instrument. Brass instruments are the most powerful instruments of the orchestra. I took my first lessons through the Venezuelan music education system, worldwide known as “El Sistema”.
My first trombone teacher taught me the importance of learning the scales and that practicing everyday was the butter of that delicious bread and butter pudding. Through taking lessons I discovered that I was able to advance faster with my musical goals. My teacher gave me the proper information for me to be able to practice achieving winning auditions to get a chair into my first ensembles. Shortly after, I made the National Youth Orchestra and I was able to meet new people and make friends from all over the world from an early age.