Meet a Musician: Ted Toulouse

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When he’s not playing trombone with the Lawrence Community Orchestra, Ted Toulouse works for the Veterans Administration in Human Resources. He also helps with the Lawrence City Band’s music library.

Ted Toulouse with composer John Williams

Ted Toulouse with composer John Williams

Ted Toulouse, trombone

What was the first piece of sheet music that you bought?

One of my first pieces of trombone music I remember buying was a piece by Jan Koetsier called Partita over “Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme” for trombone and organ op. 73 (1976).  I was looking for something to play at church and found this.  The problem was this piece stays above the staff quite a bit and I was never that strong of a high-range player.  Plus the organ part is pretty challenging for the average church organist in Wyoming, so needless to say, it hasn’t gotten played very much.

If you had to choose another musical instrument to play, what would it be and why?

I’ve always wanted to be able to play guitar better but haven’t taken the time to really learn it.  I would be nice to play an instrument that travels well and is a easier instrument to casually sing with.  But I’ve never had fast fingers going all the way back to piano lessons.  So playing trombone for me is a good thing.  And I put some thought into picking trombone in the first place so it suits me pretty well.

What do you consider your biggest accomplishment to be as a musician?

Oh man, there are too many to pick just one.  I’ve had a pretty blessed musical career so far.  My biggest accomplishment career-wise was becoming a member of “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band in Washington, DC.  Even though I joined as a librarian and not a playing member of the band, it was still an amazing musical accomplishment and a world-class organization to be a part of.  That was my dream job, because I love using my musical talents and training, but I also love doing behind-the-scenes stuff.

As far as playing is concerned, I’d say the thing that put all the confidence in the world in me was the summer I spent at Interlochen.  Coming from Wyoming, I didn’t have much perspective on what was out there in the musical world.  So I got there and made the top concert band and played in a few chamber ensembles.  Each week there were challenges for chair position.  I was the only one in the whole group that never lost my chair that summer.  Now I never moved UP, but I never moved down either.  And there was some amazing talent there too – several artists who are making good livings being professional musicians.  And I held my own in that environment, which built my confidence a lot going forward.

If you could put together a quartet of three other musicians, dead or alive, to play with, who would you choose and why?

Probably just some of my good friends I guess, I don’t know.  I don’t have any pipe dreams of sitting next to the greatest players.  I just want to sit next to good players that are sensitive to what’s going on around them and blend well.  That to me is the ultimate musical experience – being part of a group that’s sounds amazing.

What has been your favorite Lawrence Community Orchestra experience?

The Brahms Requiem, mainly because I LOVE doing collaborative stuff.  There’s nothing more powerful than feeling the voices behind you reinforcing your parts and us reinforcing them.  I love Brahms, I love the give and take in those situations, I love hearing how the different parts work off each other at the first join rehearsals and I loved the magic of performing that in the Lied Center.  I’m thankful we got to do that and hope we can collaborate more with choir.