Michael Clayville

Trombone

I could do this the easy way. Tell you that I’m from a tiny town in Pennsylvania where I began playing the trombone in elementary school. Studied with one very influential teacher, Jim Erdman, in high school. Attended the Eastman School of Music. Attended the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival and Rice University with Novus, a trombone quartet. And now play with Alarm Will Sound.

But that doesn’t tell you who I am.

I moved to rural PA from Baltimore, MD at eight. Growing up in a small town gave me a very limited worldview. It was a very conservative, close-minded area where conformity was rewarded. I never felt like I fit in…having vague memories of B-more I was aware that there was more out there.

I began playing the trombone because it looked funny and I kept playing it because it was a lot more fun than doing homework. It was something I excelled at and became how I identified myself. I really didn’t have substantive reasons to play until I met Jim Erdman. He taught me that music is about communicating from your heart and the best musicians believe in what they have to say and hold nothing back.

I still wonder how I got accepted to Eastman. I really couldn’t play the trombone and I sure didn’t know anything about music. The only ability I had can be attributed to willpower. The experience forever changed my life. I got to meet people (like most of Alarm Will Sound) and hear music completely unlike anything I had been exposed to before. It opened doors for me to travel around the world and to play in even more unfamiliar settings. It verified my thoughts that there was more to the world than my small town.

Playing with groups like Novus and Alarm Will Sound is like a dream come true. I get to play incredible music with incredible people – music and people that keep expanding my knowledge. That’s what I enjoy the most, learning more about myself, the world and how the two fit together.