• Leading Questions - Tom Varner

    Someone once told me to get out there and fly.

    When I was 14 I was tiny, felt beat-up, but knew there was a lot more out there waiting for me. 

    The french horn is sometimes a very harsh, yet beautiful, mistress. 

    If I could do it all over again, I’d just work at it and not stress about it. 

    Practice makes you feel better. 

    When I look at where I’m at right now,  I am kind of amazed, and yet I still have lots of plans.

    The piece of music that always resonates with me is a beautiful and freely played melody. 

    Some of my best ideas come to me when I finally, finally, can have a moment of total quiet.

    My parents were good people that really loved me. 

    Fear is something that can cripple you, but can be overcome too.

    Motivation is just wanting it to be good. 

    As I get older, I’ve realized that you must savor the little, good, stuff--ouch! Sounds like a bad tv ad!

    In the big scheme of things, what really matters is love. 

    I cried when I found out that jazz French horn great Julius Watkins died, and that I did not thank him for the lessons I had with him one year earlier. 

    Music has taught me to be patient. To work hard.   To value joy. 

    People ask me why do you stick your hand in that thing like that?

    Right now I’m interested in, music that has a simple complexity, with a quietness at its core, even if it gets loud.

    Discipline is taking oneself seriously, and so, taking care of yourself, and so, staying on top of your instrument.

    I’m not interested in  smarminess, anything that plods for a long time, or bad retro looks at music that I happened to hate in the first place!

    Change is necessary for life.

    I chose the french horn because the little picture looked cool at the end of third grade, when we got to choose what we'd play in September. And I passed the "ear test."

    I’ve never understood the gratuitous putting down of others. Even Charlie Parker said, "never put a fellow musician down," according to Steve Lacy. 

    When I’m stuck I try to go to a very quiet place, or, clean up my desk and my office---both VERY hard to do at times. 

    Improvisation is conversation. 

    Less is more because sometimes you just want less!

    More is more because sometimes you just want more!

    The thing that makes me nervous on stage is not being prepared, and so, being "plodding." 

    When I’m playing well, it feels like flying. 

    If I could have made a career on another instrument, it would have been the trumpet?  But not so sure!

    Some musicians don’t understand well, they just don't understand, period.

    Your audience is usually happy to go on a ride that they have not been on before. 

    I’m happy whenever I’m listening to Beethoven, Bach, Stravinsky, Sonny Rollins, Ornette, Kenny Dorham, and my kids laughing. 

    Being a musician has meant that I have traveled to and played in Ukraine, Japan, Singapore, Chile, Bolivia, Russia, Latvia, Colombia, Norway, even Idaho--but never, yet, to Arizona or New Mexico!

    I view my greatest achievement to be that I am alive and happy with my wife and my two kids. 

    The future of jazz is unknown. 

    A sense of humor is important because,  without humor, we would all fall down and die from depression. 

    The difference between playing and composing is thinking in the moment, and thinking ahead.

    The history of jazz is filled with many unknown heroes, not just the 'famous' ones.