This entry is very much in the “Dear Diary” style. It isn’t intended to be narcisstic drivel, but rather a “Thinking Outloud” Session. So if you can handle just a couple minutes of “Doug Time”, I promise you that this arrives at a greater purpose.

Maybe it’s the increasing uncertainty in this World. Maybe it’s because a New Year is almost upon us. But I have been in quite the state of reflection lately.

What do I want for myself? For my loved ones? My colleagues? The communities I belong to? Our country? Our World?
How do we make it all happen?

But before I begin to tackle these questions, there’s one that needs to be answered first:

Who Am I?

Earlier this year, some friends and I were discussing mission statements of nonprofit organizations. I wish I could recall the contex, but suffice it to say the conversation led somewhere rather intriguing. What if we had mission statements for ourselves, as human beings?

So, in response to “Who am I?”, I sat down and tried to answer the question with a mission statement. I listed the different facets of my career, my pursuits, my values…and eventually, I tried to size everything down to one sentence.

I noticed that everything fit into two categories: Citizenship and Music-Making.


I have come to understand that much of my life is defined by how I exist with other people.

Being a Union musician automatically puts me in several communities. The DC Metropolitan Area. The various organizations I perform with. The Union itself.

Active participation is something I take seriously. For the time being, that has resulted in an array of internally-elected positions. (Committees, Conferences, etc.) And while time for these positions is finite, community service is something I will always pursue.

Teaching is a quintessential exampe of how musicians serve their communities.

Advocacy for Human Rights is also fundamental in my life. By contributing money to organizations, and also by attending events for the causes they support. I have become especially passionate about Labor affairs; indeed, Labor Rights are Human Rights. (Making a livable wage and not being treated like trash while on the job, for example.)

And then of course there are my personal values that I’m sure many of you share. Being a good neighbor, showing compassion, staying current with my loved ones…common, lovey-dovey things that are nonetheless important.


This is a pretty obvious category.

Specifically though, as I discussed in an earlier entry, it’s the commtiment to excellence, not perfection, that I’m after as a performer. Flaws are going to happen, but making sure no mistake happens due to a lack of prepartion is a crucial virtue.

I’ve also been very inspired by the philosophy of being a student for life. Not just how to become a better trombonist, but how to more effectively play with other people. (I suppose this ties into citizenship as well.)

Mission Statement.

Doug Rosenthal is a conscientious citizen who approaches music-making with integrity.

The Lily Pad Garden at the Denver Botanic Gardens. In the background, there are green, full pine trees. In front of them off to the left is the roof and railing of a sheltered sitting area. In front of the railing are red and pink flowers and green shrubs. The rest of the picture is all lily pads and waterplants growing in a large pond of dark water. The sky is blue, and there a few white clouds.

The sweetest flowers,
The fairest trees
Are grown in solid ground.
We’re neither pure, nor wise, nor good
We’ll do the best we know.
We’ll build our house and chop our wood
And make our garden grow.
-Richard Wilbur, Candide

So where is he going with all this?

I have no idea. Seriously.

Like I said in the disclaimer, I used this platform as a formal brainstorming session. But given how unstable and concerning the World is right now, I thought perhaps this process could help if someone is going through the same kind of self-evaluation as me.

I do believe that arriving at a clean and succinct way of articulating who I am has given me confidence in my decision-making. As the saying goes, you have to know where you are to know where you’re going.

For now, in light of my new concerns for the United States, I’m making lists of legislators to contact, organizations to contribute to, and local events to participate in. Both as a citizen and as a musician. I invite you to read more about that in my Labor of Love Challenge.

I’m curious to see what else comes from all this. And as always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Even if you find yourself in opposition, please leave a comment!

Love to you, reader.

About Doug Rosenthal

No one told Douglas Rosenthal to give up playing music. Not even his patient siblings, who endured many early-morning practice sessions; even they encouraged their brother to follow his passion. As the years passed, that passion evolved from simply playing music to advocating for music, musicians, and music-lovers. Douglas is based in Washington, DC. He is the Assistant Principal Trombonist of the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra/Washington National Opera Orchestra. He currently makes his home on Capitol Hill in DC with a pug named Jake, who serves as a constant reminder to relax, eat well, and sleep plentifully.

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