Saturday, December 06, 2014

To think, or not to think?

Too much thinking about your playing can be just as bad as too little. Both can end poorly. A performance can be crippled by over-thinking as well as by recklessness. Somewhere there is a safe middle ground between brains and no brains, between too much caution and none at all.

Think about this: The question is not about thinking but about sounding. A total focus on the beauty of the product will eliminate thousands of useless notes and extraneous noodling that nobody wants to hear.  

A great performance is about great music-making. That priority should drive every practice session.  Think not about how you are feeling, but what the audience will want to hear.





Thursday, November 20, 2014

Discount on Trumpet Books










 






Piccolo Trumpet Studies - 106 short etudes from easy to moderate difficulty, each with the purpose of gradually building control on the piccolo trumpet.  

100 Trumpet Etudes - moderately difficult etudes, written to not be boring, great for sight-reading. 

Trumpet 1, Studies in the Style of the Pops Orchestra Repertoire - 138 generic pops orchestra studies. Each is from moderate to challenging with an emphasis on style.

All books are $20. Sale price from now till 12/31/14: $18. each. Shipping is free in USA. 

To order via PayPal, enter collinsnotes@earthlink.net

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Two Antidotes for Nervous Nellies

What's a good antidote or two for stage fright? Try getting angry or try getting sleepy. It's hard to be nervous when you're all irritated, or when you're so tired that nothing matters anymore. Being able to summon these moods just might help knock the edge off your next case of the jitters.

Instead of freaking, think of words like nonchalant, blase, laid-back, indifferent, apathetic, casual.  When our instincts are on such high alert that they are ready to short-circuit, we need a good dose of "it's not that big a deal, man, relax!"

Rather than stressing about every note of every phrase, simply decide to bluster your way through with an attitude. Of course you will have practiced meticulously, so you can now afford to charge ahead proudly and fearlessly.

Barney Fife became famous for these facades whenever he found himself in a frightful predicament. Audiences saw his cocky confidence and self-assured smugness in spite of crippling fear. Often he responded to stress with a ho hum, sarcastic smile. He masked his nerves with swagger, yet with a humility that endeared him to audiences. Use nerves to your advantage.

 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Leaving Your Mark

When your final performances have ended, and your last notes have all been played, how will you be remembered?  Will you have made the High-note Hall of Fame?  Will you own the coveted Loudest-Player-on-the-Planet award? Will it be said of you: "What a monster player, but what a jerk!  Seemed like such a nice person, till you got to know him."

Heroes are esteemed, but often at what cost? Is musical excellence achieved at the expense of personal reputation? Are great note-making skills an excuse for bad manners?  Is your amazing high C more important than your character? Time and others will tell.

Proverbs says that a good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, (or great notes).  Your notes evaporate quickly, but your reputation lasts. Value people as much as your notes.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

The Makings of a Great Player

What makes a great student?  What turns tons of input into profitable output? Is success attributed to genes, willpower, personality, a controlling mother, or a bunch of lucky breaks?  What is key in making a great player?

In the book of Proverbs, the wise person is not the one who hears instruction but the one who diligently puts it into practice. Doers become wise, not hearers only.  The best student is not always the most talented, but the most ready to listen and to implement instructions. 

This should be great news! Aptitude, work ethic, and encouragement all play a large part in success, but key is our willingness to absorb, and our passion to apply.








Thursday, October 30, 2014

Shrinking the Gap

What's the purpose of practicing?  Is the purpose of playing just to practice?  And should we continue plowing through that same checklist of assignments hoping for a good result? How easy it is to loose sight of where we're going and why. There is always a gap between how we sound and how we want to sound. The main purpose of practicing is to shrink that gap as quickly as possible.
    
Motivated students tend to focus on the other side of the gap, not the great chasm before them. It's not about the distance but the vision. The practice session becomes a game of "how fast can I get out of here, and get over there?" The best students can taste the other side, aim for it daily, and listen carefully to the best musicians. The goal is to not sound like a student!

What then compels any sane person to jump headlong into countless hours of struggling with the trumpet? Is it not that strong concept of a powerful yet beautiful sound, and the passion to pursue it? The carrot before the horse is that great trumpet sound that captivated us from day one.  That's what sustains us through nerves, obstacles, discouragements, and even defeats.  Many jump, but few survive.



Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Practicing the Midas Touch

"Say you played 10,000 notes today, and you are thrilled because 2,000 of them were simply amazing!  Unfortunately that means there were 8,000 mediocre notes that nobody wanted to hear. Congratulations for the good notes, but sadly, it is the 8,000 mediocre notes that tend to be habit-forming.  The majority rules. Try to deliver 10,000 great ones!"   - Arnold Jacobs

Remember King Midas?  Everything he touched instantly turned to pure gold!  Why not have that mindset? Put on an imaginary crown and a royal robe the next time you enter your practice room.  Tomorrow as you open that trumpet case and pick up your gold-plated Midas trumpet with its gleaming gold mouthpiece, think about your treasure trove, boatloads of valuable golden doubloons!

You have no notes to waste.  Make it your practice to make them all count.