Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Taking Out theTrash

"Wince, You're on Candid Microphone"

On campus there has been a TV crew preparing a news feature on "The Practice Habits of the Poor and Not-Yet-Famous Trumpet Players at CCM." Your last practice session was recorded secretly, the whole thing, from the first fuzzy attack until the last blasted out-of-tune high G with that kiss at the end! Can you spell E-D-I-T? Too late. All of your notes matter, even when nobody you know of is listening. Next, they will be airing the secretly recorded practice routines of the ten top trumpet players in the country with a huge cash prize! Oh, if only you had been given a heads up!!

The point is, we waste too many notes, don't value them, don't care about them, and just don't bother to listen critically. Some of us err however in listening too carefully, being too self-focused, etc. The result there isn't so good either. But for the majority, I bet we just plain don't consider that the way we practice is the way we will play even when it counts.

Why not start tomorrow with an imaginary quality-note counter recording all of your practice? It monitors in percentages the acceptable vs. the unacceptable notes. How about finishing the day in the high 90's percentile? Actually, one bad note out of ten is still not acceptable, is it?

Money motivates. Say you get $100 for every note that will sell big, and get docked $50 for every note that, well, is a dud? There is also a legato sensor that monitors and rewards all fabulously smooth phrases, but releases a shrill basketball court buzzer sound when student-like notes are emitted! (Just like when you stole that shirt from Gap, and their alarm sounded, only worse!) The whole musical world will be listening with great interest, and you don't want to be embarrassing yourself. Isn't it time to throw out the trash? No one wants to hear it.

1 comment:

Joyce Davis said...

Phil, I remember at least 25 years ago, when you talked with me about this concept. I now use the same premise you taught me with many of my students.
"You never know who is outside the door, or in the audience. Make every note you play the best you can."
I am very pleased to see your post. Thank you for the advice a long time ago, and again now. Regards, Joyce Davis, DMA. Professor of Trumpet, University of Florida