Friday, June 02, 2006

"Locked and loaded"

Keep your ears open for lessons you can learn! They won't cost you anything. They are out there floating around during your day. But you have to look and listen for them. It could be a word, a phrase, a sound, a picture, a bus, taxi, even a truck driver! I like "the truck driver with a lobotomy" sitting up there on his air horn with absolutely no fear! Sometimes, and I say sometimes, that is the exact image we need!

Lately I heard a repeated phrase that finally caught my attention. Describing someone's playing a friend of mine said, "when he plays it locks in, solid." I like those words "locked in". Another one of my favorites is "it's automatic". There is no way that player is going to miss. "Nail-it" mentality, killer instinct, fixed on the target . . . you get the picture. It's Zarathustra on demand.

I remember hearing Mel Broiles play with such powerfully precise articulation that it made you blink and even wince. Each note had a point on it, yet it didn't offend, (unless he wanted it to). As a young student of his, I used to draw pictures of what his sound looked like! My tablet was full of gleaming knife blades flying out of his bell. He was also able to turn the most beautiful legato phrase, probably due largely to all the great singers he heard every day at the Met.

You probably can recall several instances that got your attention today. Can you translate them into practical lessons for your playing/teaching? Our skills are more useful when they are propelled by a message, an image, a story, or a situation. Describe something with your trumpet playing. Start with the composer's wishes. Now you take over and make it your message.

Why not go on a mission to lock and load for every attack! Blow each first attack out of the room, like a ball player first swings two bats. This might be good therapy for tentative, insecure articulation. Think knife blades, lazar tongue, pound-it city! (Now don't obsess on this! Remember moderation and balance.) Load up that thing and fire away!

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