Saturday, January 19, 2008

Strengthening strengths

It makes sense, what we've been told. "Work on the weakest areas of your playing, fix deficiencies, address problems, conquer fears, etc. Never mind practicing those things you do well, just work on that list of things you don't do well." No professional is professional without a continual focus on that ever-present agenda. Perfection is the burning goal. However, we've also heard, "go with what got you there." A home run hitter is counted upon to deliver his thing, and that isn't bunting.

In such a competitive profession, it's good to remember that it is the knock-out punch, the slam dunk, the grand slam in the bottom of the ninth that wins points, games and fans. Fundamental skills must be automatic, but it is the fireworks in all their various forms that win hearts. In all the boredom of drills and mechanical work which must be secured, it is rejuvenating to include some of that killer instinct, the wow, and the final exclamation point in our daily routine. It's needed therapy for listeners and performers.

This was demonstrated in this week's concerts by the CSO in a spectacular program that featured all sections at their best. Brass, winds and percussion were quite busy doing what they do. Visiting principal trumpet Mark Ridenaur of the Chicago Symphony was the hero. That was how it's supposed to sound. The roar of the crowd as he stood for the first bow said all that needs to be said. Bravo to Mark for his outstanding contributions to great music making!

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