Saturday, April 19, 2008

Three Weapons

It is amazing how effectively these three weapons can dwarf those pesky obstacles of boring playing, stifled air flow, and fear. Those many musical markings that fill the score provide the way of escape from performances that are flat, lifeless and which fail to resonate with the audience. The air stream that carries the music must be energized and unstoppable, never losing intensity. Finally, the power source which drives the whole process is confidence.

So problem #1: labored, boring, uninspired, trumpet-playing. Remedy: Observe every musical detail printed by the composer (who never intended any of the above problems to be performance practices!) Ingrain those details without the trumpet. Sing, buzz, fingers only, but at all costs, absorb the music intended. Thoroughly convince yourself of the composer's intent before plowing into the piece.

Problem #2: quick fatigue and burn out. Reason: obstructed air being forcing into a tiny aperture. Remedy: Find the point(s) of constriction and free up the flow of air. Usually this happens somewhere just behind the mouthpiece. Sing, buzz, blow w/o the horn. Copy that ease when attaching the trumpet. Insist on minimal fatigue and easy release of air from gut to bell to audience. Eliminate sips of shallow air intake. That is always the first sign of constriction. Learn to sound great while working less.

Problem #3: timid, unconvincing playing. Remedy: Develop an attitude of confidence. Confidence in what? Confidence in one's ability to execute all details of the musical message with the greatest of efficiency. Call it a highly skilled killer instinct! Trumpet playing is all about confidence. Without it we are in the wrong business. Confidence only comes when we have a solid concept of the music. That's half the battle. The air then carries that message quickly to the listeners with no loss of energy. Much attention is required to transfer this inspiration to the audience without wipe out.

So the music, the air, and one's confidence are interrelated. Breakdown of any one can quickly result in the appearance of those unwanted pesky colleagues - Mr. Boring, Mr. Stuffy, and Mr. Timid. These guys tend to return as much as you allow them. To keep them at bay, stay motivated by continually absorbing great music, keeping your air ways open, and practicing confidence. Mr. Music, Mr. Air, and Mr. Confidence will always deal the death blow to these enemies.

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