Friday, November 14, 2008

Hold On!

Few have the patience for this kind of practice. It's too boring and unmusical. Besides, it takes too much time and can be embarrassing as it makes others think you must not be very advanced. The truth is that this practice is excellent therapy for what ails most of us. How so? It helps intonation, tone, breath control, endurance, and even articulation all at once. To ignore this practice is to show up for your very first rehearsal unprepared. We're talking long tones, holds, fermatas.

One very long note can be a whole lot harder than a string of fireworks. Somewhere in every piece you will hear at least one. Often Trumpet I is called upon to demonstrate to the world how it's done. For example, take Zarathustra, both Leonore calls, Mahler 2nd and 10th, Rienzi, every Brahms Symphony or Strauss tone poem. Second players are not exempt. Beethoven and Brahms made Trumpet II the king of low, long and soft. Put on your fermata or long-sustained-phrase glasses and you will discover them everywhere. This gives us new motivation for daily fermata practice. You know you're going to need it!

This week add a good dose of long ones to your practice agenda. Just think organ, sostenuto sempre, Bruckner's molto adagio movements, bagpipes, air raid sirens, swimming under water, bullfrogs, puffer fish! Whatever works for you, think it so you will do it. Come up with your own strategy. You could have a long-note lottery. Pick a note, any note - loud, soft, high, low. Time yourself. Try them with dims. Try them with crescendos. Have someone mercilessly conduct your one note until you're totally out of air. We get paid by the note. Pretend we get paid by the length of the note. Grab a good breath and hold on!

No comments: