Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Practicing for Tomorrow

Butch: "Hey, man, I'm getting a blistering high C and I want it NOW!" Bart: "Wow, my new picc just arrived! See ya later, man. It's Brandenburg or bust for me!"

Sorry, Butch and Bart, you'll have to be patient, and don't say "bust". You are welcome to go for it like a raging bull in the china shop, but you'll have to pay tomorrow for all the damages. Your practicing is not likely to yield the results you want just in one day, so go at it slowly, methodically, and carefully. No one learns to play like Maynard in one day.

Why don't you map out a strategy for your summer's building project? Be sure not to burn out. You must live to play another day. What you do today is preparation for the next day. Don't expect your finished product yet. No pummeling allowed. Balance blow with rest throughout your sessions. Don't play anything unintentionally.

This should be a welcome relief from undue self-imposed pressure. Simply plan on being able to pick it up and continue working tomorrow, still fresh as a daisy. For now, less brute and more brains.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Smooth Sailing, Please!

Vacations, summer break and down times are just around the corner. Packing light for your travels? Make sure to stuff in your luggage the Clarke Technical Studies. The book is great for getting into shape and maintaining it. No amount of slugging or blastathons will ever accomplish what a few spoonfuls of this medicine will do for your chops every day. Follow Dr. Clarke's instructions carefully. His book produces great trumpet players.

Test yourself on the etudes. If you need some reconstruction, do the preceding studies. Etudes I, II, III, and IV are favorites for daily testing. Play soft, smooth and clear. Think how easily the clarinet player makes this sound. We want to match that. No bumps, fogged notes, or decibel variance. We must be able to function as a legato machine. Our goal is comfort and a smooth legato slur in and out of all ranges.

After a couple of weeks at this daily work you will find the etudes are memorized. Great. Try to play Etude II up a fourth and then up a fifth and memorize. Use small horns on this material too. Stay in a doable range. Smooth is better than high. Increase range only if smooth and controlled.

Yes, you can certainly blow up a storm this summer, but be sure to compensate with wise easy Clarke work. Need more of a challenge? Try double-tonguing them.

Have a safe and smooth summer break!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Free Lessons

Why pay for that which you can get for free? Avoid writing that pricey lesson check and the hassles of traveling to the big city. There is also no need to obsess about playing well for the big lesson which only lasts an hour anyway. Your window of receiving valuable information should last longer than sixty minutes, don't you think? Consider seeing your progress skyrocket right in the comfort of your own home, and without taking a big financial hit?

First assignment for those serious about sounding professional - get a library card! Take out as many CD's as possible of excellent recordings of works you need to learn. It doesn't cost you anything to listen to them. They're teaching you for free.

Next - start some serious listening. Note tempos, volume, projection, style, etc. Listen many times to each piece, and remember what you hear. Follow along with the music in front of you. Record your playing efforts and compare. Begin to narrow the gap between student and pro, unless you intend to forever sound like a work in progress.

Again, your responsibility is to come prepared with tempos, fingerings, transpositions, etc. well before that big lesson. Everything on the page is your job to prepare. Don't waste time and money having the teacher tell you what you could have learned on your own. Do your homework before you see the coach. Who knows? Maybe the coach will be so impressed that you'll get a free lesson!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Family accounting

Jeremy finished his first year of grad school at USC. He is pictured with members of the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet just after his recital this Spring.

Zachary graduated today from CIM! Viola student of Bob Vernon, Zak returns to Cleveland in the fall for graduate studies, gigs and auditions.

Wes, Sandy and Zak after a Cleveland recital. Wes is in the Atlanta Symphony. Sandy their first teacher, leads a large class of violin students.

Jeff and wife Kori with Jaime. Jeff runs Collins Painting business.

Grandsons Andrew, Stephen and Kenny. Tracey with daughter, Faith and Gracie. Pastor Tim in red shirt