Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Powerfully Persuasive!

Confidence in pianissimo! That's a winning ticket, and a rare one indeed!  Mel Broiles as well as Roger Voisin, two players known for their amazing power and style, both maintained that the secret to great playing is control in the softest of dynamics.  That seems like an oxymoron, doesn't it?  We think that loud is great, and soft is not.  Actually, anyone can blast, but few are comfortable in an expressive pianissimo passage.

Maneuverability in pp is the goal.  It is vital for the music and the health of the embouchure. Our lips get tired, or "tard" as some of our Cincinnati colleagues used to complain.  What's a brass player to do after an orchestral pummeling?  The macho in us says, "tough it out, man!  Meet fahr with fahr, (fire)!" The truth is that wise, soft, practice of basics for sensitivity is the best way to recover and to prepare for the next blastathon. Regular low decibel practice will help guarantee confidence and security in performance. 

Explore the soft range. Learn to control both screaming loud and super soft.  Just because the part indicates quiet dynamics doesn't mean you play with no tone or style. PP does not mean pitifully puny!  It stands for Powerfully Persuasive! 

Note:  As the finalists for his job were awaiting the verdict from the BSO trumpet audition committee, the great Roger Voisin himself strode confidently into the locker room. "Hi, boys, he said.  Just wanted to see who was going to get my locker key."  He then opened his locker, pulled out a muted C trumpet and played for us a very tasty, spiffy-clean Bozza-like soft and agile fanfare.  He grinned, hung up his horn and left.   He could have won his own job back! Soft was VERY COOL and the lesson was very persuasively imparted!

1 comment:

Sandra Porada said...

Phil,
Many years ago at Riverbend, you had a solo. I was working in the ticket office. There were two young men dressed like typical teenager. They were expecting Phil Collins the drummer. I explained to them that you were a wonderful musician but you were not the man from Genesis. I could not convince them. Before they bought their tickets, I told them no refunds. They never came back to the office, so I guess you won them over. Sincerely, Sandy Endres Porada