Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Johnny One-Volume

The mindset of the typical auditionee: "I'll be O.K. as long as it's fortissimo. If it's loud, I'm nailing it every time. Listen to me guys. I'm king of the orchestra! (Sure hope they don't ask anything soft.")

Just as no one can drive at only one speed, no trumpet player can survive with only one volume at his disposal. Our comfort zone must be large and able to encompass all dynamics. Great players have huge comfort zones, or at least their listeners think so. They must fly through the air with the greatest of ease. Only when they have learned to obey all of the traffic signs are they free to move about the country at will. But using only one speed kills.

So if you are a one-volume-fits-all player, don't worry. At least you have excellence in one area. Now begin venturing into unfamiliar neighborhoods so that you have clout and respect in more than one district. Take your show on the road. Visit the quiet hospital vicinity. If you play too loud, sick people might die. The elderly are crossing. Drive very slowly and carefully. No hitting-and-running allowed.

Transfer your strong suit to a weaker area. Then take it beyond what's required. Play way softer than needed, but with the same quality. Become reliable at different speeds as well as various dynamics. Flexibility and control rules.

You can't just race that semi in high gear through residential areas. You must skillfully maneuver without crashing or burning. Simply, you gotta make it sound good no matter how soft it is.

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