Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Best Teacher in the House

The sign on your trumpet studio door proudly announces "The Best Teacher in the House!" All who enter anxiously look around to see which of the Monster Mentors of the Trumpet World might be visiting for the day, for the word has gotten out: this is MMTW day. But no, no one will be here today except for you and your Charlier book, and of course your imagination.

If only we had the power to transport any of the country's top trumpet gurus into our studio to sit right next to us while we practice! You know, those who are famous for turning top talents into high-salaried musical trumpet machines? Man, then we would really improve! Chances are, however, that much of the instruction we would hear is already in our practice room. And a lot of their expensive advice is already staring us in the face from our music stand, and charging us nothing.

Did you ever think of the printed page as your teacher? Look at all of those markings put there by the composer! They do more than just make the page look attractive and busy. Consider them the guiding words of your teacher. (They also provide the conductor his rehearsal agenda, a way to take up two and a half hours of your time. Imagine if the orchestra did everything on the page. Can you see the look on his face? That used to happen in Cleveland with visiting maestros.) The printed page cannot be ignored because it is directing you on your path to big bucks.

Audition requirements begin with some of these basics: control of volume, tempo and articulation. You can't advance without them. Then there are the musical demands which dictate style, emotion, sonority and musicality. All of these are printed boldly before your eyes. At this point the future finalists begin to emerge. Now here's the clean little secret: play the ink, and you'll get the job. If you disregard the street signs you go home. Don't even think about stopping at GO, or collecting anything.

Today we studied Charlier #17. What a nice piece of music - full of advice, instructions and just lots of neat things to do, all with a wonderful musical end in mind. I'm thinking: students really don't need a teacher. Go home, do what the page says, then come back and perform. Most advice only stresses what's on the page already. Students should put the faculty out of business. We should spend less time policing traffic violators, and more time coaching performers.

That sign over your studio should actually read: "The Best Teacher is on Your Stand", the printed page. Obey your teacher.


Unknown said...

I really know what you mean in this post. Usually when my teacher says something that I'm doing wrong or need to fix it's so obvious once he points it out.

Keep up the great blogging.

- Chris

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