Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Don't Waste Good Criticism!

The road to Carnegie Hall is paved with many annoying and unplanned irritations. Progress is never criticism-free. The problem is that we let those inevitable criticisms cause us to lose focus and confidence so that we miss seeing their benefits. Easily angered or discouraged, we then lose our motivation. The issue then becomes not control of the instrument, but a struggle for control of ourselves!

Why not consider criticisms as lesson assignments intended to improve your playing? Sometime in the near future, you will certainly be required to make adjustments on the spot. Responding well is part of what you will have to do. Get used to it.

If intonation is not refined now, you will have to face a wincing conductor pulling at his ear as he hears you add havoc to the pitch of the ensemble. If your rhythm is unsteady, you will have to deal with irritated colleagues as you add havoc to the precision of the ensemble. If you ignore dynamics you will become a nice contributor to a mediocre ensemble. You get the picture. Fix it now, or you might not even get the chance to fix it later.

Whatever the point of your irritation, be thankful that it has been brought to your attention. Our egos should never be so great that we are offended at complaints about our playing. Think of critical comments as good advice that can ultimately improve your performance. Hard-to-take comments can result in making you a much better player as well as a person. So welcome them, get to work, and don't react. Your road to success will be a lot less painful for you and for your colleagues.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Staying After School

Today is the kind of day one dreams about in January - a totally clear day, perfect, warm, no allergies, no cicadas, no classes, (no students), the kind of day that pushes practice to the back burner and turns it OFF. Life is not so tough. Today the trip to CCM was only to pick up a check!

To those whom this may concern, CCM is rather empty just now. All practice rooms are pretty much silent, resting up for the Fall assault. A heads-up: today technicians began installing hidden microphones in each of the fourth and fifth floor practice rooms. I asked about that. They said that it was confidential. I pushed and shoved to eventually learn that the wiring will be routed to room #475 in Memorial. Yes, comrades, big brothers will be listening in! You have been warned.

The campus is alive with strolling middle-aged people accompanied by young kids. This must be Freshman orientation with parental accompaniment. Soon large laundry bins full of clothes will be wheeled to the dorm rooms. I always notice the expression on the parents' faces at that point. There are no words to describe that moment.

Other things also never change. The Tattoo shop still oozes with creepy-crawlies. The red-nosed clown buffoon still skulks in front of Chipotle's. The same bum still sleeps till noon under a large bush behind the parking lot that forbids parking. Very strange.

Thinking of you all, as most venture elsewhere for the summer months. Hope your activities are refreshing and beneficial. Enjoy these days. Looking forward to getting back to work and play in a few short weeks.