Sunday, September 21, 2008

Too Broad a Brush

Having heard some twenty-plus trumpet auditions the other day, I was left with a mental picture of an exterior paint brush! Granted, the hearing of auditions can make you fidgety and ready for a change of scenery free from excerpts. But all sanity was not lost. The task was to prepare comments and helps that would be more effective than, "you got nervous, ran out of air, your intonation was questionable, articulation was fuzzy", etc. - the usual feedback from committees whose advice you want and also don't want to hear. So setting aside the good displays of musical playing that happened, consider my paint brush vision.

Imagine looking over the shoulder of the French Impressionist painter Claude Monet. There he is all dressed with beret, stiletto cigarette, full-cut white shirt half unbuttoned, with one hand on hip, as he squints at his easel and prepares to begin his masterpiece in oil. You watch in horror and humor as he takes out his Sears $2.99 six-inch exterior house paint brush and seriously attempts to create and define those famous French subtleties!

You clear your throat and respectfully offer your suggestions about his equipment and concept. "Here", you say, "try these", as you open a bag of expensive fine-tipped brushes which you purchased from the local art and supply shop. You don't dare say it, but you're thinking, "how can you do all the refinements and details with that monster brush? What is going through your mind, monsieur?" "Ah, oui!" he exclaims. What was I thinking?"

This is not a rant on equipment that is too big, but a visual for a concept of trumpet-playing that is one-dimensional and not suited for the refinements and cutting-edge details that are required in every solo and orchestral work in the repertoire. You might suggest to Mr. Monet that he take a trip to the Louvre to study the masterpieces. Have him ask himself what his concept is that he intends to portray, and how his choice of equipment will enhance his work. Chances are, that six-inch paint brush will be used very sparingly.