Saturday, October 11, 2008

Bowling for Notes

What does a bowling alley have in common with a music conservatory? Hopefully not much, but consider for a moment a split screen profile of a great bowler taking his steps as he releases the ball. On the opposite side of the screen we are listening to and observing the textbook embouchure trumpet player as he makes his grand entrance on that first note. Before we consider our two pros, let's first look at our wannabes - pros in training.

You don't even have to watch a bad bowler to know he's bad. How do you know? You can hear him even at a distance. The give-away is that thud-clunk as the ball bounces a bit, loses speed, and heads for the gutter. Team mates shutter and wince. And so does he.

Next, the camera moves to our conservatory trumpet dude as he/she proceeds to smack the first note as if with a sledge hammer. The poor note never gets a chance. It sputters and immediately loses energy, volume and direction. Even with the practice room door shut, the trademark of our artist still-in-the-making is obvious. Passersby shutter and wince. And so does he.

Our hidden microphone has told us all we need to know. It says to us, "It's the attack, stupid!" Is it fair to say that those consistent smack downs by both contestants will leave many of the pins and notes uncovered? In vain we play and bowl, and wonder why we get low marks and no bucks.

Think about the approach, power, and finesse of a top bowler. There may be a good firm start as the ball meets the floor, but it is graceful and controlled as he aims for all 10 pins. Likewise the trumpeter begins with momentum, power and control. There may be a good firm start as he begins, but the sound is clean and focused as the air follows through to cover all of the notes.

By the way, what do you think a great trumpet player and a pro bowler have in common? They don't ATTACK, they RELEASE. Consider your beginnings to be releases, not attacks. You are now free to release the music inside you, rather than attacking it!

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