Thursday, August 20, 2009

No Cash for Clunkers!

Playing trumpet is not a sit-back-and-give-it-a-go endeavor. You shouldn't sound like you are lounging on a couch watching TV with your legs crossed. You have to stay on this thing or it rules you. To be a master at it, you must be constantly mastering it. A casual half hearted approach won't get it done. You must tell the horn what to do. If you tell it nothing, that's how you will sound.

Two things are needed in your daily work: a good note and a good phrase of good notes. You need a centered, ringing, vibrant core to each note with no muffling or pinching. Even if slow is the only way you can do this, fine. You can play faster later. Next, you must know what you want to do with your nicely polished notes. They have to do something, go somewhere, say something. Each note must have intensity, direction and drive, not static and decaying boredom. Listen to the opening of Mahler 5, Pictures, Pines, or the Leonore calls. That's your goal: all good notes that make sense fitting into the phrase.

So, this is not brain surgery. All you need to do is play good notes and a good phrase. "No problem. That's what I do", you say? Well, listen again. Chances are you are a bit careless and not used to listening for and expecting first-rate quality from yourself. You don't need a ton of notes, just a few very good ones. Get used to producing top quality sounds even on the first notes of your warm up. You will get paid nicely at the end of the day if 95% of your note-production is juicy, sparkling, rich, resonant, focused and clear! There is no cash for clunkers!

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