Saturday, October 24, 2009

Flying Safely Under the Radar

Most trumpet players don't have trouble being heard. Problems tend to happen when we have to not be heard! Owning the stage is not always our job description as much as it is to blend and get out of the way. Remaining relatively unnoticed is often our most difficult assignment. Can you do it?

Performance in low decibels does not mean playing with low intensity. Soft does not mean boring, tense, or tentative. The trick is to perform comfortably and agreeably in all dynamic ranges. (Oh, to always be at home, home in the range.)

Imagine that you are a great operatic tenor-in-training, just itching to belt out your favorite romantic aria. However, instead of the concert stage, you are on a baby-sitting job with the sleeping child within earshot. You just gotta sing because it's in your blood, but it has to be very soft. Can you do it?

Can you play all the loud licks in pp with equal enthusiasm, spontaneity, and control? Flying under the radar doesn't mean we are certain to crash. It means we still perform with maneuverability, flexibility, and musicality.

Why don't you build a large cut-out of a conductor's big left hand? Fix it to a bobble-head type contraption so that it waves and jerks at you while you practice, insisting that you stop your loud blowings. Get used to it. Our task is to comply and play beautifully no matter how far under the radar we must play. Can you do it?

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