Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Playing for a Living?

It seems like we struggle with half of our brains tied behind our backs, and yet wonder why our trumpet-playing is more boring than rewarding. We go about our days cleaning, dusting, mopping, scrubbing, polishing and maybe even doing a thorough job of it. Yet half of our brain often lies dormant as our most productive weapon is bound and gagged. The Seven Dwarfs seemed to have learned this lesson in spite of their handicapped temperaments. They "Whistled While They Worked" and sang "Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it's off to work we go!" Can that fantasy become reality?

Our assignments involve lots of technique work for sure. You can't avoid a thorough focus on basic issues of playing even for a single day. But how can they become a welcome challenge without a total meltdown of musical enjoyment? That's the difficulty.

This is not about being an obnoxious Pollyanna in the workplace, but rather in the practice room. The secret to a rewarding music career is learning to enjoy the work (as much as possible.) For example, can octave work also be considered a musical project? Can arpeggios be artistic? Must all scales only function as wallpaper designs in a score? How about slow warm-up slurs? Do they have to be a-musical? Where does it demand that all very high notes must sound strained and too loud? Does intonation-fixing have to be musically void? Are static notes useful in recitals? Can concerto work be more than an accuracy contest? Is it possible to transpose and sound good at the same time?

You've heard it said about some players that they did not seem to have a musical bone in their bodies? For others, it seemed that they could not play an unmusical note even if they tried! It must be a matter of developing musical instincts. A rewarding music career is not just about an awesome technique, or a beautiful expressive tone. A successful musician, no matter what the venue, is one who learns to enjoy working musically on a daily basis. Without the fun, it is only a job. Play for a living.




Ian said...

Mr. Collins it is great to read some of your posts. I had that rewarding experience of studying with one of your friends. Dr. Paul Rathke. He had many great things to say about you and Paul became a major part of my life both as a trumpet player and a believer. I was blessed to have him as a mentor in so many aspects of my life. It is great to see strong musicians that are great examples of Christ. Thank-you for being an example.
Ian Burgess

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