What do the goal posts on a football field have in common with the lane in a bowling alley, and does this have anything to do with trumpet playing? Can kickers and bowlers teach us anything? For the kicker, life is about delivering his three points with consistency. The bowler is about totaling up points by toppling as many pins as possible. Of course there are no points for awkwardly spilling the ball into the gutter. For both athletes, it's nail it, or come up empty. Genius or klutz. Money or none.
Three-point attempts can make heroes or goats, and the clumsy gutter ball is just plain embarrassing. Don't you hate it when the crowd rubs it in by chanting "air ball, air ball" at a basketball game, as if the poor guy did not already know he missed everything? (Now there's a nightmare scenario if that ever happened at trumpet recitals!) Speaking of missing everything, if the artist on the flying trapeze is careless or distracted easily, it's game over. Good things happen though, when they are nailed securely.
I wonder if kickers ever practice with narrower than normal-sized goal posts. What if bowlers in order to refine their skills practiced on especially narrow lanes with very wide gutters? How about the trapeze artist grasping for an extra small rung on a really tiny swing? Talk about crash and burn stage fright! Or think about the soldier training to cross a field full of buried explosives. Absolutely no room for error!
The point is not to be worried to death about missing the mark, but be to be challenged and encouraged about making the mark. We need to raise the bar by narrowing the posts. If it's wide to the left, short, or wide right, we come up empty.
Think about going for the heart of the note, the very center of the pitch, the meatiest, richest part of it. There is no playing around the edges allowed. In the core of the note is the best quality and the most resonance - pay dirt, if you will. Accuracy also improves when there is no tolerance for playing in the cracks. The adjectives "sloppy" and "unreliable" should not describe our playing. We should be able to walk fearlessly onto the mound in the bottom of the ninth inning and deliver nothing but strikes right down the heart of the plate!!
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