Thursday, February 18, 2010

Trumpets Go for the Gold

Nervous excitement is in the air this week as dozens of the world's finest trumpeters are gathered in Cincinnati to compete for the gold at the 2010 Trumpolympics. Five separate competitions will be held with the winner receiving the greatest number of points from each of five panels of judges.

First round contestants will be judged solely on RHYTHM. Round two will be heard by the PITCH police. DYNAMICS will be the focus on day three. The ARTICULATION contest follows, and the final round will be heard by the prestigious MUSICALITY panel. The winner will be awarded the coveted Golden Tone Trophy. Runner up will receive the Silver Bell Award, and the third place trophy will go to the worst of the three. She or he will get to take home an unplated miniature Bronze Bust of Vincent Bach.

Let's listen in as advice is being offered from past contestants:

Pay attention now, gals and guys. This is important. Remember that Rhythm Judges will be deducting points big time for faults such as rushing and for playing a triplet instead of a dotted eighth note followed by a sixteenth. This panel is fanatical. What they see in the score better be what they get. Speed monitors that they are, they bristle at wrong tempos and at all things unsteady. You will notice their yellow pencils tapping impetuously and their feet stomping involuntarily as they try to correct you while you are playing. Consider yourself warned. They are nasty and unforgiving, but if you can keep them calm and provoke a nod of approval or a slight grin, you're in!

The Pitch Police are likewise very strict and intolerant of anything even slightly sharp or flat, especially sharp. If you don't make pitch corrections immediately, you're burnt toast. Just like their tuners, they will instantly signal out-of-tune and have you waved to the side of the stage. Like highway patrolmen, they are more alert to offenders than to law-abiding drivers. Your assignment is to keep them from bothering you. If you are a highly skilled pitch-finder, you'll be fine. No pressure.

The Dynamics Panel is equally nit-picky. You'll notice they constantly have their heads in the score listening for faults. They are like crowd-counters, quickly clicking their mistake buttons with every perceived decibel infraction. Don't ignore any dynamic markings! Even the smallest detail matters, for they are the sacred guardians of every dynamic the composer ever wrote. To satisfy them you must consider yourself an efficient volume-monitoring machine. This can actually be a fun ride, so let this game begin.

The Articulation Committee is your next venue. They will be listening for every kind of note beginning indicated by the composer. You will need articulations ranging from pickax to cotton swab with everything in between! Remember: different strokes for different notes! One size does not fit all. Knowing the style will help you style the notes. Clubbing, stuttering, and splitting will immediately get you yanked from the competition, so control your flow, guys. Think clean, smooth and focused.

Now for your last hurtle you must elicit raves from the snootiest of committees, the Musicality Monitors. These judges will be looking for you to score high marks for nuance, expression, drama and overall showmanship. They tend to look the other way on details from the other committees, but they do expect to be dazzled. Just think AMERICAN IDOL.

"Summon the Heroes" is now starting to echo throughout our huge contest hall, so toi-toi, y'all. Get out there and have the time of your lives! (thundering applause)

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