Monday, March 29, 2010

Assembling Petroushka

Ding dong. It's the UPS man. You dash to the door to find your package, your very own dancing Ballerina! As you rip open the box you notice the assembly instructions in very large print:


Not a problem you say. What's the deal? She'll be twirling for only 25 seconds. That's just 163 notes, only 25 measures, and not even enough time to get tired! What's more, you don't even need your third valve. Stravinsky's Ballerina is a piece of cake!

Now for the assembly. You will notice that your Ballerina comes in five parts. Each part consists of notes which must be fastened snugly together so that they do not come apart during her performance. See to it that you complete each part before assembling the next. Note: each part is uncomplicated, but the trick is in putting them together seamlessly. The dancer must appear to change gears effortlessly.

PART #1 contents: 4 packages of a 12-note, 2-bar arpeggio in F (salute)

PART #2 contents: 4 packages (A and B) of 15-note scale fragments (soft noodles)

PART #3 contents: 3-bar, 21-note bold bolt up the hill and back (gush of steady air)

PART #4 contents: 3 bounces, 2 hills - 25 notes (hiccups and hills)

PART #5 contents: 1 final burst of 9 notes (and stay out!)

When all parts are in place your 3-note announcement will activate the Ballerina. She will start to dance at the sound of the snare drum.

WARNING: Some ballerinas have been reported to fall on their faces. There will be no factory recalls. Your ballerina will dance like a total klutz unless every part is prepared properly! Manufacturer is NOT responsible for damage due to careless assembly.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Speed Kills

Does life behind the mouthpiece sometimes feel like there's a camera on the front of your bell, and you're on a high speed bobsled going ninety miles an hour? All the notes are flying by faster than they can be processed. We're on a race desperately trying to maintain control, dropping more notes than we nail. Is this a trumpet or a runaway Toyota? Somebody help!

Remember what Dad did when the family would get lost on vacation trips? He drove faster! Why is it that the harder the passage, the faster we go? Instead of the panic button, we should hit the brakes. With treacherous curves at every turn, cooler heads and slower practice speeds ought to prevail.

Dr. Phil has a two-word remedy for this ailment: SLOW DOWN! Everything improves at slower speeds. Notes can be seen, heard and controlled much better in slow motion. Think paycheck. You only get paid for well-played notes, period. Why not perfect as many notes as you can at your own comfortable tempo? High speeds may be resumed when conditions are safe.