Sunday, January 23, 2011

Just Gimme Five!

How reliable are you at starting? Are you like a sluggish lawn mower requiring several sputtering chugs to get going? Or are you like a prize race horse at the start of the Kentucky Derby chomping at the bit and ready to bolt? ("They're off!)

Most of us feel that we can compete with the great ones once we get going, when we are good and ready. "Wait. Give me half a dozen false starts, and then I'm good." Wrong.

Unfortunately, the audition committee doesn't have that kind of time, and the audience didn't pay big bucks to hear us eventually get it right by the tenth try. So the bar suddenly is raised a bunch. Nail it now, or don't bother! The reality is that all of our bullets count. There are no practice rounds allowed! That's why your first notes matter. The Cleveland guys years ago would aim at picking up the horn cold and being able to play the week's hardest lick perfectly.

Look at your trumpet, resting there in your left hand. In the course of your music demands, it must morph into a high powered rifle, or even an AK47. Cool! Keep watching though and before your very eyes it becomes a sharp needle deftly inserting itself into a mosaic of percussion and screaming woodwinds. Next it camouflages itself to blend back into the winds (our least favorite assignment!). Whether it's a blunder bust belch, or a soft wispy moment, we must be on it. Our conductor is Jack Bauer yelling at us "DO IT NOW!"

Target practice, anyone? How about playing only the first five seconds of each passage? For audition preparation, just start the very beginning of each excerpt, capturing immediately the correct mood, articulation, intonation, rhythm, dynamics, etc. Nail it from the get go.

A weary audition committee might only listen to your first few notes before returning to their magazines. You can win with great entrances! Remember, don't finish anything for now, just start it! You're not running the mile, just getting a good jump off the starting blocks. How many times can you nail it with almost no prep time? You will soon become a quick-draw musical machine!

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