Friday, September 16, 2011

An Event Like None Other

Welcome to new and returning CCM trumpet students! One might expect some stress-free social or any instrument-free event to ease the transition from beach to books, and from travel to toil. But no, your unglamorous first assignment even before day one? Take an audition. The sheer shock of it! Congratulations to all of you for shaking off summer and tackling Berlioz, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, de Falla, as well as your solo/etude of choice. Some thoughts on days like this:

An audition can be like having to swallow bitter medicine. Or, like being rudely searched at airport security, or being forced to endure a root canal without Novocain, or being required to play the Buckeyes with no helmets on. If not a physical pummeling, audition-playing can definitely be a mental one. The contest can be embarrassing, humiliating, and even discouraging. That's the bad truth.

The good truth is that we must admit that auditions are perhaps the best learning experience available. Learning to get through the negative emotions is a large part of the challenge. In about ten minutes you just showed yourself exactly where you need improvement. You are forced to confront reality straight in the mirror. If we want to like what we see (and what we hear), adjustments must be made. Auditions hand us our agenda for specific practice. The best part of the day should be your assessment of your performance, your very own sheet of will-dos.

One more important item: mastery of the instrument is our goal of course, but our motivation is not just technical ability. Musical expression, drama, energy, style, and story-telling will go a lot further in sustaining your interest than just checklists of technical details. The former approach helps tremendously with nerves. Your mission is more about the musical message than it is about trying to reach note perfection. Effectively communicating music to the committee and the audience is what this business is about. In fact, how about less "business" and more artistry?

The Auditions: an event like none other.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Dumpster Day!

This is a great time to rent one of those enormous Rumpke dumpsters! Let's call it the Trumpke dumpster. Haul it right up to your practice room door and load it up. In goes junk, garbage and all manner of notes, chipped, cracked, dropped, bumped, banged, flattened, roughed up, broken and smashed. Totally clean out that practice area. From now on it's each note in its place. No clutter, no junk.

You have too few notes to waste, if any. Your daily notes should be destined for eager ears, not the garbage heap. Before sending out your huge quantity of daily notes, consider where they will end up, land fill, or pay dirt! This can be a very fun project each day. You'll be playing less, and listeners (including you) will be enjoying it more.