Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Making a Splash

In auditions winners are usually noticed quickly, like from their first notes!  So why tiptoe into the music?  Why not jump right in and make a grand musical splash from the get go?  Go for it. Just lift the bell, aim, and fire!

Some excerpts like the octave call in Zarathustra are like a cannonball splash, while others demand a smooth unobtrusive beginning.  In all cases however, there must be a precise entry point.  Let's practice that.  Make all entrances notable, whether for shock and awe, or for sly subtlety. A great sound always impresses.

(Suggestion for practice: Play the 3-second game, and save your chops.  Just practice getting off the starting block.  Start your excerpt, and then quickly stop it.  You are Quick-Draw, the master excerpt starter.  Remember, you are out to perfect just the first 3 seconds of every excerpt, an enviable and rewarding skill!  This will help train all instincts to be on instant command!)

Take the Ravel Piano Concerto.  You're allowed one brief muted sizzle before bursting right onto the scene in full attack mode, firing nonstop for the next 15 seconds.  Your notes are spikes.  Think "pokey, pointy, perky, snappy, bitey, cocky".  Your playing must be bold, crisp, and unafraid.  It's not a lullaby.  Think percussion.  Aim and shoot.  Oh, one thing: no misfires allowed, only bulls eyes. So set your embouchure for all the notes, and hit all of them in one blow with no letting up.

Next up: the opening to Schumann Symphony No. 2.  This calls for an entirely different approach.  Picture yourself swimming slowly beside a gliding swan.  No splashing, splattering or sputtering is permitted. You will scare the swan. Think "graceful, elegant, quiet, and smooth."  Now breathe accordingly.  Big bucks are awaiting those who master this one.

Whatever the demands, the first notes are vital for your security and for securing the job.  Auditions are always too short, so make the most of those few minutes.  Make a great impression immediately.

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