Wednesday, July 17, 2013

When Losers Win

"I am sorry but no one advanced from your round.  Thank you for coming."  To make it worse, this announcement is delivered with absolutely no emotion or sympathy.  Equally painful is that deafening silence that follows one of your less than perfect excerpts. Oh, and there is that infamous verdict: "Thank you. Next." Life is not good.

We can learn a lot about ourselves when under the pressures of competing and performing. It's decision time. Will it be depression or motivation?  A loss doesn't define you. It serves instead as your most effective instructor.  Don't give up. Losing is part of progressing. Consider this ordeal your best lesson, not a judgment. This is not the end, but the beginning of a wiser and much improved trumpet player. You lost that battle, but the war is still yours for the taking. 

Appreciate that you have just been given a more focused practice agenda! We don't have hundreds of notes to waste each day.  Every note counts, exactly the audition scenario!  Work on eliminating that which will eliminate you.  Strap onto your bell an anti-dismissal filter which allows only excellence to escape.  Don't ever remove it!  Next time, try as they might, the committee won't be able to find anything wrong with your playing.  Even better, they'll find lots to like.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Audition Priority

What would you say is the most important thing you can do to win an audition? What is likely going to be the deal-breaker for the committee?  Multiple choice:
Is it great TONE, demonstrating great RHYTHM, showing all the DYNAMICS, playing with amazing STYLE, and/or exuding enormous CONFIDENCE?  Doesn't that about cover it all?

We might be able to rack up high marks on sound, dynamics, expression, rhythm, and style.  But without a high degree of accuracy, the whole product is unsellable.  Without accuracy, you are hoping the committee will be willing to take a huge risk.  Few are willing to gamble on a hit-or-miss player. 

Simply, you must never miss.  You play with all of the above goodies, but you must be all nails.  Hit the target center with every note.  With that skill and mindset in your arsenal, you can't miss!

Friday, July 05, 2013


Which one of these faces is you?  The smirk, the grimace, the deadpan expression, the angry, goofy, playful, proud, the furtive?  Shades of expression seem endless.  Never mind your temperament or personality type. You have your many masks to hide behind.  It's OK. Play the part. In any performance you will have to strap on any one of these masks and enjoy it, so get used to it.

Have someone observe your playing.  What do they hear, and what do they see?  Is your playing bland, colorless, and always the same with no variety? Don't bore your observers and listeners!  Boring doesn't sell. 

Oh, and just when you might be getting comfortable with your new persona, you must be able to turn on a dime and swap masks.  There's nothing like acting!  Performing is convincing. Go ahead and play the part.