Monday, October 28, 2013

Don't listen!

Question:  When the late great Luciano Pavarotti sang, was he constantly listening to himself, evaluating, and making adjustments based on how he felt at the moment?  Or, was he totally consumed with the dramatic impact of the music?

What is your strategy for the day of the big performance?  Are you already anticipating playing it safe and second-guessing yourself?  Don't plan to fail.  Prepare to perform.

Assuming all of your detail work has been thorough, you are now in a very enviable place!  A great percentage of your playing was detailed and analytical.  Now you have earned the right to totally perform.  Don't drag the practice room onto the stage, and don't be listening to yourself.  Just play! 


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Just Singin'

Singing is great preparation for playing!  For some reason creative instincts are much less hampered when the trumpet is nowhere in sight.  Drama is more likely to happen that way. Try it.

As I was preparing for an important audition years ago, a good friend challenged me to sing each excerpt, and give it everything I had.  The game was to pretend that the committee was going to award the job to the singer who best represented everything the composer intended. I scoffed and insisted that no gimmicks were needed.  My playing was good enough as it was.  He persisted however, and I was surprised to see and hear the results of our little drama class.

After some awkward moments of my pitiful croaking, we noticed that expression drastically improved.  Phrasing and subtleties were noticeably better. Rhythm was steadier, and the music was less cautious and much more interesting.  He snapped, "Don't just crank it out, play it!"  Now it was game on!

More of his butt-whipping: "Project the music to the back of the hall.  Wake the committee up. Instantly capture the drama of every excerpt."  Concerning auditions, it was the great Arnold Jacobs who summed it up, "At the audition, you must simply play better than everybody else."

Summary: Obey everything on the page.  Sing it perfectly, and then begin to copy that with the trumpet.  Either we will follow the trumpet, or it will be made to follow us!