Sunday, September 03, 2017
Your own Personal Trainer
Your personal trainer is your own mouthpiece. Play perfectly in tune and with your best tone. Be the best buzzer ever! Buzz with no fuzz. Be very picky. Win the audition with superior buzzing. If it's great on the mouthpiece, it'll be fabulous on the horn.
Monday, May 15, 2017
Great performances follow great rehearsals. Great rehearsals require great practicing. And great practicing is characterized by clear thinking. Needed: daily generous doses of sanity.
Helpful adjectives for your practice sessions: calm, patient, organized, purposeful, controlled. Not: frantic, hurried, haphazard, out-of-control.
Inspired energetic playing must first be disciplined. Inspiration without discipline is as useless as discipline without inspiration. You must develop both, but discipline comes first. At the end of your day, you want to be satisfied that you worked efficiently, not frustrated that nothing happened. The improvement you want won't happen with fruitless frantic flailing.
Sloppy practice never produced a polished performance, but it does give your nerve demons permission to wreak havoc on your performance! Preparing to do your best is better than hoping for the best, which is insanity.
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Getting a Good Grip
Years ago an orchestra colleague was commenting on Maurice Andre's amazing clarity. I'll never forget his six-word summary: "He has contact with every note!"
What does every note require? A clean start, centered pitch, and a good sound. Great players take excellent care of their notes.
There's a quick fix for sloppy articulation, poor accuracy, and faulty intonation. Simply slow down and get a grip on each note. A more relaxed pace gives the brain and the ears a chance to focus on vital details. Only after you can hear an individual note, can you begin the polishing process. Think slow-motion cleansing.
Imagine that every pure note you play rewards you with a crisp ten dollar bill. How much money would you accumulate by the end of the day, if any? Or, if you could cut and paste any of your random notes, would they sound good enough to splice into the Pictures Promenade?
Consider your driving. You shouldn't speed frantically through neighborhoods, blowing past stop signs, riding on sidewalks, and recklessly doing wheelies on private property! No, you carefully obey all traffic signs keeping control of the car at all times. Play as well as you drive. Handle all notes with care. Quality-control matters.
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