Thursday, October 13, 2005

Formulas, formulas

You may know this one (not original):
P - I = R
Potential minus interference equals result.
In other words, your performance is your potential (the best you can possibly play) minus all the stuff that holds you back.

Let me expand this ...
P=SC + F
"SC" stands for sound concept. You're about to play a piece...do really know exactly how you want it to sound? (Be honest, have you marked in the breaths, decided on nuances like vibrato, degree of attack, etc.).
"F" stands for fundamentals. Assuming that you really know what you want the piece to sound like, do you have the command over your instrument to produce the exact result you hear in your head? Do you end up playing mezzo piano because you can't control your tone at piano? Do you resort to "wah" attacks because you can't "ping" the notes cleanly?

I=T+D
"T" stands for tension. If you allow your body to tense up in a performance, the fundamentals won't work to bring forward your sound concept. Relaxation is crucial.
"D" stands for distraction. Anything that takes your mind off the task at hand. There are two types of distraction: external and internal. If a comet crashes through the roof during your performance, you might not play as well as planned. Internal distractions are any thoughts other than the phrase at hand. Thoughts like:
"Man, I hope I don't blow this."
"Wow, this is going really well."
"I wonder what the listeners think of me."
I like to think of nervousness as simply a matter of
attention focus. If you are immersed in the phrase of the moment, it's hard to be nervous because you are focused away from yourself.

What does this all mean?

Well, maybe it can simplify things. If these formulas work, there are only four things you need to focus on:
Sound Concept
Fundamentals
Tension
Distraction

What else is there.
(Sound Concept+Fundamentals) - (Tension+Distaction) = Result

Ouch, too much math for a trombone brain.


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