Sunday, October 24, 2010

What's the Big Idea? - Fall 2010

Here's something new I've been trying in lessons this semester. All the students have a "big idea" journal (actually, they have two: one on paper and one online). While most of the entries come out of lessons, sometimes they do add in some of their revelations from practicing.
Now that we are at the halfway point of our semester, I thought it might be interesting to put together a random listing of "Big Ideas"
  • Think about dynamic interest; Play long notes with musical interest.
  • For technical licks: 1. Find the trouble spot (don’t always start from the beginning 2. For practice tempo, think hippos and cheetahs
  • Stop saying “I can’t” Yes, some things are hard - do you want to live without challenges?;
  • When you do long tones - start every note centered with confidence;
  • Stand tall, bring instrument to you. Don’t tuck under the stand.
  • To improve, you must remember;
  • Fundamentals are the key to everything
  • If it doesn’t sound good, break it down to something more simple. Get to the point where it sounds good (get creative with it) and then take baby steps back again;
  • Using drones helps with intonation, who would have thought?
  • Insert the wrong note on purpose to improve slide accuracy ;
  • Don’t give on your long notes - that’s your chance to sing;
  • In loud, dotted rhythms look out for the little guy; mentally connect it to the following note so they are one thing.

    Enough for now. I hope some of this has been good food for thought.

    Feel free to contribute any recent "big ideas" in your comments.


Russ Zokaites said...

The translation of a musical idea into physical output (air)

Will said...

Unfortunately some of these things can get mis-interpreted. Suppose I take something out of context...

"Fundamentals are the key to everything"

Well, this needs a little bit of clarification. Fundamentals for most of us consists of things like scales, lip slurs, articulation exercises, range extensions, air flow, buzz, smooth legato... and so forth. If I have these, then I must be the best trombone player I can be.

Unfortunately, these attributes are all great in their bundled package, but even if you have all of these things, there are some things that aren't included: musical interest, tension and release, flow, timbre changing appropriate to the musical line, intensity.

These are a bit more abstract concepts and can't fall into our "fundamentals" grouping often times. It's important to keep the eye on the goal while we practice. I think this is something that is resounding in my life right now... going back to putting my eye on the goal.

As for the 'I can't' comment. I believe it is okay to say the words "I can't". It's an important realization in our lives. However, I only think it's appropriate when one more word is involved.

"I can't, yet."