Monday, December 18, 2006

It's not Easy Bein' GGGGGGGreen

And now for a trip down memory lane ...
In a previous post, I talked about my spectacular solo debut on "Young MacDonald had a Farm"

Fast forward to my junior high days and a glowing chance to be cool playing in the jazz band. Along comes that Kermit ballad, "It's Not Easy Bein' Green." Big trombone feature and it starts on a G.

Here's the catch: that note was bit of a problem for me. All on its own it wanted to split into two octaves.
"Oh great, now I have to stand up and play a solo starting on my worst note."

(I survived)

I still remember my "angry F-sharp" practice session while working on my master's in Cincinnati. After a lesson with Tony Chipurn in which I couldn't buy a clean attack on an F-sharp, I sequestered myself in a practice room and proceeded to play F-sharp over and over for about a half hour.

Finally, one of my friends knocked on the door, "Hey man, are you alright?"

Fast forward to the present day. Now, I've seen a lot of students and I gotta say, there's something about G and F-sharp (4th partial). I have one student who went through an embouchure change and sure enough those were the notes that gave him fits. Another student was recently playing Hungarian March in preparation for a professional audition. When I got nit-picky about clean attacks, guess which note was the culprit time and again. You guessed it: the G. (best intoned like "Da Bears")

This can't be chance. Is it the acoustics of the horn? Is it a slight embouchure shift? Is it just a big psyche-out? Well I think it's more than just that.

Without any prompting from me, my students succeed in struggling just a bit more on these pesky little notes.

Time for new lyrics?
"It's not that easy playin' G.
Havin' to spend each day pounding away on F-sharp, too
When I think it could be nicer playin' A or F or E-flat
Or somethin' much more stable like that.

etc. etc.