Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Audition for cardboard cut-outs

Ahh, jury time has arrived. That joyous time when nervous college students must get in front of a panel and prove their worth, musically.

When I hear stories about rampant cheating on college campuses I sometimes think, "Well the jury is one place where they can't cheat."

Whether it's a jury or an audition, I suspect many people have that feeling, upon walking out of the room, "Man, I want another shot at that. I just wasn't quite ready."

So here's a strange thought:

Set up a pre-jury "jury room" with cardboard cutouts of that scary panel frowning at you. Run through your program, then head into the real room.

Yeah, it probably wouldn't work (especially for those wimpy trumpets who can't seem to play more than about 6 minutes without their chops giving out!) but it's interesting to think about.

I guess, for now, we'll have to stick to mental run-throughs. You know: visualizing a great audition/jury.

Everybody does that regularly, right?


(cue cricket sound)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Like lifting with a tourniquet

Ah mouthpiece pressure. It so easily creeps into the playing.

For those of us who are light-skinned, we often see a white ring on the lips immediately after the mouthpiece is removed.

I like to call this the "white ring of death"

Notice how that white ring quickly turns into a red ring.

In case it isn't obvious, I'm guessing those changes of color might have something to do with blood. As in,
white=blood has been squeezed out by mouthpiece pressure
red=blood rushing back in

Now, I'm no expert but I seem to recall learning in school that blood does good things for muscles. Let's see....nutrients....OXYGEN.

Hmm, so what happens to those muscles (you know the ones we rely on to sound good) when we cut off the blood supply?????

Imaging going to the gym and seeing someone lifting weights with a tourniquet around their arms.

Ok, so as I often do, I ran a Google image search with the keywords "weightlifting" and "tourniquet" I didn't really expect to find anything. And then, boom, there it is: kaatsu training in which people actually lift while starving the muscles for blood.

I don't know but this REALLY sounds like a bad idea. Let's just safely say that it might not work for brass players.

(on the other hand, what are the odds that I'll go to one of these conventions and find some new miracle product designed to increase mouthpiece pressure. Maybe the Power Lung guys will the seize opportunity for a new product line here)

The blog's not dead yet

OK, so my last post was on Feb. 4th and now it is April 23rd.

One former student declared my blog officially dead. In those great words of Monty Python, "I'm not dead yet"

Some explanation...
Much of my inspiration for this blog comes directly from teaching lessons. Often during a lesson I hit on an idea that is "blogworthy."

For 8 weeks in the middle of this semester, I was granted a half sabbatical to work on the Simply Singing Books. During that time, not only was I not teaching (fewer ideas popping up) but I also wanted to devote a lot of time/energy to the books. Like most projects, they take up more time and energy than I thought they would.

I also worked on some other projects including writing a new fanfare, not for trombone week but the UT Austin trombone choir for this summer's ITF. If they like, you'll hear them play it. As requested, it is basically a medley of Texas tunes. I wrote it for solo quartet over trombone octet.

I also invested quite a few afternoons and evenings in one of my non-musical pursuits/obsessions: coaching a FIRST LEGO League robotics team. The kids I worked with (ages 9-13 on our team) won the state championship and recently competed at the FIRST World Festival in Atlanta. Great experience but very consuming. Not much time left over for blogging.

However, I hope to get it moving again.