Sunday, November 14, 2010

Wagner at the Ballpark

OK, bass trombones. Here's a little something I cooked up on the fly the other day. It's nothing fancy but may be useful.

It is the famous Rheingold excerpt played using an organ setting in general midi. The tempo is quarter note - 60.

Yeah, I know it uses equal temperament but you may find that french horn section isn't planning on just intonation. If you can lock in with this, it's a good start at any rate..

Here's the mp3 file.

If you want to tweak it, here's the midi file.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hippos and Cheetahs

I originally posted this in 2010 but it seems to be coming up again a lot in lessons.  See at the bottom for additional thoughts..

When I'm working up challenging licks (such as those found in the Gottschalk Sonata which I'm premiering tomorrow) I can use a variety of strategies.Add Image

There's the old "notch by notch approach." You know, slow it down and then work it up bit by bit.

There's the variation "up three, down two." Start slow, move up three (old-fashioned) notches on the metronome and then down two."

The one I keep going back to might be called "hippos and cheetahs." Basically, I like to oscillate between hippo speed and cheetah speed.

In other words, play it nice and slow. Then, play it at the fast goal tempo.

Usually the best ratio is two cheetahs to one hippo.

Try it. Let me know if it works for you.

Additional thoughts..
As you try this practice technique, keep an eye on your tension levels.  I'm going to go with the theory that our friend the hippo is a pretty mellow dude.  So, as you play that very slow, mellow approach, maintain a "hippo" frame of mind.  Then, when you kick into "cheetah mode" be very mindful that the tension levels don't spike.
One other thought: it is best to apply this practice technique to small batches of notes instead of whole pieces or phrases.  Just a couple of measures in most cases.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Best Bio Ever?

Thanks for Harold van Schaik for forwarding this to me. It is the online bio for William Barnewitz, Principal Horn of the Milwaukee Symphony.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Another brick in the wall

OK, I'm not referring to the Pink Floyd song. I believe that phrase was around before they came along.

As we practice our instruments and hone our craft, it is sometimes useful to think of all that work as building something good. So each scale, each lip slur, each etude, each excerpt run is another brick in the wall of good playing.

But another image occurred to me. Perhaps there is another wall we are building...

"I didn't feel like doing fundamentals this morning."
"I forgot to bring in an extra copy of the score for you to look at"
"I don't have my recorder today."
"I went away with friends for the weekend and didn't practice."
"I didn't check my lesson notes and forgot that was assigned."
"I haven't fixed that dent in my slide."

Taken individually, each one of these things isn't a game-changer. But, oh, how they add up!
Each little "I didn't" or "I forgot" is like another brick in the wall of bad playing.

This is the wall that stands between you and what you thought you wanted to achieve.

Each of your actions is a brick.
Which wall are you building?