Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Fearsome Five

NEWS FLASH: The Fearsome Five have taken over Trombonopolis!!  Citizens cower in fear.
What can be done??

Who are these evil villains?  Five notes that insinuate themselves into our daily repertoire lives and wreak havoc!  Run for for lives!!! (or listen and adjust...your choice, really)

Namely: five notes which show up a lot in our rep and have some pitch issues.

1. The Incredible Sinking G

Just as you hope to sail above the world in your tonal glory, the Incredible Sinking G is there to flatten your spirits. FLAT

2. The Shape Shifter (G-flat/F-sharp)

This is a sneaky one folks!  Is it a G-flat?  Is it an F-sharp?  Each one points the finger of blame at the other but the result is the same...FLAT

3. The Not-So-Safe F

Oh, so you thought first position was safe, huh??  You thought you could just pull into that safe harbor and nothing could go wrong?  Think again, bub.  It's SHARP.

4. Not-So-EEEasy

Oh, it's just 2nd position. What could possibly go wrong?  Mu-ha-ha-ha-ha (SHARP)
5. The Evil King: E-Not-So-Flat

The King of the Fearsome Five: the E-flat.  SHARP 
He has the terrifying ability to bend your mind into believing the "sharp is good, sharp is good, sharp is good"  Nooooooo!!

Calling the Trombone Avengers!  Sally forth and do most noble battle with these Fearsome Foes.  Do not let them win.  In the name of all (tuning) that is good, we must prevail.

Now returning you to your regularly scheduled broadcast.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Attacking Uncrustables

As I teach, I experiment.

In a recent lesson, a student was asking about how to get more "ping" in his articulations and I tried something new: I had him sustain some higher notes while I recorded him.  Then, while playing back the recording, I turned the speakers on and off.

Specifically, I watched the level meter on my Zoom recorder and, after it jumped to show the note was being held, I quickly turned on the speakers.

The effect: a perfect attack with just the ping he had been looking for!

Time for a little gooey Zen:
 The best attack is no attack.  
In other words, one instant there is silence, the next instant there is tone.  No part of the note can be separately labeled as "the attack."
The tone. Just. Begins.
Or, to put it in more physical terms:
The lips. Just. Begin vibrating.

This reminds me of that old saying (one of my favorites):
The bread is made of the same ingredients no matter how thinly you slice it.

So true, HOWEVER, one could argue that, once baked, bread has a crust.  Dang, now my nice metaphor is under attack!

Hmmm, I'm reminded of those kids who can't stand crust on their bread.  Think of those poor parents slaving away to remove crust from the bread.
(kind of a first-world problem, but I digress)

Ahh, but leave to our friends in the corporate marketing world to scramble to our rescue!

I found a news article in 2002, announcing that the Sara Lee corp. would now offer crustless bread.

Nice, but the grand prize in the "Baked Goods Useful in Describing Brass Articulation" category must go out to our friends in the Smuckers Corporation for that brilliant dietary innovation, the uncrustable.

I have no plans to eat this glop any time soon but my ravenous hunger for stretched metaphors knows no limits!