Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Winnie the Pooh (and Eeyore too!)

One day in the Hundred-Acre Wood, Winnie the Pooh sat in the shade of a tree feeling quite content.

Along came Owl, his face a thoughtful scowl.

"Why Mr. Owl, how do you do?  Come sit with me in the shade!" called Pooh
"No time for that now my little friend," replied Owl.  Owl began walking in circles muttering, "Oh vexation, vexation, is it the tongue or the air?  The tongue or the air?"
Pooh watched him circle for a bit and finally asked, "You look worried what's wrong?"
Mr Owl replied, "Well, I recently acquired this trombone and I ever so want to play it well!  I've read all the learned books on the matter and remain uncertain about the correct approach to articulation.  Should one focus on the tongue?  If so, where is that tongue to be placed?  Or is one better advised to focus solely on the air?  Oh, I should have consulted my great uncle, Owlther Pryor.  He was quite the trombonist, you know."

Well, Pooh had long ago stopped listening as Owl droned on.  His tummy was getting grumbly and he thought it might be time for a spot of honey.  He got up to see if he had any in his kitchen when Owl asked, "But where are you going?  You haven't helped me with my problem?"

"Who, me?" replied Pooh.
"Yes, you...Pooh" replied Owl.
"Pooh what?" replied Pooh.
"Oh bother!" shouted Owl, "Pooh, pooh, pooh, how should I articulate notes?? "
"Pooh?" replied Owl.

Owl thought for  a moment and exclaimed, "Why yes, that's it!!  Just say 'Pooh' and don't worry about the tongue synchronizing with the air! Pooh, you're a genius!  Thank you so much!"

"Your welcome?" replied Pooh.

Later, after a hearty meal of honey, Pooh was napping under that same tree when along came Eeyore.
Eeyore mumbled and grumbled, "Oh bother.  Oh bother.  Why did I ever agree to play the low notes in Owl's new trombone quartet?"
Pooh awoke and asked, "What's wrong, Eeyore?"
Eeyore sighed, "Well, you see, Mr Owl is forming a trombone quartet and wants me to play the fourth part.   I don't know why, nobody ever asks me to do anything."
"Maybe he just wants to play with you," suggested Pooh.
"No, I don't think so." moaned Eeyore.  "He said I should be able to play the low notes because I'm always feeling soooo low."
"Well, Mr Owl is very scholarlike, I mean knowledgabbible, I mean smart." said Pooh.
"But whenever I try to go from the regular notes down to the low notes, I can't make them come out! Oh bother, why did I ever agree to do this?"

Pooh thought about this a bit and began to hum a little tune to himself, "Play low, Eeyore. Down low Eeyore. Open up, open up."  (in truth, Pooh was also trying to open a honey jar while he sang).

Eeyore listened for a while and finally said, "So maybe I should just say my name: 'Eeyore' to open up for the low notes?  Well I suppose I can try that.  I doubt it will work, though.  Oh bother.  Well, goodbye Pooh."

As he trudged away, Pooh finally opened up that second honey jar and happily munched away for the rest of the afternoon.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

12 bones, 12 tones on 12/12/12

This coming Wednesday will be 12/12/12.  It will be the last repeating date of this century.  Of course, during that day will come the time 12:12:12.

I was thinking, "Wouldn't it be cool if we had 12 bones playing all 12 tones at precisely 12:12:12?"

And, (drumroll please...or eggroll if you're hungry), I have composed a 12-second fanfare scored for twelve trombones that we hope to premiere at ...well, I guess you know when.

Here's a link to the fanfare...anybody else who wants to give it a go...copy away! (Note, if you're looking at the post for the 2nd time, I changed the link to a file on my website).

As for timing, I think I'll have my cell phone link up to some official online clock showing the seconds.
There are a number of smartphone apps that can do this.

I'm working on lining up twelve trombone players here to do it.

I hope we don't open up a rift in the space-time continuum!!

Here's the same fanfare as a png image in case the pdf link above doesn't work...

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Slow Mo

I must admit that I'm a (American) football fan.  Sorry, I just can't help it.

Anyway, in an exciting game, we sometimes see that catch by the receiver right on the very edge of the field.  Was the foot inbounds? In the replay, the broadcast will slow down the video and even enlarge one portion of the screen so we can look for those 2-3 blades of green grass between the foot and the white edge

Hmm, slowing down to make things clear.  Where have I heard this before?  Zooming in on a crucial spot so we can each sixteenth note blade of grass.  Clearly.  Replaying the music catch over and over until there's no doubt.

Call me crazy, but doesn't this have something to do with music?
(hmm, even my recorder is made by Zoom...too bad it doesn't slow things down)

I plan to be teaching for a long time.  Right this instant, there are little babies out there who will fall in love with music, pick up a trombone and end up taking lessons with me (or some other trombone teacher).
I have a prediction:

  1. They often won't be very patient 
  2. They usually won't slow things down enough to really clarify the notes.  
  3. AND once they get it right, they'll forget that getting it right is the beginning of your practice, not the end.  

Slow it Down so that it's Clear!  Really clear!  
Like "Blades of Grass" clear!

Here's a good blog post about the importance of slowing down when you practice.
Here's an older post of mine about one practice technique for slowing things down.

I guess we can go other sports that require that focus and precision.  Such as gymnastics...

Or tennis...

Or the other football...

But for me, it's still American football.  What can I say?