Reputation is not a one shot deal; it is how you #perform over time. #MusicEducation #MusicEd #Livemusic #musicians
Had some great advice between sets last night. For those of us you have performance anxiety on the band stand (and there are a lot of us), it is good to keep in mind that it is not any single number or night that defines us as musicians, but our reputation over time. I have spoken before about how the audience can be forgiving. Likewise, your fellow musicians can be understanding, if you have a good track record. If you miss a note or under perform, here and there, is not as big a deal as how you perform generally, and people will remember your overall competence. So take that breath and let your true ability shine through.
Found out recently that mouthpieces really do affect intonation. If you browse the internet, you will get some general information that shallow mouthpieces make you sharper and deeper mouthpieces make you flatter. This is logical to me, as a shallow mouthpiece means that there is less room for the air to travel to get to the horn, i.e., the horn is essentially shorter and therefore, of a higher pitch. However, I think there is more to it than that. As I play around with various mouthpieces and the overtone series on the trombone, some mouthpieces are just a better match for me, intonation wise. This is not something that you think to try at the store when you are testing out the mouthpiece (at least I did not think to do it), i.e., use a tuner with the new mouthpiece (& horn) and see if you are playing any differently with the new equipment. I would recommend doing this, as I found that the mouthpiece that felt and sounded pleasing messed with my intonation. It is a lot of work to get your intonation back in line, so it is something to consider before making a major change in your equipment.
Take a breath: Audiences are there to be entertained and can be very forgiving #music #performance #livemusic #audience
Even if you make some mistakes in a performance or even if you happen to fall apart at a point, keep things in perspective. The audience is generally on your side. They want to be entertained and are not there to chastise you when things go astray. Brush it off and keep delivering that high energy show and good quality music. The audience will remember the overall effect.
An "Ella Meets Mel" concert tonight at the Harbour Banquet Centre. Starts at 7:30 PM. I haven't done this series before, so I am pretty excited. You can get more information at www.octokats.com
If you are getting frustrated with a task you are practicing, leave it and come back. In the interim, your brain will be digesting and organising the information you have given it. When you come back, you may be surprised at your improvement. Not only are you refreshed, but your brain has been working subconsciously on the information while you were doing another task. That task can be another related task or something completely different. So, it is actually better to "interleave" your learning and not take any exercise to full completion. Move back and forth between activities and harness the power of interleaving. And no, this is not multi-tasking. Stay away from that. It has been proven to minimise your effectiveness is all activities.
When does a fine selection of mouthpieces become a problem . . . maybe mouthpiecepurchaseanosis. Next thing you know, you have mouthpieces holding newly cut flowers, displayed throughout the house. I'm not sure. I think the quest for the perfect mouthpiece can be all-consuming and at some point, you must say, "This is pretty good, let's get to work." I only bring up this topic because I was kidding with my trumpet section last night, saying that I was now a mouthpiece guy and Todd, our soloist, asked how many mouthpieces I had. I answered six. He replied, "You are just getting started." All good things in moderation.
As I have blogged about before, I used to be a one mouthpiece guy and I thought that any short-comings were due purely to a lack of experience or practice. I have been trying a lot of different mouthpieces lately and have learned how different my sound and technique is with each one. Therefore, the mouthpiece, and how it matches your physique and playing style, needs to be carefully considered for each brass player. For me, I have pretty full lips, so I needed a mouthpiece cup diameter (trombone mouthpiece) that would accommodate them. I learned that the greater the width of the rim, the better endurance you would have (the longer you could play), and the thinner the rim, the better the flexibility you would have. There are many other factors, such as the depth and shape of the cup, which affects articulation and the tone. Additionally, there is the size of the throat and the shape of the backbore. For me, the best fit was the Stork T2 standard (similar to a Bach 7C, except the Bach has less "bite", i.e., a more rounded rim). While I am still getting used to the Stork's rather thin rim and the sharp bite, I am finding that the cup allows for a full, dark sound while still allowing for quick/sharp articulation. Additionally, the upper register on the trombone is enabled while the lower register is not impeded. Further, while the throat/bore hole is rather small, there is not much back pressure and this might be because of the shape of the cup, which is more funnel than "C" shaped. So what am I saying? Try a stork mouthpiece? Sure. What I am really saying is that you might want to try other mouthpieces and see if they help your playing a bit. Every little bit helps. For educators, do not buy the "every student should start on a Bach 6 1/2 AL crap." Everyone is different. Have a few different mouthpieces around and see what enables the student or what he/she prefers. Let's take some advice from our trumpet friends and become knowledgable and inquisitive about our mouthpieces. Diagram below from trombone.org/articles/library/mouthpiecemed2-gloss.asp
Looking forward to purchasing a Stork T2 mouthpiece this weekend. It is similar to a Bach 7C, so I should really try that as well. Maybe there really isn't a mouthpiece that solves all your problems (now that's a naive statement) or that is a "love at first buzz" kind of thing. The last time I tried the Stork T2, it improved my high range, provided a crisper attack and did not significantly detract from the lower range . . . maybe that is enough. Maybe I will grow to love it. As my wife says, "This is your profession. Stop thinking about it and just buy it." Good advice. Any improvement is worth it.
Live at Old Town Hall @TownofNewmarket New tracks from @AHBBjazz w @NewmarketCB #livemusic #jazz #bigband #band
Dr. Michael Kearns
Musician, educator, husband, father, web designer ... my life is like a mosaic with each piece vying for my attention.