Professor Corno on High School Players
There are always some great high school horn players out there. They can play crazy music that goes all over the horn and play it like a machine. Secretly I envy them.
But also I really don’t envy them. Why? Because I know what happens to a lot of those hot shot players. Sure, a few go on to become great players, but a surprising percentage get into the best schools and totally fizzle out and are never musically heard from again, for a wide variety of reasons. Among those being when they get to the big school they don’t stay focused and they don’t work hard.
Ask any top level teacher of any instrument, they have all seen it. Professor Corno got to where he is through years and years of focused hard work. Those players that were better than me in high school, some of them did get the big jobs but most of them did not.
Success on the horn has nothing to do with being up to some mythical “standard” out of high school. Besides the hard work, success has something to do with overcoming mechanical playing and developing musicality and musicianship. Teachers can help but you need to be self-aware and grounded enough to know what you need to work on and to actually spend time working on those things. Get advice from multiple teachers, don’t rely on just one all-knowing horn guru to show you the way. And don’t let others suck the enjoyable side of making music out of your approach to all you do.
Depending on where you are, developing a successful career also has to do with developing connections. So in that sense going to the great school may help, you meet people you may work with for a lifetime. But also it can go back to haunt you as those same people may know how much of a flake you really are and will make a point to never call you for a gig. Workmanlike but reliable and easy to work with is much preferred over highly artistic but difficult to work with and unreliable in a real world. Make a goal of being a reliable person that people want to work with, it will pay off.
Oh, and in the process of study learn to play in tune, stop missing notes, develop the full range of the horn, and never miss a rhythm. The real world has little or no sympathy for your weaknesses, so in this sense again the player that can play like a machine right out of high school has a huge advantage. But it is not such an advantage that any other good player could not overcome with hard study with the right teachers.