Random Monday: Giving, Receiving and Taking Away


Araya - SiegfriedRather than break the pattern of past history, I decided instead to resume the “Random” series back to the semi-traditional day of Monday.

Here is what is out there:

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Fund raising for a donation drive
A well-known freelancer in the Chicago area needs your help.

The financial burden of Stage Two cancer treatment has brought Michael Buckwalter and his family to the brink of financial ruin.

Please be generous.

Sometimes too much is – well duh! – too much
Looking back at my student years, I think that I might have been an over-practicer. I was perhaps a little too obsessed with perfection.

As a result – duh! – my chops generally did not feel right or perform well, most of the time. Fortunately I have since learned to be wary of idealized perfection, and how it causes more harm than good.

Famed musician Roger Bobo remarks:

Our embouchures; that meeting place where the moving air meets the lips (embouchure is a verb), is made up of blood and muscle and like all the other parts of the body, it can easily be overworked and stressed.

Like a ballet dancer, who’s body is trained to be facile and fluid, our embouchures need that same fluidity and if, by over training, the embouchure becomes more like the rigid and stiff musculature of a body builder lifting weights, this stiffness in brass instrument performance simply translates a sounding bad.

The similarities of playing a brass instrument to the voice are many. Singers, however, cannot practice long hours like some brass players are tempted to do; they have the advantage of pain, which tells them it’s time to stop, the larynx just won’t allow the voice to let enthusiasm rule over reason.

Read more.

Stayed focused and motivated
The isolation of the practice room and its focused mind-set can be a real challenge for some musicians.  The key for myself is to stay curious and inquisitive about the material at-hand, even if it is something that has been done many, many times before.

Make sure your mind is constantly engaged.  Be what I call a musical investigator, always searching for new patterns in the music to make it easier to take in, process, and reproduce; never make a mistake without figuring out the root of the problem and finding a way to deal with it; come up with different rhythms to use when practicing note-filled passages; while doing repetitions come up with something different to do musically with each repetition; never spend too much time on one thing – if your mind starts to tune out, take a little break, choose a new goal in a different section or piece, and then move on; practice away from your instrument – conduct, sing, look up info about the piece, the composer, the period of music, art that was being created around the same time, figure out rhythms, listen to a good recording.

Read more.

Isolation and madness
Legendary pianist Glenn Gould came to mind when reading this article about virtuoso jazz pianist Keith Jarrett.

Some great geniuses become very isolated in their minds, to the point where social and cultural norms no longer seem to apply. An interaction with a person like that can be like meeting an alien species from another planet.

If only it were this easy
When I was actively pursuing orchestral auditions, I should have followed some simple advice from the wikiHow web site. I guess that I missed out, by forgetting to be committed to my instrument. Or maybe I just wasn’t “situated” properly.

Rising from the ranks
A new and perhaps encouraging trend in American orchestras, is musicians stepping up to be managers. Stated another way, orchestras are beginning to hire performers as executives.

This is something to keep an eye on. The big question for myself being, will this help mend the broken fences? Will it help save the industry – especially in the American regional orchestra scene, where the pain appears to be most acute?

Ring production notes, photos and artwork
Meanwhile at the Seattle Opera, there are plenty of articles and production materials to look over on their re-occuring Wagner Ring productions. This includes:

Random videos

It’s an orchestral world series.

The talented Mr. Marc Papeghin. I just cannot get enough of this.

An impressive warmup, one that literally gave chills.

The great Mason Jones during his tenure with the United States Marine Band.

University of Horn Matters