Random Monday: Better Late than Never


Last week I took a road trip to New Mexico in order to take care of some business, and also to get some work done on my horn.

Regular readers might remember that a few years ago, I had some custom work done on my old Yamaha, and that I was tremendously happy with the results.


The details of this most recent trip will be the topic for a complete article that I will publish sometime next week. For now, it is suffice to say that my French horn is clean, healthy and happy.

In the meantime, here are some random items to check out.

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The value of a clean horn
In an archived article from the Knowledge Base, instrument technician Dave Weiner reminds us as to why regular professional cleaning of your instrument is so important.

There are two reason to have your horn cleaned by a shop that does a professional job.  First, an acid or ultrasonic cleaning removes hard deposits that detergent will not remove.  Second, a professional will do more than just clean your horn.

Throughout the process, the repair technician is checking your horn for various issues that may blossom into problems later on.


The value of free-thinking
Back in 1961, researchers at Yale began performing controlled experiments in obedience.

In a nutshell, the experiment revealed that people tend to take on authority as absolute, and in the process can become morally disconnected to the pain they might be inflicting.

The participants received instructions to teach pairs of words to the confederate. After they had read the list of words once, the teachers were to test the learner’s recall by reading one word, and asking the learner to name one of the four words associated with it. The experimenter told the participants to punish any learner mistakes by pushing a button and administering an electric shock; while they could not see the learner, participants could hear his screams. The confederate, of course, remained unharmed, and merely acted out in pain, with each mistake costing him an additional 15 volts of punishment.


On the topic of mean horn teachers, this is a very interesting study to think upon and ponder.

The value of self-control
When working in just about any music ensemble – whether small or large – there will be moments of interpersonal drama to deal with. What you do with that drama is entirely your choice.

It’s easy to persuade yourself that this time it’s different, that this time the drama is real, and that, in fact, it’s all (truly) going to fall apart. In fact, though, it’s all imagined. Drama isn’t the work, it’s our take on the work. Drama doesn’t have to exist, certainly not in the way we’re living it, not right now. A few days or weeks or years from now, this work will be so commonplace to you, you won’t blink.


The value of self-talk
Do you talk to yourself while practicing? I do.

A recent study indicates that positive self-talk during physical exercise can boost performance.

In the study, 24 people completed two cycling tests. The first time around, they were asked to pedal at 80 percent of their “peak power output” for as long as they could stand it. Then they had two weeks off, during which one group of cyclists were given some specific training in strategic self-talk. At the second test, those participants used their new cheerleading skills, and significantly lengthened their time on the bike.


The value of good humor
At Classic FM, a collection of “horrible” things that can happen to a classical musician are listed. My personal favorite is #3.

The 13 worst things to happen to a classical musician.

The value of regular practice
For some students and professionals (and 9-to-5 workers like myself), getting enough daily practice can be a big challenge. A regular practice routine can take some planning and dedication, especially when time and energy become precious.

At The Reforming Trombonist, five principals for finding practice time are nicely spelled out.

One of the constant refrains I hear from students when I admonish them regarding insufficient practice is “I just don’t have enough time to practice!” Whether we are discussing the multiplied hours of individual practice expected of performance majors, or the lesser requirements of music education and other non-performance music majors, the complaint is the same, as is my advice.

In today’s post I am condensing my responses to the “not enough time” complaint into five simple principles. While I am writing with college and university music majors in mind, the same principles will to some extent apply to anyone who wants increase his skills on a musical instrument or instruments.


Random videos

A video that both informs and promotes.

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Playing along with the recording.

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A complete recording of Daniel Bourgue. I assume that this out-of-print, but do not assume that this video will stay on YouTube for long.

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Ifor James performs.

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University of Horn Matters