Getting in the groove…


Throughout my life I have experienced the slight sinking feeling in my stomach before beginning a practice session. It can be such a struggle to pick up the horn when you feel like you can’t play what you want to play. This is the struggle of someone who has lots of ideas but hasn’t spent enough time on the horn to realize them on the instrument. When I was practicing in preparation for my graduate school auditions I remember a moment when I could consciously hear myself playing things that I had once only been able to hear in my head. I was playing faster, my range seemed to suddenly expand, my intonation was solid, and best of all I could focus on what I was playing instead of how to play the instrument.

What a rush to feel that you are a master of your own expression! That moment of excitement provides so much momentum and as Conrad Herwig has noted in our lessons, that is the time where you put in the extra hours. Don’t sit back content in your recent achievements. Forge on ahead! It is almost painful to put the horn down at the end of the day and the next morning it is invigorating to pick it back up. For some, this surge of momentum happens early in their musical lives and I would be lying if I said I was not a bit envious of those people. For while I have enjoyed performing for many years, it has been a relatively new experience to feel compelled to practice. There are many technical and expressive plateaus that we will discover as musicians and the only way to move forward is to get into a groove and keep charging ahead. When you reach a new height, keep on moving forward. While there is certainly talent to be accounted for in those who develop their voice quickly, nothing beats the hours and hours spent on the instrument learning how to work with it so that it becomes a part of your natural voice instead of an obstacle for expression. Of course this is challenging but when those hours are spent in the groove, slowly digging deeper and deeper, there are few things more satisfying than being able to reach out and grab something that was previously unattainable.

Back to the shed…

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