October 22, 2010

A Good Beginning

I had an annoying night last night. Nothing major, just ate too many peanut butter m&ms...again! (Why do I even allow myself to buy those anymore?...UGH!) So anyway, I decided I'd better try extra hard to have a good day today. I woke up a few minutes early and walked to school just in time to catch a lovely sunrise.

Here is the very first moment a bit of sun peeked above the horizon...

Slowly, more appeared...(check out the cool parallel wave patterns in the water!)

After a minute or so, a lone seagull began circling in front of my camera...over...

...and over...

...and over...as if he were asking "did you get me this time? Was my pose dramatic enough? No? Here...let me swoop around again and see if this is better..."

It was fun! And with my eyes safely behind the display screen of my digital camera, it may have been the only way I could've steadily watched the evolution of sunrise without turning my retinas to dust.

I know I've been a bit delinquent lately in keeping up the regularity of my posts. There is always a ton going on that I could talk about, but I generally find myself either without time to post, or lacking the motivation to rehash everything I've done in a given day.

So, to sum up, when I said back at the beginning of the summer that I expected NU was going to be a "trumpet boot camp", I was right on the money. In every lesson I'm assigned at least 4 etudes (ALL of which are to be transposed into various keys), some excerpts, and given suggestions of daily exercises I should perform to keep on my mission of embouchure-strenghening and high-range-and-flexibility-building. There are weekly performances of etudes in solo class (which are separate and in addition to the etudes required in lessons), weekly rehearsals of major orchestral rep in rep class, section rehearsals for different and additional standard rep in excerpt class, and then of course I have to be prepared on the material for Orchestra and Brass Choir...oh and did I mention I'm supposed to be doing those embouchure strengthening exercises every day too?!

My improved warm-up technique has helped keep my chops balanced (halleluja!!!), but still, whenever I go into my lessons in particular I rarely feel sufficiently prepared despite the fact that I've persistently worked on all the material. It always feels as though if I were just given one or two more days to practice, everything would be great! Instead, I go in, play the stuff as well as I can (rarely satisfied with my performance) and then I leave with a bunch more new assignments and instructions to "keep looking at that old stuff too". I feel out of breath just writing about it!

Last night in my practice room I decided that all this material is assigned to ensure that I am never left with nothing to do. I'm always being challenged to better my playing and the effectiveness of my practicing. It goes without saying that I'm pushed physically, but as the more important part of the game is the pursuit of success through "intelligent practice", this bombardment of material demands that I use my brain to come up with smart ways to fix problems and strategically plan my mode of attack...rather than just put some music up on the stand and slog through it.

Other students I've talked to say they do a lot of mental practice: thinking through pieces away from the horn. This is a great idea, but I sometimes find it difficult to maintain focus during such exercises. Along the same lines, I've now adopted the strategy of playing through my etudes on the piano during my practice breaks. This is a good way to work on transposition without wasting precious chops, as well as just getting the sound of a piece in my head--and if I can hear it...I can play it.

Tomorrow is NUSO's first performance. We're playing the Schumann Cello Concerto and Bruckner 7--though I'm only on the Bruckner. It will be the first time I will have donned my concert black in months and I'm really looking forward to it! After all, every now and then it is good to get out of the practice room and onto a stage.

1 comment:

  1. I can't wait to hear you play again. I know you're going to "blow me away". The pics are great! I sure miss you!