September 6th, 2007 § Comments Off § permalink
For the second time in a week I have started to write a blog post and ended up with an article; last week’s feature Eclipsing also started off life as a blog post. This time, though, I am salvaging something from those hungry articles, and that something is called Arnica Montana. You may already know what it is, but if you don’t it’s worth a try.
The next time your chops feel bruised or sensitive to the touch, then try getting some Arnica cream from a local GNC Store (or equivalent). This herbal remedy is good for bruises and inflammation and I always feel like it helps me get back to playing quicker. It is no miracle drug, that is for sure, but it does seem to help the healing process along and that means playing normally again, sooner than you would have otherwise. And when you are faced with the depressing condition of not being able to play anywhere near your own abilities, playing normally sooner is a welcome prospect indeed.
September 3rd, 2007 § § permalink
The recipe for bad face:
Take one heavy playing day that ends by five. Let the chops sit for up to 24 hours, then begin your warm-up as usual. Voila! You now feel like you have a face of stone and sound like… well, we won’t discuss that.
I managed to pull this recipe off in spectacular fashion yesterday. It took me an hour and a half of fundamentals and soft playing before I felt normal again. I kept staring at the piano in my studio wondering what it would be like to sit down to an instrument and have it work and feel exactly the same everyday, no matter what you did the day before. I swear, the things we have to put up with as trumpet players…
September 1st, 2007 § § permalink
Sometimes it is important that we experience life outside the practice room, like I mentioned in the recent article Eclipsing. However, it is important to mention that there are many, many times when we sacrifice personal enjoyment in order to get some much needed work done.
Last night I left home at 10pm to go to school and practice in my studio. I spent an hour focusing on some basic technical issues that I knew I needed to address (maintenance, maintenance, maintenance). There I was, on a Friday night, hashing through Arban’s and the like, and the school was as quiet as a tomb. I wonder where all of the music students were…
July 2nd, 2007 § § permalink
It is 5am and I am awake and writing in a blog that I haven’t written in for 2 weeks. Why, you might ask? I suppose it would be easy enough to say that it’s because I haven’t been up at 5am! But after probing a little deeper, the truth is that I have been thinking of things to write and just haven’t had the time to sit down and write them. Now that I have cut my night’s sleep short a couple of hours, however, it should be no problem to do that now. Is that a good thing? Ask me this afternoon.
Actually, the fact that I am up and writing is a great example of something that has been on my mind lately: productivity. Specifically, I have been thinking about how to continue to be productive while busy. Okay, busy doesn’t really cut it. How about being productive while hurtling through the universe at 1,000 miles per hour on a giant spinning ball. Oh wait, we are all doing that. Okay then, maybe my particular fascination with the abstract concept of accomplishing things that I want (or heaven forbid, need) comes from the fact that I have 3 boys at home aged 11, 3, and 3 months. If any of you out there have kids, I’m sure you know what I mean. Kids are wonderful and I love mine like nothing else in the world, but they do have a way of sucking time out of you… I believe the current rate is three hours for every minute their eyes are open.
Needless to say, in order to compete with this time vacuum you have to be prepared. Getting organized is the first step. You need to know what your priorities are and they need to be laid out in a reasonable plan. When you wake up in the morning it is very helpful to know when you will have the opportunity to get things done and what you are actually going to work on during those periods. And that brings me to my true reason for sitting down and putting virtual pen to virtual paper: wake up, get out of bed, start your day off right. I know it sounds simple (I could use stupid, but it’s my website and I don’t feel like insulting myself this early in the morning), but to me this is perhaps the most critical time of the whole day. Laziness in the morning has a way of sinking you before you are even coherent enough to swim. If you get behind in the morning, then you will be playing catch-up all day long and you likely will never win. If you start the day off right, however, you will have a very good chance of accomplishing the things you set out for yourself that day, and that is key, because when it comes to playing trumpet — or doing just about anything worth doing in life — it is the little steps that you take each day that will get you to where you want to be. It is up to you to determine what starting the day off “right” entails. It doesn’t even have to mean getting up early; it just has to mean getting up well. Now, as for me? It’s coffee time! After that, I’ll get to work on all the day has to offer.
June 15th, 2007 § § permalink
To most people it is undetectable, to some it is horrifying, but to me it is a badge of honor. Yes, I have a purple lip. Well, an occasionally purple lower lip, I should say, and not the whole lip just a small part in the middle. What’s the cause of it? Other than the fact that it has something to do with playing the trumpet, I have no earthly clue.
I was reminded of this phenomenon this morning while checking on some breathing mechanics in the mirror. Sure enough, after removing the mouthpiece, there is my badge of honor, a trumpet player’s right of passage. I can see you there wincing. Really, it isn’t bad, and when I’m not playing you would be hard pressed to notice anything at all. But why, you may be thinking, would I be proud of it? The answer to that is quite simple: my teacher had one just like it.
Ray Crisara was my teacher and mentor through the most formative and delicate years of my trumpet playing life, my undergraduate years. I looked up to him for just about everything. Luckily, I had a wonderful model to look up to. He is a man with many extraordinary and inimitable qualities, but clearly one of the most inspiring of those was his playing. His ability was truly incredible: thoughtful musicality mixed with impeccable control, a true musician’s trumpet player. In the 4 years I spent watching him play and talk, I noticed that he had a small purple mark on his lower lip. I always wondered about that mark, I wondered if it hurt or not, if it affected his playing in anyway. My conclusion was that it had no impact on his playing and that it was merely a sign of many years of lips on metal. As time wore on, that mark became a kind of symbol of quality: if my lip looked like that, perhaps it might sound like that too.
Now, my lip does look like that. My playing, however, doesn’t sound like his and honestly, I don’t think I play at the level that he did. But I still work at it. I still hear his sound and his words in my mind everyday, and everyday I work to get closer to reaching my potential as a player and musician. The evidence of all that work is there for anyone to see; I have the lip to prove it.