Any advice for my solo piece?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Learningon, Dec 10, 2009.

  1. Learningon

    Learningon New Friend

    Dec 10, 2009
    Hello people!
    I'm new to this, so if I'm posting in the totally wrong place, please tell me!

    Anyway, to get to the point... My trumpet teacher recently gave me a Solo piece by Guillaume Balay called Petite Piece Concertante.
    When he first suggested it to me, I was intimidated because I'm not even on HS yet. Well, I've been having really great time with it. But, I would like any great advice that anyone could give me!
  2. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    1) Practice slowly with a metronome - do not accept less than perfect rhythm. Start going faster when you have mastered slower!
    2) Mark ALL of the places that you breathe in pencil and practice it ONLY that way. Many players fall on their face because the breathing gets out of sync
    3) Look up Balay and find out a bit more about him and the piece
    4) primarily practice the parts that you have trouble with. Our brains work by recalling patterns. If you carefully prepare the hard parts they are stored and can be recalled later. If you store garbage, that comes back too!
    5) finally, EVERY NOTE COUNTS! I have been a judge quite often and even advanced players mess up by underestimating the half notes. EVERYTHING has to be properly practiced. There are no excuses when a trumpeter commits to playing for other people.
  3. Learningon

    Learningon New Friend

    Dec 10, 2009
    Thank you! Funny that you mentioned underestimating half notes. My trumpet teacher has already gotten on to me for that!
    I haven't had to many problems with breathing yet, but I know I will. I've only worked on the first half so far, but I'm going to be starting to work on the march this week.
  4. Phil986

    Phil986 Forte User

    Nov 16, 2009
    Near Portland, OR.
    OK, just from memory and experience, here what I can tell you: Guillaume Balay was Chief of Music of the French Guarde Republicaine in the late 19th/early 20th century. He wrote a complete, albeit succint, method for cornet or trumpet which is widely used in French conservatories. The method relies heavily on scale studies that are melodic in nature and never include simply going up and down a scale. The structures of the studies are strongly inspired from Bach's music, Maurice Andre recommended them as part of one's daily routine. They are certainly useful for one playing baroque music. They are quite challenging but pleasant to play, especially the recreational duets that figure at the end of each lesson. Students of French conservatories commonly play studies from the 2nd volume (advanced) as exam pieces. Throughout the method, Mr Balay emphasizes purity of tone ("son droit") and cleanliness of attacks ("pose de son"). No doubt these should be of utmost important in the "Piece Concertante" (I have never looked at the pice, though.) The intent is to combine these 2 qualities to reach an elegant character that certainly is to be found in the piece you are going to present.

    Just like Rowuk, Balay always repeats the necessity of practicing slow, respecting scrupulously the notes' values and accelerating only after mastery has been achieved at slow speed, in which case it is surprisingly easy to increase tempo by steps of 10 beats a minute. He also recommends substantial rest periods after each playing period and never stressing the lips. Funny how they had the most important things already figured 100 years ago...
  5. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

    Jul 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    That's true, and yet your signature quote from Lau-Tzu is even older than that and it sums up completely all that one needs to master to gain control over the trumpet. The rest is all mechanical and is easily mastered with enough practice, but controlling the breath properly is very difficult.
  6. lemmon13

    lemmon13 New Friend

    Mar 7, 2009
    listen to what rowuk say about breathing!... i played that same piece a couple of years ago for my solo and breathing was my problem. i got nervous and my breathing got off because i hadnt marked on my music spots where to breathe. Even after all the preperation stupid mistakes will probably happen so try to prevent them by marking your music.
    (so mark your flats!, theres a lot)
    great solo though good luck!
  7. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

    Jul 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    To further comment on what has been said, when you're practicing, figure out not only where you *can* breathe, but also where you *must* breathe for successful performance. And mark them very clearly. Sometimes we get caught up in playing the piece and we pass by a musically good spot to take a breath because we don't need to breathe right then, only to find out a couple of measures further on that we need a breath but there isn't a musically appropriate place to take one.

    By carefully planning and marking the good breathing spots musically as well as where we need to breathe, we can plan for any contingency. Often nerves take over (like lemmon13 says) and our breathing changes (usually becoming more shallow in my experience) and without careful planning and marking of all the good breathing spots we end up stumbling around musically and never get back on track.

    Planning for disasters often means that they don't happen -- which is much better than not planning due to over-confidence. But if planned for and they do happen, you're still all set and that level of security can often help prevent a case of nerves.

    And remember as you practice, your goal is entertainment of your audience, even if that audience is only your private teacher. So always keep in mind how what you play will sound to the audience. It's not like a series of hurdles to get over nor is it like a 1000-question true-false test. It's entertainment, and no matter what level of art we aspire to, it's still show-biz, so give your audience a great experience.

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