Going beyond the notes

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by timothypierson, Mar 23, 2007.

  1. timothypierson

    timothypierson Pianissimo User

    Feb 20, 2005
    For my last jury, I played a series of orchestal excerpts. I started in with the opening of Magnificat, played the Ballarina dance from Petruska on my Eb, the muted solo from Shostakovich's Piano concerto, the opening of Pictures, and concluded with Ravel's Piano concerto in g minor opening (or near the beginning) trumpet solo. I really had fun having the opportunity to play these excerpts for local symphony members.

    Everyone said I have a beautiful tone and did well switching horns. The thing that they now want me to work on is getting beyond the notes play each piece with its own unique character. I know without hearing me it's hard to give me specific information on how to improve on this, so anything general would be great.

    I do spend a good amount of time to listening to orchestral material. I've only been back on the horn for 3 years and basically the first 2 was getting a good sound and endurance back. I have recordings of each excerpt I played and I tried to picture each piece in my head before I played. Although my nerves may have caused me not to spend enough time between each piece to really get into character. What other general things should I do to help convey the character of each Piece?
  2. tpetplyr

    tpetplyr Pianissimo User

    Dec 15, 2003
    It may be a good idea to record yourself and see if what you play matches what you wanted to play. I get 'yelled at' a lot by my orchestra conductor for not being expressive enough, not wide enough crescendi/decrescendi, vibrato etc...Stuff i THOUGHT I was doing, but evidently wasn't doing enough of it to be heard.

  3. trpt2345

    trpt2345 Mezzo Forte User

    May 21, 2006
    Morelia, Mexico
    That's really true, sometimes you think that since what you're doing is evident to you, it must be evident to everyone, but that is not always the case. I liken it to catching a cab in a big city, it doesn't pay to not make big, huge and obvious gestures. Barabara Butler always used to ask, "What are you trying to get across? What are you aiming for?"

    Michael McLaughlin

    We must respect the other fellow's religion,but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.
    H. L. Mencken
  4. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

    Sep 29, 2004
    Without hearing you play I wouldn't have any idea of how much more musically you need to play.

    You can an excerpt a variety of ways and make the case for musicality in each. You can play it in a variety of ways and sound unmusical.

    I have no way way of knowing and don't want to speculate.

  5. tpter1

    tpter1 Forte User

    Jan 12, 2005
    Northern New York
    Listen, listen, listen. Listen to many, many recordings of those excerpts, by different groups. Listen to alot of other music as well. Sing along!

    Excerpts are funny because you play this whole thing without anything else backing you up. Sort of like trying to play football all by yourself: you can run, toss the ball in the air, knock yourself down, but, your missing the rest of the team and the other team for it to really come together in a meaningful way.

    I run into this when I have kids who come in to lessons and want to work on their band music for a bit. They look at the part, see something that goes "oom pah oom pah" and say "Oh... that's easy." Then, they get in band and are lost because their "oom pah" is actually the odd notes of a grouping of 3 eighth notes and they are not used to feeling the three against their 2. They don't inderstand the meaning or the context until it all comes together...so, musically, they're not all there (yet). But, if I play a recording for them, show them the score, or play the other part, then it makes sense.

    *edit- Recording yourself is THE best method of judging wheather or not you're doing enough or too much.
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2007
  6. JoJoMak

    JoJoMak New Friend

    Jan 4, 2007
    what I think it means to "go beyond the notes"...

    I heard an awesome cornet solo of "Fill My Cup, Lord" It was sooo moving for me....one of the reasons I REALLY want to play...

    I listened to that solo over and over again...almost crying...making it a personal prayer...that soloist on the CD was speaking to God on my behalf...He reached the heart of God for me.

    I asked the piano player at our church if she had the sheet music to the song...she did...and now its my turn to reach the heart of God with my prayer..." "Fill my Cup, Lord" "Hear my cry Oh God, attend unto my prayer..."

    I can stand there playing the song...playing every note...obeying all the rules on the staff...but then I COULD just let loose and be myself, cry with that trumpet...trying my darnest to get that trumpet to speak, and cry out to God...Feelings projected thru the pipes, and out the bell...music reaching the heart of God...Pleasing in His sight...I have the sheet music and I have the trumpet....I'm gonna take it personal...and play like I've never played before...this is my song...my prayer...my words...

    I'm "going beyond the notes" I've got to...."with all my heart" God deserves that much and more from me.
  7. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    When listening to advanced students and even some pro players, I often wonder what they were thinking of when they were practicing their excerpt and solos for competition. I hear baroque music with very romantic tempo changes. I hear very inconsistent articulation and phrasing. I hear a beautiful tone and legato where hell, fire and brimstone are called for.
    I sum all of it up into practicing the notes, but not researching what is behind them.
    This is, by the way, a big problem when we listen to CDs of the pieces that we want to play - and assuming that the performer didn't miss anything (bad assumption). There is a generation or 2 of Maurice André copies that completely ignore generally accepted performing practice - just like he very often did. The problem is, they don't even know why!
    I don't even have to hear you play to offer a little advice. Research what you are doing before you start to listen to other players. When you have an idea about the period when the music was written, for what instruments, why the piece was written and accepted articulation of the time and THEN listen to other performances - you will know what you are listening to and what to expect. You do not have to perform every piece historically accurate. Doing something on purpose is always better than copying someone and not knowing why.
    Knowledge is power!
  8. Luis M. Araya

    Luis M. Araya Pianissimo User

    Jul 24, 2005
    Sometimes it is better to be able to say/play things in different ways. Here is a wonderfull mental excersize I saw in a tuba master class,

    Try to say a simple statement like:

    today I ate rice and beans

    then, try to say it in a completly different way, but REALLY DIFFERENT, not

    today I ate riceandbeans BUT, TODAY I ATE RICE AND BEANS... Then try another way and so on, finally translate that approach to an excerp and record yourself and pick one you like based on style and peformance practice, then ask others which interpretations they like more and why.

    just a thought,

    I hope it is usefull

  9. timothypierson

    timothypierson Pianissimo User

    Feb 20, 2005
    This is some great advice, I have been recording myself. It has helped greatly in my tone and consistency. Now it's probably time to kick it up a notch and really research what I am playing. To listen to my sound and style to see if it captures the moment. The instructors in the jury were very supportive and told me I have the notes and a nice sound. I think they are challenging me to take it to "the next level" as you will.

    One thing I've noticed as I'm getting older, is that the more advanced you get on your playing, the more you're working on the small intricate things. You begin to spend hours practicing things that make small differences. These small intricate things are what makes good players great. It's fun, but I know I'm going to be working hard for these changes.

    I think they want me to understand and be able to perform the subtlties of each style and moment.
  10. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    I like the stage actor's makup simile: up close it is ugly and overdone, but in the house it's just right. This could be one cause, as others have mentioned.
    The other cause might be related to rowuk's style comment. Does it really sound like Bach, does it really sound like Stravinsky? I enjoy the acting of James Garner and the acting of Robert DeNiro, for example, but in every role James Garner seems to be playing the same character, who happens to be a lot like James Garner. With DeNiro, we forget who the actor is and notice the character.
    One fun and cruel thing to try is a typical classical cadence "gggc." Can you play the same notes and make it sound once like Mozart, and the other time like Haydn? Have fun!

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