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Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by kctrumpeteer, Apr 16, 2013.
When musicians I respect tell me I am getting better that is the primary way I know.
That's a good way to gauge progress, even better when said musician is your teacher. I also use bad days. You know those days when lips just seem to have gone on strike, when nothing works quite right, when the amount of effort necessary to play is simply way up there. What comes out of my horn on these days is now so much better than what it was 2 or 3 years ago, I actually embrace them. Bad days are great learning opportunities. In fact, in the past few months it has got to the point that I can't even find them so bad any more and I'm not even sure whether or not it is a bad one; not only because I find plenty of ways to practice even on such days but also because my sound and range on these days are still better than a normal day a couple of years back
You can also be plain practical: record yourself regularly on a few reference pieces. Compare from year to year and see for yourself.
Interesting in that last night my daughters' piano teacher mentioned recording myself and then listening to it. The teacher has 20+ years teaching and plays in a local symphony so she has a bit of talent/validation. Funny thing is that when I watch my daughter play piano it seems really easy to validate improvement or lack there of but as you gain more experience I would tend to agree that validation often comes from someone else. Like playing for Easter and my friend noticing my improvement to pick up a piece on the fly when we first grabbed the music to practice or someone in a company band making a comment of hey good job, but those have come over time of working on pushing the limits the past 1.5 years and now comeback for about 4 years now and continually finding ways to try to improve or get to the 'next' level.
Sometimes problem is just defining what level I'm at currently and where I want to go.. I've been reminded its best to keep the goals focused which is good versus trying to improve everything. I've also been told by other brass members that everyone hits plateaus and then it is a question of whether that is your peak or if you go beyond the plateau to the next level.
A heavy reliance on points-in-time methods is, in my opinion, a flawed approach. In so much we will all readily admit to having good days and bad days, the impact of those good days and bad days are exactly why occasional sampling can be flawed. True progress is best measured with a very personal connection and, in music, the learned and hopefully patient attention of a mentor is invaluable.
The less experienced you are, the faster the rate of improvement. As you progress, the rate slows and it becomes harder to see improvement over shorter time periods. There will be good days and bad days that are spikes along the mental graph of improvement, but you have to ignore them when evaluating yourself. At this point, I find my only measure of improvement to be playing a piece of music and thinking "wow, I wouldn't have been able to play that a few years ago". It becomes so gradual that you don't notice it in day-to-day playing.
I see that in a big band group. We'll bring back a song from a few years back and suddenly it got easier.
Exactly! I find the same thing happening to me in a couple of groups I've been in for years. We'll pull out a piece we haven't tried in a long time (mainly because we couldn't play it), and it sounds great on the first run-through. That means the other guys are getting better, too...
When my wife lets me play in the house while she is home.
Except that it was anything but sudden...
When my bad air days are hard to remember when they happened last.
When my flexibility consistently allows me to do anything I can think of on the horn.
When I can’t wait to get to my studio so I can practice.
When a 4 hour gig feels like 5 minutes.
When a 4 hour gig feels as good at the end as it does at the beginning.
When playing triplets from Dbl Pedal C to Double C and back down feels easy.
When I get this feeling that my air is flowing right through my horn and nailing this imaginary spot about 20 feet past my bell.
When the horn has so much vibration the third valve bottom cap unscrews it self and falls on the floor.
When the horn section is so tight with each other you can hear the slight oscillation of the frequencies moving back and forth between the bells on long holds.
When someone comes up to you that you’ve never seen before, recognizes you as “That Trumpet Player” and can’t stop talking to you about how incredible you sounded a month ago when they heard you play at a show.
Improvement to me is a very personal thing. I’ve never try to be better than the next guy, I don’t care what he sounds like, I have no control over him, I only have control of me, so I always try to out play myself. My goal is to learn how to play the horn to the point where I can’t get any more efficient, (which never happens). My passion is always face time on the horn, on stage, I just love it. If I can learn something new about being more efficient on the horn in my studio, then take what I’ve learned into battle on the stage and make it work there, I walk away pretty pleased and say to myself “ Yes, we learned one more thing” THIS is improvement to me…It is never ending…..that is the beauty of the Trumpet !!
Not preaching….. This topic got me thinking so I wrote down my thoughts on what I consider is improvement….