My teacher thinks I'm too hard on myself sometimes. I'm not so sure.

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by RB-R37297, Nov 8, 2009.

  1. RB-R37297

    RB-R37297 Pianissimo User

    Mar 12, 2009
    Winnipeg, Manitoba
    I just got back from a Manitoba Senior Honor Band concert (sort of like All-State band in the States, I guess) in which I was playing third chair (which really meant playing all 1st parts). During the end I started to get a little bit more afflicted by stage fright - we were playing Hounds of Spring and I scored the only 1st Cornet part, so I was basically playing a solo in the slow, lyrical 4/4 section. I managed to nail everything there, but close to the end I got a little bit sloppy and tired and cracked the A's in the restatement of the theme from the 4/4 section and I missed a couple of G's on top of the staff in the lead-up to the ending. I found out that my private teacher was in the audience after the show and we chatted for a short period of time. She thought things went well, and I generally agreed with her but expressed slight regret at cracking the As close to the end of Hounds of Spring. She insisted that I was being too hard on myself and that I should focus on what was good about the concert.

    This is one of the first times I've disagreed with my teacher on anything. I prefer to keep my shortcomings on the dashboard so that I can work on them the most. I agree with her that there is a time and a place for patting yourself on the back, but generally I like to keep my mistakes up on the windshield while leaving my past accomplishments in the backseat. This isn't to say that I was raging and thought the concert was a complete bust due to those mistakes, I just focused on them more than the good parts of the concert.

    What do you tend to dwell on more, your successes or your regrets or mistakes? For those of you who teach, what do you think of students who tend to focus on their mistakes more than their successes?
  2. tedh1951

    tedh1951 Utimate User

    Oct 18, 2007
    The Wide Brown Land
    Beating yourself up does no-one any good.

    Certainly recognise the "errors" and put them aside to work on - later. But your teacher is correct - What was good? How well did you engage with your audience? How did the feel of the concert in general impose itself on you? Did you have trouble coming down after the gig? I always do.

    Teachers are there to show you at least two things, how to learn from your mistakes - strangley, it is the mistakes that cause you to improve,
    and how to get it right - that's what she's telling you, listen, absorb, rejoice.

    You will ALWAYS be your own harshest critic. Audiences know we all make blunders and they bleed WITH us - focussing on the few errors will only reinforce those errors - focus on the best bits and that will reinforce them. Your choice.

    Well done for the performance - anything that faintly smacks of a solo still terrifies me - I do 'em but it ain't my favorite game.

  3. Pakatak

    Pakatak New Friend

    I played the 1st Cornet Part to Hounds of Spring last year in my school band. Not the director's greatest idea... but it was still a fantastic piece. I know exactly which part you're talking about, and that was definitely a pain in the rear, especially considering we played it at the end of our set at competitions.

    Anyway, my teacher has also been getting on me about being really hard on myself. I am VERY critical and get down on myself for every cracked note I make. However, in your case, it looks like you just ran out of gas at the end of a demanding song. If you're going to be critical of your own endurance, I hope for your own sake you get that endurance before you beat yourself up too much, or learn to be a bit less critical. Trust me, I learned that one the hard way - five months off the horn isn't a fun way to end the school year (and then start the next one).
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2009
  4. RB-R37297

    RB-R37297 Pianissimo User

    Mar 12, 2009
    Winnipeg, Manitoba
    Well that's just the thing. My stance on making mistakes has gotten much better. If this had been me six months ago I probably would have regarded the entire concert as a huge failure for, realistically, getting sloppy at the home stretch. There was a lot of good stuff going on in that concert (I could have fallen to my knees and wept during Lux Aurumque - there was some absolutely beautiful music made during that piece), but instead of focusing on that, I chose to look at the mistakes I made I think in part because I expect myself to be playing musically and to be playing well most of the time (during another piece, I had no problem with sustaining a high Bb for eight bars at the end of the piece). This is a classic case of me getting sloppy close to the end - I'm pretty sure I had the face for this, I just couldn't get up there maybe due to lack of a good breath at the top of the phrase or maybe shaking too badly due to nerves, or something similar. I'm not hugely disappointed, I'm just not exactly impressed, you know?

    And to Pakatak, yeah, it's a little brutal, but I really don't envy the 1st Trumpets on that tune. I think they had it way worse than I did. But yeah, I actually have the part in front of me, and I cracked the A's in measures 254 and 263. :-P
  5. Pedal C

    Pedal C Mezzo Forte User

    Jan 24, 2005
    I don't know you, so I have no idea if you're too hard on yourself or not, but look at it from your teacher's perspective. If you say, "I was lousy at [x]," it sounds negitive. If you say, "I need to work on [x]," it sounds positive, even though you're describing the same thing.

    One other thing...ALWAYS ACCEPT PRAISE! In grad school, a faculty member (who also happend to be my trumpet teachers wife!) congratulated me after a performance that I wasn't happy with. I said something to the effect of "Aw shucks, I know I wasn't any good, but thanks for saying that." Needless to say, my next trumpet lesson was not a happy one.

    Just because a performance doesn't quite reach your standards doesn't mean it wasn't good.
  6. RB-R37297

    RB-R37297 Pianissimo User

    Mar 12, 2009
    Winnipeg, Manitoba
    Generally whenever I'm approached by someone who's congratulating me I will always accept it without any sort of recourse at all. They are telling me that they believe that the music that we made for them was worth commending. It is not my place to disagree because I'm not making the music for myself.

    With my teacher though, it was a little different. First she said I did a good job, which I accepted. Then she asked how I thought I played, whereupon I told her I was slightly disappointed in myself for missing the As.
  7. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Does it really matter what someone else says?
    If so, then listen, if not, then continue to whine.

    Cracking an A or G towards the end means that your concentration was down, no more, no less. What you need to do is figure out what was too much that day, and fix it.

    Thinking about what most kids do on concert days, cracked notes are no surprise to me.

    On concert days, I play only what I have to, I play a couple of notes at home to get a feel for how everything is working, then I go to the rehearsal or gig. No big party the night before. I make sure that I drink enough water on those days and as far as meals go before a tough concert, usually pasta with a light sauce. The starch from the noodles turns into sugar easily and the body does not have to burn tons of energy to digest. That leaves me with more energy for the gig. I NEVER eat burgers or other fatty foods before. That just makes me sleepy!

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