Present Time

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by gregtrum84, Jul 22, 2006.

  1. gregtrum84

    gregtrum84 New Friend

    Oct 19, 2005
    Boston, MA

    I've seen/heard a lot of talk about "staying in the present" when playing; ie being concerned with only what you are doing now and not worrying about, say, a difficult section coming up in a piece or dwelling on a chipped note back at measure 43. I can say with confidence that in my very best playing and my very best auditions I have been totally immersed in the present and focused only on the beautiful sound I'm making. Jim Thompson talks about this concept is his book, and I've heard that Chris Martin said one of the three most important things he learned in school was to "stay in the present".

    My problem (and not just mine I'm sure) is that I can't control when my mind "locks" into present time and I'm not sure how to practice learning how to develop this control, concentration, or whatever "it" is that focuses my attention on the moment.

    Do any of you have anything to say regarding this concept? Anything to say regarding how to practice and develop this kind of focus? I would especially be interested in the opinions of those professionals out there who may care to comment.


  2. Alex Yates

    Alex Yates Forte User

    Aug 11, 2005
    Atlanta, GA
    Hello Greg,

    I don't mean to over simplify your question here, but your answer is before you. You need to get in the habit of doing this all of the time and not just when auditioning or in performance. That is all. Practice being intensely in this mindset all of the time....easier said than done....until it becomes second nature. Then you will be truly free musically. An important tool in all of this, aside from acute listening and intense sound concept, is the METRONOME. It acts as a "present-time generator". (that is a Thompsonism) Make sure to get in the habit of using one of those very regularly, even if you don't think you need it. ;-)

    One technique, off the top of my head, is subdividing. That is a good way to remain in present time on sustained notes. There are more techniques, but you get the general idea.
  3. robertwhite

    robertwhite Mezzo Piano User

    Nov 11, 2003
    Rather than think of it as control, realize that it's simply attention. Meditation has been helpful for me in this regard, but you can really do it anywhere, anytime. See how fully you can pay attention to something (eating breakfast, shaving, whatever).
  4. Billy B

    Billy B Pianissimo User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Des Moines, IA
    I am convinced that playing the trumpet is 90% mental, 9% air and 1% everything else. In order to keep your mind in the present the mind must remain calm. Practicing this every day is fundamental to developing this skill. It must start simple. Keeping your mind focused on nothing but the sound while playing a series of long tones is a good place to start. When you feel your mind begin to wander a bit, put the horn down, refocus and start again. This may seem too simple, but this type of concentration is developed through repetition. The ability to keep your focus in the heat of the battle must begin with developing that ability during long repetitive sessions where the main distraction is the simplicity and repetitiveness of the exercise. I remember playing a Charlier etude at a faculty recital when I got completely lost visually on the page. The sound carried me through and I played flawlessly. I was so in the zone. It was an amazing experience.

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