Thoughts on listening to recordings.

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by trumpet blower88, Jan 29, 2006.

  1. trumpet blower88

    trumpet blower88 Mezzo Piano User

    Jun 15, 2005
    Flagstaff, AZ
    This weekend was Arizona's Solo and Ensemble Festival. I played the Hummel, wich I've been preparing for about 4 to 5 months now. I got a II on it, wich dissapoints me because I didn't play nearly as well as I normaly do, if I played it as well as I usualy do, I'm sure I would have got a I.

    The thing that really got me thinking about it though is what the judge asked me after my performance, he asked me what recordings I listend to and what I picked up from the recordings that arn't written on the paper. I'm sure many of us here listen to recordings of others in order to prepare a piece, we do this all the time in my band and orchestra classes at school, and I'm sure it helps us alot even if we don't really realize it, but after thinking about it today, I thought "Why?"

    The last few months I have listend to a countless number of recordings of the Hummel to help with style and interpretations. Now that I think of it, this might be part of the reason I did so poorly yesterday. In the hours leading up to my performance I listend to the Wynton Marsallis recording three or four times as a litle last minuet reminder of the dynamics he used here, and the articulations he used there. Even though I had all of this written on my part for me to see, while I was perfoming I was still trying to imagin how he did it and everything, I think that may have taken away from some of my concentration. If I could go back now, I would have just gone in there and played it the way I play it, express myself, and show off.

    So all of this made me wonder, why do we as performers try to model ourselves after other performers who have already acheived greatness, and why do our teachers tell us to listen to the recordings and try to play it like that? Shouldn't they want us to express ourselves and play it the way we interpret it? I would love to be able to play just like Manny, or Wilmer, but why? Manny and Wilmer already play like that, if someone wants to here something played like that, they would go listen to Manny or Wilmer. Music is all about expressing ourselves on a personal level. When I performed the Hummel yesterday I tried to play it the way Wynton played it, but why? If the judge wanted to here it played like that, he'd go listen to Wynton, not me. Why don't our teachers advise us to play it how we interpret it, why do they want us to sound just like someone else?
  2. jcstites

    jcstites Mezzo Forte User

    Jun 1, 2005
    Tallahassee, FL
    I see where you are going and coming from, but I will advise you to take a step back in your thoughts.

    Listening to recordings is one of THE best ways to become a better player. There are many reasons why the greats are great. What better way to become better than emulate what they do? Listen to as many as possible and gather bits and pieces you like to combine and form your own interpretation.

    Yes we have to be ourselves and express what we want, but in "legit" and classical playing there are standards that must be met to please most people's ears.

    One of my best performances ever was at the National Trumpet Competition when I was a senior in high school. I was playing the Kennan Mvt. 1. Clodfelter (my teacher) had me buy the Ray Mase recording. I ate this recording up. I would listen to it for hours some days and try to internalize his sound, articulation and style.

    I listened to it the whole trip there in the car on repeat, then the day before and day of I listened to my favorite music (from nessun dorma to dr. dre). I went in there and played the crap out it. Why? I felt incredibly prepared one, but also because I knew how I wanted it to sound. It was almost as if I had a cd player in my head playing a recording and I was playing along with it. I ended up getting 2nd that year, but the best thing that happened was engraining Ray's sound and style into me.

    I use this sensation of a recording in my head all the time. It goes along with the sound concept you always hear about, but incorporates everything else including sound. If you hear what you want in your head you will produce it, and have the ability to express other things that come to you at the moment.

    Recordings not only give you a place to start and interpret the style, but gives you more ideas and concepts that you can draw from in the future on everything you play.

    Wow I just typed alot, but I think I got what I wanted to say out there.

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