Why am I struggling so much with this solo

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Pie Girl, Dec 1, 2013.

  1. barliman2001

    barliman2001 Fortissimo User

    Jul 5, 2010
    Vienna, Austria, Europe
    Just remember one thing - whether it is 1st, or 4th, or 189th chair - whoever wrote the music and the arrangement did put in so many instrument because he/she/it thought they were necessary. Take away even the tiniest bit, and the music is incomplete. No instrument and no chair is more important than any other. It may be that some instruments and some chairs can be heard better by the audience; but every single part is necessary.
    When some composer guy (I forget which, but might have been Beethoven) played before the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, the Emperor (who liked simple airs) after the concert told him: "You've written very many notes there." he got the reply "Exactly as many as necessary, Sire." That's the spirit.
  2. odd67ar

    odd67ar Pianissimo User

    Apr 30, 2010
    Oslo, Norway
    Too much tension
  3. xjb0906

    xjb0906 Piano User

    May 2, 2009
    Charlotte NC
    Listen to lots of different music styles and instruments. Listen specifically to different recordings of the arrangements that you are playing. Incorporate the things that you like into your performance. Don't be afraid to slow down the rough spots when practicing. It is much easier to speed it up once you get it right. It hardly ever works the other way around.Try to get the background on the music. Most publishers will have the story that the music is based on written down and posted on their website. Take all of those and build a story in your head. It takes the technical side out and lets you concentrate on making music. Make music and everything else will fall into place. The LAST thing you need to be thinking about when making music is competition.
  4. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Story time. This is one of my own experiences that is maybe a little bit similar to what you've gone through recently, and I decided to share it because I was reminded by CornyAndy with this comment:

    When I was a Freshman in HS I had a lot of success with the horn. I improved by leaps and bounds that year and by the end of the year, I was second chair to only my sister, who was a senior at the time. We had a regional music contest every year and although I played a trumpet solo, my thought wasn't to win - to me it was a foregone conclusion that my sister would win (which she did) and all I wanted to do was to get a '1' rating, which I did.

    When she graduated, it was a foregone conclusion to me at that point that I would be first chair the next year (the 3rd chair play from the year before was also a senior, so less competition for me) and it was also a foregone conclusion to me that I'd win the trumpet solo award at the regional music contests.

    Neither came to pass. I didn't sit first chair because my friend, who was then a senior, was seated ahead of me. The band director we got that year seemed to think that underclassmen should not occupy the lead seat, even though it was pretty clear that I was the more solid player between the two of us.

    A lot of things happened that year. You know that old saying about how you need to keep your friends close and your enemies closer? I didn't realize that my "friend" also had designs on the trumpet solo award, and his strategy was to keep me occupied so that I wasn't practicing, and being a Sophomore in HS (along with my foregone conclusion that I was going to win) I never really thought about too much. I found out years later, that he'd keep me occupied well into the evening, just hanging out as friends, then I'd go home, do homework and go to bed, and he'd keep his family up practicing.

    Ulimately, neither of us won the award. We both were awarded '1-' ratings, and lost to a Junior from another town. Simply put, if I had made my best effort I feasibly could have won it, but I came in unprepared, hacked my way through my solo, and just didn't get the job done, and my friend wasn't really good enough to pull it off even with the additional practice.

    I didn't make the same mistake twice. The following year, my Junior year, I put in the time and worked hard on chops and technique, and I made danged sure I was prepared for my contest solo. I rolled in and annihilated the kid who won the year before. He still got a '1' rating on his solo, but mine was a much more difficult solo, (I played the Goedicke Concert Etude at about warp 9 tempo) and my level of execution was simply better than his. I scored '1+' rating. The best part was the psych-out that happened. As luck would have it, I was the first soloist of the day, and he was sitting in the stands of the gym where we were doing the trumpet solos with some of his friends. After I'd ripped through my solo, I looked up and I could see it in his face - he knew before he played a note that he wasn't going to be able to overcome the performance I had turned in. My solo was harder, and I was better prepared.

    On one hand, while playing music shouldn't necessarily be a competition, it was that competitive drive that made me work hard and become the better player, and the experience I described above was crucial to my development as a musician. If I hadn't failed to win the award that year and not gotten shown up by someone who worked harder for it than I did, I might never has pushed as hard as I did to make it happen the following year. That was the springboard that pushed me forward to a higher level of proficiency and performance, and it was that year that I started doing real gigs. Prior to then, I simply wasn't ready for it - my chops weren't develped enough and I hadn't developed the mental toughness.

    On another note, and this pertains to the mental aspect of performance stress and anxiety, on that day as a Junior at the regional music contest, I was super nervous. Everything I had worked for that year had come down to those next three minutes, and I might have folded under nerves and pressure, but I was so prepared that playing through that solo was automatic, just liked I'd rehearsed it dozens of times prior to that day. That's why knowing you are prepared is so important, and it goes along with the old saying, "don't practice until you get it right, practice until you can't get it wrong."
  5. veery715

    veery715 Utimate User

    Mar 6, 2007
    Ithaca NY
    I am curious is anything else is going on in your life which has changed, or is it only your trumpet playing which is suffering? Be honest about this. What is happening to you on trumpet may only be a symptom of something else which needs to be looked at.
  6. Dr.Mark

    Dr.Mark Mezzo Forte User

    Apr 5, 2011
    Now let me get this right. You heard 4 other trumpets play it and you can't figure it out?
    Sounds like you've got competition fever. Here's the great misconception. It's not a competition unless you want it to be.
    Your job is to play it correctly and beautifully, period. Who gives a rat's ass what others are thinking? You need to remember why you play the trumpet. Who put this mental concept of "competition" upon you? It wasn't me, it wasn't VB, it wasn't even kingtrumpet. It was you and you've now learned that doing so is a quick way to tense up and screw up.
    Here's the good news. It's a mental game that you now have the keys to success. Instead of playing to kick someones ass or to best someone, play because the trumpet is a beautiful instrument and people want to hear it played correctly.
    Another common problem around this time of year is sinuses which when infected, effects the ears. It could have been a sinus condition that made you not get it right. Let's face it, if you can't hear it correctly, it's pretty damned hard to replicate it correctly. I use Allegra around this time of year before I perform..
    Just remember, competition is something that makes music ugly. Not once has the idea of competition helped a person play. More than once has the concept of competition messed a person up.
  7. Cornyandy

    Cornyandy Fortissimo User

    Jan 9, 2010
    East Yorkshire
    Try saying that at the national finals in the British Brass Band World. I once got totally flamed on another site for daring to suggest that all Brass Banders were rooting for each other and were hoping to win by their better playing rather than the mistakes of others......And folks wonder why I have little regard for the British Brass Band world and its contest mania. (Which I beleive is slowly destroying the movement)
  8. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Anyone who thinks that the world of music is totally about making great music and competitiveness is not a factor is seriously deluding themselves. Competition IS a factor, especially in the formative years of a musician's education, whether we like it or not. My competitive drive is what made it possible for me to have a career as a military musician, and to continue to play once I left the Army. Even when it wasn't about trying to be better than my peers, it was still about trying to bring myself up to the level of those around me, which in its own way is competitive. Anyone trying to win an audition is competing.

    Right or wrong, our OP is competing for her chair - the person who plays it the best gets the lead seat - period.

    Dr. Mark, you and I may disagree on this one - competition may be an ugly aspect of being a musician, but it's the competition that brings out the very best in the musicians, and actually elevates the music to the best it can be.

    Unfortunately, when judging something like a music competition, due to the fact that it's so subjective, when dealing with the best of the best, sometimes the mistakes are the only measurable metric we can use to determine who was "better" on a given day.
  9. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    Tension exudes from your post. I prescribe relaxation for you.
  10. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    My post, or Pie Girl's post? If you prescribe relaxation for me, can I get it in the form of aged liquid "muscle relaxant?"

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