by Gail Williams
In thinking about this article, so many people have given wonderful advice and perspective. I thought I would add to what has been written and add some of my soul-searching ideas. How does one teach students to think about the importance of practicing now for the future? We are so worried and stressed about the present; we forget we are preparing for the next 40+ years.
HOW? Let us think about building a big Triangle and the concept of a big base for success and longevity. (these concepts were taken from Hal Higdon’s marathon book). Injuries occur when our training is short, or our base of our triangle is short. Mental training, flexibility, strength and endurance all come from the base of this triangle.
If we think that the left part of the triangle is our left-brain, and right side of triangle is the performing, we can start to build this base and have a very high peak of the triangle for a peak performance.
Mental training, where to start? If I were to have time to list all the books that are now available, this article would be VERY long. But a good starting place would be “Inner Game of Tennis” by Timothy Gallwey, “Audition Success and Performance Success” by Don Greene, “Talent Code” by Daniel Coyle, to name a few, but Everyone needs to find their own focus. Meditation, biofeedback, yoga and many other options are a few suggestions. In this fast paced world, we all need to choose “something”! Learning your best way to “stay in the music,” as Mr. Herseth would say and “always Perform and Sing.”
Another basic aspect of this triangle… practice. Practice is for perfection… NO… Practice is for Permanence! Repetitions, like a tennis player, just remember that one can change daily practice routines but always keep similar basics (scales, articulations, flexibility exercises, long tones) but “the fear to change inhibits growth.”
THE BREATH!! Efficient breathing, the ease of inhales, and ease of exhales, taking full efficient breaths. as Mr. Jacobs would want to hear relaxed air rushing past the lips. Maybe thinking of the WHOO-tOOO is the simple way of explaining or go watch a baby and imitate how they breathe and haven’t been told to do something else.
Body conditioning… Aerobic training, core, posture, self-esteem. all go into that base of our triangle. I have been fortunate to study some Alexander Technique and a little of Aston Patterning. Both of these techniques have made me aware of the importance of posture and the lack of tension in the body in any performance or practice of music.
Tension KILLS tone, so get some guidance and experience the ease of playing the horn!
In conclusion, there is no one way of reaching a peak performance but one must try many ideas and keep learning and experimenting with the physical and mental approach to horn playing. ONE thing to remember, that a PERFECT note performance, just may be a boring performance. Keep in your Right side of the brain in the performance, art form.