music

A Thought On Audience

In my first #nerdlution goal, I set out to write publicly via this blog, every day for 50 days. I found that knowing it was “out there” for others to read and respond to really inspired me to get it done and pushed me in ways I couldn’t have predicted.

I’m in the middle of week three of my second #nerdlution goal—playing my trumpet every day—and I’m finding that I’m more lax with getting it done. I think I’ve only missed three days out of 17, but still, I’m less inspired and I think it has to do with a lack of audience. There’s also the fact that (for me) it’s a harder and more personal goal than writing.
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music

Practicing Play, Playing to Practice

playing_to_practiceToday I was presented with an interesting challenge which led to a possible epiphany. One of my mostly “online friends,” Kevin Hodgson, wrote a song last night, and today, asked if I was interested in coming up with some horn lines for it. It was a completely no pressure situation, but immediately the perfectionist in me started to come up with all kinds of excuses not to do it: I’m rusty; it’s not my style; it’s been a long time since I wrote anything; what about what I planned to practice?; etc. etc. etc. But since I’m working on getting my musical side going and working on not caring so much what others think, I said Sure, why not?

I had heard the song once or twice and started coming up with ideas in my head while I went about my day. Kevin sent the audio file and I figured I would use my “built in” #nerdlution practice time to work on it. When I got my horn out though, I was presented with an old road block. I was reluctant to work on the horn lines for Kevin’s song—something that seemed fun and interesting—because I felt like I should work on my fundamentals and technique. Right away I saw that doing the fun part, writing some horn lines and playing them, contributed to my goal of getting my trumpet chops in shape, while giving me an opportunity to work on other aspects of music.

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music

It Begins: The Great Chop Revival of 2014

beginningsI just finished my first of 50 consecutive practice sessions to get my chops back on the trumpet. I’ve never really lost sight of the fact that playing trumpet (or any brass instrument) is such physical experience, but starting out today really brought that into focus.

Playing trumpet is a lot like lifting weights. You can’t just load up a barbell with a bunch of weights and expect to lift it, or lift it and end up hurting yourself. Similarly on trumpet, when you’re out of shape or haven’t played for a while, you won’t be able to play as long or as high in the register. One’s tone often takes a hit too; out of shape chops tend to have a more airy sound. On top of this, the fingers and the tongue (yes the tongue!) will be lagging as well. The fingers are how you change the pitches to a degree—much of it is done with the lips—and the tongue is you articulate a note, making it crisp or soft or accented in some fashion. Without regular workouts, all these elements will be weak or non-existent.

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#nerdlution Round II: Reviving the Chops

trumpet_and_oilI’ve been thinking about what I want to do for my next 50 day challenge (a.k.a. #nerdlution round II) and I’ve decided to tackle a beast: reviving my trumpet chops. I’ve played trumpet since I was 9 and majored in music at UCSC. I was a decent player, got gigs, etc., but once I had my first kid almost 9 years ago, it’s been a slow decline.

For the first few years of Keana’s life, I kept my chops up and taught at two different music schools while working a “day job” full time. I had occasional gigs playing with a few bands around San Francisco and Oakland, with a wedding or funeral thrown in here and there, but about 5 years ago I really put it aside, only playing a few times a week, then a few times a month. At this point my chops are in working condition, but they are a mere shadow of their former glory.

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