Tuesday, December 28, 2010

No Rest For the Determined

Holiday time is a wonderful time to visit with family and friends. It can also be great to have time away from our usual schedule to reconnect to ourselves and get refreshed. But, it can also be a time during these winter, spring or summer breaks to get a lot of good solid practice in.

This past summer, the topic for the Frequency Bone Summer Music Connection was about what is improvement and truly making the most out of our practice time when on summer vacation. If you plan it right, you can have a good three hour practice session and still be with family, friends and getting some good rest.

Some people seem to have a hard time with planning their own practice time without a schedule to work around like a summer music festival or school activities. But if you need motivation outside yourself, remember that lots of festival auditions take place not that much after school gets back in session in January. Plus there are school auditions and some competitions as well.

I used to love school vacations because I could practice all day if I wanted to and did many times! I would go outside when I lived on a farm in southern Minnesota and practice projection in three dimensions. That is how I developed my 3D sound exercises. Plus being with the trees and huge Minnesotan sky, I felt like a part of nature and the feeling of my sound and overall music making would take on different characteristics.

Practicing can be enjoyable and so constructive even when we are not planning for any particular event. Just for our own development and love of playing music through our instruments. Vacation time doesn't mean you need to go vacant in your mind and playing. Make the most out of your time by setting all kinds of short term, mid term and long term goals.

Why take lots of time off when you are young and still in school? If you really love and want something, keep at it with rest periods of course. I am not anti rest! Rest is vital but one must learn to tell the difference between rest and neglect born of laziness or lack of motivation. When you really are determined, you don't even think in terms of taking time off. You think, when can I get at it again?

One excellent thing to do this time of year is to reflect on what we did this past year. Ask yourself what you would like to improve on and acknowledge what progress you did make. Reflection and keeping a journal is a wonderful way to chart our development and see where we are at. You can also detect your patterns and cycles.

Happy New Year! May your practicing be bright, merry and connected!

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Trio of Seconds

Yesterday I attended a BSO retiree get together which happens about three times a year. It was my first time doing this since I left the orchestra in December of 2007, exactly three years ago.

It was really nice to see everyone who was there. When I joined the BSO in 1975 I was the youngest member at 20 years old. Now at 55 years old, I'm the youngest retiree! Life is funny....

In this picture, there are three former BSO second trombonists. From left to right: William Moyer, Ronald Barron and myself. William 'BIll' Moyer had to play one of the most intense Mozart Requiems. It was for the internationally televised broadcast of the JKF funeral with the Boston Symphony playing. There is an old recording of it and Bill played wonderfully! I think the whole world, especially the US, was in such a state of mourning that it was an actual 'requiem' atmosphere. It was not a concert situation with the usual judgements or newspaper critics. Bill totally rose to the occasion. He was also the BSO personnel manager for many years after serving for 15 years as second trombone. Ron became 2nd trombone in 1970 and I replaced him as 2nd trombone in 1975 after he won the principal position.