Sunday, February 27, 2011

Much In Little

Many of you who spend time with music either listening, playing or practicing, start to build a value for the small things. The so called 'small' things are most often the building blocks for the so called 'bigger' things. For example, how could our 'big' bodies exist without the 'small' atoms? The power is in the small or often times 'unseen' worlds.

So I was thinking of putting out a series of posts called "Much In Little". This will be the first of such posts. They will consist of a tip, clue, exercise or contemplation all of which are 'small' but with practice will yield 'big' results if they are taken up and of course furthered.

This exercise is for brass players. On trombone if you want to trill, it most often needs to be a lip trill. A great builder of the corners of our embouchures can be cultivated in practicing lip trills a certain way. Many trill exercises have the player start with a natural slur and rhythmically speeding up until it gets fast enough to sound like a trill. I have found that the greater control comes from getting out of the trill, in other words gradually getting slower and slower from the fastest point of the trill. The mental image I have is of a fan being shut off. How smoothly the blade gets slower until it stops. A smooth gradual slow down. No sudden changes in the speed. This I have found to be an excellent corner builder. You might discover that certain ranges target the corners even more during the exercise.

A few minutes a day is all it takes. You might need to take some small breaks in between the different trills if your corners are really feeling it. Take a try if you are interested and leave a comment on the blog. I'd love to hear about your discoveries.


Jon Spooner said...

Great insight. Sometimes I feel I ignore some bigger issues because of this steady, honest practicing that you're referring to which requires so much concentration. Perhaps I'll really just spend the beginning of a session every day working on things like trills. Really appreciating the blog!

Norman Bolter said...

Hi Jon,
This is an excellent point you bring up. I find it important to balance my practice between working on the small details but in the light of the bigger musical picture. For part of my practice I 'free' myself from details and totally let myself express what is in me. Or sometimes I'll shift my attention from technical focus to fine tuning or tuning myself to the music. That can be just as 'detailed' and concentrated. Think how specific your radio dial has to be to pick up the frequency of the station you want. The mind can do the same thing!