Nailing a note in the middle of nowhere

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DDoghouse
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Nailing a note in the middle of nowhere

Post by DDoghouse » Sat Mar 24, 2018 8:22 am

This is making me nuts.

I'm playing Schumann's 2nd. In the first movement, there is a single high g# staccato eighth note in the middle of a vast wasteland of rests. There are literally close to 120 bars to count before being required to pick off a loud stinger out of nowhere.

How do you practice for something like that? I can hit the note cleanly in practice, even multiple times but when the meter's running I'm batting around .250. I don't think I have enough practice time available to simulate the actual situation (i.e play a high g#, count 120 bars, play another, count, play... until it works).

Thoughts on any other approaches?
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Matt K
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Re: Nailing a note in the middle of nowhere

Post by Matt K » Sat Mar 24, 2018 8:46 am

I had similar problems with whichever Beethoven requires you to come in on a high D or something after waiting for basically three movements without playing. I'd leave my horn out on a stand and just focus on hitting that pitch and then go about my daily business. I'd come back to the horn every hour or so and just see if I could hit it. After doing that for a few days, no problem.

I'm not familiar with Schumann's 2nd but if you can get your hands on the score, find the place that you're having trouble and see if someone else is playing the pitch. This can help in two ways:

1) If someone else has it and they're nailing it (e.g. it's the middle range for a clarinet so it should basically always be perfect), you can hone in on it and use that to audiate.

2) If someone else is playing it poorly (out of tune, air attacks , etc.) it may be influencing you and you might not even realize it!

Additionally, you can see the context that the note appears in so if it's, say an A natural right before, you know to hear the G# as a leading tone into that note, etc. So if that's the case, work on playing the G# over an "A" drone.
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BGuttman
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Re: Nailing a note in the middle of nowhere

Post by BGuttman » Sat Mar 24, 2018 9:19 am

Getting the note in your head is half the battle.

I'd bet you don't have trouble if the note is in the bass staff, so apparently the higher notes aren't a clean enough part of your range. Sam Burtis goes on about this a lot (or did when we had TTF).

Remington used the Security in the Upper Register exercise to get the higher notes to be as easy to find as the lower range notes.

I also like Matt's suggestion.
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DDoghouse
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Re: Nailing a note in the middle of nowhere

Post by DDoghouse » Sat Mar 24, 2018 9:35 am

I like the "walk by" practice approach.

The high C in Beethoven 5 is fairly easy to hear since you are playing the tonic. In the Schumann, the chord is a surprise harmonically, so it's really hard to grab the pitch from the context.

I think the biggest problem is that the trombones only get one whack at it in every rehearsal. I think if I could even get two shots at it in a row I could fix the issue.
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Neo Bri
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Re: Nailing a note in the middle of nowhere

Post by Neo Bri » Sat Mar 24, 2018 9:43 am

Perfect pitch helps.

Barring that, memorizing what it'll sound like in the context of the music before it is the way to go.

I suppose "feel" is extremely important, too.
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hyperbolica
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Re: Nailing a note in the middle of nowhere

Post by hyperbolica » Sat Mar 24, 2018 9:47 am

You have to hear the note in your head. Check out the score and see which instrument plays that note before you do, and key on that. Some will suggest that you play it quietly or maybe an octave down before it arrives. Just hear the note one way or another.
DDoghouse
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Re: Nailing a note in the middle of nowhere

Post by DDoghouse » Sat Mar 24, 2018 1:44 pm

Nobody plays the note before I do. Or after. I am actually the only instrument in the orchestra playing that note for that one chord. It's a diminished chord. As I mentioned, the only hope of a hint is from the violin line.
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Doghouse Dan
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blast
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Re: Nailing a note in the middle of nowhere

Post by blast » Sat Mar 24, 2018 5:59 pm

We play by a combination of hearing and feeling what we do. We need to be able to aurally visualise a note that we have to play for sure.... but we also have to FEEL it.
We have this kind of thing in opera in spades.....
The opera I played tonight....pedal Ab pianissimo for two bars after 18 minutes resting......a solo passage after 23 minutes of resting....
I play the notes required a LOT during the day.... no, I mean a LOT.....
Get to know the feel of the note....get your face in the best shape....
If you don't have the time.... if you don't get to REALLY know the note.... you will just have to be lucky.
No magic answer.... but there never is.

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Re: Nailing a note in the middle of nowhere

Post by whitbey » Sat Mar 24, 2018 6:46 pm

The bad boy approach, Find a spot that you can play a low G very soft and blend with an orchestras G. I have even gone though a YouTube recording with a pitch pipe so I know where I can get away with it.
Been doing it for years and I play soft enough people think I am just dump the spit valve.
DDoghouse
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Re: Nailing a note in the middle of nowhere

Post by DDoghouse » Sat Mar 24, 2018 9:18 pm

Thanks all for the suggestions and advice. Played the gig tonight, got lucky.

In a way, just discussing the problem was helpful in that it got me out of the victim frame of mind and into addressing the problem head on.'
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Neo Bri
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Re: Nailing a note in the middle of nowhere

Post by Neo Bri » Sat Mar 24, 2018 9:24 pm

Nice. It's interesting to hear the different methods people have to achieve this problem. I talk about it a lot with colleagues and students,too.
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FullPedalTrombonist
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Re: Nailing a note in the middle of nowhere

Post by FullPedalTrombonist » Sat Mar 31, 2018 1:24 pm

I like the bad boy approach. I’ve done that a few times in some jazz bands when there is a high soli or solo part coming up. Super quietly playing the first note helps a good deal. When it’s not possible practice is the alternative. Or slightly more practice than usual. After taking a break from a practice session just pick up your horn and play that note exactly how you will need to in performance. If it works then do it again the next time.
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bubbachet
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Re: Nailing a note in the middle of nowhere

Post by bubbachet » Wed Apr 04, 2018 1:46 pm

This thread gave me an insane amount of anxiety. I don't even play in a group right now and I'm still sweating bullets.


Glad it went well!
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DakoJack
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Re: Nailing a note in the middle of nowhere

Post by DakoJack » Fri Apr 20, 2018 1:26 am

Congrats on it going well !! I enjoyed this thread lots of good advice I agree completely with just locking in on the pitch Ive had times where if I was worried I would hum the note to myself before I played it of course this only works if other people are playing to drown you out. Air support is also huge not to state the obvious but I think theres alot of confidence that comes with the deep breath before.
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