I love all of this, and I hope we can all think through the implications of what we do day in and day out when we pick up our instruments to practice and perform.WilliamLang wrote: ↑Thu Sep 21, 2023 8:50 am I think that the social conditioning the music industry and classical music traditions have given brass musicians and specifically the trombone world are rather silly.
Very often we're still seen as second class musicians, or not worthy of being soloists in the way that violinists, pianists, and cellists can be soloists. But it's all non-sense. The instrument that we hold does not defined the musician who is holding it, though people are conditioned to think otherwise.
A person walks on stage at Carnegie Hall holding a violin, and an audience member will have an expectation. The same exact person walks out with a tuba, what will the audience be expecting? It has nothing to do with the person.
What do you call a version of Yo-Yo Ma that grew up playing trombone instead of cello? It's still Yo-Yo Ma, and still a musical genius, though they would be a fraction as famous. Why?
I believe that music can be somewhat independent of the instrument, and that some portamento between notes, or vocal flexibility, or just style should be celebrated and understood. The rigidness that we've put on ourselves in the classical industry can be great from a craft standpoint, but from a musicality side it can be constraining.
I will say when I teach people on other instruments, one of the first lesson I can give across the board is to get those musicians to play in time and without vibrato. It's almost 100% effective on every non-brass person I've taught. Reducing the music to the most basic of craft, then adding in conscious choices on top of that, rather than mimicking someone else's style, is a highly effective tool. But it always makes me think of how we teach each other - why not use the best of both worlds?
Last thought - we're often seen as trombonists first and musicians second, when I think we should be musicians first who happen to play trombone.
I have some close friends who are very serious and knowledgeable music-lovers but have very little understanding of brass instruments, how they are played, what the challenges are, etc. What do they want to hear from the brass section when they attend a Boston Symphony concert?
That's it. Chipped or missed notes distract them from the music. No matter how exciting the big gesture, a clam will ruin it for them. Given the choice, they would rather the brass be a little less exciting and much more accurate. The Boston Symphony brass these days does a pretty great job at doing both, so they are quite happy at most of the concerts they go to there. But they've also told me they were happy to see a couple of principal players go who missed too many notes for their liking.
I tell my students - and I truly believe it - that perfection is impossible, and that the most productive path to "perfect" outcomes is crystal-clear intentions. Song and Wind, yes, but the song has to be incredibly specific and conceived in finely grained detail.
I also tell my students - and myself - to aspire to play in such a way that the musical intention - the projection of musical imagination - is so strong that a missed note here or there won't matter to the listener. I've been in the room when someone wins an audition even though they missed a note, or even a few notes. I've heard of many more.
Am I being too easy on them? On myself? Maybe I am.
Is any of this mutually exclusive with the kinds of questions Will is asking? I don't think so.