Welcome to Weekly Trumpet Tips:
(1) Self Induced Psychological War-fare!
(2) Ron’s Improv Tip
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Tip #1 – Self Induced Psychological War-fare!
Imagine the excitement (or terror) you feel when you are given a solo in a band situation, or a new song that’s extremely challenging – lead, solo, section-wise, what ever the case may be. Most folks will go home and shed like mad on what they’ve been given so that they sound great. But what about that little voice that most of us carry with us? That little voice that starts flashing pictures in your mind of the sheer terror you would feel if you fell on your face during the performance of this special moment you’ve been given. Heck – maybe it’s not even a special highlighted moment per-se, maybe it’s just been a long time since you’ve performed live!
What I’m describing above happens a lot… and it used to haunt me in my sleep! And since this is an open forum and I have nothing to hide, I’ll tell you about my MOST embarrassing face plant to date! I was on Maynard’s band… ya – it starts out like that… UGH! We were in Minnesota – Minneapolis I think, and my parents drove up with my Grandma to see this particular performance… (not to add any extra pressure or anything.) By this time I was really trying to make the Monette mouthpieces work, and I was failing miserably! I was absolutely worn out within 15 minutes of our 75 minute show… and Boss was still sending the trumpets to the audience for “Hey Jude.” If you’d ever seen an MF concert, that was a highlight for a lot of folks… Long story short, I get out into the audience, my turn comes to play Hey Jude – ascending up to a G above high C and nothing is coming out… well, nothing good. I was humiliated… so much so that I wanted OFF the band THAT night! I even went to Maynard and apologized… this conversation started his helping me fix things and without it, I wouldn’t be where I’m at today! Man – THAT ONE HURT! And it created this pit of terror deep within me that stuck with me for years afterward. So much so that if I had a solo or had to play anything that was challenging my range, I would get the shakes and break into cold sweats!
But come to find out, it was all self-induced. I had heard a discussion on this very thing just a few years back – and what really caught my attention was when the presenter said that Barbara Streisand would spend most of her time back stage throwing up from the shear terror she felt pre-performance. But – she was able to tame that as she performed more and got more comfortable with the thought of performing.
What did it for her and what has helped me the most is realizing something VERY simple! WE CONTROL OUR THOUGHTS! We, as humans in a lot of cases are taught / programmed to fear the worst case scenario or at least not expect the best so that we won’t be disappointed “when” something doesn’t go our way… and when you wake up and realize how damning that alone is, it starts to make you question things. I was taught that VERY thing – “avoid disappointment later by expecting the worst now!” And when I knew I was having massive chops problems that fear started to well up inside me and basically helped me to crater even harder. I’ve had shows where I’ve talked myself into being nervous, and had performances not go as I would have hoped! But once I got a grip on myself and started kicking out any negative thoughts about my performance, I noticed a steady increase in “successful performances.” Was it over night? NO! The habit was planted a long time ago to think “worst case.” But with consistency, it improved…
I also noticed how things travel in circles this way… thinking things are gonna go bad, having them go bad and dealing with that side of things seemed to bring more bad shows… but the more I allow myself to feel the success and fantasize about playing great, the more the great shows are happening! Sure – little things sneak in and happen… but if you let them go immediately they won’t turn into quicksand and suck you under!
Tip #2 – Ron’s Improv Tip
Feel free to ask or respond to me for any questions you may have. REMEMBER Repetition makes perfect! Only if you practice correctly can you improve. and always play something harder each day to see this gradual improvement. Use a metronome! see also weekly tip 9/20!
My success just evolved from working hard at the business at hand each day.
Johnny Carson – 1925-2005, Television Host and Comedian
Have a GREAT Week!