Recently I premiered a work that had me doing some pretty darn crazy playing.  It was awesome and all over the place… problem is after I worked on that piece (and only that piece) for a couple months I was only able to play THAT piece. Don’t get me wrong, that was a fun thing to prepare and perform, it’s just been a little challenging switching gears to prepare for a regular trumpet and piano recital that I have in a month.1 copy

I am preparing a bunch of really great and fun rep – lyrical – flashy – fun rep… but instead of being able to tear through the practice, I am completely overwhelmed with fatigue!  I could play the stuff like the example on the left, but put a melody in front of me and my chops are feeling squashed. I have been going at it for about a week now and am finally feeling a return to normalcy.  This is my first time to really experience such a radical “chop-shift” and I felt like I should write about it.

The lesson of the last two months has to be – BALANCE.  I should have heeded my own advice that I’ve given to many students about overdoing some things and not cultivating a well-rounded playing approach.  For those of you who know me, you know I like to challenge myself with some crazy music, but sometimes I get in over my head – as I imagine we all do.  My personal journey has brought me to a place that let’s me see the importance of musical and professional  balance.  I can only use this experience as a way to inform my next big premiere or recital.  I have to take the weird, crazy music and use lyrical, beautiful music to help my overall approach.  I think there is a bigger message he$wm1_150x0_$_0015_cov_covre folks… this whole thing reminds me of preparing for auditions with only excerpts on the list ……..excerpt after excerpt after excerpt… you get the gist.  I would get so burnt out, and of course instead of trying to BALANCE this with playing that would feed my musical soul, I would hammer more Petrushka (because clearly, the 20th time is gonna be better).  Why am I just realizing this – I’ve heard it many times before, but refused to take it seriously.  Well it’s summer and I have planned to play two or three recitals. I am in serious practice mode now, and although I am in preparation mode I have made a promise to myself: I WILL FIND BALANCE.  I have recital game plan and some Bach handy to help round out my playing.  When I get burnt out or unmotivated I find it super helpful to turn to  Ernest Piper’s “The Well-Tempered Player.”  This book has been a great way to experience Bach and I have found that it helps me to just make music.  So get out there and practice your tails off… remember though, if you want to be a great musician you have to include a good variety of music all the time – practice like you mean it, but don’t forget why you are playing in the first place.  Find your BALANCE and let music feed your soul.

What’s your musical struggle and how can you find balance?

I’d love to hear about your struggles for balance – helps to motivate! Reply below.

One response to “Balance

  1. Hi Doug! I totally hear you on this!

    My experience was a little different because I was playing a musical in a dinner theater for a summer (8 shows a week for 10 weeks, the same show every time). At the end of the summer I was trying to work up audition excerpts for school and I felt like I couldn’t even make a good sound. It took months for me to get back to normal and once I did, I found I was stronger. Bonus!

    My other struggle with balance is playing all of my horns. It’s great when you have a recital that uses all of them but what about when you don’t have something coming up? I keep trying to incorporate them into my routine, even if it’s just one exercise and that seems to help but it is hard to maintain.

    I have never seen the Ernst Piper book, I’ll check it out! Thanks for the post!

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