Quick Warm Up

Having a quick warm-up at my disposal has been a very useful to me. Somedays I have 40 minutes to get my face ready for a day of playing. Unfortunately too often I get only 10-15 minutes to play in the morning. And that’s it!no-time-480-300x300

So when my private student informed me that they didn’t have much time to get in a good warm-up, I decided to help them and me with that problem. Here’s what I came up with…perhaps it might be useful to others.

Castro Quick Warm Up

I Was Feeling This Way Also

Recently I listened to an NPR classical music podcast call Conducting Business. The subject of that talk was related to my blog post Faces At Concerts.

Naomi-LewinDuring the podcast the host Naomi Lewin facilitated a group discussion about the diversity of both audiences and members of major symphony orchestras in the United States. I’m glad to hear that these kinds of conversations are happening in public forums and encourage many to listen to the podcast American Orchestras Grapples With Lack of Diversity.

Best Seat In The Housemates

Generally if you are on a stage performing, you are a fan of what you are performing. Either you like the act of sharing something with folk on a stage or you feel strongly about that specific artistic expression. I’m convinced every performer feels one of those mentioned before and I’m certain that I take these moments for granted.

Recently I performed a piece with an orchestra that is rarely performed. The performance was well received by the audience and performers. During rehearsals I noticed my seat was just about in the center of the stage directly in front of the conductor. This isn’t unusual, however with music coming at me from all directions I got to experience the music (and all the wonderful sounds) from an interesting perspective.

I think I had the best seat in the house.

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Still Nervous

I don’t claim to be the kind of person that has it all together. In fact anyone that really knows me, understand that the confidence they see is just a facade. So it may come as a surprise to many that even though I perform music often, I still get quite nervous.

Most performers or public speakers understand the kind of nervous I am referring to. The kind of uncomfortable that comes every once in a while, when you are put into an unfamiliar situation. Or worst, when you know exactly the position you will be in and you know it’s not going to be good. What ends up happening to some is well known as “The Shakes”.

There are ways of combatting this problem. First, is knowing what happening to you. Understanding that your body is flooding with adrenaline as part of your fight or flight reaction to stressful encounters. Second (at least for me) is to breathe, while the voice in my head is going through the task in front of me step by step. Third is understanding that I need to have experiences working in these environments to help reduce or cope with this kind of reaction. So try to put yourself in that position more often than you’d like, to teach yourself how to deal with the anxiety. The last option is to use medication.

Many people use propranolol to help deal with the physical aspects of performance anxiety. These beta blockers can be used to chemically resist our adrenaline from causing performers to shake uncontrollably. The New York Times has an article titled “Better Playing Through Chemistry” on the subject and WQXR also did a set of  radio interviews. Check them out, they give a wide perspective on the reasons for the use of medication for performers.

Please comment if you have other thoughts and suggestions. I think it’s a discussion we should not be afraid to have.

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Vizzutti Perfect 4th – Studies and Etudes: Book Review

For decades, legendary virtuosos trumpeter, composer and teacher Allen Vizzutti has written method books, chamber ensemble pieces and solo repertoire for woodwind and brass instruments. His career as a performer is unparalleled and is something you should experience in person.

Vizzutti’s book “Perfect 4th: Studies and Etudes” is a thorough look into the many interesting and innovative ways to practice this interval. The exercises can pose challenging hurtles for all levels of player, depending on variations in articulation and tempo. However, like the Clark’s Technical  Studies and Vizzutti’s Technical Studies, the exercises in this book take on a life of their own when memorized. Additionally, the exercises sit well on the piccolo trumpet for players who are looking for another set of studies to add to their routine.

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For more information about Allen Vizzutti and his method books, visit his website http://www.vizzutti.com/merch.html