Monday, April 4, 2016
FEEL and FAIL are four letter words to a brass player.
THE OBJECT IN YOUR HANDS IS NOT THE REAL INSTRUMENT. YOU ARE THE REAL INSTRUMENT. THE MUSIC TELLS US EVERYTHING WE NEED TO KNOW. WE MUST HAVE THE COURAGE TO RECEIVE IT'S POWERFUL MESSAGE.
There are two methods to motivate the complex mechanics required to create musical sounds with an instrument. However, only one method is effective while the other is very dysfunctional.
If we don't motivate the subconscious mind to create mechanical function based on a powerful conscious awareness of sound, the subconscious will attempt to create sound awareness by feel. Essentially making the embouchure function like ears.
That's like trying to drain an ocean with a straw or heading the wrong way down a one way street.
THE MUSICAL MIND IS MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENT OF CREATING MUSIC. NEITHER LIPS, TONGUE, LUNGS, FINGERS, OR THE MINDLESS BRASS TUBE IN THE HANDS ARE CAPABLE OF CREATING A SINGLE NOTE WITHOUT THE INFLUENCE OF AN IMAGINATIVE MIND COMMITTED TO ONLY THE MUSIC.
THE SUBCONSCIOUS (REACTIVE MIND) WILL RESPOND FAITHFULLY AND POWERFULLY TO THE CONSCIOUS AWARENESS OF SOUND IF THE AWARENESS IS VIVID AND POWERFUL. RESPONSE WILL ALWAYS EQUAL AWARENESS IF THERE IS NO INTELLECTUAL INTERFERENCE.
There are two instruments. One in the hands and one in the head. The instrument in the hands is a mirror reflecting the one in the head.
I always believe that it is best to be somewhat unconscious of our physical maneuvers but highly conscious of our musical goals.
I sing (think) the notes in my head as I play them. It doesn't matter how my lips feels or how I feel.
THE THINK SYSTEM from THE MUSIC MAN
You only have to think the tune to have it come out perfectly clear.
There is nothing wrong with your chops (tongue, lungs, hands). Your mind is messing them up.
Paralysis by Analysis.
Mind vs. Metal
I don't care much about TUBAS because they don't have a brain.
I try to play it (Mozart Clarinet Concerto) from a vocal perspective, like an opera singer. The piece has little to do with the clarinet at all!
THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD.
AWARENESS OF MUSIC
MENTAL COMMITMENT TO AWARENESS OF MUSIC
EXECUTION OF MENTAL COMMITMENT TO MUSIC
You cannot have a powerful musical commitment to a low level of musical awareness.
You cannot learn to speak language without first hearing the sound of words. And you cannot create musical sounds with an instrument or vocally without first having a vivid awareness of the sound in the imaginative mind. Creating musical sound is not a mindless process.
Most people struggle to develop their mastery of the instrument in their hands. The key to developing instrumental skills is to develop musical skills first.
H. A. Vandercook
Keep it simple.
If you can sing it, you can play it.
THE CONFLICT BETWEEN SOUND AWARENESS AND FEEL AWARENESS.
Our ability to detect sound externally with ears and internally in the mind is very powerful. But the ability to detect specific sounds using the sense of feel is very weak. Yes, we can feel sound vibrations but it is not possible to detect frequency by touch. People without the ability to hear cannot substitute their hands for their deaf ears.
THE MYTH OF BEETHOVEN'S EARS
For many years, children were taught that Beethoven was able to hear the sound of his piano by placing his head on the sound board to feel the vibrations. How did Beethoven retain a powerful awareness of sound though his ears failed to function? Although his sound awareness was no longer available externally, it was still powerful internally in his mind and it became even more so in time. It is said that the 9th Symphony is the greatest music he ever composed but Beethoven never heard a single note with his ears. It obviously didn't matter.
LIPS INTO EARS
When the brass player's conscious auditory awareness of frequency is vague or absent, the subconscious mind reacts by trying to create pitch awareness by detecting the notes by feel in the lips. Woodwind players frequently attempt to detect the notes by feel in their hands. Since the lips and fingers are unable to detect frequency by touch, no information such is communicated to the brain. Without conscious auditory awareness or feel awareness the subconscious mind has no information with witch to respond so there is no response. PARALYSIS!!!
SYMPTOMS vs. CAUSE
There are two questions I always ask of those attending my clinics or masterclasses. I have asked these questions hundreds of times of all age groups and performance levels worldwide.
1. Have any of you ever been told you have air or embouchure problems?
2. Has anyone ever wanted to throw their instrument through a brick wall?
The response is always 100% affirmative.
Most people consciously to correct their physical symptoms of malfunction. But they don't understand what is motivating the symptoms which are directed by the subconscious.
WE CANNOT SPEND OUR MUSICAL LIVES REACTING TO PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL SYMPTOMS OF FAILURE.
WE MUST REACT TO WHAT IS CAUSING THEM. THE LACK OF MENTAL COMMITTMENT TO THE MUSIC.
Think sound not mechanics.
Sound motivates function.
The music tells us everything we need to know.
The key to playing an instrument can be found in speech.
We cannot motivate motor function (output) through sensory awareness (input).
We can teach a child how to play an instrument the same way they learned to speak.
The worldwide epidemic of FOCAL DYSTONIA is not some perilous virus or bacteria. The paralysis is the result of misdirection (feel vs. sound) of the conscious mind which is powerfully influenced and reinforced by the mindless instrument.
You cannot sit on the stage and in the audience at the same time.
My job is strikingly simple. Those who come to me for help have drifted away from a vivid conscious awareness of the music to a vague conscious awareness of how their playing feels, mechanics, or the instrument. Usually it's all three. Where's the music? NOWHERE!!!
I HELP THEM COME BACK TO THE MUSIC. IT'S THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS.
When encountering problems technically or musically, first sing (vocally) then buzz (mouthpiece), Transfer the singing and buzzing to the trumpet (instrument).
THE POWER OF SINGING
Arnold Jacobs was a master solfege artist. The result of his high conscious level of musical awareness was a powerful subconscious commitment to the execution of sound. It didn't matter what instrument was in his hands. In addition to the tuba, he played trumpet, trombone, and string bass very well.
SING (3x), BUZZ (3x), PLAY (3x) until the conscious commitment to the music is powerful enough to dominate the paralyzing influence of the instrument.
NOTHING MATTERS BUT THE CONSCIOUS AWARENESS OF AND MENTAL COMMITTMENT TO THE MUSIC. EVERYTHING ELSE IS A DISTRACTION FROM THE MUSIC THAT INEVITABLY LEADS TO PARALYSIS.
WE MUSIC HAVE A SIMPLISTIC INTELLECTUAL APPROACH TO MOTIVATING THE COMPLEX SUBCONSCIOUS MECHANICAL SKILLS REQUIRED TO PLAY AN INSTRUMENT.
WHEN WE ATTEMPT TO SUBSTITUE THE CONSCIOUS INTELLECTUAL MIND FOR THE SUBCONSCIOUS REACTIVE MIND, WE ARE CHOOSING WEAKNESS OVER STRENGTH.
SELF CONFIDENCE IS THE RESULT OF AN EXPECTATION OF SUCCESS, WHICH CAN ONLY BE ACHIEVED BY ESTABLISHING A HISTORY OF SUCCESS. SELF DOUBT IS A SELF INFLICTED WOUND.
THE GOAL OF PERFECT MASTERY OF AN INSTRUMENT NEVER LEADS TO PERFECTION. THE GOAL OF PERFECT MASTERY OF MUSICAL AWARENESS WILL ALLOW US TO COME CLOSE TO MASTERING THE INSTRUMENT.
PURE (TECHNICAL) PERFECTION IS UNOBTAINABLE.
I WANT YOU TO HAVE THE MIND OF A CHILD.
GO FOR THE PRODUCT (SOUND).
Much to my dismay, paralyzing air and embouchure analysis persists in the educational system worldwide. It dominates all levels of wind instrument pedagogy from the fourth grade beginner to the seasoned professionals.
Musical awareness (sound) should be dominant but it is overwhelmed
by self analysis and self awareness. The educators argue that musical awareness cannot be communicated to a fourth grader and that complex mechanical awareness is an appropriate substitute. The opposite is true. We must communicate musical awareness without the paralyzing mechanical distraction. We don't need breathing bags or tubes, embouchure magnifying mirrors, cameras, or visualizers.
THE STUDENTS MUST HAVE A POWERFUL AWARENESS OF THE SOUND THEY WANT TO PRODUCE. IT IS THE JOB OF THE MUSIC TEACHER TO COMMUNICATE THAT AWARENESS. THE SUBCONSCIOUS WILL RESPOND POWERFULLY JUST AS IT DOES FOR ALL AWARENESSES WE EXPERIENCE EVERY MOMENT OF OUR LIVES. A CHILD IS TAUGHT TO SPEAK BY COMMUNICATING THE SOUND OF LANGUAGE AND THEY LEARN TO WALK BY OBSERVING OTHER WALK.
MUSICAL AWARENESS IS A POWERFUL SUBCONSCIOUS MOTIVATOR OF PHYSICAL MECHANICS BUT CONSCIOUS MECHANICAL ANALYSIS IS A VERY WEAK MOTIVATOR OF MUSIC.
THERE CAN BE NO FUNCTION WHEN WE SUBSTITUTE WEAKNESS FOR STRENGTH.
P. S. September 20, 2016 is the 50th anniversary of the first time, as a 17 years old high school senior, I played for Mr. Jacobs. That day not only changed my life but it has also impacted the lives of countless others who I have worked with since. We are eternally grateful for what you have given us with your generosity and wisdom as a teacher and your role model as a great musician.
Thanks Jake! You were a unique gift to us all!