As I shared in my post yesterday, music has always been around me. Whether that was church, home, all around me, I love music and have been surrounded by all styles. But back in high school, there were 3 musical passions that fueled me. Choir, playing the trumpet and playing the organ. In those 4 years, I had unbelievable experiences in these 3 areas that inspired and shaped me to become a musician. I want to share one of them today.
My junior year of high school, I was preparing for our annual solo/ensemble competition. I had worked hard at playing the trumpet, was very self confident, and was looking forward to being 1st chair trumpet my senior year. I had excelled on my first 2 solos my freshman and sophomore year and was looking forward to doing great on this one.
I picked my piece, and it was a piece with 4 movements. I was supposed to play 3. So I start working on the 3 movements that it said (so I thought) I was supposed to perform. And I’m getting down SO good. Of course, being 17 years old, I decided to procrastinate going through it with my band director until 2 days before the performance.
So there I am playing it for him with my accompanist. I’m just nailing it, and it’s sounding REALLY good. After I finish, my director says, “Craig, which movements did you play?” I replied with movements 1, 3 and 4. And the 1 and 4 were correct, when he looked in the book, but it was supposed to be 1, 2 and 4. OH NO!! I learned the wrong movement! The 2nd movement was slow, lyrical, and had a difficult accompaniment. My poor accompanist did a great job of making it sound great on such short notice.
After 2 days of cramming and preparing, Saturday comes. I go in and play the correct movements, and I’m feeling good. I get good feedback from the judge. I wait for my results, and when they are posted….it’s a STARRED 1st! That’s the best you can do, and it moves you on to state competition. WHAT? That’s amazing! I was floored. I then went and played it at the state competition (after much more practice on the right movement) and got a 1st there.
So, the moral of the story. First, pay attention to details. Had I fully read what I was supposed to do, there wouldn’t have been a problem! But, at that point, I was regularly practicing, and between band and choir, auditioned ensembles, along with singing in church choirs and playing the organ, I was fully immersed in music and music theory. So, I had already established good practice techniques, I was thinking about and surrounded by music all the time, and so that helped me a bunch in fixing my error.
I’ve learned from that mistake, I look back at it and laugh at it, but it helps me to encourage my students to focus in on details and establish those habits of practice, along with surrounded themselves with music. Music is a language, and the more we “speak” it (by playing and practicing), the easier it gets. Keep speaking it, keep surrounding yourself with it, and it will help you immensely!