This afternoon I had the distinct pleasure of watching the Miami University Marching Band perform in the 2013 Inaugural Parade.
The students performed brilliantly with focus, discipline, and teamwork; however, it was the passion radiating from each member of the ensemble that inspires this post.
As a performer, it is required to practice hours alone in a cramped space that often smells of the day's occupants. You diligently work your muscles to the bone practicing scales, technical studies, articulation, vibrato, phrasing, and a multitude of other details merely resembling your performance goals. You get discouraged, frustrated, and even angry. You long for those moments when you "simply played."
First, you are not alone. Your colleagues, your mentors, your students, and your friends all relate.
Now, what to do? (Let's use vibrato as an example)
RELY ON YOUR EVERYDAY HABITS. Pull out your iPad and google "Bassoon vibrato"...find 3 articles to read. How about your iphone during a much needed practice break: Try "bassoon vibrato" on youtube. Better yet: check out different instruments! What about downloading a soundwave app so you can visually monitor your vibrato studies? Those apps are cool! They record you as well...
How does any of this help? It re-invigorates. It puts YOU back in control of the stinky practice room. Music is inspirational, teachers are inspirational, but we have to remember to inspire ourselves as well.