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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Sweat the Small Stuff

Andrew Hitz


Try to make the simple beautiful.

- Marty Hackleman

The best musicians are the ones who can make a ton of music out of very few notes.  It is easy to play the best melodies ever written in a musical manner, but what about the other 99.9% of all composed music? A truly great artist can communicate as much in a one or two note phrase as they can in a long melody.

One of my favorite tuba parts in the orchestral repertoire is Brahms 2.  There is not much "meat" in this part.  There are very few long passages for tuba and nothing that is very technically demanding.  But there are some players who can make so much music in the one and two note phrases in the first movement.  Most young players would look at this part and label it as "easy."  But simple music can be deceiving.

I had the privilege of playing for a year in Dallas Brass with Tage Larsen who now plays trumpet with the Chicago Symphony.  I remember listening to his warm-up each morning.  The tone, the effortlessness, the music making! He could make so much music with his warm-up that it would make you stop and have an opinion.

How musical was your warm-up this morning?