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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

The Art of Musical Deception

Andrew Hitz

"That diminuendo ought to be a deception. We all know it's coming but the audience doesn't." - Sam Pilafian

This was something Sam said to the Boston Brass All-Star Big Band during our rehearsal at Strathmore earlier this month.  We hired members of The Army Blues, The Airmen of Note, The President's Own Marine Band and The Navy Band.  The band was absolutely smoking, one of the best we've ever put together in almost 10 years of doing the show.  And yet we all still needed to hear that advice.

So often I hear my students begin a crescendo just a little before they are supposed to by allowing the volume to inadvertently creep up just slightly.  This also goes for tempo changes which accidentally begin just a touch early.  While I'm not as bad about it as I used to be, I frequently hear myself doing the exact same thing when I record myself in the practice room.

It was truly impressive how much more effective the passage Sam addressed was after he had us keep that diminuendo a deception.  The difference in actaul execution was small but the difference in the effect was enormous.

And if members of the best service bands in the world need to hear that from time to time, it's safe to say that the rest of us do as well.

© 2013 Andrew Hitz