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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Filtering by Tag: Phil Smith

Let The Ideas Out

Andrew Hitz

"If you have enough bad ideas you will have absolutely no trouble having enough good ideas. What people who create do is they let the ideas out. they sit and they do the work and the ideas come. Good ideas, bad ideas."
—Seth Godin from Leap First

Seth Godin was not talking about the practice room in the above comment but he might as well have been.

It is imperative that we "let the ideas out" when we are in the practice room.

Of course we need to focus on a daily basis on range, dynamics, articulations, releases, slurs and everything in between. This is the homework that every great musician on any instrument has done in spades.

But no one really cares if you are only a great technician on your instrument. Sure, you'll probably have a career of some kind (if you are truly a great technician and not just a good one) but you won't have one that is very rewarding or that has much impact on the world.

The ideas are what affect others. The ideas are why we all got into this crazy business in the first place. And the key to having great ideas is to have lots of ideas.

Ideas are why some people prefer Phil Smith, some prefer Chris Martin, and some prefer Thomas Hooten. It sure isn't because Phil can slur better than Chris or Thomas can. They slur equally well.

Yet all three of them play with enough clear ideas and storytelling in their playing that it is quite easy to prefer one over the other two. And that's what it's all about.

And the only way to ever approach the quality and clarity of the ideas of any of those three trumpet players is by letting the ideas out. The good ones and the bad ones.

That's exactly what they did.

Canadian Brass, Boston Symphony and New York Philharmonic: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

In 1989, the Canadian Brass were joined by the principal players of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic for a series of legendary concerts.

I was lucky enough to see this concert when it came to Tanglewood in July of 1989. It was a day that changed my life.

I had recently earned the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts. As a part of becoming an Eagle Scout, you get to spend the day with someone who is working in the field you hope to pursue. Upon receiving the request, Chester Schmitz, the tuba player of the BSO, agreed to let me tag along for a day.

Imagine my elation as a 14-year-old when the day he suggested was the Brass Spectacular concert at Tanglewood that would involve the likes of Phil Smith, Joe Alessi, Chuck Dallenbach, Fred Mills, etc! I can still remember getting the phone call from him. I almost dropped the phone.

He very graciously introduced me to almost every one of the players in this video as if he had known me for years. It really was one of those experiences for a young boy that vaulted me forward with enthusiasm for music.

Chester and I have remained friends to this day. I could never repay him for how kind he was to me that day over 25 years ago.

I didn't know this video existed and am ecstatic to be able to witness this lineup again. This is as good as it gets.

Enjoy!


New York Philharmonic in North Korea: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

I just stumbled onto this video of the New York Philharmonic's historic trip to North Korea.  This is a video of George Gershwin's "An American In Paris" from their concert at the East Pyongyang Grand Theatre on February 26, 2008 conducted by Lorin Maazel. Not only is this one of the most famous orchestral concerts from the last half century, but the orchestra sounds phenomenal.  Especially the brass! Joe Alessi, Alan Baer, Phil Smith and Philip Myers as well as the entire rest of the brass sections just sound fantastic.  Alan's tuba solo from this version of "An American In Paris" is spot on.

Enjoy!


 

 

Phil Smith Sums Up Playing Music

Andrew Hitz

"Music is not just the black dots on the white paper - it's what happens when those black dots on the white paper go into your heart, and come out again." - Phil Smith  (Principal Trumpet, New York Philharmonic)

Thankfully this is true.  If not, he would be the only orchestral trumpet player working today.  Sam Pilafian would be the only employed brass quintet tuba player.  Renée Fleming would be the only working soprano.

© 2009 Andrew Hitz

Playing all of the right notes and right rhythms is very important, but conveying your opinions and your emotions through those notes and rhythms is what will get you and keep you employed.  Everyone has their own life experiences which is why there is always room for another great storyteller, no matter what the instrument, in the music business.

No one in your audience was there for your happiest moment, your saddest moment or your scariest moment.  These experiences are what we rely on when those black dots on the white paper go into and out of our hearts and into the ears of our audience.