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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Filtering by Tag: sound

We're All Creatures of Habit

Andrew Hitz

Musicians are all creatures of habit. So do you grab the soap or the shampoo first in the shower? I'm personally a soap first kind of guy.  This is not for religious reasons.  It is not a family rule that's been handed down through the generations.  It is not for any practical reason.  And yet every single day, 365 days a year (I have a rule to never bathe on February 29th,) I grab the soap before grabbing the shampoo.  Without exception.

This is because I, like all of us, am a creature of habit.  Everything you ever do on your instrument, on the podium, on stage, anywhere is establishing or reinforcing a habit.  This is why it is imperative to play with your absolute best sound possible at all times.  As in every time you ever play a note.  Whether you are "testing" a note an octave lower in order to get a higher pitch in your ear, you are noodling around while a conductor is talking to another section, or you are "just" warming up, you must play with your absolute best sound possible or you are more likely to play with the same sub-par sound next time.

We are all creatures of habit, both on and off the horn.  When realized, this can be harnessed and used to take great strides in our craft.  If not, we are doomed to repeat our past failures.

(More tomorrow on the myth of breaking bad habits.)

Playing Like Yourself

Andrew Hitz

"Sometimes you have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself."

This might be my favorite Miles Davis quote ever.  Practicing is essential to both improving as a musician and mastering an instrument.  But sometimes we can all focus too much on the technical aspects of practicing and lose sight of our only true goal: finding our own voice.


Let Your Skeleton Do The Work

Andrew Hitz

"If you stand or sit in a perfect way your skeleton keeps you up, not your muscles. If you have good posture you allow your body parts to move while you breathe." - Pat Sheridan

It is very important for us to let our skeleton do the work and not our muscles. When we use our muscles it creates tension which leads to hindered breathing and a bad sound.

Cultivating a Bad Sound

Andrew Hitz

You're cultivating a bad sound.

That is what my tuba professor at Northwestern, Rex Martin, used to say whenever I would play any note without using my absolute best sound possible.  That included quickly touching a note to get a pitch in my ear before buzzing.  It also included ghosting a note down an octave before playing a note in the high register.  He made me apply the concept to every single time I ever played anything and it is some of the best advice I've ever received in my career.

Every time you play anything you are reinforcing something.