Thursday, February 23, 2012

Playing in a Section: Rope

I have been thinking about individual responsibility in section playing.  Most people would think this is a no brainer and relates to individual parts.  However, I am thinking about the next step.  How your part relates to everyone else's.  More so, how can your part make it easier for other people to play?

The other day in orchestra, we were reading a student composition and the tubist had two isolated whole notes.  These notes severed as the underlying harmonics for a short choral in the winds and brass.  The first time through, he put a huge breath right in the middle.  The second time he supported through the choral, making the whole orchestra sound better.  I doubt the other wind players noticed much of a difference, other than their parts sounded a lot easier with a more clear idea.

Fig. 1

Yesterday, I coached a high school trombone section through a choral.  All of them knew their parts but had little idea how their parts functioned within the section.  (B in fig. 1)  Slowly, as the listened to where harmonies changed or where other people had moving notes a more clear section sound emerged. (C in fig. 1)  

How does this make it easier for others to play around you?  The 1st trombone had an octave leap over a bar line, while the rest of the section repeated their harmony.  This should have been a huge energy creating moment, but the principal had to work so hard to play his octaves energy was lost.  Rather than ask him to push through the bar line, I had the other three musicians push through their parts.  In supporting their own lines, they were supporting the first trombone part, making his job much easier. (D in fig. 1)

One of my students mentioned this process was like twine being worked into rope.  Knowing your part is only the first step, knowing where everyone else's parts are going will help a section or entire ensemble know where they are going.  

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Time Passing

Time Passing

Listen to the Metronome Tick
Keeping me honest
It's rhythm is the truest
It's movement isn't a trick

Marking the Passing of Time
In search of the Sublime
Each hour of Practice
Almost a Sickness
What to do in the Meantime?

Day by Day I am Waiting
For my career to start Blooming
Weeks and Months of Work
Trying not to go Berserk
While my craft I am Crafting

Months and Years
Counted by Beers
Celebrated Performances
And tender Smooches
Avoiding our Fears

10,000 Hours
While our lives it Devours
Attempting to be Perfect
I am an Addict
My playing left to Scours

More batteries in the Trash
Time flies in a Flash
Metronome, tuner, Recorder
The source of my Anger
Everyday I Rehash

The Passing of Time
The work of a lifetime
Practice for Hours
Passing this time of Ours
Is it a Crime?

~Russ Zokaites 2-18-12

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Performance: of an arrangement

The Carolina Trombone Collective will be playing an arrangement of mine tomorrow night at 7:30.  Colt Campbell will be soloing with Avant de Quitter ces Lieux.  This arrangement was the first thing I arranged and I am honored that the piece is receiving a performance.

The CTC is the trombone choir at the University of South Carolina.  Under the direction of Dr. Brad Edwards the ensemble gives a biannual concert of varying genres.   I was a member of the CTC while at USC.  This ensemble introduced me to trombone choir and captivated my interest in contemporary trombone literature.  The CTC lead to incredible collaborations with some very dear friends.

If you have time to spare tomorrow night and happen to be in SC check out the concert.  I am sure you will be please with the performance.