Monday, March 26, 2012

Bemidji State University

This week I am serving as a guest artist at Bemidji State University in Bemidji, Minnesota.  The week is filled with rehearsing, teaching, and performing.  I am excited to work with the students and a community trombone choir.

The schedule:
Wednesday March 28th, 11:00am Masterclass
Wednesday March 28th, 7:30pm Recital
Thursday March 29th, 7:00pm Trombone Choir Concert.

(I will be teaching on all three days but they will be closed sessions)

The recital will include:
Lebedev's Concerto in One Movement
Bozza's New Orleans
Ewazen's Concerto for Bass Trombone
Gounod's Avant de Quitter ces Lieux
Inez McComas' A Quick Trip with Lots of Baggage

Sarah Paradis will be conducting the trombone choir in a variety of repertoire including an arrangement of mine.  I am truly excited to get to work this week!

The drive from Kansas City was anything but quick, 11 hours in one sitting.  Although it was nice to see the hills in Iowa, and the lakes in Minnesota.  Most people drive south for spring break, I however drove to the still frozen in North.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Question: How do you Maintain Motivation?

I have started a new segment for the 160th post on the 160 Project.  Last night, I emailed high level performs and asked them a question.  In this case:

Dear Gentlemen,

How do you continue to motivate yourself?  After many years of a high level of practice and performance how do you continue to push yourself?  How do you pull yourself out of a practice slump? 

Will Timmons: 

I was discussing this at dinner with another trombonist in the AF band.  The answer that I came up with is that you have to continue to increase what you strive for.  You must be a good planner with short-term and, most of all, long-term goals.  These big goals will be something like:  Perform at the ITA Workshop or release a CD of the highest caliber.   I feel like many people become settled in to a feeling of contentment and the day-in-day-out mentality of what their job requires.  Some musicians get a job that doesn't require the perfection that the audition circuit demands or that the trombone community has come to expect.  People become content not to be the best in the world.  I find that to be fine... not everyone needs to desire that.  But I never want to stop pushing myself to a higher standard, even when I reach the top. 

Many times, people just need a fresh perspective or an inspiring idea to push them forward.  Inspiration isn't automatic or consistent.  A few times in my life, I've been propelled by those around me.  As a member of the New World Symphony Orchestra, I was constantly around incredible young artists that were winning jobs in top tier orchestras.  Knowing that they and I were on equal ground every day, and seeing them win these auditions made me feel as if I could win one too.  That helped me dive in and do the work that needed to be done to get to my lofty long-term goal.

Sometimes seeing a great performance inspires you to go practice.  Many times, I practiced for hours following a big performance in orchestra or band back in college.  There's something fresh and exciting about performing in front of a crowd.  I used that to my advantage by allowing that energy and excitement continue into my practice session afterwards. 

Keep performing, keep striving for larger accomplishments, surround yourself with high acheivers, and eat, sleep, and breathe artistic excellence.  Always try to think on the highest artistic plane possible.  This will help one to stay creative. 

Will Timmons (Will is a member of the Air Force Ceremonial Band in Washington DC.)

RZ: But what happens after an audition, or performance, when you just want a day or week off but you have another audition in just a few weeks?

You have a choice to make.  In order to have long term sustainability you have to have times when you relax and let your body and mind rest.  So you have to decide when to take a break.  I think this goes back to the short-term planning and how it fits with the long-term planning.  If you stack your schedule so much that there's no down time before having to start on your next project (audition, recital, performance) then you might be limiting your chances of success.  It all comes down to planning.  Don't schedule yourself to teach 6 hours the day of your recital.  Don't schedule 11 recitals in 11 days. 

To clarify, I think it's okay to take multiple auditions fairly close together.  You probably don't want to have them constantly 2 weeks apart.  It's hard to sustain that.  It's best if you have auditions within the same week or spaced out by a month or more.  The 2 week time in between is just enough time that you are able to get out of the focused mindset that you were in for the first audition, but not enough time to get re-focused.  I think that's a mistake some people make.  But for some people, 2 weeks works okay.  It all depends on who you are and how you respond to certain situations.  

If you are smart about it though, you can plan your way to success.  Set yourself up for playing your best at the right time.  Timing is everything.  You need times of intensity but you need times to relax and rebuild (just like any great workout would suggest). 

Will Timmons