Improvement Bookmark and Share

The bulk of the musical talk

Improvement

Postby tuben » Thu Aug 03, 2017 1:20 pm

How do you recommend improving playing, musicianship, and personal self when people don't give you constructive and useful feedback?

When you take an audition and aren't selected, what is your process of development to continue to improve based upon your recent experience?
User avatar
tuben
Professional tuba player / Volunteer Village Idiot
Professional tuba player / Volunteer Village Idiot
 
Posts: 3327
Joined: Tue Apr 06, 2004 1:12 pm
Location: One never knows.

Re: Improvement

Postby the elephant » Thu Aug 03, 2017 2:11 pm

Record everything you play, including your warmups and daily drills. Listen to that material with a cruel heart and the wit of George Carlin.

Don't be mean to yourself; be brutally honest.

After you finally start to produce recordings that would not embarrass you if heard by the public, ask/pay/feed/whatever some string and woodwind players (and a conductor or two, if you can) to listen to you play live, asking them to offer you the same horrible/mean/honset comments that are on the audition committee comment sheets that candidates are not normally allowed to read.

Stuff like "A bit more direction to that line," is crap. "That sucked balls," is more like what is actually quickly scrawled on these sheets. The committee members take with them home to destroy after the day is done so that no one will be offended by their spur-of-the-moment comments that cut to the bone so as to be remembered after having to sit through 25 different performances of the same excerpts; cold, brutal, ugly, or just humorously rude, all intended to jog the memory of the writer when the discussion and voting for advancement happens. "Well, for number six I had 'grunty tone, bad time, pitch" and for number three I had 'too damned LOUD' and 'sounds constipated' so I did not like either of them." This is reality for a candidate and you need to hear it for yourself so you can see that everything you think you are slipping past the panel and tons of stuff you are not even aware of are not going unnoticed. THIS will help you get better in the absence of a solid mentor or a structured program of instruction.

These are the honest comments (actually expedients that are easy to remember) you need to get better. Not why you did poorly. Not how. Just that you did not fool anyone with your half-assed rendition of quarter and eighth notes in the Meistersinger overture. (Just about no tuba player does a great job with keeping even time in that excerpt, no matter what they think as they are playing.

Ever. Period.

That is why this excerpt always appears on the first round. It is a tool used to sweep away the time wasting, soul-sapping not-ready-for-prime-time-tubists they have to endure all morning. NO ONE wants to listen to you "get experience" on their time. Excerpts that allow you to display your control (or lack thereof) over very basic fundamentals are always on the first round specifically to get rid of most players in a few minutes, and Meistersinger is a killer if you have never sat on the other side of the curtain to hear how most people play it. Once you have been on a committee you have a much better idea what needs to be worked on.

Anyway, my most important teacher told me that many years ago he was playing Bordogni in one room of his home and his harpist girlfriend was in another room. During a break she commented on his articulation. I cannot remember what she said, but his reply was along the lines of, "No, I was slurring all that."

She simply said, "Oh..."

He said this was one of his most humbling and instructive moments as a player. His slurring was GREAT for any tuba player, yet she cut him to shreds through honesty born of tuba ignorance.

This tells you that while we oooh and ahhh over our betters, woodwind and string players are not fooled for a second precisely because they have no clue what it is like to play a tuba really, really well. And frankly they do not care about that. They only hear the truth and not the filtered muck we hear every time we play or when we hear other tubists play. No filter yields better, more accurate feedback.

Besides, what orchestra audition committee has a tuba player on it for a tuba gig? That old guy is GONE, normally. We need non-tubists to help guide us to get better.

THAT is the stuff a player *needs* to hear. Not BS about tuba timbral colors or whether our tone is more Germanic or American. No one cares about how physical playing the tuba can be. No one. No one is impressed with a high Berlioz excerpt or passage as it is not really "high-sounding" to their ears. They *do* care about style and transparency and not being a musical pig up in the nosebleed register.

No one gives a poop about alternate fingerings. They care that your tone changed on that one note that is so out of tune on your horn — not the quality itself, but that it stuck out as being different from the others.

No one cares that you have to yank 1st 4 inches for your 4th line F or that you usually use 13 (with a small pull) for bottom line G. They care that when you played an excerpt that we see as a fast, technical passage that they heard two or three notes that were out of tune with the rest of the notes in a passage that is quite easy for them to play on their more linear instruments. That you decided that it was too difficult to use the correct alternate fingering, or that moving your slide to fix the note means nothing when they sit there and cannot understand why it had several notes that were out of tune or sounded "funny" to them. They would find it sad — or humorous — to know that generally we consider that lick in Mahler 5's Scherzo to be really fast and hard to play cleanly because of whatever excuse you may have. They still heard the flaws and eighth note sextuplets at that speed just are not that hard to play for them.

Play everything slow as hades and fix every tiny thing; when you speed it up you will introduce a lot of fresh crap, so get rid of as much as you can at a slow speed. Slow practice is the key to many battles on a large instrument. Start out at half speed. If you cannot execute it flawlessly with no mental stumbles, you are not ready to move the metronome up even a single click, and you may need to move it back a bit.

Brutal honesty.

Play with a single earplug in on the bell side. You can hear your ambient sound coming off the walls and you can hear your buzz simultaneously. This will cause you to play much more in tune with yourself and with a much more centered tone when you make the buzz and the sounded pitch match exactly. That is what a centered tone is. A lot of "slide pullers" (versus people who lip or who use alternates rather than pulling slides) do this and it works wonders. Lipping is inherently out of center and changes the tone. In an ensemble this is just fine. In an audition it is not. You can easily hear all that garbage from behind the screen. Remember, the committee does not even have the distraction of looking at the player. Sound only; easy as heck to judge.

Record yourself doing full speed runs of things. Using something like Amazing Slowdowner listen to yourself at half speed so you can hear what the better trained ears of better players than you hear at full speed.

Technically and musically we are decades behind most real pro string or woodwind players. Compared with most of them, we enter college at a middle school level of proficiency. It is a sad fact that you can use to get better faster.

This is coming from the desire to get better for an audition. It works for everything else, too. Auditions are just the hardest mini-recitals you will ever have to play, and such prep work is effective at quickly fixing stuff you are not currently hearing, or it gives you a better, more focused idea of what you are doing wrong (or just with poor musicianship). So in limited doses this mindset works for *all* practice that is predicated on an honest desire to self-teach and improve. It is NOT musical self-gratification at all.

In essence, we must be harsh on ourselves and never accept the word, "NO" from an inanimate object. Get others to be harsh/honest/tuba-uninformed with you, too.

Then enjoy a nice, cold adult beverage. Repeat parts of this daily. Repeat the rest as you have the opportunity.

And yes, in light of all these threads recently started to keep the board clear of such basic questions, despite that being the soul of this community, this is intended as an answer to "the kids" since you need to be compelled, driven and sort of asinine to pursue music performance as a career. It is a harsh business with critics ready to fire you at no notice for the entire time you accept pay for playing your horn.
Last edited by the elephant on Thu Aug 03, 2017 8:38 pm, edited 2 times in total.
In the multiverse there is a TubeNet where we talk about how we greased our cat with toothpaste and hot sauce so it would fly better in the rain. Even then someone would ask whether the cat was lacquered or silver plated.
User avatar
the elephant
Papa Legba
Papa Legba
 
Posts: 12218
Joined: Wed Apr 07, 2004 8:38 pm
Location: Yazoo City, Mississippi

Re: Improvement

Postby windshieldbug » Thu Aug 03, 2017 2:19 pm

+ 1,000

Orchestral music, while often hugely rewarding, is not for the faint of heart...
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
User avatar
windshieldbug
Once got the "hand" as a cue
Once got the "hand" as a cue
 
Posts: 10650
Joined: Tue Mar 01, 2005 5:41 pm
Location: 8vb

Re: Improvement

Postby Uncle Buck » Thu Aug 03, 2017 2:34 pm

the elephant wrote:"That sucked balls," . . .
Play everything slow as hades and fix every tiny thing . . .


Wade, your post is worth its weight in gold and more valuable, in many situations, than dozens of expensive lessons.

It does make me smile, though, to see "that sucked balls" and "slow as hades" in the same post. "Balls" = OK, "hell" = ??.

I'm just messing around - it really is an excellent, powerful, and valuable post. I'm no longer a "serious" musician, but I might have stayed one a lot longer if one of my teachers would have had the balls to give me that advice when I was young. (But maybe that wouldn't have been a bad thing . . .)

I know "balls" isn't gender neutral but I'm going for sarcasm here . . .
User avatar
Uncle Buck
5 valves
5 valves
 
Posts: 1227
Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2004 3:45 pm
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah

Re: Improvement

Postby the elephant » Thu Aug 03, 2017 2:42 pm

8)
In the multiverse there is a TubeNet where we talk about how we greased our cat with toothpaste and hot sauce so it would fly better in the rain. Even then someone would ask whether the cat was lacquered or silver plated.
User avatar
the elephant
Papa Legba
Papa Legba
 
Posts: 12218
Joined: Wed Apr 07, 2004 8:38 pm
Location: Yazoo City, Mississippi

Re: Improvement

Postby tmmcas1 » Thu Aug 03, 2017 4:41 pm

Great posts Elephant. That's how it is done.

Tom
Tom McCaslin
Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra
Yamaha Performing Artist
Denis Wick/DANSR Artist
http://www.tommccaslin.com
http://www.calgaryphil.com
tmmcas1
pro musician
pro musician
 
Posts: 97
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2004 3:23 pm

Re: Improvement

Postby Leland » Thu Aug 03, 2017 6:56 pm

Upvote for Elephant's post.
User avatar
Leland
pro musician
pro musician
 
Posts: 1490
Joined: Fri Mar 19, 2004 12:54 pm
Location: Washington, DC

Re: Improvement

Postby tubacorbin » Thu Aug 03, 2017 9:27 pm

Probably the best post I've read on this forum.
tubacorbin
bugler
bugler
 
Posts: 122
Joined: Thu Jan 29, 2009 9:11 pm
Location: Bay Area, California

Re: Improvement

Postby Doug Elliott » Thu Aug 03, 2017 11:22 pm

Bravo, Wade.
User avatar
Doug Elliott
pro musician
pro musician
 
Posts: 460
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2008 9:59 pm

Re: Improvement

Postby Billy M. » Thu Aug 03, 2017 11:42 pm

the elephant wrote:....enjoy a nice, cold adult beverage. Repeat ... daily.



This is what I got out of this.

In all seriousness, exceptional information, Wade.
It is impossible for one with their finite mind to comprehend the incredible miracles, mercies, and powers of an infinite God. It is good to know He's there and loves us, though.

Billy Morris
Miraphone 1291 CC
1968 Besson New Standard Eb
User avatar
Billy M.
4 valves
4 valves
 
Posts: 531
Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2004 1:23 pm
Location: Pensacola, Florida USA

Re: Improvement

Postby joshealejo » Fri Aug 04, 2017 4:50 am

Mr. Wade... Gracias!!!
F B&S 56 AFT
CC Holton 345 cutted by Matt Walters
Bb Marzan frontal compensating Euphonium
User avatar
joshealejo
bugler
bugler
 
Posts: 84
Joined: Wed Feb 20, 2013 1:11 am
Location: Lima-Peru

Re: Improvement

Postby Oldschooltuba » Fri Aug 04, 2017 9:07 am

That was a great read... thanks
Eric Hunter
186CC 5U (gone)
Rudy Meinl 5/4 CC (gone)
Silver CC Piggy (gone)
Meinl Weston F Model 45 (Gone)
B&S 5/4 CC Prototype
Yamaha 822F
York 6/4 CC (yes a real York BAT)
Oldschooltuba
bugler
bugler
 
Posts: 23
Joined: Thu Apr 20, 2017 9:37 pm

Re: Improvement

Postby bloke » Fri Aug 04, 2017 10:12 am

Audition committees don't owe anyone spit, just as we don't owe not-selected grocery store cabbages any verbal evaluations nor constructive criticism.

The best way to improve is the way that the best-of-the-best improve:

:arrow: - They come up with ways to critically listen to themselves while playing and/or later - via recording and studying those recordings of their playing.

:arrow: - Besides just "listening" (B-grade or C-grade listening), they develop their listening standards (evaluating their own techniques and musical tastes) to
> hear absolutely everything
> know what to do to accomplish more/less/better, and to also know what would be interpreted by others as "over the top" (of, if you prefer, the elitist term, "inappropriate").

:arrow: 99% of all players believe that their time and their pitch are much better than those things actually are. Reoccurring posts on TubeNet - arguing over the validity of various tuning systems (when most of us aren't aware, sometimes, when our pitch is 10-or-more percent away from where we believe it to be) - is an online indication of this. TIME and PITCH are the TWO BASIC TICKETS PAST ROUND #1. If someone has never made it past round #1, I would recommend to them working on TIME and PITCH. "Musicianship" is only the icing on the cake, and - frankly - as the tuba is a support instrument, "turning a phrase" is not a highly-rated skill for a tuba player in a symphony orchestra. Mostly, "turning a phrase" is a highly-rated skill for getting past Round #2 towards being hired in the first place. :shock:
A LARGE percentage of tuba players not only have very little control over their PITCH and TIME, they additionally embrace strange concepts regarding "musicianship". As much as you may admire a player (including yourself) when "no one is chosen", the reason MAY NOT (??) have been political, and the ACTUAL reason MAY (??) have been that - to the ears of that committee - everyone sucked. :|

Finally, cut out this crap/b.s. term, "winning" a job. Dammit, a job playing music in a symphony orchestra is NOT some perennial adult-aged-people's all-state band. It's a JOB. It's blue-collar people (were it not, there would be no "union", "scale", "union stewards", nor "collective bargaining") doing blue-collar work precisely as white collar workers instruct them to do it (the white collar workers, most often: paid more than the musicians) who are all paid by rich people (rich people who may or may-not even LIKE "classical" music). :| Orchestra musicians are neither unique, stars, nor irreplaceable. EVERY player in EVERY American symphony orchestra today REPLACED someone, and far fewer than 1% of the population can name even one player in one orchestra. The music they play is 95%-97% controlled by what is written down on a piece of paper, and patrons completely expect classical music's "hit parade" to be played by these (well...) "cover bands" just "like the record". If one of these jobs is obtained, and it ends up being miserable to the person who was hired to do the job, the smartest thing (rather than bitching and stirring up trouble) is to QUIT.

bloke "not as good a reply as Wade's, yet correct"
User avatar
bloke
musician/technician/innovator
musician/technician/innovator
 
Posts: 37108
Joined: Sat May 08, 2004 6:04 pm
Location: western Tennessee

Re: Improvement

Postby Mark » Fri Aug 04, 2017 12:06 pm

tuben wrote:How do you recommend improving playing, musicianship, and personal self when people don't give you constructive and useful feedback?


And, stop relying on (blaming?) other people.
Mark Wiseman
User avatar
Mark
6 valves
6 valves
 
Posts: 2761
Joined: Fri Mar 19, 2004 7:21 pm
Location: Sammamish, Washington

Re: Improvement

Postby tuben » Sat Aug 05, 2017 10:07 am

Mark wrote:
tuben wrote:How do you recommend improving playing, musicianship, and personal self when people don't give you constructive and useful feedback?


And, stop relying on (blaming?) other people.


If I understand your comment, we should not rely upon (or blame) anyone else. If a tubist does not rely or at least elicit the commentary, feedback, and input of other musicians, I suspect they will live a VERY solitary musical existence. We are all hoping to be selected (paid or volunteer) to perform with others, so I contend their opinions do matter.

As to blaming other people, that is you creating an interpretation that wasn't intended.
To be clear, this topic was inspired by other tubenet drama and I'm delighted it brought forth two (so far) very useful and informative posts.
User avatar
tuben
Professional tuba player / Volunteer Village Idiot
Professional tuba player / Volunteer Village Idiot
 
Posts: 3327
Joined: Tue Apr 06, 2004 1:12 pm
Location: One never knows.

Re: Improvement

Postby Beervangelist » Sat Aug 05, 2017 10:29 am

tuben wrote:
Mark wrote:
tuben wrote:How do you recommend improving playing, musicianship, and personal self when people don't give you constructive and useful feedback?


And, stop relying on (blaming?) other people.


If I understand your comment, we should not rely upon (or blame) anyone else. If a tubist does not rely or at least elicit the commentary, feedback, and input of other musicians, I suspect they will live a VERY solitary musical existence. We are all hoping to be selected (paid or volunteer) to perform with others, so I contend their opinions do matter.

As to blaming other people, that is you creating an interpretation that wasn't intended.
To be clear, this topic was inspired by other tubenet drama and I'm delighted it brought forth two (so far) very useful and informative posts.


I think it's important to separate the contexts. I believe points have been made about not relying on Audition Committees or hiring personnel - that's not their job. Collaborating with other musicians that will give you the straight dope, yet are willing to give you time and effort towards your goals is a separate idea, group of people.

The most brutally honest of all listeners is the recording, however it still needs educated, objective ears to know what to make of anything.
Bb Conn 22J Recording Bell - 1933
Bb "Metro - Lockie Music Exchange" stenciled B&M York Master Sousaphone (Early 50s?)
1997 Carvin 5-String fretless bass
http://www.strappingowls.com
User avatar
Beervangelist
bugler
bugler
 
Posts: 46
Joined: Thu Sep 29, 2016 11:47 pm
Location: Fennville, MI

Re: Improvement

Postby Will Jones » Sat Aug 05, 2017 10:07 pm

Get serious about what you are doing and take the obvious steps. I can't tell you how many times I sat on the committee and it was clear the vast majority of applicants never recorded themselves. I believe they were smart people and good musicians- if they only heard themselves, then they would be chagrined.

If you knew nothing about music, what steps would you brainstorm for audition prep? Most of the answers are obvious, you just have to mentally take a huge step away and look at is from far far away. If you don't do it, someone else will.

And then realize that they only pay those guys (in the good gigs) because they wouldn't Do it for free. Trust me- just like any job, there are moments of excellence among years of frustration.
Will Jones
bugler
bugler
 
Posts: 39
Joined: Mon Mar 06, 2017 1:03 am

Re: Improvement

Postby roughrider » Wed Aug 09, 2017 7:15 pm

Thank you Elephant. Excellent advice for all tuba players!
H.N.White "King" Symphony BBb Recording Bass
Meinl-Weston 2145 CC
Holton Mammoth BBb
Stofer-Geib American Shank
Stofer-Geib English Shank
Equa-Tru #26
Wedge H2
roughrider
3 valves
3 valves
 
Posts: 275
Joined: Thu Apr 20, 2006 4:33 pm

Re: Improvement

Postby bloke » Wed Aug 09, 2017 8:21 pm

auditions:

Everyone's scoring begins at zero, and everyone's final scoring is a negative.
The smallest number is the best number.
Every applicant displays imperfections, and - believe this: every imperfection is heard, regardless of who is on the committee, or what type of room is utilized.
Beyond imperfections, there are [1] taste, [2] résumé, and [3] (shhh...!!!) the buddy system...

bloke "...none of the three of which should be considered to be off-the-table nor disgraceful. Any enterprise ought to be able to hire whomever they wish for whatever reason. ex: I might choose to hire my brother, or I may well choose to hire anyone-but my brother."
User avatar
bloke
musician/technician/innovator
musician/technician/innovator
 
Posts: 37108
Joined: Sat May 08, 2004 6:04 pm
Location: western Tennessee


Return to TubeNet

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot], ckalaher1, Google [Bot], Lars Trawen, Majestic-12 [Bot] and 16 guests