technique

Philip Smith retires

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Philip Smith, principal trumpet of the New York Philharmonic, is retiring. He led that trumpet section for 36 years and produced a CD of excerpts that has become the de facto standard for orchestral trumpet playing. After the retirement of Bud Herseth, Phil Smith must be viewed as the leader of orchestral trumpet playing in America. He is notable enough that his departure was the subject of an article in The New Yorker:

Philip Smith, master trumpeter

The article and his comrades appropriately praise his career, but what I find telling is the one quote from Mr Smith, a master trumpeter who still, apparently, battles nerves:

A thirty-six-year career in the same orchestra means that expectations can remain high over a lifetime. “People keep showing up, and they want Mahler’s Fifth in 2013 to sound as good as it did in 1978,” he said. “And you’re going, ‘Shoot, man, I’m not sure if I can do that.’ So you have to watch the little voices and try to shove them out of the way. Try not to get focussed on mistakes. It’s like watching the Olympics—how many times you know these people are tops of their field, they get to the Olympics and the voices win. So it’s a constant battle to say, ‘Don’t let the voices win.’ Sing, sing, sing, sing, sing. When the voices start going, start singing.”

Fast practice

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Jason Sulliman has posted a great video on fast practice. Rather than starting slowly and clicking up the metronome, fast practice involves starting at tempo but with only a small portion of the passage, gradually adding notes. My favorite method is to start at the end of a passage and to keep adding beats to the front of the lick.
Check out his video on Youtube:
Jason Sulliman fast practice video