January 16th 2009: I had about the worst lesson I’ve ever had. A friend of mine called it my meltdown which is a very good description. I couldn’t play at all. I had been practicing double pedal notes for a couple of weeks because I heard about a technique called the Balanced Embouchure (more about that in a future post) on one of the forums and I bought the method book. I’m no different than most beginners who grasp for solutions that we hope will be the magic elixir to solve playing problems.
Back to the lesson. I demonstrated how good I’ve gotten at the double pedals but I couldn’t play a scale starting from the C below middle C and just starting on that C was almost impossible. From middle C to third space C wasn’t much better. Clam C – splat – burp – hiccup – G – A – splat – C. I’m sure you get the idea. Lynn, my teacher said that I am dropping my jaw way too much and thinks it may be due to working with the double pedal notes before I was ready to do that. The lesson here: Talk to your teacher or someone you trust before you embark on some technique that, although it might work for someone else, may not be right for you. I think there is huge value in reading what both the amateurs and the professionals have to say on the horn forum. I just think it’s not wise to dive into something without evaluating it carefully.
During my lesson I was overshooting or missing completely almost every note. Forget about playing any scales, slurs or arpeggios. You would think I had just picked up the horn last week it was that bad. Really, it was that bad. Absolutely nothing went right. Lynn was very patient, but oh my gosh this was embarrassing. She said that my tone was very constricted all through my range and nothing at all like the good tone I had last week.
Last week was the first time Lynn heard my new horn and she said it was a huge improvement. I was leaning in that direction too. The day before this lesson I was working on the first movement of Strauss #1 and I think I was doing pretty well with it for me. In general after a more strenuous practice session, and for me Strauss 1 is strenuous, the next day isn’t stellar, but it’s never been as horrid as it was during my lesson.
Confusion and frustration are clogging my brain. What did I do to cause such a bad day? Did I do anything to cause such a bad day? I know that we all have good days and bad days, however this was so bad I actually thought about giving up for about 60 seconds. Fortunately my recent purchase of a new horn squashed that thought pretty quickly.