Thursday, June 7, 2012

And the band played on...

I enjoyed this blog project. I think I will plan to write musical thoughts in here; regardless of connection with music of other cultures. Feel free to check back in from time to time and offer your thoughts and comments. Obrigada everyone! :)

Monday, April 23, 2012

To Be or Not to Be?

I didn't have the opportunity to share this with everyone last week, so I hope you enjoy. Shelby and I performed this piece on Kate Wohlman's doctoral recital last semester, and while it is a bit bizarre at first I really enjoyed the way the piece is set up. Henri Tomasi's "To Be or Not To Be?" was based on William Shakespeare's "Hamlet". It tells a short version of the story of love, life and un-timely deaths. The piece is scored for three trombones (two tenor & 1 bass trombone) and solo tuba. I loved working on Tomasi's trombone concerto during my undergraduate studies as well. The following is a really good youtube video of a Master's recital (seriously, these guys did a really good job!) The most difficult part for me was the mute changes; they are fast and you have to do it as quietly and smoothly as possible. **Composers: This is something to consider when you are writing for brass---mute changes take time!!!
Enjoy this great performance of Etre ou Ne Pas Etre: Monologue de Hamlet by Derek Fernstermachter and his trombone trio. I suppose this is my last post for this class; however I am thinking about making a new blog to discuss things in my musical world---stay tuned and thanks for reading!!!

Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass

I was reminded today of some music I used to listen to growing up. My mom and dad loved Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, so my little sister and I would hear it played around the house while we were home during e weekends. I specifically remember a tune called Bittersweet Samba. Initially I was going to post a link to the YouTube video, but watching the first minute decided it was a little too racy for ABEL. I like that Herb Alpert's group was mainstream and popular, yet the brass played a leading role in all the tunes, and we're even included in the band name! If you haven't heard this group yet it is worth checking out. :)

Thursday, April 19, 2012


I don't think I've posted about this group before, and I don't remember if anyone has discussed it. This is one of my favorite indoor "drum corps" style ensembles. Mostly made of brass musicians with some percussion and colorguard, BLAST! is a fantastic demonstration of how musicianship can stay at a high level (the flugel player at the beginning holds a note by circular breathing for FIFTY SECONDS!!!!) with theatrics, dance and movement incorporated.
I admit that the accuracy of the trumpets suffers a bit at the end, this is a LIVE video and is the last piece on a show that is an hour long. :) Enjoy this production of Blast! performing Malaguena.

On "sendo uma boa audiência"

Have you ever performed for a masterclass or a recital where you're anxious and the crowd seems THIS BIG?

Or how about a seminar performance where you're already nervous and then the audience stares at you like THIS?

I believe that us musicians often lose sight of how important it is to not only be a great performer, but also to be a good audience member. When our fellow musicians stand up to share their music with us, the very least we can do is to give them:

1. Our full attention.
2. Our support through generous applause.
3. Our respect (not opening candy wrappers or playing on our cell phones)
4. Good body posture --not slumping or leaning on the person next to you.
5. A smile.

The last is one of the most overlooked parts of being a good audience member, and it is something to consider next time you're watching a fellow musician perform. Looking out into a sea of faces that appear bored, angry, or simply unsupportive can be very stressful to a performer and can cause concentration issues.

So the next time you are in an audience of any kind, try out these few ideas. This doesn't mean you have to sit in the crowd with a crazy grin on your face the whole recital, it just means relaxing and enjoying the music with a pleasant expression. After all, you can't see your facial expression, but the performer can. And whether or not you mean it, you may be conveying negative messages through your body language.

Lets all try to be like THIS audience to help encourage our colleages to do their very best.

Venezuelan Brass Ensemble

After hearing this great ensemble the other day in ABEL I wanted to hear more of their music. I was pleased to hear this fantastic rendition of Leonard Bernstein's "Mambo" from West Side Story.

Venezuelan Brass Ensemble - "Mambo"

There is one spot where the ensemble starts rushing (when they begin incorporating theatrics and such) but I love the energy and the agility of these players. They play really well in tune, with good overall rhythm, great tone and most importantly....

....they look like they enjoy themselves while performing. Music is supposed to be fun, and I think we get all too serious while we play in America. HAVE FUN WITH MUSIC---that is the point! :)

is one more great tune the group does. This piece features much more South American flavor (I think we heard a sample of this tune in class). There is one shot right around 1:18 seconds where the camera pans over the ensemble and they are all MOVING together and enjoying the playing. Its kind of cool. :)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

State of Mind

Tonight the Genuine Brass Quintet (with Dave, Megan, Aaron, Caitlin and myself) played for Dave's master's degree recital. We performed Ewald's Quintet No.2, and we played it very well.

The reason I mention this, is because we had performed the exact same piece in its entirety on Friday for some high school students, and I think the quintet would agree when I say that it did not go well at all. From faulty music stands to individual mistakes (I personally had many) and an overall lack of group focus.

With no rehearsal since that very average performance, we came out this evening and played Ewald 2 with vigor, musicality and polish.

I've racking my brain to figure out how there can be such a huge difference in a group over such a short period of time.

Of course there are personal stressors, such as school or personal issues, that can contribute to a less than stellar performance. What are some other reasons that you can think of?