So things have slowed down quite a bit for me compared to my first week of gigs. I’ve only had a couple of them since the last time I wrote. The most notable one was a wind ensemble concert this week in North Carolina. It was really fun, its been a long time since I’ve played in an ensemble that large. Lets see…the program consisted of Sousa’s El Capitan (gotta have a march!), Shostakovich’s Folk Dance, Holst’s First Suite, and Reed’s La Fiesta Mexicana. Talk about standards! I love this stuff!
What I have discovered about myself in the last few years is that I feel much more comfortable in a wind ensemble than I do in an orchestra. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy playing in an orchestra very much, but there is just something about sitting in a band and the rep we play that I just love! Call me a nerd, whatever, but it really solidifies my decision to join the military – and that THIS is that I am meant to do.
Now that I am getting settled at the band, I really want to start getting my name out there as far as freelance gigs and teaching. I’m hoping to do some playing out in the community and start developing a reputation locally. I’ve got some names of major clarinet people here so I’m going to start by taking some lessons and see where that gets me. I feel like the school of music really improved my playing – between all the forced practicing and the great teacher I had. I changed a lot about my playing while I was at the school! I now play on a much softer reed — although the instruments that I have been playing on in the Navy have been much more resistant than my personal Leblanc…even so when I go back to my Leblanc now, the old 4.5’s and 5’s that I was playing on are way too stiff. The teacher at the school really got me going on my air and I’m much more free blowing now than I was before. Here is a video she showed my of a preview of a masterclass by Yehude Gilad (you can buy the full video I guess, but I got enough out of this little clip!) that has really stuck with me:
The thing that resonated with me the most is the whole straw concept. I really do think of blowing through a straw while I’m playing and it has improved my air support a ton! It is so much easier to play my instrument now, haha.
My problem now is just getting focused to practice something! This week I’ve started to focus on excerpts…most notably band excerpts. Just in a couple days, I’ve noticed that all these excerpts are coming much easier than they were prior to being in the Navy. I suspect that since I worked on nothing but fundamentals for 3 months, it really improved my playing overall. Yay! What I’m hoping to do is to compile all of the excerpts into one book and practice out of that for now. I noticed from looking back at my Navy Band audition books that they pretty much use the same basic excerpts, but rotate in hard technical excerpts (i.e. orchestral transcriptions) for each audition. I can arrange the book by how often they show up on auditions. I realize that I have a job, but I really would like to be in a premiere band someday. And now I have a lot of time to practice so I might as well take advantage of it!