For me, it was the end of the first semester of my new graduate home. I love it there. It's going to be a place for me to continue to grow as a musician and educator. Everything was great.....except my jury comments.
Our clarinet professor is a firecracker. She's a student of Cohen, a former member of Pershing's Own, and (though a very nice and decent person) is honest on a level most students aren't always ready to experience.
Simply put, she kicked my butt.
"GET THAT Db IN TUNE!"
"Your sound gets really bright and pinched at forte"
"You didn't subdivide that passage well at all!"
(These aren't direct quotes....well the first actually is...but you get the gist)
I read through a lot of her comments and agreed with what she said. These were issues I knew I was trying to address? Others, though, I thought "How did I miss that? I thought I was playing that rhythm correctly! What am I doing wrong in the practice room?".
Understand, I have some pretty serious goals for the fall. I need to shore up some issues. If I'm missing major things about my playing in the practice room, I need to figure out where they are and how to fix them.
There are obviously disconnects and I need to find them.
I'll bet I'm not alone here.
Now, let me be clear here.
I am NOT being negative!!!!!!!
I'm about getting better. I cannot being any more direct than that. I love music. I love practicing. I love playing my horn. I am GRATEFUL that I've had these opportunities.
I just need to do it better.
So, this morning I was thinking about how best to locate those practice room disconnects. I picked up my iPad to use the ole google machine on the interwebs to find some practice technique and....saw the camera.
Now I record myself from time to time. I have a decent little microphone. I have good headphones. Why not simply record myself practicing?
Understand, I'm not talking about recording and reviewing an entire practice session. That would be painful. What I'm suggesting is this:
Record 1-3 minute segments of your practice and immediately, IN REAL TIME, review those recordings so, IN REAL TIME, you can address what you hear.
I'm starting simply. I use The Tuning CD for long tones. I'll do 'spot checks' of working open fifths through the full range of the instrument at varying dynamics. Where are intonation problems? At what level does my tone spread? Where are response problems? Am I hearing something as in tune when it really isn't?!
Next, scales and patterns with a metronome. Is the scale even through the full range? Is the subdivision totally exact and in line? Are there exactly four sixteenths per quarter note?
I thought it was.
I bet I'm not the only one who misses things in the practice room.
So, think of these recording segments is that good but reaaaaaalllly honest friend: The one who tells you when you shouldn't wear that outfit. The one who tells you directly when you put your foot in your mouth and don't realize it.
Stay 'old school' when you practice. Fundamental work should always always ALWAYS be the basis behind getting better. However, we have so many tools available now that we didn't just a few years ago.
Let's work smarter AND harder.
Get to work!