Had one of those lessons today.
You know, one of those lessons where you get goose bumps while you’re playing because you never thought you could do that.
I’m working on both Brahms Sonatas right now for a Competition in Houston. Brahms is tough, not technically, but musically.
Any musician can tell you that.
My problem is being able to get out of my own way. Transcending the notes and playing past the page.
I’ve devoted the past two years to studying orchestral excerpts and playing in orchestras. As much as I enjoy that, I’ve found that it really does, to some degree, limit your musical expression.
Okay, I should go into some more detail about that. When you’re preparing for auditions, you practice only playing the right way, one way, no mistakes, perfect.
That rigid frame of mind really throws you for a loop because you pigeon hole yourself into only thinking about playing it perfectly and all the important stuff goes out the window.
However, once you have the job, and maybe tenure, then you can be musical.
I still struggle with wanting to play in an orchestra – I just subbed with the KSO this past week and it was a pleasurable experience. But I just remember sitting in rehearsals for three hours, Monday through Friday, feeling stifled and simply unmusical. I never really felt like I was making music.
I mean, it was good, and I’m a damn fine second clarinetist…because it’s my job to make the first sound amazing. I just wanted something more, I wanted to be able to transcended to another musical level with the musicians around me. I could really find that connection.
I hate feeling restricted and confined.
It’s interesting to me, and at the same time frustrating, to have such difficulty with the Brahms. I’ve always had a rather strong ability to emote and be musical.
I think it has much to do with my years of being trained to play Brahms like a robot…like a machine…without any fluctuation of tempi or change in color.
The first time I played it for my current clarinet professor, he said…”you play beautifully, with a focused sound, the most focused I’ve heard, but it’s TOO focused…you sound like a clarinet player…stop.”
Ha! HA! Yet, UGH…UGH!! I find myself working so hard to be out of the box that I’ve gone so far out that I’m actually smack dab in the middle of it.
I have structure again. Structure is good.
And my playing has ALREADY improved in just two lessons.
I’m happy and gonna ride out this cloud 9 for a while.