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KT's Corner #4

Missing Notes for No Apparent Reason?


One of the most common occurrences of this is near the beginning of “In the Mood” - the dreaded third note for the trumpets. This note is so commonly missed that whenever the entire section plays it without a frack, they are gleefully surprised!

The reason that this note is so often missed is not because the players are thinking too hard about the third note, but rather that they are not thinking about the first note.

Here’s the secret: Concentrate on nailing the first note (3rd line D). Get ALL of it, as if it was the only note to play, fully engaged in the sound and energy, chops buzzing rim to rim. This is the equivalent of driving in the “power band” with high RPM. Your engine is ready to respond to sudden demands. If you enter in this way, it is very likely that the higher Bb will pop out clean and with a good sound.

This same thing has happened to may players while playing Taps. When anyone asks me for advice on performing Taps, I always tell them “Clear you mind of all thoughts and concentrate wholly on the first note; make it full and beautiful. If it takes a few seconds to get there, take the time before advancing to the second note. When you hear the rewarding sound that happens with full engagement, the rest of your performance will go off without a flaw.

Another problematic time is while sight reading during a performance. It is very tempting to keep looking ahead to see what’s coming up. These “peeks” are better done during long rests or at other opportunities when you are not actually playing. The way to miss fewer notes is to play in real time. That is, looking and thinking about the note that you are actually playing rather than further down the staff.

I have to keep reminding myself about these concepts to avoid embarrassing but preventable gaffs. Hopefully they may help some of us clean up the environment by missing less notes!