Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Terror & Thrill of Horn Playing

I think every horn player can identify with the sentiments my friend, Doug, recently shared with me in a spontaneous and unsolicited email.

Our Castle Rock Orchestra had a Christmas concert today. . . The concert was great fun, and if you recall, I was principal. What made that remarkable was that I stewed about it for several weeks. I practiced everything that mattered. I practiced fingerings, I thought about phrasing, dynamics, articulation, and intonation. And I psyched myself up, so determined to play as well as I could.

Today arrived, concert day. Yikes! I tried to avoid thinking about what it meant not to do this well, and I stayed just this side of being really nervous. I turned that wonderful corner where nerves turn into determination and concentration, and adrenalin is your friend. Of all the things I thought about, there was one thing I never thought about. The one thing that it most depends. I never gave a single thought to my chops.

After a year of BE, and weeks of practicing those parts, I never questioned whether or not I could slur up to a high A and hit it cleanly. I'm not saying I didn't chip any notes, but I hit all those high A's as clean as a whistle!

I had several thoughts occur to me as the concert went on. The first was, "What a fool I was to quit playing for all those years." The second was, "This is where I really belong, it doesn't get better than this." The third was about what a stretch it is for me to be playing these first part solos and that I had to bring everything I knew. And finally it cocurred to me that if you're lucky enough to be a horn player, then you're lucky enough.

I'm close to a year past discovering BE, corresponding with Jeff, and exchanging the first email with you. What a year of discovery it's been! I've never been bungee jumping, but I don't believe it could hold a candle to playing the horn, either for the terror or the thrill. I wouldn't trade any experience on earth for the thrill of playing the horn this afternoon. I don't think I have the words to describe it. It's that feeling deep down inside that something came into your life and made such a huge impact, that you wonder how you could have accomplished something so personally meaningful if you hadn't been touched in that way. . . I couldn't have risen to the challenge today without it.

Joyful Christmas to you and your family, and God bless you and yours for all that you do.

Doug's testimonial