I’m just dying to say “hey guys, you’re out of tune!” “you’re not breathing together” “you should play louder there” “that note should be more accented” “you should bring that out more because it’s practically a solo” “you should do a lot more buzzing for your warm ups” — and other know-it-all comments.
I remember trying to learn french horn for an orchestra a long time ago and one of the clarinetists was “kind” enough to turn around, glare and aggressively comment about a note I was playing out of tune – over and over, apparently.
I get it now. Though, he was rude. I was not at a point where tuning meant something to me – nor could I hear it. Needless to say, I’ve come a long way. And a lot of it is in the delivery – Alex, bass trombone in OT, leaned over to me in a recent rehearsal and said a particular note was too sharp. I love that feedback now – I value it. I want to create more beautiful music, and that helps. It helps too that I really respect Alex because he’s a fantastic player and a really nice guy and we seem to share a desire to play things right.
This isn’t the same for everyone. I practice a lot for someone with a 9-to-5 job outside of music performance. A LOT. Would I rather clean the kitchen or play tuba? do the laundry of play tuba? Well, duh. Even watching TV though. I want to play my parts better every week and I get a little rush out of reaching new milestones in my general musicianship. I AM intense by most measurements.
I can’t expect the same out of others though and have realized long ago that people have different goals in community ensembles. Some tend more on enjoying the social group aspects. Others don’t have time to practice much. And each is at their own stage of musical development with respect to hearing tuning, dynamics, balance, fingerings, range, etc.
Another trip down memory lane… I remember playing in an ensemble where a new member forced out veterans he thought weren’t up to snuff and brought in friends of his. This person was intense and truly disrupted the social aspect of the group – especially since the group was only about 13 people. The sound was better, but the tension could be cut with a whole note!
I never want to be that intense. I enjoy playing alongside like-minded people who do some kinda practice at home. I want to hear us get better and better with each rehearsal. I want my fellow musicians to have a good time (a sense of humour is a must!). And I want to play interesting music that allows me to grow as a tubist and conductor. The three ensembles I’m in right now fullfil both of those goals. I’m a happy guy.