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Thread: Approaching Challenging Music

  1. #1

    Approaching Challenging Music

    Hello everyone,

    Over the course of the past week, I have been learning quite a difficult piece of music and it has got me thinking how individuals from our wider community approach learning a new piece of music from both a practical and psychological position. I know quite a few players who will not touch a piece of music because of a challenging high note or a difficult technical passage within the piece of music and it made me curious as to strategies that could be employed to support individuals from our community to push themselves to have a look at the more challenging parts of the Euphonium repertoire.

    I look forward to reading your responses.

    Best Wishes,

    Micah Dominic Parsons
    Best Wishes,

    Micah Dominic Parsons

    Website - https://mdpmicahdominicpar.wixsite.com/my-site
    Blog - https://theblogofabrassmusician1994.blogspot.com/

    Facebook Account - https://www.facebook.com/Micah-Domin...05492345484536
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  2. I hate getting stuck on details and having to iron out one small section, however as a musician it’s impossible not to. When I was rehearsing and learning my senior recital music it was an extremely frustrating process. One of the pieces was Spitfire for euphonium, vibraphone, and marimba.

    There were many nights my friend and I who were working on it together would just give up for the night. We would try and get a section done a week. Some rehearsals were spent counting our parts and figuring out where we lined up, or finding spots to cue each other in as the parts switched melody lines. Working with my lessons professor helped a lot as he could see the score and heard things we did not. It took us about 4-5 weeks to get everything as good as we could in our time limit.

    Having a good professor who kept pushing me forward was definitely a huge help when things got frustrating. However, the biggest psychological help for me was my significant other, who could keep me sane no matter how much I wanted to drop the piece.
    Adams E1 Gold Brass Bell and SS Leadpipe
    Undergrad at Angelo State
    Future TA at University of Oklahoma

  3. #3
    For starters, it helps to have a good recording of the difficult piece to let potential performers know what they would be working toward. If I piece requires a substantial investment of time & energy, I'd want to know that I'll be happy with the results. Truthfully, there are some pieces that don't "speak to me" musically, and they seem like a poor investment. If I were young and building my career, I might try such a piece to build my abilities and to possibly learn that I might enjoy the piece that did not speak to me.

    BUT, if I like the piece and think it has something to offer the euphonium world, it is worth whatever it takes to prepare it. For a piece that is beyond my current reach, I would consider a long-term effort of gradually working on the various difficult passages and then putting it all together. Presumably, at the end I'd be a better musician than I was at the start because of all the work I had put into it. And I might have refined (or learned) some technical skills along the way.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    Alliance Mouthpiece (DC4)
    YouTube: dwerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    Twitter: davewerden
    Instagram: davewerdeneuphonium

  4. #4
    Hello everyone,

    There have been some really interesting points that have been made. I have to admit that I have grown up with the Euphonium being a very technical instrument and so it has been quite a learning curve trying to build on my technical ability especially over the last few years since taking up a principal position in a championship section band.

    I have to admit, my approach is to first a recording of the piece of music as mentioned by Dave Werden and then I start to work on the music slowly reducing the tempo to a point where I can play all the rhymic structures and notes. I honestly feel that playing sections slowly quickly builds confidence in learning a new piece and especially helps with getting technically tricky passages under the fingers.

    It is interesting that so many players leave some of the most incredible works in the repertoire due to the technical demands and I would love to find a way to encourage and support those players to explore these incredible works.

    Best Wishes,

    Micah Dominic Parsons
    Best Wishes,

    Micah Dominic Parsons

    Website - https://mdpmicahdominicpar.wixsite.com/my-site
    Blog - https://theblogofabrassmusician1994.blogspot.com/

    Facebook Account - https://www.facebook.com/Micah-Domin...05492345484536
    Twitter Account - @MicahDParsons94
    Instagram Account - @MDP.Micah.Dominic.Parsons
    Youtube Account - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRj...KljG3JLcuMs60A

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2022
    Location
    Apple Valley, CA
    Posts
    5
    To add to what the others have stated, one method I have found to help with technical passages is “swinging” the passage and then reverse “swinging” it. It helps get my fingers in the right place at the right time. Sometimes I run into a brick wall with only slow practice. I use this as well when I am conducting an ensemble. Also, lots of singing always helps.

  6. #6
    Randy, that's a great tip, anyone reading who has never tried it should give it a go! I have no idea why it works, besides the obvious which is kind of taking out of time fingers to opposite ends of the spectrum and then coming back to the middle. But besides that, how is it possible that it can clean something up so quickly and easily?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Farmington Hills, MI
    Posts
    375
    Just my personal style but when Iím working on a new technical piece I first decide if I have the ability but Iím willing to stretch myself to improve. Next is to work on the techniques the piece requires with various etudes. Last I work on technical sections slowly. I donít always succeed. Iíve been working on Euphony lately. Itís doable but itís a great piece and quite difficult. The fast 1/16th note triplet passages require a lot of work.

  8. #8
    Hello everyone,

    It has been really interesting to read all the techniques that you all use when learning a new piece of music. I have to admit that I feel the best way is the break the music down into sections and then play each passage slowly until it is comfortable.

    It will be interesting to see how practice concepts develop in the future and see if we discover any other ways of enabling individuals to perform more difficult pieces of music in the future.

    Thank you again for all your help and support.

    Best Wishes,

    Micah Dominic Parsons
    Best Wishes,

    Micah Dominic Parsons

    Website - https://mdpmicahdominicpar.wixsite.com/my-site
    Blog - https://theblogofabrassmusician1994.blogspot.com/

    Facebook Account - https://www.facebook.com/Micah-Domin...05492345484536
    Twitter Account - @MicahDParsons94
    Instagram Account - @MDP.Micah.Dominic.Parsons
    Youtube Account - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRj...KljG3JLcuMs60A

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