#10 -Play What You Hear When You Hear It

Playing Each Note with Confidence

I've talked about how important it is to listen to what is going on around you while you're playing. As we've said, music at its best is like conversation at its best. This entails listening, understanding, and responding to what is being said or played. The trick is to not wait too long before responding. Let's think about notes for a minute. I like to think that a note is comprised of three parts.

  1. The Attack: The beginning of the note.
  2. The Body: The center portion of the note that we actually "hear."
  3. The Release: The end or how we let go of the note just played.

Sometimes people have trouble playing together because one person tends to lead while the other reacts. Separation between voices or players happens when the reactor's Attack falls on the Body or Release of the leader's note. The key to playing in tight unison is to listen and let the music pass through your ears to your hands. I know, I know, I'm back to the Zen thing again...

If you take a split second to think about how a note is being played, you're toast. You will probably get in on the same note together but it won't have the power of hitting the Attack in unison. The Release will also occur at two different times, so there won't be good definition at the end of the note.

Suggested Exercise:

Through the past exercises we have all now mastered embouchure control, hand position, posture, head positions, tempo, rhythm, breath control, and projection. Now for the hardest lesson: playing with confidence. To truly play you have to believe in yourself, no way around it. You have to open your ears and "let your hands go." You will be amazed at the difference in your playing if you just attack the notes in tunes. Let your head lead your hands into tunes and rhythms untested...