Friday, 16 May 2008

An odd mistake

Background: I'm in a bit of a state of trumpetistic anxiety. Salomon Brass conducted by the lovely Nick M is doing a gig next Wednesday night and the remaining rehearsals are tonight and Monday. In a fit of totally idiot hubris I agreed to do the piccolo trumpet part in Eric Crees's arrangement of West Side Story. I am sure that this part caused no problems to the LSO Brass hero for whom it was written - Nigel Gomm perhaps? - but it is giving me the screaming abdabs. Why did I say I would play it? No idea. Idiot. Oh, and we're doing other stuff too and I have to play the big trumpet in that and will basically just be sitting there weeping quietly and trying to avoid using up any lip since my chances of getting through the Bernstein unscathed, even if it were the only work, are close to zilch.

Anyway, it is all a horrible mistake which I will greatly regret and I am far too unfit and out of practice to do this but I am trying (too little too late, PPPPPP, yes I know I know I know), and I came in early to play a bit this morning, using the seminar room because it sounds nice and is less deafening than my office. It was early enough that I hope/believe I won't have disturbed anyone.

In a bit of a flap I got the instruments out, warmed up a bit, played a minute or two on the Bb then changed to the picc. I remember I had had both mouthpieces in my pockets to warm them up. I played through West Side Story as far as possible, marvelling at how I can't really even read it accurately, which really is a bit depressing. Man, I have got some work to do this weekend. But the playing was something else - I really had to work very hard (yes I know, but I mean harder than that) to get round the high notes and it all felt like a big big effort.

After bashing through that for a while (yeah, sounds very artistic and sensitive, I know - have you actually met me?) I decided I'd had enough and should look at some of the Bb stuff. Starting on that, I discovered that I could no longer play this size of trumpet at all and that my mouthpiece had shrunk to submicroscopic size so that even getting my no-doubt bruised and swelling lips (you've heard of the No-Method Pressure, right?) anywhere into contact was a bit of a challenge.

BING! or perhaps BONG! or maybe the rather more ominous OOONNNNNGGGGARRROOOOOROOOROO! (with optional phase effects). Comprehension dawned. I'd accidentally swapped mouthpieces and had just done WSS on my rather large symphonic-type mouthpiece. Remind me, did I say some of the high notes were a bit difficult? IDIOT!!!! And then of course I was trying to play the big-trumpet stuff on my picc mouthpiece, which essentially consists of a very very shallow indentation in an otherwise flat piece of metal, with somewhere in its middle an aperture which can only be detected with ultrasound scanning.

Leaving aside the fact that I am an imbecile and dreadful trumpet player, and that I really, really, really, really need to sort my technique out, I am not sure whether I should be:

  1. appalled that I did such a stupid thing and did not even notice it;
  2. pleased with myself that I actually got through the picc part on a mouthpiece that is wildly inappropriate for me;
  3. some mixture of the above;
  4. something else.

Answers on a postcard please...

I'd like to say "Onwards and upwards" but the mere thought makes my lips ache. Nice cup of tea please.


Kat said...

Speaking of postcard, did you ever receive the well-wishing, congrats-on-your-time-at-ITG postcard I sent via the ITG London office long, long ago?

Strawberryyog said...

AAAARGH, OOOOOPS, yes I did, and thank you very much. (A grovellingly apologetic email cascade now ensues ...)