Shostakovich’s 5th Symphony has always been a favorite of mine to play – but, here’s the question? Have you heard his 4th Symphony? Check out the BSO’s recent recording of it to hear some crazy stuff! It never shows up on auditions and is rarely played, but it is big, brawny, and bristly in that awesome Shostakovich way. My colleague, Tom Rolfs, principal trumpet of the BSO, sounds incredible in all of the Boston Symphony’s Shostakovich cycle, but especially so in this piece.
Shostakovich’s fifth symphony sounds like a lullaby by comparison.
Have you ever had trouble making the 16ths square enough in the march, while keeping the phrases long at the same time? This was an excerpt that I struggled with while in school – it is such a strange combination of square rhythms, long lines, and rests. It can take awhile to put it all together.
The next time you practice it, play long marcato 8th notes during the half notes to subdivide. Take care to drive through them – if they are light or mechanical they won’t do you much good. We’re using them to not only keep the notes the right length but to ensure we don’t let the phrase go slack. Also practice the 8th note/8th rest/sixteenth figures as straight 8th notes to get the feel of the phrase better. You can also deliberately play the WRONG rhythm here – play triplets instead of 16ths and you’ll immediately know if you’ve been playing your 16ths inaccurately. Don’t practice it with triplets more than once though!! Of course you can also practice the figure with 16th divisions. Notice in my rendition the crescendos that aren’t printed – these are traditional and really help drive the phrasing along.
In my 7 and 12-week T5 programs, members get to play along with me with a feature I call Symphony Stage. Here is the march from the 1st movement of Shostakovich 5th Symphony with me playing all the parts.
What are your plans for improving your playing this fall? If you’re looking for a one-stop learning experience where you get lessons, masterclasses, a community of similarly driven players, and much more, check out my T5 Fall Semester 2021 HERE.
You CAN teach an old dog new tricks. I am 46. I don’t think of that as old, but I have been working in full-time orchestras now for over 23 years. I left school in 1998 to start working and yet, in the last three years, I have learned more about how to play the trumpet (and thus, how to teach the same stuff) than at any other time in my life!
Building accuracy and confidence: playing the trumpet (or any other brass instrument) is like shooting free throws…
Playing a brass instrument is like shooting free throws…Steve Nash is the second-best free-throw shooter of all time at 90.43%… just behind Steph Curry, depending on the week! Nash shot 90% on his first free throw and 91% on his second free throw. That one percentage point difference is smaller than the other players in the top five who were all 3-5% worse on their first free throw. The first free throw is harder because the player needs to access long-term muscle memory. Once they have shot their first, the muscle memory is pulled from their short-term memory which lends the higher percentage to the second shot.
I have met and worked with many fantastic trumpet players since spring of 2020 via Zoom: American, Canadian, Asian, Australian, Spanish, and British players; older players and younger; amateur and pro. I feel lucky to have been able to help so many people from the safety and convenience of our respective homes/countries. Even now that it is safer, I am still thankful for the Zoom interface and its ability to reach far and wide. I wanted to share some info on how you can make your distance learning lessons go smoother from a technological standpoint.