CHANGE IT UP

It’s the final stretch run before the playoffs in the NHL, it’s close to the final four NCAA basketball championships, the season for arts companies is nearing it’s end and the summer outdoor concerts are fast approaching.

Sports coaches, arts directors and conductors always look for ways to inspire the best in players and performers. Benjamin Zander was looking for new ways of rehearsing the “excessively familiar” New World Symphony of Dvorak. He asked the orchestra players to reseat themselves on the stage “so that as many players as possible were placed next to an unfamiliar instrument. A first violinist stood next to the timpani, an oboe player amongst the violas, a horn in the cello section. The purpose was to reveal new sounds and textures that the musicians could not hear from within their own sections.”

Zander also read a quotation that served “as a point of inquiry for the rehearsal” and asked the players to play the New World Symphony with their eyes shut – imagining they were completely blind. The orchestra began to play not by memory but by heart – harmony was truly present.

Grammy Award winning bassist Victor L. Wooten in his book The Music Lesson explains, “Have you ever noticed that all blind musicians play with a remarkable amount of feel – not some of them, all of them? A famous blind musician will be someone that your parents and your children listen to … because they fill their Music with tremendous amounts of true emotion, and that is what they get across to their listeners.”

In practice and rehearsal, change it up at times. The result can lead to a passionate performance – one that all players perform at their best.

Email responses to brian@brianfarrell.ca

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