Thomas Stevens

Go For It!

  • For Trumpeters Only

Taking. Musical. Chances.

Go For It!

Quotable: “You know how they say, ‘it’s only an effect?”-Well, that’s true, but the [correct] notes wouldn’t hurt!”-Sir André Previn (1986)

One of the biggest traps for professional musicians who play written music in organized ensembles is a concept often put forth by various and sundry conductors, managers, personal managers, music teachers, and others who work in what William Vacchiano used to call the "secret service” (nobody actually ever hears anything they do).

The concept in question is that musicians should take risks in the interest of providing more musically expressive or exciting performances, rather than playing it safe by being overly concerned with such mundane technical micro-issues like playing the correct notes and not missing any of them, or paying an inordinate amount of attention to similar rudimentary/technical performance considerations.

Unfortunately, in actual practice, many of the same people who espouse this philosophy, including our fellow musicians who sit on school audition panels, end-of-term juries, orchestra audition committees, or international contest boards, are often very quick to penalize those who commit such rudimentary infractions.

All of which leads to two old admonitions cum Quotables from William Vacchiano: “When a trumpet player makes a mistake everybody hears it, even deaf people,” and “[T]here is no place for us to hide-we must be extra careful with the notes.”

So, "go for it," but don't make mistakes in doing so. “They”-including the hard of hearing-are definitely listening (and counting).