On woodshedding

I've been working up the Rimsky-Korsakov Concerto for Trombone lately -- for what purpose, exactly, I'm not sure, but this is one of those pieces that I have always wanted to play somewhere.

I've been woodshedding the third movement. Today I was working on the passage leading into N, which is deceptively tricky for me. Here's the passage I was working with (6:03 in the video):

It doesn't look like much.The first thing that gave me fits was getting those Gs in the fanfare-like second line to speak. I had to reorganize the last four bars of this excerpt in my brain so that each G was connected into the following Cs like a pickup note rather than being just another sixteenth note in the line. That worked nicely, giving definition to the lower pitches (it's amazing what a little psychology can do!).

Then there's that happy little sixteenth note string at the end of the first line. The attempt to transition from the C at the end of the first line into the Gs in the next was messy, and attempts to psychologically reorganize the line only made that E-natural disappear into the ether. Then I remembered the age-old advice: "Relax and blow." I turned off the metronome. I closed my eyes, I relaxed, I blew, and it came out. The only problem is that relaxing makes me drag -- but yet, when I turn on the metronom, I find it impossible to relax enough to get the sixteenth string out with any clarity.

One trick that has helped me with this is changing the metronome to beat in half notes instead of quarter notes. I was running this passage at about 100 bpm -- turning the metronome down to 50 like it was being conducted in 1 really helped my ability to relax first to get the troublesome sixteenth note strings out, but to also attend to playing in time. Try it -- maybe it'll help you too!

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