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My Ambitions for 2012

This image copyright © 2012 Susie Ahrens

Several of Twitter’s #MusEdChat teachers have posted blogs about their 2012 Resolutions/Goals.  I have enjoyed reading them and they got me thinking about my own resolutions for the year.  I began thinking of areas that I have been wanting to improve as a musician and as a person.  I will save you all the boring banter of my personal goals for the year and move straight on to my ambitions as a musician.

First: I chose the word “Ambition” because for me, it carries more of a connotation of something that is worked for, rather than a Resolution that sounds more like a promise to do or not do something.  This is a list of things that I will be working toward during this year and not just simply promising to do them.

1)   Use the breathing Gym more. Many people who make New Year’s Resolutions to loose weight or be healthier, often vow to work out at the gym more.  As a brass musician who must move great amounts of air, working out with the Breathing Gym more is a no-brainer.

2) Make sure I am practicing more than just playing. I recently rediscovered that I LOVE to play tuba.  I love everything about it.  The sound, the feel of the horn, the way it can relax me and focus my thoughts in the middle of a very hectic and stressful day.  As a result of this, I often find that I will take a break in my day to sit down and play through a piece of music, just for the enjoyment of it.  I love this and I’m not planning on stopping.  I do, however, plan to focus more on my practicing.  Dissecting difficult passages.  Concentrating on skills that are hard for me. Methodical practicing. I do this in my daily practicing, but will be digging my heels in and really isolating techniques to improve.

3) Record myself more. Being critical about my playing has always been easy.  However, by recording my practice sessions more, it will focus my criticism into constructive comments.  There really is no good excuse for not recording myself.  It’s so easy (even a cell phone will work), and the payback is immense.  Listening to myself will enable me to focus on the smaller details like articulations and note shapes within passages and larger areas like phrasing and dynamics.  With organizational tools such as EverNote, I can upload my recordings and save them for future study.  Sometimes it is difficult to convince myself that I’m improving, but by listening to recordings from months or years ago-my improvement will be easier to hear.

4) Listen to more music. This applies to all genres of music.  I will be listening to more music with tuba solos or features, as well as Classical, Christian, Rock, Jazz, Dixieland, Latin, Big band, Funk, anything that will expand my repertoire and musical tastes.  Andrew Hitz (@HitzTuba) recently wrote a blog post about his 2012 resolution to use YouTube at least one hour a week.  He reminds us of the incredible amount of great performances available from this resource.  I always recommend searching for recordings of tuba players to my students.  The first step in making a beautiful sound on a tuba, is to know what it is supposed to sound like.  Sometimes I box myself into a musical rut, playing the same genre (and often songs) over and over.  So in order to expand my own knowledge of music, I will be taking this advice.

If you’re in the mood to read more posts from Musicians about their 2012 resolutions/goals, here are a few:

Joe Guarr’s post

Julie Manfredi’s post

Andy Zweibel’s post

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