Saturday, July 21, 2012

Glorious Youth in our Company


Glorious Youth in our Company
Right now, we are listening to the first edit of Guy’s recording of the Lussier concerto for trumpet and strings (Impressions d’Alameda) that he recorded on July 19.  We are sitting with 3 young trumpeters (ages 6,10 and 12) whose bright eyes are reflecting every soaring note that is coming from my old speakers.
Yesterday (July 20, 2012), Guy and I went to speak with the young members of the National Academy Orchestra in Hamilton, Ontario.
We went at the invitation of the powerhouse young manager of the NAO, Megan Jones, to speak about our wide-ranging careers, to play a bit for these young professionals and to listen to bassoonist Kristin Day play the Allemande from the Bach Flute Partita and trumpeter Ben Promane play Honnegger’s Intrada.  Both players came with beautiful sounds and we both had a lot to say about the speaking of music through a wind instrument (rather than specifics of bassoon or trumpet).  Maybe you had to be there for it to make sense since so much of our teaching is based on image and movement. 
Guy and I cherish opportunities to speak to our younger colleagues... I know it sounds corny and possibly disingenuous, but we can remember our youth, the ardent striving and the deep doubts.  We want to describe our lives and to provoke their questions and remind them that they are needed and their imaginations are as important as their skills.  Well, this is what I am thinking and I hope that by exposing our work to them, it will ignite something original and powerful in them.
Here are my rough notes from  the class and I will add to them later based on some of the incredible, probing questions that came from the serious yet joyful young players who crowded around us after the session.

Afterwards, we drove to the small town of Elora to pick up the first edit of the Sicialian Proverbs (Michael Occhipinti) and the trumpet concerto which we recorded on July 17 and 18.  This is the fastest turn-around ever (from recording to first edit) and our engineer Ed Marshall laughed at our undisguised glee.  We are now listening to both the edit and all of the takes that were done in the seven hours of recording, so that is fascinating too.  The trumpet concerto sounds spectacular and the double concerto will sound glorious once we have messed with some more edits.

OK, now I have to go buy a fridge!  There was a funny smell in the house when we returned last night and the big shiny stainless steel fridge has decided to go toes-up for the second time this year.  Life is never only about music!!
Where the Wind Blows:  classical performer’s survival guide to building a powerful multifaceted career
Throughout our careers, we carry the idea that our goal is simply to be good and that the desired rewards will follow.
What is rarely seen is the struggle that every passionate musician faces when attempting to balance the pursuit of art with the need to make a living; often one cancels the other.  
In fact, balance is the word that comes up most often when in reality, choices must be made that, in other professions, would be called sacrifices.
Students looking at the bios of professionals can be overwhelmed by the scope of accomplishments listed.   
Professionals in the midst of their careers can be overwhelmed by looking at the bios of colleagues and assume that others have more talent, time or money at their disposal. 
Ours is a profession that has no arrival point of absolute security.  Yet ours is the profession that allows us to be constantly renewed.  The injuries that come our way provide more fuel for expression and the joy confirms the value of our occupation.
I believe that the future of classical music lies in the hands and imaginations of the individual musician.  It is urgent that musicians of every level participate in creating events that develop and further our art.  To achieve this we need to have strategies that allows us to earn a living while developing our craft.
I am a quintessential product of the narrowly-focused orchestral training programs soon to fade into the recent past, and the fact that I operate successfully both outside the confines of that world speaks volumes about lasting virtues of the  strict training of university/conservatory system.  
In this lecture, I will discuss the skills and talents that the individual student can perceive and develop in himself, preparing new possibilities for the future while developing the traditional musical skills in the present.  
Where the Wind Blows:   classical performer’s survival guide to building a powerful multifaceted career
Everything, absolutely everything, is learned on the job.  But before that, an idea must take root and a plan must follow. 
Essential element of developing a multi-faceted career include planning, scheduling and thinking for yourself..
1.  Daily planning = Life planning 
-assume that you are capable of achieving your goals
-develop the tools necessary
organizing yourself to achieve career goals
-conceptualizing overview – dreamer – realist - critic
-maintaining practical aspects
-planning is believing – give yourself your big break – making concerts and ideas come to life
-setting dates with destiny (recitals, grants, recordings) can start immediately
2.  Who Do You Think You Are?  - finding your own voice under the influence of a commercial culture.

The Bold Monk
- confidence and humility
-how to use publicity to create opportunities for your best work
Hymns and Devotion - Marketing and Promotion 
-dedication to craft combined with articulation of ideas and art
Solitary Refinement
-how to use the discipline that comes from sustained personal practise to achieve other goals
-the practise of practise
Developing a Solo Repertoire and Reputation 
-does this help your orchestral/teaching career?
-are bassoonists allowed to be divas?
Winning the Lottery or Free Time:  choices – always be prepared
-you’re not bored, you’re just acting stupid
-practice while there is time… once you hit the big time there is never any time ever again
3.  Body of Work:  
-how to be strong enough to have a performance career
-endurance training (recitals and concerti)
-sprint training (orchestral excerpts)
-recovery from playing (rest etc)
-recovery from accidents and illness
-building strength (physical exercise)
-mental stamina to face life’s challenges and maintain performance standards
Mind & Body
-practising confidence and purposefulness
--auditioning and not feeling sorry for yourself
-techniques for stage confidence
Playing By Heart
-memorizing
-choosing projects that allow you to create a life in music
4.  The Office
Read your contracts
Research Skills
Writing Skills: CVs; resumés; programmes, grants; bios; proposals
Negotiating Skills – how to collaborate at every level
Legal Matters and Accounting:  archives and accounts
Developing a Library:  solo and orchestral
Developing Websites:  current information for fans
Ideas for Fundraising:  new ways to pay for cultural initiatives.
Rumor Mill – how to use it
Grant Applications
-planning
-assembling materials
-persistence
Publishing:  Recordings and articles
-write it down, commit, develop
-management of project
-planning and execution
-maintaining performance standards
Investing wisely to support your artistic goals
-time, money and energy must be used as commodities of equal value to attain your goals.

5.  The Company You Keep - Cooperation, Collaboration and Negotiating Long Term Musical Relationships, Ethical and artistic decision making in the classical music world
-your choice of colleagues can forever change your musical life.
-gving interviews; talking to conductors; talking to colleagues
Winning and Keeping an Orchestral Job
- orchestral excerpt training – basis of technical training
-playing the excerpts is not the same as playing the music!
Developing Chamber Music Groups
-don’t wait for them to come to you
-build within school and orchestra
Home Front
-Goose /Gander - pay and gender differences in the classical world 
-Family -  can you have a family and a performance career?
6.  Life-long Learning – parallel occupations
-learning historical instruments expands your knowledge of your instrument 

2 comments:

Adam Romey said...

Dear Nadina,

Terrific and incredibly relevant musings on how young musicians can develop a sustainable future. Thanks a million!

Adam Romey

nadina mackie jackson said...

Thanks Adam! And we learn something from the students every time they ask questions, if that makes any sense. Sometimes there is a world of wisdom in the questions that lead to a range of answers.