Thursday, January 6, 2011

If you don't enjoy practicing, you don't have the right toys

I attended a trumpet festival at the University of Las Vegas last year. We went to support Joe's friend who is a fantastic trumpet player. Bobo, in her first year of trumpet playing, went along as well.

It was a very informative and worthwhile experience. The presenters got everyone playing. They encouraged attendees to practice and study, and they gave several recitals. At the recitals, these professors played a variety of instruments in the trumpet family including a round cornet, "natural" trumpets, and rotary trumpets.

Enthusiasm was high throughout the weekend. These trumpeteers had so much passion and enthusiasm for their instruments, it was contagious. The love the participants showed for their craft and their instruments was obvious to those in attendance. I was, however,surprised at the passion these professors held for the history of their instrument. The collection of older instruments was impressive, but not nearly as impressive as the owners abilities to play them.

One presenter exclaimed, "If you don't love practicing, you don't have the right toys."

Musicianship, or "talent" if you will, is really all about opportunity. As we discussed a couple of blogs back, some geographic areas do not have people with the skills to fill church musical callings. This is not caused by a lack of talent but by a lack of resources. It is a luxury to have a piano in a home. It is even more of a luxury to have an organ in the home. (I call it my "pipe dream".)

A few months back a young woman in our ward was asked to play the piano for relief society. At the last minute, she decided that her piano skills were not good enough. She brought her viola instead. She played hymns on her viola for prelude and postlude. The opening hymn was "A Poor Wayfairing Man of Grief." When we were done singing, I don't think any eyes were dry. The simplicity, beauty and historical significance of the music invited the spirit into the meeting in a way that touched everyone.

It has encouraged me to use older instrumentation on the hymns at home. These older instruments also help me and my children to practice playing by ear. One of the easiest tunes for me to play by ear is "We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet." I tell my kids that this is the one song I can play on any instrument. It is the only song I can truly play on the harmonica.

A great instrument for practicing ear training is the mountain dulcimer. It has two string drones set against a melody string. To play a song, simply pick out the melody, the drones do the rest (of course you have to play it in the key in which the dulcimer is tuned). Another great instrument for ear training is the bowed psaltry.

Bobo's favorite song to play on the dulcimer is "Come Come Ye Saints." I tabbed it out for her and Judea and I've embeded the pdf in this post. I've also included an mp3 of our dulcimer accompanied by our bowed psaltry playing this hymn. It is tabbed in the key of D because I use the A D D dulcimer tuning.

Come Come Ye Saints Dulcimer ADD

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