I recently had occasion to visit my friend Stephen Campbell, professor of trumpet at Ball State University, and I noticed a great list he had created and posted on his door, which I share with you now:
- understand where and how they fit in the musical fabric at all times.
- do what they can to make their work effective “in the hall.”
- realize that playing in a large ensemble demands even more clarity than performing with a smaller group.
- pace themselves during rehearsals and performances.
- remember that higher notes sound louder than lower notes. Longer notes also sound louder than shorter notes.
- don’t blast away in loud tutti passages, leaving themselves overly tired for solos or exposed passages.
- know to play softer and less aggressively in unison sections.
- play their best, regardless of who is on the podium.
- do not play as loudly as possible, even when the conductor asks for the same.
- are not defensive about suggestions from colleagues or the podium.
- do not take up valuable rehearsal time asking dumb questions.
- who are section leaders will be more effective with consistent playing rather than a lot of talking and gesturing.
- are always supportive and considerate of their colleagues.
- who are section players are more “chameleon-like” so as to be in a better position to follow the principal player and create a unified section.
- realize they may be “the problem.”
- always come to the first rehearsal prepared.
- are not born. We become quality musicians only through experience, honing our skills and instincts, and constantly listening.