Re: Truly Great Teachers/Performers

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Posted by Dave Zerkel on June 26, 2003 at 10:06:03:

In Reply to: Truly Great Teachers/Performers posted by Tim on June 25, 2003 at 23:51:39:

This is a topic that I feel pretty strongly about.

The simple rule is this...let your horn do the talking and let people draw their own conclusions. There is nothing worse than "forcing" your skills on others...whether they are potential audience members, contractors, colleagues or folks off the street.

I hope that this anonymous person won't mind me sharing this story. I had an extraordinarily talented player who had his senior recital performance. He was playing the lights off the instrument going into the performance and I was really looking forward to the recital. A couple of days prior, the 8X10 Olan Mills glossies started going up around the building. I chuckled inwardly, but didn't say anything to my guy. At the recital, the audience was presented with a 7 page program that included a rather inflated auto-biography of the player and his accomplishments and his perceived standing in the brass world. By the time anyone read this, they'd be expecting nothing other than a perfect performance. I was so put off by the audacity of such a shamelessly narcissistic gesture that I couldn't really enjoy the performance. He played very well, but I was so torqued that he felt the need to tell everyone how good he was before he played a note, that I couldn't get past that.

At the lesson following the recital, I shared with him how I felt. He was genuinely apologetic and said that he was only going on the model of someone that had preceded him. As time has passed, he has shared that our post recital chat was a defining moment for him and that he has taken that advice in the rest of what promises to be a great career as a professional player.

There is a fine line between self-promotion and shameless self-promotion. It takes a smart cookie to know where you cross that line.

If the goal is to be a respected player/teacher, than play and teach well. Period. You will not earn the admiration of your peers by telling them that should admire you.

If you want to get your self known in a new town, make some connections (a lesson with the Orchestra guy or top free lancer in that town). If you want to continue to make your phone ring once the work starts coming in, play well...but more importantly deport yourself in a manner that makes the other players on the gig happy to see you there. How you play is but only a piece in the puzzle.

I hope that this wasn't too preachy. I have to chuckle everytime that I go to a different town to play and people say that they've heard of me. I would've never imagined that to be the case, because the amount of energy spent on that cause was minimal. I guess that the moral of the story is, Spend your energy on being the best musician and the best person that you can be and the rest will take care of itself.

Good luck,

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