Keeping the Distance

Takedown and loadout usually aren’t the most fun part of the gig.  We finished fairly early, but it was still dark out, and there was no parking near the loading area.  I drew the short straw and waited with the instruments while the others got the cars.

People walking by made me nervous, so I set up the keyboard and started playing.  It wasn’t plugged in.  There was no sound to attract passers-by, and yet some stopped to listen.  Some even nodded and smiled, pretending, as if they were ashamed to admit they couldn’t hear the music.

Nobody bothered me.  I should’ve put out a tip jar.


Might do “How Brightly Shines Yon Star of Morn” as an offertory (or might do a Purcell voluntary).  “Brightly” is all about phrasing.

I have a copy with pencil marks from one of my private teachers years ago.  They’re good marks, and they’re about what I would tell a student of that age, but they aren’t what I’d play now.  Mostly I’d draw bigger lines, because I’m thinking in terms of overall arc rather than individual phrases.  It being baroque, it’s divided nicely into eight bar sections, so it’s fair to consider only that context.

Many teachers advise using the human voice or singers as a model for phrasing.  There are singers who used trumpet players as a model for phrasing.  I say there’s a time and a place for vocal stylings on the horn, and I’m fond of female jazz singers for those times.  This is a formal style, however, and it requires something more formal–but not strict and limiting.

For this piece, I try to draw phrases like a dancer.  Individual moves are distinct and yet flow into each other.  There are punctuations, but there’s also a suppleness.  Mostly I’m envisioning arm movements, gestures that end in a hand articulation, and slow pirouettes.

As for rests, that is when the dancer folds into a kneeling or crouching or sitting position and holds still, the spotlight elsewhere.  Here the analogy is no longer metaphorical for the trumpet player.  Perhaps the most important part of rests, in this interpretation of the piece, is breathing.  If you never left the music, your entrance will be effective.