Hi all, I am currently in the middle of the Moderato stage having been gradually making my way through the course over 2 years or so. A few months ago I had a ‘eureka’ moment when (for a few weeks) I actually felt more relaxed when playing and I found it easier to play faster harmonic slurs etc and also produce an improved sound. Unfortunately, this didn’t last long and I now seem to be straining again and my endurance has gone out of the window! I am currently playing in a local swing band (2nd or 3rd part depending on difficulty level) and this means that I need to hit higher and faster notes than I have been used to. I am wondering if pushing myself to practice these parts is causing me to strain and compromising my ability to maintain a relaxed playing style? I would really like to get back to the relaxed ‘open’ playing I briefly experienced, but I also want to continue playing and progressing in the band. Does anyone have suggestions how I can combined the two (maybe a revised practice regime?). Many thanks.
I can feel with you. I made similarly experiences.
My advice for you is be patient and repeat the basics of MtM every day.
And continue with playing in your swing band. By the time you will automatically play higher notes also
In the band.
But please be patient!!!!
You are describing all too well the rollercoaster ride of the learning process. You got a feel for the direction you want to head, which is fantastic! It takes time for the brain and body to consistently produce what you experienced. As I continue to learn, you can’t force results or have expectations, and you can’t “make” desired changes become part of your regular playing. These add unwanted pressure that get in the way of learning something new. You can only send invitations, as Greg says, and wait for these to “turn up to the party.” I’ve found that getting the feel for and memory of what I want is essential. Recalling the moments where I experienced this, including how it looked, sounded and felt, visualizing it before I pick up the horn, and letting my brain solidify it with repetition seems to be the best approach.
In the meantime, you will use unnecessary tension in regular playing until you’re fully on the efficiency path. That doesn’t mean you should stop playing. If you feel you’re really forcing, then it might be wise to take a look at that and adjust demands accordingly. If you have thoughts of frustration, you can remind yourself that you’re working on a new playing machine and doing your best at this moment. Enjoy playing music–it is truly a gift! (speaking as someone who is recovering from focal dystonia)
Progress is not linear. There can be lots going on behind the scenes that isn’t apparent yet. Patience with WindWorks will pay huge dividends in the long run, as I’m discovering, and will fundamentally change the way you play.
I was intrigued by the title of your post as I think it is something all of us in the MTM/Windworks program have experienced. I have to say that Hajo and Julie have some great insights and I totally agree with their input and advice.
I have been working on Windworks for about 10 months, and like you, have found it to be an up and down journey.
Suggestions Greg has made to me include more eyes closed work on the Cycle of TEE’s, including “no notes” (which I have found helpful). Something I have attempting to do lately is to budget my time on Windworks to under 60 minutes per day, so I still have time to work on other aspects of my regular playing. I have found this to limit my frustration and I feel I am not progressing any more slowly than when I was pushing hard and spending more time.
Like you, I am unable to play in V2 mode yet, but I have noticed some improved endurance and sound quality in my regular playing. I have no idea why this is happening, but I assume and hope it is from my work in this program.
I would encourage you to trust the process, as Hajo and Julie have advised, and welcome the uncomfortable feeling of learning a new skill. I used to tell my math students to welcome the discomfort because it meant they were learning. I would say to them, “there is no comfort in your learning zone and no learning in your comfort zone”. I heard this; I believe from one of my professors many years ago.
I recon you can’t get it right by thinking about it but you can’t get it right without thinking about it unless you think about getting it right so many times you start getting it right because you forget to think about it.
When I get off track i find it’s either because I missed something, misunderstood something, or forgot something in the instructions.
I’ve returned to the basics recently….. Backswing, Slingshot, and Tissue exercises. I’m probably doing about 100 of these per day and the results have been amazing.
I would suggest that you reinforce the basics before trying to move ahead.
I perform on a cruise ship and we had around a week of rough seas. Since it was difficult to practice, I decided to spend more time on the basics without the horn. It helped so much.
A big thank you for all of your responses which have given me renewed incentive. As we all know, trying to develop new habits, especially when working solo can be a challenge and it is a real boost to receive so much constructive input and advice from others that are on the same journey. Thanks again…(two steps forward, one step back!).