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Texting on the Bandstand, Practicing, and Playing Each Note as if it's Your Last

Texting on the Bandstand, Practicing, and Playing Each Note as if it's Your Last
Mr. P.C. By

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Dear Mr. P.C.:

I took my son to see his teacher play sax at a local club. In the middle of a song, on stage, his teacher pulled out a cell phone and started texting someone. What kind of message does that send? —Can't Explain Lackluster Lesson


Dear CELL:

Probably "Hey, I'm here on stage texting in the middle of a song, LOL."

Dear Mr. P.C.:

Why do people rehearse for jazz gigs? Aren't they supposed to make it up as they go? —Jazzspazz


Dear Jazzspazz:

I know what you're saying—every time you play jazz it's supposed to be different, right? But how do the musicians know what it's supposed to be different from if they don't play it in advance?

While it's true the bandmembers could practice separately, so in concert each would try to sound different from himself, that ignores the very powerful group dynamic that can be developed in rehearsal and avoided on the bandstand.

Dear Mr. P.C.:

Over the years, several musicians have given me this advice: "Play each note as if it's your last." Isn't that a little dramatic? —Cynical Sal


Dear Sal:

It's totally ridiculous! How can you possibly know what your last note is going to sound like—a triple fortissimo heart attack on the bandstand, or a pianissimo gasp from your deathbed? Are you supposed to just guess?

Really, the only fail-proof way to play a note as if it's your last is to make it so utterly heinous that it destroys your career.    

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