Canadian Musician - January / February - Page 30

BRASS Paul Baron is one of today’s most highly respected lead and commercial trumpet players. His sound is distinctly bright and powerful and carries with it decades of experience in a wide range of musical styles from jazz to rock, big band to musical theatre, and TV jingles to movie soundtracks. As well as being a performing artist for Jupiter Instruments and Pickett Brass with his signature line of mouthpieces, Paul is also an author, educator, and clinician. By Paul Baron Pack Your A-Game: How to Maintain Peak Performance as a Travelling Musician Part 3 I n parts one and two, we talked about maintaining peak physical performance, but what about mental performance? Many of the tours I do last for a year or more. Soon, I will be embarking on Disney’s latest tour of Aladdin, which will likely be out for many years. I get asked all the time about how I maintain my mental focus and bring my best game every day. Staying Focused & In the Moment Let’s face it. Some shows are more interesting and fun to play than others, but the secret is finding how to stay focused at all times and then maintain that constant focus throughout the run of the tour. I have played some shows more than a thousand times, so I’ve had to devise some mental tricks to stay focused. If you’re doing the same thing hundreds of times, it’s easy to let your mind wander to who knows where. What do I feel like eating between shows today? Did I pay that cell phone bill? That singer sure is out of tune today… There are any number of things that can take our focus in another direction, so the key is to find ways to stay “in the moment.” I have studied martial arts and eastern philosophies over the years and have been able to use many of those teachings in musical performance. It really helps me to think about the old adage of “not seeing the forest for the trees.” When I’m first out with a tour, I am, metaphorically speaking, looking at mostly one tree, my own part. I’m looking at it from the standpoint of an overall part of the show. When I get farther into the run of the show, I need to start focusing more intently so as to stay in the game. I start looking at the tree in finer detail. I try to pick a branch or section of the tree. Then later I’ll focus more on the bark of a section of the tree, then a small part of the bark. Then narrowing the focus further, I’ll focus on the tiny bug on that tiny part of bark on the tree. I’ll then focus on the wings of that tiny bug on the tiny part of bark, etc. Obviously I’m speaking metaphorically, but you can see that once the focus of the bigger picture starts to get boring or hard to focus on, you need to start narrowing your focus to more minute details. 30 • C A N A D I A N M U S I C I A N To give an example of how I do this with my own playing, I’ll sometimes use my trumpet bell as the centre of my focus. I’ll try to imagine how much vibration I am getting from my bell and if I can feel the vibrations as they travel through to the end of the bell. Then I’ll focus on just the bell bead to see if I can feel the vibration of the bead. Then other times I’ll focus on my mouthpiece and the air I’m blowing through it. I’ll try to imagine spinning the air clockwise through the mouthpiece and then try to reverse it to counter-clockwise on the next page. I know this sounds crazy, and I don’t truly believe I can control which direction the air spins through the mouthpiece, but what it does is hyper- focus my attention to keep me “in the moment” and from allowing my mind to wander. If t \H[Y\܈X]H]H\X[ x&[Hۘ[]BۈHY\[[[Y[[Hܘ\KHH\ۋ]8&\^KB]H\ˈ[x&[Y[H\HX][ۘ[]Hۂ]\܈YY [x&[\[YHYHX][\H\\\[[ۈH\Y\[H]\X˂\H\H[[[]H\و[\ۈ[H^Z[8$Y[[ۈ\ۈ^Z[و\H8$[H[[[\ۈ^\›و^Z[\Y[8'[H[ 'B[\H\\وY[[^\\\\H^HY\[\\[[\Z[[Y\[ܙH[YY]H]\Xˈ[\\ܛX[B[^H\[ [[X][K[H[XZ[Z[H[ܙHٙ\[ۘ[] B]YH[^H[\XXH܈Hۙ[Y[H\\\Y\\\\YۈH\ۈH][8&\][\][\[H8$H\XZYHX^KBZ^[XXHYYXY[K۝Z[[›[ܙH^[Y[ܛX][ۈۈ\XX\[\ NH\\]]\X^[\\[^\\\ˈH\\\HZYHXXH^Y\] [[XXK]\˜]Z[XHYY\YYXKK