Here’s a list of my musical resolutions for 2009

I wish to improve the articulation in my trumpet playing.  Through slow tonguing exercises I know that it can all come together, but it’s going to take some time.  I wish to articulate clearly in all registers of my horn.  

I would also like to improve on the rhythmic aspect of my improvisations.  I think that this is strongly connected to my articulation.  Perhaps playing a string of eighth notes can be pretty mundane to the untrained ear?  Breaking up this habit of the run-of-the-mill 8th note lines with a variance of rests will hopefully make my playing that much more interesting to the audience and the people that I play with.  I aspire to make the musicians around me sound better when I’m playing with them.  I think this can come about if I settle on taking more chances rhythmically and in some instances harmonically. 

Over the past year or so, I’ve been playing/composing songs that are primarily in odd time signatures (5/4, 7/4, 9/4, 11/4, 13/4, and 13/8).  I’ve been enjoying this immensely almost to the point of losing the joy of playing in 4/4 time.  I think this may be a product of my inability to play in odd time signatures while I was in college.  When I was a student at NEC, I dreaded playing in any odd time signature other than ¾ time.  I remember going into the practice room months on end to work on playing in odd time signatures by playing along with Joshua Redman recordings.  Then it just seemed like I woke up one day and I felt comfortable to play any tune in an odd time signature or to play in a mixed meter.  I think that it took me years to engrain the groove of an odd time signature into my body.   Being raised on the music of the 80s and 90s I was sooo used to feeling 4/4 and only 4/4.  Eventually I arrived at a place where I would prefer to play a standard at a jam session in an odd time signature.  In 2007 I wrote a lengthy suite based on a Sudoku game and now I’m slowly beginning to write a suite based on the phone numbers and the numerology of my band mate’s names.  So to counter all of this I would like to add a book of tunes that offer a more open sensibility, with less complication and more substantive melodicism that the audience can take home with them.  I guess the challenge for me will be how do I remain true to what I hear in my head when I am composing and still accomplish this goal? 

This year I would like to further shorten the bridge between what I hear in my head and what actually comes out of my horn, with respect to what I am practicing.  I can recall many a practice session where I’m working on a concrete concept and later that night at the gig, none of it shows up in my playing (at least not in the involuntary sense, which is where I would want to be eventually).  Many times when it does happen for me, it’s usually by mental force, rendering my improvisation to an inorganic state.  I do believe that it’s starting to come together for me at a slow rate, especially since this year I’ve been fortunate to have many students that have the capacity to take in many of the improvisational concepts that I’ve been working on myself.  As they say, if you teach it, it will grow stronger in your own playing. 

These are just a few thoughts in my head now.   I hope to accomplish at least some of these to a degree soon.  

More to come,

Jason Palmer

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3 Responses to “Here’s a list of my musical resolutions for 2009”

  1. Great post Jason. I’d like to hear more about how you are working on articulations. Any specific exercises?

    When I listen to recordings of myself my articulation is horrid. I also find that I play a legato way too much sometimes slurring my entire solo.

    I think I mentioned this but I loved your solo from a live recording. You were playing “All the Things You Are” and I loved how you articulated there. Any suggestions to get rid of playing legato so much?

  2. Hey Eric,

    For articulation, I like to go the slow and deliberate route. I like to slow down the attacks and exaggerate them, especially the short attacks that I work on. Also with difficult passages that I work on, sometimes it’s easier to slur going from one note to the next, and vice versa. When I experience this, I tend to let the natural effect happen on it’s own. After slow execution is mastered, I then speed it up.

    Hope this helps!

    Jason Palmer

  3. Here are my 2009 Musical Resolutions:

    1. C String 1st finger vibrato, and G string 1st finger “natural” vibrato.
    2. 7th + position comfort, even on strings other than the A
    3. Observe dynamics regularly and often (without reminders)
    4. Produce the “Big Viola Sound” regularly and often
    5. Play any 3-octave scale in ONE bow at mm 60-ish.
    6. Learn how to count with multiple rhythms and tempos. Consistently!
    7. Memorize Bloch’s Suite Hebraigue
    8. Achieve “Bach by 40” by Dec. ’09 (10 months early).
    9. Perform with my quartet publicly – with NO fear!
    10. Teacher’s Choice

    Tomorrow I’ll be finding out what “Teacher’s Choice” will be.

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