Messi, Barcelona and Learning your Trade

During a Champions League game (football/soccer) recently I watched Barcelona and their star Messi play on a field that was in terrible condition.  They won the game, but it was far from their best performance.  After the game the quality of the pitch (field) was blamed for their poor performance because it didn't allow them to play their usual form of flowing, passing football.

As horn players we are true creatures of habit, and those routines are vital to our confidence.  What do you when conditions are not what you are used to having?  Do you complain and use that as an excuse for a poor performance, or do you just get on with the job.  Frøydis Ree Wekre, in her wonderful book Thoughts On Playing the Horn Well has a chapter entitled  "Anyway!", and she talks about planning for distress, nerves, conditions, etc…  Sometimes you just have to play anyway.

As you learn your trade you come up against lots of obstacles that professionals, for various reasons, don't have to encounter very often.  Dealing with those variables is part of learning the job and being prepared to cope in the future with adversity.

I recently subbed as second horn with the Conservatory orchestra for Schubert's 9th Symphony.  The second of the two concerts was in a Basilica.  Now we were in mid March and heating was nonexistent.  It was bitter cold.  If this would have been a "union gig" the orchestra would have refused to play under such conditions, but these students had no choice.  All the parameters change because of the cold, and tuning suffers the most.  As musicians we love to whine about lots of things, but when thinking back on this experience I began to realize that most of these students don't realize the valuable lesson they learned that day.  We can learn from any experience, we just have to be open to it.

Some times we just have to play "Anyway!"

© Bruce Richards 2012-2015