tenet (ten' it), noun: a principle, doctrine, or belief held as truth

Welcome to my blog! Here I will share some of my thoughts on horn playing and teaching, which I think about a lot, and maybe some other things, too. Since my job (which thankfully, allows me to do a lot of playing and teaching) keeps me very busy, as does my wonderful family, I may not write frequently. My goal will be quality, not quantity!

Please share your comments.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

I Love the Olympics

     As long as I can remember, I've always loved watching the Olympics, and the past 2 weeks I've been tuning in as often as I can.  I think one of the reasons I enjoy it so much is that I can relate to the athletes (in a metaphorical way...).

     I can relate to their commitment and the sacrifices they've made to their daily training.  Musicians have often been referred to as "the athletes of the small muscles." When I see the diver standing on the edge of the platform, about to perform an acrobatic dive into the water 10 meters below, I know a little bit about what it has taken to get them there.  I know very little about the technical aspects of diving, or the prevailing training methods, but I know exactly what it feels like to practice something over and over until it's "reliably perfect" (or as close to it as possible).  And I know what it's like to do that practice even when you don't feel like it, or when your friends are doing something else that's more fun.  Unfortunately, the multimillion dollar endorsement deals are hard to come by for classical musicians.
     As an aside here, I think it would be great if we called our practice "training."  To me, that word better implies that there is a goal in mind that we're preparing for - a specific standard that we are working toward.
     I can also relate to the fact that what the Olympic athletes are doing is a REALLY big deal to them.   Our lives as performers are punctuated by those defining moments - the big auditions that could change the course of our life, the big concerto competition, the senior recital, etc.  We know exactly what it's like to have a few minutes or a few seconds to show the results of years' worth of "training."  I think an orchestral audition relates especially well to an Olympic event, because there is only one winner (forget all the frustrating auditions where they don't choose a winner).  Too bad there are no hefty silver or bronze medals for those that make the finals.

Underdogs vs. Top Dogs

     I appreciate a heartwarming, inspiring underdog story, but what inspires me even more is seeing the best BE the best.  I love to watch athletes who literally redefine what's possible in their sport.  When Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods were in their prime, I loved the fact that they seemed to rise to the challenge every time.  Their standards were just so much higher than everyone else's, and they had the ability to pull off what they intended.  I love the fact that Usain Bolt is the favorite when he lines up for the Olympic sprints, and then--sure enough--he blows everybody away!
     Watching great performances, whether athletic or musical, inspires me to raise my expectations...raise my standards...expect more...in my own pursuits.


  1. A brilliant idea, Travis, to use "training" instead of "practice".

    I watched a lot of the Olympics too, and have used the competitions in Archery, Shooting, Gymnastics and Running, as well as Diving for useful metaphors in explaining the musician experience.

    But conductors don't usually give us such great hugs as those athlete's coaches do.

    Did you cheer for Usain Bolt and the Jamaican team?

    1. Hi Mike! Yes, I was certainly cheering for the Jamaicans on the track. When the SMBQ visited Kingston last May, I asked several locals where I could find Bolt, but nobody knew his secret training location. :o)