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Klarinet Archive - Posting 001034.txt from 2000/07

Subj: [kl] Listening for what's wrong
Date: Sat, 29 Jul 2000 20:06:56 -0400

Walter Grabner wrote,
>One of the easiest things to do is to listen and pick apart someone's else's
>One of the hardest, is to do it with your own playing.
>One needs to do both......but some of those tapes make me cringe............

I find it fairly easy to pick apart my own playing. The difficulty is in
putting it back together again, after I get over the "Omigawd, what if the
neighbors can hear me practicing?" reaction. After many efforts to make a
tape to send to my parents that wouldn't totally humilate me if anybody but
them heard it, I've just about given up. Recordings won't lie to me nearly
as well as I can lie to myself while I'm playing! Maybe playing the clarinet
really does do something to the brains, as per Bill Wright's delightful
account of the pizza guy happily sitting on the counter and tootling his
clarinet, because he couldn't do his job, because he forgot to order the
cheese to make the pizza!

But seriously, what is it about the act of playing that makes us imagine it
sounds better when we're doing it than it sounds when we listen to the tape
later? Are we just too distracted by breathing and moving our fingers, the
way car drivers get distracted when they try to use a cell phone and navigate
at the same time? In that case, why do we kid ourselves that our playing
sounds *better* than it really is? I have the impression from what other
people write that this kind of optimism is fairly universal and that the
recording generally comes as a letdown. Why don't we imagine we sound
*worse* than we really do? I've never had a *good* surprise from a tape
recording of myself. I finish making a tape, and I think, "This time I
nailed it," and then I listen to the playback, and -- "BOO!" -- the
slobbering toothy monster jumps out from closet again. "Boo! Hisssss!
Surprii-iise! Hahahahaha! Gotcha! Sheesh, you play like a crackhead
gibbon." Does anybody here ever get "Hey, woo-hoo, I'm better than I
thought!" surprises?

(Started out with nothing and still have most of it left.)

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