Weekly Warm Up No. 66
This past weekend I had the chance to sit in a master class as an observer. It was fun to watch the exchanges between the students and the teacher.
For a long time I found myself performing in master classes or watching colleagues perform in them as a student. During all of those opportunities, you were hoping to stumble upon nuggets of wisdom: new fingerings, musical ideas, insights on the composer…anything was up for grabs.
And every once in a while, you’d get a curve ball thrown at you. Your idea and their idea didn’t always match up, or sometimes they just didn’t like you…and then what? It was confusing and sometimes uncomfortable.
With a good bit of hindsight it’s easy to see what great training all of those situations were for dealing with people.
These memories came back to me while reading this interview with Mel Brooks:
You have some wonderful stories of basically getting away with stuff at the studios.
I’d learned one very simple trick: say yes. Simply say yes. Like Joseph E. Levine, on “The Producers,” said, “The curly-haired guy—he’s funny looking. Fire him.” He wanted me to fire Gene Wilder. And I said, “Yes, he’s gone. I’m firing him.” I never did. But he forgot. After the screening of “Blazing Saddles,” the head of Warner Bros. threw me into the manager’s office, gave me a legal pad and a pencil, and gave me maybe twenty notes. He would have changed “Blazing Saddles” from a daring, funny, crazy picture to a stultified, dull, dusty old Western. He said, “No farting.” I said, “It’s out”… You say yes, and you never do it.
That’s great advice for life.
It is. Don’t fight them. Don’t waste your time struggling with them and trying to make sense to them. They’ll never understand.
That was my favorite thing to do as I got a little older…just go with them.
I need to change all my fingerings? Of course.
Everything I’m doing is wrong? Oh, cool. Could you show me?
This note needs to be staccato? Sure, why not.
It needs to sing? Oh, you want me to sing? Um… Do – ti –do….
And just like that, you’d walk off stage. In that moment I’d either grab the ideas to consider at the next practice session or mentally chuck them in the trash can by the time I sat down as an audience member.
The funny thing about master classes, lessons, and film studio executives is that there comes a time when you need to develop your opinions (that’s the whole point, right?). It’s just not always clear when it’s time to be “you” versus follow the instructions of your teacher.
When in doubt, just say yes.
Quarter note set @ 80 BPM
Right Hand Arpeggios:
(Based on this A Major Chord Progression )
- Pim ami ami ami
Left Hand Slurs: (ascending & descending)