Kari Brooks, reporter
The early bird gets the worm
or in this case, the worm-up! That was certainly the case with James West in the early morning warm up session. After a deep cleansing yoga breath he announced that he had three questions for the audience. He then proceeded in telling everyone the answers before the questions
I do!, Me!, and I am! The questions were as follows: Who teaches you to play? (I DO!), Who decides whether or not a technique works? (ME!), and Whos responsible for my success or failure on my instrument? (I AM!). After repeating the question/answer dialogue three or four times at increasingly louder dynamics, James asked the crowd why we were doing this. Was it to build confidence?
Was it to pump up the group? No. It was actually a breathing exercise! By projecting our voices, we were using our air without thinking about it.
West then proceeded to talk through long tone exercises. His advice was to find where your body is most in tune with the note. Answer these questions, What feels the best? What produces the best sound with the least amount of effort? By focusing constantly on these details, you will be able to achieve results without thinking about it. When you get to that point you will be a better player. He compared it to riding a bicycle, saying that if you still have to think about keeping your balance while on a bicycle, then you dont know how to ride a bicycle!
West ended the session by taking the group through several exercises, some using warm air and some using cold. He believes that practicing different techniques such as the ones discussed in this session are like adding more clubs to your golf bag
knowing when to use the right club at the appropriate time will ultimately make you a better player!