Surround yourself with music. In this world of Muzak, boom-boxes and television, this may seem like a profound understatement. But it is true that many people live in a musical vacuum, unaware of the rush of sound going on around them. Music that becomes "white noise" or background filler is not helpful in developing a healthy musical world view. Purposefully and consciously listen to music.
Find positive role models. Finding role models that play your instrument is of primary importance. But there are other instruments, and countless fine performers we need to notice. My list of primary musical role models includes former teachers (Edward Kleinhammer, Keith Brown), current and former colleagues (Chester Schmitz, Norman Bolter, Everett Firth), and great soloists (Glen Gould, Tomofei Dokschutzer, Mstislav Rostropovich and George Roberts). Seek out these and other role models, and become able to articulate - specifically - what it you find to be great in them. I would, however, caution the young instrumentalist against emulating even the greatest vocalists - the vocal style is so unique and complicated (and often so bizarre) that until you have a secure musical concept, a singer can easily distract you into a false sense of musicianship.
Listen to live music. Nothing is better than hearing a symphony orchestra live, regardless of the quality of your stereo system. If you live near a great orchestra, make it a point to hear it regularly. You would be surprised how many students I have who live just two blocks away from Symphony Hall never go to live concerts. It's no surprise to me that they never get to sit on stage, either. If you live near a not-so-great orchestra, go hear it anyway. There is always something to be learned, and live music creates a unique sound that can only be captured in the concert hall. Listen to the orchestra; hear more than just the parts your instrument plays. Most importantly, begin to see yourself in the orchestra.
Listen to live radio broadcasts. Live radio broadcasts of orchestral concerts used to be very common in the past, unfortunately they are increasingly rare due to their high production cost. However, many orchestras can still be heard in live concerts, and television increasingly is showing live orchestral performances. Don't become a musical aristocrat. There is great music on the airwaves, and it comes from places other than just Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, New York and Philadelphia. No one orchestra plays everything greatly, so resist the temptation to identify yourself solely with the "greatest" orchestra.
Listen to live recordings. Recordings made from live concerts (as opposed to those made in a recording session environment) are almost as valuable as live radio broadcasts. While "live" albums often are fixed up later with a "patch" session, the excitement of a live recording usually comes through. Music made under the pressure of the moment - with all its imperfections - is exciting and real. I treasure many of my live recordings for their raw energy and excitement, something that "studio" recordings often lack. My favorites include many recordings by the Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) Philharmonic under Mravinsky. Their live recording of Glinka's Russlan and Ludmilla is one of the most stunning things you will ever hear.
Build a basic compact disc and tape library of standard symphonic repertoire. Again, don't buy everything by the same orchestra. (The Chicago Symphony under Fritz Reiner made some terrific recordings, but not everything they did is "definitive!") While you're at it, collect other kinds of music as well - piano, chamber, string quartet and folk music. Record live concerts on tape so you can hear them again. Begin to know conductors and their orchestra, names of players (certainly the trombone players, but others as well). In short, get excited about music. If classical music doesn't get your blood pumping quickly, then stop, make your trombone into a lamp, and do something else. Don't become a trombone jock, though - become a music lover.
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