Of Honesty & Pills

Christopher Still:

My first step was to buy a decent recording device. I then rearranged my schedule to include regular practice sessions. Midnight until 3am was the only time I was free, so I also had to find a place to practice that wasn’t my apartment building. Finally, I found a practice buddy who shared similar goals.

I wasn’t sure how to reevaluate my entire way of playing without a teacher, but I wound up creating a great plan–I bought a recording of orchestral excerpts played by Phil Smith (former Principal Trumpet of the New York Philharmonic). It included brilliant commentary and stellar examples of all the audition repertoire I had been struggling with. More importantly, it represented a style that was widely accepted as the industry standard.

I gave myself the following challenge: I would record myself playing every excerpt on the album until I matched Phil Smith. I would emulate Phil Smith in every wayIf it didn’t match, I had to figure out why and record it again. This was not an easy goal, and I worked towards it for years.

Now that’s dedication.

BTW, he’s 2nd trumpet in the LA Philharmonic.

Chris and I started at Crane at the same time. We used to share the long drive from Long Island up to Potsdam, often singing and air-instrumenting to The Cure and Yes. He was a seriously good player back then, and I wasn’t, though we both did play in the top big band.

If you want to take it to the next level as a professional, check out his program. Someday, I may be ready to take that particular honesty pill; right now I have a few years of neglect to catch up on.