Just the other week we had a tuba quartet gig we were rehearsing for at work. We had I think three rehearsals that week for a saturday gig. We probably read through 35 pieces some of which were quite difficult through the course of those rehearsals. I just remember feeling so great about my face and my playing after that week. I mean, we probably rehearsed about 4 hours total that week of just straight playing through charts. When you do that, your reading vastly improves, your chops strengthen and your overall facility of the horn improves as well without doing any fundamentals. It just comes down to bare bones playing the horn. No overthinking, just playing. Do I think fundamentals are overrated? No, that's not what I'm saying at all. I love fundamentals when I need some work on a particular thing I'm struggling with or when I'm out of shape. Fundamentals are what will get you back in shape quicker than anything. They're exactly what their name suggests: they're the fundamental building blocks to your overall playing ability. There is no instance where I would completely eliminate any fundamentals from my practice regimen. But, when it comes down to it, I'd rather just play through some challenging new music. I love to sight read given my Salvation Army background. There's no doubt the constant sight reading environment salvation army bands bring molded me into the player I am today. When students ask me how to become a better musician, my best answer is just to play more music. Play with good musicians and play a lot. And not the same stuff over and over again. Likewise, there's not really an instance where you won't get better by playing lots of music. It's really that simple in my opinion.
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