Cultivating Your Sound

by | May 15, 2024

Cultivating Sound
Sound Gardening

The Sounds of Spring

In the last blog, we saw how harnessing the power of imagination and imitation can empower us to become well-rounded musicians who are technically proficient and creatively expressive. But what about the sound? I’m often asked how to develop a good sound on the horn. The secret is not what you think. This blog explores how we can use our imagination to transform the sounds we make from our instruments. We’re digging deep down into the fertile soil in our subconscious to plant the seeds of sounds that will grow into mature sounds for us to cultivate.

As the vibrant colors of spring unfurl and the sweet scent of blossoms fill the air, there’s a palpable sense of growth and renewal all around. Just as nature undergoes its annual transformation, so do the sounds within the walls of my studio. Here, amidst the budding talent of aspiring musicians, something magical is happening. We are cultivating our sound.

Planting The Seeds of Sound

We plant our seeds of sound by selecting the finest seeds for our musical garden and planting them deep within the subconscious’s fertile soil. Carefully curated musical influences sow the seeds of inspiration that will grow into the foundation of our sound. With every note heard, the seeds of sound take root. These seeds draw nourishment from your musical experiences to blossom into the unique tapestry of your playing.

What do I mean by saying sound seeds are planted in the subconscious? If you’ve ever had a song in your head, you’ve experienced your inner hearing. The aural imagination is where the inner hearing is born, grows, and transforms your sound. Your inner hearing is your ability to listen deeply to the sounds that resonate within you. Our sound seeds grow into the musical garden we create with our aural imagination and hear with our inner hearing.

Watering with Aural Imagination

Your inner hearing is not bound by time or space constraints. It exists beyond physical reality as a timeless echo of musical possibility, a symphony of creativity and intuition that unfolds within the corridors of our minds. Our sound concept crystallizes as we nurture our inner hearing into a unique sonic fingerprint that defines our artistic identity.

Just as gardeners water their plants to encourage growth, musicians water their sound with the power of aural imagination. We envision the sound we desire to create, allowing it to take shape and form within our mind’s ear. Like gardeners tending to their plants, we nurture these auditory seeds, which take root and flourish within the depths of our subconscious. As we listen to the world around us, the rustle of leaves, the chirping of birds or cicadas, and the melodies of our favorite songs, our sound grows, evolving and maturing with each passing day.

Nurturing with Mental Practice

New growth and blooms blossom and flourish in your garden of musical ideas with mental practice. Working on technique with your aural imagination is extremely effective. Your scales have a nice, even tone throughout the instrument’s range. High notes ring out easily, and low notes have a glorious foundation and support. You play a strong fortissimo without harshness and a delicate pianissimo with flawless attacks. No instrument is necessary. You can do it in line while waiting for the donuts.

In this realm of the unseen, technique melds with musicality, and the boundaries between performer and instrument blur into obscurity. Amidst the silent crescendos and whispered cadences that you imagine, the true essence of sound blossoms. A sound imbued with soul, shaped by imagination, and brought to life by the alchemy of the inner musician.

Harvesting Juicy Sounds

We cultivate our sound from the subconscious, and by using our aural imagination, we learn how to express it with our bodies. Cultivating the inner musician and developing a strong inner hearing can profoundly impact one’s musical expression and sound production. When you can vividly imagine the sound you want to produce, your body instinctively works to make it a reality through your instrument. Focusing on inner hearing and imagination taps into a deeper level of musicality that transcends mere technical proficiency.

As spring gives way to summer, the fruits of our labor begin to ripen. In the studio, the air is alive with rich, resonant tones and mature sounds of seasoned musicians. Like a garden in full bloom, each student’s sound is a testament to the care and attention lavished upon it. The vibrant tapestry of color and texture woven with skill and artistry blooms brilliantly for all to hear.

Musical Vision: Your Mind’s Ear

This approach emphasizes the importance of mental practice, visualization, and musical intention in shaping our play. Training the inner musician involves mental rehearsal, aural skills development, and musical imagery. Visualizing the desired sound, phrasing, and expression in your mind’s ear before physically playing it can help enhance musical interpretation and performance.

Our musical vision grows clearer daily as we refine our ideas and hone our craft. We become attuned to the subtle nuances of our inner world, allowing the music within us to flow effortlessly through our instruments. Nurturing the inner musician cultivates a deeper connection to the music and fosters a more expressive and mature sound on your instrument. It’s a holistic approach that integrates the mind, body, and spirit to pursue musical excellence. Developing a mature sound on a brass instrument is a journey that requires desire and patience.

Sound Concepts

Cultivate your sound concept with care and patience, and watch as your musical vision takes flight, soaring to new heights of artistic expression. You’ll coax your sound into full bloom through diligent practice and unwavering dedication. With patience and perseverance, you can cultivate a sound that is uniquely your own. A testament to the beauty and power of musical expression you’ve developed over your time with the instrument.

Your desired sound is formed in the silent symphony within your inner realm. Here lies the cradle of creativity, the genesis of every note, phrase, and nuance that emerges from the instrument’s bell. It is in the quietude of mental rehearsal that the true magic unfolds. The next time you have a song in your head, play with it. Listen for details and explore new ideas of phrasing. Each mental rehearsal makes the sound more vivid and tangible until it’s ready to burst into the world.

From Thought to Action

As the inner musician flourishes, so does the connection between thought and action. The body eagerly seeks to manifest what we conceive in the depths of our being through the instrument. Each breath becomes a whisper of intention, each embouchure adjustment a stroke of artistic vision driven by our inner hearing. The flow of our inner song gives the body clear signals to produce the sounds we desire, and from this sacred wellspring of creativity, the mature sound emerges. A sound that speaks not only to the ear but also to the heart, resonating with the timeless beauty of your human spirit.

Close your eyes and let the music dance in the chambers of your mind. Hear the melody soar with clarity, feel the rhythm pulsate with vitality, and sense the harmony resonate with depth. When you use your aural imagination, new levels of detail expand, and your seeds of sound become crystal clear. This inner symphony, nurtured by the aural imagination, lays the foundation for the mature sounds that yearn to be born.

Dreaming Your Sound

The quest to effortlessly translate the sounds of your inner world into tangible expressions reveals its treasures when your instrument becomes an extension of your creative self. At the heart of this journey lies the power of imagination, the wellspring of musical ideas. Imagination invites us to dream and envision the melodies that dance across the canvas of our thoughts and harmonies that resonate in the chambers of our hearts. The spark ignites our artistic passion, fueling our desire to create music that speaks to the soul.

This dynamic process wherein the mind’s ear becomes the canvas upon which the sounds of our inner world take shape is how the magic happens. Imagination is the architect of your sonic universe, conjuring melodies, harmonies, and rhythms from the depths of your creative reservoirs. Through the lens of imagination, we visualize the music we aspire to create, and this vision serves as our guiding light on the path to artistic mastery.

Playing from the Heart

One concept that resonates deeply in this journey is playing from the heart. This is where the true essence of our musical expression emerges. At the core of this notion lies the understanding that music is more than just the sum of its audible parts but a reflection of our innermost selves. A window into the soul of the musician. In this context, limiting the sense of hearing has a new significance. We sing from the heart rather than relying solely on external feedback. We learn to trust in our intuition, connecting with the subtle vibrations of our inner musical voice, tuning into the whispers of inspiration from within, and allowing them to guide our bodies and shape our performance.

Playing from the heart is about cultivating a deep sense of presence and connection with the music. It’s about letting go of preconceived notions of perfection and allowing ourselves to be fully immersed in the moment, surrendering to the flow of creativity and expression. The next time you pick up your instrument, I encourage you to close your eyes, take a deep breath, and listen to the quiet whisperings of your inner song. The true magic of music awaits in the depths of your being. Your inner landscape grows richer and more nuanced daily, and over time, this symbiotic relationship between imagination and inner hearing bears fruit as your sound concept blossoms into full fruition.

Your Authentic Voice

Our musical vision takes shape through the lens of inner hearing. As we listen deeply to the melodies that echo within us, our inner hearing transcends the physical world’s limitations. Using the aural imagination to strengthen our inner hearing allows us to hear the music of our mind’s ear with crystal clarity. Your inner hearing is the compass that guides your artistic journey, leading you ever closer to the sound you seek to create. As you nurture your aural imagination and inner hearing, your sound concept begins to form into the tapestry of sonic textures and colors that reflect your unique artistic identity.

Finding your unique sound in music is a voyage of imagination and inner resonance. This journey requires dedication, perseverance, and a willingness to trust in the creative process. It’s a journey of self-discovery where you learn to embrace your musical instincts and express yourself authentically. Carefully cultivate your aural imagination and inner hearing as you seek to find your sound. Listen to the music within you, and let it guide you on your journey of artistic exploration. Your authentic voice will be heard in the symphony of imagination and inner hearing, and the audience will experience your expressions as you sing them out with your unique sound.

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