Curtis Metcalf came to Ottawa and gave the Maple Leaf Brass Band a master class this past Saturday. As I'm sure you know, Curtis is the artistic director of the Hannaford Street Silver Band and one of the best euphonium players in the country.
He is also a great person to have a master class from. He conducted us through a series of challenging pieces, mostly unfamiliar to us, and gave us gentle corrections where he thought we could use them.
Our regular conductor, Dave Druce, is also excellent, but I found there were two useful aspects of having somebody new work with us.
First, was the expected benefit of exposure to a different style. Curtis corrected issues that Dave might not have, for example, he focussed on the ending of notes far more than Dave typically does. He also used different words than Dave would use to get us to produce a certain sound. Sometimes all it takes to understand something that you've been missing is to have it expressed a different way.
The less expected benefit was that I found myself trying harder. Dave knows that I am going to make a mess of a challenging piece. So I'm not too embarrassed when I do. But Curtis doesn't know that and had no idea that it was pointless to make the horn section repeat something that didn't sound right. So I tried really hard to make it sound right so he wouldn't put us on the spot repeating something five times.
Anyway, I'm sure that somewhere in this there is a metaphor for other aspects of life.