Thursday, January 10, 2008

Bill Campbell's m/c and recital at CCM

There are great players and there are great teachers. William Campbell, trumpet professor at the University of Michigan, is both and more. He is a seasoned quality musician with impressive credentials. But what especially stood out to me was his ability to motivate and inspire. He had no lack of helpful advice for the two students who played for him. We all got a free lesson. Wonderful musicianship is there and cannot be hidden. You walk away encouraged about music-making.

Joining him on their mini-recital was trombone professor David Jackson, also from the U. of M. He was about great breath control, delicate flexibility and gorgeous expressive legato playing, as in Ravel's Habanera. The two complimented each other perfectly in works of Ewazen and Blacher. Mr. Campbell's La Mandolinata of Bellstedt was finessed, brilliant and accurate. It was fun to listen to them both.

In our brief session today we heard Mr. Campbell's wisdom on organizing daily practice, (a lengthy fundamentals session, a performing straight through session, and a projects session where detailed slow work finishes the day). Also stressed was critical listening and the importance of using a quality recording device, the role of air in matching the line, and the value of long-haul consistent preparation.

Some more points: finger pressure, vibrato intensity, volume matching the period of the music, a goal for each session, buzzing for pitch and quality, head movement, finding the "sweet spot" of each note, pacing, confidence (not being afraid to miss a note), massive multiple etude practice (Brandt, Top Tones, Bitsch, Bodet-Bach), etc.

Highlights: "Give yourself enough time to prepare to be your best. The most prepared win the jobs," the implication being that hard work can surpass lazy talent. But the keeper for me was his prodding to achieve a magical musical moment: "Speak to my heart!"