Saturday, July 31, 2021

ONE SENTENCE LESSON #9

"Would you mind playing that again, please?"

Thomas Schippers asked that question in the Cincinnati trumpet audition in 1975. It was after one of those long grinding excerpts from Ein Heldenleben. I was a bit puzzled, thinking that I had just nailed it successfully. Later I learned that he was testing for endurance. 

At Tanglewood one summer we heard it again. Roger Voisin was conducting us on Fanfare for the Common Man. Right before we began the performance, he said "all right, boys, we're going to play it twice." (GULP!) Fortunately, we only played it once. He then smiled as if to say, "just testing you, guys." 

Lesson: Once is not enough, even if it's good.



 

Friday, July 02, 2021

ONE SENTENCE LESSON #8

 

"Try not to sound like a student!"  

Nothing wrong with being a student! Who isn't one? 

This advice years ago really helped bring some sanity to practice sessions. Instead of indiscriminate blasting, it brought an awareness that all of our notes matter. Music is about listening. "Try to sound like a great musician!" 


Monday, June 28, 2021

ONE SENTENCE LESSON #7

What does a xylophone have to do with trumpet playing? Not a lot, except when taking a closer look at the mallets. 

The "ping" produced by the striking mallet on the toy xylophone is how clear and precise trumpet entrances need to be.

The mallet is the tongue. The note is focused, clear, popping, ringing, and pinging. 
 

Saturday, June 26, 2021

ONE SENTENCE LESSON #6

Mel Broiles had just demonstrated how one of those opera arias in Arban's The Art of Phrasing should sound. Then it was my turn. (Yes pressure!)

Trying hard to reproduce even some of his elegance and power, I whole-heartedly plowed through one of those famous Verdi arias. I gave it my best, but expected a grimace and shrug of disapproval. Instead, he exclaimed, "Spoken like a gentleman!"

Later I wondered if it was sarcasm or genuine praise. Praise was hard to get. I took it as a compliment which has served as motivation lasting for years. How important are the words we speak!


Friday, June 25, 2021

ONE SENTENCE LESSON #5

"Every piece of music has an important octave in it." (William Vacchiano)

That simple statement should launch a search for all the prominant and voluptuous solo octaves on the planet, starting from Over the Rainbow all the way through Mahler 9! 

Have a nice octave day! 




Thursday, June 24, 2021

ONE SENTENCE LESSON #4

"You must be able to come "bustin' in" at any time."

Armando Ghitalla said in one sentence what was needed to conquer timidity. A mindset that has no fear. An eagerness to make the grand entrance. A confidence that the first note is guaranteed. You must have a reputation for accuracy! As a colleague once said, "It must be automatic." 


 

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

ONE SENTENCE LESSON #3

 

Me to student:  "If you can play this one line of music without a mistake, it's yours!!" 

I felt I was safe, knowing well my student's tendency to miss notes frequently. As soon as he saw the money, however, everything changed. That twenty dollar bill accomplished more than all of my efforts to help him. 

He then proceeded to play the line of music perfectly with nary a miss.  Reluctantly, but happily, I handed him his reward. "WOW! Gas money, he said! Gee, thanks!"

Saturday, June 05, 2021

ONCE SENTENCE LESSON #2

Just as a great conductor can communicate with one gesture, so too the most memorable lessons can often be condensed into a single sentence, or even a facial expression. Effective lessons should be unforgettable and motivating. The art of brevity!

Lesson #2:

"Your passion for music must be greater than your fear of the audience."

Overcome fear with overpowering musicianship. Purpose to enthusiastically communicate, rather than just deliver notes. Prepare to entertain. Drama beats trauma. 




Wednesday, June 02, 2021

ONE SENTENCE LESSON #1

Just as a great conductor can communicate with one gesture, so too the most memorable lessons can often be condensed into a single sentence. Brief but powerful advice, unforgettable, effective, and motivational. The art of brevity. 

Lesson #1:

"I want you to practice this week as if I were listening to every note!"

Not much else is needed for this command to be useful. You can insert the name of your choice. Then invite your great artist/teacher to listen in. Accountability matters in daily work. 

Benefits: fewer wasted notes, less boredom, better quality, more musical interest, and it's cheaper!