Monday, October 27, 2008

A Little Valve Thing...

Has anybody out there ever played Ewazen's Colchester Fantasy?
In the slow movement, you find this forte septuplet that calls for some serious faking.

I tried using my old "valve wiggle" trick....just keep blowing while you press/release the valve as quickly as possible. You can create some cool effects.

Then I thought it through a little more carefully and realized that by "articulating" with the valve, you could accurately play this lick.

Here it is (I'm working from memory here but you get the idea):

Play it fast without tonguing.

This reminds me of a Baltimore Opera gig I did years ago where we ran across this fast E major scale that was effectively unplayable on slide trombone.

It went something like this...

Through kidding around, we discovered that, if you just stayed in 2nd position and employed a healthy valve wiggle, you could simulate the run really well. In fact, when we tried it together, we both burst out laughing because it sounded like we had actually played it correctly.

Friday, October 17, 2008

My Little public service

Johannes Brahms: Sixteen Lieder
Transcribed and edited for solo trombone and piano by
Eric Carlson

If you don't own this collection: get it!

Eric Carlson, 2nd trombonist of the Philadelphia Orchestra, has done us all a great service by creating this compilation.

Not only do you get the solo and piano parts, you also get a wonderful CD of the piano accompaniments. However these accompaniments aren't of the of "Frankenstein Piano" quality of a certain other collection of piano accompaniments that is commercially available. They actually have a very nice musical quality to them.

I was loading this accompaniment CD onto my iTunes and was surprised to see that Gracenote didn't seem to have it on their database. So, I patiently typed in all the info...

you're welcome

.. now go get this.

Here's a Hickey's link

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Monday, October 06, 2008

Monkey See, Monkey Do

I have started standing facing my students instead of standing beside them. Often, I tell them to watch me while I play.


It turns out that there are mirror neurons in your brain (both sides) which fire not only when you engage in a task but also when you watch someone else engage in the same task. In other words, if you watch Joe Alessi play a B-flat major scale, in your mind, those mirror neurons are playing along.

Here's an interesting 14-minute segment of Nova Science Now that talks about this...

Here's a good article from Science Daily, if you're interested...

Friday, October 03, 2008

The Freedom Cone

This idea isn't really original. I think I first saw it presented by Ron Barron.

The basic question? How much freedom do you have as a player?

Depends on what you're doing. If you're making an audition tape, especially one for an orchestra, I think you have the least freedom. You just don't know how you're going to be evaluated so you have to stick to the ink.

Similar with a first-round audition. So many people, so many cuts that need to be made. I have to think that most committees are looking for a reason to say no.

In later rounds you are more focused on giving the committee a reason to say 'yes' so perhaps you can begin to show your individuality.

Of course, depending on the conductor, you might have more freedom in a live performance.

Here's a little graphic...

By the way, respected friend of mine disagrees with me and, frankly, she has heard a lot more professional auditions that I have.

Her contention: In that first round the committee is desperately looking for a reason to say 'yes' but candidate after candidate fails to give it to them.

Anybody out there have a lot of experience with professional auditions?
What do you think?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Alessi Seminar 2009

They have just announced the 2009 Alessi Seminar.

Some changes this year:

Three categories, not two..

Old system: 16 participants and a bunch of auditors
New system: 8 participants, 16 apprentices and a bunch of auditors

Top three participants are finalists in a solo competition at the seminar.

As I've said in my blog entries from the 2007 Alessi seminar, you owe it to yourself to attend.