Monday, November 24, 2008

South Carolina All State Exercises..Bordogni #37

This one's mostly for any high school trombone players here in South Carolina. I've written a few pages of exercises to help you prepare the required etude for the All-State Band audition.

Here's a link to the pdf file.

For others curious about this, the audition piece is most of the second page of #37 in Melodious Etudes, Bk 1 written by Marco Bordogni and transcribed by Johannes Rochut.

By the way, I have always thought it was a travesty that Rochut gets top billing on the cover. Don't call them Rochut etudes. Except possibly for #1, he didn't write them.

Giulio Marco Bordogni

Thursday, November 20, 2008

In these times....

Worrisome news about the Charleston Symphony. When I came here almost 10 years ago, I had the good fortune to sub with Charleston on occasion and was really impressed with their brass section. Now I hear that they're not sure they can make payroll after Dec. 19th.

Here's the article.

Some young trombonists who apply to the USC School of Music tell me they want to major in performance.

What do I tell them?

"Yes, I know it is your true passion and despite any odds you feel you have to go for it. But....there are so few jobs!" (and the number is shrinking).

Not to be all gloom and doom but, anyone pursuing a music performance career needs to have a realistic perspective on what is going on out there.

Ask yourself these questions:
  • How many talented young performance majors graduate each year? Don't just count the "big name" schools. Sometimes great players come from smaller programs.
  • How many openings are there for jobs that pay over, say $20k, each year?
If you have no idea, then you haven't thought things through enough.

How do most professional musicians earn their income?
Freelancing, small per-service gigs, lots of private students in the public schools, and maybe a part-time job. Don't get me wrong, this can be a good life. When I lived near Washington D.C., I saw people doing this and leading happy, productive lives. One small fringe benefit: if you have 27 different employers, you can't get laid off.

Yes, I know music gets in your blood and becomes a part of you. But if you are an aspiring high school trombonist who wants to be a performance major, know what you are getting into. Do your homework on the job market.

Maybe you can find creative solutions....write grants, create a small innovative ensemble, do something in the schools.

Hey, if you can capture people's imaginations, they will flock to you. Who could have predicted the success of something like Blast?

You may want to gag at the mention of the Trans Siberian Orchestra, but whenever they come to town, big crowds form. (actually I know almost nothing about them but they were here recently)

The intersection of art and commerce is never comfortable.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Yes, Ta-Ta-Ka

There seems to be a plague of people who triple tongue this way..

I ask them why. The usual response: I don't know. I've just always done it that way. Nobody ever told me how.

You should use..
(or DA-DA-GA)


Why do we multiple tongue at all?
Because you can't reset the tip of the tongue fast enough over and over.

Here's my contention (argue if you want): the second of the two "TA's" is the weaker one because the tongue has to do that rapid reset.

Test this: say TA-ta. Now say ta-TA . (capital letters represent emphasis).
For me, TA-ta is easier.

So...the whole point of using that inferior "KA" syllable is to give the tip of the tongue time to reset.

In a string of triplets, you usually want to place your accent on the first note of each triplet..
TA-ta-ka, TA-ta-ka, TA-ta-ka

Putting ka at the end makes it easier to emphasize the beginning of the triplet.

If you use..
TA-ka-ta, TA-ka-ta, TA-ka-ta,
your downbeats will be at a disadvantage.

(By the way, in the new Arban's book, both Bowman and Alessi prefer ta-ta-ka)

If you are used to the other way, use this exercise to help you...

Droning On....Droning Out

Tom Gibson just posted that video podcast of us messing around with the drone CD. Plus he loaded up the whole CD onto his website for download (warning: BIG files)

Here's a link.

(kinda wish he didn't ask me to sing...yow)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The 47 Pound Pencil

Look at that pencil lying there. Easy to pick up right?

Now: as you attempt to pick it up with one hand, use your other hand to hold down the lifting hand. Harder to pick up now.

Seems stupid but ...
how often do we unwittingly do exactly the same thing when playing?

PS Tom Gibson filmed another podcast with me and Eric Bubacz, a fantastic tubist from Atlanta. Basically we were just hacking around improvising stuff over tuning drones. Don't know when it will be posted. Oh yeah, I had the good fortune to hang out for the 45 minutes or so of that Wycliffe recording session he filmed. Very cool (as in...him, not me)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Tone vs. Sound

OK, I'm going out on a limb here.

We often use the terms "tone" and "sound" interchangeably.

For me, someone's sound seems to have more components than than just the timbre of the sound waves emanating from their bell.

What do you think of this diagram?

Why the question mark by vibrato? I think vibrato plays a role in phrasing as well. Some players incorporate it as a fundamental component of the sound, others employ it more to move a phrase along. Vibrato seems to live in both worlds.

I invite all comments/criticisms.

"Note Shape" refers to the degree of attack at the front of a note as well as the kind taper at the end of a note.

Monday, November 03, 2008

C.S.I. Slide-O-Mix

OK, I think I'm onto something here....

It started when one of my students, (let's call him Alex [or Joey]) commented that, "Everybody's Slide-O-Mix seems to work better than mine."

Then I thought about my Slide-O-Mix Rapid Comfort and how it used to to be have thick texture but was now watery.

Then another student (let's call him Colt) pointed out his theory that maybe HEAT had an effect on the stuff. In other words, once it had been exposed to heat (like being left in a hot car) it became watery and didn't work as well.

No sooner do I mention "Colt's" theory to one of my private students than he says that exact thing happened to him: Slide-O-Mix left in a hot car for a few days had become watery.


Research grant needed.....$1,500,000 ought to cover it.