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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Marty Hackleman Quotes from George Mason Master Class

Andrew Hitz

On Monday evening fellow George Mason teacher Marty Hackleman, principal hornist of the National Symphony, gave a wonderful master class to all of the brass students.  In my opinion, Marty is probably my favorite horn player to either listen to or perform with in the world.  I have had the privilege of attending a number of his master classes throughout the years and every time I walk away with more information than I could have dreamed of obtaining in one session.  Marty truly is the (sadly) rare combination of master performer and master teacher.

As I did with the wonderful Carol Jantsch master class earlier this summer I’ve collected a number of great quotes from Marty’s class that I believe any musician will find insightful.  I couldn’t possibly get to all of the quotes but these were the highlights.  He gave the audience and the students who performed a lot to digest in a very easy to understand manner.  It was a great experience for everyone.

  • "You’ve got to start thinking outside the box.  When you have a problem (with your playing), really admit it and address it.  You have to be honest about it.  You are only as strong as the weakest link in your playing."
  • "We all have to be fearless.  You can’t ask a brass instrument.  You have to tell it.  It’s like a dog.  You have to be consistent and it will love you."
  • "Do something more.  There’s no right or wrong…just be convincing.  You’re still apologizing for playing the trumpet."
  • "As brass players, we see a long note and think 'I’m home free…I’ve just got to hit the beginning of it.'  Don’t let it sit."
  • "Playing a valve instrument it is very important to worry about timing the articulations and the sound between the notes.   Sometimes you have to tongue when the valve goes down and sometimes when the valve comes up."
  • "On a trill, you have to finesse the sound in between the notes."
  • "Are you completely in love with your tonguing? I don’t think so.  You’re just used to it."
  • "Don’t just glide through it.  With a little bit of care you can make it sound beautiful."
  • "How simple can you make it?"
  • "On brass instruments, we want to bring our instruments up to the level of the music and not the music down to the level of our instruments."
  • "I think there are a lot of musical ideas in there but your trombone is not letting them out."
  • "I won’t bite and if I do, you won’t get much of a mark."