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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Joe Alessi Master Class Quotes (Part 2 of 3)

Andrew Hitz

Here is the second installment of quotes from Joe Alessi's wonderful master class at Towson University last week.  If you missed it, you can read the first part here.

  • "A lot of young players see a crescendo and just play loud.  Let's hold back and be very gradual."

  • "I want you to play every note with more tone."

  • "A new term I use is "constipation of air".  We can take the air in but we can't get it out."

  • "There's a thing called being relentless about practicing."

  • "I like to stay on the top 50% of my air supply."

  • "It takes a really intelligent person to practice really slowly and say 'this is what's good for me.'"

  • "If you have to take a breath in an awkward place like that you should always relax the note before it."

  • "The further away your hand gets from your brain, the more difficult (the trombone) gets."

  • "That's a really rich sound.  Now you have to figure out what to do with it."

  • "With the trombone, you have to make more variations with your style and attacks.  You're not being creative with different ways to say things."

  • "You have to be careful with a trombone because it can resemble a car horn.  You have to give your sound some flexibility.  Rather than laying on the horn you have to give it some beauty.  It's all might right now."

  • "Your articulation is almost too good.  You're really tonguing the pants off of it.  You have to have a little more sensitivity in your style."

  • "You have to have more fun with something unusual."

  • "With my teacher growing up, if you didn't have a good release, you'd have to sit there and think about it for a while."

  • "When you play fast try to lighten up.  Playing heavy while playing fast is like driving a Cadillac fast on a windy road.  You want to drive something smaller."

  • "Do it again.  You're being too careful.  Just have fun."

  • "Spend a lot of time getting into a passage so you know every square inch of it."

  • "On a word in the music: Always go with the adjectives that you are supposed to do.  It's like a clue."

  • "Anything that involves 5th position is hard.  The problem with 5th position is that people don't trust that it has to go out that far."

  • "There are two types of playing: detached and non-detached."