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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Joe Alessi Master Class Quotes (Part 3 of 3)

Andrew Hitz

This is the final installment of quotes from the trombone master class that Joe Alessi gave at Towson University two weeks ago today.  He covered many different subjects from trombone playing to breathing to musicianship.  It was a wonderful class and a lot of the knowledge I took away with me has already integrated itself into my playing and teaching.  That's how you know it's good material! In case you missed them, please be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2.

  • "Have you ever recorded yourself and slowed it down to half speed?"

  • "In detached playing you should move the slide immediately after the 1st (of 2) notes.  In legato playing, you should move the slide right before the 2nd note."

  • To a student: "When you articulate, your tongue is very active and your air is very inactive.  Practice with no tongue.  See what you can learn by getting the air involved."

  • "The only reason I use a mirror is to cut out the extraneous movements.  When you look at that mirror try to keep everything still."

  • "We have to recalibrate the mixture (of tongue and air) and when things happen."

  • "Your practicing is incorrect if you can't hold the tempo.  You have to calm yourself down and practice very adamantly and slowly."

  • "Enjoy that you practice slowly and you'll get something out of playing slowly."

  • "If we don't know rhythm and pitch it's like an electrician that doesn't know positive and negative."

  • "If you can't sing everything you play, how can you shape something?"

  • "One of the hardest things to do on the trombone is to play legato and have your air completely separate from your slide."

  • "Your mantra is to keep your air absolutely steady."

  • "Think more globally about being expressive.  You're trying to be expressive on every note.  Think more of an arc."

  • "When you want to make a great release on a note, you have to get rid of the vibrato at the end and end up with just straight tone."

  • To a student with a bad release: "You're a painter.  If you're painting a branch you have to finish it."
  • "The more experience you get any time you can put yourself under the gun the better."

  • "Develop your own routine.  It can be a collection from your colleagues."

  • "You're not going to get anywhere if you start practicing at 1pm."

  • "I practiced 6 hours today." Well who cares? How did you practice?"

  • "You pay your dues with basics."

  • "I don't have my students play excerpts right away.  I want to see that they can play a melody correctly.  The right pitch.  The right rhythm."