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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Charles Lazarus Master Class Quotes (Part 1 of 3)

Andrew Hitz

I had the privilege of attending a wonderful master class by trumpeter Charles Lazarus at this year's National Trumpet Competition at George Mason University.  Charles is one of the best musicians I've ever met.  He can play not just well in a frustrating number of diverse styles but amazingly well in said styles.

His diversity is legendary.  If you were to hear him play a baroque trumpet solo, you would assume he does it full-time for a living.  If you were to hear him play with a brass quintet, you would assume he did that for a living.  Same with him playing with the Minnesota Orchestra or playing as a solo jazz player.  Really, he'll either drive you mad or to the practice room.  One or the other!

I had heard he was a great teacher but had never had the opportunity to see him in action until this master class.  I came away with enough quotes to share in a one hour master class that they are being split into three separate posts.  Some of them resonated with me to the point of being shared in almost every lesson I taught the following week after spring break.  I hope you enjoy these great Lazarus quotes as much as I have.

  • "No matter what you play, Body and Soul or Mahler 5, people only hear the sound that comes out of your bell."
     
  • "If your focus is on your sound, you will get to your end result faster."
     
  • "If you give a beginner a tone to try to match, they will sit up straight and their sound will get better."
     
  • "Technique is the ability to control your sound on any given note. At any given dynamic, 100% of the time. It is very easy to forget that when you're working on a lick."
     
  • Doc Severinsen: "I spent days and days and days trying to imagine the sound I’m trying to achieve.  I came up with my ideal sound and then I go for that."
     
  • "Not to say there’s not a physical side (to playing), but you have to know what your goal is."
     
  • "Rather than air support I like to think of tone support."
     
  • "I like to think of breathing as phrasing.  If you keep the air moving, your lips will vibrate."
     
  • "If you take in a full breath, there is some natural compression."
     
  • "If I want to get a fuller sound, I actually back off."
     
  • "When I talk to you, there are certain words that I emphasize. It is the same with phrasing."
     
  • "When you phrase, the sound and style will make sense to people."
     
  • "Our lips are like the string and our air is like the bow."
     
  • "If you’re phrasing with your air, you are going to take in enough air and you are going to keep it moving."
     
  • "If your chops are feeling stiff, keep the phrasing and the air moving."