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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

David Zerkel Master Class Quotes (Part 3 of 3)

Andrew Hitz

Here is the final installment of quotes from David Zerkel's recent master class for my students at George Mason University.  His wisdom immediately permeated my teaching and practicing.  Good stuff!

Click here for Part 1 and Part 2.

Enjoy!
 

  • "Breathing is like investing money. In order to make money, you have to invest money. You have to invest lots of air."
     
  • "When we're presenting our interpretation, I believe that articulation is one of the most negotiable."
     
  • "The practice room is the ideal place to try things out."
     
  • "Can you give me a little more pitch on the double tongue stuff?"
     
  • "I really recommend doing offline practicing when you're practicing double tonguing."
     
  • "The lip trill fairy can visit you in a short amount of time if you do a little bit of work. If you practice the Arban's exercise (quarters->eights->16ths->etc) religiously for two weeks, the lip trill fairy will pay you a visit."
     
  • "As you're working on your double tongue always aim for the 5th note."
     
  • "As you play music that is less melodically oriented, rhythm becomes more important.  You need to make the rhythmic aspect of this melody important."
     
  • "What you're selling melodically here is time."
     
  • "One of the main problems with the tuba as an instrument is clarity. Musical clarity, articulation clarity, pitch clarity."

 

  • "You sound like a bird singing in a cage that is covered with a blanket."
     
  • "I need you to be a more active and windy participant so you can play clearer."
     
  • "We have to work three times as hard as any other brass instrument to play as cleanly as they play. -Dave Bragunier"
     
  • "You can't evaluate your playing at the bell. You have to evaluate what it sounds like in the hall."
     
  • "Your best sound is not always the right sound.  You listen to Youngblood Brass Band. If you played in a lesson with the sound that Nat plays with you'd get punched in the throat and told to never come back."
     
  • "I want you to offend me with how short you play. I want you to make me puke."
     
  • "The place that you want to get with your playing is to where you are uncomfortable with how far you've gone."
     
  • "You never know how much is loving someone too much until you've done it. In life, you never know where the edge is until you've stepped off of it."
     
  • "You need to be closer to the line."
     
  • "The beginning of Strauss 1 is Belushi jumping into a room."


"In the upper register, work on your spin being a little faster, a little more tightly wound.  Move more air with a quicker spin."

"The higher you get on the tuba, the darker and less distinct it gets. I call it the Woo Register because it sounds like someone is wooing (with their hands cupped over their mouth.)"

"Make sure you can maintain a sense of rhythmic urgency without a metronome going."

"Sound is everything. If you don't sound good, nothing else matters."

"If it sounds good, it is good. -Duke Ellington"

"One of the most compelling things we can do is sell people on rhythm."