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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Joe Alessi Master Class Quotes from 2008 ABA Convention (2 of 2)

Andrew Hitz

Here is the second installment of quotes from Joe Alessi, Principal Trombone of the New York Philharmonic, from his master class at the 2008 American Bandmasters Association Convention.  Click here for the first installment.

 

  • After a less than stellar first attempt by a student playing in the master class: "Let's hit the reset button and try again."
     
  • "In my lessons at Juilliard, you have to play one with a great sound or the lesson doesn't start.  It's like putting on your seatbelt in the car."
     
  • "When you take a breath don't lean into it."
     
  • "Really think about the sound you want to play with on the first note of every passage."
     
  • He had the student "mime" the passage by breathing with the slide: "Get everything timed."
     
  • "Mime a fast lick very short and slow.  Like getting the timing right on your engine."
     
  • "Stay in a good stage presence between sections."
     
  • "Don't think of a note being suspended in the air and you are playing up to it.  Think that you are suspended and the note is below you."
     
  • "Brass players blow too fast when nervous and our air columns become narrower."
     
  • "Listen to yourself at half speed."
     
  • On jaw vibrato: "Move your jaw, not your muscles."
     
  • "Remove vibrato at the end of a note to produce a beautiful taper."
     
  • "Louder equals more tongue.  Softer equals less tongue."
     
  • "Air and tongue can be adjusted like the oil/as ratio in a mower."
     
  • "Forte is 90% air and 10% tongue."
     
  • "You should practice with no tongue."
     
  • "Practice playing really softly without any tongue."
     
  • "Practice diminuendoing notes down to niente.  It will help with the attacks."
     
  • "ppp is the essence of your tone right in your face."