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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Filtering by Tag: ABA

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."

Joe Alessi Master Class Quotes from 2008 ABA Convention (1 of 2)

Andrew Hitz

In an effort to clean up my office I just stumbled upon a small notebook with notes from a number of master classes.  One of those classes was by trombone virtuoso and master teacher Joe Alessi, Principal Trombone of the New York Philharmonic.

This class is from March 5, 2008 at the University of Miami and was a part of the American Bandmasters Association Convention being hosted there.  There are some great quotes in here for all musicians, not just trombone players or brass players.  There were enough that I have broken them up into two blog posts.

Enjoy!
 

 

  • "A low sound like Darth Vader when breathing means there's friction.  I like low-friction breaths."
     
  • "Auditions are all about time and when you reset your embouchure you will come in late a lot."
     
  • "Practicing without the instrument, like singing while conducting, is very important.  I sing and conduct through a piece with a new accompanist."
     
  • "You must have a pulse to conduct and you must sing the right pitches."
     
  • "I feel like you're reading the music, not playing the piece."
     
  • "It's a whole different part of our brain if we're not just reading the music."
     
  • After having the student play from memory to the back wall: "Look at the music but only refer to the music, like a big band.  Bell's up, music down low."
     
  • "Sometimes we have a good sound and we just don't use it."
     
  • "Your back should be convex with a slight arch forward when standing."
     
  • "If you stand healthy you will probably play healthy."
     
  • "You can tell (in an audition) how someone will play by how they walk into a room and sound."
     
  • "The breath is like a pitcher's wind-up.  You don't have a wind-up right now."
     
  • "Get set up earlier with the face (before an entrance.)"
     
  • "I like to watch the belt area when people are playing to see if they are supporting."
     
  • "You have a really nice sound but you're not always ready to use it."