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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Filtering by Tag: Carol Jantsch

Getting serious about your routine

Andrew Hitz

This is not a complicated concept and yet can be hard to implement until you get some momentum. If you are serious about improving your playing, you must be practicing the things you can't do well every single day.

The first part of this equation is having the self-awareness to accurately identify the weaknesses in your playing. I don't think I've ever met a player who has no idea what their weaknesses are. But the best players have an acute sense of their shortcomings with a high degree of specificity.

Noticing that soft playing is not a strength is one thing. (And that's a great start!) But digging a few layers deeper (like for example your ascending slurs in the upper middle and upper registers at a soft dynamic are particularly poor) is much better.

The best players can not only identify their shortcomings to that degree of specificity but then develop a plan to meet them head-on in their daily routines. If you are bored with practicing scales, incorporate one of your weaknesses into your daily scale work. This requires creativity and a lot of focus (since playing a new exercise that you just made up takes a lot more work than just playing around the Circle of Fourths again.)

And if you really want to raise the bar, throw a portion of your warmup on Instagram Live. Even if only five people watch for a total of a minute, your focus will be off the charts when you are broadcasting one of your biggest weaknesses to your friends and colleagues.

So ask yourself two questions: what are your biggest shortcomings as a player (be as specific as possible) and how many days in the last week have you worked on them?

If your answer is less than seven, you might want to reevaluate your priorities.

The Brass Junkies: Carol Jantsch

Andrew Hitz

Listen via


Carol is quite possibly my favorite tuba soloist in the world today and the Principal Tuba of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

She has done all of the work on the technical side of things which enables her artistry to shine through in everything she does. I saw her perform a solo with the Philadelphia Orchestra back in March and it was stunning.

Her story is a fascinating one. She went from the middle of her undergraduate degree to playing in one of the best orchestras in the world.

It was an honor to have her as a guest on The Brass Junkies!

Opinionated Fingers

Andrew Hitz

Valves on a brass instrument need to be up or they need to be down - not somewhere in between. This is always the case with the Pat Sheridans and Carol Jantschs of the world. Their fingers never get caught in no-man's-land. You could say their fingers are opinionated. They have a very strong opinion about when they are being pushed down and when they are being released. I always learn a lot about technique when I watch great trombone players. When watching Scott Hartman or Joe Alessi play I am immediately taken aback by their slide work. Their slides seem to always be in one position or another and never seems to be en route. And this is just as true when they play Rochut as when they are playing Till Eulenspiegel.

Those of us with valves can learn a lot from them.

3 Great Master Classes Quotes I've Heard Recently

Andrew Hitz

Every time I attend a master class I always have my laptop with me to take notes. I find that note taking is by far the best way for me to retain the information and retention is the first step in implementing it into my playing and teaching. I also attend as many master classes as I possibly can.  As with all of the people who I idolize in the music business, I try to never stop learning.  Hearing another professional's perspective on how they approach both the physical and mental aspects of music for an hour gives me a surge in productivity every single time without fail.

It also seems that every time I attend a class there is always one quote that sticks out above the rest a few months later.  That is the quote that has done the best job of daily working its way into my playing and teaching.  Here are three such quotes that I literally think about on a daily basis:

Joe Alessi: "You have to worry about the right sides of the notes just as much as the left sides."

The next time you hear Joe play, either live or on a recording, check out the care with which he ends every single note.  Then proceed to pick your jaw up off of the floor.

Carol Jantsch: "When slurring up to a note focus on the end of the first note rather than the second note."

Try this yourself.  I always found it intuitive to focus on having a clean start to the note I was slurring up to.  Now that I have taken Carol's approach instead my slurring improved immediately.  As in immediately.  It's a great trick.  This is one of the many things she does to make her playing sound so effortless.

Marty Hackleman: "Even if you can play your ass off, try to make it easier."

If you watch Marty play the horn, there is no wasted energy of any kind.  It is pure efficiency.  This is why he has the endurance of horn gladiator even though he is approaching 60.

Hopefully you will find these quotes as helpful as I have.  Not a day goes by that I don't think about all three of them in my teaching and playing.  Is there a great quote that you've heard in a master class recently? Help us all out and leave it in the comments.

Quotes from Carol Jantsch Master Class

Andrew Hitz

Yesterday I had the privilege of meeting Carol Jantsch, the tuba player for the Philadelphia Orchestra, for the first time.  She conducted a master class at the annual summer camp of the Monumental Brass in Fulton, MD.  It was an impressive presentation from start to finish that everyone who attended will remember for a long time.

She began the class by playing Patrick Sheridan’s arrangement of the Carnival of Venice with piano accompaniment.  Her performance was effortless and had an elegance that is rarely found in a solo performance by a tuba player.

Next she played the title track from her solo CD, Cascades.  This is an unaccompanied trumpet solo written by Allen Vizzutti which was fantastic.  She certainly got the attention of everyone with her performance.

She spent the remainder of the two hours answering questions and coaching four different students.  The following is a collection of quotes from the class that I found extremely helpful.

  • “When we’re breathing we try to minimize tension.  Tension is the enemy.”

  • “Trick your brain into thinking you have more time to breathe than you do.  Don’t think of it as having only one beat and panicking.”

  • “Use the entire 16th to breathe.  Tell yourself it is a lot of time.”

  • “As low brass players we should be used to taking in more air than we need.”

  • When asked what it takes to win a tuba job with a major symphony orchestra: “A lot of luck.” (Then mentioned hard work and talent.)

  • Concerning how long it took her to memorize her solos: “Not long since I learned them the right way.  I played them slowly, then a little less slowly, then a little less slowly than that, over and over.”

  • “You’re letting the higher notes scare you.  Just relax and blow.”

  • Speaking specifically to female brass players: “Playing a brass instrument takes a lot of air.  But if you end up trying to save air you get fuzzy attacks and missed slurs.”

  • “Did you notice that this section is louder because of the breathing scheme we came up with for the section before?”

  • “When learning double tonguing practice slowly and really emphasize the ka.”

  • Addressing a student working on slurs: “Focus only on the ends of the notes.”

  • “The warm-up/routine part of your practicing should address the weaknesses in your playing daily.”

  • On what she thinks about when playing the first entrance of the Gregson Tuba Concerto: “You’re a very arrogant person and you step into a room and command attention.”

  • When having a kid sing his part: “Use your operatic voice so the people in the back can hear you.  I don’t care about pitch as much as musical inflection.”

  • “When you’re playing, about 10% of what you think is coming out so you have to exaggerate everything.”

  • “If you’re afraid of missing a note you just need to go for it.  Blow through it, throw yourself in there, and there’s a good chance you’ll hit it.”

  • “It’s good to vocalize because it can be hard to get something in your ear without hearing it outside of your body.”

  • “If you’re having trouble with an interval play up to the note and then sing it.  That’s a good way to know if you have it in your ear.”

  • “I play with the metronome on the offbeats because a lot of people ignore it if it’s on the beat.  It turns on your inner metronome.”

  • “When playing legato etudes down an octave you want to go for as relaxed and smooth a sound as possible.”