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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Filtering by Tag: George Mason Univesity

Jens Lindemann Master Class Quotes from George Mason University (Part 1 of 3)

Andrew Hitz

Trumpet virtuoso Jens Lindemann is one of the great players and pedagogues of any instrument in the world today.  He is truly gifted musician and educator and we were honored to have him come to George Mason to give a master class last semester.

Here are some quotes from his class with the brass ensemble.  There were so many good ones I had to split this up into three posts.

Enjoy!

  • "The relationships you're forging now are the ones you will have in 15-20 years.  Remember, as you gain in status so do those who are now around you."
     
  • "Tchaik 4 with the NY Phil and Zubin Mehta was like opening a cage and tossing raw meat into it."
     
  • "This is where your research will help your performance.  If you know the composer is a cinematic composer, you will play it in a cinematic way."
     
  • "There's not a trumpet player in the world that I don't have on speed dial.  I'm super famous."
     
  • "The greatest of the great players are the ones that say they're going to take this to the next level no matter what it takes."
     
  • "You don't have to be superstar players to make a great performance."
     
  • "The big thing about chamber music is that you shouldn't play it like you're sitting in the back of the orchestra.  It's harder to play soloisticly in that scenario."
     
  • "Traditionally you think about fitting in and keeping the machine going when you win a job."
     
  • "They all looked at me and told me 'No no. Don't play it like Freddy played it.  Play it like you play it.'"
     
  • "When you obviously have a moving line, like 8th notes in a ballad, move it along."
     
  • "Rhythm is a musical term for cooperation."
     
  • "The third note of a quarter note triplet is not important.  What's important is the first note and where it's going."
     
  • "Are you going to let the trumpets steal your solo line or are you going to Marty-ize it?"
     
  • "Not everything has to line up vertically in music.  I used to think it did."
     
  • "I used to hear Gene (Watts) talk about 1960's Mozart.  About how the bass and drums didn't line up, about how it was out of tune.  'But it was so right.'"
     
  • "The day you start sounding perfect, like a computer, is the day you completely lose what this is about: emotional rub."
     
  • "It's not just how you play the downbeat.  It's having direction in the notes leading up to the downbeat."
     
  • "There are a handful of musicians in our business that are untouchable.  Like Wynton Marsalis.  He's not a trumpet player.  He's an icon."

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."


 

David Zerkel Master Class Quotes (Part 2 of 3)

Andrew Hitz

Here is the second installment of quotes from the wonderful class that University of Georgia Professor David Zerkel gave at George Mason University in September.

In case you missed it, click here for Part 1.

Enjoy!
 

  • "When you start an excerpt, don't just hit the button on a treadmill and then go flying. I turn on the treadmill for at least a full measure before I get on so I'm ready to start."
     
  • "I can't tell you how many times I have been at an audition and literally said to myself 'Why am I playing? You aren't ready to play yet.'"
     
  • "We all have this idea in our head that it takes perfect playing to win an audition. It does not. It takes playing that is informed and stylish and that the person who is going to sit next to them for the rest of their careers knows the context of the music. They're hiring a musician, not a tuba player."
     
  • "I want you to think less about playing perfectly and more about playing communicatively."
     
  • "For me, music is performed in words, and sentences, and paragraphs, and chapters."
     
  • "Think less syllabically and think longer."
     
  • "Our job as performers in whatever we do, as performers, conductors, or people selling widgets, is to keep people with us, to not let them off the hook.  It can't be 'I'm going to play something nice for you and I hope you enjoy it.' You need to say 'You're coming with me. Get in the car. And here's what we're going to do.'"
     
  • "Keep moving your bow on long notes."
     
  • "People have short attention spans, Google Generation.  On the long notes I'm going to insist that you keep us with you."
     
  • "Always motion."
     
  • "You can look at the trees in the wind. They are moving. Wind demands motion. Motion happens because of wind. I'm asking your playing to be more windy. I'm asking for you to show me the reaction to the wind."
     
  • "When watching a conductor, the information you're getting is the motion between the beats. That's what you have to show."
     
  • "There are a lot of times when you get to the end of your phrase and you get an involuntary sound. We need to dictate it and not let the instrument tell us how it is going to be."
     
  • "Be sure you are maximizing your expansion when you're playing."
     
  • "If you need more air, for God's sake go get it."
     
  • "What's going to make people notice that my lung capacity is small? By playing with an involuntary sound at the end of phrases."
     
  • "I have a decision to make: am I going to let my sound suffer or am I going to breath in more places?"
     
  • "Can we all agree that when we are playing any wind instrument that one of our goals is to play with a resonant sound?"
     
  • "Sound is vibration. Resonance is an abundance of vibration. In order for us to play with an abundance of vibrations we must use an abundance of air."
     
  • "Jacobs asked me "how do you breath?" I gave a complicated answer and he said 'No, you suck air into your body.'"
     
  • "Jacobs talked to me about blowing way, way, way, way WAY beyond your lips.  He then played using air to his lips, then to his valve cluster, then to his bottom bow, then to his bell."
     
  • "Think of blowing your air two feet beyond your bell."
     
  • "Project everything forward. When you're singing properly your mask (face) vibrates."
     
  • "Someone says your sound is huge, that's a compliment. When they tell you you play loud, they may hate you."
     
  • "In the upper register the air stream is pencil-sized. In the middle register it is corndog sized."

Marty Hackleman Quotes from 2011 Master Class at George Mason University

Andrew Hitz

Last night, Professor Marty Hackleman gave an amazing master class at George Mason University.  Marty is the principal horn of the National Symphony and a former member of both the Empire Brass and the Canadian Brass.  In my opinion, he is one of the premier teachers and performers that the brass world has ever known. I have put a few of the quotes that really spoke loudly to me in bold.  What quotes jump out at you? Please comment with your favorite quote and how it relates to your playing.

Here are the highlights from the class:

  • "It's not that you work, it's how you work."
     

  • "How simple can you make the problem?  How simple can you make the solution?"
     

  • "We don't see the causes.  We see the symptoms."
     

  • "All that you want to do is make it slightly better than yesterday but not as good as tomorrow.  And you enjoy the chase."
     

  • "When you do a daily routine, don't sit in front of the TV wasting your time."
     

  • "Think of your routine as a physical brass mediation.  Enjoy the time alone."
     

  • "The routine is a question of how you play and not what you play."
     

  • "A lot of times when you have a problem with your playing and you think you know the solution try the exact opposite.  85% of the time it will work.  And that comes from personal experience."
     

  • "I only breathe as much as I need when I'm warming up and I focus on quality over quantity.  But if you're playing a different instrument, like the tuba, it may be different."
     

  • "It is more important to practice efficiently than a lot of inefficient practicing.  If you don't feel like it, stop.  Get a cup of coffee and then come back.  Then suck it up and make yourself feel like it for even 15 minutes."
     

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

  • "Make it as simple, natural and easy as you can."
     

  • "Don't save the high notes until the end of your routine.  They shouldn't be that precious.  They should be a natural extension of everything else."
     

  • "I failed first.  Everybody failed first.  But do you stop at failure?"
     

  • "You'll be surprised that if you ask yourself to do something regularly, you'll find a solution."
     

  • "If tension is creeping into your playing, your routine is where you find that out, not in rehearsal or in performance."
     

  • "Support isn't caused by air.  They are separate things."
     

  • "You want to use your routine to make yourself better, not just make yourself functional."
     

  • "I know (my routine) works because at almost 60 years old I believe I can play better than I've ever played in my life.  And it's not luck.  I promise you."
     

  • "First thing is you have to make sure that your horn sounds like what's in your head."
     

  • "You have to be more responsible about being a musician and not just a horn player."
     

  • "We make crescendos and we don't come all the way back.  If you come all the way back you have somewhere to go again."

Thank you Marty for such an insightful class! Everyone is welcome to attend his next class, free of charge, on Monday April 4th at 7:30pm at George Mason University.