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Pro and con Claude Gordon?


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BPL
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2014 10:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not referring to Reinhardt.. I know little or nothing about it. I know what CG's approach is like (as a student).. I was referring to the perceived features of CG's method that I've experienced.

I didn't say analysis is unnecessary just that Claude discouraged it (eg: "don't think about the lip")... because, I believe, his students tended to overthink things (to their detriment) and because he thought it was more instructive to simply "do the exercises" as instructed. He discouraged buzzing, mirrors, gadgets, mpc changes and the whole "muscle building" thing.

I don't know anything about embouchure problems.. Claude's answer might be something like.. How we play, is a product of what and how we practice. If we practice the right material correctly (in the right balance) everything will work itself out. Be patient, do the exercises and be mindful while doing it).. he probably wouldn't have used the word "mindful"

I hope I'm not misrepresenting him here.. I don't think so.
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x9ret
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2014 11:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A con must be that it takes 52 weeks or something to do the book?

Seriously though, for an experienced player then I doubt you'd need to start at the first exercise?
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lh
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2014 12:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A 52 week program is a result of the publishing process, and the form of the published method is one that is intended to be used by students on their own, or by students under supervision of their teacher. The text is simple, and focuses on his prioritised list of fundamentals at the time of publication. further, during the era that Claude was putting his methodology together, mostly influenced by Clarke and later Maggio, his focus on air and tongue level was more exception than norm for trumpet pedagogy. His method was in part a response to perceived weaknesses brought on by the overemphasis on embouchure alone instead of in conjunction with everything else.

Here are a few things to consider....

Claude's approach was designed to address embouchure problems indirectly, and through his regimen of technical and flexibility studies, attempted to gradually and naturally improve placement and alignment issues of the lips and teeth, as well as the engagement of the air and the tongue position.

The SA as taught by Claude reflected an "approach to daily practice", and usually progressed at the rate of one lesson every fortnight, and generally started on lesson two. Finishing the entire book in order is not compulsory for development, yet many students I knew of were on their second and third passes through the book.

I guess if people feel they need to, they must find their own upside and downside for themselves, as these are as individual as the people who play, and can change over time depending on personal circumstances. I think systematic practice, regardless of exercise choice, is a valuable byproduct of this methodology.
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jungledoc
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2014 2:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm guessing that the skill of the teacher matters a whole lot more than the method or philosophy he or she subscribes to. As it happens, I've settled on a teacher for my Skype lessons who studied privately with Gordon for many years, and is CG Certified, or whatever the title is. That was not the only factor in my decision, but it was a big one.
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John Mohan
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2014 9:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

lmaraya wrote:
I agree with CG %99.9. The only think I never understood is the keep the "keep the chest up" indication while blowing. It makes me tense. I just think of blowing candles on a birthday cake.


The idea is to keep your chest up in a position of good posture while staying relaxed. This must be developed until it works by habit (automatically, without you having to concentrate on staying relaxed).

The advantage of keeping the chest up is that it allows all the muscles of expiration to do the work. If you play with your chest sunk down, you eliminate the back muscles from the equation. Try this: take a breath while keeping your chest down, and then blow all the air out, while keeping your chest sunk down. As you run empty and keep trying to blow, note that you will feel the muscle tension mainly in your abdominal muscles, as they'll be doing most of the work. Now, take another full breath, but this time keep your chest up. Don't try to over-fill. Stay relaxed and test that you are relaxed by counting out loud to three (Does your voice sound strained? Then you are not relaxed). Now, blow out the air, keeping your chest up. As you run out of air but continue to blow while empty, if you keep your chest up, you'll find that the muscles of your abdomen, chest and back are now involved with the effort. This is the proper way to blow while playing a wind instrument (or while singing) as it allows all the available muscles to contribute to the work involved.

Breathing correctly (big breaths, chest up, and never getting below half empty) increases one's endurance at least two-fold. But, one cannot just resolve to start breathing this way and having instant results. One might think about it and do it correctly for a few minutes while performing. But, as soon as one stops thinking about it, old habits will take over. That's why it is so important to think about breathing correctly while practicing, and also why it is EXTREMELY important to do the CG Breathing Exercises off-horn, in order to develop the habit of proper breathing technique.

Best wishes,

John Mohan
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John Mohan
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2014 10:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

x9ret wrote:
A con must be that it takes 52 weeks or something to do the book?

Seriously though, for an experienced player then I doubt you'd need to start at the first exercise?


You're a bit off-base here. Honestly, I think your first sentence is a sign of the times more than anything else.

First off, in reality the 52 week idea is extremely hopeful. In reality, someone doing the entire SA book should spend at least two weeks on each Lesson, otherwise the practice time per day builds up too fast. So it is more like a two to three year approach. And in reality, that's just the beginning. For instance, if you go through Claude's book "Daily Trumpet Routines" and do all the articulation models of the different lessons as assigned, it takes about eight years to do the whole book. If you really studied with Claude (or really use his method or study with one of his students), you'll go through all the major books eventually - Gatti, Arban, St Jacome, World's Method, Clarke's "Technical Studies", Clarke's "Characteristic Studies", Clarke's "Setting Up Drills", Ernest Williams, Colin, Claude's Velocity Studies, Claude's "Tongue Level Exercises", Irons, Smith, Schlossberg, Lozano, Charlier, Petit, the Sigmund Herring books, and on and on and on.

I spent sixteen years studying with Claude and we never ran out of material for me to practice and develop from - it was his poor health near the end of his life that brought about the end of my time studying with him. If he were alive today I'd still be taking lessons.

As for your last sentence, while you are right, I think you still have the wrong idea there, too. Lesson One in Systematic Approach was just written by Claude with the idea of it being practiced so that the student could get the feel of the pedal notes. In reality, he would help a new student find the proper way to play the Pedals, and then he'd start the new student on Lesson Two in the book (not Lesson One). But whether the student was a High School player or a seasoned professional, Lesson Two would always be the first set of exercises used from the SA book.

The real point and the end goal of using Claude's method is not to become a real good trumpet player. It is to develop into a virtuoso trumpet player. That doesn't happen in 52 weeks. But it happens and it'll happen every time if one sticks with it long enough for nature to take its course (barring unusual physical or mental deficits).

I am very glad you posted what you posted, because your first sentence in particular reminds me of two attitudes that seem to be pervasive among trumpet players. The first (and the one your first sentence alludes to) is the idea that any worthwhile method should produce fast results and the second is the idea that only a select few can develop virtuosic levels of ability. Both these attitudes, though quite common, are wrong.

Best wishes,

John Mohan
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Jeff_Purtle
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2014 2:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There's a video I should post from my 2012 conference where I moderated a panel discussion with four views represented: Claude Gordon, Reinhardt, Stamp, and Bill Adam.

The people on the panel were Roy Poper (Jimmy Stamp), Rich Willey (Reinhardt), Jim Stokes (Adam), and Bob O'Donnell (Claude Gordon).

I emailed everyone a series of questions the weeks before with the purpose to compare and contrast each view and let them cross examine each other's responses. Then, we opened it up for questions from the audience (both in person and online).

I thought it turned-out really well.
Everyone felt they presented their side accurately.
I personally thought the CG view made the most sense.

I don't think it's accurate to say Claude had a "one size fits all" approach. That's actually incorrect. I now have a big collection of practice routines from various students and lots of proof of how he worked with different students.

One of the most interesting things I have are some early handwritten sections from Daily Trumpet Routines. Some of the exercises were put in a different order from what he first tried.

Claude was very systematic and always looking for ways to make things more progressive. I think lots of people miss the advantage of the CG material when they just rush through it too fast.

It's sometimes hard for people to understand the benefit of playing exercises consistently daily when they might feel easy and not as challenging as they might want. But, practicing easier material well is usually a better thing than forcing and learning bad habits.

Jeff
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PhxHorn
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2014 6:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd be very interested to see that video!
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StupidBrassObsession
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2014 6:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

John Mohan wrote:
x9ret wrote:
A con must be that it takes 52 weeks or something to do the book?

Seriously though, for an experienced player then I doubt you'd need to start at the first exercise?


You're a bit off-base here. Honestly, I think your first sentence is a sign of the times more than anything else.

First off, in reality the 52 week idea is extremely hopeful. In reality, someone doing the entire SA book should spend at least two weeks on each Lesson, otherwise the practice time per day builds up too fast. So it is more like a two to three year approach. And in reality, that's just the beginning. For instance, if you go through Claude's book "Daily Trumpet Routines" and do all the articulation models of the different lessons as assigned, it takes about eight years to do the whole book. If you really studied with Claude (or really use his method or study with one of his students), you'll go through all the major books eventually - Gatti, Arban, St Jacome, World's Method, Clarke's "Technical Studies", Clarke's "Characteristic Studies", Clarke's "Setting Up Drills", Ernest Williams, Colin, Claude's Velocity Studies, Claude's "Tongue Level Exercises", Irons, Smith, Schlossberg, Lozano, Charlier, Petit, the Sigmund Herring books, and on and on and on.

I spent fourteen years studying with Claude and we never ran out of material for me to practice and develop from - it was his poor health near the end of his life that brought about the end of my time studying with him. If he were alive today I'd still be taking lessons.

As for your last sentence, while you are right, I think you still have the wrong idea there, too. Lesson One in Systematic Approach was just written by Claude with the idea of it being practiced so that the student could get the feel of the pedal notes. In reality, he would help a new student find the proper way to play the Pedals, and then he'd start the new student on Lesson Two in the book (not Lesson One). But whether the student was a High School player or a seasoned professional, Lesson Two would always be the first set of exercises used from the SA book.

The real point and the end goal of using Claude's method is not to become a real good trumpet player. It is to develop into a virtuoso trumpet player. That doesn't happen in 52 weeks. But it happens and it'll happen every time if one sticks with it long enough for nature to take its course (barring unusual physical or mental deficits).

I am very glad you posted what you posted, because your first sentence in particular reminds me of two attitudes that seem to be pervasive among trumpet players. The first (and the one your first sentence alludes to) is the idea that any worthwhile method should produce fast results and the second is the idea that only a select few can develop virtuosic levels of ability. Both these attitudes, though quite common, are wrong.

Best wishes,

John Mohan


Great post, John!
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Jeff_Purtle
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 5:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was playing with Lou Gonzalez back in the late 80s and got to talking about studying with Claude. He quoted Claude as saying, "The difference between a good player and a virtuoso is that the good player practices until he doesn't miss, but the virtuoso practices until he can't miss." I never heard that direct quote from Claude. But, it totally agrees with everything we did in lessons.

I also remember Lou telling me about how the three octave chromatics clicked with him when studying with Claude. It was funny because when I first met Lou I was at CSU Northridge and already playing professionally on the side and was doing my range study above Double C and sometimes to Triple C.

The three octave chromatic in Clarke Nine wasn't there yet. I could play it once in one breath and maybe twice. Then, it was a combination of other things in the routines and time to develop that caused it all to fall into place. I remember one day being able to easily play 4-6 times in one breath. If Claude wouldn't have made me stick with it then I never would have experienced that. I think that was over 3.5 years of consistent study with Claude when that happened.

Then, later at maybe 5 years we were working on some handwritten tonguing exercises. He was pushing my single tonguing to get faster and I had been stuck at around 110 bpm for 116ths. Month after month we moved through things and it was maybe 9 months into it that I could single tongue above 150 bpm. The feel of the faster single tonguing also helped other things in my playing.

There are lots of people that practice for hours on end. I used to have a roommate in college that was studying with Roy Poper and he would practice up to 8 hours a day. He made progress, but I was able to make more progress with lasting results practicing 3-5 hours a day. It's how you do it that matters the most.

Most people don't have the determination to stick with things long enough to see the results that exceptional players have experienced. For example, Claude practiced the single tonguing exercise #38 at the very end of Clarke's Setting Up Drills for 15 minutes everyday for 3.5 years to get his single tonguing where he wanted it. Clarke did the same thing but for 7 years. That unusual amount of determination and discipline is why Claude could single tongue 16ths for a solid minute at 144 bpm and Clarke could do even faster at 180 bpm. Some people might think it's a big waste of time because you never need to single tongue that fast, but the personal accomplishment of doing it and the physical experience learned from it are something others can't understand unless they have experienced it too.

Jeff
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RandyTX
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 9:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jeff_Purtle wrote:
I was playing with Lou Gonzalez back in the late 80s and got to talking about studying with Claude. He quoted Claude as saying, "The difference between a good player and a virtuoso is that the good player practices until he doesn't miss, but the virtuoso practices until he can't miss." I never heard that direct quote from Claude. But, it totally agrees with everything we did in lessons.


Interesting. I've heard a variation of this, and even seen it posted in practice and rehearsal rooms in a few schools, but never seen an attribution for it.

The variation I remember was "The difference between an amateur and a professional is that the amateur practices until he can play something correctly, and the professional practices until he can't play it wrong."

It sparked enough curiosity, that I found this "study" by a so-called "Quote Investigator":

http://quoteinvestigator.com/2013/08/29/get-it-right/

There are a number of variations on the basic theme. It seems that this might go back as far as the early 1900s, perhaps more. No doubt a teacher like Mr. Gordon would have latched onto it and even edited it some as well.
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lh
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 1:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Funny thing, Jeff… I heard that quote first from Steve Gordon, who I went to for help working out Ravel's "Sonatine" on piano. Steve was a west coast Ravel expert, and a neighbour of mine by the name of Marvin Hamlisch, my ragtime mentor, recommended him to me. That's how I first met Claude. I paid Steve in advance for a series of lessons, but we finished the Ravel more quickly than expected. I got to take several trumpet lessons with Claude from my unused piano lesson credits with his son. Glad I did!
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lh
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 7:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

FYI... This thread has just been moved into the CG dedicated forum.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2014 7:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Marvin Hamlisch? Very funny. My wife and I did a gig with him before. It was funny how he could shine it on to the audience and then turn around and be rude to the orchestra. Great musician though.

I remember hearing Steve play in Claude's Leadwell Studio. I remember Claude telling me that Steve had a framed rejection letter from Julliard that he put over the toilette. I never saw it. Steve went on to win the Tchaikovsky Competition. I actually have some photos of Steve in my things. I need to scan and post them.

Hard work matters if it's done smart.

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John Mohan
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2014 5:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For the OP (and all others interested),

This will (hopefully) be my shortest and most concise answer ever on the TH.

Pro: If used and practiced correctly, the Claude Gordon method works and works every time.

Con: Only works if one practices the material (including all the ancillary material such as the Clarke books, St Jacome, Arban, and the wealth of other necessary books) correctly and sticks with it long enough for nature to take its course.

Players such as Bob O'Donnell (http://www.lastudiomusicians.info/bobodonnell.htm) and Arturo Sandoval represent how far one can go with this (correct) type of practice. Bobby was a CG Student and Arturo has said that he used Claude's books and methodology when developing his ability in Cuba.

Best wishes,

John Mohan
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2014 6:32 pm    Post subject: If Reply with quote

If someone is going to undertake the Gordon approach..it's very important to practice all the material as Claude instructs in the text..Some of the lessons work better than others, for sure.
One important point...you must continue pressing down into the pedal register..further all the time. The double pedal register, when reached gradually, is very helpful. Great thread.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2014 5:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Probably the biggest problem players have with SA is that they do just the exercises in the book and blow off all the other material listed that they should be playing. It is a very balanced approach when properly applied and followed.

And to those who feel 52 weeks is too long for a course of study, rather than citing the usual plethora of references about how long it takes to become a good player and how long it took so many others, and with apologies in advance to Walt (a great player and a very nice guy who understands exactly what it takes to get a solid double C), there's always Double High C in Ten Minutes. If you can wait that long.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2014 7:13 pm    Post subject: well.... Reply with quote

Perhaps an old adage applies, Don..." Your playing..is a reflection of your thinking".......... we live in a strange world where many students and teachers search the lowest common denominator.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2014 7:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great posts Mike and Don!

Concerning the 52 week idea, really, one should consider Systematic Approach to be a two year trip. If one tries to do one lesson per week, the material builds up very quickly and often will result in an over-practicing situation. Perhaps it's the same with "Double High C in Ten Minutes". Maybe one should spend 20 minutes with that method.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2014 7:51 pm    Post subject: ..... Reply with quote

John..
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