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ITG Conference 2004 (Trumpet Playing is Easy, No Really!)



 
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Derek Reaban
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Joined: 08 Jul 2003
Posts: 4196
Location: Tempe, Arizona

PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2004 9:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

After seeing several of the ITG Conference posts (by Don Herman who I’m very sorry I didn’t get to meet and Michael Stewart), I realize that although everyone attended the same conference, our individual experiences were completely different. I would really like to see everyone who was in Denver present the aspects of the conference that made the biggest impact on them.

Since this is the first time that I have been at a computer since last Monday, I just now have been able to review the coverage of the conference at the ITG web site. Given the flurry of information and concert opportunities that were available, I know that the reporters that wrote these articles probably wanted to summarize these events as concisely (and quickly) as possible so that they wouldn’t miss out on any of the events. I think it would be worthwhile for me to go into additional detail based on my own personal notes. In that way those who were not able to attend the conference could get a more in depth picture of the concepts, ideas, and stories that these marvelous presenters conveyed to a very receptive and knowledgeable audience. Also, by writing about these things myself I won’t forget the little details that are so important that I’ll want to look back on in the future. I’ll provide a link to those classes that I will go into more detail below as well as provide links to the articles at the ITG web site.

I think that the theme of this conference for me would have to be: “Trumpet Playing is Easy! No, Really!”. From the presentation that Jens Lindemann gave called “Escaping Trumpet Purgatory…Back to Simplicity” he came back to this idea again and again in his words and in his phenomenal ability to create such wonderful beauty through his instrument. He talked about his first lesson with Mark Gould and said Mark’s exact words were, “You play pretty well for a muscle head!” He then went on to say that accepting that trumpet playing (sound production) can be easy is really the first step to personal discovery (towards more efficient sound production). This has been my experience exactly, and although I am at a different place on the path from where Jens is, we’re still on the same path, and I find that very exciting.

Talking is one thing, but demonstrating artistically how easy trumpet playing can be was available countless times throughout the conference. Without exception, all performers were playing at the highest artistic levels, and finding their own voice to express their musical ideas. In five days I experienced more live music than I have probably gone to in the last five years. I think it’s worthwhile to list these performances and artists, since my snapshot of the conference was obviously unique to me:

Summit Brass
David Hickman
Mr. Jack Daniel’s Original Silver Cornet Band
David Krauss (Principal Trumpet Metropolitan Opera Orchestra)
Michael Sachs (Principal Trumpet Cleveland Orchestra)
University of Denver Lamont Wind Ensemble
Vincent and Gabriel DiMartino
Eric Berlin
Barbara Butler and Charles Geyer (Northwestern University)
James Ackley
David Cooper & John Aley
Denver Dill
James Klages
Rex Richardson
Matt Shulman
David Kuehn (Former Principal Trumpet Buffalo Philharmonic)
Patrick Hession (Lead Trumpet with Maynard Ferguson)
Manny Laureano (Principal Trumpet Minnesota Orchestra)
Mike Thompson (Principal Trumpet Lincoln Nebraska Symphony)
Allen Vizzutti
Arizona State University Trumpet Ensemble (not to exclude all the other trumpet ensembles, but this performance was simply AMAZING musically)
Ron Romm and Fred Mills (Formerly with Canadian Brass)
Denver Brass
Jens Lindemann (UCLA)
Colorado Brass Quintet
Rocky Mountain Brass Quintet
Stellar Brass Quintet
American Brass Quintet
And Pianists (Collaborators) Rebecca Wilt and Laura Vizzutti

That’s 28 amazing performances, demonstrating how easy it can be to play a trumpet (brass instrument). And I believe that when the ease of sound production is coupled with a strong mental concept via the imagination of the performers, literally anything and everything is possible.

I think Michael Sachs touched on this concept of musical imagination in one very important way. He said that in auditions it is very obvious when a candidate is simply counting the part versus the player that is hearing the music in context (literally the ringing, clear, intense image of the music in their mind). In his class entitled, Standard Orchestral Passages: How to Practice and Prepare For Performance and Auditions he was working very competent players. However, it was quite amazing when he would provide each of these players with his internal concept of each excerpt after they had played. In every case, this strong mental image was now demonstrated (every note Michael played was amazing) and internalized, and when they played again, their musical product was changed dramatically. This is one class that I would like to expand on, but my notes are somewhat sketchy since I just wanted to sit and listen to the transformation in these players as it was taking place. I will do my best to describe some of the techniques that he used with each of these very fine players to move from good to great! Here (when I have time).

He also mentioned that knowing a piece in context means knowing everything that you can possibly know about it. When they got to the chorale from Bartok Concerto For Orchestra (2nd Movement) I thought to myself, this one I know! Two trumpets and two trombones. I’ve studied the chordal structure, and learned to play it on the piano. I really know this one. Then he asked the players what was happening just before this entrance. It took them a few seconds, but they came up with the answer (part of the answer and Michael filled in the rest), and I just sat there blank and couldn’t remember that part at all. So much for thorough preparation on my part! There’s always more that we can learn when preparing this literature!

From an earlier class David Krauss (MET) took this idea of knowing a piece in context to the next level. In addition to knowing the musical scoring, he presented a story about the first time that he performed the opera Rigoletto. I took great notes for this class and will provide more details here in the future. After he played the opening line to the opera (solo trumpet), he said one of his colleagues in the section talked to him after the show. “That opening line sounded great. Of course it was completely WRONG!” He then went on to explain how he had played the festive “Duke’s theme” in the same context that it would be played for the Duke in the opera. However, Rigoletto (the court jester) who loved his daughter was ashamed of his position in the court. Based on how poorly he was treated by the Duke (and the embarrassment that his daughter would experience if she knew he was a mere jester) he wanted to have him killed and the body delivered to him in a bag. But instead of the Duke, he found the body of his daughter in the bag at the end of the opera. The opening of the opera was to convey the Duke’s theme through the eyes of Rigoletto with this tragic twist, and based on “context” the musical line takes on a completely character, one of ultimate despair.

When I find the time to compile my notes I’ll also describe ideas from the Byron Stripling Master Class, the Monette class with Patrick Hession, Manny Laureano, and Mike Thompson, my experience with the Shulman System, and thoughts from Jim West during his Warm-up sessions. Eventually each of these topics will have a hyperlink to the write-up in a separate folder. If it's "blue", click on it to go to a more detailed description.

Great Stories


  1. During the Jens Lindemann presentation he told a story that I’m sure couldn’t have been scripted better if it had been planned. He said when he was 18 (I believe) he was invited to play at a Baptist church convention which was being held in a hockey arena. There was a platform set up over the ice, and he was playing for about 20,000 people. He said that even though it wasn’t written in the part, he opted to take the last line up an octave and botched it terribly! He said it’s a very humbling experience to receive “polite” applause from 20,000 Baptists! As he turned around to sit down, someone had taken his chair and all eyes in the stadium where on him. The speaker was getting ready to give a lengthy presentation, and Jens could either stand for the entire time or choose the only other option available to him. He opted to walk over, pull the gate open, and sit in the penalty box!

  2. After the Byron Stripling master class, I went backstage to tell Byron how much I enjoyed his presentation. I was in line to speak with him after a couple that was already talking to him. When Byron said, “Well, you’re the man in Chicago AND we’ll have to get together next time I’m there John” I knew that this was my chance to finally meet John Hagstrom. I opted to let many others that had come in to speak with Byron move in front of me. As John and his girlfriend were leaving, I introduced myself and had a great conversation with John. Just as we were finishing talking, Byron was on his way out and brought a player over to talk with John.

    This was my chance to talk with Byron, so my timing worked out perfectly! When we rejoined the conversation with John, he was talking about traveling through airports, x-ray machines, and trumpet bags. At this point, Byron said, “You should really try out these Torpedo Bags”. And then he said “Whoops!” and his bag went crashing to the floor. John was standing there in shocked disbelief (and I silently shared his feelings), and said, “Oh, my horns are never out of my hands” and he gently pulled his own bag a little closer to his body, as if to say, "Don't touch my horns Byron"! I thought that was just hilarious! Obviously Byron has found a product that he believes in, but I don’t think John is going to be dropping his horns in this product anytime soon.


Final Thoughts

In the closing thoughts that Jens presented in his class, he encouraged everyone (especially the younger players) to approach five players that are “at least your Dads age, or even your Grandfather’s age, and ask them to share a story about playing the trumpet”. He said, “you will enjoy this conference so much more if you do that!”

I think I surpassed that number many times over, but getting to meet Albert Ligotti (former New York Philharmonic player), Alex Wilson (former Principal Trumpet in the Buffalo Philharmonic), Bill Adam (Indiana University), David Kuehn (former Principal Trumpet Buffalo Philharmonic), Fred Mills (Canadian Brass), Ron Romm (Canadian Brass), and Doc Severinson just added to my unique experience at the conference. Thanks for this marvelous suggestion Jens! I hope everyone took you up on it!

P.S. It was great getting to meet all of the TH players! That was another special treat that I must mention!!!

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Derek Reaban
Tempe, Arizona

[ This Message was edited by: derek reaban on 2004-07-30 17:58 ]
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Williams
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Joined: 28 Apr 2003
Posts: 109
Location: Louisville,KY

PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2004 9:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You have such a great attitude and i think you walked away with exactly the experience ITG is trying to promote. Communication of Ideas, Personal Stories, and Music in order to make what we do an even greater art. Sure the new products are cool but it's about being a inteligent, thoughtful, careing and dynamic artist. Thank you for sharing and keep it coming:)
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Derek Reaban
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Joined: 08 Jul 2003
Posts: 4196
Location: Tempe, Arizona

PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2004 2:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just wanted to provide an update to this post. I have included links in the above text to the ITG Conference 2004 topics about the Shulman System and the Jim West Warm-Up session. My plan is to develop my perspective of the Monette masterclass with Manny, Patrick Hession, and Mike Thompson hopefully tomorrow. The posts for the Byran Stripling and David Krauss classes will take longer due to the tremendous amount of content that these players presented!

And I still don’t know how I want to present the ideas that Michael Sachs presented. Wow! To gather my thoughts around his topic I’ll have to pull out the excerpts that he worked on with bar numbers for appropriate references for it to make sense. That will take more time, but it will be time well spent for me.

FYI,


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Derek Reaban
Tempe, Arizona

[ This Message was edited by: Derek Reaban on 2004-06-23 17:30 ]
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Derek Reaban
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Joined: 08 Jul 2003
Posts: 4196
Location: Tempe, Arizona

PostPosted: Sun Jun 27, 2004 12:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have updated the link in the first post to include the Monette Master Class (which I just finished) and to mention that Jim West provided some clarifying comments to my post about his master class that are very informative.
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Derek Reaban
Tempe, Arizona
Tempe Winds / Symphony of the Southwest
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Derek Reaban
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Joined: 08 Jul 2003
Posts: 4196
Location: Tempe, Arizona

PostPosted: Tue Jul 13, 2004 9:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have updated the link in the first post to include my impressions of the Michael Sachs masterclass, and his fantastic book.

I still have the David Krauss and Byron Stripling classes to do. I'll be glad when I can stop writing and start applying all that I learned from these great players / teachers in my daily practice.
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Derek Reaban
Tempe, Arizona
Tempe Winds / Symphony of the Southwest
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