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The First Lesson



 
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PH
Bill Adam/Carmine Caruso Forum Moderator


Joined: 26 Nov 2001
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Location: Bloomington Indiana

PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2001 6:47 am    Post subject: The First Lesson Reply with quote

"In life everyone faces obstacles and challenges. There are certain very effective ways to meet and master those challenges. We are going to learn how to solve those problems by learning to play the trumpet."

This is a paraphrase of something Bill Adam told me the first time I came to his studio in 1972. It seemed a little mystical or at least hyperbolic at the time, but over the years this statement has become the most meaningful part of that first lesson.

Mr. Adam is a firm believer that the way you think dictates your eventual success or failure...not just in trumpet playing, but in everything. Accordingly, with most students he spends the majority of the first lesson talking rather than playing. He tries to lay a foundation of certain concepts that will be essential to your development as a player. The majority of this talk usually focuses on how your mind works and how your thinking dictates what your body does. He recommends several books on this, especially "Psychocybernetics" by Dr. Maxwell Maltz.

At all times Mr. Adam is very careful to choose words that create a certain attitude or mental image for the student. Sometimes this means using different terms than most brass players/teachers (for instance, we speak of "pronunciation" rather than "tongueing" or "attacks"). Also, Mr. Adam will never tell you what you are doing wrong. Instead, he will tell (or more often show) you what to do instead. Psychlogists know that you really can't break habits. What you can do is create a new and more efficient habit. Through repetition the new habit eventually becomes more natural than the old habit and your unconscious mind will choose the new habit because it is both more familiar and more efficient. All it takes is patience and repetition.

There are two other things that he usually includes in his introductory talk. One is a demonstration of how your mind works when you read your native language. He shows you that you don't read each letter and name them or sound them out phonetically. You look at the writing and automatically hear the word in your mind. In other words you speak the written word in your imagination without going through any intermediate steps. This is what you want to do when you read music. Don't count rhythm. Don't name the note or think of the fingering. See the note and sing the sound in your mind. This imagined sound is what plays the trumpet, not your analytical mind.

The other thing Mr. Adam usually includes in the first lesson is an explanation of how the trumpet really works-the physics and acoustics. An understanding of this helps enlighten how we approach the physical aspects of playing. I will elaborate on that in another thread soon.

<font size=1 class="small">[ This Message was edited by: PH on 2001-12-05 09:49 ]</font>


Last edited by PH on Thu Nov 23, 2006 6:39 am; edited 1 time in total
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Max Reverb
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2001 9:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What a breath of fresh air! AAAAAAHHHHHH! Looking forward to much more here!!!
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big brian
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2001 10:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

...

Last edited by big brian on Tue Dec 20, 2011 1:20 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Jim
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2001 12:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pat, Thanks for doing this Adam forum. My previous tutor was an Adam student and he helped me quite a bit; unfortunately, he now is pursuing a non-musical professional career. How would Adam have a student play Clarke 2? Would he suggest a big, fat sound or would he suggest playing it softly as did Clarke? Jim
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PH
Bill Adam/Carmine Caruso Forum Moderator


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2001 7:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mr. Adam always stresses that the first and main goal is a beautiful singing sound. When the sound is beautiful in all registers and at all dynamics you can be pretty certain that you are playing "properly". This beautiful relaxed tone can be achieved at any volume, but at first most people can only get a rich and resonant sound consistently by playing at a full volume (mf or louder).

Also, in the early stages of study there is usually a need to teach the student to constantly keep an energized flow of air through the sound at all times. This is also easier to achieve at first at a fuller volume. Many players unwittingly think of soft dynamics as restraining or holding back the air. This creates a lot of inefficiency and tension in the body and airflow.

Physical tension is the number one enemy of brass players. Of course it takes muscular activity to play a brass instrument and it certainly takes energy, but virtually all playing problems can be traced to a system that is out of balance where opposing muscle groups are "at war" (isometric) with one another or there is more effort than the desired musical result requires. Playing at a full volume with a copious energized flow of air is one of the keys to eliminating these tensions.
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4Him
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2002 4:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I recently had my first exposure to the Adam approach in a lesson with an Adam student. While the approach is dramatically different from what I have experienced for the past 35 years, it is intuitively meaningful and as someone else said in this thread, "a breath of fresh air..." For what it is worth, following are my impressions and interpretations following my first lesson.

Breathing- deep breath through the nose; this can be done quickly still filling the lungs
Lip Preparation, Mouthpiece Placement and Blowing- the positioning of the lips by articulating the consonant “M” leaves the lips in the appropriate position for playing. Maintain this lip position when the mouthpiece is gently brought to the lips. Keep the lips moist so that the mouthpiece can move around as needed while working to find the “sweet spot”. Begin the air flow by annunciating the “pooh” sound. This is an extremely gentle and free flow of air.
Muscular Tension, Consciousness and Sub-Conscious Conditioning- release the tension in the face, neck, shoulders and chest. For now, this needs to be a conscious effort (I believe in the future this will become a subconscious condition; in fact, it and all other thoughts about playing the trumpet need to become replaced by thoughts about sound and music). Stop thinking about playing trumpet as I know it from experience. From a meta-cognitive perspective, thinking about playing ultimately gets in the way of the music and the sound. Just put the horn to your mouth and blow (as quoted so many times throughout the forum)!
The Nature of the Beast (or the Trumpet) - the horn is engineered to produce notes. Too much blowing creates a “battle” with the natural tendencies of the instrument. (I probably need more information here to expand this train of thought into something more meaningful!)
More on Lips- the bottom lips provide a pillar of support for the mouthpiece. The upper lip should not be stretched thin by muscular tension in the corners thereby stretching the lip thin. More thickness in the upper lip provides more cushion and blood supply. The buzz comes from the soft tissue of the upper lip.
Teaching and Learning- I must become my own teacher with the guidance and coaching of a “kind and compassionate critic/mentor”. Developing through this process will be a function of my own self-observation and discovery along with the direction given by a teacher. Though we did not talk specifically (in the lesson) about this, I believe listening to music is also a critical component to being a musician. I think it helps on two levels. First, listening to great music takes you to the spiritual and emotional place internally where passion is kindled and rekindled. Secondly, it reminds you of what great music sounds like and feels like. For example, when I listen to Miles, I am reminded that there can be a spiritual and emotional connection to every note. When I listen to Winton, I am reminded that technically, it’s all possible. When I listen to Maynard, I am reminded that music can be vibrant and full of high energy.

Like I said, for whatever it is worth...

Ken


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The man that has no music in himself,nor is not moved with the concord of sweet sounds, is fit for treasons, strategems and spoils; the motions of his spirit are dull as night, and his affections are dark as Erebus: let no such man be trusted. Shakespeare

[ This Message was edited by: 4Him on 2002-01-05 05:35 ]

[ This Message was edited by: 4Him on 2002-01-05 05:38 ]
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grizzle
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PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2006 9:48 pm    Post subject: Was that a 15 min lesson or one of them 1/2 hour varieties? Reply with quote

4Him:

You got all that in one lesson? The teacher must have been giving one of those Levi-Strauss "Cover-All" lessons.

Kind of reminds me of Tim Galway in "The Inner Game of Tennis" where, early on, Galway tried to impart too much teaching and the student got her head tied up in the instruction instead of the result.

In my first lesson with Adam, which I have on tape, he talked about goal-orientation, physics, acoustics, mental perception (The F-Card, now in my wallet), exactly the stuff Mr. Harbison mentioned. We played some, too, and it was the polar opposite from one I had a month before with a major principal trumpet player (rhymes with Uncanny Borealis).

This is meant to be as respectful as possible: In 10 years, Adam never mentioned whetting my lips or mouthpiece, breathing through my nose, supporting the mouthpiece with my lower teeth, the cushioning of the upper lips providing the buzz, nor most of what you mention in your post.

It's just not what he does.

If he ever did start concentrating on those things, it'd be like him NOT telling a joke while you were there, a sure sign that he had been abducted by aliens for study (not a bad idea), and replaced with a mortal who sounded fine, didn't really know why that was, but tried to tell you anyway.

"Focus? And take our dimes, too?" Now that's an Adam lesson.
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Last edited by grizzle on Thu May 25, 2006 7:56 am; edited 1 time in total
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Billy B
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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 5:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Every student gets a different dose depending on the student.
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grizzle
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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 8:08 am    Post subject: First lesson Reply with quote

As always Mr. Bergren, a good point. I think my sarcasm got the best of me, to everyone's detriment.

The point I was trying to make was that this gentleman posted a detailed description about a lesson he received from someone other than Mr. Adam. To me, it seemed a very physically oriented lesson.

I should like to mention that I can recall observing 8 "First Adam Lessons" on roadtrips down there from Wisconsin. They were all very similar, and seemed to closely resemble the topics described by Pat in the original post (acoustics, goal orientation, physics, etc.).

Mr. Adam may touch on some these physical things later on with a student, as he did with me, as the student needs to hear it.
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trumpity
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 6:23 am    Post subject: Sound! Reply with quote

It's all about sound..mental sound. Do not take the focus away from hearing the most beautiful sound you can imagine and using the trumpet/medium to relay that beautiful sound.

Getting caught up in the physical will distract from the mental sound process.

Kim Petersen
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hbbja1
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PostPosted: Sun May 10, 2009 8:06 am    Post subject: Re: Sound! Reply with quote

trumpity wrote:
It's all about sound..mental sound. Do not take the focus away from hearing the most beautiful sound you can imagine and using the trumpet/medium to relay that beautiful sound.

Getting caught up in the physical will distract from the mental sound process.

Kim Petersen


I agree wholeheartedly. These are some of the most important things that I've learned from Adam. Just keep your mind in the sound.

John Almeida
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Billy B
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PostPosted: Sun May 10, 2009 8:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome John. It is good to have you and your experonce with Bill Adam on this forum.
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hbbja1
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PostPosted: Sun May 10, 2009 8:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, glad to be here.
Almeida

Billy B wrote:
Welcome John. It is good to have you and your experonce with Bill Adam on this forum.
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oldskool_trumpet
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 6:49 am    Post subject: GREAT ARTICLE Reply with quote

Playing an instrument is like playing a game of golf. Some days you just perform better than others. But a bad day on the golf course beats a great day at the office.
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Mongo434
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2011 12:38 pm    Post subject: Great stuff! Reply with quote

I'm so happy I found this thread! I have been sorely needing to refresh myself with Mr. Adam's concepts. Thanks!
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Ray Garmoe
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 08, 2013 8:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Truly enjoy this thread. I studied with an Adam student as an undergraduate and am enjoying a revisitation of these perspectives.
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Trumpetter
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 21, 2014 12:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

....
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ClassicSki
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2016 8:21 am    Post subject: I'm onboard here Reply with quote

Interesting post. I'm transferring from a recovery forum to this trumpet forum. Playing the trumpet can be good therapy.

Let me read this whole thread.
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theoldman
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 06, 2016 7:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Outstanding post. I remember most of what the best teachers had to teach. Unfortunately, I was stuck with a cousin of a friend who studied at a local college, he was rash critical and I recall mostly too much arrogance. I basically learned mostly from myself by listening to the greats on record (CDs) in high school and the band director was a strong jazz musician with the right musical attitude.
Then I taught a family friends and friend of that family how to play trumpet better... One of the guys went on to get 2nd place at their talent show, helped him build confidence fit high school. That was sort of a gift to the director that another outstanding trumpet player replaced my 1st chair spot.
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Billy B
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2018 3:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

https://www.shelllakeartscenter.org/trumpet-workshop-with-robert-baca
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