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Some Vincent Cichowicz Questions


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FTee
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 31, 2003 6:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have to throw out a few thoughts here, given that I studied with both Luther and VC for some time. First, a confession: I am not the biggest VC fan, so take what I say with that it mind. Second, I agree with what weekend warrior had to say about shelling out a lot of shekels to go to NU and not having lessons with VC more than once or twice a month. That was personally okay with me, because I liked Luther (and was very sad to hear of his death -- we played a wedding together not long before he died, and he was a perfect gentleman).

Nevertheless, the biggest problems with the VC era at NU (from an undergrad's perspective) were (1) there was a definite bias toward grad students, despite the fact that at the time I was there the undergrad class had some powerhouse players, and (2) that VC did not teach excerpts to undergrads until far too late. In the modern audition world, a student simply cannot compete unless he or she knows the tunes. My evidence for this is the fact that precious few VC students from the late '80s on have won jobs (myself included), as compared to Eastman/NYC students (before Babs and Chuck came to NU). You can play "flow studies" until you're blue in the face -- that alone, in my opinion, is not going to be successful.

I guess I better cover my derrier now, since my comments are bound to offend few people. Regardless, my comments are meant respectfully to those who revere VC.

Happy New Year.
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_Don Herman
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 31, 2003 8:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

FTee -- One question/comment. Not being a music major and having virtually no "legit" experience until subbing in an orchestra a couple of years ago (still subbing with them), I have an ignorant question: I thought much of the material later in the Flow Studies book was based upon excerpts and other commonly required passages? Is that a misconception on my part?

Curious - Don
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Atomlinson
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 31, 2003 11:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's rare to find someone who makes negative comments about V.C.'s teaching methods at NU, but we should be willing to accept that a few people were dissatisfied given the large numbers of students involved over many years.

Don, the "Flow Studies" don't contain much in the way of orchestral excerpts, they are mainly etudes taken from many sources. (The revised edition by Larry Knopp has five Bach chorales and an excerpt from Bizet's Carmen Suite No.1 and an excerpt from Wagner's Tannhauser overture)

I have no personal experience, but from what I've read in the few published articles that I have seen, and from comments of former students my understanding is that V.C. didn't believe in working on repertoire and orchestral excerpts until he was satisfied that the "basics" of trumpet playing had been mastered.

Perhaps Kevin Good can throw more light on this issue.

Happy New Year everyone.

Andrew Tomlinson

[ This Message was edited by: Atomlinson on 2004-01-01 02:50 ]

[ This Message was edited by: Atomlinson on 2004-01-17 02:28 ]
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romey1
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 01, 2004 9:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I studied with Cichowicz at NU, and although he wasn't able to address the physical problems I was having at that time, I apply the essence/ "simplicity" of his apprach to making music today.

As far as the previous comments about VC not addressing the excerpts - I STRONGLY believe that if the fundamentals are mastered, the excerpts will take care of themselves. That being said, mastering the excerpts takes quite a while and is process that shouldn't be put off.

Lots of the VC students would "get addicted" to the flow studies - playing them for 30-40 minutes before even adding articulation. This is too long a time to wait before adding articulation into the mix. It is also important for the student to "think for themselves," and not rely on being "spoon-fed." In the end, you need to become "your own teacher."

Cichowicz has a wonderful musical approach, and he is the ultimate teacher for those who have their chops/set-up in good working order. If you are having chop problems, I would seek someone else to help you, since embouchure is never addressed in the VC lessons.

Kevin Good's comments are "right-on."

romey

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[ This Message was edited by: romey1 on 2004-01-01 12:32 ]
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_Don Herman
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 01, 2004 9:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good comments, guys,, -- thanks!

A: I did pull my book, and sure enough they feel more "etudish" than "excerptish"...

R: Yeah, too much on any one thing is usually bad. Gotta' be pretty well rounded to be a trumpet player! No pressure, just have to be able to do everything perfectly...

Toodles - Don
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FTee
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2004 7:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I should clarify my earlier comments -- it's not that I think flow studies are bad, or useless for that matter. However, I think they're overrated. In my personal experience, I felt that they were forced down my throat even though they didn't do much for me. I came to NU as a confident player, and by the time I reached my second year I had a complex about starting notes, thanks to VC telling me that I didn't start notes properly (which was a lot of horse-dung). I was then put on a steady diet of flow studies, which was about as much musical fun as playing a concert band arrangement of the best of Disney.

Contrary to many people's wonderful experiences at NU, I felt that I was being shoehorned into a "method" whether I needed it or not. Sorry, folks, that was my feeling then and it's my feeling now. My opinion on this topic was cemented during a Herseth lesson on Smith #23 (?, the lyrical one), when I missed the first high C#. He took my horn and played the living crap out of the first page. Referring to the note I missed, he said something to the effect of "tongue the god-damned note harder." I told him that I had been taught not to think about things in those terms, and he said "Look, when you're sitting there on the stage, you do what it takes to play the note. If tonguing harder works, then do it. There's no book on how to play the trumpet. Anybody who tells you that there is, is wrong." That was the single most cathartic lesson I ever had on the trumpet.

Again, I know many people swear by VC's teaching, and I totally respect that. Many of them are friends of mine. However, I feel it's important to give another view of his legacy, if for no other reason than to paint a more accurate and complete portrait of the man's teaching. I assure you that I'm not the only student of his who feels this way. He has a lot of great things to offer, and certainly was a fine player and pedagogue, but it's unfortunate (in my view) that he became dogmatic later in his career.
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Atomlinson
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2004 10:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

FTee, your reference to the Walter Smith "Top Tones" reminded me of something Frank Kaderabeck said in an interview a few years ago:

"I put etudes and solos above excerpts for practicing. I feel if you can make great music with an etude it makes excerpts much easier. A Walter Smith etude in C on a C trumpet is harder than any orchestral excerpt in the entire literature. If you can make these sound easy, then musical excerpts are a piece of cake."

ITG Journal Dec 1996 page 11


Andrew Tomlinson
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Kevin Good
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 03, 2004 7:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry I haven't followed up on my earlier posts. Well, actually I did, and quite eloquently, for me, anyway, but I "thought" I hit the submit button and it just vanished.

I'd love to blame my friggin' computer, or the server, or maybe even John Ashcroft and Boy George, but I suspect the real issue is "operator error".

I'll try to repost asap.

KG
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Kevin Good
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 04, 2004 8:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's been awhile, so I'm not sure where to pick this up.

To answer questions- I was playing on this Bach 1C that I had thrown on a lathe. I knew nothing about machining and even less about the acoustics of mthpc design, but hey!, what the heck....so I carved out a second cup...a V cup in the bottom of my 1C. I also opened up the throat.....18 sounded like a good number...at least I could see that it was clearly larger that stock. I stuck it in the horn and played it. WOW!! It was BIG!...It was DARK!!....move OVER, Bud!!

Of course, playing high C's was really WORK, but that's the price you pay for ahuge sound, right?

..long story short....VC gave me a box of 3C's and told me to find one that worked. I bitched and whined, but I had an audition coming up, so there was no time to screw around. I switched, cold turkey, and continued bangin' away on the list. I was quite shocked to realize that after a week or ten days, my sound was virtually indistinguishable from when I was playing the other mthpc.

PAF!...another myth...up in flames.

Anyway-back to VC and lessons-

In re-reading some of the posts, there has been some question as to the role of flow studies. Obviously I can't speak of anyone else's experience other than my own, but these were included in each lesson as a kind of diagnostic/prescriptive tool for assessing where the "breath mechanism" was on that particular day, and how to get it working at an optimum level.Vince kept telling me to "let go" of the air, and from that I inferred that somewhere in the chain, I had some tension he could see or hear. I tried, and he continued telling me I was "gripping" the air ( if my memory is accurate). I continued trying and in doing so, I came upon something that may be obvious to everyone else, but it wasn't to me.


I'm going to stop here and send this before the server "times me out" and I loose all this again.

KG
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Kevin Good
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 04, 2004 9:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

...continued from earlier post...


I came to understand that if you want to change something you've always done...you shouldn't expect to know, on a physical level, what it will FEEL like when you arrive a something better. You can only trust your ears, and when you really think about that and about how much time you could waste NOT paying CLOSE attention when you're trying to change some aspect of the playing you've known for ten or twenty years, well, you tend to pay attention and you listen differently.

I am not a patient person. Some would say "TYPE A Personality", so I wanted to figure this out....NOW!!!

So I tried different things....not slight changes in what I already knew, but HUGE changes to the way I played. Not major embouchure changes or anything like that, but MAJOR shifts in emphasis in the way I used the air, arms, tongue, and chops. I LET GO and simply played lines of connected air that happened to have notes, fingerings, and rhythms imposed on them. Shaping the air became nearly the ENTIRE focus of what I was trying to do. I knew the notes, so I didn't use music for much of anything, and once I "unhooked" from the way I had always practiced and played, things changed. I practice for 30-60 minutes at a time with the lights off or my eyes closed, simply to feel and own the relationship between air and arms, arms and aperture, aperture and sound. You get the idea. This was a different kind of practicing than I had ever done before and it really worked.

I still did my warm-up/maintenance routine VC and I had arrived at, but after that, I was doing something that felt like a mixture of singing, dancing, and jazz. I shaped the excerpts, because I was playing more than just the notes I had always struggled with.I guess what I'm trying to say is that the notes became a means to an end, rather than an end in themselves, if that makes any sense. In somehow "getting past the stand", my playing became more integrated in the "inner game of tennis" sense and I stopped thinking of individual techniques and just "served the ball". I still missed a note here and there, but I trusted myself to know what to do, and mostly, it worked.

I hope this is not so abstract as to sound like new age jibberish, because to me, it's pretty clear.

The words just get in the way sometimes.

One point I want to mention, or should I say, amplify. I have been teaching at U. of Mich. for about twenty years, and I have noticed that few students seem to easily get the idea of using flow studies as a way of increasing their understanding and use of air. Too often, these studies are approached in a kind of passive, mezzo-mezzo way, and, in terms of "letting go" of tension, they're OK for that.

But if these studies aren't aggressively used for expanding the breath use at ALL dynamic levels, even extremes for which there is no musical or expressive justification, much of the benefit will be missed.


That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

KG


PS- I realize it's pretty goofy for me to try to represent all that Vince did for people because, as another list member noted, each player was treated differently. I think what most of his students came away with was some real insight into their own playing and some valuable tools to help them develop and mainting what they have.
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robert_white
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2004 9:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mr. Good,

You really hit on something that I've been thinking of while reading this thread, and that is the "leap of faith" required of any student who would achieve great progress as a student. I encountered this when I started working with John Rommel.

So many teachers - legendary or not - are weighed in the balance of "do their students have jobs" or "will he/she teach you how to win auditions", etc. The essential point is this: teachers don't win auditions for their students. Teachers don't play the horn, make decisions, or live life for their students. The student is his/her own real teacher. Having your mind blown apart by someone and having to completely reevaluate how you look at things is often very beneficial! But, you have to be open and willing to "leap"!

That may mean that you don't win a big job by the time you're 22, but if that's your whole motivation to begin with, good luck...

When students feel that they were somehow let down, or sold up short by a teacher, it takes real courage to ask the question "what did I have to do with this situation not succeeding?" However, once this is asked of one's self, even teachings that are many years behind us can start to have profound effects on what we do.

Anyway, I really enjoy your posts, Mr. Good. Thanks for your insights!

Bob
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FTee
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2004 10:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mr White,

I assume that your post is a veiled reference to my comments, so I reply herewith: my contribution to the "situation not succeeding" at NU was not realizing that I was studying with the wrong teacher. I screwed up by not transferring to a teacher who would actually have helped me. As far as asking Vince to live my life for me (which you seem to imply), I never did, and somehow I still managed to do pretty well in spite of his teaching. And I say that in light of your comments about winning a job being one's sole motivation. That was never my sole motivation -- I chose to leave the music profession because I actually wanted to experience other things in life besides music, and I didn't want to take auditions until the age when my teeth and I no longer sleep in the same bed together. Plus, health insurance is a nice thing to have.

As far as Vince "blowing my mind apart," I'm glad that I didn't let him get that far. I wouldn't have wanted it. Any success I had on the trumpet was due solely and completely to my own hard work and the instruction of my other teachers; it had nothing to do with VC. If it bothers you that I feel that way, so be it. I have spent a good deal of time trying to be fair to Vince, but when I am honest with myself, I don't feel that I should apologize for being frustrated at his unwillingness to bend his dogma. (Maybe that dogma is what helped him survive his last few years at the CSO.) For having a reputation as someone who was so sensitive to his students' needs, he was the most inflexible teacher I ever had.

Finally, I don't think I lack the "real courage," as you put it, to ask myself about my relationship with Vince. Far from it. I think that, in reality, you are bothered by my frankness about a man who spent a good deal of time cultivating an aura of guru-ness. As an 18 year old kid, I went to NU against the advice of my main teacher, and went there with an open mind. I tried to find real value in my lessons with Vince. It didn't work. Only after deconstructing the ridiculous flow studies house of cards upon which most of my education at NU was based was I able to play again with confidence and authority.

Again, I acknowledge that many people found Vince to be the greatest thing since Medicare, but he was not for me, and I do not choose to blame myself for that.
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extromba
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2004 10:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just wanted to second the comments of my esteemed colleague Mr. FTee. The only additional thoughts I have to add to this splendid discussion is that I seem to remember certain former trumpet players in the CSO referring to the flow-studies and other mind-numbing colloquialisms from Mr. VC as mental masturbation. In fact I believe that the phrase "paralysis by analysis" was often used. The only other great bit of insight I have to add is that I too took a few lessons from former VC students (as well as a few from VC himself)...the mind games that they played with me resulted in a near complete physical and mental breakdown of my playing. It wasn't until I chose to break ties with these individuals and seek the help of a teacher (who was a player rather than a pedagogue) that I was able to got past the mind games and back into actually playing the horn, (well might I add.)

As Mr. FTee stated, I fully understand that my comments may be blasphemous to many VC followers. My point is not to incite a riot but simply to point out that there are differing views on the legacy of VC.


[ This Message was edited by: extromba on 2004-01-05 13:47 ]

[ This Message was edited by: extromba on 2004-01-05 13:48 ]
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robert_white
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2004 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

FTee,

I'm afraid that you've misconstrued the intent of my message.

I meant only to bring up some thoughts that have occured to me as I've read the discussion on this thread. This certainly includes your comments, but it also includes the many other people that have weighed in on this topic. As far as a "thinly veiled" address to you personally, that's simply not the case, though I can see how it may have seemed so. I apologize for not making that clear to begin with.

If you took anything I said personally, or were hurt by it, again I apologize. This was not my intent at all, and I certainly didn't mean to suggest that your bad experience at NU was "all your fault". It's clear that your experience with Vince C. was not positive, and I in no way dispute your right to put your experience forth on this forum, nor do I doubt the sincerity of your sentiments. I've had negative experiences with lots of teachers, some of which still burn - as it seems yours from NU still do. For this I have nothing but empathy. In fact, I applaud the fact that you had the courage and presence of mind to find something else to focus on in your life. So many professional musicians are so terribly unhappy; I often wonder why more people haven't made the same decision!

Having never studied with Vince Chichowicz, I really have no investment in his reputation. It's of no consequence to me if he is revered or hated by his students. Like any prominent teacher, there are lots of representatives in both camps, I'm sure. But suffice it to say that whether someone speaks highly or lowly of him on this forum - neither would "rankle" me since he was never my teacher. My comments were much more general, I thought. Clearly I touched a nerve, though. For that I'm sorry.

Ultimately, I only wanted to bring another stream into the discussion, and to connect it with Kevin Good's post, which I thought was a really good one.

Best wishes, FTee, and no hard feelings (I hope!)

Bob White



[ This Message was edited by: robert_white on 2004-01-05 22:52 ]
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Kevin Good
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2004 5:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would be most interested in knowing both why and how VC, an accomplished professional- respected both as a performer and a teacher should be "flexible" with an 18-20 year old student. Should he pretend something is in tune when it's not? Should he not say anything because the stylistic features of an excerpt were "close", but not really right? Should he patiently listen to the wisdom and experience of the 19 year-old "hot-dog" and somehow pretend that he didn't examine, experience, and discard many of those same concepts 40 years ago?

Sorry, but I expect a teacher to be inflexible. That's why I studied with him. I would really not want to study with a teacher who would be influenced by my "wisdom and experience". I he were, I would rightly wonder if I was studying with him or with the last genius that came through and "set him straight". I think my earlier post (regarding VC making me play Leonore over and over) illustrates what I'm talking about. He would NOT let me move on to other things until I learned the lessons offered BEYOND the notes. I thank God for that inflexibility, because it made me examine and learn some things that have served me well for a long time.

As far as the "physical and mental breakdown".....I'm truly sorry to hear that you had to go through that. Certainly the college years can be extremely intense for a young player. There is a great deal of searching.... in areas like sound, style, motivation, goals, reality, that are mostly abstract. For some students, this is a wonderful, exciting time...a time to dream of what might be possible and to work your ass off to get it. For others, it's a scary, insecure time with no simple answers or certain outcomes. Different people need different things and I'm sorry that your needs didn't match up with what Vince had to offer.

I would, however be interested in knowing what it was he said or did that trashed you so thoroughly, and I'm asking that for the benefit of both myself as a teacher and for my students as potential future "victims".

Also, please let us know how you got back on track and what kind of routine works for you.

....onward!!!

KG
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Mzony
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2004 11:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just wanted to add something to this thread. I did not study with V.C. but I certainly have many friends/colleagues who have. However, I studied with a teacher whose playing style was somewhat disimilar to my "ideal" style at times, and he certainly was far from the "norm" of playing. He was however an amazing performer, a principal player for over three decades, and an incredible teacher.
One of his strengths as a teacher was both his unrigid approach to certain things and his ability to let each of his students find their own voice.
He was not like V.C. in the sense that he would give a routine for a student to warm up with, practice with, etc. However, he had his list of things he felt all students should learn, and he had certain ways he liked for his students to play those things.
He offered an incredible history of performance practice and even perspective. He also provided, in the way of excerpts, an incredible amount of experiences of ways different conductors asked him to play certain things in different ways.
I became very aware that there were SOME things that I HAD to learn to do, whether I agreed with some of the concepts or not. As I become more experienced as a performer I am finding that I have thrown away precious little of the "pearls of wisdom" my teacher offered me. In fact, I find almost with each program we perform, that I hear his voice saying something to me...something he told me a long time ago. Sometimes I didn't understand what he was saying to me when he said them, sometimes I thought I did except that I am able to actually apply these concepts to my playing in a meaningful way now.
Most importantly though, I have found that with the things that I had to learnand the things that I did not necessarilly see the desire or even the point in learning...I use these things in my own way. I don't necessarily do things HIS way, but I have over time taken HIS concepts and applied them into my own personailty...making them my own.
In the past I could do things HIS way, and I could do things ANOTHER way. I am finding now with more experience I can combine the two and make it more my own...So for that I am thankful I got to work with a real fine human being, performer, teacher, who I didn't ALWAYS see eye to eye with.
In reading this, I am sure some people might think I am taking a shot at them...I am not...I promise. However, reading this thread made me think about this and I thought this might be an appropiate way and place to share a few thoughts.

Happy New Year,
Mike Z.
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romey1
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2004 5:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

FTee,

I also had a "1st note complex." One of the biggest things I learned from VC, was how crucial 1st notes are. The problem I had at the time, was that I was taking a huge "low-brass" breath that was disrupting my embouchure set - definitely a BIG problem. This was something that VC didn't address, but John Hagstrom did. Anyways I digress.....

Bob's comments weren't addressed at you, but in response to all the comments here.

romey
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extromba
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2004 8:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kevin:

Simply put, my "physical and mental breakdown" came about as a direct result from me over-analyzing every thing I was doing to make a sound come out of my horn (as instructed by the VC-ites and Vince himself). It was not until my principal teacher, a now former member of the CSO, got me to move past the analysis of what I did to get a sound to come out of the horn and to focus on what actually comes out of the horn. In retrospect, it was simply misplaced energy on my part. I was so paralyzed by analyzing every minute aspect of my playing (via flow-studies) that I lost sight of what really mattered...the music that was coming out of the other end of the horn. Once I shifted my focus to the music and how to make a good sound on the horn, everything else fell into place.

That being said, as you can glean from my user name, I am no longer a full-time player. For a number of reasons, I opted to take a different path, as did Mr. FTee. To this day, I would give my right arm and one kidney to be sitting in a trumpet section in a major symphony, but alas, it was not meant to be.
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FTee
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2004 8:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry, Mr. Good, I do expect a teacher to be flexible in approach. Not on issues of quality, but on how to approach a particular student. Referring to my earlier comments about Bud, I much prefer his view that there is no book on how to play the trumpet. Ivory tower self-assuredness to the contrary, when someone sits there in a lesson and tells me that I have a problem starting notes, when I don't have that problem, it pisses me off. It makes me think that the supposed genius is not that. How do I know that I didn't have a problem starting notes? Well, let's see, about four other players with great reputations never once even mentioned the quality of my note-starting. They spent time teaching me how to play with authority, style, musicality and integrity, not how to over-analyze starting notes.

If I am not mistaken, Mr Cichowicz left the CSO at a relatively young age, and I don't think it was because he was sick of the job. I have heard that he himself had trouble starting notes. That's why he would pass out on stage occasionally. I don't mention that out of spite, but as background relating to his teaching style. Perhaps he made his issue the foundation of his teaching. True, experiences like VC's can be a source of wisdom, but in my case it was a source of frustration.

Kevin, I did not go to NU as a "hot dog." I was a respectful, open-minded student who didn't have the confidence to ask the hard questions of myself at that time, questions that would have made me realize that VC was not for me. I don't have to apologize for that. VC was not, and is not, God. I, for one, am not so arrogant to presume that someone who is 18-20 years old does not possess the ability to recognize that a teacher's approach is not working. For God's sake, we expect young people to make adult decisions in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, do we not? To be sure, VC's experience, knowledge and talents are to be honored, and I did that in spades. If you read carefully my earlier posts, I acknowledge his effect on others, and there are a number of good things I took from his playing. Having said that, I had the right as a student (and later as a player) to question his approach. Every student does. Maybe teachers ought to take a humble look at their own self-assuredness once in a while. It might help them be better teachers. A teaching approach that cannot stand any critical examination ought to be questioned even harder.

Mr White, no offense taken. I like to throw an alternate view of things out there once in a while. I think it makes things more interesting. Romey1 and mzony, ditto.

extromba, how is it that you can so freely give away your body parts? I am sorry that things didn't work out. You were always a great player, and you carried on the (old) Chicago style with honor.

[ This Message was edited by: FTee on 2004-01-06 11:33 ]

[ This Message was edited by: FTee on 2004-01-07 15:40 ]
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Kevin Good
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Joined: 08 Oct 2003
Posts: 68

PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2004 5:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Having read your posts, I'd like to head off a potential pissing match. I'll start by pointing out two things that we seem to agree on.

1) that a teacher should be flexible in his approach to teaching, allowing for different physiology (lip, jaw, arms, etc.), different ability, different maturity, different goals, different exposure to prior teachers, and, no doubt, more. In other words, "honoring the student" to quote someone or other.

That's just good teaching. Period.

2) that a teacher should not be flexible on the more "objective" aspects of playing: intonation, notes, preparation of assigned materials, demonstrated effort in learning new techniques, concepts or materials, and, no doubt, more... In other words, demonstrating standards and requiring the student to come to terms with those things he/she doesn't do very well.

How else would a student learn the abstract things that make the difference between a musician and a technician.

I saw Vince and Luther doing both these things, all the time.

- - - side story - - -

As an aside, the "hot dog" student I referred to in my earlier post was not anyone on this list. It was a former student who was REALLY talented. The first lesson we had, he was prepared. He played a couple baroque transcriptions with a sound and style that were so exactly Maurice Andre, I was just floored. I had him play some other things and, they were not even close to the level of his picc. playing. So, like a good teacher, I tried to direct that in a positive way, while assigning him the things he would need to know to get a job: Excerpts, solos, etudes on the C and Bb horns. Well, lesson after lesson, he kept bringing in more and more great Maurice Andre tunes, and it was wonderful to listen to, and I don't mean by college freshman standards. It was GREAT! But he would not or could not prepare the materials I assigned to him. After awhile, I told him not to bring the picc to his lesson any more. He stopped showing up.
He was the best player I ever had to fail.
Was I wrong?

- - - end of side story - - -


You can see that these ideas are not mutually exclusive, but the bottom line here is that if a student is unwilling to do what his teacher tells him to do, even without fully understanding why he is being told to do it, well, that's just a waste of everybody's time.
I'm NOT accusing you of being that student. I AM saying that my experience with Vince was a major part of clearly understanding those two ideas and that if I had been presented with an "auto-pilot" "boilerplate" approach to trumpet teaching, I would not have wasted my time.


In undergraduate school, I had a HUGELY frustrating time on the issue of articulation. This was with Jim Darling of the Cleveland Orchestra and, again, he would NOT let up on my tonguing. It made me nuts! I worked my ass off and I still did not understand what he was hearing that I could not seem to do, so I just kept bangin' away, trying to integrate what I "thought" he was saying. I didn't know what else to do, because I was around some REALLY good players: Tom Booth (asst.Dallas), Bob Early (frmr asst.Montreal, 2nd in Philly) Dave Duro (Burning River Brass) Chuck Berginc (Principal, Phoenix -he's also the guy who pops out the double F#'s on "play that funky music whiteboy") Doug Anderson, and others I can't remember. Of course, none of these guys had jobs yet, but the fact that so many of JD's students were successful indicates that he knew a thing or two about teaching and that he did exactly the right thing in not moving the mark simply because I didn't get it. Eventually,and I'm talking about six months of intense and relentless work, it changed, but I really didn't figure out what I was doing till long after I had left Cleveland. The concept stuck and even though I did not appreciate it at the time, my understanding of these "pearls of wisdom" (to steal a phrase from Mzony)grew to the point where, years later, I understood them and owned them as tools I could use.

My point is that I DO know what it feels like to not connect with a teacher, but for me, that was motivation to dig deeper and figure out what was going on.

Maybe that's an important difference. By the time I got to NU, I had already studied with a couple of "youngsters" so to speak. JD was about 28 when I studied with him, and Don Green was about the same. These were two very different players, very different approaches, and I really learned alot from both of them. By the time I got to Chicago, I had seen and heard some wildly different styles, equipment uses, musical approaches, and attitudes. I carried this in with me the first time I saw Vince and I guess it would be silly of me to think that he didn't treat me differently than a college freshmen.

"Guru-like"...well,I never saw any of that.

Paralysis?!!..from flow studies?
I'm trying to understand that and I really can't...

BUT...


YOU know what you went through. YOU know what it felt like and what it sounded like.You describe it as paralysis, and that's enough for me to believe that regardless of what I might call it....it WAS paralysis to you, and that's what matters.

If you THINK you're stuck...you ARE stuck.

Now, don't hate me for saying this, but you go on to describe how much better your playing and your "head" got when you got away from Vince. Again, I believe you have no doubt that anyone who heard you would agree.
But as a fromer student of VC's my reaction is to shout: "SEE...it WORKS!!!".
To me, VC's message is NOT about flow studies, lyric playing, the wierd embouchure set he uses, any of the stuff that some players fixate on and can't get past. It's about the incredible power, both good and bad, of the gray matter between your ears. He goes to great length to show that wonderful, abstract thing to his students, and to some it must seem like "waxing your bean", to loosely paraphrase an earlier comment. To be more precise, the materials VC uses are a means to an end, and that end involves an INCREDIBLY active use of concentration. Flow studies are designed to free you up from worrying too much about fast notes or high notes, or even large intervals, so you can concentrate in great detail on what you're doing with the air inside you.For some people, connecting with their body to that extent is very foreign, so some people reject this process as being boring or too inactive. They have trouble understanding how it's possible to concentrate so HARD on music that's so EASY. It;s a skill very much like what it feels like to play a Haydn Symphony, count 128 bmeasures of rest and come in on a touchy entrance in tune and with a good sound. No, the notes aren't that hard or that high, but the ability to summon that kind of intense focus without summoning up all kinds of needless tension...well, THAT'S what I got out of playing easy flow and lyric studies for Vince.The studies weren't the point. The focus was....using what you need.....keeping other stuff out.
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