An Easy Way To Improve Your Tone and Health

I’m sure that most of you clean your horns at least once a week. SURE YOU DO!! I have to admit that the hygiene routine on my instruments is not what it should be but one area you should address at least once a week is your mouthpiece. Studies have been done to determine how much of a health risk is to neglect the cleanliness of a trombone mouthpiece and it was found that many trombone performers are now contracting respiratory infection because of unclean trombone mouthpieces. It is true that a trombone player is at a greater risk from…

Becoming a More Musical Performer Part 3

The Construction of Musical Phrases A musical phrase is similar to a sentence in a story. Both are part of a larger whole and is important in effectively telling of the story. By themselves, each will have little impact but when combined with other sentences or musical phrases, the story becomes complete. Too often when players approach a solo, they only consider getting from the first note to the last with the least amount of errors. What true artists strive for is to carefully construct a dialog of information which will comprehensively inform the listener of the complete musical story.…

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Becoming a More Musical Performer Part 2

Musical Changes in Tempi Tempi can be altered just as dynamics in order to be more musical. Many times we play a solo as if we were playing a march. We start at this tempo and we will stick to it to the end, regardless of what anyone thinks. When I speak of improving musicianship through the speed of a performance I am not concerned with the beginning tempo and the major changes at new sections. What I will be addressing in this post are the subtle tempo changes within a phrase and in some cases between adjoining notes. These…

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Becoming A More Musical Performer- Part 1

Dynamics vs. Intensity Have you ever wondered why some musicians are more interesting to listen to than others? Have you wanted to learn the secret to true musical expression? Both of these questions should be asked from time to time as we practice our art. Playing music and playing music in a musical style can be miles apart and while pondering this issue, I decided to focus on just one aspect of musical playing- dynamics. Playing with dynamics adds a greater depth to any musician’s performance. Performing a solo without dynamics is like eating a good steak without any seasoning.…

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Three Easy Steps to Becoming a More Musical Performer

One of my most technically advanced students was without doubt the least musical. I have also had the privilege of working with students who exhibited great musical sensitivity and were technically challenged. Wouldn’t it be great to be one of the gifted who has been able to combine both attributes? There are many who exhibit this gift and we, mere humans watch in envy at their ability. Enough with the poetic license, lets get to the good stuff. Great musical performances do not happen by accident. Every accomplished performer has spent decades striving for perfection in their art. What makes…

How To Learn To Improvise From A Book

My first post in this series dealt with the contrasting characteristics of musicians wishing to learn to improvise jazz. The first example was the musician with the creative attitude for life and the second deals with the type of person who is more analytical. Learning to improvise jazz tends to fall in these two camps and if you are the type of person that enjoys plotting your trips with suitcases filled with maps, this is the post that might help you the most. Improvisation can be taught through exercises which develop repetitious phrases and rhythmic patterns which when placed in…

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Learning To Improvise Jazz Using The Creative Side of Your Brain

If you are the creative, spontaneous type of musician, you definitely have an advantage over the analytic or practical type of person. You are more able to create lines than the musician who is more characteristically able to re-create music from the page. I am not trying to convince you that there are no musicians who are able to do both (create and re-create music) for there are many. Wynton Marsalis and Allen Vizzutti are two very gifted trumpet players who are able to bridge the gap between the creative and the re-creative side of music. Unfortunately this honorable fraternity…