My teaching philosophy is grounded in the practice of developing oneself into a COMPLETE MUSICIAN. A complete musician is someone who goes above and beyond mere skills acquisition that practicing musicians spend so many hours developing. In order to fully understand the music, we must appreciate both the internal and external factors that influenced the creation of that particular piece of music. These factors could include personal circumstance, environmental influence, and political pressures. In combination with the printed notation, all elements combine to allow for a well-informed performance rooted in factual interpretation and musical styling. As an educator, I strive to inspire my students to elevate their expectations through my example as a complete musician.
The complete musician must be able to articulate the language of music in a way that properly expresses the musical intentions of the piece. Applied lessons and subsequently the individual practice that follows reinforce the skills necessary to communicate what your musical intentions are to be. In our lessons I ask that students explore four aspects of their musical abilities that will improve their facility as musicians. I strongly believe that if one is cognizant of each aspect, then through diligent practice they will acquire the skills necessary to play any musical example.
- The first and most important aspect is the Breath. Performing
on a wind instrument (such as the trumpet) requires that we are
as efficient and effective as possible with our air stream. Without
proper execution of breathing we will find all other aspects of
performance difficult to refine.
- Secondly, we must focus on the instant when the sound is first
produced. The Attack must be clean and controlled. There are
many variants on the type of attack required and we must explore
and perfect each of these in order to properly present the
composer’s intentions as marked in the music.
- The third aspect is perhaps the most personal and consequently,
the most difficult to teach. I call this the Body, which refers to our
sound. Although every performer should be encouraged to develop
their own personal sound there are several attributes that can be
found uniformly among professional players. I have researched
this topic extensively for my article published in the June 2008
International Trumpet Guild journal. All of my students are strongly
encouraged to equally explore the many facets that accompany
this aspect of musicianship.
- The final aspect refers to the Release. Far too many student
musicians neglect this aspect as an integral part of performance.
The release is the last thing the audience will hear and the way in
which it is treated can drastically alter the perception of the
performance. As with the attack, there are numerous ways in
which this can and should be explored.
I stress upon all my students that careful and guided exploration of these topics can adequately prepare them for any performance situation that may arise. Observing this simplification of the complexities required for musical performance can give organization to your practice sessions as well as a sense of optimism for the potential to become a complete musician. With the proper strategy and a lot of hard work, we all can benefit from the positive effects that music can have on all of us.