My Lesson With Alex!

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Eclipsehornplayer, Jan 24, 2006.

  1. Eclipsehornplayer

    Eclipsehornplayer Forte User

    2,378
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    Sep 14, 2005
    Metro Detroit
    Fellow TM’ers

    I thought I’d share with you what my weekend was like. As some of you may know I’ve been on the site fishing around like many of you for info on how to be a better player. I never had private instruction when I was younger so growing up all I had were the few pearls of wisdom that my band directors in grade school and Jr. High School gave me since I never made it to High School.

    I recently had a chance to work with our very own Alex (Trompetvrouw) over this last weekend. We were able to get our schedules to align with each other and I was able to meet with her for a session lasting a couple of hours. I’m lucky in that I live about 1 ½ hours south west of her so it’s a little bit of a drive but well worth it.

    Alex has been kind enough to work with me over the last several months constructively using technology. I’d post video of me playing on my website, send her a link, and she’d let me know what needed to be adjusted.

    When I arrived I was greeted warmly, and after a brief security check by her cats I was cleared for my lesson. We sat down and got after it. She played my 1966 King Silver Flair for a few moments and wow what a sound! I can’t wait for the day when I can make my horn sound like she did. Her playing was beyond doubt some of the sweetest sounding playing I’ve ever heard.

    She started me out by working with me on the Jim Thompson Buzzing method using the B.E.R.P. I must admit by my own ignorance that if a friend of mine were to try to get me to work with these things I’d have been much more skeptical about it. They seem so elementary, but wow do they make a difference. After buzzing some of the exercises she had me put my mouthpiece back into my trumpet and play them again. Holy cow! I had a sound that was beyond belief for me. I always thought that I had a pretty fair sound but this was the first time that I really filled a note so to speak. I really find it hard to explain, it was just big and full and ringing; not loud or over blown.

    Unlike my first lesson that I posted about with the professor over at Columbus State University here in Columbus, Georgia my lesson with Alex seemed more like an afternoon between old friends just having fun. From the bottom of my heart Alex I say thank you!

    We played a couple of duets that were a lot of fun and I just really enjoyed myself. I came away with an unforgettable experience which I will continue to re-enforce with good study habits. I can’t wait until Alex and I can meet again, I think that the biggest complement that I can pay her is to come back an improved player and I will!

    As a side note I’ll share that Alex and I met on Saturday, and my community band practice is on Monday night. After rehearsal our conductor Dr. George Corradino pulled me aside and said to me that he noticed that the 3thd trumpet section really sounded sharp, and that he was glad that I had joined. He said that I was making a great contribution to the band! Wow, I was floored. All I could think was thank you Alex! I told George that I have been working on my music at home practicing it but also that I had sought out a teacher to help me along. He said that I should continue what ever it is that I’m doing because it’s obviously working. He then shocked me by suggesting that I should come and practice with the Big Band that he leads here in town. What an honor indeed.

    After our lesson Alex treated me to another unforgettable moment. We celebrated my new found revelation with a shot and a cigar. I consider myself among the LUCKY to be sure. Alex is a consummate lady and wonderful person. I’m double blessed in that not only is she my mentor/teacher, but I also get to call her friend! I think that I’m more geeked about that then anything else.

    Thank you friend!
     
  2. Alex Yates

    Alex Yates Forte User

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    6
    Aug 11, 2005
    Atlanta, GA
    Hey John, thank you for such a sweet and glowing "review". The pleasure was all mine and I am glad I could help. You are always welcome here.

    That horn you have is sahweet! I love it! It plays better than my Bach 37 by a long shot. Hold it closely because I might do a switcharooni on you next time you visit. ;-)

    John, you are on the right track and sound great. I again thank you for sharing your experience and I am happy you came away feeling like you accomplished quite a bit.....because you did! I am very proud of you and look forward to hearing you again.

    BTW, did you try the practice mute I loaned to you? What do you think? I was curious if you felt a difference.

    Stick to it and great things will keep happening! :grouphug:
     
  3. Eclipsehornplayer

    Eclipsehornplayer Forte User

    2,378
    5
    Sep 14, 2005
    Metro Detroit
    I only spoke the truth Alex, thank you.

    Yes, the mute is great I’ll be ordering one shortly and then I’ll return yours to you in short order.

    A funny thing I’ll share with you. You know how the mute has that small spill hole if you will in the end of it. I noticed that a small stream of air comes out of there depending on how hard you blow.

    My third trumpet counter part, a very accomplished musician whom I have great respect for Bob, was looking at it in my case. I suggested he give it a try. He could not even hear himself play. It was very funny, understand he is in his early 80’s and has been playing 70 years or so. My theory is that he doesn’t have the wind that he once might have had.

    I put the mute in my horn and started playing, and although the Shhhhhh Mute was very quiet it was about 10 times more audible then when Bob played in it. I was even moving music on his stand as the spill hole was shooting the air I was moving through the horn into his music.

    It was soooooo funny. The look on his face… Let’s hear it for the B.E.R.P. my new found friend.
     
  4. Derek Reaban

    Derek Reaban Mezzo Piano User

    609
    1
    Jun 16, 2005
    Tempe, Arizona
    John,

    That sound you experienced during your lesson with Alex is a glimpse of what you can sound like all of the time. Keeping that sound in your mind when you play is the key. Cultivating that sound daily using Buzzing Basics (or other balance / centering approaches like Stamp or Caruso) will allow you to transform your sound, and experience that same vibrant, ringing, colorful sound that Alex has.

    That’s a great description of the sound you experienced! You might enjoy an article I wrote called Resonant Sound. This will give you more to consider as you are trying to recreate that sound away from your lesson.

    I’m also a big advocate of the James Thompson material. When I first started with this material I crashed and burned because my approach was off the mark. I have written some posts about what I have found to be very important when beginning working with Buzzing Basics (now called the Buzzing Book), to helpfully highlight “danger zones†that I uncovered myself. Alex will certainly guide you down the right path, but reading some of my posts might help to reinforce some areas worth considering. Open the folder about the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Trumpet Section and scroll down to the 3rd post. When you see the Buzzing Book picture, peruse through the links called Reference One through Four.

    As you get into Buzzing Basics you will discover that flow rate is far less important than simply releasing the air. When I see what you’ve written here, please know that this approach to the air will potentially lead you away from the sound that you experienced in your lesson. “Let†the sound happen! Don’t blow harder to get to that sound!

    Here’s another post that you may enjoy: How to sound brilliant in a wind ensemble.

    Congratulations on your path to finding the sound that you’re looking for. It sounds like your director is taking notice of your initiative! Good luck!
     
  5. Eclipsehornplayer

    Eclipsehornplayer Forte User

    2,378
    5
    Sep 14, 2005
    Metro Detroit
    Derek,

    Thanks for the additional tips. I'll most certainly keep them in mind.

    I didn't mean to over state the whole mute thing. I'm certainly not playing fff I guess that I'm just now learning after 27 years or so how to move air.

    It was quite a revalation, however your advice on the matter is noted.

    Thanks so much.
     
  6. tromj

    tromj Piano User

    363
    7
    Jun 4, 2005
    Teaneck, NJ
    Alex, do you recommend using the BERP always when using ther Thompson buzzing basics?
    And while we're at it, maybe it's tme for an Alex Yates forum?
     
  7. Alex Yates

    Alex Yates Forte User

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    6
    Aug 11, 2005
    Atlanta, GA
    I answer YES to this question and I will tell you why. When you are buzzing, you should have the horn up to your face to emulate playing the horn. Jim is a fervent believer that we do not "blow" the same when just holding the mouthpiece to our face. Instead of aiming way out in front with our air, we (psychologically) tend to blow just a few inches in front of the mouthpiece. It is better for the muscle memorization to do these exercises with the trumpet in your hands to reinforce the technique. "Tooting" on the mouthpiece alone just is not as beneficial.
     
  8. trjeam

    trjeam Pianissimo User

    109
    2
    Dec 5, 2003
    Maryland

    My teacher also has me do things that seem so elementary, that if it wasn't for him i would never practice. But it's funny how the basic and simple things seem to be what make the difference.
     
  9. dizforprez

    dizforprez Forte User

    1,097
    1
    Nov 2, 2003
    Keep at it man, it seems like you are on the right track. ;-)

    Sometimes seeing improvement isn’t so much about pushing the high end of what we can do, but brining up the low end of our abilities.
     
  10. gregc

    gregc Mezzo Piano User

    546
    3
    Apr 5, 2004
    New York, U.S. of A.
    Sounds like you had a great trip all round, John. Interesting read. I'm one who has been avoiding buzzing and the BERP. I'll have to investigate that with someone who realy knows what they're doing. My current teacher doesn't seem to come from that camp. I don't remember ever buzzing seriously.
     

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