Bryan Edgett's weekend with Leon Merian
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Bryan Edgett" <[email protected]>
> To: <[email protected]
> Subject: Repost: My weekend with Leon Merian
> > Dear Leon,
> > Here is a repost of that which I posted to TPIN. Thanks again for a
> > great lesson, a great performance, and being such a wonderful person.
> > Warmly,
> > Bryan
> > The university at which I teach allocates a small amount of money
> > each year for faculty development. This year, I decided that I wanted
> > to take some lessons with folks whose approach to teaching was
> > markedly different from that which I received through formal
> > training. All of my teachers were predominantly classical players. I
> > was left to figure most of the physical stuff out for myself.
> > I did okay and have managed as a pro, playing well enough to land
> > two
> > full-time college jobs and to get some significant free lance work.
> > I've had enough endurance for the work I've been called to do. But I
> > have felt that something was inefficient about my playing, and that I
> > had to work too hard, particularly in the higher register. No amount
> > of focus on sound or wind seemed to help.
> > I have corresponded with Leon several times privately about many
> > matters during the past 6 months or so. I was thrilled to know that
> > someone of Leon's pedigree and background found interest in TPIN.
> > Remarkably, we found a weekend that worked for us and I scheduled a
> > lesson with Professor Merian.
> > Leon was waiting for me early Saturday afternoon, coming out of his
> > door to flag me down when I seemed lost. When I arrived, he was
> > working out last minute details for his big band's performance on
> > Sunday and trying out a new horn. After exchanging pleasantries for a
> > while, he put me through his well-practiced examination. With about
> > 10 minutes of diagnostic tests, Leon identified several areas where I
> > was much less efficient than I should be. None of them had to do with
> > breathing (which he told me that I did correctly) or sound model. We
> > went to work on the setup, the corners (which I had thought that I
> > had in order) and some tonguing adjustments. We worked for nearly 3
> > hours.
> > I assumed that the lesson was over when Leon invited me to go
> > downtown to have a cup of coffee. We sat down at a restaurant to
> > discuss more of his pedagogy, his observations about my playing, and
> > the like, and left two hours later. To say that Leon is a master
> > teacher would be a vast understatement. His diagnostic skills are
> > keen, his prescriptions direct, accurate and clear, and his follow-up
> > acute and meaningful. Were I living anywhere near Sarasota, I'd study
> > from Leon regularly regardless of the cost (which was extremely
> > modest given what a person of his experience could charge.)
> > I had arranged my lesson in order to be in town when his big band
> > was
> > performing. Due to some serious health concerns, Leon had been out of
> > commission for quite a while with Sunday's big band concert serving
> > as his first foray into public performance in a year and a half. Leon
> > and his big band were featured at a local restaurant that promotes
> > live music. The venue was somewhat small but jammed to the gills with
> > people eager to hear Leon and his band, a group comprised of 15 guys,
> > some of whom had played for name bands (Duke Ellington, Harry James,)
> > and some younger guys including Leon's students. The band played for
> > 3 hours with one break. Leon played all but a couple of tunes that
> > featured the band. The sound that he gets from that instrument simply
> > has to be heard to be believed. Beautiful lyricism, individual style,
> > and fiery up-tempo energy characterized Leon's sound on Sunday. And
> > this was his first time back in more than a year.
> > Leon will be 79 in a few weeks. I could only wonder how many folks
> > who faced the illnesses and the surgery that Leon faced at that point
> > in life would have loved music enough to get back into the kind of
> > shape necessary to play as he played?
> > Most remarkably, Leon not only loves music, he loves people. He
> > greeted the majority of people who came to hear him personally,
> > warmly sharing mutual joy. That Leon is a wonderful person is
> > apparent to all who know him. Perhaps you will recall that in the
> > recent past, he endured the kind of insults on TPIN that drove other
> > pros from the list. (Those of you who have been on the forum for a
> > while will remember some of the more widely publicized cases.) But he
> > stayed in spite of the cheap shots demonstrating a tenacity rarely
> > seen among those whose accomplishments are as far reaching as Leon's.
> > I will remember this weekend forever. Leon is a legend, a great
> > teacher, a wonderful player, and an even better person. His
> > biography, which I reviewed earlier, is a terrific read. His CD is
> > well worth hearing. And if you get to meet him or hear him play live,
> > don't miss the opportunity.
> > Warm regards,
> > Bryan Edgett