Sunday, July 05, 2009

Low Brass Boot Camp
Day Four

Our fourth day started with Mike Becker leading a group warm up session and going over breathing and sound concepts. Much of the discussion involved going over concepts from David Vining's The Breathing Book. Mike also had the students work on incorporating yoga techniques, while trying to be relaxed and balanced. After working on starting one note with the right kind of breath and sound, Mike had everyone apply the same principals to Hungarian March by Hector Berlioz. He emphasized the use of air and control over using heavy articulation.

Next, we were very fortunate to have a masterclass with Dr. Kelly Thomas. Kelly Thomas is the Tuba and Euphonium instructor at the University of Arizona and a renowned soloist. The focus of Dr. Thomas' class was on recital preparation. He discussed the importance of analyzing various reference recordings, knowing the score, recording yourself and doing as many mock performances as possible. Dr Thomas also distributed an outline entitled Strategies to Correct Pedagogy Problems. While he went over this topic, he ask for input from the students. Dr. Thomas' outline was broken down into these sections...

1. Poor Rhythm
2. Inefficient Embouchure
3. Poor Airflow
4. Poor Posture
5. Poor Finger/Tongue Coordination
6. Poor Sight Reading
7. Untrained Ear
8. Poor Intonation
9. Poor Preparation of Materials for Lesson
10. Double Buzz
11. "Choking" Before Attack of Note
12. Poor High Register
13. Poor Low Register
14. Nervous or Stage Fright Problem
15. Poor Single Tonguing/Multiple Tonguing
16. Poor Flexibility

The final part of his class was reserved for both tuba students to play for him and the class.

Day Four's session ended with breaking into three groups in preparation for a short mock audition. Mike Becker worked with the tenor trombones, I worked with the bass trombones and Kelly Thomas worked with the tubas. At the end of the day, Mike and I sat behind a screen while each student came in individually for another mock audition.

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