Saturday, July 10, 2010

Brass Pedagogy and Moving On

It was 2003 when I first started writing my essays, articles, blogs, or whatever you want to call them, for the now defunct website, TubaNews. For the past seven years I’ve written about all things tuba and music; breathing, tonguing, fingering, embouchure, articulation, dynamics, tone quality, vibrato, phrasing, mouthpieces, mutes, choosing an instrument, history and evolution of the tuba and just about everything I could think of regarding the teaching and playing of brass instruments. Frequently, I have written about the same subjects more than once and retrospectively have been embarrassed to find that I have often stated the same information, only just using different words.

As I continue to seek pedagogical article subjects that are not redundant but still beneficial, it has become abundantly clear that verbal information on playing brass instruments is completely secondary to simply listening to ourselves and finding solutions that lead us to our desired musical results. If only it was sufficient to read about breathing, high register, or any aspect of brass performance, in order to master them.

The study of music requires that we first learn how we want the music sound and that we let that be the motivation for our work (practising); without that sonic image of an end result we are moving in a very inefficient direction.

LISTENING IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF MUSICAL STUDY; listening to others and listening to ourselves.

Certainly, I intend to continue writing, both pedagogical and musical articles as well as more personal articles, but certainly, I will lean more in the musical aspect rather than toward the technical (Brass Function) direction.

Next month, August 2010, the major competitions of Jeju, Korea and Tokyo, Japan will take place; I am honoured to be a judge at both these competitions. As in the past, these events create interesting thoughts for articles and I hope my readers will also find these thoughts interesting. These competitions always expose new trends in repertoire, playing and perhaps most interesting of all, they expose us to the new generation of emerging artists. They also open the door for thoughts on “The Quest for Excellence”, which will be the title for one of these post competition blogs.

I have enjoyed the advantage of working for composers of solo repertoire, orchestra and chamber music in the past half century, one of the new blogs that will appear in the near future will be reviewing some of the interesting stories regarding the collaboration with composers in the creation of new repertoire.

I feel a need to write but with that need also comes the need to learn, that seems to be a very good combination.

July 11, 2010, Tokyo