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The Trombone ForumTeaching & LearningPedagogy(Moderators: JP, Doug Elliott) Those crazy master classes
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robcat2075

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« on: Jun 13, 2015, 10:16PM »

Over the last week I was attending a cello festival. In addition to recitals by  prominent players there were master classes where the prominent player of the day would coach accomplished students.

Things I noticed....

-Several teachers spent quite a bit of time teaching their personal mannerisms as if they were dogmatic requirements for playing the cello.  For example, one teacher insisted that a student not raise his shoulder when he raised his arm. "Tension" and all that.

A couple days later a different teacher is addressing the same motion, insisting that the shoulder must raise when that arm is raised.

- Yet a different teacher was very big on posture and demonstrated how going from a slight slouch to a straighter back would change the sound of the cello. Yet it was apparent to me that he was changing where he was bowing on the string which is a substantial factor in the sound. No one else noticed that?? It was a bit of an Emperor's-New-Clothes for me but I didn't say anything.

-Several students could not recall what meter their passage was in when asked. These are students who are playing major, standard rep concertos.

-These students had fabulous technique but some of them could not count to four to correctly execute a dotted half tied to an eighth note.

-Students will vigorously nod their heads in agreement to almost anything the master teacher says even when they have no clue about it.

One student played a section with a very fast shift and the teacher told him to play it again and slow the shift way down. Lots of head nodding about how much better that would be, then he played the same section with exactly the same fast shift, with more head nodding afterward.

The teacher had him play that part again four more times, each time saying to do the shift slow, and each time the student did the same fast shift not at all slower. The teacher gave up without ever telling the student that he had never changed the speed of the shift.


-The teacher who (I felt) gave the most sensible, useful advice and got the most obvious improvement out of the students was the one with the least significant performing career.




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Robert Holmén

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« Reply #1 on: Jun 14, 2015, 01:42PM »

Sounds about right ...
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« Reply #2 on: Jun 15, 2015, 07:05AM »

Master classes are, however,  a great way to get the main talking points of a particular teacher.
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patrickosmith

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« Reply #3 on: Jun 15, 2015, 07:20AM »

Over the last week I was attending a cello festival. In addition to recitals by  prominent players there were master classes where the prominent player of the day would coach accomplished students.

Thanks for posting this. Very interesting observations. I'll share it with a cello-player friend of mine. May I ask why you were attending a cello festival? Not that there's anything wrong with that ... just curious.

By the way I witnessed the exact same thing in a group lesson with Crisafulli. He told one of the students several times (3?) that his dotted 8th followed by 16th rhythm wasn't right but each time the student played it just as lazy as before.
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dbuster

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« Reply #4 on: Jun 15, 2015, 08:03AM »

My wife was a piano performance major.

During her juries, she received exactly opposite advice from different judges for the same performance.  (too fast vs. too slow, too loud vs. to soft, too legato vs. too staccato...)
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Kevin
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« Reply #5 on: Jun 15, 2015, 08:18AM »

My wife was a piano performance major.

During her juries, she received exactly opposite advice from different judges for the same performance.  (too fast vs. too slow, too loud vs. to soft, too legato vs. too staccato...)
That makes some sense in that all those traits are usually a matter of opinion.

It would have been better if the judges had presented their opinions as such.

I remember being confused but now really respect a judge that, on hearing two very different interpretations of the same piece, said that both were valid because they were clearly well thought out, well rehearsed and worked for the groups that were performing.
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robcat2075

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« Reply #6 on: Jun 15, 2015, 10:23AM »

Thanks for posting this. Very interesting observations. I'll share it with a cello-player friend of mine. May I ask why you were attending a cello festival? Not that there's anything wrong with that ... just curious.

Primarily because I'm learning the cello and it's a chance to see the physical process happening up close.

It occurred to me that one can observe a lot more about string playing than brass playing because on string instruments all the means of sound production are visible outside the body and the motions are quite obvious while on a brass instrument the embouchure is obscured by the mouthpiece and everything else hidden inside the body.
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Robert Holmén

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patrickosmith

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« Reply #7 on: Jun 15, 2015, 11:16AM »

Primarily because I'm learning the cello and it's a chance to see the physical process happening up close.

It occurred to me that one can observe a lot more about string playing than brass playing because on string instruments all the means of sound production are visible outside the body and the motions are quite obvious while on a brass instrument the embouchure is obscured by the mouthpiece and everything else hidden inside the body.


You might also be surprised by how much you will learn about playing the trombone as a result of learning the cello! Frank Crisafulli was also a cello player. He was forever using comparisons to a string player's bowing when teaching trombone to his students.
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sfboner

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« Reply #8 on: Jun 15, 2015, 11:30AM »



You might also be surprised by how much you will learn about playing the trombone as a result of learning the cello! Frank Crisafulli was also a cello player. He was forever using comparisons to a string player's bowing when teaching trombone to his students.

John Swallow told me that he got many of his ideas regarding the use of alternate positions, which he had codified to some extent based on musical (versus technical) considerations, from Pablo Casals. 
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robcat2075

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« Reply #9 on: Jun 16, 2015, 06:43PM »

Occasionally I've tried playing thru some of the Bordogni etudes and thought, "damn, it's like this was written for the cello."

While there is no sign he ever played the cello, my far-fetched theory is that he was influenced by the style of the numerous operas he sang in by Rossini... who was a cellist.  Clever
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Robert Holmén

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robcat2075

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« Reply #10 on: Jun 20, 2015, 05:04PM »

May I ask why you were attending a cello festival? Not that there's anything wrong with that ... just curious.

And I'll also note that there is no similar event for trombones here in Dallas.  That I know of.

There ought to be enough trombone players around here but I'm not sure they'd buy tickets.
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Robert Holmén

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« Reply #11 on: Jun 21, 2015, 01:49AM »

And I'll also note that there is no similar event for trombones here in Dallas.  That I know of.

There ought to be enough trombone players around here but I'm not sure they'd buy tickets.

I've only been to the Eastern Trombone Workshop in northern Virginia across the river from Washington DC. It was an amazing experience that really motivated me. It's too bad the Dallas area doesn't have something like that.
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robcat2075

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« Reply #12 on: Jun 23, 2015, 03:57PM »

One more crazy thing from these cello master classes...

Someone must be demanding these kids "breathe through the phrase" because some of them are really into it.  It is so obvious that it's competing with the sound of the cello at times.

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Robert Holmén

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