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The Trombone ForumCreation and PerformanceTrombonists(Moderator: zemry) Lesson with Jay Friedman: a summary
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trb420
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« on: Apr 14, 2017, 05:26PM »

I recently took a lesson from Jay Friedman and found his advice very interesting. I wanted to share it with you all

To start, if his pedagogy could be summed up into one statement, he advocates for a clear, beautiful sound, with zero tension anywhere in one's body. He said to take a full breath and spit the air extremely fast into the instrument, letting the lungs relax and empty naturally. He said there should never be any engagement in the stomach, because that creates tension; instead, he recommends taking a full breath and creating pressure behind the embouchure so that once the air is spat the embouchure is blown open and the note speaks instantly and clearly, and it naturally diminuendos as the lungs empty. Even when crescendoing on a long note, he said he uses his chest rather than his stomach, as the moment the stomach engages, tension is created. Even in the low register, he advocates fast air.

He also had me move the mouthpiece lower on my face so I would direct the air right into the mouthpiece throat, rather than into the bottom of the cup. I practiced short attacks to get the notes to speak instantly, and then we moved that technique to long notes. He said that notes should be like bell tones, and should never speak late due to slow air/sloppy attacks, and demonstrated that in all dynamics this spitting attack is preferable. He also said to play in the top third of the partial, almost as if blowing the note sharp.

Interestingly, he called the no pressure system a "bunch of baloney" and said that pressure should be used to create a seal. Once a note is started the embouchure should be locked into the mouthpiece, letting the air do all the work. Playing up high, he used more pressure, but rather than pushing the mouthpiece against the embouchure he advocated for "leaning into the mouthpiece" as if leaning one's body against a wall. That way, the mouthpiece seal does the work and the embouchure is loose and never tense.

Also, he had me do short attacks and then blow the same way on long notes, with a tiny opening in the embouchure, to produce a small, bright, and clear sound. He said a bright, clear sound is the most desirable and one should never sound big yet dead.

Just thought this would be of interest to you all- it definitely changed the way I think about my playing

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« Reply #1 on: Apr 14, 2017, 05:43PM »

Jay and I co-produced a DVD on his teaching, showcasing lessons with various levels, all recorded here in Los Angeles back in January. I felt it important to archive Jay's pedagogy and it was a project he really wanted to do.

Hope to have the finished project ready for ITF in June. It highlights a lot of the concepts you mention here.

 Good!
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« Reply #2 on: Apr 14, 2017, 07:45PM »

Jay and I co-produced a DVD on his teaching, showcasing lessons with various levels, all recorded here in Los Angeles back in January. I felt it important to archive Jay's pedagogy and it was a project he really wanted to do.

Hope to have the finished project ready for ITF in June. It highlights a lot of the concepts you mention here.


Good! Good! Good! Good! Good! Good! Good! Good!
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« Reply #3 on: Apr 15, 2017, 03:13AM »

Very interesting .

Like the comments about sound, if a lesser person had expressed that viewpoint on here they would have been shot down in flames.

With the advent of modular horns I think many people configure instruments that are extremely dull sounding. Couple this with overly large mouthpieces and you have 'The Polo Mint Syndrome' no middle let alone brightness and a bland sound that doesn't project.


Look forward to the film.

BellEnd

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« Reply #4 on: Apr 15, 2017, 04:16AM »

I recently took a lesson from Jay Friedman and found his advice very interesting. I wanted to share it with you all

To start, if his pedagogy could be summed up into one statement, he advocates for a clear, beautiful sound, with zero tension anywhere in one's body. He said to take a full breath and spit the air extremely fast into the instrument, letting the lungs relax and empty naturally. He said there should never be any engagement in the stomach, because that creates tension; instead, he recommends taking a full breath and creating pressure behind the embouchure so that once the air is spat the embouchure is blown open and the note speaks instantly and clearly, and it naturally diminuendos as the lungs empty. Even when crescendoing on a long note, he said he uses his chest rather than his stomach, as the moment the stomach engages, tension is created. Even in the low register, he advocates fast air.

He also had me move the mouthpiece lower on my face so I would direct the air right into the mouthpiece throat, rather than into the bottom of the cup. I practiced short attacks to get the notes to speak instantly, and then we moved that technique to long notes. He said that notes should be like bell tones, and should never speak late due to slow air/sloppy attacks, and demonstrated that in all dynamics this spitting attack is preferable. He also said to play in the top third of the partial, almost as if blowing the note sharp.

Interestingly, he called the no pressure system a "bunch of baloney" and said that pressure should be used to create a seal. Once a note is started the embouchure should be locked into the mouthpiece, letting the air do all the work. Playing up high, he used more pressure, but rather than pushing the mouthpiece against the embouchure he advocated for "leaning into the mouthpiece" as if leaning one's body against a wall. That way, the mouthpiece seal does the work and the embouchure is loose and never tense.

Also, he had me do short attacks and then blow the same way on long notes, with a tiny opening in the embouchure, to produce a small, bright, and clear sound. He said a bright, clear sound is the most desirable and one should never sound big yet dead.

Just thought this would be of interest to you all- it definitely changed the way I think about my playing


NICE!!!!!! Some of it sounds very familiar. A session like that is priceless.

Once you have fully incorporated his instruction into your playing, I hope you stop by again and relate what impact on you it has had.

...Geezer
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« Reply #5 on: Apr 15, 2017, 08:36AM »

Very interesting .

Like the comments about sound, if a lesser person had expressed that viewpoint on here they would have been shot down in flames.

Are you referring to his use of the word "bright". Yes, I have heard comments about "bright" equals "bad" here. Since english is not my first language I have allways assumed I use the word wrong.

My reference to the word bright starts at college. I got my education at the Royal Academy of music in Stockholm at a time when the ideal sound was very dark. I never liked that sound much and had also trouble to blend. I remember I used a smaller mouthpiece, a Denis Vick 6bl, while others played 4 Gs. My sound could not compete. I drowned in a section. Today our best players (read Håkan Björkman) has another ideal sound. I would describe his sound as full and rich. The ideal sound changed to be more bright, or light with more prominent overtones.

When Jay Friedman talks about brightness I guess he talks about a sonorous sound with lots of overtones, a complex sound as the opposite of a dull hollow sound which lacks high overtones.

I like bright.

/Tom
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« Reply #6 on: Apr 15, 2017, 03:00PM »

Thanks for sharing your experience! Very interesting read. I haven't been lucky enough to ever hear or see Jay Friedman live but I have been very fortunate to have had many intense study periods with Michael Mulcahy over the last 2 years. From your write up I can definitely see many similarities to their ways of teaching but it also sounds like there are a few very interesting differences.

Interesting to hear Jay had you move your mouthpiece for that reason.... Mulcahy definitely has never mentioned that to me and has a different way of describing how your face around the mouthpiece should be... probably too difficult to write here.

Now that "bright" has been mentioned, in my lessons, Mulcahy has NEVER described sound as "dark" or "bright". I think I heard him laugh at those descriptions once though  :D Personally I think those descriptions are useless anyway. Mulcahy (in my lessons!) Emphasizes the importance of "clarity" of sound and resonance. I dont think it matters whether you sound bright or dark, whatever that means, as long as what you are doing is done clearly and not with a sound that is pinched or nasal.
My own opinion though for whatever it is worth, I really dislike the term "bright" when thinking about sound. It gives me the image and feeling of turning on a light switch at 2am without having been warned. I picture aggressive sounds that stick out in ensemble and are difficult to blend with. The word doesn't work for me and I dont use it as a concept in my own practice.


The most interesting thing from your write for me was "play in the top third of the partial, almost as if blowing sharp". It has been a long time since I heard anything like that in my lessons with Mulcahy, but I am quite confident that he said basically the opposite some time ago.... to really relax into the bottom of your sound and let it ring as easily as possible. Not playing flat, just making sure you are giving yourself the best chance to make a resonant sound. There was a thread on here a little while back where another fantastic trumpet performer had a video in which he advocated "playing high on the partial". I really dont understand that at all. I would love to hear Jay Friedman talk about it in person. To me it makes absolutely no sense and goes against the idea of playing with as little tension as possible. In my own practice, as soon as I try to do that, my sound thins somewhat and becomes penetrating. I am sure there is an easy way of doing it correctly but I think it makes so much more sense to think the opposite. Creates a much more resonant sound for me!
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« Reply #7 on: Apr 15, 2017, 04:39PM »

Very insightful, thanks. I doubt if you would be able to incorporate a lot into your playing from one lesson, but it is food for thought. One good idea is enough from a lesson. Also, thanks for the views on Mulcahy.

I have a few comments, for which I will take responsibility.

From my own experience, I find that increasing pressure works to a point, but as an older player, I know that pressure is not my friend. Unfortunately, when people talk about less or low pressure, this is often taken as "no pressure", meaning there are air leaks. This is absolutely not the case, and it indicates a dismissal or a misunderstanding of the concept.

Using a lot of air works, and it leads to a sub-topic on breathing. You can work through this, and there are many people and books to help you.

What people describe as a "complex" with overtones is the result of centred notes. But this, I mean note and not pitch. Listen to Joe Alessi, Stefan Schulz, Stanley Clark and others, and you'll hear a really interesting sound. This is not equipment related - it's them, and we all can learn to do it. We don't say much about centering sound on TTF; perhaps we should say more.
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« Reply #8 on: Apr 15, 2017, 04:42PM »

I doubt if you would be able to incorporate a lot into your playing from one lesson, but it is food for thought.

Fortunately, he invited me to take another lesson in a few weeks to continue working on what he taught me
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« Reply #9 on: Apr 16, 2017, 01:31AM »

Very insightful, thanks. I doubt if you would be able to incorporate a lot into your playing from one lesson, but it is food for thought. One good idea is enough from a lesson. Also, thanks for the views on Mulcahy.

I have a few comments, for which I will take responsibility.

From my own experience, I find that increasing pressure works to a point, but as an older player, I know that pressure is not my friend. Unfortunately, when people talk about less or low pressure, this is often taken as "no pressure", meaning there are air leaks. This is absolutely not the case, and it indicates a dismissal or a misunderstanding of the concept.

Using a lot of air works, and it leads to a sub-topic on breathing. You can work through this, and there are many people and books to help you.

What people describe as a "complex" with overtones is the result of centred notes. But this, I mean note and not pitch. Listen to Joe Alessi, Stefan Schulz, Stanley Clark and others, and you'll hear a really interesting sound. This is not equipment related - it's them, and we all can learn to do it. We don't say much about centering sound on TTF; perhaps we should say more.


Centred tones.... yes, yes, yes.... and yes...
For many years I was lucky enough to sit next to Kevin Thomson who was a monster of a player, one of the best of his generation.... he made a huge and interesting sound. I once asked him how he got such a huge sound... he said it was all about focus... get in the centre of the note and it grows and grows.
He was right.

Chris Stearn
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« Reply #10 on: Apr 17, 2017, 01:23AM »

I wonder what Friedman ment when he told to play in the top third of the partial, almost as blowing a little high? I always try to get the center like Chris told. Maybe that student blow a little too low?

Leif
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« Reply #11 on: Apr 17, 2017, 03:29AM »

I wonder what Friedman ment when he told to play in the top third of the partial, almost as blowing a little high? I always try to get the center like Chris told. Maybe that student blow a little too low?

Leif

But the 'centre' is not in the middle of possibilities... it is towards the top. Sounds odd, I know, so centre is not the best word.... most vibrant pitch ??

Chris Stearn
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« Reply #12 on: Apr 17, 2017, 06:05AM »

Centred tones.... yes, yes, yes.... and yes...
For many years I was lucky enough to sit next to Kevin Thomson who was a monster of a player, one of the best of his generation.... he made a huge and interesting sound. I once asked him how he got such a huge sound... he said it was all about focus... get in the centre of the note and it grows and grows.
He was right.

Chris Stearn


I totally agree with the idea of centering notes as being extremely important in the production of a beautiful tone.Centered and not Overblown, even when playing at loud volume.
I find that most players (at times,me included  ) have a tendency towards playing at a more loud volume than their chops  can truly handle.This distorts the tone and does not allow true resonance , which only happens on the horn when all things are in  balance and focus.This results not only in playing being easier,but in the tone being larger. I would say all brass players can learn from that concept and attempt to be vigilant about it as well...
 I hope this adds at Least a little to the above discussion...
All the best,
Bob Riddle

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« Reply #13 on: Apr 23, 2017, 12:43PM »

I mentioned centred notes here, the number of good responses indicates that it deserves its own topic. I'll start one.
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« Reply #14 on: Apr 29, 2017, 12:17PM »

I have enouble trouble hitting any given partial let alone the top third of it!....
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« Reply #15 on: Oct 25, 2017, 09:25PM »

I recently took a lesson from Jay Friedman and found his advice very interesting. I wanted to share it with you all

To start, if his pedagogy could be summed up into one statement, he advocates for a clear, beautiful sound, with zero tension anywhere in one's body. He said to take a full breath and spit the air extremely fast into the instrument, letting the lungs relax and empty naturally. He said there should never be any engagement in the stomach, because that creates tension; instead, he recommends taking a full breath and creating pressure behind the embouchure so that once the air is spat the embouchure is blown open and the note speaks instantly and clearly, and it naturally diminuendos as the lungs empty. Even when crescendoing on a long note, he said he uses his chest rather than his stomach, as the moment the stomach engages, tension is created. Even in the low register, he advocates fast air.

He also had me move the mouthpiece lower on my face so I would direct the air right into the mouthpiece throat, rather than into the bottom of the cup. I practiced short attacks to get the notes to speak instantly, and then we moved that technique to long notes. He said that notes should be like bell tones, and should never speak late due to slow air/sloppy attacks, and demonstrated that in all dynamics this spitting attack is preferable. He also said to play in the top third of the partial, almost as if blowing the note sharp.

Interestingly, he called the no pressure system a "bunch of baloney" and said that pressure should be used to create a seal. Once a note is started the embouchure should be locked into the mouthpiece, letting the air do all the work. Playing up high, he used more pressure, but rather than pushing the mouthpiece against the embouchure he advocated for "leaning into the mouthpiece" as if leaning one's body against a wall. That way, the mouthpiece seal does the work and the embouchure is loose and never tense.

Also, he had me do short attacks and then blow the same way on long notes, with a tiny opening in the embouchure, to produce a small, bright, and clear sound. He said a bright, clear sound is the most desirable and one should never sound big yet dead.

Just thought this would be of interest to you all- it definitely changed the way I think about my playing




Thanks for this summary, it was an interesting read for sure!  Can I ask how difficult it was to grab a lesson with him?  I've been considering taking a few with him but I'm thinking he has a pretty full schedule.
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« Reply #16 on: Oct 26, 2017, 12:23AM »

But the 'centre' is not in the middle of possibilities... it is towards the top. Sounds odd, I know, so centre is not the best word.... most vibrant pitch ??

Chris Stearn

I agree.

As some of you may know, I have done a great deal of experimentation with vocally isolating partials while singing the desired note into the horn with an at least partially pre-set up embouchure. What I have found...always bearing in mind that much of my own work is predicated on getting a brilliant yet pleasing sound in the upper registers...is that in the middle ranges of the tenor trombone...say from around Bb3 through F4 (4th partial Bb to 6th partial F)...if I vocally isolate the third or perhaps 4th partial above those notes (the  partials that sound somewhere in the area just above the treble clef) and then let the pre-formed embouchure close and resonate, I get a gloriously brilliant and full sound on the horn.

I am still working on how to transfer that setting...embouchure/tongue positions, oral cavity setting, etc...to above and below those ranges, but it is most definitely a higher pitch than when I do not do it and get a correspondingly less resonant sound. It is like the difference between hitting a very resonant bell or cymbal with a very good mallet and hitting it with not such a good mallet while it is being partially damped by one's hand. The clarity of sound is almost overwhelming. It's like the snap of a good whip.

Some people have this on the natch.

More power to them.

But...it can also be learned.

Bet on it.

S.
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« Reply #17 on: Oct 26, 2017, 03:16AM »

So pleased that you shared this, trb420. Sounds like you got a wonderful session with Jay, and anyone who has had the fortune of standing in his living room and doing the same was probably transported right back there, hearing his sound and voice, while reading your post.

Nobody -- and I really mean that -- nobody gets the same immediacy and richness of resonance as Jay Friedman, at least that I've ever heard. I have had the pleasure of sitting next to Jay in the orchestra a few times, and it is head-turning how immediately notes 'jump' out of his horn. There is an explosive quality to the start of sound, and I mean that in a good way, not a destructive way!!

Somebody mentioned the trend of modular horns being chosen to make a very dull sound, and I tend to agree with that. A colleague/schoolmate of mine used to joke that there was a 10-20 year period where everyone was chasing a sound that sounded like putting a "mouthpiece into an oak tree" -- very dull, dense, and lackluster. While the different 'schools' of sound concept may have become as homogenous as many orchestras, the upside of globalization through forums like this, the ITF, YouTube, etc. is that we can hear/see so many different players and embrace all the different wonderful sounds. While The Chicago sound concept is still the ideal for me, it certainly doesn't detract from my appreciation for European players, the New York sound, and whatever else you want to throw in there. I also don't like the idea of labeling a player or sound as "bright" or "dark", but rather embrace those terms to describe style or color. I personally love the terms brilliant, buzzy, zip, ringing, etc. Uranus from "The Planets" should be bright, whereas the low excerpts from Mahler 5 (to me) should be dark and brooding. I think we as a trombone culture get caught up in "bright" or "dark", and need to redirect to talking about clarity, resonance, and color.

Anyway, thanks for sharing. Obviously, you hit a nerve!

Tim Smith
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« Reply #18 on: Oct 26, 2017, 05:23AM »


Thanks for this summary, it was an interesting read for sure!  Can I ask how difficult it was to grab a lesson with him?  I've been considering taking a few with him but I'm thinking he has a pretty full schedule.

It wasn't very difficult, I contacted him through his website and we were able to quickly set one up. He only teaches Fridays, though.
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