Frequently asked questions
Q: What advice can you give me to improve my playing skills?
A: "I advise my students individually based on their personal playing problems. Each player is different and will have a different set of issues,so without actually seeing and hearing you play, you might not get what you need. Some general advice is to warm up the same way everyday and make sure your practice session is focused, (no TV, radio or other distractions.) Always include tonguing, flexibilities, fingers, an etude and/or a jazz tune. To improve, you need to be your own worst critic. Listen carefully to what’s coming out of your bell; don’t just go through the motions.
There is no trick or magic mouthpiece for range. Range is often "discovered" (rather than built) by focusing on air speed, aperture size, lip pressure, a bit of tongue level, air direction and jaw position. There is a lot of info available on these topics from great players past and present like Bobby Shew, Allen Vizutti, James Morrison, Claude Gordon, Bill Adam, Roger Ingram, Chase Sanborn, etc. Some of these methods contradict each other a bit, but I’ve found some great stuff in all them."
Q: How about Some general advice on lead playing?
A: "Listen and absorb different styles of lead playing from the '40s to present day. Always make sure you are locked with the drums & bass, as good time is essential. I know many players with great chops but bad time & feel. You need to have the complete package to be a convincing musician on any instrument. Great intonation is a must. Record yourself and be critical. A digital tuner is an ideal tool for learning the inconsistencies of your instrument. Play down the “bulls eye” of every note. Play figures consistently the same way every time so your colleagues can count on you for phrasing."
Q: How do you practice?
A: "Warming up is part of the practice routine. I start with things that aren’t physically demanding and ease into other things. For me it’s long tones... Soft and centered, always striving for clarity and center.
Flexibility exercises- I usually do things I’ve made up myself. Recently I’ve been working out of Scott Belck’s book, Modern Flexibilities for Brass.
Tonguing and expanding the range a bit. Start your routine (warm up) the same way every practice session (like an athlete). This will help train you for consistency, much like an athlete trains.
Practice "range" things at the end of your practice session when you’re a bit tired. This conditions you to survive at the end of the gig when you need the chops."
Q: How do you play some of those fancy effects?
Shakes: "To do a convincing shake you must be able to do a lip trill first. I think of the shake as an out of control lip trill. Charles Colin Lip Flexabilities, Max Schloshberg & the Arbans books are a good source. You can actually shake the horn back & forth on the lips to get it going at first, many players do this. Using different valve combinations can help give the shake a smoother, more liquid sound. I let the tempo of the tune determine the speed of the shake."
Falls: "Once again the type of music and tempo determine the length and type of fall. Slower swing tunes might call for a smooth ½ valve fall. (ala Pink Panther Theme). Faster falls (as found in funk charts) require a more powerful sounding decent. This can be accomplished by hitting the note and pushing down all valves on the way down. This creates a rough, powerful fall."
Rips: "Rips or slides are usually done with ½ valve and releasing the valves when you reach the note you are sliding into. I like to stop the slide with my tongue giving the note a definite attack. I use the syllable DA for the slide up and UT for the note I’m going to. Another cool effect is to open the spit valve on the ascent. This creates a siren affect that also makes the rip more pronounced."
Doits: "Much like falls, the doit can be done smooth or with all valves down for different effects."
Q: How do I schedule a lesson?
A: Please contact me to schedule an online lesson or lesson at my home. I generally charge $125.00 per hour.