As you all know I just finished my first year with Colin and George in the ASO. It was super fun and challenging. But after some time off this summer I want to take my playing to another level. To be able to contribute more to my section and my orchestra in my second year would really make my season a success.
First let's talk about my position. It has some rare qualifications and only 2 or 3 other Trombonists in the country have my same responsibilities. My position is 2nd Trombone/ Utility. Which includes Bass Trombone, Bass Trumpet, Tenor Tuba, and I am expected to step up to first when Colin is out, which adds Alto Trombone to my list as well.
So my first thought is to come up with a game plan to master and upkeep all these instruments. Plus I want to play Tenor Trombone even better this year.
First what I have done is changed my daily routine. I have had a very similar routine for a couple of years now, and I am taking some things out and adding some new exercises. At the suggestion of Jason Byerlotzer (Principal of Honolulu), I started incorporating the Main method and the Davis 20 minute warm up. I like both of these very much. The Main Method works a lot of long tones, flexibility, range,and articulation. The Davis works the same but shorter and with a lot more various exercises. I love them both because they have a cd accompaniment. This is great because I can focus on the exercise and my intonation is being worked on as well. This means better intonation, which means better center of the note, which leads to a better sound. All without really thinking about it. I use my strobe tuner and use drones all throughout the practice without the accompaniments.
Second I have to come up with a plan of attack for the Alto Trombone, Bass Trombone, Bass Trumpet, and Tenor Tuba. So what I have come up with is after every tenor session of practice I will add 10 minutes of another instrument. Now depending on what's coming up I will focus more on that instrument than the others. So I will always play the tenor pretty much the same amount every day, then play the instrument that I have to be ready on, then bits of the rest. Most important that I play all of my instruments every day. Even if it's just for 5 minutes it is necessary to make sure you are always ready to go. Who knows when the Met will need someone for the Ring on Bass Trumpet, or Chicago needs someone to play Tenor Tuba on The Planets. I haven't got that call yet, but if I do I will be ready to go.
Here is what I practice on each instrument to maintain and improve:
Alto Trombone-all major scales from low Eb to high F with a drone for intonation. Kopprasch studies for trombone reading them in alto clef. A solo or hard excerpt to put it all in practice.
Bass Trombone-scales with a drone from middle Bb down to as low as I can go. The trumpet kopprasch book reading it in Bass clef. It has a lot of trigger notes and moves around a lot in the lowest ranges. Then I do some real bass work out of the Aharoni book. It is quite a work out, but I don't over do it. I get soooo dizzy.
Bass Trumpet and Tenor Tuba-I clump these together because of the valves. I don't do each one everyday, but I make sure that I alternate every other day. But the Vizzutti trumpet book is a real winner for the valves. Book one is full of exercises for valves and natural slurs that will blow your mind. In fact I have a session for these on the Tenor Trombone everyday. The natural slur exercises are great. I asked Mr. Vizzutti when the trombone books were coming out, and he said he was thinking about making one soon.
So this is my plan for this year I hope this is helpful to those of you who work on the doubling. My best advice to the tenor/ bass doublers is to do everything in your power to not to have to do it.
Check out my calendar above for my schedule this Summer. I'm excited to be playing a lot of valves this year: Euphonium for the Planets with Seattle and Bass Trumpet with Sun Valley for Siegfried!
I am honored to have been chosen as the new member of the Atlanta Symphony trombone section!
I received the news on a Sunday and found myself driving a truck across Canada and the US the following Tuesday. I arrived in Atlanta to meet my wife and son (they got to fly!) on Sunday and was happy to have a home to practice in - instead of rest stops and hotel rooms along the way.
This week we are playing Mussorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition, Rimsky-Korsakov's Cappriccio Espagnol and Rachmaninov's Second Piano Concerto. Fun opening week!
There is a lot of fun pieces to play this season, but I'm particularly looking forward to our Carnegie tour in two weeks.
There was a great review of last night's concert of Mahler 2 in Seattle. With a specific mention to Ko-Ichiro and the trombone section:
"Ko-ichiro Yamamoto and his trombone section [Ko-Ichiro, principal; myself, second; David Ritt, 3rd; Stephen Fissell, bass] offered especially cultivated soft tones."
Playing with the Seattle Symphony is always fun, but this time it was also eye opening. This year in the VSO has been the most taxing year of my life. We played 158 concerts in 39 weeks. It's the most I have done in this short period of time and I've built strength because of it. So when I sat down to play Second trombone with Seattle I was ready to crush some second trombone parts David Finlayson style.
After the first page, Ko-Ichiro leaned over and asked me to take a little heat off of the sound. So I backed off about 5% and paid attention to not letting my sound cut. I concentrated on always producing a great sound and never taking the sound to its limits for the whole week. My perception was that Ko-Ichiro and I worked together and not against each other. Our unisons sounded like one giant trombone and the tuttis had a great sound that projected to the back of the hall (both loud and soft dynamics). I had my cousin Brandon (UGA trumpet professor) come to the show and he agreed with my assessment.
I have come to the conclusion that I need to rethink the way that I play trombone. There is a time to play with some cut to your sound, but 90 percent of what you need to do is play with the most relaxed efficient sound possible. Not only will you sound better, you will be able to play longer. I am not saying that I have been playing with a bad loud sound for the last couple of years - I am saying that I can produce an even better, and easier sound.
Here are some of the positives that will come from this concept change:
1. Your power will increase as your effort decreases.
2. Your conductor will give your section a green light at all times.
3. You still may get fatigued, but you will always have enough face.
4. Your work satisfaction will go up exponentially.
See what happens when you get your whole section to play like this. This is one of my summer projects, give it a try and let me know how it works for you.
Today I'm off to a clinic at a local school in Surrey, BC. This is one of my favorite parts of my job - teaching.
This weekend I enjoyed teaching lessons to more advanced college-aged students at the STW, but I also love the students who just picked up the trombone. Both groups are very different to teach, but very rewarding.
The clean slate of a new beginner holds so much potential - I make it my goal in our weekly lesson to unlock as much of this as possible. Today's younger student's schedule is so packed with activities that I try to make realistic weekly practice goals, but it is truly amazing how much improvement I've seen with students who may only practice at band and in private lessons (of course I don't advocate this approach!).
The professional masterclass or clinic teaching environment is fun and challenging as a clinician because you want to introduce large concepts that can apply to both individual students and the larger audience.
Whatever the teaching environment, I love it!