The Virginia Tech Trumpet Festival was originally designed to continue the legacy of Professor Emeritus, Alan Bachelder, and his trumpet scholarship. This scholarship is used to help standout trumpet students at Virginia Tech met their academic goals through additional financial support. After this past weekend, I believe that this scholarship will continue to provide that support for generations to come.
Since this past weekend, I have been reminded how much I love teaching and performing in this setting. Getting the opportunity to help shape young performer's musical lives is truly a powerful feeling. Watching their eyes light up when they see an immediate change in their performance is the sole reason I made the decision to pursue this career. Not only does teaching provide that positive feeling, but also sharing repertoire with students through live performance. Being able to teach through live modeling what these students can accomplish provides the same feeling. Finding new works that students may not have been exposed to allows them to make their own choices on musical interpretation.
In addition to having the opportunity do my own teaching and performing, I was lucky to see Vincent DiMartino and Gabriel DiMartino do the same. I had never met either Vince or Gabriel before, but I was blown away by their ability to diagnose and address issues each student was facing with a simple statement. They provided quick descriptions of what they were hearing, but then gave each student several paths to fix each issue. Along with their description of the diagnosis, they modeled for them their remedies. Each had their own way of presenting the information, whether it be with more or less information in words. No matter, they each resulted back to modeling their findings and solutions to the students. This type of teaching is something that I value the most. It not only allows the students to hear what is wrong and how to fix it, but the teacher presents an aural example of the correct performance style for the student to model. This allows the student to then compare and contrast their own music products, both during the lesson and later in practice room.
The weekend culminated with a solo performance of Kevin McKee's Centennial Horizon and a featured performance with Dr. Jason Crafton and the Virginia Tech Wind Ensemble of Kevin Mckee's Under Western Skies. Both performances went fantastically and the students seemed very receptive to both pieces. Having the opportunity to do things like this make my time spent in school (and paying back the student loan debt) worth it! Finding ways to shape young musical minds creates a lasting love for the art of teaching and performing that no other outlet can accomplish. It was truly a magical weekend that created lifelong memories and new friendships.
*Below is the handout I created for my warm-up session. It is based on exercises that I have performed with previous teachers and trumpet performers. Each exercises is a duplicate of their instructions or a slight variation. Be sure to only move to the next exercise once you have become familiar and somewhat proficient at the preceding exercise. This will prevent injury and enable you to add to the knowledge learned from exercise to exercise. Take each exercise with an open mind and focus on the instructions given to each. After, you may begin to pick and choose which exercise works best for your issues and personal playing style. Feel free to contact me for more information on the exercises. I am always happy to help or redesign these exercises to better suit what you need in your own practice. *
I love to travel! Getting the opportunity to see the world, especially when I get to do it with my wife, is one of the things I have dreamed of doing since I was younger. Experiencing new places, cultures and sharing experiences is something that I would encourage everyone to do since it allows us to broaden our visions of the world we live in. I also love to make music. The only difficulty is that playing trumpet and traveling does not always work well when you are on the road. Many times I am able to take my horns with me and find a place to practice so that my abilities the next day or day after our travels are unnoticed. The issue is only when I am not able to take my trumpet with me and I am forced to either travel with only a mouthpiece or I am not able to find time where I can buzz without disturbing others around me.
I have often found that going away for a weekend trip showcases noticeable deficiencies when I come back home to practice. I often see a lack in endurance, an unfocused aperture, and sometimes a spreading in my aperture that does not allow for strict control at softer dynamics. Coming back to practice after a short time away and being frustrated forced me to create a regiment in my routine to get back what I am use to in my performance. This routine took several trips to experiment in what worked best for me, but for those who are reading this - this same routine may not work for you. I strongly encourage you to experiment the same way I did so that you can find something that works best for you.
My routine revolves around a TWO day recovery:
-Long Tones with hairpin dynamic exploration ( p<ff >pp)
-Two Octave Lip Bends (Low C down to Low G then ascending to G about the staff)
-Attack Practice (Breath - Poo - Tongue)
-Spend time playing Bordogni or Concone Etudes
(Listen to your face! Do not push yourself and force results - you can hurt yourself!)
-Long Tones with Lip Bends
-Clarke Scale Studies with Extensions
-Goldman Articulation Etudes (#1 and #2) as well as James Thompson's *$%&#$* Exercises
-Lyrical Etudes and Solo Repertoire
-Upper Register Slurs and Articulation
-Practice resumes to normal performance!!
Again, this routine did not always look this way. I came to finding this specific regiment through trial-and-error. I experimented with several exercises and studies that allowed me to finally hone in on what really worked for me. Do not get discouraged in this experimentation. Figuring out what works best for you to get back to the way you were before your time off is an adventure! So, get out there and see the world, but don't be worried about coming back to your horns - there will be another adventure waiting at home when you return!