Strong players who can also teach

Discuss the people that make the music here.
Post Reply
aasavickas
Posts: 172
Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2018 12:16 am
Location: Detroit, MI

Strong players who can also teach

Post by aasavickas »

Many times when I hear famous big orchestra trombone players, I am disappointed in their sound. Too much woofy core and not enough brilliance (high overtones and trombone buzziness) in their sound for me.

The guys with the sound I don't like also tend to be very old fashioned players with old fashioned teaching, e.g., endless long tones, Arbans, huffing and puffing too much air, can't play a phrase in a breathe, overly large and heavy equipment, with a sound that oozes out of the bell and has no carry.

I don't intend to crap on famous players, everyone has a different sound approach and preference. Clearly some folks like their sound if they got a job.

I suspect that many of the great players, especially if their success came early, have no idea how embouchures work or what they are doing. Which leads to them teaching old and tired techniques that they don't even realize they don't use. Seems like the orchestral guys especially lean on old teaching ideas that at best don't work and at worst are counterproductive. For some reason, the professional jazz guys seem to have way more chops and seem to understand what kinds of practice actually helps.

Guys like Wilktone and Doug Elliot being a major exception of guys who can both play and really understand the mechanics of playing and teach it well.

Any other folks found the same thing with famous teachers who don't seem to understand what they are doing with their face?

Any other famous folks who both have the sound you like but also teach? Looking for more folks to listen to and check out.
User avatar
tbdana
Posts: 229
Joined: Sat Apr 08, 2023 5:47 pm

Re: Strong players who can also teach

Post by tbdana »

I'm not sure I agree with your premise.

For starters, the "legit" guys and the "jazz" guys are often going for different things.

For instance, that big "woofy" sound you mention. This is something legit guys work hard to get. And it's not "core" you're hearing, it's warmth. There are three parts to every tone: 1, warmth, that big round "oozing" sound. 2, core, the solid center that projects. And 3, brilliance, which gives that sizzle to the sound. Legit guys go for lots of warmth, some core, very little brilliance. Whereas jazz guys go for lots of core, some brilliance, and a touch of warmth. Commercial trombonists also emphasize core, because that's what gets onto recordings. (Somewhere here I told a story about Jeff Reynolds (L.A. Phil) and George Roberts (commercial bass trombone god) on a recording session that illustrates the point.) So it's not "old fashioned" versus modern, it's different sounds for different purposes, and of course personal taste -- like yours -- enters into it, too.

Also, they have different needs. Symphony players usually don't play a lot of super technical stuff. But they need to be PERFECT at the things the do play, like with attacks, accuracy, and maintaining that tone you hate. Legit players have to sit there for 20 minutes and then come in on a pianissimo high Db all by themselves when their chops and horn have gone cold (e.g., Beethoven's 6th if I recall correctly), and sound huge as a section when they have a fortissimo 8 bars of chorale whole notes that props up the whole orchestra (e.g., Bruckner), and it all has to sound pure and perfect. Jazz guys are much more about sizzle, creativity on the fly, improvisation, and individual playing, and not everything has to sound perfect, so they need different skills such as speed, flexibility, and range. (Of course there's a lot of overlap.)

You simply like one approach over the other. It's not that one is "old fashioned" and the other modern. It's different tools for different jobs. And because there is overlap, everyone needs some of the same tools.

Frankly, what the legit guys teach are the fundamentals, and those are essential. The things that are the foundation of playing the instrument. The stuff that holds up the whole house. You need those fundamentals if you want to be a good trombonist of any kind. But like some young NBA players that come to mind, fundamentals are boring and flash and showmanship are a lot more fun, so they tend to skip them, only to find out later on that there are big holes in their game. Same with trombone.

You may have a good point with teachers who have always done everything right not being the best at diagnosing and addressing embouchure problems or other difficulties. There's nothing like learning from someone who struggled with the same things you struggle with, and overcame them.

But, you know, all those jazz guys you admire spent gobs of time on long tones and Arbans (or the equivalent). That shit's necessary for all of us, no matter what kind of music we want to play or what kind of sound we like. You can't skip over the proper shooting form and go right to the 360 windmill dunks, and be a good player.

All that said, teachers come in all forms, and you need to find what fits with your needs. The guys you mentioned that you like are great diagnosticians, and can identify and fix problems efficiently. If that's what you need, those guys are fantastic. There are guys who are just as fantastic at teaching the fundamentals and the right approach to begin with, and if that's what you need you should go with those guys. There are guys who are great at teaching doodle-tonguing, range, and flexibility, and if that's what you need those are the teachers for you. Of course, perhaps the best of all worlds is to study from a variety of them, and take in the expertise that each has to offer, understanding that they all know more than you do and have something vital to offer.

Also, a lot of "famous guys" aren't great teachers. One thing you seem to recognize is that being a great player doesn't necessarily make you a great teacher.

Patience, padawan. Much to learn, have you.
Last edited by tbdana on Tue Feb 20, 2024 9:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
harrisonreed
Posts: 4576
Joined: Fri Aug 17, 2018 12:18 pm
Location: Fort Riley, Kansas
Contact:

Re: Strong players who can also teach

Post by harrisonreed »

200w (1).gif
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
aasavickas
Posts: 172
Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2018 12:16 am
Location: Detroit, MI

Re: Strong players who can also teach

Post by aasavickas »

LOL.
aasavickas
Posts: 172
Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2018 12:16 am
Location: Detroit, MI

Re: Strong players who can also teach

Post by aasavickas »

Seems like you agree but want to be more deferential to classical guys. More a difference of word choice then concept. I get it. No offense intended. Just an observation and question.

The classical guys are playing old fashioned music, in an old fashioned way, and practice and teach in an old fashioned way. I see those guys are museum technicians rather than musicians with the goal of sounding exactly like everyone else. Maybe a consequence of the goofy audition process?

The classical guys tend to disappoint me and I was curious if others had that experience and wanted to see if there were other teachers to check out.

I get they do something different. The jazz guys can play classical but the classical guys can't play jazz. Don't have the chops, technique, or musicality, in my experience. Clearly, some guys like bousfield and Markey are good teachers and have chops. However, listening to classical guys play jazz is cringe inducing. Bad time, wrong sound, weak phrasing, etc. Again, not all but happens enough to notice a pattern.

For example, I've been playing professionally for 25 years. In the military, orchestras, and jazz bands. I can grab a horn cold and play a Bolero or excerpt with a high E as good as those guys, but I can also work the slide and play a phrase. Further, I can adjust my sound quickly and easily to adjust to the room and the tune. Classical guys seem like they play it safe and boring and don't take chances. They clearly don't seem to have the flexibility in sound or style that is common among gigging musicians. I suspect it is the out dated and incorrect ideas about how the mechanics work and then teach what everyone else taught and have not tried anything new in 100 years. By my rubric, the definition of old fashioned.

Maybe it is just a difference of American orchestras vs European sounds. I tend to favor the European folks.

Just looking for examples of good players who can also teach. I listen to more vocalists and other instruments bc many of the guys playing in the big orchestras just don't have a sound or style I care to emulate.

If this topic is too touchy we can just go back to writing about the important stuff like magic mouthpieces and slide creams.
GGJazz
Posts: 95
Joined: Sat Jul 30, 2022 7:53 am
Location: Italy

Re: Strong players who can also teach

Post by GGJazz »

Hello all.

I am a pro Jazz player .

Frankly , I do not think JJ. Johonson , or Frank Rosolino , or Urbie Green , or Ray Anderson , etc , would do a good job playing in a Symphony Orchestra ( a pro Orchestra , of course ) .
Playing Classical Music is much more than playing Bolero by cold , or hittings high tones...
What about Mahler 3rd ? Walkirie ? William Tell ? Tuba Mirum ? Fountain of Rome ? Petrouskha?

I mostly agree with what Tbdana wrote above .

More , I think that there are another category of teachers : who just teach Music styles and how to phrase . Basically , how to play Music !
I do not think is a good idea to take lessons from Joe Alessi to have instructions how to play the horn correctly , if one struggle with . Would be better being an already good player , and learn from him how to play phrases , Solo pieces , excerpts , ecc .

Some very advanced teachers do not want even talk about technics . That was what Hal Crook told us at Berklee College , for exemple .

About the " Old School" , I am not shure what this means . "Old School" produced tons of very - super good players , as one can see looking back at the players of the 1900.
Maybe , we can say that in the past there were some guys that was teaching wrong things for their own ideas , as happens nowadays too !

Regards
Giancarlo
Last edited by GGJazz on Tue Feb 20, 2024 10:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
WilliamLang
Posts: 415
Joined: Fri Nov 22, 2019 6:12 pm

Re: Strong players who can also teach

Post by WilliamLang »

There are a ton of great teachers out there who can play. I think your premise is somewhat skewed and flawed, though I will say that a great player doesn't automatically make a great teacher, and that brass pedagogy in general could use a massive update.

Three teacher/performers come to mind rather quickly, and I admire them greatly:
Brad Edwards
Ian Bousfield
Abbie Conant

You should also check out what Aaron Tindall is doing with the Tuba/Euphonium studio at U of Miami, and my colleague Brian Dobbins also has a tuba/euph studio that is on fire as well.
William Lang
Interim Instructor, the University of Oklahoma
Stephens Horns Artist
Long Island Brass Artist
faculty, the Longy School of Music
founding member of loadbang
www.williamlang.org
aasavickas
Posts: 172
Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2018 12:16 am
Location: Detroit, MI

Re: Strong players who can also teach

Post by aasavickas »

Thanks William. That is all I was looking for.

I think many folks are just insecure about mechanics and as a result, don't like to teach or open their mind up to try new things. The famous guys sitting in famous orchestras don't need to be good teachers bc their students are already very talented when they arrive. They want the teachers name on the resume to try to get ahead in the broken audition process.

It is objectively true that players today are far more advanced technically than in times past. Better horns, better resources like You Tube and online lessons.

I disagree, I bet JJ could play orchestral stuff very well. Might need a slight equipment change but I bet JJ would play a better bolero or Mahler than many guys today.

I understand that playing in orchestras is more than just hitting a high note cold. I was referencing a previous post.


I was hoping this post could get some good players who also are good teachers names out there. Unfortunately, it appears the condescending ignorant attitudes are not only reserved for orchestral guys. It is awfully easy to presume a person is a hack without any evidence and look down your nose at folks. I get it. People are very brave for not having a horn in their hand to prove their point.

If a musician knows what they are talking about and has the demonstrable chops to back it up that is one thing, expecting folks online to have a good faith discussion about art and how it is done, is another.
User avatar
BGuttman
Posts: 5947
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2018 7:19 am
Location: Cow Hampshire

Re: Strong players who can also teach

Post by BGuttman »

The skills needed to be a great player and a great teacher do not overlap completely.

A great teacher is a good analyst. He (she?) can look at a player, figure out what is or is not happening, and suggest ways to improve. This does not necessarily translate to playing a hot solo break or hitting that high Db in Beethoven's 9th after sitting out 3 1/2 movements (Beethoven's 6th has a high C). I wish I had that skill. I've known some people that are less known that were great teachers. I took lessons with Larry Isaacson for a couple of years and learned a ton. William Lang (up above) is also a great teacher even if he's not as well known as Joe Alessi or Doug Yeo.

I remember a seminar with Eddie Bert. Eddie's playing could only be described as "stellar". But he was totally unable to explain what he was doing so the rest of us could do the same. There are an awful lot of great players like Eddie. I love to listen to Eddie, but would probably not want to take lessons from him. There are also lots of classical players with the same problem.
Bruce Guttman
Merrimack Valley Philharmonic Orchestra
"Almost Professional"
User avatar
harrisonreed
Posts: 4576
Joined: Fri Aug 17, 2018 12:18 pm
Location: Fort Riley, Kansas
Contact:

Re: Strong players who can also teach

Post by harrisonreed »

I mean, teaching aside, are you talking about orchestral players trying to be soloists? Or orchestral players in their natural element, playing in an orchestra?

Taking the ideal sound for blending with a section, blending with the trumpets, not being overbearing in the ensemble ... Eventually you end up with the kind of sound demonstrated in the masterclass where you're like "wait what?"

When most of those cats try to release a solo CD it's really blahhh. Or some have pointed out some famous orchestral players that are great soloists and might be a little too soloistic in the orchestra.

I see it as a fine balance between sounding the way you want to sound and blending with everything and everyone, at least most of the time. Out of context it's ... Yeah. In context it's great.
GGJazz
Posts: 95
Joined: Sat Jul 30, 2022 7:53 am
Location: Italy

Re: Strong players who can also teach

Post by GGJazz »

Hello again

@aasavickas : when you wrote 《Unfortunately , it appears that the condescending ignorant attitude are not only reserved for orchestral guys......etc》 , who / what are you referred to ?

Regards
Giancarlo
User avatar
hyperbolica
Posts: 2834
Joined: Fri Mar 23, 2018 7:31 am

Re: Strong players who can also teach

Post by hyperbolica »

Giant Troll.
Image
User avatar
Burgerbob
Posts: 4632
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2018 8:10 pm
Location: LA
Contact:

Re: Strong players who can also teach

Post by Burgerbob »

There's a different argument to be made, that perhaps collegiate trombone teaching is too oriented towards orchestral styles... but again, that's a different argument.
Aidan Ritchie, LA area player and teacher
User avatar
Doug Elliott
Posts: 2985
Joined: Wed Mar 21, 2018 10:12 pm
Location: Maryand

Re: Strong players who can also teach

Post by Doug Elliott »

aasavickas wrote: Tue Feb 20, 2024 8:31 am Many times when I hear famous big orchestra trombone players, I am disappointed in their sound. Too much woofy core and not enough brilliance (high overtones and trombone buzziness) in their sound for me.
I guess I haven't heard those same players with "woofy core." I do hear "famous big orchestra trombone players" posting sloppy stuff that I wouldn't put out there, but not because of "woofy core."
I was classically trained long before I became a commercial and jazz player, so I think I have valid opinions about both, and I continue to do both.

We're all playing the same stuff, just different versions of it. There shouldn't be that much difference.
"I know a thing or two because I've seen a thing or two."
User avatar
Matt K
Verified
Posts: 3950
Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2018 10:34 pm
Contact:

Re: Strong players who can also teach

Post by Matt K »

This would be an instance where an example would be useful. Presumably if there are “many” instances like this it would be easy to produce a recording of an example of a section or person with a “woofy” sound. I would go as far to say it would be more productive to provide an example of orchestral playing that one deems to be NOT woofy and ask why that approach seems rare (perhaps woofiness is not as widespread as one thinks?).

I too have had pretty massive pedagogical problems studying with Remington students (or at this point Remington removed by one). I think the teaching style seesm to work great for already good players for whom the “standard” equipment is also optimal (the players that can pick up a Conn 88 with a 5G and not think about it for the balance of their career).

I spent several years quite frustrated at a plateau in progress only to have Doug fix all of my issues inside like an hour, and a pretty minor equipment tweak. I had been chastised by Remington style teachers for even thinking about equipment. I’d been told by one, in an in person lesson, to the effect of: “You aren’t good enough to even think about switching off that 6.5AL. Keep practicing that for x hours a day until the plating wears off. That’s when you can think about it!” And by another when I observed my embrouche was probably not optimally placed that thinking of such things leads to “paralysis by analysis.” It was all wrong, for me. But may well have actually been good advice for perhaps even a majority of people coming through their studios.

I’m not pointing out who those individuals are because it doesn’t particularly matter in this case, nor do I honestly know how much they adhered to Remingtons actual philosophy, beyond talking about how great a teacher he was for them or for the person they studied with. I’m more talking about the philosophy that I’ve witnessed that seems somewhat prevalent among great players, who are naturally talented and had not needed to think about such things.

The other thing to consider is most professionals in this situation also have never had formal educational training. So educational psychology, neurodiversity, and maybe even pedagogy are limited areas of expertise. I’m neurodiverse, having several learning disabilities, and take things very, very literally. Being charitable, the person who told me not to think about mouthpieces until the plating wore off was likely a figure of speech. A not particularly helpful one since it didn’t constructively indicate the scenarios where one might want to switch, but a figure of speech none the less.

Or, in short, I’m not sure if there’s a reason to amalgamate the discussion of playing styles with the pedagogy though I can see why there is overlap in thinking.
Kbiggs
Posts: 1161
Joined: Sat Mar 24, 2018 11:46 am
Location: Vancouver WA

Re: Strong players who can also teach

Post by Kbiggs »

Sometimes, excellent (“strong”) players are good at playing, and not at teaching. They simply repeat what they were told, and what worked for them. They tend to be the “natural” players who take to music and musical language well. It’s less common to have a strong player who is also a good teacher.

Sometimes, excellent teachers are good, strong players, sometimes not. In my experience, the most helpful teachers for students that have problems keeping them from progressing are the teachers who have themselves worked through problems. I’ve never studied with them, but it’s been relayed to me that Jan Kagarice and David Vining are excellent teachers because they worked through their problems.

Of course, we sometimes find teachers who aren’t good players and whose teaching approach is anywhere from excellent to poor. Ya never know…

I currently teach middle school players, trombone, trumpet, and a small assortment of winds. What strikes me is how beginning brass students can go off course so easily in their early days, and it often takes a long time to help them recognize a deficiency (a bad habit), let alone correct it (instill and maintain a good habit). Smile-and-press embouchures, no tongue starts, inability to read music—they all have different problems.

My personal belief is that a good teacher, regardless of their ability to play well, is the one who can meet students where they are and find ways to engage them in active problem solving, and simultaneously find ways to help them challenge themselves and grow.
Kenneth Biggs
I have known a great many troubles, but most of them have never happened.
—Mark Twain (attributed)
blast
Posts: 469
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2018 6:46 am

Re: Strong players who can also teach

Post by blast »

Nonsensical generalisations and bias here. There are fine teachers and bad teachers who play every form of music, simple as that. I've retired from teaching now after 50 years of doing it, 32 of them in a conservatory. It was hard work, trying to make every single student be the best they could be. Nothing less is acceptable. I have to admit that I don't miss it...my teaching time has passed and sound and style concepts have changed. What hasn't changed is that fine playing requires massive amounts of hard work and no teacher can be a substitute for that. Too many people are looking for that teacher.
I'm now just enjoying playing. A bit of me time.
WGWTR180
Posts: 1246
Joined: Wed Sep 04, 2019 2:32 pm

Re: Strong players who can also teach

Post by WGWTR180 »

Matt K wrote: Wed Feb 21, 2024 3:20 am This would be an instance where an example would be useful. Presumably if there are “many” instances like this it would be easy to produce a recording of an example of a section or person with a “woofy” sound. I would go as far to say it would be more productive to provide an example of orchestral playing that one deems to be NOT woofy and ask why that approach seems rare (perhaps woofiness is not as widespread as one thinks?).

I too have had pretty massive pedagogical problems studying with Remington students (or at this point Remington removed by one). I think the teaching style seesm to work great for already good players for whom the “standard” equipment is also optimal (the players that can pick up a Conn 88 with a 5G and not think about it for the balance of their career).

I spent several years quite frustrated at a plateau in progress only to have Doug fix all of my issues inside like an hour, and a pretty minor equipment tweak. I had been chastised by Remington style teachers for even thinking about equipment. I’d been told by one, in an in person lesson, to the effect of: “You aren’t good enough to even think about switching off that 6.5AL. Keep practicing that for x hours a day until the plating wears off. That’s when you can think about it!” And by another when I observed my embrouche was probably not optimally placed that thinking of such things leads to “paralysis by analysis.” It was all wrong, for me. But may well have actually been good advice for perhaps even a majority of people coming through their studios.

I’m not pointing out who those individuals are because it doesn’t particularly matter in this case, nor do I honestly know how much they adhered to Remingtons actual philosophy, beyond talking about how great a teacher he was for them or for the person they studied with. I’m more talking about the philosophy that I’ve witnessed that seems somewhat prevalent among great players, who are naturally talented and had not needed to think about such things.

The other thing to consider is most professionals in this situation also have never had formal educational training. So educational psychology, neurodiversity, and maybe even pedagogy are limited areas of expertise. I’m neurodiverse, having several learning disabilities, and take things very, very literally. Being charitable, the person who told me not to think about mouthpieces until the plating wore off was likely a figure of speech. A not particularly helpful one since it didn’t constructively indicate the scenarios where one might want to switch, but a figure of speech none the less.

Or, in short, I’m not sure if there’s a reason to amalgamate the discussion of playing styles with the pedagogy though I can see why there is overlap in thinking.
Be careful here. Someone might bring up Bill Watrous or Joe Alessi. 🤪
Bach5G
Posts: 2298
Joined: Sat Apr 07, 2018 6:10 pm

Re: Strong players who can also teach

Post by Bach5G »

I once wondered if he who shall not be named was a good teacher mainly because he had the best students. But I saw him in a masterclass and his advice produced immediate results. Permanent results? I don’t know.

I’ve had one-off lessons with several highly accomplished players, including a few in the he shall not be named category (including a Trombone Chat God). Maybe they thought “Where to start?”
User avatar
BGuttman
Posts: 5947
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2018 7:19 am
Location: Cow Hampshire

Re: Strong players who can also teach

Post by BGuttman »

Sometimes that strong player would need more than one lesson to straighten you out. These guys also don't have a perfect batting average and sometimes they miss the mark.
Bruce Guttman
Merrimack Valley Philharmonic Orchestra
"Almost Professional"
Posaunus
Posts: 3466
Joined: Fri Mar 23, 2018 9:54 pm
Location: California

Re: Strong players who can also teach

Post by Posaunus »

Bach5G wrote: Fri Feb 23, 2024 2:29 pm I’ve had one-off lessons with several highly accomplished players, including a few in the he shall not be named category (including a Trombone Chat God). Maybe they thought “Where to start?”
Perhaps for folks like us (who will never be full "professionals"), these "masters" treat these lessons/classes as part of their charitable contributions? :idk:
User avatar
Mr412
Posts: 115
Joined: Fri May 20, 2022 5:57 am

Re: Strong players who can also teach

Post by Mr412 »

There's a limit to how much any teacher can do for a given student in one session.

When I sought out my instructor, I searched for one with whom I could strongly identify in terms of jazz playing style. Turns out he was also an excellent teacher.
Post Reply

Return to “Musicians”