Beijing – Day 5

This afternoon I gave a four-hour master class to the CCOM middle school trumpet students.  There were about 15 students around the age of 14-18.

First we went through some warm-up concepts together as a class.  Then I talked about putting music into different categories in order to help you focus on intent and be more efficient in your practice.  The categories I discussed were solo literature, etudes, orchestral excerpts and jazz.  I practice each area with a slightly different mindset and have different goals in mind.  Then I played a mini-recital for them consisting of:

Hummel – 1st mvt
Kennan – all mvts
Charlier etude #2
Pictures at an Exhibition – opening
Petrushka – Ballerina’s Dance
What is This Thing Called Love/Hot House

All of the master classes have accompanists and the one assigned to our trumpet studio was very good.  We didn’t rehearse the Hummel or Kennan at all and it all came off just fine.  (She did not play for the jazz stuff.)  When I talked about the differences between jazz and the other styles I had played they were at a loss to describe what they thought jazz was.  Apparently there is no direct translation for the word “improvisation”.  The whole concept of improvisation was completely foreign to them.

After my presentation I listened to 6 students play.  One of the students was preparing for a competition led by the great Finnish trumpet star Jouko Harrianne, in Helsinki.  He was playing a piece that was composed for that competition.  He was the strongest player of the day.  The “weakest” player was still extremely good technically.  Again, I spent a lot of time with all of them trying to get them to play the music that is not on the page – express something.  I had one of them do a little game of playing a phrase like a bird, then an elephant, then an emperor.  For another student I gave the audience three choices; happy, sad, mad.  Then I whispered one of the choices to the student and the audience had to guess which emotion he was playing.  He was surprisingly bad at this because in order to achieve one of the emotions he would have to play dynamics or articulations that were not there and they were reluctant to do this.

The evening concert featured the phenomenal Italian saxophonist, Marco Albenetti.  The first half of the program was tango music by Astor Piazzola and the second half of the program consisted of a suite he commissioned from Wisconsin’s very own Fred Sturm.  This was a work Fred originally wrote for a project for Bobby McFerrin and jazz orchestra consisting of folk tunes from 10 different countries.  Marco had Fred arrange this for saxophone, string quintet and percussion.

The shots below are of the high school trumpet studio, their teacher and the music school building.