Some common themes…

As the semester goes along, I find that no two lessons are alike.  An approach that works with one student doesn’t necessarily work with another.  Still, some common themes pop up here and there.  Here are three that I’ve found myself returning to:

Slide Accuracy

I have become more keenly aware of the fine details in a student’s slide movement.  Sometimes I point this out using slow-motion video capture.  A common ailment: “up-glissing” from isolated notes in longer positions (turning too early).


Calmer Starts

I’ve been on the watch for people moving a lot just as they start that first note.  I think trouble can arise with excessive motion.  Especially noteworthy: bobbing with the head and the bell for the first entrance.  Related to this: ‘keeping time’ by bobbing with the slide.  I’m not demanding motionless playing!  Some movement can be a natural outgrowth of expression.  But excess movement can be a real source of trouble.

Gentle Wind

I have an old saying, “Lungs deal in pounds.  Lips deal in ounces.”  I think problems can arise when the lungs are simply trying to push out more air than the lips need or want.  These include grunting (throat tension) and a too-tight embouchure set.