Saturday, July 28, 2012

FBSMC4: How Are You Doing So Far?

So far there has been 5 sessions that include 21 videos. That is a lot of information, knowledge and practical exercises with tons to think about and apply for those who are interested. There will be more videos coming in the second week of August, but I wanted to 'check' in with you all who are following this.

Because of the 'live' nature of the presentation, you might have to really take your time and let yourself get into the spirit of what is trying to be communicated. Also, in the midst of it all, write down some of the practical exercises and try them out. But try them with the attitude and sentiment of a musical approach.

What really does the word musical mean?

Musical does not stand for, in my view, over emotional indulgence or a theater of self emoting so others can watch. Musical is in the spirited connection to the essence of what one is doing. The musical connection goes through and through our entire being. It is the DANCE of sound expressing itself through our mind-attitude, emotion-feelings, body and instinct. It is the artist who is searching for the right color or shading, it is the architect finding the shape and contour of a building, it is in the cook pouring their love into the food and wanting to cause joy in others, it is in the healing touch of a sincere nurse when he or she practices the Art of care and on and on. Please find examples yourself. It will put you on the frequency of music as a living thing.

Find a simple exercise that is given in any of these videos or writings that interests you and/or you feel the need to work on. Then find something in life, a movie, a dance, a picture, a gesture, something in nature, to put in your attitude and feeling while working on it. It is a simple and natural thing.

Be the artist of your own music making. Working on the basics ideally should be joyful. If one is injured and has to 'start over again' it is back to the basics. Nurture these basics with love and care and they will be your friends and companions throughout your whole playing career. That is the key to a musical approach to the basics.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


May I suggest that before you sit down to this 50 minutes master class in these 5 videos, that you take a look at the previous blog post which was put up a few hours before. It will be a good introduction to this session and will give help advice at how to get the most out of this master class. Enjoy and discover!

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

FBSMC4, A Preview into Session 5: SOUND PRODUCTION

As is probably very obvious so far in these videos, the nature of my delivery is in the 'spirit' of the subject matter. If you are interested and take the time, you will be able to find the various steps of development for each of the topics. There are tons of concepts and exercises given in each video. But just as important, is the opening up of the subject matter so one can go on a journey of discovery with it. To go where maybe you have never been with the subject or to address issues you might of thought about and to bring them out into the open. Each topic is a living organism and is connected to the whole life of the art. This is why I approach each one in the way that I do. To encourage your life engagement with the topic so it is real and personal for you. One size does not fit all.

Later today, 5 videos will be posted about that favorite brass subject, sound production. This will be Session 5 of this summer's Frequency Bone Summer Music Connection 4, "A Musical Approach to the Basics."In these videos I try to encourage everyone to take a look at sound production in a musical way and a natural way. Sound or tone is a body or vehicle. It is not the music itself but can be likened to clothes. Just because someone has an attractive body or wears stylish high fashion clothes, doesn't always let you know what kind of person they are or what they stand for in the depth of themselves. Also, would one set of really nice clothes be appropriate for all activities? Of course not and neither would one sound. This I understand is beyond a very young players concern, (there are exceptions!), but I am trying to encourage people to not totally fall in love with one sound for all things. As an instrumentalist, I have seen this clinging to one ultimate sound way too often and also taught to students who actually are not 'made' to have such a sound. NOT EVERYONE IS MADE TO HAVE THE SAME SOUND OR EVEN CAN HAVE A PARTICULAR SOUND EVEN IF THEY WANT IT.

I hope that people can listen to these videos with an open mind and work with the concepts that attract you. Some of the topics brought up on these videos are:
*Where are we directing our sound to come from?
*Can we tell the condition of our embouchure from the qualities in our sound?
* Air temperature and sound
*'Edge' in our sound. Is it really a matter of good or bad?
*Dynamic contrast and tone quality
*Orchestral excerpts, how far can we stretch our sound?
*Sound and direction
*Embouchure anatomy
*The anatomy of a tone
*Do we have our own sound?
*Does the trombone have its own sound?

Something to keep in mind is these videos are recorded live. There are no edits at all. This series of 5 videos were made one after the other. It is really like a 50 minute master class that starts to open up the subject of a musical approach to sound production.

Sunday, July 8, 2012


It really is not possible to talk about endurance without going into building strength in general. Let's look at strength. 

Strength is having the power and energy to do what you want to do whether it is to move a table, lift something, or walk across the room. When people are really sick, they might not even have the strength to speak. So strength and energy are very connected. But the strength it takes to lift five hundred pounds over your head is different to the strength it takes to give an excellent moving speech. Both take energy, strength and focus. Now think about our music. Think of the control it takes to play soft and high. Now how about loud and low? What about very fast playing? The list goes on and on doesn't it?  Is having control the same as having strength?  Is focus a kind of strength? Where does energy come into play concerning focus, strength and control? 

The thought process above might help some people to understand how things work. It might help with teaching others. But you don't have to 'understand ' all of that mentally to have strength, energy, focus or control. But, the more you get into it, you may start to naturally feel and silently know these subtle relationships.

1.Repetition is key to building anything.
2.Regularity is vital to making 'good' your repetition.
3. Consistency is the 'glue' that holds together your regular repetition 

Vital Basics to Building Strength

  • play rest, play rest
  • Know the signals of your body and mind when they are saying STOP.
  • Extreme loud playing in the high and low registers  do not have to be practiced daily. Find out in your playing schedule what can be done every 48 hours or 72 hours.
Before practicing clear your mind by organizing your thoughts. Know what you want to practice and go for it with zeal. 

Playing Proteins 
Certain kinds of playing help strengthen certain parts of our embouchure and breathing systems. Correct loud playing can build the embouchure and support systems of breathing. Be mindful of the dose and I recommend 3-5 minutes of playing loudly then take 3-5 break and repeat if it feels right.
Short fast or slow tonguing, loud and soft, can also create greater cohesion in the embouchure which will be excellent for efficiency of response. 
High range playing will also help the feeling of 'grip' and add core to the sound. IF DONE BY THE  METHOD OF PLAY REST, PLAY REST. If not, it can be damaging especially when it gets loud.

Be patient, and find what works for you. PATIENCE IS ITS OWN SPECIAL KIND OF ENDURANCE, STRENGTH, ENERGY AND FOCUS. Try it and see!!

Friday, July 6, 2012

FBSMC4, A Musical Approach to the Basics, Session 4: ENDURANCE

Here is a series of 4 videos getting into the spirit and musical approach of endurance. These videos get into the basic principles of foundational attitudes to promote and sustain endurance as part of our music making process. There will be some accompanying postings giving more insight and additional exercises to try and apply if you so choose. The intention with the additional postings is to help by giving some 'concrete' practical integration material to make greater penetration into the videos. Don't expect from any of the FBSMC videos or writings, to  get it all in one listening or reading. It is an organic process to explore and discover what it is for you. It is NOT a list of steps that just magically works by itself. It needs YOUR LIFE involved to open the door.
Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Session 4 of FBSMC4 is coming: ENDURANCE

In the next day or two, Session 4 of Frequency Bone Summer Music Connection 4, A Musical Approach to the Basics will be posted. It will be about endurance.

One might ask, "What would be a musical approach to endurance?" That is a good question because the usual association with endurance is very physical  or athletic. But I have seen 'musical' athletes and I'm not talking about whistling or singing in the shower. The way they play the game has a fluidity to it, a great sense of rhythm and poise. So yes, there can be a musical approach to endurance.

Endurance is one of the basics after someone has been playing awhile. It does take strength to get get through the etudes and a band concert. No matter what level we are talking about, stamina is something that needs to eventually be developed especially if the player has career aspirations or wants playing to be a regular part of his or her life.

Endurance might not be totally what you think either. For the physical aspect is only part of it! Here is a contemplation for you: endures = sure end.

P.S. I hope you also are enjoying and gleaning the wisdom of Dr. Carol Viera from the FBSMC4 Extra! INTERVIEW. Watch for some more extras in the near future!