Saturday, September 4, 2010

Back from Venezuela!

What an honor, privilege and a joy to work with the over 50 trombone players that attended the seminar put on by the El Sistema program in Caracas Venezuela!

The week was so full. We started at 9 in the morning for 3 or 4 hours and again in the afternoon starting at about 3 for the same amount of time. Plus, we listened to 2 concerts a day!

There were 16 of us from NEC who were working with the students, woodwind, trombones, strings, percussion, big band. We were treated extremely well. The appreciation and the spirit of the students was almost overwhelming.

The trombones were one of the biggest numbers of like instruments at the seminar. Maybe the biggest! The ages ranged from 8 to 30years old I believe. The 8 year old named Kasin, was SO talented and SERIOUS! He never lost his focus. Really impressive for anyone let alone an 8 year old!

The trombone teachers who were present included Miguel Sanchez, the main teacher who is a fantastic trombonist, performer, teacher, person and founder of the Veneszuela Trombone Ensemble. His sister Melissa is also a terrific teacher, coach, performer and person. Their father, Angel Sanchez was also participating in my classes and was a big teacher for many years in Caracas. He was present in all the classes. Really inspiring.

Our times together were spent in group warm-ups, choir, solos, quartets, many discussions and workshops on all aspects of playing. Lots of laughter, serious times, the deeper questions about music and profound musical connection to the spirit of the music and above all an incredible humanity.

I will write more about the specifics soon. I will also be posting more pictures so you can get more of a flavor looking at the wonderful people participating. Our theme turned out to be, music + technique = Art. They were so grateful that the music was the most upfront feature and that technique was to be used as a facilitating skill for the communication of the music. They totally understood that attitude and feeling is key to connecting to the music. The joy and thankfulness I felt from the fact they got my (and Carol's) essential message, was monumental and would be difficult for me to put into words.

More soon!! Stay tuned!


Vic Dickenson said...

Thanks! I'm really getting a kick out of your videos. They're very thoughtful and helpful. I studied very briefly with a Minnesota Orchestra trombonist and he insisted
that I change my mouthpiece placement (lower on my lip - just like him). After much aggravation I stopped seeing him and, by then, I could barely play a note. Soon after
that, Claude Gordon got me back on track and reminded me that I needed to trust MYSELF.
I like what you say about different exercises having different effects on different people.
There's a lot of self-discovery going on and it's fascinating.
Thanks again.

Vic Dickenson said...

I've got a question for you. How do sit there in the trombone section for 40 minutes not playing a note,
and then come in on a soft (or not) high note? How can you practice that? Except by sitting quietly in a room for 40 minutes and then playing. Even in a jazz-big band situation, if I stop playing for an extended period
the soft high entrances (and anticipation) are difficult.
Not so much if that playing is 'in the flow' of things.

Norman Bolter said...

Hello Vic and I am glad you are getting something from the videos.
Sitting and pretending you are performing the piece and waiting to come on your entrance IS a good way to practice entrances that are delicate, soft and you have to wait to come in after an extended time not playing. Also, practicing those entrances repeatedly waiting less time maybe 1 to 5 minutes before playing also helps. It is vital to keep musically in the flow whether you are playing or not. Be absorbed in the music and keep in a centered place in yourself and remember to breath in a rhythmic way. I found this to help a great deal. Let me know how it develops!