Jul 8, 2005

Cis, boom, ba

Since I've recently been appointed head of the wind and brass department and Principal guest conductor of the Chicago College of Performing Arts of Roosevelt University, I thought it was time to trumpet (trombone) the qualities of my school (and alma mater,) because of the excellent program for aspiring performance musicians they have created. I also want to talk about the trombone studio that I am responsible for, and with which I take pride in.

I run the trombone studio on the European model, that is to say it is a trombone class where as many people attend together at one time in order to cover more ground and have people get used to performing in front of others. I usually do this over a 2 day period, with about 4 students coming each day. This gives a student the possibility of a potential 8 hours a week access to me as trombone instructor. I do a lot of playing to demonstrate the things I teach, because I believe letting the student hear something you are trying to get across is the best way to communicate an idea. Besides, it's a great challenge for a teacher to pick up the horn cold every time and sound good enough to convince people that you should be the teacher! Which brings me to one of the most important things I try to impart to my students; the biggest problem we have as trombone players is sounding warmed up when we're not, because the chances are in an orchestral setting your never going to be warmed up because we don't play often enough to feel warmed up. I try to get people to develop such a strong mental concept that their sound is always there no matter how their embouchure's feel. Sometimes we will do what I call round-robin exercises, in which we pass around a passage from player to player (even me,) to see how much better it can get by hearing other players trying their best. Of course we spend an appropriate amount of time preparing students for auditions, because most of our students want to pursue playing careers and I wouldn't want it any other way. Besides that no one should become a teacher without some experience as a performer, because you couldn't relate to someone preparing for an audition or solo performance unless you went through it yourself.

One of the most valuable and unique courses offered by CCPA is the mock audition class. This class is designed to prepare students for orchestral auditions and tries to reproduce the conditions that players will encounter in real auditions. Needless to say this is one of the most valuable courses a budding orchestral player will ever experience. There is also an Orchestral Studies program, for those students of a high proficiency, focusing on an advanced course for preparation to an orchestral playing career, something unique in college curriculum.

Another new course introduced this year will be the wind repertory class. This is a course designed for wind players that will cover some of the most important repertoire for winds and brass in the orchestral literature and gives players a chance to read music not covered in the full orchestra. It is also valuable because most of normal orchestral rehearsal time is taken up with string issues because of the sheer volume of notes they play, therefore rarely going beneath the surface of the problems of wind instrument players. In addition there is a wind ensemble and brass ensemble program as well as chamber music and opera. Every year there is a gala concert performed in the world famous Auditorium Theater, one of the world's great concert and opera halls.

CCPA has assembled one of the strongest instrumental faculties in the world and includes top orchestral musicians as well as soloists.

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