Trumpet Topics

Changing Styles

A question has been posed - how can we effectively change our stylistic mindset and adapt to the correct performance style during the course of a concert. Let us use as an example, a brass quintet concert calling from such diverse styles that range from Renaissance (Gabrieli), to Romantic (Ewald), to popular arrangements in swing style

This need for versatility has been the emphasis of discussions I have heard from recording musicians over the past 40 years. I've attended master classes by dozens of Hollywood and New York trumpeters. The one theme they have in common has been their stress of the need for the trumpeter to have an ability to play in all styles. Those who have been successful in this highly competitive business, stress the fact that the commercial musician must also be able to adapt to a symphonic (legit) style, and the classical player must also be able to "swing".

These words of advice are even more important now than they were 4 decades ago; just ask anyone who plays full-time in a symphony orchestra about the importance of being able to play in commercial style. Most of the symphony orchestras that are currently able to financially survive today derive a major portion of their revenues from "pops concerts". The trumpet sections in today's orchestras must be able to play not only the traditional symphonic repertoire but also be able to read the arrangements by the current popular artists.

For the performer, the first item is, of course, being certain that you have an understanding of the subtle differences between styles and being able to convey those stylistic differences at the appropriate time.

It might be helpful if you are able to give a verbal description of what you will by trying to do stylistically. For instance:

When the styles of the works change considerably during a course of a performance, it might be good to have a mental checklist of the stylistic elements which must change as you go from one style to another. For example, the Florida State Brass Quintet has programmed a set of 3 George Gershwin works followed by a set of 3 Dixieland works. Every one of these commercial works requires a subtly different style in order to "really work". How did we make it work? Well, we rehearsed each of them alone to be sure that we're feeling each piece in the correct style, then we rehearsed them "in context" enough times that we are satisfied that we're making the transition from one style to the other during the performance.

Finally, once we have an understanding of the proper stylistic nuances, the most important thing to remember is that we must constantly listen to ourselves as we are performing to verify that we are, in fact, playing in the proper style.

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