ITEC 2006: The Pedagogy of Great Musicianship—in Review
The ITEA Journal thanks those who agreed to review ITEC sessions. Most accepted the task months to weeks before ITEC, and some were gracious to fill in, at times, “last minute” in order to facilitate another’s schedule conflict.
Some reviews are still “in progress” and hopefully will soon be submitted and added to this article on ITEAonline.org. In addition, anyone who would like to submit a CD of photos from ITEC 2006—please do so! Also, great appreciation is extended to Alan Hood (trumpet, Denver Brass) who dedicated a great amount of time as our ITEC photographer.
~Jason Roland Smith (ITEA Journal Editor, email@example.com; 740.593.1620)
|2006 ITEC Program Booklet (2.1 MB PDF)
|Thursday, June 29
|2006 ITEC Photo Album
MONDAY, JUNE 26
12:00 p.m. Prelude presented by Euphoniums Unlimited (directed by R. Winston Morris) & Opening Remarks by Conference Host Kathy Brantigan
Kathy Brantigan, ITEC 2006 Conference Host
A superb week of music making, learning, and camaraderie began at noon on June 26 at the Gates Concert Hall of the Lamont School of Music. After opening remarks by ITEA President, Dennis AsKew, the ITEC audience got a taste of good things to come from Euphoniums Unlimited under the direction of the legendary R. Winston Morris. Their brief, but outstanding, program (a prelude to their feature concert on Thursday evening) included Josh Hauser’s setting of Healy Willan’s Rise Up My Love, My Fair One, Nehlybel’s Tower Music, and an Ingo Luis arrangement of Hey Jude. This was only the first of several featured performances for euphonium ensemble, a medium that should be explored more thoroughly around the globe. Kathy Brantigan, ITEC Executive Director and Conference Host followed the performance with a gracious welcome and instructions for low brass survival at high altitudes.
~Jerry Young, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
12:30 p.m. Gene Pokorny in Recital: “Moving from ‘Musical Instrument Operator’ to ‘Musician’ (with advice from William Shakespeare and Sam Kinison)”
The first session of the conference, delivered by Chicago Symphony tubist Gene Pokorny was among the very best of the week in a week filled with outstanding presentations. Mr. Pokorny and Caryl Conger performed a movement from Bach’s Concerto No.1 in A minor on F tuba to begin his lecture recital. The fluidity and musical control of his performance was just what we have come to expect from this great musician (not to mention Ms. Conger’s superb ensemble work!). Mr. Pokorny, in his usual articulate and at times humorous manner, commented on the appropriateness of his chosen topic for the day and its relationship to the ITEC theme (“The Pedagogy of Great Musicianship”). His emphasis for the talk was our mission as musicians to “create illusions” for our audiences and the tools we have available to us to accomplish our mission.
All selections he performed during the session were viewed by the audience on transparencies on a large screen, which focused attention on precisely what was happening musically during performances and elucidated Mr. Pokorny’s comments following each work. Most selections performed during the sessions had specific connection to the various tuba “legends” present for ITEC: Roger Bobo (Hindemith Sonate, mvmt. III cadenza), Tommy Johnson (Bach Concerto in A minor), Harvey Phillips (Persichetti Serenade No. 12 “Intermezzo”), and Abe Torchinsky (Frackenpohl Concertino, Mvmt. II).
In the course of his session, Pokorny addressed a number of issues of relevance. He emphasized the importance of paying attention to details of interpretation and phrasing and being aware that knowledge of historical performance practices is crucial to making good decisions. Know that there are tension/relaxation cycles in everything you perform, and you must communicate those cycles to your audience. After his performance of the second movement of the Frackenpohl Concertino, his comments on the judicious use of vibrato and taking advantage of espressivo opportunities, especially in faster passages, were particularly instructive. He recommended the consideration of Schenkerian analysis to assist with developing more informed interpretation.
Perhaps the most instructive and “high impact” moment of the afternoon came with Mr. Pokorny’s performance of the cadenza from the third movement of Hindemith’s Sonate für Basstuba. This passage often lacks interest and expressive import in many performances. Pokorny performed the passage, pausing to recite the somewhat poetic story line that he has paired with the music to give the audience the “illusion” that he is indeed telling a story with the music. His first line at the beginning of the cadenza “story” is “This is my lady, I love her….” The completed story ends with the same words at the cadenza’s end, echoing the strong form of the music. This is an exercise worth trying on your own. The session concluded with performances of Gerald Finzi’s song Since We Loved the “Intermezzo” from Persichetti’s Serenade No. 12, and Grieg’s Wedding Day at Troldhaugen, and comments on those works.
The only unfortunate thing about this session was that, due to the longer-than-expected opening ceremony and time for set-up, Mr. Pokorny’s presentation had to be a bit rushed, and he had to leave out some of his material. While this is somewhat “the nature of the beast” in conference settings (i.e. “the best laid plans of mice and men…”) it was too bad that this had to be the case. I hope that Mr. Pokorny will hang onto the full content of this session and that he will be able to deliver it in its entirety in other venues. If you have the chance to see/hear it, don’t miss it!
~Jerry A. Young, The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
1:30 p.m. A Chat with the Legends, Part I hosted by Gene Pokorny with Roger Bobo, Brian Bowman, & Tommy Johnson
(L–R) Brian Bowman, Roger Bobo, and Tommy Johnson
The “Chat with Legends” sessions through the week at ITEC 2006 were nothing short of remarkable. Members of the last three or four generations of our profession have had such easy access to the greatest artist/teachers of our time (and maybe of all time), that most of us seem to (at least a little bit) take their presence among us for granted. These sessions underscore why we need to pay closer attention to what they have to offer us. This is indeed the legacy of the “Pedagogy of Great Musicianship” and was, in my opinion, a stroke of genius on the part of the Conference Planning Committee.
This first “legends” session on the first afternoon of the conference began with the presentation of the ITEA Lifetime Achievement Award to Tommy Johnson. Mr. Johnson was visibly touched by this special and (to considerably understate the case) highly deserved award. Before conversation began, Gene Pokorny played the famous excerpt from the recording by the Los Angeles Philharmonic of “Uranus” from Holst’s The Planets, which featured Tommy Johnson and Roger Bobo, comparing it to a fine recording of the same work by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The low “E” played by Tommy Johnson on one of the smallest Miraphone tubas is beyond description and “brought the house down.” An audience member requested a re-play of the excerpt, and was obliged, followed by another enthusiastic response.
The afternoon’s session continued with a series of questions posed by Mr. Pokorny, with each panel member responding. While I realize that my assignment was to “review” this session, I feel that readers will be best served by a short paraphrase of the questions posed and the panel members’ answers. While this version may lack the impact of hearing the words coming from the mouths of these “legends,” hopefully some of the inspiration relative to the content of their statements is preserved.
• Are you conscious of a point where a student is ready to study musicianship versus technique?
Bowman: I teach listening. One should listen to great artists and to oneself. I was influenced by listening to the sounds of Leonard Falcone, Raymond Young, and Harold Brasch and borrowing from various characteristics of their sounds.
Bobo: Don’t wait to teach musicality. Musicality is the motivation for improvement.
Johnson: Start with musicality right away. His teacher, Bob Marsteller, emphasized the need to play music, regardless of the material. Relative to a Rochut study, he might ask, “Can you make it more interesting?” Music is number one —everything else comes after the music.
• Are you satisfied with the tone quality/color changes you can make? Is it all that important?
Bowman: Much sound shaping on euphonium comes through vibrato: the ability to make tone brighter or darker on euphonium is important. Most change is done conceptually, both in terms of how we think and physical change (primarily in the oral cavity). “Coloring” is the preferred term and is determined by the needs of the music. Every player must achieve overall consistency.
Bobo: Timbre needs to change in order to keep things interesting. Physical changes can be important, but for tuba players equipment changes are also important.
Johnson: Agreed with the comments of Bowman and Bobo, and added the thought that, in Hollywood, more horns at a job mean more money (payment for “doubles”—playing more than one instrument at a studio job). He further added that the story that has been around for many years relative to his experience with Giulini and the cimbasso is not true!
• Who were your models? When did you develop your own personality?
Bobo: Bob Marsteller, Arnold Jacobs, Bourget, Tommy Johnson, Harry James, Raphael Mendez.
Johnson: Bob Marsteller, Vince de Rosa, great violinists—listening to all great players. He developed his “own personality” and got away from the distinctive “Marsteller sound” by simply listening to others.
Bowman: In addition to the previously named influences, his influences are cellist Rostropovich and various conductors, but most specifically William D. Revelli, his college band director.
•Transcriptions or original music: how do you balance it?
Bobo and Johnson: Definitely play transcriptions. Play great music rather than mediocre music, and make lesser music sound great.
Bowman: Echoed the above statement and related Harvey Phillip’s famous story relative to the advice of Vincent Persichetti: “All music is yours to play in good taste—composers want their music to be played.” It is our responsibility to generate new, good music, as well.
• If you had it to do all over again, what would you do?
Johnson: I wouldn’t have hurt my knee! [Mr. Johnson was an excellent athlete and was awarded a basketball scholarship at the University of Southern California in his youth, but due to a knee injury was unable to accept the scholarship.] I would play the piano better.
Bobo: I would be reluctant to change anything. Maybe I would have started studying conducting earlier.
Bowman: I’m thankful I’ve had a life as a professional euphonium player. I chose to be a euphonium player. I wish I had practiced more, and I wish I were more versatile.
• Do you have advice for young musicians here?
Johnson: Set realistic goals: be versatile. Don’t have tunnel vision. Only two percent of my students have landed jobs as professional tuba players who only play the tuba for a living.
Bobo: Keep a demeanor of joy in your playing. Remember why people made music in the first place. (He also stated general agreement with Mr. Johnson’s comments.)
Bowman: Remember that our purpose is to elevate the human soul. Remember to keep your musical mission first.
I hope that we see similar sessions to this one and the other “Chat” sessions at future conferences. Kudos to Gene Pokorny for his organization and guidance of this superb experience.
~Jerry A. Young, The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
3:00 p.m. “Getting the Job Done” presented by Alan Baer & Tommy Johnson
Tommy Johnson & Alan Baer
From the ITEC program: “Sage advice and observations from the masters—the things you really need to know to get the job done. Topics to be covered include: producing a good tone, the importance of technique, musicianship, acting like a professional, freelance tuba playing in Hollywood, memorable moments, studio vs. symphony playing, and answers to all your questions!”
The clinic began with Baer and Johnson performing the first movement of Bach’s double violin concerto. Following the performance Johnson discussed the need for tuba players to develop a sound that can play up to the level of the orchestra. According to Johnson, ”the sound needs to be a powerful sound, but a pleasing sound.” Johnson asked Baer to demonstrate a bad sound by playing a short etude. Baer didn’t achieve the poor sound Johnson was hoping for! So, he moved ahead to how a player could work on achieving a more powerful sound by having Baer play the etude again starting at a softer dynamic and playing every note a little louder than the last but with his pleasing sound. After this successful performance, Johnson reminded the audience that the player needs to stay relaxed, to not put a death grip on the instrument, and to make the energy go through the sound with relaxed air. Johnson encouraged the audience to do this exercise five minutes every day at the end of the practice session so the powerful, pleasing sound goes with them.
Baer discussed a technique for achieving a musical breath by only taking a breath between notes that go down (“down stroke”). He also suggested taking breaths where you normally wouldn’t and making it sound musical.
Baer discussed how he prepares for an orchestral audition. Earlier in his career he would start practicing the excerpts four hours per day beginning 30 days before the audition. However, he said, “that didn’t work very well.” He started achieving more success with auditions when he would pick three or four etudes that fit the audition excerpt (perhaps key, style, tempo) and concentrated on the etudes and not the excerpt. He still worked on the concepts of the excerpt through the etudes. Baer also stressed the importance of preparing to the ‘nth’ degree. He said he would write down everything that he needed to do to prepare for the audition and everything that he would need to do the day of the audition. For example, securing airline tickets, calling the cab company, deciding what he would eat the day of the audition, what tubas he would need, etc. After creating the list, he would highlight the things he had control over and found that he highlighted most of them. He realized that this preparation technique gave him more confidence because he had control over many items. Baer also suggested practicing the excerpts on both the big and small tubas because conductors sometimes ask to hear an excerpt on a different instrument.
Baer had suggestions for tuba players wanting to achieve high success: “take your time in school seriously; find ways to keep your mind into the profession; use a drum machine and play the excerpts to a rock beat for kicks; record yourself; experiment with different metronomes; use SmartMusic; get your teacher to tell you the truth so you will know what needs to improve.” Johnson added that his teacher, Robert Marstellar, told him that “he was a faker; you don’t play every note.” Johnson said the truth made him work harder.
Johnson spent time discussing the need to be a good sight-reader and related this to some of his experiences working in the Hollywood recording studios. Johnson said the Bank Americard jingle was recorded in one take. The same thing happened with the sound track to Jaws, and he had a story to go with it. Johnson was a junior high band director at the time he recorded Jaws. He had to be at the Fox studio at 9 a.m. to record the music, but he arrived late because he couldn’t leave the junior high school until the substitute teacher arrived. The substitute arrived late, which made Johnson 20 minutes late for the recording call time. To save time and which made it more embarrassing, he parked in the front of the recording studio and came through the front door, which meant he had to walk past the conductor and the orchestra! He got his instrument out of the case, opened the folder, and the conductor began the orchestra! Again, good sight-reading skills saved him from disaster.
Johnson discussed that studio work requires the musician to know all styles and to play with click tracks, rhythm tracks, and over dubbing. In order to get rid of distractions he would concentrate on all aspects of the music—dynamics, articulations, etc. Baer related a story of how he would practice his excerpts in the middle of a parking lot to help his concentration.
An audience member asked about the tools they use when teaching. Baer said he uses a good metronome played through a guitar amp so it can be heard. He also uses a drum machine and a tuba stand. Baer prefers to make his own tuba stand instead of buying the ready-made stands. He also practices on a drum throne and takes it to auditions and gigs because “you never know what kind of chair will be provided.”
Another audience member asked about a daily method. Baer “forces” his students to use the Bill Bell method book. He said “if you can get through the routine in 20 minutes without making a mistake, then you can play anything.” He went on to say that the Bill Bell method isn’t the only routine that’s out there, but the point is to find a 20-minute routine that makes you feel ready to play.
~Dr. Michael Fischer, Boise State University
4:00 p.m. “The Antiphonal Music of Gabrieli: A Celebration of the Recording” presented by Carole Nowicke & Jack Robinson with special guests Abe Torchinsky, Henry Charles Smith, and Ronald Bishop
(L–R) Jack Robinson, Ron Bishop, Henry Charles Smith, and Abe Torchinsky
“The Antiphonal Music of Gabrieli: A Celebration of the Recording,” presented by Carole Nowicke and Jack Robinson, was a retrospective on the groundbreaking 1968 recording of the combined brass sections of the Philadelphia, Chicago, and Cleveland Orchestras, which won a Grammy in 1969 for “Best Classical Recording.” Jack Robinson’s opening remarks set the stage for the significance of the recording and were followed by Carole Nowicke’s slide presentation, featuring period photos of the players, recording venue, and historical woodcuts of Renaissance consorts and St. Mark’s Cathedral, the location where most of Gabrieli’s works were originally premiered. Three of the musicians appearing on the recording, Henry Charles Smith (Philadelphia), Abe Torchinsky (Philadelphia), and Ronald Bishop (Cleveland), were then interviewed about the circumstances surrounding this legendary recording. The project was set into motion by Andy Kazdin, timpanist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the members of Chicago and Cleveland brass sections carpooled to “Town Hall” of Philadelphia for the three three-hour recording sessions. All of the sessions were recorded without tuning beforehand or a conductor and with almost no multiple takes of a single selection. The works were selected for recording primarily because the arrangements were available through Robert King Music Company.
The recording was revolutionary in a number of aspects, as it amassed the greatest brass musicians of the era, in addition to employing innovative techniques in stereo effects to emphasize the antiphonal aspects of the works. In spite of the apparent success of the recording, Torchinsky related that the recording was and is not as popular as the other collaborative projects that the Philadelphia Brass recorded, like the Christmas recording with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Other points of interest arose, like how the musicians responded to criticism from the early music community concerning the use of new instruments for the music’s era, and Ron Bishop replied that there is hopefully room for the music recorded not just on original instruments but also modern instruments. Considering the success of the recording, this response is easily justified.
The story of this recording is almost as good as the recording itself, and the presenters should be heartily congratulated on their presentation.
~Jason Byrnes, University of Northern Colorado
8:00 p.m. Modern Jazz Tuba Project, R. Winston Morris and Joe Murphy, Directors with guest vocalist Miss Connye Florance
Modern Jazz Tuba Project
Modern Jazz Tuba Project was the featured ensemble on the first evening concert, headed by R. Winston Morris. With several CD Releases on Mark Records, MJT’s performance was one that was much anticipated.
This “grooveful” ensemble with its powerful solos, tight rhythm section, and top-notch charts did not disappoint. From its driving and straight ahead beginning on Richard Perry’s Kool Kube, the group let the audience know that the MJTP sounds as good live as they do on CD. A strength of this group is the many fine soloists for practically everyone soloed during the program. Joe Murphy and Richard Perry provided strong solos all night on tuba while Marcus Dickman, Barry Green, and Billy Huber covered every type of solo from Bop to Ballad, all showcasing their world-class talents. Billy Huber’s stratospheric solos led Steven Mead to comment the next morning that his students learned they needed to add a whole new octave to their range.
R. Winston Morris
A tasty change of pace was the addition of soulful vocalist Connie Florance on both Strange Thing and Masquerade. Highlights of the night for this writer were MJT’s performance of the great Joe Murphy arrangement of the Average White Band classic Pick Up the Pieces, which MJT “funkified” with abandon along with their performance of Theme for Malcolm from their second CD, which is just a fantastic chart.
Perhaps Jim Shearer’s comment during his introduction of the group summed it up the best. “This is a jazz band that happens to play euphoniums and tubas.” The Modern Jazz Tuba Project happens to be one hell of a jazz band.
~Scott Watson, University of Kansas
10:00 p.m. Evenings at the Lodge: “New Currents in Deep Waters” featuring John Manning, Tom Heasley, Bob Stewart & Trio Akimbo
The evening sessions of the ITEC conference started off right with an eclectic mix with John Manning, Tom Heasley, and Bob Stewart. The rustic lodge setting was great for the less-formal late night sessions. John Manning brought his own personal touch to contemporary tuba music with his set entitled “Made in Iowa.” Titles such as Cheese Spread, Dark, and Fourteen Antonin really made you want to know what this performer had to say musically, and the audience certainly was not disappointed. Providing a warm, rich tone his compositions came to life and you instantly understood. Most of us know John as a great tuba player and pedagogue, but now we can add composer to his already impressive list of attributes.
The ethereal sounds of Tom Heasley were next up for the late night sessions. As the night grew longer, the crowd grew larger and louder. Luckily, Mr. Heasely was able to repeat his set on Tuesday, because you really have to hear every nuance of his music to appreciate it. Tom does really interesting things with the instrument that I haven’t heard done yet. His combinations of vocals, drones, loops, distortion, and the tuba make for a really great combination.
Rounding out the evening was Bob Stewart & Trio Akimbo. This group of musicians is inspired by the music of Benin, which is similar to New Orleans jazz where the tuba is the brass bass of the ensemble. The group was a great backing for Bob, who dazzled us all with his style and solo virtuosity. It was definitely the right fit for this venue and was a great way to end the evening.
Bob Stewart & Trio Akimbo
The late night concerts in the lodge were attended by many conference-goers as a way to wind down the evening. Luckily, this evening they were not only able to socialize with friends and colleagues but also able to hear some innovative music from world-class musicians.
~Patrick Stuckemeyer, Euphonium Soloist
|2006 ITEC Program Booklet (2.1 MB PDF)
|Thursday, June 29
|2006 ITEC Photo Album