Volume 35 Number 3 (Spring 2008)
This article that was originally published in the Volume 35:3 of the ITEA Journal is now removed from our Journal archive, as it was determined in September 2017 that the article is a verbatim plagiary of Nancy Cochran’s article entitled “Ensemble Etiquette” published in the April 1986 issue of The Horn Call. The International Horn Society and the original author were notified of this incident of plagiarism. Our sincere apologies for any inconvenvience.
by Pat Stuckemeyer
Being a music educator, I deal with problems everyday. These might be as inconsequential as missed notes and incorrect rhythms but could also be major problems like tone production, air support, or tonguing issues. We often use pieces of musical repertoire to teach various problems, and, through these teaching tools, we hope that our students will be challenged enough to overcome these obstacles and accomplish their goals.
When preparing a piece of music, students will often concentrate so intently on the notes that they forget about all of the other facets of the music. Dynamics, phrasing, tempo, pulse, and rhythm seem to get pushed to the wayside until they can “get the notes.” This is all-to-common for many pupils and can be simply frustrating to the teacher. The mentality of this is such that the student works so hard on the notes; he or she will have to add in the extra-musical devices such as phrasing, articulations, and dynamics after the notes have been learned. These extra-musical devices tend to push to the wayside indefinitely because the notes have taken their toll on the student’s patience. Why take so much time with just the notes-on-the-page? I believe that there has to be a better approach to this problem.
Most teachers have a progressive order of things that they look for. Some look for pitch first, others rhythm, while some look for the musical shape of the line before all else. For me, it’s rhythm. Rhythm, in my experience, is the hardest problem to fix after the student has already engrained the incorrect rhythm in his or her head. From the way we buzz our lips to the way we take a deep inhalation, everything that we do on our instrument is habitual. We as performers practice until our actions become natural. We as educators try to engrain this knowledge correctly in our students but are not always so lucky. For every great teacher in the world today, there are an equal number of inexperienced ones who mean well but do not have the skills necessary to instill knowledge correctly in the student from the start. Herein lies the problem for the student, for what we do as musicians is based upon the repetition of the fundamentals that were taught to us from the beginning. If one of these facets is not taught with the utmost care, it can be incredibly difficult to change it at a later date. I have been told by many of my teachers that you cannot simply erase a habit. What you can do is add another habit and hope that you can concentrate on that enough to let that action replace the previous one.
The first installment of this educational series was about teaching the list of pieces that every teacher has in his or her arsenal to aid the up-and-coming student. Now we can turn our attention to using these pieces more in contextual manner. Often a piece is given to a student by the teacher as a way to relay an educational message. Whether this is range-based, tempi-based, tonguing-based, or style-based the piece has something in it that they cannot do, and they are supposed to overcome it using this piece. Instead of using the piece to teach a problem, let us devise exercises to address the problem—and then use the piece as a way to put that “problem” into action and overcome it. Do not sacrifice the music as educational tool, but use the musiceducationally. Streamline the musical obstacle and the piece together!
J. Edouard Barat (1882–1963) studied music in Paris with Paul Vidal and Emile Pessard. His love of wind music was partially influenced through his work as a bandmaster with the French Army. The Introduction and Dance is a staple of the repertoire, especially for study of the French style.1Introduction and Dance is available in two versions, one for euphonium or trombone and the other for tuba. The two versions are essentially identical, but their registers have been changed to accommodate the instrumentation.
Headlines for the Teacher
Performance practice is an area where many brass musicians suffer, simply because the time was not taken to research what they were playing. As teachers we are there to enrich the lives of our students, but there has to be a certain degree of research done on our part to accurately relay knowledge to the student. We, as educators, should not expect younger students to do exhaustive research into performance practice but should expect this from ourselves to further our knowledge of the pieces that we are teaching.
A working knowledge of the piece and composer is a good start but having some idea about the time period, cultural significances, and perhaps other art forms in addition would give us ideas on the various stylistic attributes of the entire piece. For example, it is much easier to understand the music of Arnold Schoenberg when you understand the expressionist movement in both German poetry and art. Without this knowledge it would be much more difficult to digest the work as a whole. Studying various styles of music like Baroque, Modern, or nationalistic styles are great for any musician. Introduction and Dance is a great primer piece for study in the French style because it is short and not technically demanding of the performer. A younger musician can pull many stylistic traits out of the music without feeling overwhelmed because of the difficulty of the music. The French style aesthetically involves delicacy, clarity, and objectivity in their art forms in the beginning of the 20th century. This is quantified especially in French literature, Impressionistic painting of Monet, and the influence in major works of Faure and Debussy.
I always say that, “if you can sing it, you can play it,” and I believe this to be true. When preparing this work with a student I will often have them sing various passages. The human voice is a great training tool not only for ear training but also to conceptualize the phrase and structure of a piece. Basically what we do as musicians is trying to emulate the singing voice, so why not use this as a basis for our pedagogical learning? Singing the phrases will not only give them the confidence to trust their musicality, but it will give them another avenue to explore their musicality without the actual playing of the instrument getting in the way.
Pedagogical Considerations for Performance
Introduction and Dance is a great work for teaching style and rhythm. The range is E2 to G4 with an optional section in the Introduction that would extend it down to C2, but it never goes any higher than G4. This makes the piece accessible to a talented high-school musician or definitely by a young collegiate student. Complex rhythmic passages are included in both sections of the entire piece but tend to be written in the middle-range, therefore making it easier for the student to focus on them.
The Introduction explores a few extended techniques for a younger player like tempo changes, a short cadenza, and an extreme variety of dynamics. The Dance section is based off of two different tempos with a short codetta at the end. Rhythmic stability will be the toughest hurtle to overcome with the student. Practicing these complex rhythms away from the instrument will be paramount to their success.
The musical roadmap of this work can be a difficult challenge to discern. Sometimes too much information is given, while other times more would be helpful. While this can be frustrating to the student, it is a great opportunity for the student to begin to develop musical ideas of his or her own to employ in the work. From the beginning, the pianist begins with a four-measure introduction, and the soloist begins in measure 5. The edition is notated as shown in Example 1.1.
There is quite a bit of information, but the extra-musical ideas are not present on the page. Example 1.2 illustrates how I teach this opening line to be performed.
Anyone who has performed or taught this piece knows that getting the appropriate length of note out of the student can be difficult. I would first go ahead and insert tenuto markings over m. 7 and 8 as reminders. Also, I would make sure that they were not tapering the half notes, and draw an arrow through the rest of the measure to ensure that they hold the notes for full value. The dashed phrase marking would let them know that these two measures work together, as well as the second set.
The use of extreme dynamics are evident in all aspects of impressionistic music, and the Introduction of this work is no exception. As teachers, we know that what we hear as the player is not the same as what the audience will hear. Often I use a percentage rule with my students. If you think you are doing 100% of the expression that is needed, make it 150%. Often this will get the desired result without being over-the-top. Measures 9–12 incorporate this into practice. A great exercise for getting dynamic differences would be is shown in Example 2.1.
This short exercise will get the full range of the student’s dynamic capability. You can also stretch both the soft and loud dynamics with this exercise. Shorten the exercise once they become comfortable with it (Example 2.2).
The next step is to get the student to reach these dynamics without crescendos or decrescendos, as in the following exercise. You can use the same notes or a descending scalar pattern show in Example 2.3.
Keep shortening the resting interval time until the student can give you two entirely different dynamics while still staying relaxed and open with their sound.
A little bit of rhythmic practice with varying patterns will aid the student in their preparation for the mixed complex rhythms encountered in the Introduction. Using the rhythms from mm.15–6, devise a simple exercise on the b-flat concert (Example 3.1)
With a little preparation this complex rhythm is broken down into its components, and, more importantly, the difficult cross-rhythms in the measure. If the student can read the different conversions they can play the entire measure as written. Using a one-note version on these more complex rhythms is a great way to get the student more comfortable with these passages by narrowing their focus.
The ending cadenza of the Introduction is where the student can be encouraged to experiment to decide what they want to bring to the music. While pianists and string players write their own cadenzas for classical and modern works, this tradition does not usually extend to brass performers. I’m not sure why this is, but if you have a student with a flair for composition, let them experiment with writing something! If the student is a bit more reserved, let them stay “inside of the box” for a while. Have them learn the cadenza five different ways, so they always have a fresh approach to the musical line. Example 4.1 illustrates the cadenza in m. 29–30 as written:
Assuming that all of the dynamics and articulations are from the editor, Glenn Smith, why not use the same harmonic structure and give it your own personal touch? Here is one example:
The second section is a spirited dance marked Allegro with an indicated tempo of quarter note equals 116–120. While this is probably an editorial marking, the piece feels better at around a quarter note equaling 100–104. The dotted eighth-note rhythms seem to have more buoyancy at the latter speed and can be played with more separation akin to a doubly dotted French Overture style of performance.
The challenge is mainly rhythmic in this movement. First, the teacher should have the student study dotted rhythms as an educational primer. Complex rhythms are used by educators to work through problems but do they really have to be so difficult? A simple exercise that streamlines both dotted rhythms and breath/tone production is shown in Example 5.1.
Issues with dotted rhythms are not just limited to the counting involved, but also the tongue speed. Young students tend to over-tongue passages and will tire and slow down. Use the above exercise to reinforce the idea that the tongue simply floats on top of the air and, when technical passages are present in the music, make sure that the air remains relaxed and open.2
The opening measures of the Dance section should be exciting and spirited. Take caution on the wider leaps especially evident in m. 12 and m. 14. It is very easy to play the wrong partials in this section, and half-speed practice would be a great investment for the student.
Sometimes seeing the divisions of beats in a form that they, the students, are comfortable in is all that they need to succeed. Beginning at the meno mosso section of the Dance, I have used the following in Example 6.1 and 6.2 with my students as an intentional rewrite of a few sections.
When the student can see clear divisions of the beat at the quarter-note level, it is much easier for them to grasp this concept. Viewing the original marking, subdivide at the eighth-note level to see the beat division. To accurately play the sextuplet in the right time, the student must have division at the sixteenth-note. This is not to say that a young student cannot accomplish this, but it is quicker to have them play the second example twice as fast until they can internalize the subdivided rhythms.
Musical Gains Through Performance
Style and complex rhythms are at the heart of Barat’s Introduction and Dance. It is a piece that nearly everyone reading this article either had some growing pains on or has taught it to their students. It is a staple of our repertoire and should be treasured and played with the proper preparation. We use it because of the rhythmic complexities, the essential stylistic elements, and because it is simply a great piece. The Introduction and Dance might be a hurdle but should not be insurmountable by even the youngest of pupils. If the teacher takes proper preparation in their methodology of teaching this piece, the fog will lift quickly for young musicians.
Stuckemeyer, Pat. Stepping Stones for Euphonium, Vol. 1. CD recording. Tempe, AZ: Potenza Music, 2006.
Pilafian, Sam & Sheridan, Patrick. Breathing Gym & Brass Gym pedagogy. Chandler, AZ: Focus on Music, 2004-6.
Example 1.1: Barat, J. Edouard. Introduction and Dance. ed. Glenn Smith. San Antonio, TX: Southern Music Co., 1973.
Example 1.2: Ibid. Pat Stuckemeyer, ed.
Example 2.1: Adapt. Stuckemeyer from Guggenberger, Wolfgang. Basics Plus. Germany: Rundel Music, 2005.
Example 2.2: Ibid. Pat Stuckemeyer, ed.
Example 2.3: Ibid. Pat Stuckemeyer, ed.
About the Stepping Stones series of educational recordings…
The Stepping Stones to Success campaign was started in 2005 after much discussion about the severe lacking of quality recordings of formative repertoire for all brass instruments. Potenza Music in conjunction with the Euphonium Educational Endowment has committed its resources to manufacture at least one volume of recordings for every wind instrument by 2015. Some great people are involved with the Stepping Stones project including Pat Stuckemeyer who recorded Stepping Stones for Euphonium, Vol. 1, Scott Watson who has recently completed Stepping Stones for Tuba, Vol. 1, and also Brent Philips (U.S. Marine Band, retired) who is currently recording Stepping Stones for Trombone, Vol.1 & Vol.2. It is through this effort that we hope to further the musical education of all young musicians the world over.
Pat Stuckemeyer holds degrees in education and performance from the Conservatory of Music at Capital University, a Master of Music from the University of Kansas, an Artist Diploma from the Royal Northern College of Music, and is currently completing a Doctorate of Musical Arts at Arizona State University.
Pat Stuckemeyer is an artist and clinician for Besson/Buffet Crampon and performs solely on the Besson Prestige 2052-S euphonium. His signature model mouthpiece, the PS-SOLO is available exclusively from Mike Finn Mouthpieces.
Please visit Pat’s website, www.patstuckemeyer.com, for additional information.
Roof ‘n’ Mouth
I have previously discussed range in this column, but there are always new developments or new ideas. From TTVIIB (Spring 2003), “Go Vertical!,” and TTVIVA (Winter 2004), “Screeches and Pedals are not frightening,” the basic ideas were blowing air down for high notes, straight ahead for middle notes, and up for low notes. We also discussed how the bottom lip moves in for high notes, even with the top lip for middle notes, and out for low notes. Overall, this approach has proven to help students develop a three to three and a half octave range.
Recently I had a student for whom nothing seemed to be working. His range was limited between pedal e-natural and high b-flat (step below middle c). Keep in mind I try to help students achieve a range of pedal b-flat to high f above the bass clef staff by the time they graduate from high school. This student was one practiced a minimum of one hour a day (along with excellent academic grades, playing on the football team, and running on the track team—whew!) He improved many aspects of his playing quickly, including his low range (eventually reaching pedal b-flat). Despite repeated attention for the high range in encouraging the blowing down technique and the embouchure emphasis given above, my student continually strained his neck muscles, closing off his lips, choking the air, and stopping vibrations. After much experimentation, I admit I was frustrated as to how to help him. Being religious, I certainly turned toward that source for help.
Well, as I know, answers come in small ways. A memory of something my teacher at Tennessee Technological University, Professor R. Winston Morris, had shared with me wound up being the answer. I had not thought of it before, because I was blessed to have an innate sense of playing high notes since high school. During my sophomore, junior, and senior college years, this high note playing skill led my interest in Roger Bobo’s recordings, particularly Encounters II by William Kraft and The Morning Song by Roger Kellaway. Winston was planning to work up The Morning Song about that time also. He developed a way of blowing the air that pretty much guaranteed him the results he needed to play the middle high section. I had forgotten about this, because his way was not how I visualized playing high, and it was not a concern for me at the time. The great news—Winston’s method worked for my student. He immediately was able to go up to high d, and within a couple of weeks, he could squeak out high f. Here is the process Winston described to me, and how I relayed it to the student.
Winston’s “secret” for the high notes was to blow the air up across the roof of his mouth and then point that air at his top lip. This method caused the air to be blown down in the mouthpiece, causing the bottom lip to come in a little, and yet allowing the top lip the freedom to move even on high frequencies. Here are the steps I used with my student to bring this method into fruition.
- I started trying to get him to make a squealing buzz sound without the tuba by puffing air behind his top lip only.
- This caused him to channel his air up over the mouth roof and then the top lip “puff” caught the air and made it go down.
- My student succeeded with this, so we had him try it just outside but not touching the mouthpiece (mouthpiece in tuba). This was to separate the psychological crutch dependence of our lips trying to collapse to the mouthpiece.
- Next we started squealing outside the mouthpiece and moved closer during the squeal. His sound was very pinched, unstable and breathy at first, but at least he was making a high sound on his own and discovering that a high noise was achievable.
Several times his face collapsed, but eventually it got better. My student did not have a good sound at first, nor did he have strength in his cheek muscles behind his corners to hold this very long (TTVVIIB, Summer 2007, “Holding the Oh”). But he persevered, and gradually developed the strength to hold and seal his embouchure on the high notes. As his strength developed, his lips began to relax so they could vibrate with a good tone. We were both ecstatic with the results, and I have since tried it on several students with similar results. A bonus was that this method took pressure off of the top teeth, resulting in less pain—especially good for students with braces.
Needless to say, I am humbled and honored to give credit to my teacher for his own ability to solve a playing issue that is still working 28 years later for young students (sorry Winston, not trying to make you feel old). The only drawback for my student was the usual—breathing freely. So, here I go—Don’t forget to breathe!
David Porter serves as Principal Tuba with The McLean Orchestra and performs as a member of the Camerata Brass Quintet. He is also faculty on The Masterworks Festival and Director of Youth and Youth Music at Fairlington United Methodist Church.
There are so many things to learn when one decides to play an instrument. For the most part, lessons tend to concentrate on high range, low range, breathing, tonguing, tone, and intonation. However, another important aspect of playing is ensemble manners and etiquette, and how a player acts with their colleagues. There are certain “unwritten rules” that most players come to know through experience, and those who do not follow the rules usually find themselves being rejected from others within the ensemble and are invited to join fewer and fewer groups.
The result that I have seen personally is that some outstanding young players who were destined for major careers never realized their potential, some giving up, or feeling bitter at their lack of success. It is not that these players were not “good enough,” but rather that they alienated themselves from their colleagues by unprofessional behavior. The tragedy is that they were probably unaware of the negative impression they were making on their peers until it was too late.
As with all manners, ensemble etiquette is largely based on consideration and common sense. The way one interacts productively differs, to some extent, with the nature of the ensemble. However, certain rules apply to all ensembles—both instrumental and vocal, and they apply to musicians of ALL levels. Here are some important things to consider:
- Come to rehearsals with your music prepared. If you do not know your part, you are not ready to rehearse. The exception to this rule is of course a reading session or a rehearsal intended to read new music. Most rehearsals are really concerts in disguise!
- Alwaysarrive early enough so that you are warmed up and ready to play at the starting time of the rehearsal. A person who walks in at 5:30 for a 5:30 rehearsal can be really irritating for the conductor and those players who were considerate enough to have come earlier, warmed up, tuned up, etc.
- Bring a pencil to rehearsals. No player can remember everything that is discussed in rehearsals, and time will be wasted at the next session repeating things for the players who did not mark their parts.
- Never miss rehearsal (or concerts) except for very extreme emergencies, even if your reason might be a legitimate one. Even players who are ill frequently will be avoided because they will be considered unreliable.
- Always be conscious of your personal hygiene. It is difficult to perform when a person’s perfume/cologne, bad breath, or body odor interferes with your breathing.
- Always honor your commitments. Once you have agreed to play a concert with the necessary rehearsals, it is unwise to cancel that commitment—even if something more important or more rewarding is offered to you. Would you be anxious to play in a group where people only honored their commitment if nothing better came along?
- Think twice about criticizing your colleagues to others by revealing the mistakes they may have made in rehearsals or in concerts. Music making is a very intimate time of sharing, and the players must be able to trust each other in order to achieve the best results. By mocking one member of the group, you are tarnishing the reputation of the entire ensemble.
Certain guidelines in rehearsal apply especially to large ensembles such as wind/brass bands or orchestras.
- Always try to match the style and intonation of the section leader or principal player. It is not appropriate to make suggestions to the principal player unless you are very close and are sure that your comments will be welcomed. It is better to be silent than sorry! This applies to all members of the section. The section leader is usually the one to make suggestions to the section, and this should not happen too often if the other players are listening and matching his/her style.
- Before or after rehearsals, it is vitally important not to play passages from parts other than what you are playing yourself. No one will want to have you around if you play flawlessly the solo that is giving someone else problems. Practicing the other parts at home will help you grow but do not alienate your colleagues by doing it in public—this includes busy practice rooms! This notion also applies to the music being rehearsed on a particular day. Do not practice music in rehearsal time that is not being rehearsed by that ensemble. It is difficult and annoying for an ensemble to keep the mindset of rehearsal and concentrate on their parts, only to hear “Ride of the Valkeries” coming from the back row at the start of every rehearsal!
- When someone in your section or sitting close to you has a solo—freeze! Do not make any sudden movements that might startle or distract the player. Even emptying your instrument, page turns, or other adjustments must be done slowly if it is absolutely necessary at the time.
- Do not stare at a player when they are playing, especially during a solo. Rehearsals are not the time to examine your neighbor’s technique… and remember someday it will be you with the solo!
- If you are in a section that has a lot of measures rest, give a small hand or finger acknowledgement of all rehearsal letters, numbers, or double bars. This allows all the players in the section to double check that they have the correct count. If you are unsure of the count, do not make a motion but wait to see a cue from the other players. With all players counting carefully, no section should ever get lost. The motions should be small enough so the audience cannot see them.
- Generally speaking, if you have a question about your part or a concern about the playing style of a certain passage and you are not the section leader, quietly direct your questions to the principal player not the conductor.
- If someone in your section makes a mistake, do not immediately look at the culprit. In a performance, do not let your manner dictate that a mistake has been made, either by a colleague or yourself. It serves no purpose to call attention to an error that the audience may not have noticed.
Other guidelines apply more to chamber ensembles, that is, groups without a conductor such as wind/brass quintets, and string quartets:
- The success of a good chamber group depends on the good ideas of all the members, but each member must strike a balance between saying and suggesting too little or too much. No one will have his or her ideas agreed with or followed all of the time. The collective judgment must prevail and players whose ideas have been rejected must not feel rejected themselves. This can create a very destructive tension in the group.
- When suggesting a change to another player, try to convey respect along with the suggestion or criticism you are making. This is very important for section leaders of large ensembles as well. For example:
“Our pitch does not seem to match very well at section F. I may be high, or you may be low. Can we check?”
This would be preferable to: “You are flat. Can you bring your pitch up?”
The longer a group plays together, the easier the communication can become. This is especially true if the members respect each other and they are each secure in their self image and rapport within the group. In some groups I have been in, I could be very blunt and accept blunt criticism. With others, I needed to be more careful and more diplomatic. We must all try to be sensitive to the degree of frankness that will be welcomed by others.
Finally, there are customs of behavior that apply to an ensembles player’s relationship with the conductor:
- Always speak to the conductor in a respectful manner, whether or not you think that respect is deserved. You must at least respect the conductor’s position, and alienating the conductor is never in the player’s best interest. Many players seem to view the conductor as the enemy. This in a sense is quite natural since we are all creative musicians with individual and valid ideas, and it is easy to resent someone who tells us what to do according to their personal ideas (this can also be linked to section leaders). In solo or chamber playing, there is more freedom of expression, but a player in a large ensemble must be able to adjust to the necessary dominance of a conductor or he/she will waste time being frustrated. Large ensemble repertoire includes some of the greatest music ever written, so try to develop a positive relationship with your conductors and your own life will be more enjoyable.
- Do not take up rehearsal time by asking questions that only apply to you, or that could wait until the end of rehearsal or at a break. Most conductors are more relaxed when they are approached privately rather than in the midst of a rehearsal.
- Stop playing immediately when the conductor stops the rehearsal. Continuing is rude and wastes time.
- When a conductor makes a suggestion to you or your section, acknowledge that you understand by a nod or some facial response—preferably not a grimace.
- If a conductor usually cues your entrances, look up to acknowledge that cue. Most conductors enjoy eye contact from their players.
- When approaching the end of a rehearsal, it is extremely rude to start packing up your instrument, music etc. when the conductor is still speaking to the group! This shows a lack of respect to the conductor, and to fellow musicians who are paying attention. It is not good enough to just hear what is being said. You must also use direct eye contact when the conductor is speaking.
These “rules” may seem obvious or even petty to some people, but they are too frequently overlooked or ignored and following them can help groups to function smoothly and allow the music to become the major issue. If our energies are not diverted by difficulties in working together, we can then bring our full attention to the joy of creative music making.
Mark Preece received an Honors BMus degree on tuba from Wilfrid Laurier University and will complete his MMus degree in performance at the University of Regina in April 2008. His teachers include Brent Adams, Jane Maness, Roger Bobo, and was John Griffiths’ first and only graduate student. He has performed with the Edmonton Symphony Orchrestra, the Alberta Philharmonic Orchestra, and has been recorded by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. In addition to performing, Mark is a regular clinician in Regina and has taught students that range from beginners through university students. He has made music challenging and fun for all ages, and also enjoys teaching private students on a regular basis. Mark has arranged music for solo tuba, tuba quartet, brass band, brass quintet and other forms of mixed brass ensemble. A portion of his music is available on the Sibelius Music website, http://members.sibeliusmusic.com/markpreece.