I’ve always loved teaching and playing the Bordogni vocalises.
Giulio Marco Bordogni (1789-1856) was a successful tenor and voice teacher (Paris Conservatory) that modeled his vocalises on the Bel Canto arias that he had sung on the opera stage.
In my early youth, long before I was aware of Rochut’s Bordogni transcriptions and their importance to our trombone heritage, I was listening to Donizetti, Bellini, Verdi and Puccini.
I had listened to great phrasing long before I could make a real phrase on the trombone.
Initially, about age thirteen, I owned only one vinyl LP of Bel Canto arias. Donizetti and Bellini performed by a great Romanian soprano named Virginia Zeani (b.1925).
I adored her voice and musicianship. My understanding of Bel Canto began with this recording.
A few decades later, Keith Brown introduced me to Virginia Zeani at Indiana University in Bloomington.
Normally, I’m not one impressed by celebrity. Except that day. I could barely form a coherent sentence. What a thrill!
This weekend, I received in the mail the remastered CD of her opera recital that I had listened to as a youth.
The familiar beauty of those performances were as fresh as when I last heard them, one-half century ago. It was as though we had not missed a day together.
Please don’t use these lines. Pretty please.
Especially if used in a way that becomes self-limiting.
1. “There are more than one way to do things.”
Of course there are, but please don’t imply they are all equal. The world is full of 2nd and 3rd rate ideas.
2. “You have to find a way that’s right for you.”
Certainly you do. Just don’t chose one of those 2nd or 3rd rate ideas.
3. “So-and-so has a different opinion on this.”
Everyone’s opinion is worth listening to, but everyone’s opinion isn’t based on the same experience, success, quality of information, etc. Consider the source.*
I respect my doctor … But not his opinions on teaching brass.
Listen to an expert within a specific topic ….. i.e., You wouldn’t ask me how to teach drumline. At least you shouldn’t.
*This is also why I dislike anonymous online playing/teaching advice.
We strive for technic that exhibits both grace and agility; technic that demonstrates comfort with ourselves as well as a oneness with our instrument.
We work to discover an expressiveness in interpretation that goes beyond the ink on a page; an expressiveness that creates a lucid connection between composer, performer, and audience.
We try to instill an enthusiasm for our instrument in others.
But most importantly, we seek a sound, the voice in which we fall in love.
- Joe Dixon, Notes to a Young Teacher
Practice is discovering and solving musical and technical issues, both physical and mental. If you are not doing this, you are not practicing.
Make practice sessions more productive by organizing in advance:
1. Have a quiet space that is free from interruptions.
2. You need a music stand for proper posture. Do not use an instrument case, your bed, the floor, etc.
3. Have a chair that is like you would use in performance. Do not use a bean bag chair, recliner, sofa, the floor, or a chair with arms.
4. Create and keep updated a chart of all skills and literature that you should be practicing.
5. Keep all of your practice material / literature organized and within easy reach.
6. Always have a pencil. Use it.
7. Keep a Practice Journal. Track your discoveries, new ideas, and reminders. Log your metronome markings.
8. You need a metronome. Use it LOTS.
9. You need a tuner. Use it LOTS.
10. Have a way to record yourself. EVERY DAY. Listen back with your audience’s ears.
Excellence often requires attention to common sense, not just the profound.— Joe Dixon