O.J.'s Trumpet Page Interview

Fundamental Flexibility Studies

Matt Graves is a trumpet player and teacher living in New York. 
He was a student of the late Claude Gordon and he is one of the few who completed Claude Gordon's Certified Trumpet Teacher's Course. 
Matt has recently published the book "Fundamental Flexibility Studies". 
We had a short cyber talk with Matt

Matt, why did you make this book? There are already lots of flexibility books out there (Smith, Staigers, Irons, Colin etc.)
I gained a strong interest in trumpet pedagogy while studying with Claude.  Claude's approach was to use the great books that have withstood the test of time like those you have listed above.  As I gained my own students, I realized how advanced most of the routines were that Claude had assigned and I began to search for beginning and intermediate material.  While there were many good all around beginning/intermediate books, I found that they did not deal with flexibility in a systematic, gradual manner.  I began to write down exercises for students and ,over time, I realized that my exercises would fill a void in the literature.  Smith, Staigers et. al. make great intermediate / advanced material but can be too much too fast for the beginner or intermediate player.  I actually finished my first penciled daft in 1986.  It was not until a few years ago, after I had obtained a computer, that I began the task of commiting it to disk.

What are the benefits of flexibility exercises in your opinion?
Flexibility exercises are very important.  They allow the player to forget about the fingers for a time while concentrating on breathing, tongue placement, tongue level and breath control.  The two general benifits from practising these exercises are accuracy of the tongue level and confidence in controlling your breath.  These are foundational issues for the brass player and the benifits gained here will positively effect all other areas of playing.

Can you tell us a bit about how you have arranged the exercises in the book?
My thoughts in creating this book were that there are two basic movements in these kinds of exercises, ascending and descending.  Each of the twenty-one study groups is composed of four exercises making a total of Eighty-four exercises.  The first and third exercise of each group is a descending pattern.  The second and fourth exercise is an ascending pattern.  As you progress through the book, the exercises gradually increase in range as well as phrase length.  Each succeding study incorporates the preceeding ones, thus allowing for continuity and ease in embouchure development from low to high range.

The book has a monthly and weekly schedule plan one for the beginner and the other for the intermediate student. Have you tested this on your students?
Yes.  Actually, the schedules in the back of the book are both weekly. I recommend that the student spend at least two weeks on each exercise before attempting to move on.  This has worked fine with my students. In the event that the student needs more time, then, by all means, take the needed time.  I meant the routines to represent the minimum amount of time investment.  Incidentally, if you follow my suggestions on the beginner's routine you will get three and one half years of steady everyday development!

If a person with no teacher get this book, what should he do to make the most out of it?
They should read the text closely and apply my guidlines for study. They should definitely make up their mind to stick to a routine.  I had this group of people in mind when I included the routine plans in the back of the book.  Anyone who buys this book should feel free to contact me.  I am including a comments survey in the back of the book. I look forward to hearing from everyone.

What other books or material would you recommend for such a person?
For beginners - Physical Approach to Elementary Brass Playing by Claude Gordon.  Beyond that, everyone, of course, should own Arban's, St. Jacome's.  Combine exercises from different books as a routine to systematically develop all aspects of technique.  Exercises on different branches of technique such as flexibility, tonguing, scales, range etc. are necessary but players need to devote part of their routine to etudes.  Sigmund Hering's series is great for its graduation of difficulty.  Herbert L. Clarke's book, Elementary Studies is, I think, often overlooked.

Are there any other books in the works for the future?
I will be transposing Fundamental Flexibility Studies into bass clef for trombone and baritone - maybe even a french horn edition.  I also have a desire to write a book for the absolute beginner and try to put a different spin on that.

Finally, Matt, how can one get this book?
First of all, I want to thank you very much for extending this interview opportunity.  At the present time, I am publishing this book as a desk top publication. 

To order, simply visit my website at mattgraves.netfirms.com  or email me at matthewjgraves@gmail.com

O.J. 1998