Date: Mon, 29 Apr 2002 15:41:34 -1000
From: "Kristin Kohler" <>
Subject: Re: [TPIN] Bud part 2 - Kristin's perspective (long all in one part)

Hi all,
Speaking of that...I WAS scared to death!  That's why I asked the others to not hang around with their ears to the door! But, oh well.  I figured they wouldn't leave anyway :-).

I took in the Ballay "Petite Piece Concertante" and Charlier #2. I am not nearly as eloquent as Mark, but here goes:

The one thing I heard most, throughout his clinics and in my lesson, was that the musical message should always come through.  He really emphasized style and interpretation and really has every single note say something.  I did not realize how much more there can be to what seems like a very simple phrase (even when I thought I was making it "musical").  It is hard to explain, and I had heard teachers before say to make music with every note and every exercise, but I had not heard it done until then.

It was very enlightening to hear what a difference there was in the way I initially played a phrase vs. the way it sounded after we talked through it, discussed where it was going, what it may be trying to say, sang through it, discussed dynamics and perhaps articulation, and tried it again.  Everything sounded orders of magnitude better after his coaching. And as Mark said, it was amazing how softly he can play, and how hard that is to do with control yet maintain the intensity and still convey a musical idea.

In  fact, he suggested not just singing phrases with "la" or some other syllable.  He suggested making up words - whatever you feel when you are singing it.  For example he sang: "This is the thing I like to play" for the very first phrase of the Charlier #2. The idea of singing, singing "through" the horn, and saying something with each and every note one plays is what sticks with me most, a week later and it came up constantly.

We also played some duets! from the back of the Arban's and even with those, we talked through them first, he discussed the style and how each should be approached, and what each evoked to him, before we played them.  It was amazing to sit next to him, and hear him play.  I could remember and understand what he had told me to do before we started but I wasn't even close to being able to do it to the extent he was.  BUT, it was great because you couldn't help but listen and try to copy what he was doing.  It was so intense you just had to attempt to keep up - even on the "little" 3-line duets that seem so simple.  I think it would be such a thrill to play in a section with him.  His sense of "style" and "musicality" are so incredible that even "little" things sound amazing and those around simply have to follow. Yet it's easy to try to follow because the ideas and expression are so clear and intense that if you have ears you almost have to try to do what he's doing.

I was toying with possibly not taking a lesson, thinking I'd be wasting his time and that I might not be worthy of a lesson with him.  But he was very kind and supportive and said he very much enjoyed my playing.  I'm sure he was just being kind! I told him that too, and he said he was being truthful, and that positive attitude and encouragement always are better than intimidation and negative feedback.  He said his most inspirational or favorite teachers were the ones who were positive and encouraging, not those who tried to make one practice by telling you how terrible you are or how bad that just sounded. I'm sure he was well aware of my (many) shortcomings but he focused on the positive things, and always making music.

I asked a few "technical" chop-doctor" type questions and he mostly shrugged them off and said I looked and sounded fine and continued working the music. Invariably things I thought were "technical problems" for the most part worked themselves out when I concentrated on a good breath and making music, which he said would happen for many things we think are technical problems. He of course said the technical scales, exercises, tonguing etc. had to be practiced but that was basically a given.  The gist was that everyone who wants to get anywhere professionally and musically must practice and master the technical stuff, but the real difference that sets people apart is what they do musically.

He also said that from what he hears, many of today's young, upcoming players all sound relatively the same, and many are uninteresting.  Too many are not saying anything with their music.  For him the technical stuff was a given and necessary part of playing but the music was what really made it worth doing and hearing.

That's about it from my perspective.  It really was a once in a lifetime opportunity for me and I am thrilled that I got to do it.  As a final "note", after dinner I realized what a totally integral part of his life the trumpet is.  As we were leaving the restaurant, where there was a jazz/lounge piano player playing, we all turned around when we heard this funny, buzzy "scatting" sound.  Turns out it was Bud, with his mouthpiece, at the mike jamming with the piano player!  I asked him if he carries "that thing" (mpc) around with him everywhere and he said that it goes in his pocket every day before his wallet does!  He simply loves the trumpet and making music with it. I've been to master classes where the clinician won't even pull out the horn, or charges extra to play a note.  He doesn't seem to look at it like a burden to play for classes or to share that great sound. He loves music and the trumpet and is happy to share it as much as possible. (Obviously he was well paid, but he was very generous with his time and expertise).  I don't remember the specific words but the gist of one of the things he said was that if he can help someone to make better music and/or even just appreciate music more, "that's what it's all about". And that's truly what he's all about. If you made it this far, thanks, and I hope it made some sense.