Date: Fri, 8 Feb 2008 03:08:13 -0800 (PST)
From: Tim Swensen <>
Subject: [TPIN] Hardenberger Master Class -- Report with Photos

Here is my report of Håkan Hardenberger's master class in San Francisco on January 30. There is much more that could be said about the class, but it's already a bit long for ITG purposes. I've sent it to Neville Young, the ITG News Editor. Perhaps it will show up on the website and in the Journal.

I have uploaded a bunch of photos from the event to my photo hosting site here:

The images will look best viewed in "original" size. The slideshow function downsizes and softens the images: not recommended. These turned out decently, considering I wasn't using a flash.

 The recital he gave the day before is worthy of a report too, but that will have to wait. And, I have no photos of that.

Håkan Hardenberger Trumpet Master Class
San Francisco Conservatory of Music
January 30, 2008
Reported by Tim Swensen

Fresh from a daring and innovative recital the previous evening with percussionist Colin Currie, Swedish trumpet virtuoso Håkan Hardenberger presented a master class at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music on January 30. The Conservatory moved into a new campus in 2006, and its beautiful 450-seat concert hall served as an ideal setting for the master class. The evening's four students played portions of the Bohme F Minor Concerto, the Hindemith Sonate, the Bozza Caprice, and Joseph Turrin's Two Portraits, each with piano accompaniment.

Hardenberger's instruction was peppered with references to other disciplines. Students who showed a lack of fluidity in their playing were reminded of the smooth swing of a fine golfer. To one who's lyrical playing lacked smoothness, he remarked that a good salad dressing consists of the proper balance of oil and vinegar. More oil was needed in the soft sections to balance the vinegar of the more aggressive, extroverted sections.

Each student was encouraged to examine the musical line and look for points of transition where the energy is collected and focused and where musical "jumping off" points lie. Illustrating with his body the motions of a diver approaching the edge of the springboard, Hardenberger called these points of musical transition Trampolines and made repeated reference to them. These Trampolines within each piece give interpretive markers to the performer; they are the landmarks the player is moving toward as the music progresses. Hardenberger also identified the problem areas in each student's playing and prescribed exercises to cure each. These were accompanied by images to reinforce the point of each drill. A student with good basic tone production but with occasional fuzziness in his sound was told that much of the movement in his embouchure was not leading to sound production. He was encouraged to make use of Lip Bends. These are descending semitones played without change of fingering. He demonstrated this by playing G in the staff, then descending to F# then F, all open-fingered. Hardenberger says that 30 minutes of Lip Bends are the first thing he does every morning. These improve the player's ability to always play in the center of the pitch and lead to efficiency and purity of tone. He referred to James Stamp's notion of staying up as you play down, thereby minimizing embouchure motion.

Hardenberger used a Call and Response approach to teaching, sometimes breaking a problem passage down to a single note that was not being played cleanly. He would play, then the student would imitate. When the student had overcome the difficulty, he would then use physical gestures to indicate the direction of the musical line and to encourage the player to become less inhibited.

During the course of the instruction and during the Question and Answer session, a number of common technical and musical problems were addressed. Tonguing should be thought of as the tongue releasing the air, not simply as the air getting interrupted. This aids in fluidity. Think of the sound as always moving. "The body always has the answer." On vibrato, he encouraged one student to drastically reduce it so as to lock in the pitch center. Some players have a slow vibrato that can mask a general lack of secure pitch. The chest and vocal cavity should be kept open and resonant when playing. Try to achieve the sound of a vocalist singing with on open throat and the sound coming up from deep down in the chest.

Finally, Hardenberger addressed the professional challenges of the modern musician, especially one who travels frequently. When on the road he uses a two-hour maintenance practice routine that addresses all of the fundamentals of good playing. He also focuses on the "sheep that has left the fold," so that no one element of his playing is allowed to suffer. His advice to students today is to be flexible and curious -- to explore all different kinds of playing, from Natural Trumpet, to Jazz. Hardenberger's open and honest sharing with the students and the audience in this two and a half hour class was appreciated by all. We left with a strong sense of his passion for music and great trumpet playing.

[Håkan Hardenberger's appearance was made possible in part by San Francisco Performances.]