Date: Tue, 21 Dec 1999 10:51:22 -0500
From: "Stober, Karen, SITS" <>
Subject: My lesson with Laurie Frink

...began with a very friendly welcome from her marmalade ginger colored tabby cat. So very happy to see me, she rolled over and over, on the velvet chair. A giant black - gray tabby came out too, but Laurie warned me he bites. So he spent the entire lesson in the kitchen, with the door closed.

The weather, of which the weatherperson said would be "isolated, scattered showers", produced a drizzle turning to solid rain with high wind in New York City all day.

Laurie sat me in the "victim's chair", as she called it. She asked me to do a G scale, starting at the top, going down. Going back up I realized I blew it! I had played a D scale. I said I am not used to going down, just up on a scale. She smiled, I guess she sees this from many people. Laurie then had me go all the way down to low G. We started with long tones. She found I blow into the mouthpiece and not the bell. By blowing faster, one gets louder but tone improves. Also, she had me bend a middle G to an F# and back again. The sound was so very different on the final G. Laurie said this is the pure sound of a G. She had me repeat this, then slur to the actual F#. We repeated this all the way down to low G. Next, do the bending exercise, but slur it with low G to low A, low G to low B, and up to middle G. My tone was much better after this.

Then we counted off twelve beats, with a four beat rest in between. The first six beats went from pp to fff, then the last six beats went from fff to pp. Make sure I had a pure tone and was blowing into the bell. Visualize your airstream as going straight through. She had me watch her hand. Also, at another point, she would cut me off, but I was not to take the mouthpiece off of my lips. Then, start playing again, but not use tonguing to start a note.

She demonstrated much of the lesson on her trumpet, too. I am sorry for you gear heads, but I didn't ask what she played on, but the keys are those turquoise ones that Bach makes. Her music room is decorated with old trumpets and Caruso memorabilia.

I said I practiced the first two Caruso exercises in the book but they really did nothing for me. So, she looked at my book and had me do the Developed Scale exercise on page 36, but only go up to the high G. It ensures tone, tonguing, flexibility and articulation are correct and slurring is smooth. Most importantly, these exercises require that the airflow is steady - especially noticeable in the bending exercises.

As for articulation, I commented my notes are so muddy at times. I need to work on that really badly. She watched my through on Arban's study. Had me stop a couple measures in. My embouchure is fine. The only motion is your tongue. Your jaw is moving. So we did some super slow quarter notes of the study, consciously trying to only move my tongue. It takes practice but by the third try my articulation had improved, along with my tone.

Another exercise was in harmonics. I said I was tired of doing the same old Clark exercises, #2 and #3. One way was to vary #2 by tongue one, slur the next two, tongue the four, then start the pattern again. We did six different patterns. Then it was time for harmonics.

These are for flexibility. Until you get the pattern, you have to think. All are eighth notes. We started on low C, up to middle G, then F# and down to low B, then repeat the pattern starting on low Bb, up to middle F to middle E to low A. End on low F# (3 fingers down). Slur from this to C#, from low G to low D, up to low C to middle G. It is OK to breathe during this exercise. Then, start the exercise on middle G and repeat the pattern. Also, do this pattern on middle C and high E.

Of course, the cat demanded to enter but the doors were kept closed, as kitty can be all over her students. Every so often a little banging would be heard. Laurie has a big cat scratching post with carpeted platforms and all. My cats love to rip up chairs and just tore a hole out of the living rug this morning. I asked if her cats use it. She said no, not much, they like the chairs better. The backs of chairs? Yes, she said. Not worth buying a fancy piece of cat furniture.

Lastly, I showed her what I was currently working on. Arban's, the blue-green 1970's edition, No. 1, page 301, "Fantaisie And Variations On A Cavatina From Beatrice di Tenda by V. Bellini", theme and first variation. She said I played the theme beautifully. The variation, which is all tonguing, well, we worked on that. She had me play it extremely slowly. Slurring each note. At least four variations, each working up a slightly faster speed. We worked towards tonguing each note with no jaw movement and good, pure tone. I was quite surprised at then end result. Now, can I remember it and duplicate it at home, without her being there to catch and correct me? I also shortcut a few notes that were tied to others.

Lastly, we went over the theme. I cut the dotted quarter notes short. I played the sixteenth notes a bit too slow. However, my turns were lovely and perfect. (Finally!) She played all in question for me and I copied her. Then, I played the passages in question and got them right.

About ten after twelve her next student, a French Horn player, arrived, so my lesson was over.

Her price was only $80 for an hour. Now, someone on TPIN told me she charged on $140 an hour. She would very much like to know who said that!

After the lesson, I took the bus down to Charles Colin on 53rd Street. Laurie said to tell them Hi from her. I did. The younger brother was minding the shop. Never met him before. Bought a couple of books. He had to run upstairs to the boss for a price on one. They have several drawers of trumpet music at 50% off. The boss, Alan Colin, came down and recognized me. Hey here's one of our lifetime members, he said. Take a bottle of Zaja Oil on us. I did - got a Mulberry scent, as I am almost out of that one. My cousin, who was with me, asked if that's something to drink. No! It is valve oil for my trumpet.

BTW, is the elder Charlie Colin still around? I didn't see him on his motor cart at the Brass Fest in NYC last March.

After leaving the store, a young man who was taking lessons at Colins approached me. He asked me if I could give him Laurie's number. His instructor was on vacation last week and he had to miss a lesson. He wants to find other instructors in New York City he could take a lesson from when his own instructor is not available. He was very happy with the information I gave him. I hope he likes cats.

Then we went over to Patelsons. Never been there before. Bought more sheet music. They remind me very much of Theadore Pressor Music out in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania and Plainfield Music Store, in Plainfield, New Jersey. I've heard the folks at Plainfield Music Store say the are Patelson's biggest competitor.

Lastly, stopped at the Carnegie Deli for a late lunch of super thick hot pastrami, mile high chocolate dream cream pie and coffee. Then, back in to high wind, pouring rain and rush hour on the streets of New York City, and home to New Jersey. Yes, I practiced a good, long time on everything I learned that day last night.

Happy Holidays