Date: Sun, 01 Feb 1998 12:59:24 -0600
From: Nick Drozdoff <>
Subject: Bryan's Comments on Embouchure & Teaching - Long and windy on my part!

Bryan Edgett post on embouchure changes and teaching was very interesting, to me.  I was particularly interested in his comments about playing alot during lessons he is giving.

I agree with his position.  I have an hourly rate, but I tend to be, perhaps, overly generous with my time because I do like to play during lessons.  I do this to model the ideas I'm getting across.

Consider all of the thoughtful posts on embouchre adjustments.  They are often wordy and complicated.  They have to be!  We are trying to put into typewritten words, which are quite concrete (they are written down in front of us and once we pick the words, the "meaning" is etched in for the individual readers) something which is very abstract (the act of playing trumpet).  This is tough.  I have several web pages on the subject, and  yet they are, at best, only an approximation of how I do things.  My little sound files, I hope, add a little more to the "food for thought."

Bryan's modelling for his students the concepts that he is teaching is an extremely important aspect of learning.

Consider Jerry Callett.  I know he is controversial, but, regardless of what one might think, he has got some serious high chops. I was having difficulty forming my own mental construct of what he was doing from his books.  Many of my more legit friends dismissed his ideas as balderdash.  Intellectually, I couldn't do that.  He was, after all, able to do what he claimed.  So, I  went to New York to take some lessons (it's has got to be almost ten years ago now.  He probably doesn't even remember it.).

I wanted to WATCH him play more than I wanted to hear him talk, though he was generous with his time.  From those sessions I was get a much better idea of what he was doing.  While I can't incorporate everything Jerry does into my playing (he is extreme!), some of what he did was, indeed very helpful.

On a similar note, when I was on the road with Maynard, I got some lessons in with Carmine Caruso.  That was also very enlightening (getting it from the horses mouth, so to speak), but Carmine didn't play. I wish he had one of his proteges there to demonstrate his ideas.  The time would have been more effectively spent.

One of the most instructive times that I had in this fashion was my lesson with Adolph Herseth.  While I was on the road with MF, my wife, as a surprise, arranged for an extended lesson with Bud Herseth at a time of mutual convenience (it was her birthday present to me in 1981).  I met him in between tours.  We got together for over three hours.  It went soemthing like this:  "Nick, play the Dance of the Ballerina from Petroushka for me."  [I play it]  "Very nice, Nick.  Now let me play it."  [He plays it]  "Let's compare differences."  We went through quite a few little exerpts like this.  I was able to compare my more embryonic concepts to his polished performances.  It was quite "easy" to see what I needed to work on.  He did not indulge in elaborate explanations about how to play.  He just showed me how the tunes were supposed to sound.  I was a wonderful lesson for me both as a student and teacher myself.

Just some food for thought, here.

Now we know why I play trumpet (a long and windy post.  Get it, windy?  Sorry.  I'm operating on about four hours sleep.).  :-)


Nick Drozdoff