From: email@example.com (John Daniel)
Date: Fri, 18 Apr 1997 13:45:39 -0400
Subject: PED My lesson with Gil Johnson
I had to alter the subject heading a bit in case someone might confuse
this with a thread about whining.
I'm still on a high from my experience with Mr.
Johnson so forgive me for my unbridled enthusiasm. First of all,
some background. My main teachers were Ghitalla, Giangiulio, and Greenhoe.
The first is a good friend of Gil's and the other two are former students,
so we had plenty of mutual acquaintances to talk about. I have been
a college trumpet teacher for 15 years, I am a Bach artist/clinician and
so forth. Two days previous to my lesson with Gil, I gave a master
class at Harid Conservatory about the purpose of etudes in our development
as players and musicians so I had prepared 15 etudes for the class and
for the lesson. When Gil asked me what I wanted to work on I said
sound, tone production etc. I started to play
some Schlossberg stuff and that was all it took to get him going.
We ended up spending about 2 and 1/2 hours on Schlossberg, Concone, and
the first Brandt Etude.
Here are the main points from the lesson that
I feel could be of some universal benefit:
1. Time the inhalation, Breathe rhythmically, start slowly(invite
the breath) and build momentum with the inhalation. Don't hold the
2. Use more "d" and fewer "t" articulations, especially for initial
3. Phrasing beautifully is largely a matter of removing undesirable
elements and inconsistencies in the sound. The better the sound gets,
the more simple it all seems. Phrase shaping itself is instinctive,
concentrate on the simple beauty of connecting one beautiful tone to the
4. Slight alterations in the head position while we play will slightly
alter the pressure of the mouthpiece and force the embouchure to make minor
adjustments. Keep the head kind of loose so that we kind move it
to a better position for the sound if necessary.
Obviously, we got into all of this in a lot of detail, but I suspect the
details might be individual. He seemed to have a very open mind about
how to play, just keep experimenting with the above mentioned elements.
Gil played in the Philadelphia Orchestra during Ormandy's years as conductor.
This was one of the most prosperous and successful combinations of all
time and many of their numerous recordings have recently been reissued
on Sony Classics at very reasonable prices. In addition to all of
the obvious war horses for trumpet, I highly recommend the recordings of
Copland's Lincoln Portrait and Gershwin's a Symphonic Portrait of Porgy
and Bess. Gil's lyrical playing is at its finest and I'm getting
goose bumps just thinking about his sound on these recordings. Sometimes
I listen to those passages and I just can't funtion for a couple of minutes.
It's just stunning.
In spite of the simplistic nature of the
lesson, he seemed genuinely excited about my sound by the time we worked
through everything. After hearing the above mentioned recordings
you will understand what an inspiration and motivation his example
is for all of us.
Hopefully, I've expressed myself well or you can read between the lines;
this information and experience is precious to me. I've taken an
hour and a half out of my life to try to do it justice in my posting.
I know it is worthy of your thoughtful consideration and having the sensitive
artistic soul that I have, I just can't bear having it thoughtlessly
or rudely trampled upon. I'm willing to discuss any of the ideas
mentioned but I absolutely refuse to discuss it with anyone who already
is a "knower of all" (KOA) because that would certainly be a waste of my
time and yours.
Long live tpin