Learning Jazz Trumpet

My name is Pip Eastop. This is the long, ongoing story of my struggle as a straight, classically trained (French) horn player to learn JAZZ TRUMPET. I'm now 47 - I may have only 30 years in which to accomplish this...

Friday, April 09, 2004

Martin Shaw - 1st lesson

Before:
I've been practising pretty regularly and, I feel, steadily improving but increasingly feeling myself to be in a music vacuum. What I need now is fresh air, not my own stale stuff to breathe; so with that in mind I've arranged to have a lesson with Martin Shaw, who has been enethusiastically recommended by both John Barclay and Derek Watkins.

I'm taking a trumpet and a flugelhorn but no books or printed stuff of any kind - jazz is supposed to be an improvisational musical form - plus I don't want to be in a position of telling Martin the way I want the lesson to go.

What do I want? Not sure, but I'd like him to get me loosened up my playing and then gently guide me towards better ways of doing it. The fact is I don't know if I'm any good at any aspect of it. John Barclay has been vey encouraging, even flattering, and so have Valentin and Dan Newall, but I don't really know if I'm heading in the "right" direction, hence the need for a lesson ...or several.

After:
Well, that was amazing. Martin Shaw is a great teacher, and very generous with his time. He gave me two hours! It felt like half an hour. It seems that I'm basically on the right track and he was very encouraging about my attempts - after hearing me struggling through All The Things You Are, although a few things came up which I'm writing down now to remind myself about.

1. General articulation: I'm doing it too softly! My tonguing needs to be more positive, or harder, less "classical" - this surprised me but he demonstrated the difference and convinced me. It's part of coming from my highly classical horn technique and rounding the starts of the notes. "It's a beautiful sound but not right for jazz trumpet", I think he said. So I must try to remember that.

2. Learning the modal flavours: Up and down scales thinking in terms of raised and lowered 2nds, 3rds, 6ths etc.. Make cards or use Psion... Go to the ninth and back down each time. Then learn them from the ninth down then up. Then in broken thirds, fourths etc...

3. Playing Aebersolds using only the chord notes. Up, then up and down.

4. Playing Aebersolds up and down the straight simple scales notes - so, for example, when encountering the altered scale Calt, just stick to C7 (for now).

5. Same as above but improvising using only the scale notes first in minims, then in triplet minims, then crotchets, then triplet crotchets then quavers, then, triplet quevers etc...

6. Don't use double tonguing in the fast stuff - it's almost never done in jazz. The fast licks seem to all be slurred pairs or threes, across the main beats.

7. Learn the closed-tongue Clifford Brown thingy sound. Like muting the sound by putting the toungue against the teeth so the air has to squeeze around the teeth to get through. This is a new departure - something unheard of in classical technique and I don't think it's been analyzed yet by jazz trumpet players. They just do it.

8. The timbre can be less bright - Martin's was considerably smokier, or more lush than mine. No idea how to do this.

9. Chromatic scales: very useful and need to be clean and accurate and fast. Good for warming up. Use a more postive finger action - slam the valves down a bit more !

Thank you Martin!

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