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Wednesday 3rd July – 11.00
Brown Shipley Concert Hall
Master Class

Roger Webster

John Irish, reporter
Those of us fortunate to hear the opening concert had already heard this wonderful virtuoso perform on cornet. Today’s master class started with brief remarks on a variety of subjects. He Webster stressed the importance of assimilating knowledge and education by attending conferences like this one in Manchester. He also recommended that students seek advice and put practical information to use in the practice room. He talked about the state of young players who are able to handle more technically-demanding pieces these days, but who generally don’t have the experience to convey the emotional content as well as more mature players. He recommended that students seek out performance opportunities whenever possible, as that experience, both good and bad is the best teacher. Practice should always have positive connotations, with time in the practice room spent doing things that we enjoy—“be positive going into the practice room as well as coming out!”

Students then performed for Mr. Webster. The first performer was Rhydian Griffiths (17 years old) who played the Arutunian Concerto on trumpet. Following an inspiring performance, Webster addressed a couple points. Some 16th note passages needed to be clearer; it wasn’t a problem with his technique since many other passages were well played. He advocated slurring the faster double-tongued phrases making sure the fingers and air are under control. Then add the double tongue with a short tongue stroke so that the sound is not too percussive, and so that the airflow is not altered. Don’t move the tongue too far forward since that would be a different placement than where it is when we normally blow. Pay attention to the little notes, end of phrases, etc.; the composer wrote those notes for a purpose. He also advised against adding notes that the composer didn’t write. Vibrato is a decoration on the air stream, and it should be handled very carefully. Webster cautioned against letting the vibrato get in the way of the music. We should perform in a manner that pleases us and practice that way at home. He suggested that we practice putting ourselves in performance situations so that we’re better prepared for the reality of a true concert experience. He ended this coaching by stated that, “We need to enjoy the piece so the listeners will enjoy it, too.”

Danielle (age 8) played “Softly Wakes my Heart” (from Saint-Saens’ Samson and Delilah) on cornet. A very nice performance, one belying her young age, was greeted warmly by the audience. Mr. Webster’s comments were complimentary of her tone, accuracy, control, and the general quality of her performance. She told him she practices one hour per day and two hours on weekends. Webster assured her she’s on the right path for a bright musical future.

Victoria (age 14) played Facilita on cornet. After an engaging performance, Webster commented on her nice sound, good interpretation, and clean tonguing for the most part. One area of concern was, “How to not get tongue-tied in triple tongued passages?” Webster advised her to, “Practice at least twice as much in terms of length of passage, faster and slower, at different dynamic levels, and repeat the passage over and over.” The muscles need to be ready (physically) to handle anything that is required of them. We should also try to practice pieces with various stages of warm-up (or lack of); in real life, players often have to perform without the comfort of our normal preparation time. After Victoria mentioned her studies with a private teacher, Webster urged all students to stick with the advice and study of a good teacher. All in attendance enjoyed the sage advice and wonderful musicianship of Mr. Roger Webster. (John Irish)