Bert Truax will give an overview of how he uses the James Stamp method as a daily warm-up and centering exercise, and how to apply it in performance.
Karl Sievers, reporter
Bert Truax delivered a terrific presentation to a full and enthusiastic house on the teaching concepts of James Stamp. Berts accomplishments in the profession guarantee his credibility as a player/teacher, and his obvious gift as a communicator is a bonus. His presentation was well prepared, thoughtfully organized, and was delivered with kindness and humor. Students Hugo Moreno and John Heinen were volunteer guinea pigs.
Bert began by making the statement that warming up is over-rated, explaining that truly focusing on fundamentals should be the real (yet often neglected) goal of a warm-up. He explained that the fundamentals to be pursued in a warm-up include these four basic ingredients:
4) Ears/Aural Imagination
Using a transparency projector, he drew a model of a donut shape with an arrow going through the center, which designates the centered sound with a forward attitude. All the following musical exercises were to be delivered according to this model.
The rest of the session consisted of Bert demonstrating the well-known seven-note melody of the basic Stamp study using the mouthpiece alone. Each upper neighbor is to be a lock note, emphasizing mental/aural focus on tone, and stability of the embouchure on that note, which in turn is to be kept intact as the phrase continues. The subsequent changes of pitch are to be accomplished solely with air and ears, not with undue motion in the chops or in the placement of the tongue. What many of us did not realize is that these exercises are to be done with the piano (simultaneously). Play the piano with one hand and do the exercise while holding the mouthpiece in the other hand, paying very careful attention to intonation and the idea of that centered, forward sound.
As a corollary exercise, Truax demonstrated what he called, lip ups (lip push ups), which can be done away from the horn and/or to augment a practice session. This is accomplished by placing the thumb and forefinger on the eye-teeth, and touching the upper and lower lips together in between. Done repeatedly five times or so, this can help strengthen the position of the corners while keeping the center of the embouchure free to vibrate.
As often happens with successful clinics, Truaxs audience was enthralled throughout the presentation, through the question/answer period, and the student volunteers showed profound improvement in a very short time.