This past spring Roger Webster presented a cornet master class at Rowan University. Webster, currently Principal Cornet with the Black Dyke Band in England, presented a master class that covered a vast array of brass playing issues. Webster was in Southern New Jersey and Delaware with the Black Dyke Band, which was on a short tour sponsored in part by the Atlantic Brass Band (The resident brass band at Rowan University).
He began the class by discussing issues surrounding the warm-up including the reasons we need to warm-up instead of "jumping right in."
He then moved into a discussion about goals we should have for each practice session throughout the day. He followed this with a call for each of the players in the audience to take responsibility for their own progress and develop the ability to analyze their own playing. He said that if we can really hear what we are doing wrong that we would be able to develop a methodical approach to fixing our problems. In addition he suggested that we push the limits of our abilities every day. He said that we should practice louder, softer, faster, slower, higher and lower than we are comfortable playing in order to increase our expressive capacity.
Webster also stressed the importance of knowing the great players, composers, and works of previous generations. Particularly revealing was his question, "Name three nineteenth-century American cornet virtuosi." With no answers forthcoming he told the audience to 'learn their history,' noting that even as a Brit, he knew more about American cornet history than the audience did.
In his discussion about musical expression he stressed the need to exaggerate the musical gesture on stage so that the listener in the back row really hears what we are trying to accomplish. He also acknowledged the issue of nervousness stating that we should not view performance as needing a higher level of excellence than what we do in the practice room, but as a public demonstration of what we did in the practice room: "nothing more, nothing less."
Webster worked with Rowan University freshman trumpet major Timothy White on cornet, telling him to use air attacks to get proper tone production and then to use the tongue to clarify the start of the sound. He also cautioned against viewing an etude only as a study, stating that it should be looked at like a piece of music not just an exercise. Later Webster worked with master's student David Seals. With Seals he was able to discuss some of the finer points of cornet playing including vibrato and extremely fast multiple tonguing. His demonstration of double tonguing and triple tonguing was truly amazing.
After working with Junior trumpet major Alison Abbadessa on keeping on her aggressiveness both in and out of the mute, he took a few requests. He finished the class with a remarkably effortless display of the most difficult sections of works by Clarke, Arban, and others.
|Rowan University Assistant Professor of Trumpet and Brass, Dr. Bryan K. Appleby-Wineberg (left) and Mr. Roger Webster, Principal Cornet of the Black Dyke Band.|
Source: Bryan K. Appleby-Wineberg