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Sep 19
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Paul Brody

Already in January of 2014 I break my New Year's resolution by checking emails while warming up on the trumpet. I open the latest mail at the top and work my way down the scales, playing a half step lower with each click. A young trumpeter who studied with me in Berlin writes, "Paul, H.N.Y. I saw you in the The Other Europeans documentary. That Moldavian gypsy trumpet player is amazing!" He includes the link to the trailer. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xuwoz42G0IU).

I wish him well, explain that the correct word for gypsy is Roma, and think about my colleague.

Last year Adam Stinga,

one of the greatest trumpet soloists of our generation, was told by doctors in the Republic of Moldavia that he would survive his lung cancer but never perform again. Less then a year later, I was standing next to Adam on stage in Warsaw with the band that brought us together as a trumpet section, Alan Bern's The Other Europeans. The story of Adam's treatment and recovery parallels the story of our band, individuals from different cultures working together to find a common language.

The Other Europeans is a fourteen-piece group consisting of some of today's most accomplished Klezmer and Roma musicians. We explore the intersection of the two kinds of music that shared a rich cultural exchange before they were almost destroyed by war, the Holocaust, and immigration. We are from eight different countries, share no single language, and our rehearsals bounce among Russian, Romanian, Hungarian, German, English and French.

With the help of the manager of a German pop star who heard the band play at Yiddish Summer Weimar, Alan Bern found one of the world's leading lung cancer surgeons, an Albanian doctor based in Germany, and brought Adam in for an examination. Instead of removing an entire lung, the surgeon would use a technique he developed which involves removing only a small part of Adam's lung and reconstructing that with Adam's own tissue. The doctor agreed to work for a minimal cost and invited his best team, which consisted of an Egyptian anesthesiologist and Turkish nurses. Adam's Moldavian insurance wouldn't cover treatment out of the country so Alan Bern set up an online fundraising campaign, prompting musicians from all over the world to give concerts and solicit donations.

I used to play more quietly than Adam out of admiration, shy respect. Now I play softly out of joy. Like watching the path of a hummingbird flying though tree branches, my ear follows his Moldavian embellishments winding through flowing melodies. Maybe he takes a few more breaths between phrases than before his operation, but I still have the feeling that every note from his silver horn is music history in the making.

My listening has been transformed by the sound that almost disappeared from next to me, and what put Adam back on stage with The Other Europeans mirrors the band itself: crossing borders despite difficulties, an array of people working together, every one of whom would have been considered a 'non-person' just two generations ago in Germany.

A trumpet slung over the shoulder travels light, but our tradition, how we carve a melody with air, trill a note, breathe a sound to life, weighs on us every time we take out the horn to play. What Clark Terry is to jazz and Maurice Andre is to classical, Adam Stinga is to Roma music. (www.theothereuropeans.eu)

PAUL  BRODY is an American composer and trumpeter who has been living and performing in Europe for the last two decades. He is recognized as one of the most creative trumpet players in the European scene. Both as a guest soloist with jazz and experimental theater groups, and with his own band, Paul Brody's Sadawi (Tzadik and Enja Labels), he is well known in festivals in both Europe and across the Atlantic. He is also a writer and has written and produced features for NPR and WDR and SWR in Germany.


The Trumpet Professor's Tips and suggestions

Include Rest in Your Daily Trumpet

If you study the practice habits of the great players you will find that rest breaks are included in their daily practice sessions. Too often players will practice until their lips are exhausted or until they flatten out or play into complete collapse of the embouchure. This non-productive approach can lead to stiff lip syndrome, poor endurance, poor range and a lack of flexibility. Straining and forcing your lips will not help you to become a better trumpeter. Herbert L. Clarke*, the great American cornet soloist and pedagogue, encouraged players to play for a minute and rest for a minute. Throughout his famous technical study book he stressed the importance of keeping the lips “fresh and elastic.” He writes: the muscles of the lips must be trained until they are elastic and strong, and always remembering that only the slightest pressure and not brute force is necessary to produce a tone." All professional players understand the importance of rest in practice. The great Russian trumpet virtuoso, Timofei Dokshizer, practiced in 20-minute segments with 20-minute rest periods. Other players have different ways of including rest in their practice. Some do 15 minutes of practice and 5-10 minutes of rest. Some include 1 to 5 minute rest after each exercise. There can be different variations on when to rest and for how long but the important thing is to rest enough so that the lips maintain their elasticity. For young players it can be a good idea to rest for 10-20 seconds between exercises. If you are a player who practices one or more hours a day try practicing in segments with rests in between. Including rests in ones daily practice is an important part of efficient and productive training.
* Clarke’s “Technical Studies for Trumpet” is one of the great trumpet study books and an absolute must for any serious player

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