After Three Weeks in Europe

Something happened today that really shook me up. Remember last time I talked about how I was trying to relate my golf game to my trombone playing, hoping some of it would rub off? Well, after being in Europe for three weeks I wanted to work on my golf game as soon as I got back to the states. I went to the driving range and started hitting balls with a pitching wedge and got good results by taking a two-thirds swing and letting only the weight of the club send the ball flying. I thought to myself, “I’m winging the club as if I don’t care how far the ball goes.” Then I started hitting the balls with the other clubs all the way up to the driver. With each club I kept telling myself, “Swing the club like I don’t care; swing the club like I don’t care.” The results were that I hit the ball further than ever before. The less I tried, the more I got.

The same thing happens when playing the Ride of the Valkyries. Let your body language say “I don’t care”; keep everything is relaxed, like you were going to play it piano instead of fortissimo. Then, take a “full swing” at it by letting the air out of your lungs quickly, without pushing. You’ll get a bigger, better, more resonant sound. Because your body is totally relaxed, the sound will be less constricted, tense, and stressful, and therefore more pure. I have achieved a level of relaxation in my golf swing that I never imagined possible; the same relaxation is necessary in trombone playing.

On another subject, I want to report on the International Trombone Camp that I was privileged to work with in Limone, Italy (Sept. 1-4). I can’t imagine a better opportunity for trombonists to get such one-on-one contact with such highly renowned musicians. The faculty consisted of Jiggs Wigham, Charles Vernon, and myself. There were players from Italy, Spain, Germany, and Russian in attendance. Each group of players had two masterclasses with each artist, and every participant had a chance to play for the three of us. There were concerts every night, with the final evening featuring a trombone choir consisting of all the participants. The final afternoon featured a very special event. Each trombonist (about 20) got to play an excerpt sitting in a section with Charles Vernon and myself.

The camp was organized by Mr. Joe Burnam and Mr. Gianpiero Brignone; they did a fantastic job putting the camp together. The food was wonderful, the town of Limone was beautiful, the hotel was very comfortable, and the weather was perfect. Don’t miss this opportunity next year.