Sam Burtis attended Ithaca College and The Berklee School of Music. He has been a working musician in New York City since 1969, playing tenor trombone, bass trombone, tuba, valve trombone and euphonium in just about every idiom and situation available to a professional musician in New York during that time. He is also a composer and arranger, writing and transcribing for such musicians and organizations as The Lee Konitz Nonet, The Charles Mingus Band, The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, Tito Puente, and the Chico O'Farrill Orchestra.He is currently forming his own ensemble to play his compositions. He is also a free-lance musician, playing studio, theater, concert, and jazz club work regularly in and around New York City and throughout the world.
In the previous Letters From New York article, an anecdotal and very personal overview of how Caruso taught, I discussed Caruso's concepts and techniques, and described some of the basic ideas from which those techniques grew. In this article I would like to present one of his basic exercises both in the form he originally presented it and also in variations that I have discovered over the years.
In this edition of "Letters From New York," Sam Burtis discusses the quintessential New York brass teacher Carmine Caruso and some of his teaching methods.
An attempt to demystify mouthpiece and free buzzing, and directions on how to use them as constructive tools toward a better embouchure and a more efficient approach to the making sound on the horn.
A series of answers to specific questions about equipment...mouthpieces, horns, etc...including an informal survey of what instruments are being played on the NYC freelance jazz/latin/studio/Broadway scene.
A series of anecdotes (or teaching stories) both from my own personal experiences and the folklore of jazz, regarding the inner aspects of playing music.
Further information about dealing with "breaks", including more mouthpiece buzzing techniques.
An examination of the natural "breaks" that occur in a brass embouchure...ways to find them, ways to deal with them. A "bel canto" approach to the brass embouchure, including mouthpiece buzzing as a diagnostic aid.
An examination of ways to use "alternate" positions to greater advantage...an attempt to make some "alternate" positions more "primary" than "alternate", thereby smoothing out general slide technique.
An approach to combining tonguing, slide technique and flexibility into a seamless, reflexive whole.
An approach to combining flexibility exercise with specific keys and scalar patterns that is specific to the demands of the trombone.
An overview of ways to hold and move the slide that will improve technique and accuracy.