Brass Master Classes

When presenting brass performance master classes, Dr. Corwell offers helpful tips, constructive criticism, and clear insights that are sure to be of help to students as they return to the practice room or recital stage. His emphasis is on strong fundamentals which, when mastered, give one the tools to truly “make music”. Listed below are some of his “Brass Clinic Conversation Starters” that he might use to get discussions going during his clinics.

Brass Clinic Conversation Starters by Neal Corwell
topics often discussed and covered in some detail during his brass master classes
(not listed in any specific order)

The secret to practicing is that there is no secret.
• there’s only one way to master your instrument. Guess what it is.

LISTEN 1st, THEN evaluate, problem solve, experiment, prioritize

The sound is THE thing…so focus on it ALL the time!
Make note of the following equation:
• great fingers+great tonguing+great flexibility+great range+POOR TONE=nothing

Less is more.
• less movement=more efficiency

If you want to play fast, practice SLOWLY!
•ANYONE can play ANYTHING perfectly (if the tempo is slow enough).
S-l-o-w .......... I-t ........... D—o---w------n!!!!!!!!

Practicing for tomorrow...and next week, month, year…..etc.
(How to set short term and long term goals, and use them to guide practice sessions)

Have a plan, and be ready to throw it out the window. Take time to fix what's wrong.
(How to make the most out of each individual practice session by having a structure AND a willingness to depart from that structure to tackle problems that arise)

Practice BEGINS when you finally get it right.
(Don’t stop practicing a passage because you finally played it correctly)

Relax, D&#n it!
• release tension in shoulders, arms, hands fingers…throat, jaw, lips…

Can’t afford a $50,000 violin bow? No problem.
Fortunately for brass players, we don’t need to invest big bucks to have a shot at impeccable articulation and a great sound. Our “bow” is our air stream, free to one and all. What a deal! However, we do need to invest a lot of time, energy, and concentration, to develop a first rate air stream.
• the importance of relaxed, controlled, efficient breathing

So many birds, one little stone.
• the value of aerobic activity for your playing, and also for your overall physical and mental health

Pianists use it, guitarists Need it, hmm, maybe it'll do you some good too.
• Careful, efficient, hand position IS important for brass players.

You've got one (don't you?), so USE IT!!!
• the metronome isn't just for setting tempos.

Consistency of practice is key
• a consistent series of short to medium-length practice sessions is better than sporadic long sessions.

Your best, and only true teacher, is….YOU!
• most true learning takes place in the practice room BETWEEN lessons.