I think that the concept of a saxophonist and former violinist becoming one of the most well-respected and well-known trumpet and brass teachers is a fascinating one. His callisthenic approach will be well-known to many readers through his publications, but in addition to this concentration on the physical synchronisation of different muscle groups, he also built a reputation on positivity and for really nurturing his students. I mentioned to friend and fellow trumpet player Burt Collins that I wanted to continue to study and work on certain aspects of my playing. Coming off the road, I was bothered by a few things that I felt needed to be addressed. Burt told me about his study with Carmine, that he was a trouble-shooter and problem-solver. He also mentioned a number of players who had been helped through studying with Carmine, among them the great lead player Al Porcino and others, and he felt Carmine would be the teacher to see.
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In this article I will explain the philosophy behind the Caruso school, talk about the major exercises that it employs, and compare the various ways it is being taught by major pedagogues and artists today. First things first, a bit about Carmine Caruso:. By studying with Carmine, you would get custom versions and sequences of the exercises, and this is the real value in this system.
The exercises are scalable to every level. I was lucky enough to study with Frink and experience her potent blend of pedagogy. When talking about the Caruso Method, we first talk about the philosophy of this kind of training.
I would stress to not think too much about the quality of your performance in the beginning as this can be destructive. In the early stages, distorted notes may be all that your body is capable of doing within the constraints of this method.
It is important to realize that the body is always in a state of change. This method is designed to bring about discipline and a coordination between mind and body. The instrument is just a piece of plumbing, it is muscle that does all of the work. Nearly muscles must work to produce a sound on a brass instrument.
It is the coordination of these muscles that is directed through this study. Another important concept for the success of this technique is your coordination. Timing determines when muscles start and stop. As you practice with precision timing a steady tempo , you will condition your muscles to be reflexive. Once your movements are reflexive, they can become more advanced and more efficient.
I recommend that you subdivide to become even more precise with the timing. The goal is to get all of the muscles to respond on the final 16th note so that you have a more accurate and reflexive movement. The Caruso method also mandates a set of rules for correct form. Their purpose is to eliminate variables so that the repetitive practice can be as consistent as possible.
This is to establish the timing to which the muscles must move. Use a metronome if you have trouble with this. Keep the mouthpiece in contact with the lips throughout each study long setting. Every time you move the mouthpiece you are resetting the embouchure, we wish to eliminate this variable. The embouchure consists of 5 definite movements, by not resetting we are reducing this to three! Contrary to the text, this does NOT mean to hold your lips in playing position during the rests.
This adds tension which is the mortal enemy of brass playing! The blow is both muscular and physical in nature. The steadier the blow, the more compact the stream of the air. The more compact the stream of air, the easier it is for the lips to ride that airstream.
As the lips become more efficient, making music will become easier. This is to reduce the amount of muscular activity it takes to produce a note. This helps to develop the embouchure quicker because we are reducing the variables. Interval Study — An upper register specific exercise. Harmonics - An exercise that connects the lower and upper registers.
Someone just starting with the method might just do 6 notes for a week, and then add 2nds, from the interval study, and so forth. I also experiment with the ordering after 6 notes, although I find an excellent balance is achieved by doing the first four in a row. I will provide some sample routines at the end of this article. She studied with Carmine for a very long time and over-lapped with Laurie Frink. It teaches the body the relative positions of each note and makes them feel close together.
It also helps to achieve a good balance between air, lips, and time. There is no mention of volume in the Caruso book, but most teachers would have you play this MF or PP. My recommendation is to play it very softly to just grab the core of the note. This exercise can be further modified as you advance to cover other sequences of notes. The interval study is for specific upper register training.
It is a strength exercise and should always be played very softly. Never lurch between notes, instead go for the idea of a glissando between notes. This can cover any interval; advanced students would do a different interval every day.
All intervals are diatonic but can be chromatic to work over break areas. Once you get to the top, rest for 15 seconds and pick it up a 4th lower than where you stopped and go higher. Then recover. Always breath attack the first note and always slur the intervals!
Harmonics are strength and sound-building drills that help to expand into the upper register through the harmonic series. This trains the balance of air and aperture needed for this. More advanced versions also descend, and you typically go as high as you can get in the interval study.
Make sure to keep the blow steady, and hit ALL of the harmonics. The physical movement is analogous to whistling the exercise. Pictured below is the version with a hold on top as well as the version with the descending half. They are not a pair, but just two ways of doing it. Chord pedals are a combination recovery and focus exercise.
You breath attack a high note and then come down the chord into the pedal register. Start as high as you get with harmonics and interval study. Moreover, make sure you are breath attacking the note. Keep the volume soft and create as smooth transition between each note, rather than jumping from slot to slot.
Do this in all 7 descending positions. This helps to connect the upper and lower register, just as the harmonics connect the lower register to the upper register. It also trains the body where the high notes are! Below are 5 variations of this exercise. Below is a typical outline of how you would apply this to your daily practice. At each line, you would repeat the sequence for a full week and then re-assess.
If you still have trouble doing anything, repeat the week. Once you have all 4 exercises in your routine, you can continuously re-evaluate the version of 6 notes and the version of harmonics you are using.
Many keep them the same for months or years on end. Cycle through the intervals on a regular basis and continue to experiment with different pedal exercises and whisper tones plus the chromatic scale. Through this process, you will achieve the reflex, discipline, range, and consistency promised! The Caruso Way: How to apply calisthenic training to daily brass practice. February 5, Faculty Author:. Derek Ganong.
The Carmine Caruso Legacy
Brass players from all over the world came to New York to study with him. He had a reputation for being able to help improve players just starting out, detoured talents, and players who already performed well. Carmine Caruso started with music at an early age. At four, it was discovered that he could remember tones- he had absolute pitch.