Texas ATSSB Trombone Etudes: Gatti
[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/playlists/54004997" params="auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true" width="100%" height="450" iframe="true" /] So, in this second post, we're gonna tackle this little vigoroso treat that Mr. Gatti has in store for us.
First of all, let's discuss the proverbial elephant in the room... What the heck do I do about breathing in this piece???!!! Well, I hate to tell you, but this is one of those pieces where you're "damned if you do, damned if you don't!" What I mean is, you have to get your priorities straight. Ask yourself what is most important, playing every single note super fast or playing as clean and musically as you can, while picking and choosing smart places to breathe?
Now, I'm not here to say one way is right. However, I do think there is a best solution. In any audition, I prefer to hear someone come in and play a musically sound performance, while showing off their technical ability and skills without sacrificing their musical goals. I think you can make this piece sound plenty vigorous while playing at the low end of the tempo scale, single tonguing, and breathing in strategically placed spots while leaving notes out to do so.
"WHAAAATTTT???? Did you just say to LEAVE NOTES OUT???!!!" Yep, I sure did. It is done all the time in ensemble/section settings in the interest of keeping the time consistent above all else and in facilitating staggered breathing within a trombone section. "But this is a solo piece!", you say. Yes it is. I think it is more important that you make this "strategic breathing" thing a part of your tool bag now, and this is a great place to learn it.
It IS possible to triple tongue this whole etude. In my opinion, the time it would take me to be able to do that would be much better spent developing a faster, clearer single tongue, practicing long tones, cleaning my slide, and doing lots of other things in my life! In my professional experience, with the exception of some Pryor solos, or playing cornet solos, there is much more use for fast single tonguing and even double tonguing before spending so much time developing this kind of triple tonguing. I'm not saying it's not needed, but not before the other articulation skills are mastered.
My plan when I recorded this was to play all the phrases on one breath until I got to the passage beginning in measure 22. I marked my music to breathe first in m. 26, on the last 16th of beat 1. You can hear in the recording where I took my breaths. I did my best to try to make my breaths short and quick, and get right back in on the next beat. By breathing mid-phrase, I'm better able to play the dynamics printed which give this somewhat repetitive etude much more musical contrast. I tried playing faster and softer, but I could not make the phrase in the last four lines no matter what I tried! And that was playing faster and very soft without really doing any of the printed dynamics. Circular breathing is possible, but again, I just don't feel it adds much to the musical goal of the piece. Finally, anticipate the fact that most mortal humans will be nervous in an audition, and planning for phrases that stretch your air capacity to the max in a comfortable practice session are probably not a good idea in an audition setting.
So, how to practice? SLOW. Slow it down. Take one phrase (or measure, or beat) at a time. Strive to make all the 16ths equal, unless they are marked with an accent. Record yourself and listen for equal sound and even time.
Speaking of time, I'm thinking 8th note subdivisions, except for the measures where we have accents/hemiola, such as measure four. Keep the eighth note pulse rolling in your head constantly, and combine that with metronome practice at all speeds. You will have to live with the practice of the time concept for some time to really ingrain it! Don't give up! Keep at it and if things start to fall apart, revert to a slower speed. Practice SLOW FIRST! Have I been clear enough ?! :)
Good luck. Get to work, and keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming series on How to Prepare For and Take An Audition.