As I predicted in week one, there has been a bit of a delay in writing this post – five weeks to be precise.  The relentless pace of the year continued with touring, teaching, arranging, festivals, RPO and Septura all bubbling along without a moments rest.

However, crowbar’ed into a Tuesday morning was the first rehearsal with Chris. I turned up at Chris’ house – about a mile from where I live –  with music for the first twenty songs and rough notes on the last four. We had rather naively scheduled one hour for this, and it quickly became apparent that a three hour session was required in order to break the back of the work. A brief email or two later we had cleared the morning and started with Gute Nacht.

Chris’ vast experience working with singers was worth its weight in gold. I played different versions of the same passage to him, employing different techniques I had thought might mimic how singers approached the music: how to utilise the spectrum of articulations between portamento and staccatissimo, and the idea of a half-legato. 

From a playing point of view, the main points for me to work on were finding a more ‘creamy’ legato and to spend time practicing portamento between notes – up to this point I had been a firm believer that it was not possible to translate this technique onto the trombone (there are some shocking recordings proving that it doesn’t work!), but with the idea to play them ‘later and lighter’ – and having recorded the session to listen back to later – I left feeling that they could really add something to the interpretations. We’ll see how the practice goes on that front.

We talked about how breaths can make the text more rhetorical and how they can be used to link phrases without breaking the line too much, how vibrato and crucially non-vibrato can be a strong emotional tool for the trombone, and that Chris never buys pencils….he steals them! Ryedale musicians – you have been warned!