[Trombone-l] Teacher?

Steve Gamble sgamble at tucsonsymphony.org
Thu Nov 17 10:40:02 CST 2005

I have to answer this question in terms of where I am now...what got me
here.  The seed of how I think and what I teach was planted by Gail
Wilson, professor at Arizona State University and former principal
trombone of the Phoenix Symphony and the Brevard Music Center Orchestra.
He was a very consistent and very reliable player...always very

One day in a lesson, I noticed that his mouthpiece had the plating warn
off in a certain spot on the shank.  I thought that was strange until it
occurred to me that he must put his mouthpiece in his horn the same way
every time (also strange). I asked him somewhat incredulously, "Do you
put your mouthpiece in your horn the same way every time?!"  His answer
was one of many lectures about how professionals have to be able to do
what they can do every time, no matter what.  CONSISTENCY...that's what
pros have.  Your colleagues have to be able to count on you.  As a
reminder, I always put my mouthpiece in my horns the same way each time.
It's sort of ritual by now.

Thinking about consistency has developed over the years into a very
thorough understanding of what it means to, as Gabe has said many times
in one form or another, be sure you are doing what you CAN do.  On the
surface, it doesn't seem to a lot of folks like much of a philosophy.
But in actuality, there is a world of meaning to doing what you CAN.
There is no end to the meaning of it, really.  It is a system that
applies to every person.  There are no "learning styles" to accommodate
in this system.  Doing what you CAN is about the doer, so anyone can fit
into it.  It is a system designed for you by you.  And it is always
based on the same thing: whatever is best about your playing.  

However, what I see as most common is that well meaning teachers and
dedicated students buy into the idea that one must take on enormous
challenges each day to get better.  It's an idea that sounds good, and,
I suppose, might possibly be good for the very exceptional among us (I'm
not one of those, so I can't say).  But for the vast majority of folks,
the challenge doesn't have to be very big at all before it becomes a
distraction that results in preventing us from paying attention to the
things we can already do, fooling us into thinking that gaining
additional skills is something very difficult as well as increasing
drastically ours chances of taking on some new bad habits.  This is what
I call "doing what you CAN'T."
And regardless of a person's 'exceptionalness,' it's doesn't really take
that much of a reach to find yourself in that state of confusion called
doing what you CAN'T.  

It seems to me that my other more famous teachers, who were all
fabulous, made a heck of a lot more sense because of Gail.

Now to answer the question of who IS my best teacher.  CONSISTENCY in my
best teacher.

Steve Gamble, Librarian
Tucson Symphony Orchestra
2175 N. 6th Ave.
Tucson, AZ  85705
(520) 792-9155 x118
(520) 792-9314 fax
(520) 991-7056 cel
sgamble at tucsonsymphony.org

-----Original Message-----
From: trombone-l-bounces at samford.edu
[mailto:trombone-l-bounces at samford.edu] On Behalf Of Charles Levine
Sent: Thursday, November 17, 2005 2:50 AM
To: Trombone-l at server5.samford.edu
Subject: [Trombone-l] Teacher?

Who was the best teacher you ever had?  Why?
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