Where do you come from? That is, we would like to know 1) where you grew up as a trumpeter, 2) who were your most important teachers, and 3) what your professional and pedagogical trajectory has been until today.
My father was my first teacher and worked with me on the fundamentals. My most important teachers were my father, then Irving Bush (who had studied with my father), and then Tom Stevens. I also had some lessons with James Stamp and Vince DeRosa. My first orchestral job was with the San Antonio Symphony, followed by the Utah Symphony. I left Utah to go back to Los Angeles to free-lance and pursue a solo and compositional career. I eventually ended up in Europe, first playing with the Malmo Symphony in Sweden, and then winning the Professor position at the Freiburg Musik Hochschule (Germany) in 1992. When I retired from the Musik Hochschule in 2013 I took a 4-year/60% position at the Norwegian Music Academy in Oslo. I retired from playing in 2001 and currently, in addition to composition, have started a comprehensive online teaching program.
Every trumpeter has his methodological preferences. What type of exercises or methods do you emphasize when practicing and teaching, and why?
I find that there are many different types of good warm-up methods out there, yet, for me, the most important thing is not the method but rather the approach — which I believe must be both relaxed and musical. In addition, I emphasize vocalizes and flow studies, and spending a lot of time on the basics. My belief is that too many students and players spend too much time on difficult and stressful material and thus don’t play as efficiently as they are capable of playing. Two of my favorite phrases related to this are, “simple things understood deeply,” and “caring more and more about less and less…”; for example, how beautiful and efficient can a person play a warm-up passage or phrase?
Day to day with the trumpet
Could you tell us what your daily trumpet routine consists of?
When I was a player, I would do my warm-up then play some songs or vocalizes, and, throughout my practice session, would try to touch on as many of the basic areas as possible (flexibility, tonguing, etc). When I was a student, I also worked on things such as transposition and orchestral excerpts.
What brands of trumpets and mouthpieces do you use? Do you use them for any particular reason?
I first played Bach and then a Yamaha prototype made by Bob Malone and Kenzo Kawasaki. For most of my career, I played a Bach 1 ½ C and later a Breslmair 2.
Do you use any equipment that is beyond what we would consider normal? (E.G. a Delrin top, bent mouthpiece, bent trumpet receiver, different bell configuration, etc.)
Everything I played on was normal.
The teaching center
Where can a student, that would like to study with you, find you? Where do you teach?
I can be found at my online teaching program address: anthonyplog.com.
What can a student expect from you? And what do you expect from the student?
What a student can expect from me is a willingness to work with them, kindness, humor, and an openness to finding solutions for a problem. Every player is different, so I focus on that particular student and their challenges, rather than having a student fit into my particular program.
In your experience, what is the one common problem young players have today?
I think the most common problem is that a lot of young players tend to be too tense when they play. Quite often, rather than taking the time to work on the basics of a beautiful and effective sound (which can influence all other areas of technique), they move ahead to more difficult literature and techniques and in the process end up playing in a much less efficient manner. Foundational work may at times not be as exciting as solo literature, but every great player has a huge foundation.
Sharing exercises with Trumpetland
Do you have any exercise you would like to share with the Premium members of Trumpetland?
There are actually three exercises that I used to do on the trumpet when I was a player, and these formed the basis for my entire approach to playing. The first was a good warm-up. This should be played as beautifully as possible, and to do any warm-up in a beautiful manner requires that the exhalation should be flowing and lack any sense of stress. Examples of the warm-ups could include Stamp, Cichowicz, and the Plog Method book 1, among many. Secondly, a vocalise such as Bordogni or Concone, combined with a flow study, again played in a flowing and musical manner. And finally, perhaps 4 to 6 of the easy interval studies from the Arban book (in most books it is pages 125-130), which I slurred and played very slow. I used these to work on a warm and beautiful sound as much as possible, and I only played the ones in the low to middle register, so that I was not using any force. Practicing these three things at the beginning of my practice session pointed me in the right direction — always trying for an effortless and beautiful sound, combined with air flow.
Anyhow, I will share a few examples of exercises and warm-ups that appear in the first book of a seven-volume comprehensive method series I have published
Exercise by Anthony Plog (PDF 290,93 KB) [Only Premium members]