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“Always Think About the Musical Line, Not Each Separated Note!”

When he is not giving classes in the Claudio Monteverdi Conservatory in Bolzano, he is performing concerts with his brass quintet, the Gomalan Brass, or as a soloist, with his brilliant Yamaha trumpets. Ladies and gentlemen: the great Marco Pierobon!
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Marco Pierobon

What first drew you to the trumpet and when did you realize that trumpet playing was what you wanted to do professionally?

I started in the school military band when I was 8 years old, because they were looking for young, new musicians. I realized that this could be my profession much later, let’s say after my experience in the Italian Youth Orchestra, at 18.

Where have you studied and who were your teachers?

I studied at the Claudio Monteverdi Conservatory in Bolzano, in the same classroom where I now teach, with Professor Otto Rabensteiner. And of course, many masterclasses with other musicians.

What was your first full time professional job as a trumpet player and how did you get it?

It was in the Toscanini Orchestra in Parma, as second trumpet for two seasons. I was 21 years old.

Which musicians, teachers, conductors or trumpet players have influenced and taught you the most?

Giancarlo Parodi (my partner in Bolzano), Rex Martin, Roger Bobo, Philip Smith, and Thomas Clamor. But also directors like Giulini, Muti, Abbado, Barenboim, Prêtre, Sawallisch, and solo opera singers and musicians of other instruments.

What is your daily practice routine?

First a brief 60 second warm-up: some buzzing, breathing and stretching. Then, if I have classes or a quiet day, I will do some technique, which allows me to cover all aspects of the trumpet. After (and sometimes mixed with the technical exercises), I work on music. I record myself often and listen to myself to improve.

You spend a lot of time on the road performing and teaching. What do you do to stay in shape?

When I am away from home, I study wherever I can — hotel rooms, basements, etc. I even have a mouthpiece with me while I’m driving, and play the music I’m listening to or do other technical exercises.

How important do you consider a rest or break when you are practicing?

It’s very important! I try to always have a fresh mind and chops in order to concentrate and be productive. With two children and two dogs, it is often difficult. Therefore, I usually play at night, while everyone is sleeping (my house is old and the walls are very thick…).

How do you approach a new piece?

First of all, I read it without the instrument; I sing it and imagine the best phrasing, which is very important for me, to know how to play each note as I should. Then, I play the intervals, to be clear where each note is located. Later, I play small fragments very, very slowly, and then larger and faster sections. I try to play as musically as I can from the beginning. This means that it is necessary to study slowly, or transpose the notes down, and be able to play with enough musicality and energy throughout.

What is your approach to teaching your students?

That the music is always first.

Do you consider it important to combine more than one genre in your studies such as jazz and natural trumpet?

Of course, I consider myself a flexible musician. At the moment, I have projects with a classical orchestra, Gershwin transcriptions, trumpet and organ recitals (with parts of Mahler’s 5th), Piazzolla arrangements with trumpet, piano and bass, and even a solo project with big band. And with my quintet (Gomalan Brass), we play all styles! I’m even considering the purchase of a natural trumpet for an upcoming baroque tour in Russia.

What criteria do you follow when you are choosing a mouthpiece and trumpet?

Simple, they have to be easy to play in all aspects that I use them!

What advice do you have for young students and for teachers?

To the student: Always think about the musical line, not each separated note!

To the teacher: Teach how to think about the music line, not each separated note!

Have you ever had a bad experience on stage?

None too bad, but I think that anxiety control is something that should be practiced daily, such as slurring or dynamics. If there is no mental practice, we don’t actually face the problem.

How should one take criticism?

I am my first and worst critic. I think that, first of all, I should try to play well, more than anything, for myself. So, every criticism should be positive for my development as a musician. I try to separate what the criticism is and how to incorporate it into my playing.

They say that everybody has a little bit of performance anxiety and the important thing is controlling it. What do you do to control it?

I would say that a little nervousness is good, because it is precisely what helps improve your communication with the public. An interpretation without nerves is not an emotional interpretation, and the public will take notice. Music is an emotional communication for me, and emotions are part of the game, for good or for bad.

Any advice on preparing for auditions?

Be at 101% prepared. If you know that you played the Alpine Symphony ten times perfectly yesterday, your heart will not go so fast on the day of the audition. Be prepared for everything you are asked for (even if it is strange), be prepared to play it all fast, slow, loud, soft, longer, with more rubato. They will want to try to see if you are capable to change the way you play from one moment to another.

Use a metronome. Audio/video recorder yourself. Get recordings of the repertoire. Have a piano and pencil handy. You must have everything at hand while you practice.

What kind of music do you listen to?

Great orchestras at home. The radio while driving (when I’m not playing the mouthpiece).

With what musician or style of music do you identify with the most?

The music of the 70s. Great rock, and also great classical music composers that still live!.

Who is your favorite trumpet player?

Maurice André.

What is your favorite piece for trumpet?

Probably the Arutiunian. There are so many different emotions in that piece!

Do you have any exercise you would like to share with the Trumpet Magazine subscribers?

My favorite exercises are those of the first pages of Vincent Cichowicz’s Flow Studies, perhaps with some variations: some Stamp-style bending, some change in the scale (minor modes, whole tone, etc.) and things like that.

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