CHRISTIAN PINCOCK

Trombonist – Composer – Educator

Christian Pincock is an experienced and effective music educator. For over a decade, he has taught individual music lessons, directed student ensembles, and led classes and workshops for students of all ages and at all education levels. He is also an active trombonist and composer, working in a variety of styles and settings from local to international.

Christian specializes in brass instruments, composition and jazz studies and approaches each student as an individual with their own unique needs and learning styles. Christian has successfully taught students of all ages including grade school, college and adults as well as all skill levels from beginner through advanced. Many of his students have achieved high scores on local music association competitions and some have continued their musical studies in college and have gone on to become professional musicians.

Christian is an experienced and effective ensemble leader drawing on years of experience playing in, writing for and directing big bands and has worked with artists such as Bob Brookmeyer, Maria Schneider, Bobby Shew, Gunther Schuler and Toshiko Akayoshi. As the director of the High School Honor Jazz Band at The New Mexico Jazz Workshop, Christian brought together some of the most talented young musicians in the Albuquerque metropolitan area to develop their ensemble playing abilities and their improvisational skills. In addition to standard ensemble techniques and working with sheet music, Christian also employs new and unique rehearsal techniques such as Soundpainting, the internationally-practiced sign language for live composition to communicate the essential elements of music leaving the students with a deeper understanding of musical structure, ensemble interaction and following a conductor.

Christian is also an experienced lecturer and workshop leader in the fields of jazz, composition and improvisation. He has served as a lecturer at the University of New Mexico where he taught in the jazz and dance departments. Christian has also presented workshops on topics such as “Effective Practice Techniques”, “Soundpainting, The Art of Live Composition” and “Composing for Electro-Acoustic Instruments” at institutions including Universidy of California, San Diego; University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, University of New Mexico, and International Society for Improvising Musicians.

INDIVIDUAL LESSONS

Since 2001, Christian has been a committed personal coach for students wanting to expand their musical abilities. He encourages his students to focus on discovering a personal process of practicing to efficiently and creatively gain technical and aesthetic control over the details that make music exciting and interesting.

Christian speciallizes in brass instruments, composition, and jazz studies for any instrument; he also teaches beginning piano, and music theory. He has taught students ages 4–adult and students at all levels of experience.

Private lessons are usually scheduled to recur weekly for consistency; other arrangements may be negotiated in special cases. Younger students generally do better with 30-minute lessons; 60-minute lessons are generally more effective for older students. Lessons can be scheduled either in Christian's studio in Westlake, Seattle or in the students' home for an additional travel fee. Lessons via Skype or FaceTime are also available. Please contact Christian for more info.

Individual lessons are a way to directly target a student’s needs or interests. Christian works to give each student the most valuable experience possible by listening to their goals as well as giving them ideas that he envisions would be most valuable for them. 

Some topics individual lessons can be focused on: 

•     Fundimental Techniques 

•     Jazz Improvisation

•     Melodic Interpretation

•     Rhythmic Time Feel

•     Expanding One’s Timbral Palette

•     Free Improvisation

•     Composition / Arranging

Workshop/Residency offerings

Christian has presented workshops on a variety of musical topics at institutions of higher education across the United States including University of Colorado in Colorado Springs, University of California in San Diego, Cornish College and University of New Mexico. He has also led workshops for public school band programs in Seattle, Albuquerque, New York City and Boston.

From 2010-2012, Christian served as a lecturer at the University of New Mexico. While there, he taught Jazz Improvisation I, Jazz Improvisation II, Music For Dancers, and Jazz Theory & Keyboard Skills. He was also a featured valve trombone soloist honoring the late Bob Brookmeyer and led a workshop on Soundpainting with the UNM Jazz Band I.

From 2009-2012, Christian taught at the New Mexico Jazz Workshop, a non-profit arts organization in Albuquerque, NM. He directed the High School Honors Jazz Big Band, the High School Honors Jazz Combo, and the Community Big Band. He also taught an adult education class "Effective Practice Techniques".

These educational activities are intended to be adapted into the best format and context to fit in with the needs and purposes of the program and its educators. 

 

IMPROVISATION FOR ALL MUSICIANS

Inspiring musicians of all stylistic backgrounds, technical abilities and experiences to develop and deepen their improvisational skills with creativity and awareness through techniques, exercises and games of creative limitations.

•    Focuses on building creativity, awareness and listening skills

•    All levels of experience and stylistic background can be accommodated

•    Includes exercises and games for working within creative limitations

Christian often hears, “I wish I could improvise but I don’t know what to do.” from students and musicians who are unfamiliar with improvisation. This often comes from musicians trained in a classical tradition who have learned exclusively by reading and find the freedom of improvisation to be intriguing but overwhelming. In this workshop, Christian presents techniques of teaching improvisation that can be learned by any musician in ways that expand their comfort zone while respecting and building from their own personal abilities.

Christian says, “In my experience of teaching improvisation, I find that developments in creativity come from practice within carefully chosen limitations. In my improvisation workshops, I help the students discover and try out limitations for practice and performance which will focus their efforts towards the goals they wish to achieve making their practice more efficient and rewarding.”

An improvisation masterclass or residency can be structured to include ensemble coaching, an interactive workshop and/or a lecture. Whether it is a big band, a small group, a wind ensemble, or anything else, Christian can usually prepare the group to play a concert using the signs in three 2-hour rehearsals. (In some cases, two 2-hour rehearsals will be enough. Some of the rehearsals can be led over Skype or FaceTime before he arrives if timing is an issue.) Additional rehearsals, if available, will allow work with additional signs, deeper exploration into the concepts and opportunity to form a more unified group sound. In workshops, depending on the student's level of experience with improvising, Christian uses the musical concepts to guide improvisers such as mapping density levels, range or silence within a composition; creating games involving changing roles of improvisers or asking the ensemble members to simply focus on a particular musical aspect while improvising. As a lecture, he introduces these concepts of improvisation, describes different ways to approach improvisation and shares examples in live performance, my own recordings or recordings of others. For some examples of this is performance, visit the Scrambler playlist on YouTube.

 

BRASS MASTER CLASS

This activity rehearses your ensemble or a section of your ensemble with a focus of your choice. Focuses on building technique and deepening musicianship and can be focused on either general concepts or on a specific topic of your choosing. 

Christian has extensive experience leading master classes with ensembles and ensemble sections in all levels of education. He can work with a trombone section, a full brass section or with a full jazz band or wind ensemble. (This could include a solo demonstration or with the group with which Christian is traveling.)    This master class can focus on:

•    Sound production and fundamental techniques

•    Rhythmic concepts for expressive musicianship

•    Deepening performance of current repertoire

•    Creative and effective practice techniques

 

COMPOSER MASTERCLASS 

Designed to inspire composers to think about their work in new ways, the focus can be on electronic music, big band, small jazz group, or solo compositions where the composer is also the performer. It can be structured as a lecture where Christian shares his compositional processes or as an interactive workshop where student composers present pieces for commentary and development. (The latter is particularly effective when student composers send their work to Christian in-advance for review.)

In addition to composing music that he performs himself, Christian continues to compose music for other musicians to interpret. In his first composition lesson with Bob Brookmeyer, Christian recalls, “…he told me that the job of the composer is to ask the right questions of a piece. Now, with years of experience since then, I am able to help my own students find the questions which are most appropriate to their needs to take their compositions in the direction they want them to go and identify areas of weaknesses.”

 Some questions addressed in this workshop are: 

•    How to balance unity and variation?     

•    How does one organize all of one’s material? 

•    How to start a composition? 

•    How to know when a composition is finished? 

•    How and when does the title of a piece come about? 

•    How to distinguish ideas which are working from those that aren’t?

 

WALTER THOMPSON’S “SOUNDPAINTING”

A methodology for composition and improvisation

In this activity, Christian uses conducted signs to communicate structural limitations for improvisers to work within as one technique of teaching improvisation. These gestures were developed out of the “Soundpainting” sign language created by Walter Thompson, with whom Christian has worked and studied in 2005 while living in New York. “This way of making music is exciting and engaging in a performance setting, but it is also extremely useful in educational settings of all kinds from the earliest musical exposure to the highest levels of professional work. It helps musicians get outside of focusing on the mechanics of their instrument and on to developing sound within compositional and structural elements as an individual. Then, their individual musical contributions inform what the other players and the conductor do, creating an engaging group dynamic and giving them a sense of ownership and authorship.” says Christian.

He also uses the musical concepts defined by this system in improvisation master classes without specifically using the signs. In this more general approach, Christian uses these musical concepts to focus students' attention on particular structural concepts so they can explore new ways of developing cohesive improvisations in any stylistic context, e.g. alternating improvising using long notes in extremely high density level with improvising using short notes at a very low density level. These exercises can open up new ideas and possibilities to musicians of all levels of experience.

 

CREATIVE PRACTICE TECHNIQUES

How to get the most out of one’s practice time

This activity:

•    Helps students get the most out of their practice sessions

•    Focuses on efficiency as well as creativity

•    Applies to improvisation and composed music

All musicians know that practice is the way to get from where one is to where one wants to be, but what is the most efficient way to practice? To this question, Christian says, “In my years of private teaching experience, I have worked with students of many ages and abilities, each with different musical goals and needs. Through this experience, I have developed flexible methods for teaching students how to practice a wide range of material creatively and efficiently that promote awareness of sound and physicality.”

 In this workshop, Christian distinguishes 3 methods of practicing, 3 aesthetic levels to be aware of and 3 physical qualities to develop. He presents his method for practicing sightreading, distinguishes between sound and technique, explores creative ways of using a metronome, and covers ways to structure one's practice of improvisation. This is all in the context of targeting one's weaknesses, overcoming them and integrating new techniques into their set of abilities through creative exploration, improvisation and composition. 

 This workshop can be set up as a multi-session workshop over the course of a few days, a few weeks or a single session. If split into multiple sessions, students will be encouraged to practice the material with which they are currently working using the methods presented offering a chance to develop these methods over time and to refine their applications.

 

ENSEMBLE COACHING

This activity will work to inspire students of any ensemble to perform with expression, awareness and intensity.

Big band was one of Christian’s first musical inspirations and it continues to inform his compositions and performance today. He learned much of his ensemble coaching abilities by playing with and learning from inspiring artists such as Bob Brookmeyer, George Russell, Maria Schneider and Gunther Schuller as well as by playing in and directing a variety of ensembles. These experiences allowed him to test out many different approaches and to discover which methods work best with what situations.

 Whether your student's group is a big band, small combo or any other type of ensemble, Christian can help them discover and develop their unique role and to play with energy, personality and excitement. His original compositions of varying difficulty levels and doubling abilities can be incorporated into a concert and Christian can work with the students at rehearsals to get them ready for the performance. If desired, Mr. Pincock has a number of compositions which can either feature him on trombone as a guest soloist or feature student band members.

Other elements can be incorporated into an ensemble coaching residency. For example, a wind ensemble guest coaching could be focused on introducing improvisation through conducted signs or a big band residency could be focused around developing efficient and creative practice techniques. Christian will work with you to design a program that will fit your students' abilities and needs.