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                    Chad Donohue

 

My Lessons with Eddie Daniels By Chad Donohue

Monday July 30, 2001
Man, was I nervous! There I was about to go have my first lesson with Eddie Daniels and my reeds were playing like 2 by 4's! Oh well. When I arrived at his house, everything got better, I was calmed by the laid back atmosphere that I had stepped into, which was great. I got my horn out and played a few notes. Then, he asked me, "How about we start by playing something legit first." I took out my Uhl studies book from my case and turned to a fast-moving triplet study that modulated an awful lot. We started slow and smooth, showing the fingers exactly where to go. This is where I learned a very important aspect of clarinet playing, which was making a fluid movement of the fingers across an arc to set them over the tone holes. He told me that concept was the center of Daniel Bonade's teaching. After that, we progressed slowly down the page until we got to an ascending chord sequence. He stopped and said, "What are the chord changes over that bar right there?" I stood there, completely shocked because I had this classical frame of mind going. It was then I realized that everything can exist together and there is no such thing as thinking 'classical' or thinking 'jazz'. It's all the same theory anyways so who cares. After that ran through my mind for the longest 10 seconds I will ever remember, I said, "Well, that's Fmaj7, Bbm7, Gm7b5, and back to Fmaj7." As soon as I finished saying that, he started playing this Latin bass line moving between the roots and the fifths of the chord, and he said, "Okay here's the bass line, now let's trade two choruses a piece." From that moment until I left for the day, something truly magical happened and I absorbed so much just playing and listening back. I can't wait until tomorrow!

Tuesday July 31, 2001
I couldn't wait to get to my lesson today. I was restless all morning, which was wierd because I practiced until about 11:00 last night. I probably made some people mad. (Oh well, if they understood what kind of opportunity I had right then, I bet they would have done the same!) Well, I arrived again at his house and we had a totally different agenda than the day before. This time we started off with jazz, playing the Miles Davis tune Four. He sat down at the piano and started playing the chords. I played through the head and started to solo. He stopped me and said, "You need to make more of the changes, Chad." I knew he was probably going to say that, but what he showed me after that was more of the reason why I was there. He told me to pick a simple lick (in my case it was 5,3,4,5,3,5,1) and play it over the changes, changing only the notes you need to. This simple concept got the changes "into my head." I was hearing more things and I was more aware of what was coming up. Then we played through the tune again. When the solo section came up this time, I played those licks. As I got more comfortable, I started to play around and between the licks, which eventually developed into a simple solo. "Simple is never bad," he told me. "Not making the changes IS bad." I totally understood and once again went back to the hotel ready to practice for a long time.

Wednesday August 1, 2001
The best thing about this whole experience was that no matter how much I practiced the night before, he would always find something new the next day to work on. Today we went over the Uhl study again, this time very slow and secure with every note. "Chad, you know I can play extremely fast," he said, " but it would all amount to nothing if I couldn't play it slow and show my fingers the roadmap to the tone holes." Then we moved to one of the the etudes in the front of the book that had a bunch of staccato passages. I started to play and got about halfway down the page. I was really frustrated, until he said, "No, you're thinking of the staccato as being short and heavy, not short and light. When I think as I am playing staccato, I am thinking: eddie, eddie, eddie ...... So that helps me just float on top of the notes. Think of it as stagado, not stacatttto." That whole concept made tonguing so much easier, and it was so simple. When you ever go to see and study with someone you really look up to, you think that they approach everything from a different, more complicated way than anyone else. They do not do this. They master the simplest concept you could think of and perfect it. That was another thing that I was amazed with. We continued with the "stagado" study starting from the top and this time I enjoyed playing, as opposed to the struggle I had earlier. With all of this plus the etudes and the jazz progression, I was going to be up for a while practicing, but I looked forward to every minute of it.

Thursday August 2, 2001
I couldn't believe this was going to be my last lesson for the trip. It seemed like I had just checked in to the motel. That proved the fact that time certainly does fly when you are having the time of your life. My mother, grandmother, and my friend James came to my lesson with me to see what it was like and take pictures. After introductions, they sat down and we started again with the Uhl study, very slow. He asked me if I had anything else with me, so I pulled out my Jean Jean book. I chose a waltz-like tune and we took every concept from the previous days and applied them to that one study. I know I keep saying this, but sometimes things just click and you see everything in a whole new perspective, which feels incredible! After that, we played on Four a little bit. I did better than before, but I still needed to learn the changes better. He said to me again, "Think simple, Chad. Don't try to move your fingers through something you have no clue about. Own the changes. Don't let the changes own you." So, from there we just did a little vamp as an example. It was just I to V, then back to I. This was a perfect excercise to work on because it got you through the most common chord progression in the history of music, V to I. So, you start with two chord like this, then branch out until you have the whole tune and know the changes inside and out.

This trip has been one of the most remarkable and pleasurable experiences of my life. I cannot express everything on this page. There are things that you just absorb from the environment around you without knowing it. That was definately the case here. None of these wonderful things could have ever happened, however if I didn't have loving, supportive parents and a caring grandmother with a strong passion for music. This experience has greatly changed my life and I will remember it always.
Thank you so very much Mr. Eddie Daniels!
Chad Donohue
Summer 2001

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