By Julie Landsman
My love of teaching was inspired by the great mentors in my life. The most influential teacher I had beginning at age 13, was not a horn player at all! He was Carmine Caruso, who played the saxophone and violin!
What was it about Carmine’s teaching that rocked my world? Let’s start with his unconditional love for all of his students. When I had a lesson with Carmine, I felt embraced and accepted, not only as a horn player, but as a whole person. Carmine taught from his heart, a quality I strive to emulate with my own students.
Carmine‘s favorite phrase was “play with abandon.” He often critiqued teachers who blamed the student for not improving. Carmine took his job as the “the fixer“ deeply to heart. It is the teacher’s responsibility, he believed, to help the student overcome any physical problems on the instrument, in order to become the best musician possible. If the student did not improve, the onus rested with the teacher. As long as the student did the work and the lines of communication remained open, it could be a beautiful partnership between a wise teacher and a motivated student.
I have tried to emulate my mentor. His patience and ease are qualities that I hope to embody. I made a pivotal phone call to Carmine while I was teaching at Rice University in 1983. The memory of this call for help remains fixed in my brain. I was having a difficult time staying calm and patient with a particularly challenging student, so I reached out to Carmine for his guidance on patience and tolerance.
He advised me that my patience would evolve with age.
At age 83, he was very sage and spot on!
All of my playing and teaching success can be traced back to the continued pursuit of practicing the Caruso method. Simply said, it forms the basis of my teaching and playing philosophies. Although this method has a physical coordination approach, the potential to unlock the musical soul of the player is limitless. Reliable and consistent chops provide a secure platform of confidence to play from the heart. In order to play musically and with total physical freedom, the player must be unencumbered by technical limitations. With the physical tools in place, the freedom to make music with abandon is always the goal.
I live and breathe this method on a daily basis. If I’m not practicing it, I’m teaching it to my students.
Although Carmine never revealed the technical “goal“ of each exercise that he prescribed to his student, I’d like to mention some of the possible results that can be achieved from proper teaching and practice of this method:
- Total command of moving through the registers with ease and evenness of sound.
- Solid pitch center and tone core.
- Power and endurance.
- Development of high and low registers.
- Clear and clean articulations.
- Dynamic control
- Accuracy through precision timing.
- Secure and reliable attacks.
I have created videos and transcribed the music for the Carmine Caruso method. This labor of love is a tribute to my beloved teacher. They can be accessed through my website, julielandsman.com, and on YouTube.
Nyack, New York