What inspired you to play music and stay involved with it?
Definitely my parents – they both loved music. Through them, I could see music wasn’t just something to do, it was something that nourished the soul, offered a place to go and it was fun.
When do you think is the right time for a student to consider upgrading their instrument?
It’s one of those things where you should ask yourself, “Do I want to be more serious about playing?” If your answer is yes, it’s definitely worth it to try out several instrument models so you can get a feel for what tone you want out of your instrument. If the answer is no, stick with what you’ve got and keep playing! When I was a kid, I played football and played music – 60 years later, I can’t play football, but I can definitely play my instruments.
In your opinion, what are the benefits of playing on an upgrade instrument model?
Beginner instruments are kind of like your first car – it’s meant to get a little roughed up and is easier to handle. When you get into the intermediate and professional instruments, you’ll find the construction of the instruments is more finessed to give you more flexible playing, better tone and resonance and more.
What are some tips you can offer to help a musician pick their next instrument?
Definitely bring a tuner with you. New instruments need to break-in and calibrate so when you first try one out, it will be a very different experience than what you’re used to playing. I’d also try to play against a wall or use a sound mirror to really hear yourself.
Often times we see students buy an upgraded instrument, but not a better mouthpiece or reeds, for example. What do you recommend?
Good reeds and mouthpieces can make a huge impact on your sound, but, if you’re searching for a particular tone, I always recommend listening to great musicians to figure out the kind of sound you want before investing. Also, I always like to try a new instrument with the mouthpiece I currently play on and then try out a new mouthpiece to identify the differences.
Denis DiBlasio directs the jazz program and is also the Executive Director of The Maynard Ferguson Institute of Jazz at Rowan University in New Jersey. He has nine recordings of his own along with published texts, arrangements and compositions. DiBlasio continues to travel around the world performing and teaching. His inspirational connection with young musicians is what makes a DiBlasio workshop so special. Keeping things attainable and fun make up the foundation of his friendly approach.