Dale Truscott from The Eighth Position spoke with Nitzan Haroz, Principal Trombonist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and former Principal Trombonist of The Philadelphia Orchestra, in advance of his visit to Australia for the Sydney International Brass Festival.
Dale: How have your roots in a musical Israeli family influenced you as a musician?
Nitzan: I was very fortunate to be born into a musical family. My mother is a professional harpist and she has six siblings who all played a musical instrument. I heard music while still in my mother’s belly – when I was a baby she played and taught piano and harp lessons in our house, so I heard music pretty much all the time. Growing up I heard many concerts given by my mum, uncles and aunts. Classical music was everywhere and I absorbed it very naturally.
There is no question my family background influenced me immensely. When I was nine I saw a picture of a trombone and told my mother that is the instrument I wanted to play. She didn’t think twice and found me a teacher quickly. I give my mother and father all of the credit for inspiring me and pushing me to pursue my desire to play the trombone.
Dale: Has your approach to practice changed in any way since your student days at Juilliard?
Nitzan: During my short time as a student of Joe Alessi at the Juilliard School I learned to be very disciplined and strict about fundamentals, as well as to strive for perfection when working on excerpts and solos – all the while keeping the musical ideas above all. This approach is still my approach to this day.
Dale: Are there any secrets to how you developed your beautiful tone and lyrical phrasing?
Nitzan: My first teacher, Eliezer Aharoni, worked hard with me on correct tone production. He taught me to ‘sing’ through the trombone. Singing is everything, it’s what I do when I play the trombone. Everything I play I try to give a vocal quality to – I never let my tone be less than beautiful. If you don’t know how to sing, take a few voice lessons and they will undoubtedly improve your trombone playing.
Dale: How would you encourage a young trombonist to develop their own unique sound and musicality?
Nitzan: Listen to great musicians. By the way that does not mean only trombone players! Listen to great singers (both classical and non-classical), great cellists, great pianists and so on. Listen to be inspired, and try to imitate the phrasing, sound and musicianship.