Max Sommerhalder: “If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It”
Music teacher in public conservatories in Andalusia, Spain.
Max Sommerhalder’s journey into the world of trumpet playing began unconventionally, drawing inspiration from an art class assignment that granted him the opportunity to explore the instrument. The instant captivation he felt upon producing his first sound sparked a fervent desire to pursue a professional career in trumpet playing, leading to his debut as a solo trumpet with the Musikkollegium Orchestra of Winterthur in Switzerland at the age of 25.
Sommerhalder’s educational journey was marked by influential figures such as Jean Venos, Henri Adelbrecht, and private instruction from Pierre Thibaud. His early career saw him securing a position with the Musikkollegium Orchestra through a successful audition. Reflecting on musical influences, Sommerhalder credited his father, private instructors, and iconic musicians like Johann Sebastian Bach, Freddie Hubbard, Maurice André, and Nikolaus Harnoncourt for shaping his artistic identity.
The interview delves into Sommerhalder’s daily practice routine, emphasizing the importance of flexibility exercises, flow studies, tonguing, and expressive vocalizations. Noteworthy is his commitment to maintaining musical fitness during travels through isometric exercises for lips while airborne and warm-ups with a practice mute upon reaching hotels. The significance of rest periods in practice is underscored, with Sommerhalder advocating for a balanced approach between study and rest, complemented by self-reflection through recording sessions.
Sommerhalder’s teaching philosophy centers on empowering students to become their own teachers. The interview touches upon the integration of diverse genres in musical studies, mouthpiece and trumpet selection criteria, and guidance for aspiring trumpet players and teachers. Sommerhalder also shares insights into his approach to criticism, managing performance anxiety, audition strategies, and personal musical preferences.
As the interview concludes, Sommerhalder generously shares an exercise based on Rossini’s Vocalise, offering readers a glimpse into his nuanced approach to trumpet technique and musicality.