With every breath, internationally celebrated musician, Longineu Parsons II is practicing. He plays alongside his students as a music professor at Florida A&M University to stay sharp and merges art forms together with his “Kung Fu Trumpet” method to create ease in the body.
Parsons describes the air from the lower abdomen, referred to as the “sea of life” in Korean practices, moving up the esophagus and through the mouth to facilitate a clear airstream. The body remains as straight as possible and breath must be controlled. Parsons also works with his students on activating the correct facial muscles and keeping the throat open so that a punchy note is “relaxed until you get to the point of contact.”
“It is about being precise and only using the muscles you need to use,” says Parsons. “If you are not relaxed your opponent can seize on your tension and defeat you. If you are tense in your trumpet playing, it chokes off the sound.”
Sometimes the subtleties of trumpet playing can be lost in larger venues. Parsons is excited to showcase the instrument’s range in an intimate performance at Blue Tavern on Friday, Dec. 27.
He will play alongside his son and drummer, Longineu Parsons III. The duo played their first gig together when his son was just 5 years old. Parsons said his son earned a spot in his band at age 15 before launching his own career with the rock band, Yellowcard. Now, they are making new music together.
Parsons is also looking forward to having his youngest son, a videographer and graphic artist, film the performance for an upcoming documentary on his life and teaching methods. Parsons explains how his martial arts approach to music has sustained his own practice for so long, in addition to swimming and integrating yoga, which has him physically training until midnight many nights.
“I make sure I am in tune and connected to the instrument so that it is truly my body making the music and my instrument is more or less an amplifier,” says Parsons.
Parsons never contemplated why he chose the trumpet. It was simply his automatic response when his junior high band director asked what he would like to play. Only in retrospect and after much reflection on the trumpet’s sound and history has he realized the instrument’s parallels to his life and personality.
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