Fine Tuning Your Fingers

Photo Credit: striking_photography on Flickr
When the topic of tuning comes up, it usually pertains to an intonation situation but in this case, I’m talking about the coordination of your valve fingers.

Lately I have been noticing that my low D, Eb and Ab in the staff have been so sounding unclean and today I finally found the problem. For some strange reason I had relocated my right hand in a different position than normal. This is usually caused by playing and not listening to the product.

Once I found the cause, the solution was very easy. For some of you this might be a problem and you might not know what causes it so here is a test to see if a slightly different hand position will help.

Here are the steps to check out your hand position;

1. Place your valve hand in your normal playing.
2. Play the attached exercise slowly and slur all of the notes.
3. If you hear roughness when playing low D’s the attached sheet may help.

Valve Exercise

Have You Missed Me?

angioplastyAfter posting every day for six years on my two Internet sites, I finally took a week off to have two stents implanted in my heart area. It seems that a couple months ago, while performing a show, I had a mild heart attack and didn’t know it. The reason I am sharing this with you now is to give you an idea as to how a heart attack might change your lives.

In my case the order of events went like this-

During a show, I began to get sick and attributed it to possible food poisoning. I had none of the normal effects of a heart attack such as pain in the chest, arm or change in the facial muscles.
After completing the second half of the show, I left the stage and made it to the rest room in time to throw up.
The following weeks I noticed that my vital capacity had been reduced to half as much as it used to be.
I made an appointment with my family physician and explained my situation.
I was then checked over for any respiratory issues through blood tests, X-rays and CT scans.
After several tests on respiration, digestion and blood work, I was told that my red and white blood cells were very now and I was very low in protein.
I changed my diet to what would be considered “a well-balanced diet” and eventually lost 15 lbs.
The next test was to be an echo stress test but after checking the action and condition of my heart, they decided that that was not going to happen for I was told that I had an effected chamber of my heart apparently cause by a mild heart attack.
I was then scheduled to have an angioplasty and vascular stenting done to open the arteries near the heart.
Two stents were placed at the area where 80% and 75% of the restrictions were located.
Now, after five days of rest, I noticed that my energy level was starting to improve.
At the present time, I have not seen any improvement in my respiration. I was told that with physical therapy it would eventually improve.

Some of you may have questions as to how this procedure affected me and I have to say, “It was more complicated than I had expected”. The procedure was done with the utmost professionalism and because I was awake, I found the event very interesting and had very little discomfort. I actually told the doctor that I enjoyed the experience.

I have visited with a few of my fellow musician friends who have had this procedure and each assured me that the breathing problems will eventually improve.

As far as my two Web pages, “I’m back“!

Trumpet Case Updates- Hard Cases

Winter trumpet flugelhor.
My first review of available trumpet cases was done over two years ago and since that time, some new manufactures have come on the scene and some products have been discontinued. Because of these changes, I thought it was time to update my opinions as to which features and which manufactures seem to be offing us the best products.

Be sure to check back to my earlier posts for I covered many issues at that time which will not be included in this updated review. This post will only include products which I feel are the best choice for anyone needing a new trumpet case.

My recommendation for the “best single, hard case for your trumpet.

1. None
All of the single cases available that I have seen do not offer enough extra space for accessories such as mutes, music, etc. without increasing the size of the case itself. You would be better off getting a double case which will give you better protection as well as more storage space.

My recommendation for the “best double, hard case for your trumpet.

1. Yamaha Double Trumpet Case

$245.00 Dillon Music

2. J. Winter JW 775 Deluxe Wood Double Trumpet Case

$249.99 Woodwind Brasswind

My recommendation for the “best triple, hard case for your trumpet.

1. J. Winter JW 776 Deluxe Wood Case For 3 TrumpetsStandard

$289.99 Woodwind Brasswind

My recommendation for the “best trumpet/ flugle horn, hard case.

1. J. Winter JW 777 Deluxe Wood Trumpet and Flugelhorn Case

2. You might also consider the J. Winter JW 776 Deluxe Wood Case For 3 TrumpetsStandard and remove the back divider to make room for your flugle which I do on my Schilke triple case. This option guaranties that your flugle will fit easily in the case.

$304.99 Amazon

The only difference between the Schilke, Yamaha and the Winter cases is that the outer materials on the Winter cases are a little less impressive.

2016 Branson Terry Music Award Nominee List

reel_to_reel_tape_recorderTo some this means very little and as you will see, it doesn’t mean much to me either.

Entertainers from the Branson shows are nominated for the “best of 2016” list and in most cases, the recipients are well deserving of this nomination and eventual award.

Looking down the categories you will find included the following “best”-

Fiddle player
Lead Player
Bass Player
Tribute Artist
Vocal Duo
Matinee Show
Male Vocalist
Steel player
Production Show
Morning Show
Show of the Year
Female Vocalists

That all seems to be in order, until you run across this nominee category-


Remember the promo Branson used to sell “LIVE MUSIC CAPITOL OF THE WORLD”

Not only are the number of prerecorded tracks continuing to seep into the theaters, we now have a catagory for this substitute for live music!

TRACK SHOW OF THE YEAR! Give me a break!

If, on the other hand you would like to hear real, live music, come to our show, “The ALL HANDS ON DECK! Show” where everything you hear is performed by the entertainers and musicians live.

TRACK SHOW OF THE YEAR! Give me a break!

Tell your friends who may be visiting Branson and would like to hear music as was intended, see “The ALL HANDS ON DECK! Show” at the Dutton Theater this Fall.

Shows begin September 6th and run until December 7th.

I will be sharing more information about this great show in my next few posts but for now…..

Set your callenders for September 6th and help support REAL, LIVE, NO TRACKS ALLOWED MUSIC.

TRACK SHOW OF THE YEAR! Give me a break!

Make Your Own Practice Mute

The Internet has become a wonderful place to share ideas and this post will direct you to a helpful do-it-yourself instructional video you really need to view. A very big thank you to ARMYstrong419 for sharing this information with us. I have tried this and it works great. Sometimes the cheapest can be the best.

And for additional information

New Flow Studies Material- Part III

Slider-Woman-Hat-FinalThis is my third and final post in this series of material on “New Flow Studies” and I have included two additional sets of exercises.

In this post I have included a series of exercises using the intervals of a third, fourth.

I would suggest that you do the following.

1. Start with the interval of a second until it becomes easy for you at the faster speed.

2. Begin the intervals of a third at the slow speed until it becomes easy for you.

3. Begin the intervals if a forth with caution……

When I recorded this exercise, I was surprised at how taxing it was when compared to the first two exercises. I had a difficult time even recording it. Be sure that you have spent enough time on each exercise before beginning the next.
Good luck and let me know how you like these exercises…. (or don’t).

Interval of a Third Flow Studies

Intervals of a Fourth Flow Studies

New Flow Studies Material- Part II

Slider-Woman-Hat-FinalIf you have played through my material from my last post, some may find the tempi too fast. If you like the concept and would like a slower tempo, I suggest that you read an earlier post called “Using Technology to Improve Your Trumpet Playing- Using an Audio Recorder” where I describe how you can download a simple and free app. which will enable you to do your own recordings.

When comparing my exercises with Mr. Cichowicz’s etude on page 9 of his booklet, you can see a strong similarity. Obviously his material stressed long flowing lines with constant slurs. This, I believe was his focus when compiling his booklet and it is also mine when using scales, rather than melodic etudes. “You might as well learn your scales while you are improving your tone, range, air control, etc”.
Page 9TFS

New Flow Studies Material- Part I

TFS 001To older trumpet players the title Flow Studies brings up fond memories of one of the great trumpet players of our time. The younger practitioners of the tromba may not be familiar with the name Vincent Cichowicz but to the more seasoned, the name represents one of the finest trumpet performers and teachers of our life time.

The name Cichowicz represents the Chicago Symphony when the likes of the following represented the Chicago Symphony dynasty in the mid 1960s.

Cichowicz, Vincent Trumpet 1952 – 1974
Clevenger, Dale Horn (Principal) 1966 – 2013
Farkas, Philip Horn (Principal) 1947 – 1960
Gilbertsen, James Trombone (Assistant Principal 1968-1982,
Herseth, Adolph Trumpet (Principal 1948-2001, Principal Emeritus 2001-04) 1948 – 2004
Kaderabek, Frank J. Trumpet 1958 – 1966
Kleinhammer, Edward Marck Bass Trombone 1940 – 1985
Lambert, Robert Trombone (Principal) 1955 – 1965
Leuba, Christopher Horn (Principal) 1960 – 1962
Scarlett, William H. Trumpet 1964 – 1997
Jacobs, Arnold Tuba (Principal) 1944 – 1988

It was during this period that Mr. Cichowicz’s booklet “Trumpet Flow Studies” was published by the School of Music at Northwestern University in Chicago. To say that this collection of preexisting etudes was a booklet is giving more credit than it is due for nearly half of the examples are taken from other sources.
The most important feature of his book is how he simply altered old etudes with a series of slurs.

As the tile indicates “Trumpet Flow Studies” is a collection of slurred etudes. Slurring was a big part of the “big air” movement at that time and I’m sure that the advice and expertise of Arnold Jacobs, the “God Father of breathing as applied to brass instruments” may have had some influence on its birth.

Through my own experience, the use of slurred passages tends to open a player’s throat and begin to darken a player’s sound. On the flip side: the more tonguing you do, the tighter and edgier your sound.

In my own practicing I have incorporated this thinking to the point where I have put together a series of exercises which actually continue where Mr. Cichowicz’s booklet ended. I use these daily and have found them to be very helpful in sustaining an even and open air flow.

When you look through the material in Trumpet Flow Studies, pages 5,6,7,8 are the only exercises which were actually hand written by Mr. Cichowicz or Assistant Professor Luther Didrickson. Every other exercise was taken from other published material and adapted to the constant slur articulation. We can only guess at the reason behind this decision to change from hand written to coping others works. My guess is that it was faster and easier to copy existing material and at the time of its first implementation, any copyright issues could be dismissed; sighting a nonprofit/educational usage. Also copyright laws cover a very small portion of the total material under copyright.

Now back to my exercises…..

Intervals of a Second Flow Studies

MM 80

MM 100

As you will see, the printed material and the recordings are consistent with my “rest as much as you play” method which you will find to be very easy to follow. By limiting the amount of time your mouthpiece is on your face and the fact that once you start the recording you will usually complete the exercise, beneficial practice time is guaranteed. and Claude Gordon- All you need to become a professional trumpet player! Part 5

Warm up and Cool Down

In this free lesson, I have included a couple interesting and helpful posts which will more fully explain the importance of a regular warm up and cool down.

The video speaks of my daily routine of warming up with chromatic scales; first starting at the bottom and gradually adding octaves as I ascend. The benefit of chromaticism is that each note is only a one half step from the previous note and this very gradual increase is almost unnoticeable.

Due to the minimum distance between notes, only a minimum amount of embouchure change should be made. Each day I ascend to a predetermined top note which is usually about a third higher than I will be playing that day. Once I have reached that note, I retrace my scales back down to where I began, which is another example of my “Bell curve” philosophy.

After my warm up, I begin practicing all the additional material I need to cover that day.

After my practicing, the next step is to cool down and to do that, I have recently found that playing on a larger mouthpiece, in this case a trombone mouthpiece I am able to relax the embouchure very quickly for a speedy recovery of oxygen in my lips.

Check out the instructional video and supplemental material on this site.

You will also be able to play along with the same recording I use every day during my warm up.