I ran into an old friend today….

kku 001
While rummaging through my files today, I discovered a long lost friend from my past…
The name of my old friend was Vassily Brandt “Etudes for Trumpet (Orchestra Etudes and Last Etudes), Edited by William Vacchiano.

Not only are these excellent exercises to learn some of the most recognized orchestral excerpts, but when you get back to the “Last Etudes” section, hold on to your eyeballs for this had to be written by the most vicious practitioner of the instrument. Just when you get used to a pattern, he changes directions and you fingers feel as if they were bent backwards.

“I love this book”!

If you are an accomplished player and do not own this old masterpiece, get it this week.

After struggling through a few of these satanic etudes, you may want to send me a life threatening response but do note that collections such as this one do not come around that often.

Get the book, learn the etudes and be a better player for it.

Brandt Etudes 001

Practice Plan #1- Part 2

Lip Flexibility and Fingers

This is the second of two posts which outline exercises written to be used for a suggested practice schedule. This not an all inclusive program but if you are searching for a multiple vitamin type of package, this should work. I will be posting a second program at a later date which will be written for the more advanced player.

Be sure to follow the rests as well as the suggested dynamics and tempi in this section as you did in the first.

Download exercises here Practice Plan #1 Part 2

Practice Plan #1- Part 1

I have been asked to post a practice program which would address the most important issues when practicing. This first post deals with tone, endurance and range development. My next will address flexibility and scale development. Make sure your rest where it is indicated and  use a metronome throughout this program. Make sure you also follow the indicated dynamics.

Download exercises here Practice Plan #1

Welcome to the world of Hackers!

grandpa-robberWe are all aware of the nefarious actions of a few who find pleasure in interfering with others security and communications. These spineless, low level bottom feeders are responsible for disrupting communications as well as stealing from the innocent. These worthless, insects are called hackers and identity thieves.

When sites are shut down as has been the case lately on the internet and supposedly secure sites have been violated as in the case of our government, we all shake our heads and wonder what kind of leach could do such things but when it actually happens to you, it elicits a much different emotion as in the case of my last two weeks.

Case #1

After enjoying a fun filled vacation down south, we were informed that we had made some purchases which we were not aware of. Our credit card information had been used by the desk clerk checking us into one of our hotel rooms.

Case #2

Two weeks ago one of my Blog sites was hacked into and brought down. After some wonderful help from one of our very knowledgeable sons, we were back on line in short order. Then, we were hacked again. Then back on line. Then we were brought down the third time. After careful study were back on line and seem to be more secure now. You might ask, “who would do such a despicable act? Well the answer was clear; someone from China! Why anyone in China would have any interest in a trumpet site I have no idea.

Case #3

Yesterday afternoon I was relaxing on our deck overlooking beautiful Table Rock Lake when the phone rang. I will try to repeat the conversation as accurately as I can remember.

Caller- “Hello, is this Bruce”?

Reply- Yes it is

Caller- “Good afternoon Bruce, we have noticed that you have been having issues with your computer and we are here to help you”.

Reply- Who are you?

Caller- “We are an independent computer service and offer our services free of charge to those who are having computer problems”.

By now I realized that they were out to get into my computer and wreak havoc.

Caller- “Are you at your computer at this time”?

Reply- Yes I am. (a complete falsehood)

Caller- “Bruce, look at your keyboard and what do you see in the lower, left corner of your keyboard”?

Reply- I see the Control key.

Caller- “Very good Bruce now at the same time you hold down the control key, also hold down the plus key on the far right side of your keyboard”.

Reply- OK I have them down.

Knowing that I now had a low level stooge on the other end of this conversation, I decided to see how far up the chain of idiots I could get on this beautiful day. My goal was to tie up their phone line as long as I could.

Caller- “Very good Bruce, now what do you see on your screen”?

Reply- Nothing.

Caller- “Did you hold down the Control key and at the same time hold down the plus key on the far right”?

Reply- Yes I did.

Caller- “Very good Bruce, now what do you see on your screen”?

Reply- Nothing.

Caller- “Could you hold for a second while I switch you over to my superior”?

Reply- Sure, I’ll hold.

Ten seconds later another person with a very strong Indian accent began asking the same questions and getting the same answers. And again I was transferred to a still higher level scam artist. This continued for a long time as each person on the other line tried to get the answer they were looking for but my response was always, “I don’t see anything on my screen. Finally we were up to the fifth tech and when I was asked again “What do you see on your screen”? I had an answer

Caller- “Now Bruce when you hold down both the control key and the plus key, what do you see”?

Reply- Oh now I see something. Let me look closer because the letters are so small. I can barely read it.

Caller- “Take your time Bruce and tell me what you see”.

Reply- It says……Go…….to…….—-!

Caller- “I’m sorry I didn’t understand what you said”.

Reply- It says Go to —-!

I was amazed that people in India swear and use the same four letter words we use in the United States. As I started to hang up, the cursing and shouting could be heard from two houses away. Thirty seconds later, the phone rang again and after checking the source of the call, I realized my new contact from India had more expletives to share with me.

In case anyone would like to visit with four very polite telemarketers/ computer hacking individuals from India, I have listed the call back number for you. I would suggest that you refrain from visiting with the fifth telemarketers/ computer hacking individual for he seems to be in a very bad mood for some reason.

The call back number is- Thor IA 515- 378-2001.

I would advise you not to call this number for it might connect you to a church in Iowa and the person at the other end of the line will have no idea what you are calling about. Thus is the workings of these lowlifes who prey on the innocent and contaminate the world we live in.

Have a nice day!

A More Interesting Way to Learn New Music

When setting into the task of learning new music, we usually put the sheet music on the stand and continue to bang out the notes until we learn it or start bleeding from the chops.

Next time you are faced with this sometimes boring task, try this approach and see if it works for you.

I have selected this exercise as our example for it is an exercise one of my beloved grandsons needs to learn for his school; but the concept can be applied to any new music you undertake.

Printed sheet music- #102 – Trumpet in Bb
Practice track at 80mm
Practice track at 100mm
Practice track at- 120mm
Practice track at- 140mm

To utilize this example, start the track at the slowest tempo you are able to play perfectly and gradually increase the speed until you have it mastered.

10 Advantages with this method-

1. You are listening to the melodic line at all times.
2. You are resting as much as you play.
3. You are forced to see the notes at all times in order to know when to reenter.
4. You should be able continue practicing indefinatly for you should not tire.
5. You are forced to keep time and be aware of the eighth note beats.
6. When playing with the midi trumpet melody, out of tune notes will be obvious.
7. By playing and resting each measure you are resting will give your brain a short rest which will eventually increase you power of concentration.
8. By constantly viewing so many notes, your sight reading skills will improve.
9. Resetting your embouchure every four measures will improve your embouchures accuracy.
10. It’s more interesting!

Note- If you have problems hearing the click track, just adjust your left and right fader for I recorded the midi trumpet and piano in one channel and the click track in the other.

Also- I’m sure everyone would have chosen better chords, but who cares. It’s only an example! LIVE WITH IT OR TURN IT OFF!

It Could Only Happen To A Musician- Where’s my mouthpiece?

You would think that an adult would learn from his mistakes but as you will see, some don’t. The first time I forgot my mouthpiece was in Iowa at a very nice country club. Fortunately, one of the other trumpet players was able to loan me an extra from his case. The second time I failed to bring a mouthpiece happened here in Branson while playing a Bobby Vinton show and that is today’s story.

Usually I have a couple mouthpieces in my trumpet case for just this situation but that day the mouthpiece holder was empty. When I removed my horn to start warming up in the green room, fear gripped my soul as I realized that I had left my mouthpiece at home. I tried calling my wife to ask her to bring one to the theater but the line was busy. I turned to the trumpet player next to me and asked, “Do you have an extra mouthpiece?” to which he responded, “No, I usually have several but not today”. I dialed my home again and still the line was busy. Show time was now twenty minutes away. Another trumpet player came into the room and I asked him the same question, “Do you have an extra mouthpiece”?, to which he responded, “No, I usually have several but not today”. Back to the busy signal on my phone. Show time was now fifteen minutes away. The last trumpet player arrived to the same question, “Do you have an extra mouthpiece?”, to which he responded, “No, I usually have several but not today”. Show time was now five minutes away and no more trumpet players and not enough time to get a mouthpiece from home. I was frantic.

As I stood there with my empty horn in my hand, an idea popped into my head. Mr. Vinton plays trumpet during his show and if I were close enough to his horn, I might be able to snatch the mouthpiece, replace it when it was his turn to play and get it back in time to finish the show. As the band started to mount the stage, I explained the dilemma to Mr. Vinton and being the showman he is, he laughed and agreed to make the switch. I told one of his daughters who was in the show to make sure that she placed Mr. Vinton’s horn close enough to me to make it work.

The curtain went up and Bobby’s trumpet was just below my riser, close enough to reach. Bobby’s mouthpiece was in my horn and the overture began. Moments before Mr. Vinton was handed his trumpet to play, I put his mouthpiece back in his horn and began to move my valves with a three inch gap between my chops and my trumpet. When Bobby replaced his trumpet in its stand, I detected a slight smile and wink as I quickly snatched his mouthpiece and placed it in my horn to finish the show. No one in the audience had any clue what had just happened, but to this day, every time I get in my car to go to a gig, I open my case to make sure I have at least one mouthpiece, sometimes two, three or four.

Looking back On the Last Five Years- Our top 3 Most Popular Topics.

To celebrate our 5th anniversary of our site, we have decided to post the three most popular topics.

Today we are featuring our most popular post-

The Disturbing Monette Video

We all have had moments when something pops into our minds which is disturbing enough to keep us up at night and for me, this is one of those moments. Several weeks ago, while searching for topics for this blog, I came across a video produced by Mr. Dave Monette. I first met Mr. Monette many years ago while he was visiting our campus and was very impressed with his knowledge, personality and his obvious passion for the trumpet. As I have stated in more than one blog, I have a great deal of respect for this man and for that reason, I  found this article difficult to write. As you have read, the title of this post is called “The Disturbing Monette Video”. Continue reading, I will try to explain why your simple Bass fisherman from Branson, Missouri would be sitting at his computer writing an article which disagrees with arguably the most influential trumpet designer in the world today. In order to set the stage for this discussion, you first need to carefully view Mr. Monette’s video.

I have several issues with this video and will try to explain my concerns through a time line format so that you will be able to more easily compare my issues with the original video.

Watch the video here:

1:04 –  This diagram and the accompanying voice over seem to indicate that pivoting the instrument in the various trumpet ranges is done to compensate for intonation discrepancies in the instrument rather than air flow direction issues covered in Donald Reinhart’s book The Encyclopedia of the Pivot System . Read a summary of this important book.

1:45 –  Notice the test subject demonstrates the traditional pivot (lowering the bell of the horn) as he sets for the high note. Mr. Monette’s statement “the octaves line up easily, play(s) in tune and have a fairly consistent timbre and resistance” is not accurate. Even without using a tuner it is obvious that the top note is extremely sharp when compared to the two previous notes.

2:17 –  This demonstration was apparently done to prove that the length of the modern mouthpiece is the reason the test subject missed the high note as well as prove that the pitch is more of a problem. My issue with this segment is as follows-

  1. The subject has already demonstrated his natural tendency to pivot for the high note but in this segment he resists this action, misses the note and after pivoting, was able to reach the high note. You will need to replay this portion of the tape several times before you will be able to agree or disagree with my observations.
  2. Mr. Monette’s conclusion that the pitch was worse than the previous illustration again does not agree with what I hear or what my tuner tells me. We both (the tuner and I) think that the last segment was more in tune than the first. Check it out for yourself. With a tuner.

2:29 –  In Mr. Monette’s statement “This is why one constantly see brass players who play old fashion mouthpieces bobbing their heads up and down as they change registers.” He seems to be indicating that the pivoting of the instrument is needed to adjust for intonation discrepancies. My disagreement with this statement can be supported by past information collected by very well known and respected trumpet educators such as John Haynie in his extensive video-fluoroscopic studies at North Texas State as well as the numerous case histories done by Donald Reinhart in his book The Encyclopedia of the Pivot System. In both cases, it was demonstrated  that the pivoting of the instrument is directly related to the natural direction of the air stream. Even though these studies were done many years ago, one cannot believe that both of these knowledgeable and highly respected authorities could have been wrong and the real reason we pivot our horns is to improve intonation.

2:52 –  Although I was very impressed with the fuller, richer sound in this segment, I have a real problem with the players obvious change in his approach to this demonstration. Notice that, unlike the first two segments, the player this time plays the first note, removes the mouthpiece from his lip, inhales, sets, plays the second note, removes the mouthpiece, inhales, and again resets for the last note. It is obvious that the test subject has taken some liberties with this final demonstration. Also in this section Mr. Monette states “This was always my dream. The octaves line up great, the notes are full and rich and the high C is effortlessly in tune and rings with brilliance”. This sounds like a happy ending to a great epic movie but after checking with my tuner, we (my tuner and I) both disagree with this statement after discovering that the top note is very sharp and after recording the examples on my computer and playing back a loop of the notes, I found that the pitch was close to being the most out of tune of all of the examples.

3:10 –  The term Constant Pitch Center is apparently a cornerstone in Mr. Monette’s demonstration and for that reason I want to make one thing perfectly clear to my readers. Even though I have taken issue with this videoI do not take issue with Mr. Monette’s talents or honesty. As I have stated in several of my previous submitted blogs, I consider Dave Monette to be one of the most gifted trumpet designers as well as a very pleasant, caring gentleman and for that reason I felt compelled to challenge the video and not his ability or truthfulness.

3:27 –  Mr. Hession’s talents are most impressive and his demonstration actually leans toward amazing. We all are envious of players with such great ability. Through my years of playing, teaching and observing I have been conscious of the lack of change in the best players. While living in Dallas, Texas, I had the great privilege of doing some jingles with Don Thomas. Some of you might know of Don’s talents and some of you might know the work of his son John Thomas (lead trumpet for Count Basie, Chick Corea, Woody Herman, Maria Schneider, Bill Holman, Ella Fitzgerald, Joe Williams and many others).

Before such a recording session, Don Thomas introduced me to his very young son by saying, “this is my son John, he plays trumpet too.” Little did either of us realize at that time how much “he plays trumpet too” really would mean. On one occasion I arrived early for a session and Don was in the studio cutting some isolated screamers for a jingle. As I watched through the glass I was amazed at the accuracy and ease that this man demonstrated. Repeatedly the engineer asked Don to hit high note after high note and without any apparent effort or concern, he belted each note out with pinpoint accuracy and ease. It was one of those experiences that you never forget. Don was a truly gifted and humble person.

So what does this have to do with the Monette video you might ask? I have also had the great pleasure of working with similarly gifted trumpet players who exhibit this ease of playing in the extreme high range. Each player is able to perform in the altissimo register with no apparent increase in effort. Each of these players is also able to recreate their high range talents on any trumpet (and in some cases on any mouthpiece). For a video to imply that the reason for this high range ability is attributable to only a mouthpiece design is a bit questionable.

In conclusion, I would like to repeat what I had mentioned before- “Even though I have taken issue with this video,  I do not take issue with Mr. Monette’s talents or honesty”. I would also like to add that I have played on an earlier Monette trumpet but have not played on any of his mouthpieces and for that reason, I have no experience nor will I make any comments about the Monette mouthpieces. My concern here is totally on the video production, its content and implications.

Looking back On the Last Five Years- Our top 3 Most Popular Topics.

To celebrate our 5th anniversary of our site, we have decided to post the top three most popular topics.

Today we are featuring our second most popular post-

HI-R-BY-A-THIRD stands for How to Increase Your Range By A Third

This is a new support group just for high note wimps like me and it begins Today!

• If you are tired of having other trumpet players laugh at you when you miss the high note at the end of your solo, join our group.

• If you have lost jobs because of your limited range and want to play in a higher chair in your section, join our club.

• If you are envious of the other players who are able to perform a full octave above you with less effort, join our club.

• If you….oh well, you get my point.

HI-YR-BY-A-THIRD was formed today for the ultimate challenge of getting our range up a third in a reasonable amount of time.

Each person is different and their eventual improvement will vary. Some will be able to advance in a short amount of time while others will have to continue working longer. There is no way to forecast how long this will take, hence “a reasonable amount of time”.

I practice regularly to keep in shape for calls and have leveled off on my high range at F# above high C. For most situations this is adequate, but after knocking on the door to “G” for a while, I decided I needed to do something to get the G started. And that was when I remembered the Claude Gordon book Systematic Approach to Daily Practice. While at North Texas State, (University of North Texas) I worked on this book and eventually was able to play a very thin “Eb” above double C. I remember that day for I wrote the date down on the page I was playing.

The required text for this course will be Claude Gordon’s Systematic Approach to Daily Practice and all students in this class must have this method in order to be part of the project. If you can borrow one, that’s even better.

Class begins today and will run as long as there is interest and “class participation”. In order for our class to begin today, I have included your first assignment which can be downloaded below. Also included below is your practice sheet for documenting your progress.


I would like to make a challenge to all my trumpet playing readers.

If you would like to join me in increasing our range by a third (or more), follow the instructions listed below and we will see how far we can increase our ranges together.

Here is how you can be part of this inspired and group motivated army of high range wimps, like me……

How to Increase Your Range by a Third project (HI-YR-BY-A-THIRD)

• Purchase (or borrow) the book- Systematic Approach to Daily Practice for Trumpet

• Leave a comment on this post indicating that you would like to join in with others on this project (names will be kept confidential)

• Check in once a week and give us your progress

• Submit any questions or comments on this venture

Our next few posts will give you some advice on why Systematic Approach to Daily Practice works, how it should be used, what to expect and what to be aware of as you increase your range.

As long as we have class participation and questions from the class, this should be fun and productive for all of us.

Question from the back row:

“Professor, will you be letting the class know how you are progressing”?

Response; “I think that is only fair……….

Download Practice Sheet here- Practice Sheet

Download First Assignment here- CG #1 P1 (1)

Looking back On the Last Five Years- Our Top 3 Most Popular Topics.

To celebrate our 5th anniversary of our site, we have decided to post the top three most popular topics.

Today we are featuring our third most popular post-imgres

15 Reasons Why the Trumpet is The Most Difficult Instrument to play

Some may question the validity of this statement but those that do most often are wrong.

I will list my reasons and give a light hearted account of why this is the case.

1. Trumpets most often play the melody so everyone knows if we play the wrong notes. Unlike the Bassoon, which plays notes that only Canada geese can hear, the trumpet is expected to play every note the way it was intended.

2. Trumpets are loud. When was the last time a conductor requested that a triangle player play louder?

3. Trumpets are pointed directly towards the listener. If you are in the back row of an orchestra and have a tambourine solo, 90% of what you play ends up in the ceiling or on the person next to you.

4. Trumpet players rely on their air to sustain a long slow, painful phrase, while an organist could place a book on the keys and go out for lunch and no one would know the difference.

5. To play a trumpet, the person must have strong lip muscles in order to execute the high, loud and ugly passages required of them. How much strength does it take to drop a stick on a tympani head?

6. The fingering of a trumpet is very complex. For a clarinet player to play a corresponding scale, the clarinet fingerings are simplified because of their use of nine fingers. The trumpet play is limited to only three and is expected to be able to play the same notes.

7. Trumpet players are constantly adjusting their intonation to fit the musical surroundings. At the same time the piano player is more concerned about what you place on their instrument. Get real! It’s a table with only three legs!

8. Trumpet players get more tired than most other instrumentalist. If a violinist becomes tired, they break a string and are able to rest for several minutes.

9. When trumpet players are expected to perform with mutes, it demands much more preparation than the other instruments. Watch next time when a viola adds a mute. They merely reach down to slide it onto the strings.

10. Trumpets have a much more difficult time working within their section. Nowhere in music is this more challenging for every trumpet player has to put up with other trumpet players and we all know what that requires.

11. When performing on a trumpet, half of your view of the music is blocked by the trumpet’s bell. Have you ever heard a snare drummer complain for not being able to see his/her music?

12. And speaking of singers! Trumpet players again are expected to play in tune. Intonation is not that important to most would be singers.

13. And speaking of other singers. If we trumpet players have a split lip, we play anyway. If a singer has a runny nose, out comes the understudy.

14. And speaking of additional singers, if they forget their lyrics, they think “Doobe Doobe Doo” fits every occasion.

15. The environment in which trumpet players perform is very dangerous for by the end of a concert or rehearsal, the chance of slipping on all the condensation around them is greater than most people realize.

These are only fifteen reasons the trumpet is without question (or not) the most difficult instrument to play. For these reasons I beg everyone to cut the next trumpet player some slack for you may be called to play trumpet and you would find it extremely difficult as we have found it to play..