A Little Racial History

I would like to thank a fellow trumpet player (*Michael Stewart*
www.stewmuse.com) for sharing this video with us.

There is more truth to this computer generated video than most will realize. As a person who had witnessed the “WHITES ONLY” years, sadness fills my heart for the injustice put upon the Black race for so many years.

English translation: New York, 1930: Harry, a trimmer (barber) racist will change his attitude after discovering a magical trumpet. Set in the years following the great depression of the 29’s, at which time it originates the Swing (jazz style in which stressed Fletcher Henderson, Johnny Hodges, Benny Carter, Ella Fitzgerald) an era filled with great racial disputes.

Join HI-YR-BY-A-THIRD today! Material on page 12 only

Now that you have tried playing pedal tones for the first time or continued to play them, some may have questions as to how they can be played more easily.
This post will cover the art of playing pedal tones and by our next post, you should be able to play with the best pedal players in the nation, or at least improve in this area.

To make sure you are playing pedal tones correctly, we first need to check to see if your lips are in the correct position. To do this, place the mouthpiece to your lips and without tonguing the first note blow the air stream through your lips and into the instrument. If your lips are in the correct position, the notes should be started easily. If no note comes out, your lips may be overlapping and need to be repositioned. The upper lip and the lower lip should be positioned one above and in line with the other to make sure your embouchure is functioning correctly. If one section of your lip extends “over” the other as you play this overlap may eventually cut off lip vibrations and eventually limit your range and flexibility.

Now that your lips are positioned correctly, we will start our decent into the pedal world.

Your author suggests that you play each note in the first lesson loud, but for our purposes I would suggest that you take in a full breath and sustain the notes for a specific amount of time- fifteen seconds. You might ask why I differ from the text and the reason is that students beginning on this method are not conditioned for a few of the suggestions. This is one case. Many times a new person to pedal tones might over do the “loud” and do harm to their lip. Symptoms of lip abuse will show up as a momentary sharp pain in the lip. This is most often caused by playing too loud on a lip which is not used to loud playing. It would be similar to someone trying to lift heavy weights for the first time. Muscles have a way of telling us that what we are doing is not a good thing. So listen to your body as we continue in your range development.

Instructions for your first exercise, page 12.

1. Sit forward with your back off the back of the chair. Reason- you need to be able to take in more air than you are used to and the possibility of hyperventilation could make you dizzy.

2. Take in a big breath with your tongue as low in the mouth as possible. Reason- positioning your tongue low in the mouth will enable you to inhale with fewer restrictions.

3. Using the second hand on a visible clock, inhale slowly and start your first note when the second hand reaches 12 on the clock. Reason- you will need to play your whole notes for fifteen seconds and no longer.

4. After fifteen seconds, stop playing and rest for fifteen seconds. Reason- few are able to rest as much as they play and for that reason, you should use a clock to regulate your playing and resting.

5. Crescendo with reason on the whole notes. Reason- the crescendo is helpful to get more air out of your lungs. As you gradually develop more conditioning of your lip, you can increase the crescendo within reason.

6. If you are new to pedal tones, you may find them a little challenging and in order to help you, I have recorded them to give you a reference.

Download Practice recording here- HI-R-By-A-Third Practice recording

Join HI-YR-BY-A-THIRD today! Lesson 1

Now that you have your own Claude Gordon “Systematic Approach to Daily Practice” in front of you. Oh, you didn’t get yours yet? Well that’s why I posted the first lesson on my site. Some have ordered it and have not received it and some think they can take my class without getting the text. Thirty years teaching in a university has taught me that there are always those that try to cut corners and if you happen to be one, I’m going to keep an eye on you.

We will begin the class by taking a look at Lesson 1.

Lesson 1 has two parts as the text explains. These two parts are;

1. Starting your practice with pedal tones (notes below the normal range of the instrument).

2. Slowly ascending to your highest note possible.

Question from the back of the room- “What is the purpose of pedal tones”?

Answer– Redal tones are used to relax the lip and stimulate the muscles to gain more oxygen and release toxins. As you begin to practice these low notes you will find them to be helpful in several ways. If your lip is tired from a hard rehearsal, play some pedal tones. If you seem to have developed a stiff lip practicing, play some pedal tones.

Question– “How do I play them”?

Answer– The best way to start playing pedal tones is to play a low F# (1,2,3) and slowly lip it down as far as you can. With practice, you will be able to extend your notes further each day.

Question– “I get so far down and I can’t get any farther. What should I do”?

Answer– There are a number of notes which can be bent easily and they most often stop down around your C below your regular low C. Just below your last low note is another group of notes which are easier to play once you get into that range.

To get into that range, do the following-

1. Bend your low F# down as far as you can and hold that note.

2. While you are holding that note with a 1,2,3 fingering, quickly lift the valves and keep your air and lip the same.

In most cases the horn will drop you into another lower register which is where you want to be. This may take a few tries to get it to respond, but when you get it, the notes will come out easily and give you an additional low note range to practice. The hardest thing to do is to connect the first low register (low F3, F, E, Eb, D, Db, C) to the second register of notes (C, B, Bb, A, etc.) It is best to lower your last note of the first register rather than trying to raise the top note of your second low register.

Question– “The text says to rest at least 15 minutes before starting the second part of the lesson. Why is this important”?

Answer– After you have played down to your lowest pedal tone, your lip is extremely relaxed and it needs to get back to normal before you continue. Mr. Gordon has purposely stated that you should “REST AT LEAST 15 MINUTES”. This is important for at lesat 15 minutes will help, less than that will hurt.

Lecture notes to be considered

• Playing excessively loud can damage the lip. Use caution when following the “hold the note until your stomach shakes” suggestion at this time. Later, as we get farther into the text you will be in better shape to follow this suggestion.
• Read suggestion #4 carefully and do what he has suggested.
• The suggestion “make three attempts” is very important and should be followed throughout the text, so get used to it.

In the next class, we will be explaining the second part of this lesson.

Join HI-YR-BY-A-THIRD today!

What is HI-R-BY-A-THIRD?

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.

IT IS IMPARITIVE THAT YOU HAVE A COPY OF THE TEXT, FILL OUT YOUR PRACTICE SHEET AND CONTACT ME THROUGH THE COMMENT BOX BELOW THIS POST SO THAT I CAN KEEP EVERYONE INFORMED AS TO THE PROGRESS OF THE CLASS.
I AM COUNTING ON YOU TO JOIN OUR PROJECT AND ALL YOU NEED TO DO TO IMPROVE YOUR RANGE IS A LITTLE TIME, REGULAR PRACTICE AND SEND IN YOUR WEEKLY REPORTS TO YOUR TEACHER. ALL LEVELS OF PLAYERS ARE WELCOME.

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)

When You Are Wrong, You Are Wrong

I love it when someone proves me wrong. It tends to bring me back to earth and realize that even old people (especially old people) can learn a thing or two.

In an earlier post, I questioned the quality and newness of any compositions created in the past few decades and today I was proven wrong.

Enjoy this beautiful composition which includes some Stravinsky as well as electric guitar.

Please excuse me now as I will have to remove the egg from my face. To the younger crowd, that means I was wrong.

The composer’s program notes are included below the video.

Much of the music is done in odd time signatures (like 13/8) to give the music an interesting drive – even though there is a familiarity to the overall music. As a composer I’m trying to capture what the masters have done and add a new element. The music is driving, engaging and yet not so foreign to be off-putting.

Posted by Chip Michael, composer

Learn more about TwtrSymphony and download the music

Inspiration or Complete Humiliation?

Each day I practice my Clarke Technical Studies and slur up and down on my Advanced Lip Flexibilities exercises. Every day I play my long tones and range exercises.

Then…

I view a video of the “Good Guys” and I throw up my hands in despair.

Yes, in the morning, I will be doing the same practice routine as I have for many, many years; knowing that it can be done even though I will never be able to do it as these “MONSTERS” illustrate.

Feel free to leave comments for some will like this, some will not. But all will have opinions and I would like to hear yours.

From left to right- J. Morrison, J. Faddis, A. Sandoval, W. Marsalis

Steroids And Trumpet Playing

After being diagnosed as having a bad case of Poison Ivy, I was given a steroid shot to solve the problem. The second day after the shot, I was surprised to find that my high range had jumped from an F# above high C to double high C! The F# had been my best for many weeks and to have that much, and sudden increase made me wonder if the shot had anything to do with the range change.

I decided to inquire through some of the networks I communicate with and received many suggestions.
As always my words are in Bold type and the responses are in regular type.

This is my original message…………

“I have never been a high note player and the best I can be assured of is one note higher than I am expected to play at the time.
But..

After visiting my physician for a bad case of poison ivy, he gave me a steroid shot to help cure it.

In the past two weeks I have been stuck on F# above High C but this morning I went right up to a double “C”.

Coincident or not, that is the question.

Has anyone else had the same results after a steroid shot”?
_________________________________________________________________
No, not I; However as a physician, steroids do reduce swelling and inflammation. Maybe, your lips were inflamed and swollen from excessive pressure when playing. The effects will only be temporary, then, you’ll be back to your normal, unless, you learn to use less pressure. OTC Cortaid, would have a similar effect, but should not be used long term due to the fact that steroids are an imunosupressant and can cause a yeast infection to occur.
_________________________________________________________________________

So for when I want to play higher, I should get some poison ivy and rub it on the rim of my mouthpiece? Or better yet, rub it on other’s people’s before an audition/chair placement?
Excellent….
_________________________________________________________________________

This is a very scarey thread …. and kids are just foolish enough to try it ..
I believe steroid usuage can cause cancer of the liver.

_________________________________________________________________________

Of course, if the steriod is working, you might hit very high notes,.. but you’d never be allowed to play at the Olympics.

Did you have a conscious thought that the steriods might have an impact before you started practicing? Psychosomatic possibly?

Whatever, now that you know that you can physically do it, just keep practiing (without the stimulation).

_________________________________________________________________________

This explanation seems the most likely and I encourage you to read it in full.

What your doctor gave you was a corti-costeroid shot wihich is used to stop acute inflammatory responses to all sorts of things, including allergic reactions like yours to poison ivy, and asthma attacks and arthritic joints. It was not an anabolic steroid, which is what certain home run hitters and fastballers, not to mention one former governor of California were getting injected because they stimulate production of muscle mass. If you’re high note reaction was not placebo effect, it could have been due to the fact that a corticosteroid will have –for want of a better term –“relaxing” effect on your lungs. This is why people with chronic asthma take inhaled steroids from a small canister wherever they go. I think your response might have been the effect of the injected steroid on your lung tissue. If you had any residual inflammation in your lungs, it would have been wiped out by the injection. Question: do you have any seasonal allergies or are you an asthmatic? Do you get shortness of breath during aerobic exercise (exercise induced asthma) that is not the result of being out of shape? It could have a real clinical improvement in your ability to fill your lungs, or a placebo effect, as has already been suggested, or a combination of both.

I spent 20+ years working for a big pharmaceutical company as inside counsel. And, I have exercise induced asthma, two kids with allergies and one with allergies and asthma. I know a lot about steroids; my former company invented most of them, and I was in charge of managing the litigation concerning them for many years. You should ask you doc if an albuterol inhaler (such as Proventil or Ventolin–both available generically) would be a good idea. I use one about 20 minutes before I practice every day because I started to get mild asthma symptoms while playing. It’s a pretty mild treatment and has very few side effects; some people get a feeling of their heart racing, but that goes away quickly. It’s an adrenalin-type drug, no steroid side effects at all. It works by dilating the bronchial tubes and allowing more air to flow into the lungs. but, it only makes a difference if you have vaso-constriction in your lungs from asthma or allergies in the first place. If there’s nothing going on in your lungs, it does nothing. Stay away from that over the counter crap like primatene mist, etc. It irritates the throat and it creates dependency. You should try asking your doctor to try a spirometry test to see what your lung capacity is without medicine, then you can take a puff of the inhaler and see if it improves. That’s how I got diagnosed. Your long tones could get a lot longer if you’re not currently able to fill your lungs up!!!

I would like to thank those that sent me their thoughts on this experience and would like to say that the use of drugs as an enhancement is not recommended and my only reason for asking this question was to find out if the temporary change could have been caused from the shot. The last suggestion was what I was looking for and to the contributor; I thank you very much for your expertise and information.

The bottom line is this- “The only way to success is through hard work and practice.

“I HAVE NEVER USED RECREATIONAL MEDICATION. I HAVE NEVER WANTED TO USE DRUGS AND AT MY AGE, I NEVER INTEND TO USE RECREATIONAL DRUGS”

PS

By the second day, my range returned to the F#.

Comeback Player Questions

I received this message this past week and because of the house full of family I am a little behind on my posts.
I would like to thank this gentleman for his questions and due to the fact that many have indicated that they were also “comeback” players, I thought I would share with you my thoughts on this big move.
As always, my comments are in BOLD type
and our reader’s comments are in regular type.

Went social security in 2010, and part time on my job. Within a couple months, decided it was time to get back to being serious of trumet playing. Have since connected with a local concert band (community) and church orchestra. Have had three trumpet lessons since taking back up the trumpet; first one was with a local trumpet professional (U.S. Navy); next two were by another professinal trumpet player from Michigan (met online via webcam). All three were most useful, and want to take more lessons and more frequently (1st was Feb, 2011; last two were in July same year), but on fixed income and difficult to find resources to pay for lessons.

Sounds as if you are very interested in getting back at it. Good for you. If during your recent lessons, did either of your teachers mention any drastic problems, such as extreme left or right or up or down mouthpiece placement?

If there is no issue there, we can assume you have a good foundation to be working with.

Sorry about the long story, but wanted you to know my background and to help you understand that what I’m faced with is a real passion for trumpet playing and music in general, a passion that I really wasn’t aware of until a couple years ago. I’m to the point of seriously regretting giving up on the trumpet like I did, and not pursuing a career as professional trumpet, only because I believe now that I would have been much happier
We all can wonder what would have happened if we had done things different but for now, you are focused on playing better on the horn and that is what we will look at.

I’m interested in what you think about a 64 year old comeback trumpet player finding a way to eventually get full time work as a trumpet player. Is it a foolish pipe dream, or have you known some who have succeeded this late in life?

Your first issue I can address from personal experience. We are seeing increased numbers of “comeback” players all the time. Music is something that is in all of us and to some it is entertainment, to others it is as important as the blood flowing through out veins. You obviously are one of us.

To address your second question I can again discuss from personal experience. When I moved to Branson 12 years ago, there were 12 to 15 trumpet players working full time in the shows. Today there is only 1 and the future of his job depends on health issues of the headliner.

Obviously the availability of an opening for any trumpet player will affect you chances. At this time, living in Branson are at least 6 high level trumpet players who have played with every one you could name. There are high level studio players who are not employed at this time in the business. Even without hearing you play, it would be surprising if you would be able to get work here. On the other hand your area could be able to support more musicians and that would be a great determinant as to how much work you could get. If it were only determined by will power, I think you could do well but there are other issues which have to be faced.

I grew up in a small town with not much going on, but for past five years, am living in a metropolan area (Norfolk Va) that has more to offer in opportunities in just about anything.

I know of a good friend and student of mine from your area and he was able to do very well fronting his own big band and had a lot of work. The area will be your first hurdle to overcome or benefit from.

Thank you for visiting our site and I’m sure you will do well as a player. At this time in this economy, I would suggest that you continue your playing and as you get more experience and technique; when the economy changes, you will be ready to make the jump.

Best of luck to you and yours.

Old Horns and Former Girl Friends

When it is 4:00 AM and you can’t get back to sleep, what do you do?

As I lay in bed, thoughts of the past day, political debates, and discomfort from the last piece of pizza run through my head until I had to do something a little more productive and now I’m at the computer again.

When I started thinking of this post this morning, my first thought was, will my wife truly understand the significance of this post. Will she grasp the concept of the comparison of memories of old trumpets, cornets, flugel horns, trombones, slide trumpets and the similarities of memories of former girlfriends? I do hope so.

My First Girlfriend and My First Cornet

Memories of my first girlfriend:

I distinctly remember my first heart throb. Her name was Patty Wind, or Patty Winn, I’m not that sure of her name for both she and I were about six years old.

Equally important at the time was my first REAL cornet which I remember much more clearly for it was a Rose Gold, third valve compensated trigged, off set second valve, in a reddish brown, oval shaped case. Even today I can remember the feel, weight and balance of that great instrument. The pressure required to pull that third slide ring is still felt in my 70+ fingers today. The times we spent together (the cornet) are as fresh in my mind as if they were 60 years ago.

Memories of my first cornet:

• Endless hours playing along with every trumpet recording (78RPM) I could find

• Performing in a trumpet trio two hours after I had broken my arm in Jr. High

• Competing in solo, ensemble contest throughout Jr. High and collecting an absurd number of awards for playing countless (and very similar) cornet solos which all had names of flowers.

• The gradual increase of an odor which could be attributed to the growing age of the instrument and the fact that I had worn the beautiful rose gold finish off the brass.

• I remember every nick in that Olds mouthpiece and the feel of it on my lips (the cornet).

• Those were great memories.

My First Real Girlfriend and my First Real Trumpet

Memories of my first real girlfriend:

Every day I would walk my female companion home from school and truly enjoyed those awkward moments when my voice would jump an octave as easily as Maynard playing MacArthur Park. Her name was Cheryl. That was in 7th grade, I think.

Memories of my first real trumpet:

Now fast forward (that’s a term seldom used by the current digital generation) to graduate school.

• My first real trumpet was a Christmas present to me from my wife and I still see it under our small Christmas tree in our mobile home in Rochelle, Illinois.

• Black, Gladstone case, with the optional simulated leather case cover.

• Fresh, black lining and the most brilliant silver finish ever placed on highly polished brass.

• One single mouthpiece (that was before I became one of the many mouthpiece hoarders well known around trumpet circles) rested in its proper hole in the upper left corner of the case.

• My brand new Vacchiano straight mute rested comfortably in the case next to my Clarke Technical Studies book.

• The number of concerts and years of practicing on that instrument are a blur for that instrument helped me to make a comfortable living, enjoy great performances and provide for my family.

• It was a heart breaking experience when I realized that I was going to outlive that horn. Gradulally the wear and tear of polka bands, symphony orchestras, parades and shows began to show wrinkles on its surface. Similar to cancer in a body, my musical friend began to fail and had to be replaced.

My Last Girlfriend and My Final Trumpet

Memories of my last girlfriend:

My wonderful wife of 48 years is named Karen (see photo above) and I can tell you more about her than all the information available on Wikipedia. To list but one single area that she has helped and influenced me in our marriage would be impossible to notate and for that alone I thank her.

Memories of my last trumpet:

I am asked frequently “What kind of horn do you play”? Sometimes I have to look on the bell to remember. Is it old age? No, it’s the fact that horns are replaceable, a lifelong companions and friends are what really matter.

Preparing For Your First Gig

I distinctly remember my first real paying gig. It was at the Officers Club at the Rock Island Arsenal base and I was in high school. Fortunate for me I was a better player than anyone else on the job. It was a New Year’s Eve dance and the book (music) was easy although hard to read from all the spilled beer and cross outs on the one-hundred year old manuscript. But enough about my first time, let’s see if we can give you some help on what your first time might be like.

Gigs or jobs are terms that describe what you will be doing and both terms are recognized by all musicians and are interchangeable. Be careful when using these terms for if you are new to the business and start throwing the terms around to seasoned musicians, they will think you’re a new musician trying to impress people.

Rule #1. Don’t be a “Hot Shot”

As a new member of this group, always keep a low profile until they get to know you. Trust me on this one. A new kid on the block, trying to impress an older player will only make it more difficult for you to gain respect. Older players, when confronted by what they consider a “hot shot” have diabolical ways to put you in your place. One very quick way to teach humility is to give the “new kid” the lead part on a hard chart. If you are capable of pulling it off, you are set. If you crash and burn, you wouldn’t be invited back.

Rule #2. Find out if the job is a “reading or head chart” gig.

Definition of Reading Job- Combos and big bands can be reading situations but most often you will find big bands reading and combos using head charts. If you have been asked to play with a reading band, there are a couple of things you should know ahead of time.

• A reading band will expect you to be able to read and perform in the traditional jazz notation. To prepare for this you should have experience on phrasing, articulation, dynamics as well as basic ensemble playing. Jazz notation is much different than classical notation and interpretation so you need to study and perform in that style otherwise you will be classified as a “Square or Legit player” and that is not good. Just as playing in a jazz style in an orchestra is not good. Learn the difference and you will do well.

• Combo’s many times will not have written arrangements and for you to do well in this setting you will have to learn a ton of what we call “Standards”. These are well known tunes which every playing musician should be able to play in any key. The best way to build your head chart library would be to purchase one of the definitive collections of standards usually referred to as a “REAL BOOK”. It is best to memorize them but as a starter you could take your Real book to the job to make sure you can play with the other musicians. I played a job about a month ago and one of the best musicians in Branson brought his and I was very surprised that he needed one, but I was impressed that he was concerned enough to bring his book with him. Get a Real Book, learn it and keep learning more tunes every week. I Tunes is a great place to “Sit IN” on some of these numbers.

Rule #3. Make sure you know the following information about the gig-

• Where is it?

• When is it?

• What should you wear?

• Do you need mutes?

• How much does it pay?

Rule #4. Find out what instruments will be playing.

This might not mean much to you right now, but you should find this out for it will tell a lot about the group. Instruments are most often listed in this order- Trumpet, sax, trombone, piano, bass and drums.

The more horns on the job, the easier it will be for you for each player will share the load for the evening. If on the other hand, you are the only horn, you will be playing a lot which means you will have to be in good shape endurance wise. Most often in a combo using charts, the range is reasonable and as more horns are added, the range goes up a little but the amount of resting increases. In my way of thinking the hardest jobs are where you are the only horn. But on the positive side, if it is a head chart band, you can play in any range you want.

If you are the only horn in the group, the usual structure of the songs is this-
Rhythm section introduction (most often 4 measures long), the horn plays the first time through the song followed by the piano. After that it is a matter of switching back and forth between the horn and the piano (usually the horn would play the first sixteen measures and the piano would come in on the bridge followed by the last eight measures by the horn). This is only one version but holds true for most combos. The horn most often plays the last time to close.

If the ensemble is a medium size (six to ten players) it could be a reading group or a head chart group. Anything over that number will be a reading ensemble. Playing with a reading band has its own situations.

Rule #5. How to prepare for performing in a reading big band.

• Get there early (usually 30 minutes for the first time with a new group). Trust me, as a leader of both combos and big bands, the leader will be impressed that you are there early for your first job.

• Find out which chair ( book) he/she wants you to play.

• If you are to use mutes, this would be a good time to set them by your chair. While you’re in your chair, open your book and if it is a large library, split the book in half with the first half on the left and the second half on the right. The reason for this is you will be able to find your arrangements much faster.

• Charts are usually numbered consecutively so start on the lowest number and check to see that the tunes are in order. If the last person did not replace the arrangements in consecutive order, it will be you who will struggle through the whole evening. “MAKE SURE THE TUNES ARE IN ORDER”.

• On your first gig with the band, do a lot of listening. You are there to learn from them and they usually are not interested in learning from you.

• During the job, the lead player (assuming you are not playing lead, and we can safely assume that) will ask you if you would like to play lead or take a solo. If it is a good lead player, he/she will make sure that the part is not too difficult for you. If he/she picks a very difficult chart for you to play lead on, your days may be numbered in that band.

• If you are offered a solo or you are playing the solo chair, keep your melodic playing close to the original melody. Playing too far out (away from the melody) is great on a true jazz job but for dances, the audience wants to be able to hear the melody.

• When the band takes its breaks, stay close to the lead trumpet and ask him/ her many questions about their playing style, background, teachers, etc. Lead players love to talk about themselves and you can learn a lot about the business.

• After the gig is over, ask the leader if you can help tear down the band. He will appreciate the offer and this will also get you close to him/her to make sure you get paid for the job.

We are running out of space and time for more information on this topic but I think we have covered the basics of what to expect on your first gig. Remember that there are good bands and bad bands, but as long as you get paid, they are all the same.