A Former Student of Ours- James Linahon

Sometimes a teacher is lucky enough to have known students who eventually excel in music and this fine gentleman is certainly a fine example of one of our success stories. Although Jim never studied trumpet with me, I was fortunate enough to have had him in my classes and was able to see this young, gifted man develop into a leading musician not only in performance, but also in composition as well as the recording industry.

I have included just a few of his accomplishments since leaving our University.

• North Texas State University, Masters Music, Denton, Texas, 1975
• University of Northern Iowa, BA Music, Cedar Falls, Iowa, 1973
• UCLA Film, Los Angeles, CA, AVID & Pro Tools Engineering, 1983
• Downbeat, Jazz Album of the Year (College Category), 1979
• Epcot Center Disneyworld, Music Producer, 1982
• Grammy Nomination, Best Jazz Album, 1983
• Grammy, Best Film Soundtrack, 1984
• Downbeat , Best Soundtrack Television, 1985
• Statue of Liberty Re-Opening Celebration, Music Producer, 1986
• Grammy Nomination, Best Classical Recording (Engineer), 1988
• Grammy Nomination, Best Classical Recording (Orchestral), 1992
• Emmy Nomination, Best Childrens Film, 1995
• U.S. State Department, United States Cultural Ambassador, 1996
• Grammy Nomination, Best Jazz Recording (Big Band), 1998
• Grammy Nomination, Best Classical Recording (Small Ensemble), 2001
• Grammy Nomination, Sound Mixing, 2003
• Grammy Nomination, Producer of the Year, 2005

Enjoy watching Jim at work in this recent recording session.

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..

Buying A New/Used Trumpet Is Like Buying A New/Used Car

You may think this is a strange comparison but the selection of each is very similar as I will try to illustrate.

Guidelines when purchasing a new car

• Should I buy a new car or a used one?
• Do I need a new car?
• What do I want to do with my new car?
• How much money should I spend?
• Where can I get the best deal?
• Which manufacture should I look at?
• Which model should I try?
• What options should I consider?
• Should I trade in my old model or keep it?
• Test driving a new car.
• Should I consider the resale value?

Guidelines when purchasing a new trumpet

• Should I buy a new trumpet or a used one?
• Do I need a new trumpet?
• What do I want to do with my new trumpet?
• How much money should I spend?
• Where can I get the best deal?
• Which manufacture should I look at?
• Which model should I try?
• What options should I consider?
• Should I trade in my old model or keep it?
• Test driving a new trumpet.
• Should I consider the resale value?

As you can see, there are many similarities to the purchase of an automobile and a new trumpet. I will try to help with your process and give some pointers to make sure you don’t pick a “lemon”.

Should I buy a new trumpet or a used one?

If a top quality instrument has been taken care of, a used instrument can save you a substantial amount of money. Just as in the purchase of a new or used car, the value drops when you leave the lot/store. New trumpets generally are priced competitively and finding a great buy on a used instrument can and many times happens.

Do I need a new trumpet?

This is something only you can answer. If you are buying a new horn in hopes of increasing your range or improving your ability to match that of Wynton, save your money. If, on the other hand, you feel that your instrument is holding you back because of its quality or workmanship, do consider a new instrument.

What do I want to do with my new trumpet?

The requirement of a new horn many times will dictate the brand and model you choose. As an example; if you are going to play in a symphony orchestra, the need of a C trumpet far outweighs that of a Bb. If you are going to play commercial jobs, you would be best to look into a brighter, more projecting instrument rather than one with a dark, warm tone quality. And the reverse is true for a dark sound in a jazz group may be what you should purchase.

How much money should I spend?

Your needs and finances are the most important factor in this decision. Always follow this rule, “buy carefully and spend wisely”. Nothing is as bad as saving your money and then spending it on something you don’t like.

Where can I get the best deal?

Just as with car selection, you should shop around. If you are interested in a new horn, I suggest you compare prices with this location.

When shopping for a used instrument, check this source for a good deal.

Which manufacturer should I look at?

Every player has his/her own opinion as to which manufacturer makes the best horn. Through the years, this practice has taken on a whole new direction. In ancient history (roughly 1950-1980) the market was dominated by just a few manufactures. Some of the top brands included, Bach, Benge, Olds, Schilke, Conn. Institutions of higher learning (colleges and universities) favored the almighty Back as “THE ONLY INSTRUMENT WE WILL ALLOW”. This quote was told to me by a trumpet professor one day while I was considering their university. This was told to me even before I had played a note. Needless to say, I did not attend that school.

Fortunately, as well as unfortunately, you have a much wider and more improved selection of instruments to consider. One of the best sources to investigate would be the internet’s bulletin boards.

Be very cautious of the imported makes for many are poor knockoffs of better horns.

I have listed a few which may be of help to you when selecting a brand of trumpet. When reading these posts, remember this- “Everyone has their favorite and it might not be the best horn for you”. Consider the person posting for some are qualified and most are not. Give more credence to the professional players than the weekend warriors for they are guided by a higher standard than the casual player.




Which model should I try?

Do not be confused by the advertising for you will read that this and that horn will help you play faster, higher, longer, stronger than any other trumpet. “THERE AINT NO ANIMAL LIKE THAT”. What you need to do is narrow your search to the top manufactures and compare each of their models to your needs. Every horn is a compromise in some way.

What options should I consider?

Trumpet options used to be simple. Do I want a large bore or a medium bore. Then came the options of which bell should I buy. Then came the option of brass, silver or lacquer finishes. Then came the choice of which leadpipe, reversed taper, metal alloy, heavy bracing, tuneable bell, designer colors, engraved bell or plain, heavy weight valve caps, mother of pearl finger buttons, short or long valve stems, moly or plastic valve caps, regular water keys or the fancy ones, felt pads or rubber, soft case or hard, etc.

In most cases the options will be considered after you find an instrument that fits your taste and needs.

Should I trade in my old horn or keep it?

As in the case of trading cars, you will have to make this decision. Most professional players have two instruments for the need sometimes come up when you are playing a show and you need to send your giging horn out for repair or someone decided to sit on it just before an important job.

Test driving a new trumpet

Feel has more to do with deciding on a new horn in the same way a new car is determined. If it doesn’t feel good, don’t buy it. The last thing you want to do on a concert or gig is to have to fight your instrument. The feel of the instrument in your hand and its ability to do what you want it to do is the best way to judge your new trumpet. If it happens to be a Monette or a Bach, it makes no difference. Test driving a car usually can be done in fifteen or twenty minutes but to be certain of your choice of a new trumpet will take more time than that. Plan on spending an hour or so, playing and comparing every horn you are considering. If the local dealer will not let you play on his/her instrument, find another dealer. Be sure to check out the following characteristics and features when deciding-

• Ease in blowing
• The sound you like and can be happy with for a long time
• Intonation problems other than the usual on low D,C#, third space E and a few others
• Comfort in your hand for it will be there for long periods of time
• Workably smooth third valve slide
• Resistance without working you to death.
• Upper register free and easy
• Low range warm and rich
• Flexibility between slurred notes satisfactory
• Priced within your means
• Suitably safe case for protection

Should I consider the resale value?

This is something I have strong feelings about. If you are choosing your trumpet because of its resale potential, I don’t think you are a serious trumpet player.

What is Really Happening in Your Body When You Play Trumpet?

The arguments go back and forth as to what happens in our body as we play trumpet.

Some say the tongue arches to increase air velocity in the upper register while others say it is the lips which produce the faster vibrations and still others say that it is the increased velocity of the air stream but give no reason for the increase in speed.

This is a very helpful film which shows us exactly what is going on in our mouth, throat and lips.

Watch this and determine what needs to be done to play throughout the entire range of our instrument.

Note the function of the flexible pallet which seals off the opening from the throat to the nose (in the back and upper part of the throat).

Also obvious is the movement of the tongue while single and double tonguing.

You Raise Me Up – Trumpet Ensemble

From time to time we have readers send in recordings of our music and this young man was kind enough to take the time to prepare our arrangement of “You Raised Me Up”. We would like to thank Javed for his recording and it looks as if we have a very talented and industrious young trumpet player out there.

From Javed;
Arranged by Branson Trumpet Ensemble – Chidester
Played & Recorded by Javed Hassan

This is me messing with my webcam and trying to get 4 vids at once. not good quality, I know, But the music was ok 🙂 Again, I don’t have professional equipment, so please don’t bash the quality*

Join HI-YR-BY-A-THIRD today! Lesson 4

From comments being sent in, most players have seen an improvement in their range. In fact most have been able to reach or surpass the goal of one third. To those who have stuck with the program, congratulations and because of the success, you are all on your own now. But please don’t forget how you got here and what needs to be done to continue with your improvement.

The Claude Gordon Method has been a great workbook for Daily Practice and I would like to review what makes this method helpful to anyone who begins, follows and continues with the method.

• The Claude Gordon Systematic Approach to Daily Practice is a complete method for practicing. While some high range books are effective for range development, a complete method such as this is more beneficial to the player.

• The CG method stresses the importance of deep breathing throughout the book which is essential for strength, power and range development.

• Mr. Gordon’s instructions to rest, when indicated is very beneficial for many times players will overdo the playing and do more damage than benefits to their chops.

• The method incorporates contrasting muscle activity which not only builds strength but also insures flexibility in the embouchure.

• The first few lessons deal with the basic concept of pedal tones and slowly and effectively increase the work for fingers as well as lip flexibility.

• The CG method incorporates articulation exercises as well as lip and air exercises for a more complete player.

I hope this exercise fulfilled your expectations for improvement on your high range. We will now begin Lesson #V and I hope everyone continues each week with a new lesson. If you have any questions about your progress, feel free to contact me at this site and I will try to answer any questions you may have. This has been a very profitable experience for me also for my goal was to increase my range by a third and overcome the difficulty I have had with my G above high C. This morning, not only was I able to reach my G and A as I have been doing this week, but today was the first time in about 30 years I was able to reach a double high C. I must admit that only someone at the end of my horn could hear it, but it was there. If it is there, even weak today, it will be bigger and easier next week.

Don’t forget to mark your highest note as I have today.

Long Tones- 10 Reason To Do Them

We all understand what long tones are. They’re long tones!

But did you ever wonder why they are recommended and what benefits we can gain from this tedious practice?

10 benefits of long tones-

1. Long tones help develop strength- by sustaining a note for an extended period of time, the muscles in the embouchure are forced to sustain their current position and thus improve the strength of those muscles.

2. Long tones give you the opportunity to listen to your sound- by listening to your sound; there is a natural tendency to improve on what you are listening to.

3. Long tones help you analyze what is going on within your air stream. Opening and closing the channel which encompasses the passage of air will dictate the timbre of your tone.

4. Long tones force you to breathe more deeply. When extending the length of a note, you automatically breathe deeper to increase the amount of air required to sustain the note.

5. Long tones train your arms and hands to support the instrument more steadily for any shaking in these areas will telegraph into a shaky tone.

6. Long tones are the direct opposite of fast, highly technical passages and thus need to be implemented to balance your technical playing.

7. Long tones train your respiratory system to control sustained dynamic volumes for an uneven air stream will generate an uneven dynamic volume.

8. Long tones work well as a warm-up for little energy is spent and is easy on the chops before regular practice sessions.

9. Long tones are helpful if you are trying to improve your vibrato for a little controlled vibrato will warm your sound.

10. Long tones enable you to play in a more relaxed situation for your thoughts can be directed to the essentials rather than technical problems.

Thanks Jay

The name Jay Daversa is not a well known name to the younger players but to the professional trumpet circle, he is very well known and respected; not only as a player but also a gifted arranger and composer.

To the working musicians in Branson, the name Jay refers to one of our own and knowing and visiting with him is always a pleasure. His playing is always at the top of professionalism but few have much background in his musical life which extends from his teen age years to the present. To give you a small taste of where he came from and what he is doing now, enjoy these videos and learn more about the great Jay Daversa.

Bobby Shew Talks About Jay Daversa:
“I’ve known Jay Daversa for more years than I can remember. I heard him on the Kenton band around mid 60`s. We played shows in Las Vegas back in those days and then we worked lots of TV shows, record dates, and jazz gigs together in Los Angeles thru the 70’s. He has always been a very focused jazz player, full of energy and constantly ready to jump in and play.

Taken from Jay’s Internet Site

After recording with Stan Kenton, Jay was heralded as the “Most Promising New Jazz Artist” by Downbeat Magazine in 1968. His career has spanned several decades of TV, film, variety shows, motion picture soundtracks, and recordings of every variety. Jay has worked with an extensive list of artists, including Elvis Presley, Barbra Streisand, Bud Shank, Oliver Nelson, Gerald Wilson, Louie Bellson, Shelly Manne, Don Menza, Bill Watrous, Roger Kellaway, and many others. He’s featured on many soundtracks, including: The Waltons, Grease, The Love Boat, Incredible Hulk, and more.

To state it simply, Jay has done it all………

Thanks Jay for sharing part of your life with us in Branson and your musical talents with the world.

To view more performances of Jay, go to this youtube page