Musician Humor

14122562-singer-lady-cartoon-illustration-girl-singing-songFrom time to time I am sent musician jokes from friends and I thought these were worth posting. A seasoned musician will understand clearly what is going on for we have all been there.


A very intense, self-absorbed saxophone player is sitting at the bar after playing all night. A beautiful woman shyly approaches him and says, “Excuse me, I hate to intrude, but I just have to tell you that I saw you play tonight. I have never been so deeply affected by music before. It’s like it woke up my mind and my heart. It also woke me up as a woman. Your music touched me so deeply that I just want to take you home with me.”
The saxophone player stares at her for a moment and asks, “Did you see the first set or the second set?”

Warren Covington used to have an arrangement of “Tea for Two Cha-Cha” that had a carefully rehearsed break on the downbeat of the 15th measure, with total silence until the beginning of the 17th.
One night, Doug Mettome found the opening irresistible. When the band hit the break, Doug stood up and shouted, “Pennsylvania six, five thousand!”
The rest of the band did not come back in on the 17th bar, or anywhere else. They had all collapsed with laughter.

Hotel guy: OK, that completes your check in, your room is #124, right down the hall.
Musician: Thanks, it’s nice to have a night off and just relax for a change. I’ll think I’ll have a nice dinner, glass of wine, and go somewhere to hear someone else play for a change. Do you have any jazz clubs in this town?
Hotel guy: Well we happen to have an excellent restaurant right here in the hotel and tonight is jazz night in our lounge.
Musician: Wow! I wonder if I would know anyone in the band?
Hotel guy: Well, I know the pianist’s name is Oscar Peterson.
Musician: Wow! “The” Oscar Peterson?
Hotel guy: Well, not “The” Oscar Peterson, but he happens to play piano and he is a local player who we think very highly of.
Musician: Well, I’ll give him a listen.
Hotel guy: And I think the bass player’s name is Ray Brown.
Musician: Wow! “The ” Ray Brown?
Hotel guy: Well, not “THE” Ray Brown, but his name is Raymond Brown and he happens to also play bass.
Musician: Well, I’ll check him out.
Hotel guy: The drummer’s name is Louis Bellson.
Musician:: Wow! (you know the drill by now)
Hotel guy: and the horn player is Kenny G.
Musician: WOW, “THE” Kenny G?
Hotel guy: I’m afraid so!

A vocalist hired a piano player to accompany her at an audition for a night-club job. After listening to a couple of songs, the owner said, “Can you sing ‘When Sunny Gets Blue?’ It’s my favorite song. If you can sing it, you’re hired.”
The singer whispered to the piano player, “I don’t know it all the way through.”
The piano player said, “I know it. Go ahead and start, and I’ll prompt you.”
Reluctantly, she began: “When Sunny Gets Blue . . .” She looked at the piano player for help. He whispered confidently, “B-flat minor ninth.”

One night, a front man said to the drummer, “When the band starts to swing, I want you to play more on the ride cymbal.”
The drummer replied, “When the band starts to swing, will you please raise your hand?”

A female vocalist goes for an audition for a show. When it’s her turn, she calls “I’ll Remember April” in D-flat.
“D-Flat?” the piano player exclaims.
Taken aback, she replies “Yes, D-flat. Is that too fast?”

Just How Observant Are You?

blindLet me give you a little test to see how observant you really are.





At what point in the video did you realize something was wrong..

1. When he played his first note (:20)- give yourself 10 points

2. When he switched horns (:50)- give yourself 9 points

3. When he used the wrong fingering on the trumpet on his right (1:09)- give yourself 8 points

4. When one horn was in the mike and the other was off to one side (1:35)- give yourself 7 points

5. When he used his nose (2:16)- give yourself 6 points

6. When he used both nostrels (2:35)- give yourself 5 points

7. When he used both ears (2:53)- give yourself 4 points

8. Do you still think he could do that?- give yourself 3 points

Here’s how you are rated-

10 points- Far above average
9 points- Above average
8 points- Average
7 points- Below average
6 points- Way below average
5 points- Slightly above the IQ of an apple
3 points- you are now qualified to run for Congress

More Reasons Why You Can’t Play High Notes- Part IV

high-notesThis is the second part of this post and will continue with the following areas-


Big Mouthpiece or Small Mouthpiece? That Is The Question. Part 3

Big Mouthpiece or Small Mouthpiece? That Is The Question. Part 2

Big Mouthpiece or Small Mouthpiece? That Is The Question.

Small Mouthpiece vs. Large Mouthpiece

How To Place Your Mouthpiece In Your Horn

Helpful Suggestions

The Trumpet Player’s Octave Key

Wet or Dry- That is a Question

High Note Entrances Made Easier

How to Combat “Stiff Chops”

The Correct Embouchure- “Why we teach it incorrectly”

Rest As Much As You Play

Do You Ever Get Tired of Practicing?

Trumpet Hand Playing Position

How to Identify and Deal with Excessive Mouthpiece Pressure- Part 2

How to Identify and Deal with Excessive Mouthpiece Pressure- Part 1

A Different Approach to Breathing

More Reasons Why You Can’t Play High Notes- Part III

high notesAfter reading Part I and II of this series, you may still have questions as to why the high notes are not your friends and for that reason I will continue with the more traditional answers to this popular dilemma.

It could be possible that you are not playing your instrument correctly and I will list some areas where you should check to make sure that everything is working as it should to reach the higher register.

Here are some issues with links to some information that you might find helpful-

Mouthpiece placement

Finding the Correct Mouthpiece Placement

Trumpet Mouthpiece Placement

High Range Methods

High Range Methods- Current Approaches

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

Join HI-YR-BY-A-THIRD today! Lesson 3 Review

Join HI-YR-BY-A-THIRD today! Lesson 2 Review

Join HI-YR-BY-A-THIRD today! Lesson 2

Join HI-YR-BY-A-THIRD today! Lesson 1 (Part #2)

Join HI-YR-BY-A-THIRD today! Lesson 1 (Part #2)

How Much Improvement Have We Made in Our First Week?

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

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

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

High Range Methods- Current Approaches

High Range Methods- Pedal Tones

High Range Methods- Traditional

High Range Trumpet Methods- Introduction

In our next issue we will be covering several other aspects of high range development.

Six Reasons Why You Can’t Play High Notes- Part II

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAContinuing with our review of reasons some of us are lacking a better high range…….

Reason #3- You need to work harder.

I can attest not only from my experience but the history of watching many students go through the pains and suffering of “working harder” with limited success. It is true that added practicing will increase your upper range just as the extra practicing on the Clarke Technical Studies will improve your finger control as well as your ability to play in more than one key. But the question still stands, why do some play with ease in the upper range while we mere mortals grovel in the dirt? In many cases, the extra work does not equal a corresponding amount of added high notes.

Reason #4- It’s all in the position of the teeth.

When Mr. Jon Faddis first became popular and his photos began to circulate throughout the trumpet world, many devout followers of the instrument realized that there was an unusually large gap between his upper front teeth and many were convinced that his ability in the upper register was caused by this dental spacing. Stories began circulating that trumpet players had been seen around the world with wedges forced between their upper front teeth in hopes that their high notes would soar through the large end of their horn. This commitment to the cause was very popular among dentists at that time.

Reason #5- It all has to do with the practice method.

Early attempts at solving the high range vacuum was filled with some great and some not so great method books. Some of the early examples were the Maggio System, Double High C in 37 Weeks and the Claude Gordon Systematic Approach to Daily Practice Method. Each had its own claim for success and each had and still has a strong following of practitioners. As with most methods, if you stick with it, you will improve and most of us stuck with it and did improve but as we inched along, our fellow trumpet players seemed to be streaking past us as the range of the trumpet was continually being challenged.

Reason #6- You have to be born with it.

A very good example of this reasoning can be illustrated by an experience I had while living and teaching in the Dallas, Texas area. One morning, while preparing to begin my full day of teaching private brass lessons, a very young boy walked into the band room and asked me politely, “What are you doing”. I explained and his next question was “What’s that? pointing to my trumpet. “That’s a trumpet I responded and he inquired on how it was played. In short order, I had the horn properly positioned in his tiny hands and the mouthpiece located somewhere on his face. The first note that came screaming out of my horn was an F ABOVE HIGH C. That was the best F above high C my horn had ever played. And it was produced by an eight year old with no idea what he had done, Being the commercial opportunist I was at the time, I had him signed up for trumpet lessons on the spot. He began studying with me and it took me three lessons to finally get him to play a note IN THE STAFF.

I have played with trumpet players with the same ease in the upper range and as I watch them sail around me with no apparent effort, I watch in envy at the effortlessness of their ability to perform as if they had an octave key added to their instrument.

In closing, I would like to say that those who are able to play the “BIG MONEY NOTES” are blessed. They may have been blessed with high range through their own efforts or they may have been blessed with good teeth. They may not even know that the high notes are difficult or they may have purchased the perfect trumpet and/or mouthpiece. Many things I do not know but one thing I do know is that I have been blessed with an above average ability to read well, improvise acceptably, produce a decent tone and perform with adequate technical ability. I would consider that even more important than the ability to squirt out a couple high notes.

I have included six reasons in this posting and have left out one very important possibility which will require more time and explanation.

In our next issue I will try to cover the things to watch in the case you are playing incorrectly.

You may not be able to be or do everything you want to do or be, but do strive to do the best at what you have been blessed with.

Six Reasons Why You Can’t Play High Notes- Part I

timthumbWithout question the most often concern among trumpet players is this “How can I play high notes”?

Every trumpet player wants to increase his/her upper register and will do anything or buy anything that promises this utopia area of the trumpet players available and allusive range.

Why do some have the gift while others (including yours truly) suffer here in the kiddy’s wading pool?

At this point in time, no one knows and although many have squandered time and money to find the reason for this inequity, we still spend more time and money to find the answer. I will try at this time to give some of the pitfalls to the enhancement of the upper register in hopes that some of you may more fully understand why some have it, some will get it, and some will never get the art of playing high notes with ease.

Reason #1- You were told that it is difficult.

If someone tells you that something is difficult, chances are you will also find it difficult, even if you might have found it easy. I’m not a strong believer in “YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU SET YOUR MIND TO DO”. Watching any of these endless amateur talent shows on TV should convince you of that. The parade of pathetically talentless morons who are convinced by their mother that they can do anything they have their mind set on is a statement as to what people will do to try to be successful. The flip side of that would be the thousands of would-be stars that are told “you can’t do that” or “you shouldn’t do that” is equally disappointing.

In my case, when I was starting to practice my Olds Recording cornet at our home, I was constantly told “Stop playing those squeaky notes” as my father called them. Consequently, being the respectful son I was (at that time) I stopped playing anything above the staff. After asking my first trumpet teacher how to finger the notes above high C, I was told “You’ll never use those notes any way”. I was in high school when I finally realized that there was a whole new world above high C that I was missing.

Reason #2- It’s all in the equipment.

The amount of money spent on the perfect mouthpiece or the perfect horn or the perfect valve oil to increase your range by an octave is what keeps the United States economy moving. Every trumpet player has a shelf lined with the best high range mouthpiece ever designed and you will notice that those mouthpieces are the ones that need polishing the most for they were purchased, tried and quickly stored with all the other get rich quick paper weights on the shelf.

The same is true for the endless collection of horns. Trumpet players justify this waste of money on the assumption that if John Doe can play a high Xb on his horn, it seems logical that with the same horn he/she could play the same high Xb! That makes as much sense as buying a special bicycle because Lance Armstrong rides it,,,,,Oops. Bad example.

I will continue on this one sided discussion in our next post and it is my wish to put to rest the frustration most of us have had with our quest for the high notes of perfection.

Can We Afford To Take Time Off From Our Horn and Still Feel Good About Ourselves?

planeHere we are at the Springfield, Missouri airport two hours early as instructed and now we are waiting for our flight which is three hours behind schedule.

Am I happy? Definitely for I and my wife are on vacation for the first time in two years. I can’t think of anyone I would like better to spend the time with.

I have prepared for our stay in Fort Meyers Beach and have with me my laptop, mouthpiece, walking shoes, swim suit and all of my passwords for my sites.

This seems like a good time to write about something I have wanted to do for a long time.

Can we afford to take time off from our horn and still feel good about ourselves?

If you are planning to set the old horn aside, check you calendar first to see if you have any playing commitments because for most of us; it will take time to restore the chops you have decided to neglect. My next gig is in two weeks and it usually takes me two to three days to get back the embouchure enough to play three hour dance job with a one horn combo. After this trip, we will be leaving again for a one week cruse and I will have to start all over again. Isn’t it interesting that when a plumber goes on vacation, he/she never thinks about his/her ability to remove a clog in a drain when he/she gets back.

I can usually let one or two days go by before I start itching to get back to the valves again and this habit has not changed throughout my life, or at least to this point in my life. In order to pacify this urge; I have included a mouthpiece to buzz on when the urge hits me. I will also purchase a length of tubing to replace the resistance factor when buzzing as I posted in the previous article.

Practice material is not needed for most of us can play the Clarke’s Technical Studies from memory as well as most of the major trumpet concerti.

That takes care of the material needed to survive without my instrument. Now we need to address the mental adjustment necessary to keep ones sanity.

The required mindset for not practicing.

Problems caused from not practicing-

1. You lose some abilities as well as gain others.

Building strength in an embouchure most often interferes with lip flexibility if your regular practice routine does not include this side of your development. If you do flexibility exercises in your daily practice schedule, you will see only a little difference when you return to practicing. On the other hand, you may notice a big difference when you return to practicing and it usually shows up as an increase in range and flexibility, tone improvement and a loss in endurance.

2. Guilt may set in when you have played consistently for extended periods of time.
We are all creature of habit and if one of our repeated rituals is practicing, to interrupt this routine may mess with your mind. This is particularly true to the newer musician on their way up. From a more experienced view, it’s not a big issue as I continue my progress on my way down. As long as I can perform to my own standards, I know that my ability is well above the standards of those hiring me. When I feel that I no longer have it, I will turn in my library card and start to grow old. But until then, I will continue as planned.

If being away from your instrument for an extended amount of time is an issue, I have a few thoughts you might find interesting.

• If you play badly on a job because you are out of shape, it’s your fault and you should ask yourself “Can I live with that”? If you can, you might not be a committed musician. On the other hand if you have planned your sabbatical wisely, you should not have to face a bad gig. If you are offered a job and you are out of shape and want to keep you condition a secret, don’t take the job. The best way to get out of a situation like that is to tell the Booker that you already have a job that night. Yes, that would be a lie, but after sharing that small fib with a person who is only interested in his/her own welfare, the Booker now thinks that you are very busy and on everyone’s first call list. This is good. This is much better than playing a job in poor shape and being moved to the bottom of every Bookers list.

• The importance of playing every job within a ten mile radius is really not that important and especially true as you get older. Playing the trumpet is a very competitive life style and not to be called for an important job used to crumble the walls around me. Now I can live with it. This used to be important to me also but I think I have grown in confidence which was not present as I climbed the ladder to where ever. If you cannot accept a bad performance because of pride or …..pride, it would be better for you to stay home from your travels and slave away in your practice room waiting for that big break to show up. To be honest, the players at the top can’t afford to leave the area for when they are out of town; their competition is trying to replace them. I’m sure that this is again not a problem for plumbers.

So, we have been in the airport waiting area now for about an hour and I’m about to the end of my prattling. I hope some of my ideas may be of benefit to some for that is why I’m here. To summarize this post, I would say that taking time off to enjoy life can not hurt but being a slave to your instrument could. Did I have the same outlook when I was young, definitely not. For those on their way to fame and fortune, the best of luck but don’t forget to stop and smell the valve oil on your way up.

Practicing on the Road

rt 006Much discussion has been raise over the noise factor when practicing on the road and for that reason I wanted to give just another suggestion for solving this problem.

Next week I will be on one of our vacations and because of the luggage limitations, I will not be able to take my horn. *&%^%$#@#%

I did plan to carry my mouthpiece with me but buzzing on a mouthpiece is not the same as buzzing on a horn. The resistance is such that I end up deciding I wouldn’t do that again. Also the buzzing sound tends to annoy my wife. I can’t understand why!

While rummaging through our garage the other day, I spotted some plastic tubing of various diameters and lengths. One caught my eye and I found that my mouthpiece fit into the tubing perfectly. Not able to resist the urge, I gave it a blast and to my surprise, it wasn’t very loud and seemed to have the same resistance as my trumpet. The harmonics were more like a bugle and after visiting my local hardware store, I found a much longer section of the same pipe and after placing my mouthpiece in this longer section, I found that I had more control of the harmonics and could connect much of the range of the new instrument into scale steps with a few exceptions.

Obviously I would not be able to justify carrying an eight foot long plastic tube on the plane but at the very nominal cost of the pipe, I plan on buying one when I reach our destination and use it there.

Problem solved.

Oh, also……

I taped a plastic funnel to the other end and changed by new horn into a better, although louder instrument of torture.

PS Watch out for those revolving doors.

Has Your Faithful Blogster Turned To The Dark Side?

6464354811_4d40b1b945Before any ugly rumors begin to start circulating around the Blogaspher, I need to make a confession to my readers……I own, and currently playing a TROMBONE! (Thunderous gasps of disbelief were heard throughout the galaxy).

Yes, it is true that for Christmas my loving wife gave me my Christmas request, a trombone. Now this is not an average garage sale trombone. This is one of the very popular PBones which come in various colors. Our nod was given to the deep blue variety with hopes I will be able to play the blues in the truest fashion.

Trombone is not new to me but it has been more than thirty years since I had one in my hand and the thought of struggling through the Arban book now on TROMBONE made me question my current state of mind. For decades I have been able to resist the temptation to join the dark side of the musical universe but the urge was too strong.

You may be asking yourself……Why?

As one gets older, we decide to live life on the edge and I couldn’t think of a more cutting edge, “life to the fullest” instrument than the Tbone. Besides I tried learning the Dobro and failed miserably. Why not start on an instrument that I have at least had some experience.

The transfer of slide position to valve combination was easy for I learned to play the trombone in treble cleff, (which I have corrected, now reading Bass and treble clef). All first position slide is the same as open valves, second position (second valve), first valve (third position), etc. Working the slide in and out is going to be work but not half as bad as learning how to use three picks on my fingers and thumb without poking my eye out playing the Dobro!

So, you may ask, what does this have to do with a trumpet site? Listen grasshopper and thou shall learn the secrets of the universe.

Here are some obvious findings-


I know this does not come as a shock to you but the larger trombone mouthpiece involves more muscle area than the trumpet mouthpiece and for that reason, playing on the larger mouthpiece has some true value. I remember when I was in High School, I took a couple trumpet lessons from a very fine player in the area and before each lesson, Don would buzz on a trombone mouthpiece. I asked him about the routine and said that he played trumpet with a more relaxed embouchure if he first buzzed on the trombone mouthpiece. He also mentioned that he was able to utilize his air stream in a more relaxed fashion after using the larger mouthpiece. Of course I thought he was nuts and stuck that bit of information back in the file marked “read only if you have nothing else to do some day”.

After playing now for about a week on my beautiful blue plastic….Oh, I forgot to mention that the PBone is made of plastic, even the mouthpiece…….I have noticed that I have not suffered from stiff chops. It could be that dear Don was on the right track after all.


Now there is another pearl of wisdom. After this past week, I have learned more about breathing than any other time playing as a trumpet player. The added amount of air being circulated through a trombone is like the amount of gas rushing through my beloved 1969, C10 Chevy street rod with its four barrel carburetor fully engaged in a drag. The amount of air squirting through my trumpet would be similar to the amount of gas being squeezed through the intake manifold of a Scion iQ EV.

I may be premature to make any statements about the pros and cons of venturing to the dark side so for now, I will just mention that my interests in playing trombone, seriously, are very unlikely but if playing it will help my readers, I am more than willing to sacrifice my dignity and reputation as a trumpet player in order to further our cause.

Stay tuned as this saga continues to unfold.