Which Trumpet should I buy?

If you are a beginning student and are interested in starting trumpet/cornet, your music teacher will be able to guide you in this area. Usually your first instrument will be rented which gives you the opportunity to find out if you want to continue. If you have been renting and now want to move up to a better instrument, continue reading.

Silver Trumpet
Photo credit: raphaelstrada on Flickr

Reading advertisements on the attributes of each trumpet can be confusing for every manufacturer claims their instrument is the best. With this in mind, let me point out some important issues you will need to know when considering the purchase of a trumpet/cornet.

To better address this dilemma, I decided to do what most people would do when trying to decide on a product- I went to the internet. I typed in “best trumpet” and found these claims.

B Flat Trumpet #1

  • Professional design B-flat trumpet with full 5″ bell for better projection
  • High grade rose-brass lead pipe for better intonation
  • Monel steel pistons provide maximum corrosion resistance and reduced maintenance
  • Two push button water keys
  • Nickel-silver outer slides found only on higher quality models for smoother action and less corrosion
  • First valve slide saddle
  • Adjustable third valve throw ring with adjustable stop
  • Included valve oil, polishing cloth, portable music stand with carrying bag and 7C mouthpiece
  • Molded hard shell ABS case with shoulder strap provides the maximum in instrument protection and ease of carrying

Instrument price- $172.42

B Flat Trumpet #2

  • Key: Bb
  • Bore: .459-inch
  • Leadpipe: #25 Standard
  • Leadpipe Material: Yellow Brass
  • Bell: 4.8-inch One-Piece #43 Taper
  • Bell Material: Yellow Brass
  • Valves: Monel Piston
  • 1st Valve Slide Adjustment: Thumb Saddle
  • 3rd Valve Slide Adjustment: Fixed Ring with Adjustable Slide Stop
  • Features: Standard Water Key
  • Case: Deluxe Wood Case with Attached Cover
  • Mouthpiece: Bach 7C
  • Finish: Silver

Instrument price- $2,500

Side by side comparisons seemed to match on many feature.

  • Keyed in Bb
  • Monel pistons valves
  • Standard Water Key(s)
  • Bell: 4.8-inch/5-inch
  • Material: Yellow Brass/ rose-brass
  • First valve slide saddle
  • 3rd Valve Slide Adjustment
  • Case: Deluxe Wood Case/ Molded hard shell ABS case
  • Included valve oil, polishing cloth, portable music stand with carrying bag and 7C mouthpiece

So how can they justify the $2327.58 price difference? Again it is a similar situation as buying an automobile. “It’s all in the materials, design, manufacturing of the product”. With a trumpet, there will be a difference in sound, ease of playing, intonation, maintenance, resale, repairs, longevity, etc. In other words “you get what you pay for”.

Update From The Dark Side

Trombone MouthpieceThis is another update from the DARK SIDE. For those unfamiliar with my use of this term I will explain.

This past Christmas my wife gave me an unusual gift for a trumpet player… a trombone. It wasn’t that she dislikes my trumpet playing for she has far less desire to listen to a struggling trombone player. I have always wanted to play trombone even as a child. Fortunately I went the way of the valved instrument and have been very happy with my decision. But now I have the time and desire to learn a double and the new PBone drew my interest. From Christmas until now I have warmed up on my trumpet and practiced only the trombone to answer a few questions I had about the compatibility of the two instruments. To my surprise, I found them to be very compatible and even decided that one complimented the other.

What I have decided is that the larger trombone mouthpiece actually improves my trumpet playing. It might be that the larger mouthpiece allows more lip muscle to be developed or it could be that the trombone mouthpiece works to rejuvenate the trumpet muscles for better trumpet playing. Whichever the reason, I am convinced that the two are compatible and actually compliment each other.

Now to the reason I have posted this material today.

While doing my trombone practicing last week I had a thought of a way to help those interested in trying this combination without actually lowering oneself to playing a trombone. If the larger trombone mouthpiece seems to improve my trumpet playing for the reasons listed above, what would happen if a trumpet player used the larger mouthpiece at the end of the day to cool down rather than using pedal tones? I tried it this past week and found it actually works and here is how I did it..

At the end of the day, I put the old PBone mouthpiece in my trumpet and played for a few minutes. To my amazement, the lip muscles began to relax even faster than if I were playing pedal tones on the trumpet for more meat was vibrating in the larger mouthpiece. This morning I enjoyed a great warm-up and I attributed it to the previous evenings time spent on the trombone mouthpiece inserted in my trumpet.

If you are interested in trying this strange combination, do not order a new trombone mouthpiece over the Internet or purchase one from your local store for they are too expensive for just an experiment. Ask a trombone playing friend if you could borrow one of his/hers. If you have no trombone playing friends or at least one kind enough to loan you a mouthpiece, you might check at your local music store. Most players on the PBone very quickly realize that the weakest link in the PBone equipment is the mouthpiece and for that reason they usually upgrade to a real trombone mouthpiece, and for that reason you may be able to find an original plastic mouthpiece at your store.

Two advantages of the plastic PBone mouthpiece are these. 1. You should be able to pick them up cheap for no one wants them and 2. The weight (or lack of weight) is better for playing in your trumpet.

Give it a try and let me know how it works for you.

What You Should Know Before Buying A Flugelhorn

To many people, the flugelhorn is a unique and interesting instrument. It looks bigger than a trumpet and in some ways it is bigger. It is heavier and has a larger bell. But when stretched out to its full length, a Bb flugelhorn is exactly the same length as a Bb trumpet and cornet. That’s why they are all pitched in Bb. The difference in tone quality between the trumpet and the flugelhorn can be explained in the same way as the difference between a cornet and a trumpet. Both the trumpet and the cornet are the same length but the timbre or tone quality are strikingly different. The cornet has a darker sound and the trumpet has a more brilliant sound. The reason is simple. From the beginning of the lead pipe to the bell, the cornet continues to expand in its inner diameter. The tubing of the trumpet on the other hand remains the same for most of its length and begins to expand only in the bell section. The trumpet’s restricted diameter gives it the more cutting sound and in the case of the cornet, the constant increase in tubing diameter, gives the instrument a darker sound. Another comparison which would illustrate the difference in tone would be to compare the tone quality of the tenor trombone to the baritone horn. Both are the same length but have contrasting tone qualities. The trombone is to the trumpet as the cornet is to the baritone or euphonium.

Now that we understand the reason for the tonal differences of the flugelhorn and trumpet, we now need to understand why the flugelhorn is so popular and also illustrate its use today in the field of music. The flugelhorn came to us from Europe and is a very popular instrument in European bands. Due to the dark quality of its sound it is often used in smooth, lyrical passages. Fanfares are natural for trumpets and the flowing, melodic passages are perfect for the flugelhorn.  One of my favorite jazz musicians who helped make the flugelhorn well known was Clark Terry-

If your music leans toward the more Latin style of music, you might enjoy this flugelhorn solo played by Bill Ortiz with Santana

The use of a flugelhorn can also be heard in Classical music as in this performance by Frank Fezishin

Flugelhorns are notoriously out of tune instruments. A three valve flugelhorn has a well deserved reputation for playing out of tune. I say three valves for some of the problems in the intonation area can be improved by the addition and use of the fourth valve. By adding a fourth valve, the player has additional fingerings which could improve intonation on problem notes. Also with the extra valve, the player is able to play notes below the usable range of a three valve instrument. One of my earlier flugels was such an instrument and I found my early Getzen four valve to have the potential to play in tune with the use of alternate fingering. Unfortunately the instrument was extremely heavy and the tone was not as dark as I had expected. My next flugel was a Couesnon and the darkness was pleasurable but the intonation was horrid. Next came a Yamaha and we lived together for many years. While visiting with a good friend one day, he mentioned that the new Conn Vintage 1 flugel was a great instrument so out came the check book and soon came the horn. We have had a great relashionship now and I was perfectly happy with my new found friend. Then it happened. One of the players in my trumpet ensemble brought his new Kanstul flugel to our rehearsal. I have again found the perfect flugel. Unfortunately, I am not able to come up with the price so for now, my Vintage 1 and I will play our parts as best we can. The sound of the Kanstul is as sweet as I have ever heard and the response is effortless. Some instruments seem to play themselves and the Kanstul, as I have found is one of those instruments. I am still in love with my Conn and it has been a faithful friend for many shows. I remember one instance during a Lawrence Welk show I had a very exposed low G at a triple piano volume and it came out every time. That is an example of true love of your instrument.

If you are contemplating the purchase of a flugelhorn in the near future, I recommend the following-

  • Check out every make and model you can get your hands on. One way to compare the many styles and make of horns is to go to a music manufacturer’s convention or state music convention. It is better to go where many instruments are available to play.
  • If you are interested in a flugelhorn, don’t get one that sounds like a trumpet. You already have one of those. Base your selection on its tone quality first and its intonation second. The quality of the sound is what you decide on first for great intonation means nothing if you don’t like the sound. There are things that can be done to improve intonation on a horn but changing the quality of the sound is nearly impossible and highly impractical.
  • The addition of a fourth valve can improve intonation but you should also realize the added weight will soon tire you on long gigs. The improvements that have been made on third slide triggers can work to your advantage and for that reason, I would recommend an easily extended third slide device over a fourth valve unless you want the added lower notes only available with the fourth valve.
  • It would be to your advantage to have a flugelhorn mouthpiece with you when you try several brands and models of horns. It is better from a health standpoint as well as a better true comparison of each instrument.
  • Your choice of finishes will depend on your choice of looks and sounds. I find the silver will give you a brighter tone than a lacquer finish and for that reason, I always play lacquered flugelhorns. Also due to the fact that I have a lot of acid in my system, my finishes do not last very long on my flugels. But you must realize that you will not be playing your flugelhorn as much as your trumpet.

And no article would be complete without this

Please notice the high D on the bridge……..way flat. But that comes from playing it first valve instead of open. But who am I to complain, everyone knows Chuck Mangione and only a few thousand know me.

In the Branson Trumpet Ensemble, we have made good use of the combination of trumpets and flugelhorns in our arrangements. I have enjoyed mixing the two when ever the need arises.

A good example of four flugelhorns can be heard at http://www.trumpetensemblemusic.com/oh-shenandoah/

An example of one flugelhorn on the bottom and three trumpets above can be heard at http://www.trumpetensemblemusic.com/vivaldi-concerto-for-two-trumpets/

In this example we begin with four flugelhorns and at the end the first part changes to trumpet which gives the arrangement a brighter ending http://www.trumpetensemblemusic.com/free-et-lite-barn-sa-lystelig/

As you can hear, the flugelhorn can change the quality of an ensemble and for that reason; you need to look into the possibilities of adding a flugelhorn to your arsenal.

From my own experience, I would recommend these two very fine examples for your consideration.

http://www.wwbw.com/Kanstul-1525-Series-Bb-Flugelhorn-468115-i1419663.wwbw

or

http://www.wwbw.com/Conn-1FR-Vintage-One-Series-Bb-Flugelhorn-483827-i1440045.wwbw

If you find the cost of these two prohibitive, I would recommend checking out Craig’s List or other similar internet sites for used models of these horns.

Guidelines When Including a Trumpet In Your Wedding Ceremony

In order for the wedding planner, bride, mother of the bride and/or musicians to save time, important terms and their definitions which will be used are listed below and should be helpful to lessen the potential of any misunderstanding.

Terms used when discussing music concerns for a wedding-

  • Music- Any compositions played by an instrument or sung by a voice.
  • Song- Any musical composition with words and performed with the voice.
  • Prelude music- Music to entertain guests as they enter hall and find their seats.
  • Processional music-  Music performed to indicate the entrance of important people and the wedding party.
  • Bride’s entrance music- Music to indicate the bride has begun walking down the isle.
  • Interlude music- Unity candle, special music, and transition songs.
  • Recessional music- Music performed as wedding party exits hall.
  • Postlude music- Music performed as guests leave hall.
  • Vocal- Music performed with the voice.
  • Instrumental- Music performed by a musical instrument.
  • a cappella- Music performed without accompaniment.

Why are trumpets often used in weddings?

The trumpet has had a long history of use in festive occasions and for that reason, its added brilliance to weddings has made it very popular. The entrance of a royal king and queen or the entrance of a beautiful bride and her soon to be husband warrant the same elegance and grandeur.

What is the function of music in a wedding?

  • The music should inspire elegance and refinement for the occasion.
  • The music should indicate to the listener that the occasion is very meaningful and not something that was thrown together without thought.
  • Never let the musicians dominate the ceremony.
  • The music should enhance the occasion, not distract from it.
  • The bride is the main focus of the program and everything else is there to enhance the ceremony.
  • Do not allow a musician to show off or try to perform above their ability.
  • Musicians should blend into their surroundings and should not attract attention to themselves.
  • Recessional, processionals are there to help move people around the hall in a more elegant fashion.
  • Special music is there to express a certain feeling or emotion as well as letting the visitors relax during the program.

What you should know before using a trumpet player-

  • Avoid any possibility of excessive volume coming from the trumpet player.
  • Never place a trumpet player in a position where the trumpet bell is pointed in someone’s face.
  • When using an inexperienced trumpet player, do not ask him/her  to exceed their ability.
  • When using a professional trumpet player, do not let him/her  turn your wedding into a trumpet recital.
  • Always make sure the trumpet player has been paid the agreed amount before he/she leaves the hall.
  • If the organist/piano player has forgotten to return the accompaniment to the trumpet player, make sure he/she gets the  music back.
  • If you want the trumpet player to wear a tux, let him/her know well in advance, other wise you will get a black suite and a bow tie.
  • Processionals are usually short but difficult to time the last note with the position of the bride at the front.
  • Recessionals are never a problem as far as timing.
  • A piccolo trumpet is about half the length of a regular trumpet and for that reason, if one is used, there will be discussion about it in the audience.
  • Trumpet players do not generally like to use mutes in their instrument but if you feel that they are not playing soft enough for your wedding, feel free to ask them to insert one in their bell in order to soften the volume of the instrument.
  • Trumpet players should be respectful enough to have warmed up before the service and should not warm up during the service.
  • Tuning the trumpet to an organ or piano should also have been done before the program.
  • During a wedding is not acceptable for trumpet players to ask the audience if they have any requests. (Sorry about that. I was getting a little tired and needed a little light humor).

Best trumpet music for weddings

Prelude music-

  • The opening number for a trumpet player should be in the middle range of the instrument so that the player can adjust to his/her surroundings.
  • Starting in the high register is a shock to anyone entering a quiet room and the added strain of the upper register is an additional discomfort to the player as well as the audience.
  • A moderate volume piece is also preferred over something loud and blasting.
  • As more people enter the hall, more volume and higher registers are more easily accepted.
  • Lyrical melodies sound best in this setting.
  • Smooth phrases and sustained notes are great at this time.
  • Avoid modern, atonal and dynamically contrasting pieces.
  • If the prelude portion of your wedding is expected to last for more than fifteen minutes, it would be best to have the trumpet play no more than two numbers.

Processional music-

  • Weddings with few attendants (1-2) do not pose a problem for a trumpet player for the amount of actual “mouthpiece on the lip” time is short.
  • Weddings with many attendants and long isles should be worked out where the organ/ piano and the trumpet alternate phrases which will save the trumpet players lip.
  • Make sure that the instruments in the front of the room are given an obvious and clear signal as to when the processional is to begin.

Bride’s entrance music

  • Make sure that the instruments in the front of the room are given an obvious and clear signal as to when the bride’s entrance is to begin.
  • Ending the bride’s entrance exactly when the bride hits her spot on the carpet can be made easier by using music which has frequent short phrases with many strong final cadences.
  • This section of the program will be the strongest and for that reason, the trumpet player can get a little more aggressive because no one is paying any attention to him/her anyway.
  • The trumpet player and the organist/piano player should have previously decided who would indicate the end of the bride’s entrance music.

Interlude music

  • If the trumpet is used at this point in the program, the solo should be very easy and there should be no chance that the player could miss a note.
  • Always select a slow, middle register solo with limited upper, as well as lower range.
  • It would be helpful for the trumpet to come in after a few measures first played by the accompaniment.
  • Long, sustained, soft notes at the end should be avoided when ever possible.
  • The trumpet collects moisture in the tubing and generally it is most trumpet player’s custom to let the moisture out just before they play an exposed solo such as this one so ask the performer to be discrete.
  • If the player has to play louder than you would like, suggest that he/she point the instrument into the choir chairs or into the back of the organ or piano.

Recessional music

  • This should be joyous and exciting.
  • Trumpet players are in their glory at this point in the ceremony.
  • The tempo should be quicker in order to get everyone out of the hall and down to the food.
  • The accuracy of the trumpet player is usually not an issue at this time for everyone is talking and few are listening.
  • Generally, the only reason a trumpet player will want to stay to the end of the ceremony would be if he/she has not been paid or they want to make sure they get their accompaniment parts back from the organist/piano player.

Postlude music

  • Usually the organist/piano player will finish the rest of the music by him/herself.
  • If for some reason the trumpet player suggests that he/she play more, it is most often because they might have a recital coming up and want the extra stage time. That would be your decision.

Curry Sound Sleeve Mouthpiece Tone Intensifier – Review

Curry Sound Sleeve Mouthpiece Tone Intensifier
Curry Sound Sleeve Mouthpiece Tone Intensifier

(The following is taken from their home page)

Standard Sound Sleeve is best for all-around work, balanced to give the right amount of slot-lock and sound centering qualities.

Sound Sleeve “Y” model fits slightly higher up on the shank to accommodate the longer Yamaha andBenge trumpet receivers.

Lead Sleeve is designed for upper-register playing, where you want a maximum amount of control without hindering high notes. It weighs nearly as much as the standard Sound Sleeve, but since it’s mass is distributed over a greater length, it’s effects are more subtle.

MEGASLEEVE is designed for players that want to add that Heavy-weight sound to their present mouthpiece. With this mounted on your mouthpiece you will be able to play with incredible volume without having the sound “break up.” Comes in sizes to fit Bach, Schilke, and Curry mouthpieces. note: the Only difference of the 3 sizes is how far the mega sleeve fits the different shanks.

Cornet Sleeve has to be shorter in overall length due to the shorter shank of standard cornet mouthpieces. Mark Curry has compensated for this by making it larger in diameter. It has many of the tone-darkening and centering characteristics of the standard Sound Sleeve.

The Monster sleeve gives the ultimate in slot-lock and center. The inner dimensions of this monster sleeve fit the exterior of the Curry standard blank exactly! No set-screw needed. For Curry standard trumpet blank only. is best for all-around work, balanced to give the right amount of slot-lock and sound centering qualities.

My Evaluation

I have used a Sound Sleeve from the time it first hit the market. The benefit I find is the darkening or less edge of my sound when I want that more classical or less jazz quality. Since moving to Branson my playing has been varied. The big bands here are really blowing’ bands and my trumpet ensemble is morechamber music style and I wanted to keep the same mouthpiece. The use of the Curry Sound Sleeve made all the difference. The advertisement above makes many claims and I’m not sure the added mass to the mouthpiece will guarantee those changes, but from my stand point, the standard model is doing everything it was intended to do.

I have known a few players in the area who have been using the Monster Sleeve for some time and I have found mixed feeling about the attachment. For that reason go to a discussion area where you can read other players opinion of the attachment-

  • The Standard sleeve darkens my sound for use in chamber music playing.
  • The Standard model does not add any significant weight to the mouthpiece
  • It is maintenance free and looks the same today as it did when I bought it.

Cost of Curry Sound Sleeve Mouthpiece Tone Intensifier– $16.99- $33.99

Classical Musician and Jazz Musician – What’s The Difference?

My Observations

question
Photo Credit: oberazzi on Flickr

You might think that this is a joke, something like- “There is no difference, neither one can make a living”. But that would be silly. My discussion is geared more towards the intellectuals among us. Those who ponder the real meaning of questions such as “How am I supposed to finger that trill?” or “How long does that idiot think I can play that last note without breathing”? Let me assure you, this is a serious question and I will try to illustrate the interesting relationship between the two contrasting styles of music.

In the history of trumpet playing there has always been a separation between the classical musician and the jazz musician. Seldom do we find individuals who are equally gifted in both areas. There are exceptions but few are so gifted. Two musicians fortunate to be members of this chosen ensemble would be Allen Vizzutt and Wynton Marsalis, the two poster children for this ensemble. Both are not only able to perform in both styles but they do it in the most professional way. They, as well as a limited number of others across the trumpet world, can swing and legit at will.

I will try to point out a few interesting contrasts between the two styles and hopefully come to an intelligent conclusion as to why bridging the gap is unique and not common place for musicians.

If I were to ask a Classically trained musician what time of the day it was, his/her answer, after quickly checking his/her Rolex watch would be, “It is precisely fourteen minutes, twenty-three seconds past two o’clock….PM, Central Standard Time”. If, on the other hand, you ask a jazz musician the same question, hs/her answer would be more like, “…..(long pause for thought)…..Tuesday”.

If you were to compare the living quarters of a Classical musician and that of a jazz musician you would again see a great contrast. The Classical musician lives in Split level home within a gated community in the suburbs. The classical musician also has a wife, two children and a sheep dog named rover (not the kids, the dog). The jazz musician lives in a third floor apartment (facing the alley), he/she is divorced and has a cat named BIRD. Please excuse my obvious generalizations but there are some truths in what I have described. Classical musicians have a different view of what’s important than does a true jazz musician. In the following material I will try to describe why I think these differences occur.

Generalizations of Classical Musicians

  1. Highly disciplined and tend to lean toward perfectionism.
  2. Their playing skills are rehearsed to the highest level and the slightest error will weigh heavily on their pride of musicianship.
  3. Musicians in the Classical field tend to be punctual, polite while still showing signs of fierce competitiveness and self confidence.
  4. Many Classical musicians are turned off by practical jokes, thinking them to be childish and most of the time, they are not able to even understand the       joke.
  5. heir liquid refreshment usually includes a bottle of the best wine each evening
  6. They own or would like to own a SAAB
  7. They also own a station wagon (for the kids and the sheep dog)
  8. The local dry cleaners stop at their home once a week for pickup and deliveries
  9. They have complete confidence in their investment broker as well as their retirement program
  10. The Classical musician begins each morning with either a jog or a bicycle ride before 6 in the morning
  11. Lunch always includes a visit to the local Starbucks
  12. Annual family vacations include time at the beach
  13. Life insurance is around 3 Million which equals about half the mortgage on their home
  14. Both children have braces and at the ages of 12 and 14, are pre-enrolled in the most prestigious university in the Eastern Coastline

Generalizations of Jazz Musicians

  1. His approach to discipline- Doesn’t care
  2. His approach to mistakes- If it fits, it’s good jazz, if it doesn’t fit, move up or down a half step.
  3. Jazz musicians are late, boisterous and rude (but only to players on their own instrument or sax players and never to their face)
  4. Jazz musicians love practical jokes especially those which include spilled blood and beer
  5. Jazz musicians will only consume beverages offered to them for free and with any label
  6. They own a station wagon which will hold a string bass and four other musicians
  7. Same as above
  8. Jazz musicians have two outfits and both are black pants, white shirt and a used, black tux jacket that comes close to matching the pants. He doesn’t own a bow tie for the leader always has an extra
  9. The jazz musician never owes more than one thousand dollars to his/her best friend at one time
  10. Jazz musicians end their day at 6 in the morning
  11. Out of town jobs always require two six packs
  12. Annual vacations always include a cruise, if you can pass the audition
  13. Life insurance policy? Who would get the money?
  14. Children? I don’t know what she’s talking about!!

My Reasoning for the Difference

The left side of the brain is the seat of language and processes in a logical and sequential order (Classical musician). The right side is more visual and processes intuitively, holistically, and randomly (Jazz musician).

After reading this definition, we can clearly understand why there are differences between the Classical and the Jazz musician’s affinity to each  style of music. A Classical musician is logical and Jazz musicians are more random in his/her musical discipline.

When comparing the expectations of the two styles, no one can argue that a Classical musician is expected to execute every note exactly as the composer had intended. There is little latitude given to Classical instrumentalist. If an Ab is written in the music, you are expected to play that note. If you are playing a cadenza at the end of the first movement of a concerto, you are given freedom to improvise as long as it is consistent with the style of the piece. In other words, “Classical musicians recreate what the composer dictates”.

When a Jazz musician begins to perform, the last thing in his/her mind is the need to play the piece exactly the way the composer wrote it. If he /she did, it would not be jazz. Due to the fact that Jazz is based on spontaneous improvisation, ridged execution is not required or even encouraged. “Jazz musicians create their own variations on what the composer has suggested”.

Along with the freedom of re-creating music in the Jazz idiom, comes the responsibility of style correctness. Recreating music, for the Classical musician, comes from a schooled and well executed delivery. Each area has its own criterion for perfection and the ability to perform successfully in both areas is amazing. As stated at the beginning of this entry, few are capable of performing successfully in both areas and we, as mere commoners, view at a distance this marvelous talent.

Now that we have discussed the differences and the reason for the differences, it is time to check the accuracy of these assumptions. I invite you to participate in a simple activity which is supposed to identify which side of your brain is your dominant side. I have taken both of these tests as well as others and my conclusion is this- THESE ARE NOT SCIENTIFICALLY ACCURATE CONCLUSIONS. Every test I took came up with a different weighting but they did confirm that my left and right hemispheres are more closely matched than were my wife’s. I am the musician, artist in the family and she is the practical one. Most of my criticisms of the tests are directed towards the ambiguity of some of the questions. If you take the test and it indicates that you are more dominant in one side of the brain than the other, I would not suggest that this information should be used to make a career change. In other words, take the tests, see what it concludes and see if there is any accuracy to the tests at all.

Test #1

http://frank.mtsu.edu/~studskl/hd/hemis.html


Test #2

http://web-us.com/brain/braindominance.htm

Let me know if you find any similarity in the two results. There are many other tests on the Net if you would like to continue with this entertainment but what you will find is that many of the tests use the same questions which should require the same answers and similar results.

Product Review – Yamaha PM7 Silent Brass System Pickup Mute

Yamaha PM7 Silent Brass mutesCreated by Yamaha’s wind instrument design team, the PM7 Silent Brass pickup mute is made of lightweight plastic, with a unique rubber sealer to hold it securely in the bell. When used with the Silent Brass system, it has none of that stuffy restricted feeling of conventional practice mutes. In fact, it blows so close to a natural open horn that you simply won’t believe it until you actually experience it for yourself. Play high or low, loud or soft, and your pitch will remain true and centered. A special microphone inside the mute relays your sound to the Personal Studio.

Product Features

  • The input jack allows a quick and easy connection to a Yamaha pickup mute for practice or to a Yamaha MC-7 instrument mic for performance.
  • One of the things we carried over from the previous generation was the Aux In jack.
  • The player can then play along with their favorite song in practice and performance settings and put the fun back in their practice sessions.
  • This jack allows an external sound source to be combined with the signal coming from the mute or microphone.

Technical Details

  • Silent Brass system for trumpet. Includes ST9 Module. The new and improved Silent Brass systems have been redesigned to include everything a player needs and nothing they don’t. It is smaller and lighter while still maintaining the quietness and pitch accuracy that Silent Brass has become known for. Smaller, lighter and more portable. The redesigned Silent Brass module is smaller than acassette tape and weighs about as much. It fits easily into a shirt pocket and can be attached to the player.

Now here is my opinion of the product

The Silent Brass System has been around for some time and the first I heard of it was when I was playing for Bobby Vinton. One of the other trumpet players was warming up on one and he shared it with me. I ordered one for my trumpet as well as my flugel horn. I keep one in my trumpet case at all times. I have not found anything that comes close to benefits of this mute. No matter where you are, you can get a few notes in before a show or concert and no one can tell. I have even used mine during a orchestral concert. Although Yamaha refers to the mute as silent, it isn’t. It does bring down the decibels enough that a person in the next room will not hear you playing so for that reason alone the mute is worth the purchase price.

The complete system includes the following items- pickup mute, cable (used to attach mute to Personal Studio), ear buds, battery and instruction manual. I might mention that the booklet is 43 pages long only because it is printed in five different languages. The actual material written in English is only eight pages and gives the new owner very little information other than what not to do.

My first impression of the mute was positive for I found the mute to be well designed and very sturdy. As I said before, I purchased both a trumpet and a flugel horn mute and both are well made. The hard plastic has held up perfectly over the past six years and neither show any wear. The rubber collar which seals the mute to the inside of the bell is still in perfect shape and does the job perfectly also. I have had no issues with the cable or the Personal Studio (the electronic part of the system) and all connections have been tight and designed well.

Other players have reviewed this system and for that reason, I have included their sites where you can gain more technical information.

This site is a great source for trumpet related information and should be checked regularly for added postings. It is produced by Mr. Jim Donaldson and his comparison of the Yamaha Practice system to several other practice mutes is very helpful. Check it out.

Another site which includes testimonials from many trumpet players on which practice mute they like and dislike.

Much information about practice mutes can be gained from reading these  accounts from actual players.

Personal observations while using the Yamaha PM7 and PM6 mutes

  • Through the head phones, it sounds like a cup mute
  • The resistance is more than a cup mute.
  • The sound of the valves is as loud as the notes.
  • You tend to play softer because of the amplification into the head phones.
  • The increased back pressure gave me the same affect as playing on a shallower mouthpiece.
  • Real headphones work better than the ear buds.
  • Slurred notes don’t lock in as well as open horn notes.
  • Notes below the staff tend to be “mushy” and un-centered.
  • The added weight sticking far out the end of the bell slightly affects pivot of the horn.
  • The added weight on my flugel was more than I would put up with.
  • Some slurred interval slide in and others “pop” into pitch.
  • My upper register improved by one step when using the mute (due to increased back pressure).
  • The electronically enhanced reverb can be addictive.
  • The notes from low C down were not playable on my flugel with the PM6 in place. (I got a double and triple buzz on all of the lower notes).
  • Intonation changes on my Flugel (Conn Vintage 1) Lead pipe had to be pulled out about an inch to play an A=440 in tune.
  • Any notes played with 1st. and 2nd. valves were very sharp on the flugel.
  • Intonation changes on my trumpet (Yamaha Custom Z). Tuning slide had to be pulled out about an inch to play an A=440 in tune.
  • Most of the out of tune notes were flat on the trumpet with the mute inserted.

My opinion of the total system

  • Yamaha has made a great mute and I will continue to uses it as a warm-up mute.
  • The use of this system should only be used as a temporary solution to the volume problem.
  • The product is well made and very sturdy and should last a long time.
  • The Flugel horn mute (PM6) is way out of tune and some notes are impossible to play.
  • My shoulders and arms began to tire after only ten minutes of playing with the flugel horn mute in.
  • Both mutes will work fine if all you need to do is warm up.
  • The electronics are fun but in my opinion servers no real purpose.
  • With all the cables attached, I felt as if I was in an intensive care ward.
  • Even though the reverb is fun, I would rather play without it. It’s too flattering.
  • The excessive valve noise was distracting.
  • The added backpressure of the mute coupled with the slight amplification in the head set makes you play softer than you think you are playing. If you have a problem with over blowing, this would be very effective in bringing down your volume during practice.

My Conclusion

Yamaha has made a very fine practice mute and I strongly recommend it. The cost of the mute alone is around $95 and the complete system will cost you $125. Save the difference and buy more etude books and solos or take your wife/husband, girl friend/boy friend out for dinner instead.

Purchase the Yamaha PM7 Silent Brass Mute for Trumpet.

Opening The 42nd Annual Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Festival

bix 001Some jobs are taken for the money, some are taken for the prestige and still others are played only because they are fun and that’s what the past week was all about. A very good friend invited me to play with his Dixieland band at the opening of the Bix Beiderbecke Dixieland Festival in Davenport, Iowa. From Branson to Davenport is no less than 8 hours drive away but due to the fact that we had not played together for 45 years, I agreed at once knowing that friendship and good music trumps all distance.

The setting was the Porch Party in front of the Main Street Library in Davenport. As the news article in the Quad-City Times stated “The Porch Party kicked off the 42nd annual Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival. In honor of Bix Beiderbecke, the jazz cornet great from Davenport, Bruce Chidester made sure to remind the crowd of who the man was and what was unique about his sound.

“Each line he played was like a conversation,” Chidester said, after demonstrating a stanza or two of Bix’s music on his cornet. “You all should feel proud to live in the same town that Bix was from”.

The Prairie Ramblers…Leader Don Estes (trombone), Bruce Chidester (trumpet), Terry Smith (clarinet, soprano sax), Mike Meinert (guitar), Russ Reyman (piano, vocal), Gus Tripolis (drums), Bob Kluever (bass vocal).

The Prairie Ramblers is the concept of Don Estes and as he told me, “My goal was to create a band whose musicians collectively had a broad repertoire of Jazz and the musical knowledge and abilities to create authentic style and sounds appropriate to the various styles. Each member is a virtuoso. All of this is achieved in the purest sense of Jazz. There are no charts. Everything is improvised. The musicians play using their hearts, souls, and creativity for just that audience at that moment. The Prairie Ramblers have played for the Davenport Library’s Bix Porch Party Benefit for more than 20 years”.

I want to thank Don and the band for allowing me to perform with them and suggest that you check them out if you happen to be in the Davenport area.

Improved Long Tones- Part III

long tonesNow that the dust has settled and we have heard from a reasonable number of readers about the importance of Long tones, I think it is time to review our material as I see it.

My original statements regarding the three elements of long tones- 1.Boring, 2. Adds to stiffness, and 3. Does not make money still stand.

Some readers understood that I am not against long tones or their obvious benefits, while others misinterpreted my meaning, thinking that long tones are not beneficial.

My goal was to create discussion as to a better way to use long tones which would be more interesting to practice.

My crude suggestion of adding a bass to liven the practice period was just that- crude. Unfortunately no one offered a better solution to the problem. I practice long tones daily and have for a long time. I have mad it more interesting by adding a metronome beat to a prerecorded tape (yes tape). Each morning I turn on the tape, and alternate with the recorded parts until my time is up. To listen to the same recording, go to this site to more fully understand how it works.

By practicing to my prerecorded tape, the time passes much more quickly and is much more appealing than playing by myself.
Now….. on to your comments.

The names have been deleted for obvious reasons and I thank all of you that sent in comments for it made for an interesting discussion.

After reading your comments, I found #7 to be a wonderful alternative to long tones. The reason I like the idea of chromatic runs coupled with flexibility exercises is because that was exactly what I assigned to my students at our university.

1. I still find the long tone warm up a valuable tool. It is especially helpful when I have had to miss a few days of playing due to schedules/etc. It has helped my endurance during a long rehearsal especially after not playing for a few days.

2. I used long tones for a good while; now I have switch to flow studies and similar patterns to basically do my warn-ups.

3. I’m with you totally Bruce. My younger students (7-12 gr) develop all kinds of bad habits. Not so sure the bass feel is necessary. I would rather use an aria as from master solos intermediate & Smart Music accompanying. There ya go

4. Since my teacher ____ gave me those exact exercises, I’ll stick to with his judgment. These are just part of a well-rounded routine.

5. Long tones #2 is perhaps more fun to play than #1, however, it lacks many of the advantages of traditional long tones. For example:

6. 1. Played as an expanded chromatic scale or random notes, the player learns intervals, can work on accuracy and also work on range.
2. The player can learn to play with a resonant sound, seeking to make each tone fuller yet not louder.
3. The player learns to “play through the boredom,” a valuable lesson in itself, but also one that opens some additional advantages.
4. With closed eyes the player can learn to listen spatially, much as a blind person hears in 3-D.

The advantages to long tones #2 is that they are more fun and help teach rhythm, however, it is nowhere written down that trumpet playing must be fun. Additionally the long tones allow us to forget rhythm and concentrate on well, uhh, tone.

7. I think I came off really long tones some time ago. I do gentle chromatics and slurring instead, to combine finger and lip flexibility with tone production.

One comment that stuck out was this “it is nowhere written down that trumpet playing must be fun”?.

To which I say “WHY NOT”?