How/Why Early School Stage Bands Ruined Many Fine Trumpet Players

Only through a careful look at past history are we able to understand what we do and the reasons we do them. This is especially true when trying to understand mistakes we have made in music education. I will try to explain my thinking as one who was there and watched it happen. During the 1960s the school stage band movement began to blossom. Heavily influenced by professional big bands such as Buddy Rich, Maynard Ferguson, Thad Jones, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Bill Watrous, Don Ellis and others, high school band directors began to collect illegal record copies of these bands and…

How To Make Upper Slurs Smoother

Many trumpet players find it difficult to perform upward slurs smoothly without catching all the notes between the bottom and top note. Most feel it necessary to crescendo into the top note when in fact, “it is easier to slur up using a decrescendo”. This seems contrary to nature and for that reason I have included exercises to help you with the problem. The first time I was shown this easier way to smoothly slur up was during a lesson I had with a great trumpet teacher and good friend, Mr. John Beer at the University of Iowa in Iowa…

How to Become a Great Trumpet Player for only $184.40 plus tax

Becoming excellent in any field requires a great deal of time and effort and becoming a great trumpet player is no exception. Contrary to many opinions found today in the media; to only have the desire to succeed is many times not enough to accomplish your goal. I will address the several technical areas of trumpet playing and make suggestions as to how you may be able to gain skills in each and thus become a better musician. The Lip Trumpet players depend on lip and facial muscles to perform their art and for that reason; they must develop both…

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Errors in Sight Reading Sight reading can frighten players due to the uncertainty of the unknown. I tend to enjoy sight reading new shows live because of the rush of adrenaline and the uncertainty of what might happen. You should also know that I enjoy catching five foot long snakes, racing motor cycles and photographing bears close up. To a younger performer the only opportunity one has in school to sight read is usually during a band contest where each band is expected to read new music for the first time. The amount of pressure on each player in this…


Nervousness I would list nervousness as the most difficult condition to overcome when striving for perfection in your performances. Some people thrive on the added excitement while others fold under the pressure. Between these two extremes we find most of us constantly testing our limits. Playing in a nervous condition can be the result of many factors including the conditions listed in the first post in this series. Let me reintroduce those situations now- 1. Lack of preparation. 2. Lack of concentration. 3. Physical limitations. 4. Distractions 5. Fatigue 6. Equipment failure. 7. Environment changes Each of these factors can…

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Environmental changes-Conditions and changes in conditions many times will lead to playing errors which we had not considered or prepared for. You might ask what kind of environmental changes could occur and I will list a few. Environmental changes- 1. Weather This is a true story. The names have been included in order to illustrate how stupid some trumpet players can be. I accepted a playing job which was scheduled the day before I was to perform the Joseph Haydn Trumpet Concerto on campus. As it turned out the gig was outside in subzero weather where the mouthpiece stuck to…

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Why Do We Make Misstakes? Part #6

Fatigue Athletes work to stem off fatigue and in doing so increase their endurance. Trumpet players are similar in that without strong chops or embouchure, a player’s amount of time being able to play music is limited. What I have noticed since beginning to play trombone is that most trumpet players tire much more quickly than do trombone players. I’m not saying that trombone players don’t complain of tired embouchures for they do, but the trumpet embouchure tires more quickly than does the trombone embouchure. Fatigue can be seen not only in the lip muscles but also in the back,…

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Equipment failure Fortunately the number of equipment failures can be listed on one hand so solving these issues can be easy to cover. List of possible equipment failures- 1. Valves will stick, period (THIS IS A RECENTLY USED WORD REVIVED FROM OBSQURITY BY YOUR PRESIDENT). The number of times a valve has hung up a trumpet player would be hard to estimate but I’m sure it is in the tens of thousands when you consider the number of trumpet players performing. A stuck or “hung-up” valve can not only produce the wrong note but will also hang on the players…

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Why Do We Make Misstakes? Part #4

Distractions As I stated earlier, distraction and the lack of concentration are usually related. The distractions I am going to cover here are the ones that creep into your playing even when you are concentrating to your fullest during a performance. #1. Where did my music go? You have practiced your part and are able to play it perfectly 10 times in a row with no errors. You are concentrating as you have never concentrated before. You are physically on top of your game and suddenly the music blows off the stand with a sudden gust of wind. This is…

Why Do We Make Misstakes? Part #3

Physical limitations “Not all horses are race horses” This was one of the many comments given to me by a former boss while teaching at UNI. This came from my first employer by the name of Dr. Myron Russell. I respected this older gentleman in many ways. He was intelligent, kind, honest, and fair in all he did. I miss his conversations and his wit and this statement was one of those simple comments which could change a person’s outlook on everything. The statement “not every horse is a race horse” can apply to trumpet players also. Not every trumpet…