Every Entrance Begins on the note “C”

Have you ever had this experience?

Your first note begins on a low “G” and ascends to a “D” above high “C”?

Or

Your first note is a high “C” and ends on a low “G” below the staff?

If you find it easy to play first note, but have difficulty on the final note; consider the following solution to this problem.

Beginning on a high note will usually require more firm corners and a smaller aperture.

Starting on a low note requires a more relaxed embouchure and a larger aperture.

The benefits of setting your lips for the high note is easily understood as well as the added difficulty of the same embouchure setting having to be readjusted as you descend.

The benefits of a more relaxed lower setting for a low note are also obvious as is the need to gradually firm and restrict the aperture size when ascending.

Before all you excited and argumentative, chip on the shoulder, young Turks begin to viscously respond to my suggestion consider this……

Before starting any high or low note, set your embouchure to play a third space “C” and then begin the passage in whatever register the note is written.

Let me list a few advantages for using this practice.

• Setting the embouchure in the middle of your playing range will lessen the amount of change in both direction
• Minimizing changes in embouchure increases accuracy in starting notes
• Lessening the amount of drastic adjustments in the embouchure will increase endurance
• Wide skips in different registers with a middle register setting will increase accuracy
• Wide slurs will become easier for the embouchure will require less adjustments

If you need more proof that this will work for you, consider the following scenario;

On your music is written a slur from low “G” up to the “G” two octaves higher.

The distance is obviously two octaves when you set your embouchure first for the low “G” but if you set to play a “G” on the second line, the slur will only be one octave.

For the past year I have been implementing this concept and have had wonderful improvement in connecting my slurs and have also seen an improvement in my flexibility and tone.

The accompanying exercises will help determine if the middle C setting makes any difference in your playing.

Consider what I have proposed, try it and let me know if it works for you.
Middle C setting exercise

Only “9” More Days Remain!

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Announcing TrumpetLessonsOnline.com has now launched!

Checkout our FREE Preview lessons here before signing up.

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25% discount through January 31st of this year!
Use code “25OFF” when registering for this discount.

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For the past year, we have been compiling important information to share with our readers and students which will answer many questions they might have about playing the trumpet.

For almost six decades I have been performing and teaching trumpet and now I have made available an easy and productive series of video lessons compiled for trumpet players of all ages and all levels of performance.

Because of my continued involvement in teaching trumpet I have come across an enormous amount of questions and solutions to problems facing musicians today.

This series of video lessons encompasses more than 40 individual topics every trumpet player should know, including-

· The Importance of warming up and cooling down

· How to make easy and inexpensive alterations to your instrument to improve its performance

· Improve your high range through chromatic exercises

· The easy way to play shakes and falls

· How to improve the intonation of your instrument

· The proper way to clean your trumpet

· How to balance your practice time with difficult performances

· How to breath properly

· What are the best trumpet cases and why

· Learn how to control your nervousness when performing

· How to apply the “Play/Rest” concept to increase your endurance

· Learn exercises to improve your valve speed and control

· Learn how to improvise through several methods
· Increase your lip flexibility

· The importance of marking your music properly

· How to find the proper mouthpiece placement

· Learn the importance of playing pedal tones

· Recognize and correct excessive mouthpiece pressure

· How to properly prepare a solo

· Learn how to improve your sight reading

And these are not even half of the topics covered in this video series.

Now you can learn many of the secrets to playing trumpet which have been passed on to me from my teachers as well as new and advanced ideas such as-

· Learn an easy way to play low D and C# in tune without moving your valve slides

· How to use technology to improve your trumpet playing

· Learn how to choose the best music school to attend for learning your instrument

· What you need to know when playing in an orchestra or show

Along with videos, there are additional exercises and accompanying audio recordings which will help you learn your material faster and easier than you thought possible. Each recording is produced using my “Rest as much as you play” concept which will change the way you practice. The speed of your improvement will surprise you and you will begin to learn how to practice more efficiently and experience fewer lip problems.

If you are searching for a better way to learn your instrument which will take less time from your schedule and improve your trumpet playing at a fast rate, this is the solution to your needs.
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25% discount through January 31st!
Use code “25OFF” when registering for this discount.

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“This could be the changing point in your trumpet playing”.

Wet or Dry- That is a Question

This question can mean different things to different people. To a mother of a new born baby, it has one meaning and to a city mayor, it might refer the drinking preference of his/her county. To a trumpet player still another and this is the person I will be addressing in this post.

What is a dry embouchure and what is a wet embouchure?

The difference between the two is the moisture content of the lip area while playing. A wet embouchure is one which has moisture (saliva) under the rim of the mouthpiece and between the lips and a dry embouchure lacks this moisture.

Is it best to play on a dry embouchure or a wet embouchure?

This question has been argued from the beginning of time and the final decision has yet to be made. The reason for this heated debate is the fact that many great players are successful with one and an equal number have chosen the other. Each lip condition has its own advantage and has been used successfully throughout the history of our instrument. I have seen debates from both sides of the aisle and will relate the logic of each.

The advantage of a dry embouchure

The advantage of playing on a dry embouchure is the fact that the player has added security. A dry embouchure player feels the mouthpiece rim is more anchored and less chance of sliding when there is no moisture between the lip and the mouthpiece. This choice is many times preferred by players who use excessive mouthpiece pressure. When an excessive amount of pressure is used, the introduction of moisture between the rim and the lip will cause the mouthpiece to move, thus complicating the players feeling of security. As an example of this problem, I will relate a first hand experience of this problem. While playing the Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus during the summer in Iowa, the third trumpet player complained repeatedly of the heat. As we continued to play, his complaint grew into stark panic. What he was experiencing was complications to his playing style as the sweat continued to form on his lip. He was a dry embouchure player and as the heat increased, his playing ability decreased for his mouthpiece kept sliding on his lip to the point that he couldn’t comfortably play his part. No matter how many times he wiped his lips with his handkerchief, the problem continued. You might consider this example when deciding on which embouchure you prefer. Although this situation is not an advantage as my first sentence in this paragraph stated, it is very relevant to the discussion. That was a disadvantage of playing on a dry embouchure but the next is definitely an advantage. If you are performing outside in the middle of winter as I did at the Farm Progress Show in Western Iowa with the temperature hovering at 15 degrees, a dry embouchure can be your friend. In frigid weather or blowing winds, the dry embouchure has a definite advantage over the wet. For a wet lip player, the only solution is a generous amount of Chapstick and apply it often.

The advantage of a wet embouchure

The advantage of playing on a wet embouchure is the fact that the lips will begin to vibrate more easily with moisture lubricating the lips. Softer entrances are easier and the wetness will help make sure that excessive mouthpiece pressure is not exerted. This debate reminded me of an incident at our university when the great high range player Bud Brisbois was giving a master class to our students. The question was asked of Mr. Brisbois, “Do you play on a wet or dry embouchure?” His answer was quick and decisive, “Dry”. To demonstrate further to the student, he began to illustrate his choice. He picked up his horn and wiped the moisture from his lip, but before he placed his mouthpiece on his lip he licked his lips and proceeded to play. After he had finished, the same student asked him the same question and received the same answer. The student challenged the great player by pointing out the fact that before Mr. Brisbois played, each time he would lick his lips. The argument continued until finally another question was tactfully asked. Here was the great player telling our students that he played on a dry embouchure but each time he began to play, he would lick his lips. The question is still debated; did Brisbois (April 11, 1937 – June 1978) use a dry or wet embouchure? I have my feelings and so did our students that day.

As I have illustrated, there are advantages for playing on a wet embouchure as well as advantages playing on a dry. It is my strong opinion that a wet embouchure is the best but don’t forget to have your Chapstick with you at all times.

Recent Comment With Valve Problem

I just read this comment from one of our readers and was not sure how to answer it.

“The two parts of my valve have broken apart !! The part where the wind passes through and the key . what do I do”??

Most valves are constructed in the same manner and for that reason, I will graphically try to illustrate the “usual” order to assemble and disassemble a valve. Some older valve instruments may have a different set-up than our newer instruments and if this is the case, a good repair shop should be contacted.

1.1

2.2

3.3

4.4

5.5

6.6

7.7

Everything unscrews in the usual manner and the only difficulty is the extraction or insertion of the last piece which fits just below the bottom of the spring. To extract or insert this odd shaped part, you need to rotate it, move it up to the larger opening and work it out sideways. When putting it back, be sure to have the recessed area on top, where the spring seats.

Let me know if this helps.

Also……..when replacing your valves in your instrument, be sure that the numbers on your valves correspond to the numbers on your valve casings.

The Many Faces of Phil Driscoll

Phil-Driscoll-16-150x150It was Phil Driscoll’s trumpet playing that brought me to Jesus and for that I will always be indebted to this great musician.

During a short period in my life I dedicated myself to play along with Mr. Driscoll’s records; knowing full well that I would never be able to match his phenomenal high note playing. Still I played on and was inspired to do so.

Start the video “I Exalt Thee”

Sit and listen for twenty measures.

When Phil begins to sing, begin to read again.

“At the same time I was practicing to the souring sounds of Mr. Driscoll, I was doing a lot of bicycling. We were very fortunate to have a beautiful bike trail which connected Cedar Falls to Cedar Rapids some 50 miles to the south. When beginning my bike ride, I would place my ear buds in and punch in “I Exalt Thee” to start my ride. Listing to Mr. Driscoll’s voice in the clean morning air was soothing and calming. Most often the trail was clear and the path straight. All of my problems and pain began to fade”.

Listen for sixteen measures.

“Picture a clear, blue sky with distant sounds coming from the farm fields where corn was being collected before winter set in. Crows were sailing through the distant sky and deer ranged in a distant field. At each bend in the road brought a new picture of the landscape”.

Listen for eight measures.

“The smell of the recently plowed fields fills your lungs”.

Listen for eight measures.

“Gradually my speed would increase as Phil began to play his horn and by now I was sailing along with no thoughts of anything but the road ahead”.

Listen for eight measures.

“At the last modulation, when he began again to sing, I was screaming along. The Iowa countryside was flashing by at a tremendous pace. I was free to test my strength and endurance to their limits”.

Listen for eight measures.

“Now I was in top gear nothing could way me down…..”

That is the power of music.

Thank you Phil,

Thank you God.

Some of My Favorite Trumpet Players

Today I wish to indulge myself. Through my life, many trumpet players have impressed me and for that reason I would like to share a few of my favorites with you. Today we will just sit back and enjoy history as written by a few gifted players. Because of the fact that this is a personal selection, I would be very interested in hearing your top picks for our trumpet hall of fame.

Maynard Ferguson

Allen Vizzutti

Bud Herseth

Louis Armstrong

Rafael Mendez

“Kimigayo” (The National Anthem of Japan)- What Secret Does It Hold?


I recently decided to start including National Anthems from around the world in my trumpetensemblemusic.com site. My most recent arrangement was a wonderful composition from Mexico and I am very pleased at how it turned out. Due to the fact that I have had a fascination with Japan for several reasons, including my practice of Karate, I thought it would be fun to write an arrangement based on the National Anthem from Japan. Upon first listening to this “shortest and oldest anthem in the world” I was very disappointed. My first opinion was that it was too short, the beginning was weak and the ending was even weaker.

After an hour or so I finally found a way to arrange it which showcased the best features of the melody. Eventually I discovered that the anthem sounded better as a strict canon or round than it did as it is originally written and currently performed. Finding out this feature perked my interest and I began to dig deeper into the piece.

Due to my great respect for the Japanese craftsmanship and attention to detail, I was very surprised at how little material I had to work with. The length was a problem as well as the basic quality of the melody. I understood the pentatonic scale concept, but this piece had very little material to work with. The first thing I did was visit YouTube to listen to existing recordings. I was even more disappointed. THEY DIDN’T SOUND ANY BETTER.

After hours of testing and moving things around, I started to realize that there was more to this melody than first appeared. The thought kept coming back to me that there must be something I’m missing. Then it came to be. The melody alone made no sense. The beginning was weak and the ending was weak. Could it be that it was written to be played with something else? That is when it hit me. This might work as a round or canon. I entered the simple melody into my Finale program and pasted it in two measures later and it worked. This must have been originally written to be performed as a round or canon. The two voiced canon played beautifully together. Then I pasted in a third part following each of the preceding entrances at two measure intervals. It worked with three and even four voices. I was on a roll. What would happen if each voice entered only one measure apart? That worked also. Then, just for kicks, each entered at two beat intervals. Bingo! We had a winner. My faith in the meticulous habits of the Japanese was restored once more. It was obvious that the composers originally wanted this to be performed as a round or canon. The question now was, why isn’t it performed in that manner?

Kimigayo examples
1. Single melody
2. Fully harmonized
3. Canon at interval of one measure
4. Canon at intervals of two beats with tag at end

Further searching began to expose other related facts about the piece such as the Japanese government employed a German, Franz von Eckert, to harmonize the song. That answers the question, “why is a German listed as one of the composers”? Note the simple harmonization, especially in the opening and closing measures, where the only harmony consists of octave doubling of the melody. This is very consistent with Japanese musical taste and tradition.

One of the most moving performances I was able to locate on the Internet was this one-

Four persons were named to a committee to revise the National anthem for Japan. Among them was Hiromori Hayashi, who produced a melody that was finally selected because of its use of the traditional scale of gagaku, a type of Japanese music that had been performed at the Imperial court for several centuries. Sources still conflict over who composed the music. Some believe that the new melody was actually composed by Yoshiisa Oku and by Hayashi’s son Akimori.

I found it very interesting that the word “kimi” refers to the Emperor and the words contain the prayer: “May the Emperor’s reign last forever.” Perhaps the text forever could have been the reason the composers constructed a round or canon with their material.

Also interesting is the flag of Japan, a red circle on a white field. Could the construction of a round just be a coincidence or was this yet another clue to the composer’s original motive?

After deliberate investigation and tireless hours of reading, I have come to one conclusion; Whether it was intended as a stand alone melody or a melody to be performed as a round or canon, I like the piece and feel that my arrangement both honors and expands the possibilities of this simple, yet elegant piece.

To view the score and listen to my arrangement, visit our site now.

Product Review- Portable USB-Powered Speakers by Insignia

Insignia SpeakersPortable USB-Powered Speakers by Insignia

When I find something that improves my life, I like to share it and this is the case with a pair of stereo speakers I purchased last week.

For the past few months I have been looking for speakers which I could use on my laptop computer. Half of my practicing is now done on my desktop and half on my lap top. The sound quality and volume on my desktop has never been a problem but the laptop falls short of what I need when playing back MP3 recordings of my practice material.

While perusing the isles of my local Best Buy store, a very simple and inexpensive set of speakers caught my eye(s). After checking the specs and asking the sales person a few hundred questions about the product, I decided to purchase them at the outrageous price of $14.99.

After throwing the instructions away, I plugged the speakers into my laptop and was amazed at both the quality and the volume of the newly purchased external speakers. Below I have listed my requirements as well as my rating of these little giants.

What I needed/ My Rating * through ***** stars.

1. I wanted a set of speakers which could put out enough volume. / ****
2. I wanted speakers small enough to fit easily in my trumpet case. / *****
3. A reasonably good sound was important. / ****
4. I didn’t want to fight miles of speaker cords as I moved around the room. / *****
5. Price was important./ *****
6. I didn’t want to have to plug the speakers into a wall outlet for power. / *****

Product Features

1.5W RMS total system power
With 0.75W per channel provides quality sound.

Single cone woofer
Along with a 2″ driver offers immersive audio.

USB-powered
For reliable operation.

Magnetic design
Allows the speakers to be folded together for simplified storage and portability.

3.5mm audio jack
Enables simple connectivity.

190Hz – 20kHz frequency response
Ensures accurate sound reproduction.

80dB minimum sensitivity (±3dB @ 1m/W)
For powerful sound.

8 ohms impedance
Conducts power through the speaker.

Carrying case
So you can take your speakers with you while you travel.

Comments posted by others purchasers:

“These speakers are perfect for my needs. Don’t expect superior sound, but they provide decent quality. They are a nice size and don’t take up much room, freestanding once inserted into their bases (included). I use them mostly on desktop, and the speakers are quite loud even at a volume below 10. I have also used these speakers to ipad using the usb adaptor”.

“These look and sound really good. I got these for my home computer. They were easy to install, just plugged them in, and the price was great. My only issue is the cords to the speakers are too short (with my computer on the floor) so that I have both of them on the right side of my monitor. It’s not a big deal, but it would be nice to be able to balance the sound”.

“I like how compact these speakers are and very affordable”.

“Really nice speakers powerful sound light weight excellents”.

“I bought these speakers for a new computer I got that did not come with speakers, I was a little worried about them because of the price being so low, but I went for it and they turned out to be way better than I ever expected. Buy these speakers”.

“Got a new monitor and the new one didn’t have speakers like the old one. These work great”.

“I purchased these speakers because my laptop wasn’t giving me the necessary volume that I needed to clearly hear my music. They were inexpensive and small, but the quality is very good. The sound is quite clear”.

And now a couple comments from the other side of the isle:

“Poor sound quality and not loud enough. I don’t think I even got what I paid for”.

“I purchased these speakers to plug into my Samsung laptop to listen to some business audio presentations. The sound on my laptop was not loud enough, so I wanted an external pair of speakers to boost the audio capability. These speakers are not even as loud as my built in speakers! There is no additional volume control on the speakers either. Nice design, but inadequate”!

“My last pair of insignia speakers lasted me a few years. I decided to get new ones when one of them gave out. Let me start by saying that I’m not an expert with speakers, I don’t listen to music very loud, and I like to keep cables out of the way so I don’t trip over them. I have had these speakers for less than a month, about two weeks. I was so excited because they look nice and seem easy to carry wherever. I was right, but what I find really annoying is the way they get connected. So it’s this USB with three wires, one that goes into the headphone slot, and then the other two directly to the speakers. The cable is really short so I have to have my speakers RIGHT next to my laptop. All the USB slots on my laptop are to the left, so all the cables look slopppy. That’s not the worst part, though. I bought them two weeks ago and one of them already stopped working”…

If you are looking to fill your ultimate stereo speaker needs, this would not do what you are expecting but if you want a little more volume and better sound quality than you are getting from your laptop, you might want to visit your local Best Buy store and check these puppies out.

Included in this set is a nifty soft bag to protect your speakers when in transit.