The Many Faces Of Swing

Some swing, some try to swing and some cannot swing.

Commercial musicians dread the thought of having a “Legit” musician in their section just as orchestral musicians shudder at the thought of having a “Jazzer” join their section.

Each ensemble is capable of executing the proper articulation and emphasis with their own music but many times are incapable of applying the same elements to the other style and for that reason I have decided to explain and show the difference in this post.

Let us begin with the hierarchy of the feeding trough; the orchestral play’s interpretation.

Stage Band Cute

Next on our list is the musician who has performed in a school stage band and plays often (twice a year) when touring groups pass through town as well as four dances at the local Moose Lodge.

Orchestral Cute

Finally we have the seasoned veteran who has performed with at least one of the top jazz schools or has been on the road for more than two years with a nationally recognized working band (this does not include any sweet bands such as Guy Lombardo, Lawrence Welk, Sammy Kay, or any local polka bands).

NTS Cute

From our examples you should be able to recognize the subtle as well as obvious differences in articulation and emphasis applied to each. If you are unable to distinguish the differences, you may be interested in the job opening I saw this evening at our local Panera Bread Cafe.

So, You want to learn how to Circular Breath?

This video was sent to me by one of our wonderful readers and I had to share it with you because of the segment on circular breathing (4:30). There may come a time in a performance when the phrase is longer than your air supply and having the ability to circular breath will get you through this situation.

I have used this technique several times when doing long, slow brass choir numbers as well as some jazz situations. Even though it is a trick, it can be very useful.

The first time I saw this technique used in a live situation was at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois when I was lucky enough to see Duke and the Duke Ellington Orchestra perform. His jazz tenor player sustained a single note for at least three minutes as the other players swung behind him. In that situation it was a show biz trick but if you ever start to run out of air in the middle of a phrase, this technique could make you an instant star.

Beverly Sills – 1977- “Let the Bright Seraphim” w/Doc Severinsen

I wanted to share this you you only because the possibility of having these two great musicians together is extremely rare and it also demonstrates that a “Jazzer” can sometimes step up to the occasion when called upon. As you can see, Doc realized the situation he was in and was not completely comfortable with the experience.

And he did it on a Bb trumpet, not a D trumpet.
To most trumpet players who have perform this number, we realize why we choose to play it on a D and not a Bb.

The way Rejoice Greatly, O Daughter of Zion Should Have Been Written


How many times have we all enjoyed George Frideric Handel’s Oratory, The Messiah and wondered if he had written it incorrectly? I would venture a guess that I may be the only one on the planet. The reason I have even pondered this possibility stems from my preparation for a solo this week at a church. Sunday is Easter Sunday and I decided to perform the aria “Rejoice Greatly, O Daughter of Zion”. After searching the internet for a suitable copy, I finally found what I was after and began practicing my part. After three attempts to get the feel of the number, I realized that it was written incorrectly. Each time I played through the solo, I came to the same conclusion- the music is written incorrectly!

As you can see from my printed page, my edited version fits more comfortably with the text than the original. How could this have happened and why hasn’t anyone realized it before now? My first thought was that I had downloaded music which contained the error but after subsequent searches, I found that each copy was the same. In my corrected version, the emphasis on the melody falls at the natural spots and in the original they are off by two beats. After finding this to be true in all of my copies, I decided to ask several of my friends who were more knowledgeable on the subject than I. After contacting these people I found that many did not share my concern and only one was able to give me the answer I was after. No one had a problem with this discrepancy but me.

Because of my determination to perform my solo as easily as I could, I set down at my computer to rewrite my solo part. After the better part of an hour, I finally had what I needed, my corrected version of the aria. Whether you agree with my conclusion as to the correct or incorrect version of this piece is not important. More important would be which version is easier to perform and for that reason I have included my “improved version” for your use. With the changes I have made, you should find it much easier to perform.

If you have strong views on this subject, please write me for it would be very strange that I would be the only person uncomfortable with an important section of the Messiah after all these years.

Download revised solo- Rejoice Solo -revised

Problems Binding E-Books and Music

Technology has advanced at an incredible rate in the past decade and with it has followed problems which will have to be addressed. Two such developments are the issues of copy right laws and printing E-Books transmitted over the Internet. Small cottage industries have begun to blossom all over the world with offers to show you how to grow bigger roses, find hidden gold and where to locate your long lost relative. Each of these instructional booklets are distributed through the Internet and the digital signal is sent to your personal computer to be downloaded and eventually printed. Welcome to the wonderful age of electronic information distribution. You are able to read off your screen everything you have ever wanted and in due time, you realize that you would prefer printing this material out so that you could store a hard copy for your future reference. Page after page shoots from your printer as your valuable information is printed. What a wonderful world this is. Then comes the problem. How can I bind these many pages into a conventional book?

Possibilities for combining pages into a book

  • Staple pages together- For any more than a half-dozen pages, this is very impractical.
  • Paper clip together- same problem
  • Punch and attach plastic hinged binder- Best way to combine pages in consecutive order. The problem with this approach is that the equipment to punch the appropriate holes is expensive as is the plastic, hinged binders. One solution has been to take your material to a printing shop and have them do the work. Again, this is also expensive and in some cases, stores have been refusing to do the work on E-Books because of the possibility of copyright law infringement. One such chain of stores is Staples Office Supplies. Many people have tried and found that it is a store policy to refuse material distributed through the Internet which could be copyright protected and they have been requiring written permission from the original author to bind this material.
  • Punch holes for inserting into a three ring binder. This is a great way to store your pages but every other page would be blank.

Possible solution to you dilemma

Combining material into a handy and easily accessible format became a problem for our trumpet ensemble and after several months fighting the problem, we came up with a workable solution. Because of the fact that many of our arrangements were two pages in length, and would need to be shuffled in different order, we decided to place them in three ring binders. This gave our music all the protection needed and looked professional on the stage. Once the order had been decided for the next concert, all of the arrangements were arranged in order and once on stage, the concert program was taken out and placed on the stand to perform. There was little chance of losing pages and once the concert was over, back into the binder went the music. This has worked out for our music very well but you might ask, “How can I use this concept for storing an E-Book”?

Solution to the blank page problem

As I stated before, our music is printed on one side for easier reading at a concert. Double sheets require that both sides be visible, for turning pages is not practical in our situation. If you want printing on both sides of each page for your E-Book, this will require that you set the printer up to print in this fashion.

If you have already printed your material on just one side of your paper, then you can follow the same steps we use to store our single sided arrangements.

  • Place page one and two in front of you.
  • Tear off about two inches of masking tape and tape the two pages together in the center of the pages.
  • Flip the pages over and place two more two inch sections of tape on the back but this time place one section of tape an inch down from the top and the second one inch from the bottom.
  • With page one and page two taped together, close and place the left side of page one in a three hole punch and have at it. Then fit these pages into the left side of your new three ring binder and continue with the rest of your material.

We have used this procedure for more than three years now and have not had any issues with the tape in any way. Placing three pieces of tape at three different locations gives the binding strength and still does not cause the pages to bind together at the hinge.

Your final step would be to print a label for the cover as well as the end of the folder so as to make selection easy when you search on your shelf for your book.

At Last, A Better Plunger!

plunger 1For those who occasionally pick up a plunger to entertain the masses, you may be interested in my new choice.

This is available at Lowes for the modest price of $2.24 and with about two minutes to alter the original, you can have the best plunger I have ever used.

2015-04-20 12.22.28

Modifying your new mute-

1. Place on table and with a hack saw, cut off handle to match included picture.
2. Sand smooth if need be.
3. Pick up in left hand.
4. Place in bell.
5. Play a note as you move the mute around.

………any questions?

If you would like to hear how it sounds, just click on MP3 below.

“FAST”- Sustained Success w/Simple Slurs

SlurrSometimes I am asked, “Where do you get your ideas to write about”?

Today’s post comes from the fact that both my wife and I have been suffering for the past couple weeks with cases of Bronchitis and with this condition, the above mentioned participants find relief by sleeping in a chair in the upright position. You are forced to spend more time thinking than sleeping and this post is the product of last night’s rest (or lack of).

Please pay close attention to what I will be offering for in my opinion, I feel very strongly about this post and I think every musician could benefit from what I am about to say.

The concept of “Sustained Success w/Simple Slurs” is a culmination of many years teaching, practicing and constant retuning. The practice is so simple and the benefits are noticeably effective. I have been using this technique for many years but this is the first time I have taken the time to document all of the benefits so I will be as complete and clear as possible so that you may also benefit from this routine.

My choice of the term “FAST” was carefully chosen for it is an acronym for Finger- Air- Slurs- Tonguing. I will explain each of these areas which are benefited through regular slurring and it is my hope that you gain as much improvement as I have through this simple, yet effective practice.

Slurring is not generally taken to the extent to which I have taken it for most music is a combination of many articulations. When the amount of time for slurred passages is substantially extended, several benefits begin to surface and I will explain these in the following sections.

Fingers- Each time a note is tongued there is a very small interval when the first note is separated from the following note. This can be seen in the following image. Example 2

These gaps represent the amount of time the player is able to change valves (if required), reset the embouchure, and begin the next note. The wider the gap, the more time the player will take for these adjustments. Through repeated tonguing, most players become negligent at quick changes and this is reflected in an inaccurate performance. Through constant slurs, the gap is eliminated (as much as possible) and the player is required to more rapidly make changes in order to negotiate through the notes cleanly. This rapid adjustment can be illustrated in no better area than the speed of your valve changes.

“Slurs expose slow valves and articulated notes hide finger flaws”.

Air- Also illustrated in the photo above are the areas where the air stream is terminated and then restarted. These momentary halts to the air flow tend to add up and because of these hesitations, air does not flow which conserves the amount of air exchanged through your lungs. Slurring passages sustains the exhalation through the horn which in turn requires the player to breath deeper and use more air.

“Slurring forces the player to breath deeper in order to compensate for more massive air flow”.

Slurs- When performing an articulated wide skip, most players have additional time to make the required adjustments to their air, lip and finger motion and this hesitation allows the player to adjust in a slower tempo than when executing the same change when slurring. Slurring a wide interval requires the player to make an instantaneous adjustment in order to perform a clean slur with no hesitation between notes.

“Slurring forces the player to make faster lip changes than when articulating pitch changes”

Tone- Seldom do we think about the connection between slurring and improved tone quality but the connection will be very apparent after you have slurred for extended periods of time. The more involved your tongue is in playing, the tighter your aural cavity becomes. The motion and position of your active tongue tends to diminish the size of your throat and mouth area which in turn diminishes the roundness and fullness of your tone.

“Slurring for extended periods will open, darken and improve your tone and the more tonguing you do, the tighter your tone becomes”

FAST- Finger- Air- Slurs- Tone

For more information on this novel yet proven effective technique, visit my trumpetlessonsonline.com site.

Can I Play Cornet Solos On My Trumpet?

Of course you can. And you could hunt elephants with a 22 caliber rifle also, but I wouldn’t recommend either.

How are cornet solos different from trumpet solos?

Literature which has been written especially to be performed on a cornet usually follows these characteristics-

• Melodies are most often very lyrical and smooth.
• Traditionally more vibrato is used in cornet solos.
• Cornet solos many times have drastic tempo changes with grandiose retards and sudden accelerandi.
• The cornet solo gives more liberties in the musical interpretation than in the trumpet literature.
• Most cornet solos draw from a more romantic period.
• Dynamics tend to be on the softer side when compared to the trumpet literature.
• Many of the cornet solos were written in a Theme and Variation form which illustrates the many subtle effects capable when playing a cornet.
• Even when double and triple tonguing during a solo, the cornet retains its smooth and connected tonguing style.
• The cornet exemplifies the extremes in playing, i.e. soft-loud, fast-slow and lyric-bombastic.

Who should I listen to in order to understand how to play cornet solos correctly?

There are many recordings available of previous and current cornet players but if you really want to understand the fine art of cornet playing, I would recommend that you visit this site The James F. Burke Tribute Page for not only will you be able to hear wonderful examples of cornet playing, you will also be able to learn everything you need to know about one of the modern greats of the instrument, James Burke 1943-1974).