“Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome back to our stage, Mr. Victor Haskins”.

VHIn my original post introducing this musician, who I considered to be a moving force in the universe, was on September 29, 2012 when I published “Please Welcome Victor Haskins”.

At that time I predicted his continued success and I wanted to share his talents with my readers. As in all predictions, sometimes you get it right and sometimes you learn to eat your words. I am pleased to announce that my earlier predictions are continuing to come true for this unique individual and for that reason; I have asked Mr. Haskins to share “in his own words” what has transpired during these past three years.

In his own words-

“I have launched into a number of new ventures over the last several years. In 2013, I released my debut album—“The Truth”—which contained seven of my original compositions for an improvising quintet. Later that year I began to be an endorsing artist for Sonaré Pro Brass (trumpets and flugelhorns) and Denis Wick (mouthpieces and mutes). In 2014, I created the content for and began directing the Jazz Outreach program for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and later in 2014 I announced the official release of a new musical genre/concept called ImproviStory.

ImproviStory combines improvisation, audience interaction, and storytelling to generate unique musical experiences. It is a concept that I developed as a result of trying to find a way to connect with audiences in an improvisational setting where nobody needed to “understand” anything about music to appreciate and relate to what was being played. Instead, those present during the performance use their imaginations to access and control the direction of the where the music goes and what it means, thus involving the audience in a deeper way than they would normally be involved with a musical exhibition. I have been working (successfully) to get ImproviStory in front of different audiences, and especially in front of kids in educational settings.

After the release of my album, I changed my main ensemble project from a quintet to a trio (consisting of cornet, bass, drums), which was called the Victor Haskins Trio. In May of this year (2015), I began to learn how to play the Electronic Wind Instrument (EWI for short), and when I added this element to my trio, it changed the sound and my concept for what the ensemble would do and sound like, so the trio became Victor Haskins’ Skein (cornet/EWI, bass, drums), which just had its debut performance at the Richmond Jazz Festival.

In addition to my musical activities, I began dancing salsa in December of 2014, and as of June 2015, I have become a salsa dance instructor and I regularly host salsa-dancing events”!

Now enjoy a few of his videos which demonstrate his talents both as a performer as well as an articulate spokesman for his artistry-

ImproviStory TEDx talk:

Live Kennedy Center Jazz Outreach Ensemble performance:

How and When To Use A Plunger…..”and which one”?

imagesObviously most people know the “When” and “How” use of the common sewer plunger but many trumpet players are not familiar with its use as a trumpet mute.

Commercial plungers are available in most well equipped music stores and the offerings on line are numerous. Examples and instruction of the plungers use is available on YouTube as well. The design and cost of such plungers can be confusing and to help you decide on which one to buy or upgrade to is the purpose of this post.

The common sewer plunger (small size) is the most widely used. The cost is low and every plumbing/hardware store has one on their shelves. Most players pull it out when needed and seldom try to improve its capabilities. I have found that a better sound and ease in playing can be achieved by making a couple simple improvements which will help your performance.

How to improve the simple sewer plunger-

1. Turn it inside out.

I find that the contour of the inside out plunger fits the inside of the bell better and you don’t have to explain why you are using a sewer plunger.

2. Drill/cut a hole through the middle of the plunger. The size of the hole should be approximately the diameter of the handle you through away.

By cutting a hole in the middle of the plunger, you will relieve any possibility of total closer of the air through your mute. If the mute is totally sealed to the bell, your notes will break and you will have less control of intonation.

When to Use a Plunger-

The use of a plunger in trumpet playing can range from Jazz to Classical, from Polkas to Taps. This little accessory can drastically change the affect you are striving for with very little expense or effort.

Which plunger is best?

As you can see from the following photos, the assortment of commercial plungers is impressive.
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Humes &Burg Stoneline Rubber Plunger- $27.99
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Mutec MHT Ruber Plunger- $23.00
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Humes &Burg Tuxedo Plunger- $25.30
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Denis Wick Aluminum Plunger- $32.99
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Jo-Ral Aluminum Plunger- $29.99

But…. here is my choice for a dependable, effective and CHEAP plunger.

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PlumbCraft Mini Bellos Plunger– $2.24

Once you have purchased your very own plunger, the next step is to modify it so that you will not have pitch and control problems when using it.

Step 1.

Cut the handle off.
2015-08-20 15.17.39

Step 2.

Place the rubber ring of the plunger at the left edge of your bell.
Mute Position

Step 3.

Close the plunger tight against you bell.

Step 4.

Play a note and at the same time open one side of your bell while keeping the other side tight against the edge of your bell.

Your sound should be a beautiful “wah” starting one-half step flat and ending in tune. Be sure to keep the opening at the end of your mute clear.

Keeping the left edge of your mute in constant contact with the edge of your bell will establish the position and limit any inconsistencies in your tone.

How Many Ways Can You Use Your Plunger?

1. Positioning your plunger ½ inch straight out from the bell will give you a louder cup mute sound.

2. Placing the mute tight against the bell and blowing hard will give you a louder straight mute sound. Remember that a tight mute will raise your pitch a little. It will also make it extremely easy to bend notes for more of a jazzier sound.

3. With a little practice you can imitate a “Wah, Wah” mute by covering and uncovering the hole in your new mute.

4. Inverting the plunger so that the handle end is in your bell will lower your pitch ½ step but I can’t think of any benefit from this exercise.

To illustrate the possibilities of a plunger, I have included a video of one of, if not the best plunger player in history…Clarke Terry who can almost talk to you with his mute. At the end of his vocal, notice his technique of “ mumbling” which he continued to entertain his audiences with for many years.

Check out his plunger work at 19:42

TRUMPETS IN THE SKY, OR A WORLD WIDE HOAX (Update from 2012)

Clouds-2Some may remember my post dating back to November 2, 2012 which asked the question “Trumpets in the sky, or a worldwide hoax”.

I thought I’d update everyone on the current discussion on this unusual phenomenon.

The sounds are still here….
but now we have additional information-

How to Solve Your Hinge Problems

Now that you have downloaded your new arrangement for your ensemble, which comes in separate pages (25 to be exact), how do you plan on connecting each part and score?

PDF files are great for downloading but when trying to keep page 1 of trumpet 2 with the other trumpet 2 pages can be a problem.

Some librarians use plastic binding tape which can get stuck to itself and make a big mess. Some use masking tape stretched from the top to the bottom on one side of the page and still others may try to tape both sides which turns out to be an uncreasable joint.

The best way I have found for connecting your sequential pages is very simple and seems to last for a long time.

Follow the pictures below and enjoy a quicker, stronger and easier way of connecting your pages.

Material requires-
1. Flat surface
2. Masking tape

Pre-tear all the 1 ½” in sections of masking tape you will require and place close to your work area.

Place pages front up on flat surface and attach one section of tape to the center of each page.

Best center fold

Flip pages over and press down firmly two sections of tape. One section about two inches from the top and one section two inches from the bottom.
4 inside

Flip you music over and fold firmly on table.
Finished fold

That’s it.

Fourth Day of Free Music!

How long will this continue?

Our first offering was obviously from France-
36 Etudes Trascendantes

Our second offering was from Russia-
13 Russian Etudes

Our third day was from various countries-
Transposition Etudes

This is our last day of free music, at least for a while and comes again from Russia. This free offering includes both the written trumpet parts in Bb as well as trumpet in C.

Along with this free music is a recording of the piano accompaniment.

Don’t say I never gave you anything!
Concert Etude by Alexander GoedickeConcert Etude by Alexander Goedicke

Vladislav Blazhevich 13 Russian Etudes- Free

This is your lucky week!

Now take a look at another outstanding etude collection for trumpet and this time we feature Vladislav Blazhevich’s 13 Russian Etudes.

In a tight economy and high unemployment, I will continue to try to find other materials which are available to all on the Internet.

Download here-

Vladislav Blazhevich 13 Russian Etudes

36 Etudes Trascendantes- Free

36 Etudes Trascendantes is one of the most often required collection of etudes for trumpet and to find this tremendous collection offered free is an outstanding occasion. I found this downloadable book on line today and am very pleased to share it with my readers.

Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned veteran, you should have a copy of this fine collection in your library.

Download here-

36_Etudes_Trascendantes_-_Theo_Charlier

The Different Parts of Your Trumpet

Many times those of us who have been behind a mouthpiece for many years forget that young players are just starting out on the trumpet and what seems obvious to us, may be new information to the younger player. For that reason I thought it would be helpful to the beginners in our audience to get a working knowledge of the parts of the trumpet.

Mouthpiece– This is the removable section which you place to your lips to create a sound. Throughout your career as a trumpet player, you will collect many of these, each one being purchased in order to make playing easier. Eventually you will realize that regular practice is more productive and cheaper.

Lead Pipe– Where you insert your mouthpiece. Make sure that you clean this section often for strange things begin to collect and eventually grow in this area.

Main Tuning Slide– This is the slide which raises (pushing in) and lowers (pulling out) the pitch of your entire instrument. Be sure to keep this slide greased so that you will be able to use it when called upon.

Main Tuning Slide Water Key– This is not a spit valve for the only moisture which comes out of this is condensed water, not spit, unless you have a salivary condition.

Brace– the only reason some trumpets have these is to make sure your main tuning slide tubes stay aligned.

Valve Casings 1, 2, 3– These tubes incase your valves and help direct the air flow through your instrument.

Third Valve Slide– This slide makes it possible for you to adjust for intonation problems when you have depressed the third valve. It is very useful when lowering the notes low C# and low D, which are usually sharp in pitch.

Second Valve Slide– This slide is used only to access your second valve casing for cleaning purposes.

First Valve Slide– If your slide has a ring or saddle attached to it, you will be able to adjust intonation when depressing your first valve.

Lower Valve Caps– The function of these is to catch and hold any excessive valve oil which drains to the bottom of your valve casing. It also enables you to more easily clean your valves when needed.

Upper Valve Caps– These caps allow you to remove the valve more easily for oiling or cleaning.

Finger Hook on Lead Pipe– This hook is there for the times you need to play while supporting your instrument with only your right hand (when inserting mute, turning pages of music, etc.).

Bell Section– This is the speaker for your instrument and should never be pointed at a friend at close range.