Sheet Music for Trumpet- Free

Budgets are tight and still we need material to practice. I have been searching the Internet for some time and have collected a large source of sites which offer free music for the trumpet. Some are good and most are a waist of time. I have selected my top thirteen sources for free music written for, or adaptable for trumpet use. If, after reading this post you have additional sites to suggest, please send your information to me and I will update my listings on a later post. These listings are from the best to the less valuable, indicated with stars (*****= best).

http://uhaweb.hartford.edu/lichtmann/downloadsindex.html

This, although dated, is one of the best sources for free trumpet material. Not only has Mr. Lichtmann included trumpet solos, and study material, but he also offers many brass ensembles arrangements as well. *****

http://www.trumpetensemblemusic.com/category/free-music/

This site features twenty free arrangements for trumpet ensembles which includes various styles as well as study material. I highly recommend this site, even if it is one of mine. *****
Please note that Free Sheet Music-Remembering Newtown, Connecticut- Trumpet Choir is no longer offered for free.

http://icking-music-archive.org/index.php

You will be overwhelmed by the number of offerings at this site. Working your way through all of the listed offerings will take you some time but once you become familiar with the format, you will have access to a vast amount of free material. Many of the arrangements are offered in Finale format which means you can download them into a Finale program and alter them to fit your needs, *****

http://www.free-scores.com/download-sheet-music.php?pdf=28308

This is another large collection of trumpet solos. Some are Classical material and many are from both professional as well as armature composers. When you have found something of interest, click on the picture, then on the PDF file to download your music. *****

http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/sm1820query.html

The National Library of Congress will offer you an enormous source for sheet music. Most will be written for piano and voice but if you can transpose, you will have more than enough material for your earlier music needs. *****

http://www.8notes.com/trumpet_sheet_music.asp

Great amount of quality music here. *****

http://imslp.org/wiki/Category:Scores_featuring_the_trumpet

This site offers a large collection of trumpet solos and ensembles which include trumpet. You will have to spend some time going through all of the levels to find the trumpet material. Navigating through the searches will be your biggest problem. ****

http://brass-forum.co.uk/Resources/MusicDownloads/MusicDownloads.htm

This site features a few unaccompanied trumpet solos. They could make fine material for practicing. ***

http://www.mutopiaproject.org/index.html

You’ll find a few trumpet solos at this site. Most are very short but could be of benefit to you. View the material by selecting the number and clicking on “Letter pdf file. **

Be Careful What You Ask For!

187521_angels-with-trumpets_mthIn our last post I invited comments on the subject “Why Brass at Christmas Time” and I did get a question. But it wasn’t what I expected. I thought I would have comments such as “What’s so bad about woodwind quartets”? or “You’re an idiot”, you know the usual responses. What I recieved was something quite different.

The question-

“What are you most popular arrangements”?

As with most comments, I will respond as best I can.

My top 20 most popular brass arrangements during the Christmas season are the following starting with the most popular.

1. Mary Did You Know- Trumpet choir (8) w/piano

2. Do You Hear What I Hear? – Trumpet Quintet

3. Santa Baby- Trumpet Quartet w/optional Bass

4. Easy Christmas Medley- Trumpet Quartet

5. Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow- Trumpet Quartet

6. Christmas Medley- Trumpet Quartet w/ opt Bass

7. Trumpet Duet Christmas Sheet Music Bundle

8. Carol of the Bells- Trumpet Choir

9. O Holy Night- Trumpet Solo/Duet/Trio/Quartet/ w Organ

10 O Come, O Come, Emmanuel- Trumpet Solo / Duet or Trio w/Organ

11. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas- Trumpet Quartet

12. Trumpet Trio Christmas Sheet Music Bundle

13. God Bless Three Gentle Merry Men- Trumpet Quartet

14. Dixieland Christmas- Trumpet Duet

15. The Christmas Song- Trumpet Trio

16. Christmas Suite #1 – Trumpet Duet

17. Let There Be Peace On Earth- Trumpet Choir (8 Trumpets)

18. Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree- Trumpet Trio w/opt.Bass

19. Mary Did You Know? Brass Quartet Trumpet 1-2 and Trombone 1-2

20. Feliz Navidad- Trumpet Quartet

Christmas = Brass

187521_angels-with-trumpets_mth
This morning while lying in bed and looking out our bedroom sliding doors at the sun coming up over Table Rock Lake, I began to wonder why the Christmas season is most often celebrated with brass instruments. Why do we hear more brass ensembles during this time of the year than woodwind quartets or string ensembles? Why are brass instruments more seasonal than all other instruments? Throughout the day I pondered this question and finally decided to sit down and discuss this question with myself.

Brass instruments were not always used during the Christmas season just as they were not used in the early church. The reason that they were frowned upon in liturgical circles was the fact that the clergy associated brass instruments as the accompaniment to the Roman spectacles which featured the persecution and sacrifice of Christians in the coliseums. In fact the same repulsion for brass instruments was lodged against the organ as well. For decades the organ and brass were banned from church services. Fortunately we were able to overcome this stigma and today the most recognizable instruments during the Christmas season are the organ and brass instruments. One noted exception to this statement would be the Salvation Army’s bell ringers outside Walmart prior to the blessed birth of Christ. But, even though the bell is a percussion instrument, it is constructed from BRASS.

The Christmas season calls for a majestic and marshal tone which can only be produced through the use of brass instruments. Who would be satisfied to hear the announcement of Christ birth heralded by a bassoon or alto saxophone? How could the marshal tone of a trumpet or the richness of a trombone be replaced by the timbre of a clarinet or the crash of a cymbal? Oops, there I go again. The cymbal is another example of a percussion instrument and yet again it is constructed from BRASS.

As I continue to muse at the importance of brass instruments at Christmas time, I must admit that for a wedding, I would prefer hearing a string quartet but that is as far as I can go in the thought of replacing a good brass quintet. As far as the importance of a woodwind quartet (sub-mini orchestra), I am at a loss as to its contribution to the musical world at all.

Further thoughts on my “Brass is Best” attitude can be summed up in the amount of sales of brass arrangements and employment around the Christmas season. While checking my sales of brass arrangements ( trumpetensemblemusic.com) from September through December each year, I noticed that this seasonal spike could only be justified by the amount of brass ensembles working the Christmas season. During these four months, our sales double as compared to all the other months. I love the Christmas season!

Now that you have heard my ranting rational as to the importance of brass instruments used during the Christmas season I would be open to other opinions. I am doubtful that Blue Grass bands will every replace a fine Brass Quintet or a Trumpet Trio with Organ during these festive celebrations but I could be wrong. I thought I was wrong several years ago but later found that I was right.

the Branson Trumpet Ensemble

The History

The Branson Trumpet Ensemble began performing in the Branson area in 2005 and has amassed a library of over 1,000 arrangements ranging from Bach to Rock. Its performances have included weddings, private parties, concerts, conventions, church services as well as special music for many different occasions.

The Original Members

John Casebourn graduated from McMinnville Senior High School in McMinnville, Oregon. He earned his BS degree in 1987 from the College of the Ozarks, in Branson Missouri.

John was the band director at the following communities- Plato, Missouri from 1987 until 1988; Blue Eye, Missouri 1988-1998; Spokane, MO 1998-2006 and Kirbyville Middle School 2006 to the present.

John’s teachers include Mr. Leon Bradley at the College of the Ozarks in Branson, Missouri and Mr. James Elswick from Drury University in Springfield, Missouri.

Greg Hoffman grew up in Chicago, IL, was inspired by the sounds of Louis Armstrong  and started playing trumpet in the 5th grade.  Right after High School, his earlier musical experience took him on the road playing with the United States Air Force Band.  Greg attended College of the Ozarks and holds a bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Drury University, and went on to be a band director at Galena High School in Galena, Missouri..

Mr. Hoffman is a freelance trumpet player and resides in Branson Missouri.  For over 23 years, he has performed with artists including Tony Orlando, Diana Shore, Bill Cosby, Ray Price, Kristy Lane and Jerry Presley. He has performed all over the country including Las Vegas, New York City, Atlantic City and Biloxi Mississippi.

Greg wishes to bring his musical background and experiences to help energize and motivate student musicians around the country through a student performance program he created in Branson 14 years ago called, Branson On Stage Live!   He has turned the theatre stages of Branson into the classroom and gives student performing groups a performance showcase of a lifetime!

Bob Smither is a native of Missouri and began studying trumpet at the age of eleven.  He received his Bachelor of Music degree from the College of the Ozarks and a Masters of Music from the University of Oklahoma where he performed with the Faculty Brass Quintet and the Oklahoma Symphony.  Mr. Smither became a member of the United States Military Academy Band at West Point, New York in 1984 where he spent 23 years performing in one of the nation’s premier military bands as a member of the Hellcat Field Music group, the Concert Band, Jazz Band, and the Heritage Brass Quintet.  While in the service he was also a member of the Hudson Valley Philharmonic, Orange County Chamber Orchestra and the Newburgh Symphony.  Among the many highlights in his career, include performances for our nation’s highest dignitaries including four presidents, performing in Carnegie Hall with the Academy Glee Club for West Point’s Bicentennial celebraton, and working with many other noted muscians and celebrities including members of the NY Philharmonic, Mr. Walter Cronkite, Mr. Charles Osgood, General Norman Schwarzkopf, John Faddis and Eddie Daniels just to name a few.  His career culiminated in rising to the rank of Sergeant Major and being in charge of the Concert Band.  Recently retired, SGM(R) Smither now lives in Branson, MO with his wife, son and daughter.

Bruce Chidester was a member of the faculty at the University of Northern Iowa, School of Music in Cedar Falls from 1969 until his retirement in 1999. While at the university he was actively performing with the Faculty Brass Quintet and the Faculty Jazz Quintet. In addition to teaching trumpet, his responsibilities included conducting the UNI Brass Choir, the UNI Jazz Ensemble II and the award winning UNI Bear Cats who were finalist in the 1986 Southern Comfort National Collegiate Dixieland Competition in Chicago, Illinois. His duties also included adjudicating and solo work throughout the state. He has performed at the International Trumpet Guild Convention and the Missouri Trumpet Festival in Columbia, Missouri. In 1982 his professional Dixieland Band (the Cedarloo All-Stars) opened the Bix Beiderbeck Festival in Davenport, Iowa.

Before teaching at UNI he performed in Dallas, Texas where he recorded commercials at Pam Recording Studio and was a member of the State Fair Band of Texas, Starlight Concert Band, Matamoras Brass and the dance bands of Mal Fitch, Tommy Amidor, Durwood Cline, Billy Williams and the Ted Weems Orchestra. His playing activities included performing in the following hotel bands- Executive Inn, Cabana Motor Inn, Desert Inn, Tower Motel, Baker Hotel and the Fairmont Hotel. Additional shows included-Shrine Circus, Ringling Brothers Circus, Royal Canadian Air Force Mounted Police, Harmonicats, International Water Follies, Ford Auto show, Holiday On Ice, Ice Capades, Lippizan Horse Show, Massey Ferguson tractor show and the Barnes Rodeo. He has performed with many well-known entertainers such as Bob Hope, Jim Nabors, Roy Rogers and Dale Evens, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, Anita Bryant, Carman Cavalara, Victor Borgie, the Four Freshman, Blackstone the Magician, Bobby Vinton and John Davidson.

Since moving to Branson, he has performed with the Lawrence Welk Orchestra, Les Brown Orchestra and has been a regular performer with the Bobby Vinton Orchestra for the past three years. He has also performed with the Branson Brass Quintet as well as his own chamber group, the Branson Trumpet Ensemble. He has taught at the College of the Ozarks as well as performing with their College/Community Band and was a selected member of the Branson All-Star Big Band. He was featured twice as soloist on the annual Tri Lakes Singers concert in Kimberling City and has performed with the following shows, musicals and dance bands in the area- Jerry Presley Show, Bye Bye Birdie, Sound of Music, Dave Rice Big Band, Steve Samuelson Big Band, Les Elgart and Les Brown.

The Instrumentation

To give its listeners a wider range of color and timbre, each player makes use of Bb trumpets, flugel horns, cornets as well as the higher pitched trumpets; C, D, Eb, and piccolo trumpets.

The Purpose of the Ensemble

The Branson Trumpet Ensemble was formed to fulfill two purposes. The first reason for the formation of the ensemble was to give its players a reason to continue practicing their instruments to keep their “chops” up. The second and equally strong reason to form was to promote live music in our area. With the great number of theaters and shows performing regularly, we felt that the smaller venues needed to be addressed and it was and is our desire to help promote live chamber music in the Branson Area.

The Correct Embouchure- “Why we teach it incorrectly”

Why do we spend so much time and energy teaching the technical side of trumpet playing instead of the musical application of the trumpet? We, as musicians, write and lecture on every possible issue related to the technique of trumpet playing. Thousands of dollars are spent monthly on “the perfect mouthpiece”. Fortunes are spent annually in the search for the perfect trumpet. Unfortunately little attention is ever given to the real issue when striving to become a better  player. This one factor is more important to fine trumpet playing than anything else and that element is “sound”. You may refer to it as tone, sound, quality, fatness, edge, center, fullness, focus, resonance, body or timbre. It is that recognizable and elusive quality often described by individuals names i.e. Maynard’s sound (when he reaches the top notes in his early recordings of MacArthur Park) or Bud Herseth’s tone whenever he plays a note. We know it, we recognize it, we try to emulate it but it always seems to be just out of reach for most of us. I have begun this article with an interesting slant on many issues of trumpet playing but I will focus on just one at this time- the correct embouchure.

Many years ago I did extensive research on tone quality and lip efficiency related to the playing of a trumpet. My studio, at that time, was outfitted with the latest and most cutting edge sound analyzing equipment our university could supply me. My research total lab contained only one out-dated oscilloscope! We were inseparable. Each day I would patiently wait for the tubes to warm up so that I could begin my research. My studies would be described as exercises in bio feed back. My simple tool would indicate on its screen the amount of overtones generated by a player. The higher the overtones, the higher the peeks on the screen which was very simple and very telling. As I adjusted my lip, air, tongue position, mouthpiece pressure, angle of the horn etc. I notated the changes indicated by the oscilloscope. Now that I think about it, I’m sure my time could have been better spent than watching an outdated screen. Now that you have some background of my simple observations, I’ll try to explain what this has to do with finding the correct embouchure.

How We First Begin to Ruin Trumpet Players

Most players approach the correct embouchure from the traditional point of view- “place the mouthpiece in the center of your lip”. That’s a reasonable beginning. This “ideal” position can be effected by several issues such as scar tissue, dental facial structure, abnormal tooth separation or angle, jaw position, etc. But for a start, centering up and down as well as left and right works for me. Most instructors will then advise the student to buzz on the mouthpiece and this is where my preaching begins. Beginning students usually produce a very tight, pinched buzzing sound which when performed on the mouthpiece and horn will produce the same pinched, tight sound. This is where most students and their instructor go wrong. The student is told to “put more air through the mouthpiece” which in most cases will improve the sound. At that point, the young player has been taught to think technical, not musical.

1. The student had a bad sound.

2. The teacher said to put more air through the mouthpiece.

3. The student then put more air through the mouthpiece and the sound improved.

4. The student now has learned that to get a better sound, all he/she needs to do is put more air through the mouthpiece.

At this point the student is now on his/her way to the magical land of THE TECHNICAL SIDE OF TRUMPET PLAYING– never to return to the musical side.

If the object for all trumpet players is to produce an acceptable sound, and basically that’s the only thing we do, why do we spend so little time thinking about it? The sound is our product. That is what we produce. You might apply it to jazz or classical music, but the sound is all that we produce. If we have an acceptable sound, what difference does it make what mouthpiece or horn we play on? Can a different mouthpiece make your life easier? It might, but will it accomplish this goal without sacrificing your sound?

Concentrate on the product not the procedure

Your best sound will be located in the middle register of your instrument. The highest notes will suffer as well as your lowest notes so first begin in the middle range.

1. Play and sustain a second line G with the biggest tone you can produce. Notice I didn’t say the loudest. Play about a forte volume.

2. Take a bigger breath and repeat the same note and volume.

Did it improve? Please note that you should be concentrating more on the “sound” than    on the technique to get that sound.

3. Take a big breath and repeat the same note and volume. This time relax your lips just a little and sustain the same air flow.

Did the tone become fatter or airier?

Are you concentrating on the sound or the technique?

4. Take a big breath and repeat the same note and volume. While sustaining the note, experiment with a looser embouchure, a tight embouchure and everything in between.

At what point do you get the biggest, fattest, tone?

Are you concentrating on the sound or the technique?

5. Take a big breath and repeat the same note and volume and this time slowly raise and lower your jaw.

At what point do you get the biggest, fattest, tone?

Are you concentrating on the sound or the technique?

6. Take a big breath and repeat the same note and volume and this time slowly raise and lower your bell without changing your jaw position.

At what point do you get the biggest, fattest, tone?

Are you concentrating on the sound or the technique?

7. Take a big breath and repeat the same note and volume and this time slowly arch and flatten your  tongue without changing your jaw position, mouthpiece pressure, angle of the bell and  lip tension.

At what point do you get the biggest, fattest, tone?

Are you concentrating on the sound or the technique?

Of course you’re not concentrating on the “sound” and that’s what’s wrong with the technical side of playing the trumpet!

The best illustrations I can give you are experiences I had while taking lessons from Arnold Jacobs and Don Jacoby many years ago. I had been waiting outside Mr. Jacob’s studio for some time and when he asked me to enter and play for him, I began with a very timid and uncertain series of notes. He stopped me and asked if I had ever played in dance band to which I replied yes. He then described a situation I was very comfortable with. He said “play the tune Stardust as if you were in a ball room filled with people”. I instantly understood what he was after and I took a deep breath and sent Star Dust throughout the Chicago downtown area. Did he say take a deeper breath? No. Did he say play louder? No. What he did, and what he was best known for is solving a problem by coming in through the back door. To get the best out of me, he stepped back from the technical and focused on the product, the sound.

While taking a lesson with Don Jacoby, he asked me to play some high notes which I have never been fond of doing. After I made a few feeble attempts to impress him, he told me not to think of high notes as being higher, but to think of them being farther. If a high C is across the room, a double high C would be somewhere on the city limits of Dallas. This was another example of a great teacher trying to get my thinking away from the area from the lips to the bell and concentrate in the area beyond the bell, “the sound”.

Keep the sound and everything else will follow!

After you have established the sound you like in the middle range, begin to slowly widen your scope by trying to keep the same sound at all volumes. One note, all volumes. This may seem too easy but you will find that keeping the same fat, full, well rounded sound at soft as well as loud volumes is a major accomplishment. Start with your best sound on one note and then gradually widen your field. If you are consistent with your sound, everything else will fall into place for in order for your sound to remain rich and full, all the different components must be working together. Do not focus on the elements, focus only on “the sound”.

Helpful Check list

1. Start with one note that sounds great. Extend your range gradually from this first note. Work slowly from the middle and increase outward.

2. Keep your sound in all dynamic ranges. This will take constant attention.

3. It is more difficult to keep your best sound when playing fast and/or technical passages.

4. Concentrate on your sound in all playing situations. Don’t get careless when tired or playing with poor musicians.

5. Begin your tone listening from your first buzz of the day.

6. Try to keep the same sound while playing under different acoustical conditions.

7. When you loose your sound, and you will from time to time, get back to the basics.

8. If you have trouble hearing your sound while playing in a loud setting  (next to a drummer or in a loud rock band) put in one ear plug and you will again be able to hear yourself. I found this out last week while playing in a polka band.

Remember-

“Keep the sound and everything else will follow”

The Most Overlooked Note Value In The World

thumb_Sixteenth_notesMany performers pay close attention to the note values in the middle of the range, i.e. quarter, half, whole notes but when playing the other note values, we tend to get sloppy. The notes I am speaking of are the sixteenths and the whole notes. The problem with whole notes is usually because of laziness. “Who cares if the whole not has four complete beats? When I hit beat four, I stop playing”. Unfortunately a whole note is supposed to get four complete beats, not three and one-half. The other value which has been slighted is the sixteenth value. Just as the whole note is shortened, the sixteenth note is usually played too fast. I will endeavor to illustrate my observation and offer a few exercises which will help solve this dilemma.

Sixteenth notes are usually played too fast because these are some of the quickest values we face each day. In out attempts to negotiate these little buggers, we often start them too late and play them too fast. Sixteenth notes are not that quick and deserve all of the length that they are to be given. By playing sixteenths on the correct beat and slowing them down, the tone and importance of every sixteenth will be enjoyed. The following exercises may change the way you approach these little note values and may even make your life more enjoyable.

Exercise #1
Concert Etude by Alexander Goedicke

Exercise #2
Overture to William Tell by Rossini

Practice Exercises
On each of these lines, be sure to extend every sixteenth to its full value. By the time you complete these exercises you should have placed every sixteenth at the correct time location. Next time you are confronted by a group of sixteenths, remember where they are to be placed. Repeated sixteenths in groups of four or more are never a problem but in groups of two or single sixteenths can be a problem.

Download exercises here-

Sixteenth Note Exercises

A Musician Must Be Flexible- Part 2

Flexibility in your surroundings

Being flexible in your surroundings or environment refers to your interaction with the situation and people around you. Musicians at times can be moody, prideful, insecure as well as stubborn and arrogant. This is not a trait of all musicians but is true of many. When you are performing in an ensemble or performing on stage as a soloist, you are more on display than say someone working in a factory or fixing a leaky water pipes. Learning to be more patient and understanding can be very important to your musical success. Trumpet players have a reputation for being arrogant and boastful and we are sometimes singled out to be show offs and Prima Donnas.

Trumpet players are pictured by many as being puffed up blow hards that strut around like we own the world and in many cases we do. The reason for this sometimes justified discription is that we are in many ways insecure in what we do. The trumpet is not the same as a piano. Anyone can walk up to a piano, press a key and sound like an accomplished pianist; at least on one note. Even a violin, as difficult as it is to perform well on can be bowed with reasonable success by a complete beginner. But ask anyone to produce a decent sound on a brass instrument and the task becomes impossible. Brass instruments are not easy to produce an acceptable sound and the trumpet is the most difficult of all the brass instruments to do so. This may be the reason trumpet players tend to be puffed up with expansive arrogance. Well, that’s enough flattery for trumpet players.

Some trumpet players need to step back and view themselves as they perform their art. Lead trumpet players must, through necessity, be the leader in a big band. They also need to be careful not to take with them this dominating attitude with them they leave the stand. Please do not think that all trumpet players are guilty of these miss conducts for the vast majority of the players I have known are normal people. Some in the congregation I am preaching to now might be the exceptions that spoil it for the rest of us. To those who feel that the whole world is their foot stool, please read the following suggestions.

  • If you think the band leader is not doing a good job, start your own band.
  • If you think you are not being paid as much as you’re worth……….maybe you are.
  • If you don’t like the arrangements, start writing.
  • If you don’t like the way the singer sings, volunteer to sing so that she can benefit from your expansive talents.
  • If you think another trumpet player plays poorly, please demonstrate to us all how you could play it better.
  • If you complain that there aren’t enough playing jobs in your area, start your own band.
  • If you grumble about playing polkas, move out of Nebraska.
  • If your band jacket doesn’t fit, pay to have it altered.
  • If you think your part is too high, start practicing.
  • If you think the player next to you is out of tune, check your notes first with a tuner.
  • If you sit there grumbling about the current trends in music, get up and change the channel.
  • If you fume when asked to use a mute, perhaps the leader isn’t interested in only making you play softer.
  • If you need to drink excessively when playing with your current band, you might want to change bands or visit AA.
  • If you insist that the tempi are too fast or too slow, make sure you verify your opinion with your metronome (if you even own one).
  • If you feel that keeping your book in order is below your ability, think about the next sub you ask to cover your part.
  • If you are so strong that you play your third part at the top of your volume, would you be willing to play lead on the next two sets?
  • If people refer to your lead playing as having a bad hangover, they may be referring to the bad releases at the end of a note not your drinking habits.
  • If your chops are not up to the music, don’t take the job.
  • If you bail on a leader at the last minute to take a better paying gig, ask yourself if it was worth it in the long run.
  • If you are cracking jokes in the section while the father of the bride is toasting the newly weds, perhaps you would like to get on the mike and share your comedic talents with everyone.
  • If you are a symphony player and this is your first gig with a big band, do not use the following words- man, cool, bitchin’ and monster. These terms are only allowed by musicians who have paid their dues.
  • If you are a jazzer and insist on using terms such as retrograde inversion, be sure that it applies to what you are discussing.
  • If your concept of a cornet is that it is an instrument only for beginners, grow up.
  • If you think Classical musicians could never “swing” debate it with Wynton Learson Marsalis.
  • If you think jazz musicians are unable to play Classical music, debate it with Wynton Learson Marsalis.
  • If you are a jazzer, please remember that folk music was around long before jazz.
  • If you think real jazz ended with the death of Charlie Parker, turn in your zoot suit and modernize your wardrobe with something more up to date like a leisure suit.
  • If the part calls for a mute, bring one and stop telling the leader that you forgot yours.

I could go on with many more illustrations but for now I would like everyone to step back and view themselves as others view you. It might be the fact that it’s getting close to Christmas or it could be the fact that I’m tired of musicians complaining and putting each other down. Not every job can be a Mahler Symphony or Scrapple From The Apple. Not every chart can feature the sax section or every Prima Donna sing in tune.

In closing I would like to share a short example of how easy it is to learn humility. While attending North Texas State (University of North Texas) the lead trumpet of the 1:00 was my friend Larry Ford. The 1:00 had just returned from a California tour and Larry had received some hints from Bud Brisbois while they were on tour. Larry was very excited about his new information and asked me to listen to him play. I obliged and Larry ripped off a loud double G. He lowered his horn in great excitement waiting for me to reinforce what we both recognized as a great note. Without thinking I said. “That was great but a little pinched”. Without any hesitation, Larry shoved his horn into my hand and said, “Show me”.

That was one of the best trumpet lessons I ever had.

“Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night”.

A Musician Must Be Flexible- Part 1

Flexibility when performing

Whether you play regularly in an orchestra or a jazz combo, each performing medium has its own playing expectations. If you are playing lead in a big band, you will be expected to play at the upper dynamic levels as well as in the upper range of the instrument. If you perform regularly on a third cornet part in a concert band, you will be required to play low parts at lower dynamic levels. No matter what part you play regularly, you will need to compensate for these narrow playing expectations.

Flash back time again- I distinctly remember my first call for doing a jingle while living in Dallas, Texas. For those of you that might not recognize the term jingle, it refers to a very select, sought after position of extremely high compensation ($). At that time, Dallas was one of the leading areas for recording commercial (jingles) and to get a call to record one, was a great opportunity. Unfortunately for me, I was called the day after I finished playing two weeks on the third cornet part for the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus. My chops were at an all time low and to play a high C was nearly impossible. What a time to get “the” call! Throughout that evening I sat by myself playing soft, long tones until I could get some feeling back into my lip. To make a long story short, I did the session and was called back for later recordings. The point of the story is, “do not limit yourself to one style of playing”. A musician must be flexible in order to survive in the field of music.

More recently I arrived home from a trip to find a message on my recorder. The voice informed me that a trumpet player was needed to play a show in Branson and the voice asked if I would play. The rehearsal was the next morning! Out of shape but not willing to pass up a gig, I said yes and wondered what the parts were like. I found out that there were twenty- seven charts in the show and no intermission. I was looking at two hours of constant playing and I had just got back from a trip where I hadn’t seen my horn for several days. Fortunately the show put in an intermission and a couple of Christmas songs played by the rhythm section. The first couple days went alright and gradually by the second week, I noticed that I was working harder than I was when I started the gig. Then the light went on in my modest brain. Most of the playing was loud and the added volume, which I was not used to, started to stiffen my chops. To compensate for this development, I began playing softer material each evening to loosen the lip. By the next day, the sensitivity was back and the playing became much more comfortable. Another challenge in the same show happened during one of the arrangements. After blowing my head off for ten minutes, the trumpet part droped to a mp dynamic level for thirty-six very, very slow measures without any chance of taking the horn off the lip. When playing the first couple shows I felt that everyone could hear the shakiness in my tone, and then I remember to anchor the lower edge of the rim on my lower teeth and the shaking stopped. Contrasts are expected of musicians and you need to be prepared for them.

If you are primarily performing loud, contrast that with soft playing during your practice time. If you are performing music with fast passages, remember to contrast that with slow moving material. If you are playing only ensemble material, balance your practice with solo work.

Rule #1 To be prepared for any performing situation, you will have to prepare for everything.

I ran into an old friend today….

kku 001
While rummaging through my files today, I discovered a long lost friend from my past…
The name of my old friend was Vassily Brandt “Etudes for Trumpet (Orchestra Etudes and Last Etudes), Edited by William Vacchiano.

Not only are these excellent exercises to learn some of the most recognized orchestral excerpts, but when you get back to the “Last Etudes” section, hold on to your eyeballs for this had to be written by the most vicious practitioner of the instrument. Just when you get used to a pattern, he changes directions and you fingers feel as if they were bent backwards.

“I love this book”!

If you are an accomplished player and do not own this old masterpiece, get it this week.

After struggling through a few of these satanic etudes, you may want to send me a life threatening response but do note that collections such as this one do not come around that often.

Get the book, learn the etudes and be a better player for it.

Brandt Etudes 001