Careers In Music Part 2

imgresNow that we have recovered from the last post pertaining to many different areas in which one can make a living in music, it is time to focus our attention on two of the most common was to support yourself.

Establishing and sustaining yourself in these musical areas-


Teaching can take many forms such as a(n)…..

• classroom music teacher in an elementary/ middle and high school
• a professor at a university
• instructor in a music store
• free-lance teacher in a school system
• online instructor on the internet
• teacher in your own studio
• visiting lecturer at high schools and colleges

Most of these positions require a formal education in your selected field of teaching and some are only requiring you to have a reasonable knowledge of the subject you are teaching.

Teaching in the school systems requires the appropriate degree or degrees and this of course requires many years of formal study. Classroom teaching requires a certain type of person and I never had the desire to teach in the public school arena. I remember attending a fourth grade music class as an observer and escaped that ordeal by dropping my double majors of music education and performance. I have the greatest respect for public school teachers for they have the patience to work with this level of student; I didn’t at that time in my life.

I place public school teachers at the same level as doctors and law enforcement individuals for these are the people who are making changes in people’s lives. If you have the desire to enter the teaching field as a music teacher, by all means go for it and be the very best you can be for the classroom teachers are the most important contacts outside the home our children will ever know.

Some teaching positions do not require the appropriate degree and are governed by your experience and current performance. For many years universities would hire a gifted teacher/performer and justify his/her qualifications by pointing to the persons accomplishments. This action at the university/college level is called Doctorial Equivalency. Doctorial Equivalency refers to the justification that a terminal degree can be replaced by the individual’s performance in the music field. I mentioned that this used to be the case years ago but this practice has become a seldom used practice for today every person aspiring to enter the teaching field at the college or university level is expected to not only perform at a very high level but has also completed the terminal degree (Doctorate).

I have known monster players with huge lists of accomplishments and seldom do they ever get a teaching job at the college/university level. I have also seen many performers who are marginal musicians being hired only because they have completed their doctorate. The reason for this change is that administrators do not have to justify a person’s ability if they have a doctorate where the same person without the degree would require the administrators to justify their evaluation of the candidate. With this in mind, be forewarned that if your goal is to teach at a college or university, you will need to have completed the doctoral degree in order to be hired.

Now we need to talk about the availability of jobs today at universities and colleges. When I was hired to teach at the University of Northern Iowa in 1960, I was hired over the phone without an interview. This seldom happens any more. The circumstances were very unusual for UNI had started classes and there was a desperate need for one additional brass instrument teacher. At that time, several of the instructors at UNI had graduated from the University of North Texas and had close contacts with that school. Mr. John Haynie was called for a recommendation and at that time only two students were seeking employment and I was one of the two. Mr. Haynie felt that I would be a good fit at UNI and on a Friday afternoon the head of the department, Mr. Myron Russel offered me the position over the phone and I accepted. This is not the way jobs are filled anymore. I was very fortunate and I taught there for the next 30 years.


Musical performances can take many forms such as a(n)…..

• Recitalist
• Band/orchestra member
• Performer in a small ensemble (rock/quintet)
• Church organist
• Conductor
• Choir director
• Community musical director
• Armed services performer
• Rock star
• Recording artist
• Performer on radio/TV
• Touring musician
• Clinician
• Studio musician
• Pit musician for shows
• Session musician (recording commercials/CD’s)
• Background vocalists
• Accompanist/rehearsal pianist
• Product demonstrator

The preparation needed to fill these positions is primarily based on your ability and not on your degree which should be a comfort to those who plan to bypass the degree plan. Unfortunately, these positions are also hard to gain because of the sheer number of applicants for each open position. The competition is fierce and most jobs are filled by the “good old boy” system i.e. “I know a guy who would be great for this job” and he/she is hired.

Preparing yourself for these positions means that you have to be an incredible musician, be able to get along with everyone and fit in with the people around you. Many times jobs are lost because of personality issues with your fellow employees. Many performing musicians have a reputation of being self-centered and in many cases lack the self confidence that most people enjoy the “real world”. If you have a tremendous ability on your instrument (vocalists included), have a good personality and work well with others you might have a 50% chance of doing well.

So You Want A Career in Music? Part 1

So You Want A Career in Music? Part 1

So do tens-of-thousands of other people.

Wanting something does not necessarily make it happen. Even with all the “If you want it badly enough, it will happen” believers propagating all their wonderful and deceptive rantings.

In order to focus on a career in music, we must first limit and identify our particular area of interest in order to understand what is necessary to accomplish our goal.

What are a few areas a musician can be a part of?

1. Performer
Becoming a musician is a lot of hard work and few ever succeed in this competitive field.

2. Teacher
If you are looking to amass a great amount of cash in this profession, you may be disappointed.

3. Retail Sales
You need to know everything there is to know about guitars and drums.

4. Composer
It all depends of your creativity and a lot of luck.

5. Conductor
You first have to have a baton and a very large ego.

6. Music manager.
You first have to decide if you can live on 10% of nothing.

7. Recording Engineer
You first have to have “big ears”.

8. A&R Director
You must have a big attitude and be able to lie well.

9. Artists Manager/ Band Manager
You must be willing to travel; in a bus.

10. Road manager/ tour manager
You must be willing to travel; in a bus.

11. Press agent
You must have a big attitude and be able to lie well.

12. Program director- radio/DJ format
Must be able to speak well for long periods of time without saying anything important.

13. Church Music
Must be able to get along with elderly, blue haired ladies.

14. Music Health
Work to improve issues with emotion, physical, cognitive and social wellbeing. Having teen-age children will help get you started.

15. Instrument Repair
Having experience as an auto body shop mechanic is invaluable.

16. Musicologist
Having no personality is a strong prerequisite.

17. Ethnomusicologist
Being able to survive by yourself at parties is required.

18. Rock Star
Talent is not required but unusual hair style is essential; vocal talent is not expected.

19. Stage Manager
Must be able to see in the dark and have at least a dozen costume changes, all in black.

20. Private Instrument Teacher
Have access to vast quantities of Excedrin and be able to sleep with your eyes open is helpful.

21. Music Journalist
Must be able to use Spell Check correctly and write articles which generate hostility.

22. Concertmaster/Concertmistress
Must be able to replicate a tuning note at any time and in every pitch.

23. Section Leader (Principle Player)
Must be able to perform with great confidence no matter if it is correct or not.

24. Choir Director
Traffic cops automatically qualified for these positions. Large city officers are preferred.

25. Cantor
Cantors with the first name “Eddy” are in immediate need.

26. Church Organist
Performers who are paranoid if people stare at the back of their heads should not apply.

27. Voice Therapist
People susceptible to colds and sore throats should not apply.

28. Speech Pathologist
Mel Tillis needn’t apply.

29. Piano Tuner
Must be willing to make house calls.

30. Celebrity Bodyguards
FBI background very helpful.

Part 2 of this topic will be more serious and focus on only two areas in music for a possible career- Performing and Teaching.

Selecting the Best Music School- Part 3

What to Expect from Your Teacher

When you visit your local physician with an ailment, you expect to leave with a solution to your problem. If you visit your dentist with a tooth ache, you expect to leave his/her office with relief, but too often trumpet students leave a trumpet studio with the idea that they (the student) has been granted a great privilege to be in the company of this almighty guru. Too many students worship their instructor and in a few cases it is justified for helpful teachers are to be revered. When you study an instrument, you are spending your time and money on the expectation that your teacher will help you improve, so consider these points as you decide on a school and a teacher-

  • Make a list of your current problems in your playing.
  • Ask your possible instructor if he/she has dealt with these problems before.
  • Inquire as to his/her solutions to these problems (limit to no more than three).
  • When you return from your visit with the instructor, try his/her suggestions and if you see at least some improvement in your playing, continue to consider studing with that teacher.
  • If, after practicing the suggestions or if you feel the suggestions were not helpful, look for another instructor. You need to have confidence that this person could help you if you decide to study with him/her.
  • Do not prejudge the comments just because you don’t think they will work. Many times we want people to agree with what we are doing even though what we are doing is wrong. Give the teacher a fair chance.
  • Every teacher will expect you to practice every day or at least six days a week. Your expected practice time will be between one to five hours each day depending on your degree plan and how much time you are willing to spend on your instrument.
  • A good teacher should be accessible at some time every day to answer questions you may have. Most schools require their instructors to post one or two office hours for this purpose. If you have questions, meet with the teacher and get your questions answered.

Instructor/Graduate Assistant

Larger schools many times will have more students than one instructor can service and for that reason the teacher will assign the overload to one of his/her more advanced master degree or doctorate students. As an entering freshman, you may, depending on the school, be assigned to a graduate assistant and that can be good or bad depending on the assistant. We always want to study with the big dog but because of circumstances, you may be working with a smaller dog. If you are to study with a graduate assistant your first semester, be respectful and expect the same improvement in your playing as you had expected from the big dog. You are paying the same amount of money as the other students who are receiving lessons from the head man/woman. Graduate assistants are not new to teaching and in many respects, they are more approachable and in a few cases could be better teachers. Many graduate assistants have taught for many years and just because they are not tenured, don’t run them down until they have worked with you for at least a semester.

Location of School

You may wonder what the location of your school has to do with its selection. The reason is simple. If you are interested in playing professionally, you will have to be in an area which supports such an occupation. If you want to play in a symphony, don’t go to a school where the only serious orchestra is five hundred miles away. If you expect to be an accomplished jazz musician (and I don’t recommend it) you will have to be in an area that will support this venue as well. A school within one hundred mile of a large city would be able to give you the needed experience if you are interested in playing. If your focus is in teaching music, the proximity to a large city is far less important.

Financial Considerations

The cost of your education can range from nothing (yes, this is possible) to numbers I can not even pronounce. A quality education costs a great deal of money and unless you come from an extremely wealthy family, you have to realize that every dollar you borrow in student loans, you will be expected to pay back. When considering your college or university expenses, start with the cost of a full tuition and begin adding the following-

  • Extra fees for applied lessons.
  • Rentals for instruments lockers, uniforms, etc.
  • Expenses for purchasing new music you will be expected to use.*
  • Subtract from this amount any possible scholarships that may be available to you.

Every school you consider will have a bottom line and this may also be helpful when eliminating schools. If you can’t afford it, don’t go there. Many schools will offer you a great scholarship but after adding up and subtracting down they sometimes are more expensive than those with smaller scholarship and equally smaller tuitions.

I mentioned earlier that some schools do not charge students tuition and one such college is in Branson, Missouri. The College of the Ozarks is one such school and you can learn more about that college on line.  This unique school has been helpful to those students who are on a limited budget and desire an education. I’m sure that there are others around the country to this one and it might be worth your time to search these schools out.

*It is difficult to pin down a teacher on how much money you will be spending for your music but in many cases the applied teacher will list helpful information on his/her studio web site. The following steps are only suggestions as to how to locate this information. I have contacted literally hundreds of trumpet instructors in the past year and the following order of steps may be of help.

  • Open the schools home page.
  • Click on the link Academics.
  • Find the area marked Studies or Departments.
  • Click on Music.
  • Click on Faculty.
  • Find the instrument you wish to study and click on it.
  • In many cases the more “up to date” applied teachers will have a section called Syllabus or Studio and enter that area. Here you should be able to find what the instructor expects from his/her students. You can get a lot of information on these sites. Even if you don’t study with this person, you can download a ton of information that his students are currently required to study.

This completes my post “Selecting the Best Music School”. Although my information has been as complete as I can be in this short space, there may be other questions you will have as you narrow down your search. Please feel free to contact me with these questions and I wish you the very best as you decide on a school. Your ultimate decision is very important so do your investigation carefully and now, “Class is dismissed”.

Selecting the Best Music School- Part 2

The first part of this post dealt with issues related to terms and your direction in your musical career. This post will focus on an area that I know well and that would be the study of an instrument (in my case the trumpet). No matter what your area of performance, trumpet, sax. piano, bagpipes or voice, the following information will apply to you.

What to Look for in a Teacher

The selection of your applied teacher is more important than the selection of a school. This may sound odd but when you consider that you will have more personal contact with your applied (private lessons) teacher than any other instructor in your four year stint in college you will have to be comfortable with his/her teaching. In making this decision, consider the following.

Information you can learn before you meet him/her by searching online or visiting with people who know him/her.

  • If your friends have studied with this person, ask them about his/her teaching and consider the source of this information.
  • Have you seen improvement in your friends playing after working with this person?
  • Do they like this person because he/she is COOL, or have they learned anything?
  • Do others in the music field speak highly of this person?
  • Go to the instructor’s web site and check him/her out.
  • If they do not have a web site, be couscous.
  • If the web site is all about them and little about their students, be conscious.
  • What have his/her students accomplished during study and after graduation?
  • How active is this person currently performing?
  • How long has this person been teaching?

Information you should learn after you meet this person.

  • What was your first impression of this person?
  • Do you feel comfortable visiting with him/her?
  • Did he/she dominate the conversation with information about themselves?
  • Were they interested in you and your interests?
  • How many students do they currently have studying?
  • How many positions are there in the school’s ensembles for your instrument/voice?
  • What kinds of scholarships are available?
  • What do these scholarships include?
  • Is there an immediate need for your instrument?
  • Why is there an immediate need for your instrument?
  • What kind of contacts does this person have outside the school?
  • Where have recent graduates gone after leaving the school and what are they doing currently?
  • What is the job placement ratio at the school? and in his/her studio?
  • How many graduates stay in contact with this person?

My final posting in this series will address the following topics-

  • What to Expect from Your Teacher
  • Trumpet Instructor/Graduate Assistant
  • Location of School
  • Financial Considerations

Selecting the Best Music School- Part 1

Many are currently considering a career in music and wondering which school would be best to attend. This is a very important decision and choosing the best school to attend will affect your life in many ways. After more than fifty years teaching and attending colleges and universities around the country, I feel well qualified to post my opinions on this topic. I have attended great schools and bad. I have taught at great schools and less than great schools and I will share whatever knowledge I have in hopes that this information will be helpful in making your decision.

Your first assignment in my class “How to pick the best school for your musical education 101” is to visit this web site. Education Portal.

I am not endorsing this school in any way but the information that they have posted can be a great help in answering many of the questions you may have at this time. The videos are well done and explain many topics you may not have thought of. I repeat, “I am NOT endorsing this particular school in any way”.

When discussing educational institutions, we need to understand terms which can be confusing and for that reason, I will define as simply as possible some of these titles for you.

Colleges/ Universities

Colleges are usually smaller than Universities, employing fewer faculty and offering fewer courses. This does not mean that one is any better than the other. It only means that universities generally will have a wider base of information.

Music Departments/ Schools of Music

Schools of Music require more scrutiny for external governing bodies (National Association of Schools of Music) than do Music Departments. To be listed as School of Music, the program must be reviewed at regular intervals and meet high standards in order to continue as a School of Music.

Music Departments are subject to only their own standards and because of this practice, are less restricted in their policies and offerings. I am not saying one is any better than the other for each has to be judged by what they have done, not from what title they list.

Large Schools/Small Schools

This is a very important issue for you to consider. Some individuals are more comfortable in more intimate surroundings than other individuals and some feel the larger setting is more comfortable. The size of your school should be considered for you will be spending at least four (possibly more) years at the school of your choice. The advantage of a large school would be more contacts, more opportunity (as well as more competition) for playing, and a wider base for job placement. Small schools can/may give you a more personal feeling but if you are looking for more comfort rather than a better education, stay home and live with your mother.

What to Look for in a School

Selecting a school will begin with this question; what do I want to learn, what do I want to be, and what do I want to do when I graduate? The following are also some of the most important questions you will have to answer.

  • Do I want to teach music?
  • Do I want to teach class room music?
  • Do I want to teach high school music?
  • Do I want to teach high school instrumental music?
  • Do I want to teach high school brass instrument music?
  • Do I want to teach only trumpet students?

Each of these questions will begin to limit your focus on what you want to accomplish in college and each question will help you decide which college will best prepare you for your career. These questions were only directed to one area. Before deciding on your area of study, consider the following possible areas- Music publishing, music arranging, music business, musical promotion, performance, management, film production, stage manager, booking agent, tour manager, teacher, conductor, publication, therapy, theater design, history, editor, author, historian, performer, band manager, free lance musician, free lance instrumental teacher, instrument repair, instrument manufacturing and design and list goes on. Most high school students limit themselves to two directions- Do I want to be a music teacher or would I be successful as a performer? Spend the time and consider all of your options and the video I assigned to view may help you make this decision.

And Now, Please Welcome To Our Stage, Hattie Asker!

Hattie & trumpet Dec 15
As most readers of my posts have read, I enjoy sharing information about talented musicians who have impressed me with their accomplishments. I am very happy to share with you a new friend and fellow trumpeter from London, England and her name is Hattie Asker.

I have asked her to fill us in on her goals and accomplishments which may be of interest to others in the trumpet world. Oh, did I mention she is only 10 years old!

Once in a while I run across young talent who impress me with not only their advanced playing ability but also their more than typical maturity in music and life. This is such a combination and I asked Hattie to share some insight into her goals and aspirations in music. Please excuse the question and answer format for it isn’t often my interviewee is so far away when being interviewed.

And now, please welcome to our stage, Hattie Asker.


How and when did you decided to start playing the trumpet?

“I decided to start playing the trumpet towards the end of Year 2 (age 7½). My whole class was learning the recorder and a notice went out in the school newsletter saying that there were spaces available for brass lessons. I signed up for a trial lesson because I wanted to give it a go. The brass teacher said I might be too young but let me go along for a trial lesson because I had all 8 of my front adult teeth. After the lesson, he said I’d be most suited to the trumpet and that my age wouldn’t be a problem”.


Who do you follow in the trumpet world as your favorite trumpet player?

“My favorite trumpeter is Alison Balsom; I was given her album, “Caprice”, for my 8th birthday and loved the sound of her playing. A couple of years later, I was lucky enough to see her perform at the Royal Albert Hall. My favorite piece is her version of “Autumn Leaves” which I played on the flugelhorn (and I later worked out how to play by ear)”.


What do you hope to do in the future with your trumpet?

“My aim for my trumpeting is to learn more about how to modify the sound my trumpet makes e.g. using different mutes. I’d like to also become more confident with my improvisation, especially when performing”.


Are you currently studying with a teacher?

“I have weekly lessons at school with Dave Howell of Lewisham Music Service. I had group lessons until I took ABRSM G4 then changed to an individual lesson”.


Do you want to be a professional trumpet player?

“Yes! I would either like to play in the orchestra for live musicals or I’d like to become a jazz trumpeter. I’m not sure if I’d prefer to be a jazz soloist or an ensemble player”.


What kind of trumpet are you currently playing and the model and size of your mouthpiece?

“I got a new trumpet at Easter, 2015. It’s a B&S 3137s Challenger and my mouthpiece is a 7C”.


What ensembles are you currently playing with?

“At the moment I play in the Lewisham Music Centre’s advanced jazz band – when I was in the intermediate jazz band I also played in the Sinfonia but I had to choose between Advanced Jazz and Sinfonia in September. Jazz won! During the school holidays I sometimes join short courses such as the Southwark Youth Orchestra, Kinetika Bloco or things run by Trinity Laban-living in London means there’s a lot going on”.


Are you interested interest in playing more jazz or classical?

“Jazz! Definitely”.

When we think of great trumpet players starting at this age, such names as Louis Armstrong and Bix Beiderbecke come to mind. Could we now be seeing a contemporary version of these players surfacing? Only time will tell. In the meantime, watch Hattie’s video and do visit her Web Site to get more information on her progress and say hello when you are there.

MY TRUMPET & ME The travels of a 10-yr-old and her trumpet

Who Has More Air- Trumpet Players or Trombone Players?

classroom-clipart-music_class_2To my knowledge, this question has never been addressed, and some may wonder what difference does it make anyway?

As some of you may know already, your host has been performing regularly on trombone. In fact more on trombone than on trumpet this month. As a new member of the low brass family, I have recognized several distinct differences in not only playing styles but also character differences between the two instruments and their players. One striking difference is the fact that trombone players seem to be able to play longer phrases than trumpet players.

When trying to make the comparison of vital capacity, efficient use of air, differences in bore size as well as the range of each instrument, finding any conclusive facts is very difficult. But with my limited experience with the trombone and my entire carrier based on playing trumpet, I will try to sort out the differences and hopefully add some light to this dilemma.

Trumpet playing

• Smaller bore of instrument- due to the fact that the trumpet has a smaller bore than that of a trombone, it stands to reason that a trumpet player should be able to continue phrases much longer than a trombone player.
• Upper register playing- The trombone is usually performing an octave lower than the trumpet which means more air is needed to perform at this lower level.
• Trumpet players are blessed with an abundance of vital capacity- (the total amount of air within the lungs).
• Trumpet players are “breath deep” players- Every beginning student is told to breath deep and “fill the horn”.
• Trumpet players usually approach their instrument in a physical manner- Tell a trumpet player to take a deep breath and it instantly becomes a physical challenge on who can get more air in.

Trombone playing

• Trombone players “waste” trombone playing trumpet players on long phrases.
• In my case, (a new trombone player) I have to breath twice as often than the true trombone players in the trombone section.
• Trombone players appear to be more relaxed than trumpet players when performing.

I remember an interesting situation related to this topic. While attending a party with the great trombone, Supper Bone, trumpet playing musician by the name of Ashley Alexander, we all participated in a game “who can blow up a balloon the fastest”. Attending that party were most of our brass staff and it was expected that the trumpet players would go home with the honors that evening. That did not happen.

Everyone took their turn at trying to burst their balloon in the quickest time and those with years of low brass experience won every time. Keith Johnson (now retired from the University of North Texas, Denton) and I were humiliated by our colleagues. Both Keith and I were amazed; especially when you consider that Mr. Johnson was and is a strong exponent of the art of relaxed and deep breathing.

Apparently, through many years of practice, trombone players have learned something we trumpet players have not developed.

There may be different reasons for this condition and I’ll try to list some of them.

1. Trombone players, through many years of playing have learned to take in more air than trumpet players.
2. Trombone players are more efficient with the air they take in.
3. The trombone embouchure may have some effect on the increased length of phrases.
4. Trombone players are more relaxed than trumpet player when performing.

I am confident that this post will generate some discussion on the subject and I encourage any comments or additional information for I am at a loss as to the reason I can’t keep up with my low brass colleagues.

An interesting side note for those interested in the lung capacity of wind player as compared to athletes is the fact that athletes in grades six, seventh, and eighth (2.938) had more vital capacity than wind players (2.362).*


Guess Who’s Stealing Our Gigs Now?

imgresOnce upon a time in a land far away, lived a very talented musician who longed for the opportunity to play his instrument and actually get paid to do so. Oh what visions of grandeur passed through his/her head as he/she dedicated his/her every waking hour to practicing his/her favorite instrument. Years past and slowly his/her ambition became a reality.

“This is why I have dedicated me life to my instrument. This is finally the payback I have dreamed of”.

Then, while performing with one of the Holiday On Ice show, he/she was asked if he/she ( don’t you get tired of all this political correctness?) needed a break which surprised the young and naive musician. “What do you mean”, he asked? The dedicated musician was then told that what he and the audience heard was actually prerecorded tracks being pumped through the house speakers! Welcome to track music. That was around 1965.

After making an eventual move to Branson, Missouri, “The Live Music Capital of the World”, the musician found that tracks had again infiltrated the music scene. Bands were continually reducing their personnel and making more and more room for prerecorded instrumental tracks. When first performing in Branson fifteen years ago, the backing ensembles were populated by three to four and sometimes five trumpets in several theaters. Also in the bands were complete sax and trombone sections. Each year more and more musicians were given their pink slips and more and more recorded backgrounds made their way into orchestra pits and stages. This is all history and the security and availability of performing musician jobs has continued to diminish. At this time in Branson there are approximately two shows using full time trumpet players as compared to the fifteen full time trumpet positions fifteen years ago.

You may now ask, “Who is now stealing the gigs?

The answer may shock you…..

There seems to be a trend in the live music industry which pits musician against other musicians. This trend is perpetrated by fellow musicians who voluntarily offer to perform for “free” and make their money by selling their CD’s to the patrons! With the downward trend of unionized representation it seems that the average law abiding musician has no certainty of continued employment. We once feared the recording industry and now we are being attacked by our own fellow musicians.

An example of this thoughtless and selfish practice is the fact that some of our local bands are now playing in clubs free of charge and their income is based on the sale of their CD’s. How stupid can you get? The club owners are elated for they incur no expense for the live entertainment and only have to furnish the stage, lights and sound system. These musical pirates can sometimes make a sizable amount each night selling their CDs and everyone wins, right? Of course the working musician is now out of work and in many cases is forced to move his/her families to another area. How can real musicians compete with free bands? This is just another example of what we used to call “scabes”; workers agreeing to work for far less than the market is currently paying.

The question is this; is there anything we can do to curtail this legal yet disgusting practice? Unfortunately the only thing we can do is first become aware of this practice and then spread the word that musicians are stealing from other musicians. I’m sure that a musician (term used very loosely) making $200 a night selling CDs is not going to complain, especially when a true musician is usually given one-fourth that amount for the same amount of time. These CD, under the counter, lowballing, scabs are making more but need be viewed as a real threat to live music and the reason that most musicians dedicated their years to improving this art form.

If you have any questions about this practice, please send me your thoughts.

If you are one of those CD super stars. I would also enjoy visiting with you about this topic..

Copy Cat Trumpets

One of our readers brought up an interesting issue which I thought would be helpful to other readers and that was the quality (or lack of) of many imported trumpets on the market.

As the unaware shopper begins to search for the perfect instrument for their kids or themselves, the first place many go to find such an instrument would be on ebay……so let’s take a look.

Type in and in the search box, enter trumpet.

The first thing you see is “Mendidi Bb Beginning Trumpet in Gold, Silver, Black, Red, +CaseKit+ Case”. My goodness they might think, “I didn’t realize that trumpets were so inexpensive! List price of $339 reduced to only $99. What a bargain!

Now let’s look closer at this Super Buy.

It says that they have sold 4,296 and one was just sold an hour ago. This must be a good trumpet if all those people are buying it.

Now we start looking closer at the pictures to see the product better.

Things I notice-

1. It looks like a trumpet but now you have to decide which color would be the best. Gold would be a good investment but perhaps it isn’t real gold at that price. Black looks striking but I don’t think I have ever seen one in a band. I think the silver would be best.

2. The trumpet case looks familiar. It looks just like Uncle Bob’s Giardinelli trumpet case. Wow! He would be surprised that I got a Giardinelli trumpet case with the trumpet, and for less than $100.

3. This trumpet looks like every other trumpet. Although the finger hook at the top of that tube looks much thinner and cheaper than the others I have seen.

4. The bell looks exactly the same as other trumpet bells, other than the fact that it has a slightly different shape. I’m sure the shape doesn’t matter much for all trumpets are the same. Aren’t they?

5. I recognize the saddle on the first valve slide. It looks just like the one I saw on a Schilke although this one is much higher and thinner.

6. The ring on the third slide looks just like that on an old Getzen I saw one time. Maybe the old style is coming back. That lockdown knob sure looks much higher than I remembered and the bracing doesn’t look as substantial as I remember.

7. Something about that water key bothers me. It looks as if it were stuck on with glue and the water key itself looks as if it were stamped out of tin.

8. That’s interesting, in one picture, there are rubber rings inserted in the first second and third valve slides, and in the other photos there are none. I guess they just forgot to put them on. But wait! In the full shot of the silver trumpet there are rubber rings also on the tuning slide! But wait, again! They placed them at the wrong section of the tuning slide! In that position, they are useless! Now what do they know that the rest of the world doesn’t?

9. There is something also unusual for in one picture they show black, rubber water key stoppers and in another they are made of cork. I wonder why they did that.

10. Now I am confused for in the next picture the rubber rings are gone …….. and so are the black rubber water key stoppers.

11. This is getting spooky for in the next picture they are back again!

12. In the next picture the rings are again placed in the wrong position on the tuning slide. And the black rubber water key stoppers are back!

13. What do the gloves have to do with trumpet playing? I guess they are for marching bands that perform in Iowa during the winter. I’ve heard it gets very cold up there.

Although this shopping spree was written as a humorous tale, it illustrates the frustration and confusion a shopper might have when searching for their first trumpet.

As I have tried to show, the market is filled with “copycat” instruments which try to copy the most easily recognized features of our top line instruments in hopes of tricking the unaware buyer into purchasing the lesser priced and equally lesser quality instruments.

In my next post, I will try to walk the less knowledgeable buyer through the maze of instrument features in hopes that they make an educated decision on the purchase of a fine instrument.

P.S. Don’t buy the “Mendidi Bb Beginning Trumpet in Gold, Silver, Black, Red, +CaseKit+ Case”….at any price!

The practice of other countries coping from us is not new as this true story illustrates.

In the 1950’s, the United States exported a huge printing press to Japan. While loading this massive machine on the ship to transport it to this distant country, the cable broke and the printing press fell on the dock. After close scrutiny, it was discover that a crack had formed in the side of the press. In order to make the shipments deadline, it was decided to weld the crack shut and send it on its way. Years later when following up on the shipment, the inspector found a strange discovery. The Japanese had duplicated the original printing press all the way down to the emergency weld on the side of the machine.

“And now you know the rest of the story”.