The Endless Search for Perfection

We all face challenges each day. Some are brought on by our jobs, our life styles and in some cases are self-imposed as this post will reveal. Today completes our Spring season with a new musical in town called “All Hands On Deck”. I would consider this the most enjoyable show I have played in Branson for the music is well written, the actors/ entertainers are top rate professionals and plot is very patriotic. In my “never ending” and “never succeeding” quest for perfection, I began making notes of my performances to see how accurate my playing could be. After…

A Night Off

What do you do when you have finished a great week playing a show and you have nothing to do all evening? Well, what I did this evening was to play with one of my old toys from more than a half century back. I’m speaking of a little contraption called an Octavoice I Ampliphonic which was produced by King Vox many, many, many, many years ago. The model I have is for a Clarinet and due to the fact that the person (student) who sold it to me did not have a pickup for a trumpet, I had to…

To Plunge Or Not To Plunge, That Was The Question…

What looks good on a score sometimes does not work as well as one might anticipate as this situation illustrates. I ran into a challenge recently which made me look for a nontraditional solution. On one of my parts was the example below- At first glance, I thought it to be a challenge but not a problem. Then I tried playing it. When using my ever trusty new plunger, the high C’s tended to “break” and I was having a difficult time getting all of the DuWahs to sound the same. Even after practicing, it didn’t seem to be improving…

Packing Your Essentials For A Job

Some gigs require your horn and a mouthpiece while others require planning and forethought. My present job has special requirements which I will address in this post. The “All Hands on Deck Show” is all-new to Branson, fresh off a national tour. Themed as an All-American 1942 Roadshow, audiences are treated to singing, dancing, a 9-piece orchestra, funny skits, and 42 of the greatest American songs ever written. Celebrate the American way of life, and honor our veterans who have made it all possible at this patriotic Branson show. Some of the extra equipment in this show are the following…

Using Technology to Improve Your Trumpet Playing- Using an oscilloscope

Visualizing Your Sound Many times I am asked , “Who do you think has the best trumpet sound?” Some would say Clifford Brown, some would offer the name Maurice André, Bud Herseth or “Bix” Beiderbecke. Everyone has an opinion but the real question should be, “Why do they have the sound we strive for”? Some say the secret to a good tone quality lies in the equipment used and some believe that the resonating chamber in each person is the reason. Whatever the reason and whoever you are speaking of, one thing is a known fact, through technology, we can…

The Trumpet Player’s Octave Key

Have you ever watched enviously as woodwind players sail up and down through their wide range by only depressing their octave key? With the slightest movement of the thumb of their left hand, clarinet players are able to jump octaves with ease and sax players effortlessly negotiate eight and sixteen note intervals with no additional effort while we brass players continue to struggle to perform the same skips. Well fellow tube buzzers, there is hope. We will also soar with the eagles for we now have an octave key and we should use it proudly. It is located just below…

Brass Players Obsession for “The Sound” Part 3- What Does A Full, Rich Sound Look Like?

When trying to describe a tone produced by any vibratory agent, one needs to graphically represent its elements in a way everyone can see and compare. To do this, I will record three different trumpet pitches and compared each as it is represented on a computer screen. As some of you may already know, I am a strong advocate for a simple and inexpensive (free) program called Audacity. It is with this software that I have record our examples and if you do not already have Audacity on your computer, why are you waiting? 1. Our first examples will illustrate…

Brass Players Obsession for “The Sound” Part 2

What Is The Perfect Tone? If you ask a dozen trumpet players this question you will get many different descriptions for each player has been influenced by their past likes and dislikes. To a die-hard cool jazz musician, his/her leanings would be more toward the darker side illustrated by the styling of Miles Davis but to a traditional jazz follower, the tone of Louis Armstrong would be more appealing. Most symphonic trumpet performers would agree that the tone of Mr. “Bud” Herseth would be ideal and yet there are some who would prefer a different principle chair player. It would…