Which Comes First, Technique or Musicality?

This question is much like the chicken or the egg issue. Which should be taught first? One camp believes that without technique, nothing can be played and the other camp asks the question “what good is technique if it isn’t musical”. Both have their cases and in this post I will try to bring the two sides to a happy mid point.

Most of my early teaching was geared to the technical approach but as I increase candles on my birthday cake I must admit, all technique can have its disadvantages. One student who stands out as the most gifted technician on his instrument was without doubt the least musical that I have ever worked with. When assigned an extremely difficult solo or etude, this student would go home and the next week would come back and perform it perfectly. It didn’t matter how difficult the material was, within the week he would have it down. Unfortunately it would also be one of the most technically perfect and unmusical performances you would ever hear. On the other hand, I have had students who could bring tears to your eyes with the most heart wrenching performance of an assignment and miss half the notes. Could there be a happy middle ground in our quest for the perfect approach to musical playing? I do hope so and from what I have recently discovered, the answer may be within reach.

Last week I decided to arrange a composition which was far from the norm for my trumpet quartet. I decided to try to arrange the Second Study from the Clarke Technical Studies for Cornet book. This most recognized collection of finger busting patterns is one which proved to be a challenge. I found the repeated pattern to have a Baroque feel and that is how I decided to portray it. By the end of the day, it was arranged, printed and recorded. I was very pleased with the way it sounded. After recording and listening to the playback, I noticed that it began to have a life of its own. After many years playing these notes, I finally started to think of the melody as a melody rather than a finger exercise. Musical articulation and a new approach to the dynamics began to replace the boredom which I usually encounter while dutifully banging down my valves. Shorter phrases within the four measure melody began to surface. This perked my enthusiasm so I began to arrange other studies.

Shortly after posting the second study, I began to receive E-Mails of support from my readers. One such comment stated, “That….was….incredibly…beautiful”
This comment was an inspiration to me for my thinking was now substantiated by others. The technical can also be musical. After several orders for the Second Study arrived, I began writing arrangements for other studies. When considering the Fourth Study I was reminded of one of the comments which described my previous attempts as being beautiful. I had never considered Clarke’s book to be beautiful but after reading through the Fourth Study, I began to see the beauty in this pattern also. I then set out to arrange an even more musical version of Clarke’s material. I have included this arrangement for you and hope this will give you some thought as to the value of a more musical approach to the technical side of trumpet playing.

In closing, I must say that arranging Clarke’s Fourth Study changed my approach to technical practice. I have discovered another level of musicianship which is also reflected in my performances. Some may say this revelation was a religious experience, some may say that I finally got smart. I do know that each time I listen to my quartet arrangement of the Fourth Study; I ask myself, “Where did that come from”?

Listen to example-

The Clarke Technical Exercises written for a trumpet quartet are availabe as a set of #’s 1 through 5 at….


Happy Pappy Popper Pills- “The Musicians Answer For Success”

Finally we have advanced to a stage in our musical lives where practicing is no longer required to become a successful musician.

Throughout most of my life I have voiced the opinion that I would love to be able to take a pill which would eliminate the boredom of practicing. And finally it has happened!

Let me introduce you to the new wonder pill of the musical world- “Happy Pappy Popper Pills”

No longer will you be required to spend endless hours slaving over orchestral excerpts, jazz transcriptions and one more variation of the Carnival Of Venice. One amazing pill will relieve you of all the anxieties and wasted time worrying about your preparation and technique. It’s all combined into one small yet amazing pill which will revolutionize every musician’s life.

Please read further below to understand all of the benefits of this new medication and be the first in your neighborhood to reserve a room at Carnegie Hall for your next world premiere performance. One pill will send your career to heights previously unattainable.

Taking one “Happy Pappy Popper Pill” each day will free you from the many agonizing hours of practice which used to be required to master your chosen instrument. One pill will replace the boredom, pain, embarrassment and all of those wrong notes. Not only will you be elated with your success, but think of the joy you will be giving to all those forced to listen to you practice. Your life will change overnight and the praise from all who doubted your musical talents will suddenly change their opinions to accolades of praise and astonishment.

Only one pill in the morning will send you on your way to stardom throughout the world!

Several hours of research have gone into the many ingredients in “Happy Pappy Popper Pills” and after the three tireless day of intensive testing done by the developer and his wife, the miracle pill is now available in limited numbers and a few locations.

To give you some idea as to the multitude of benefits this miracle supplement has to offer, please read below the makeup and benefits of “Happy Pappy Popper Pills”.

Happy Pappy Popper Pills contains the following ingredients and benefits-

Vitamin A- Helpful for strengthening bones and teeth in order to sustain high notes for longer periods of time.

Vitamin D- Needed for proper absorption of calcium; stored in bones which takes the edge off your lead trumpet playing.

Vitamin E- Antioxidant; protects cell walls from lip damage and splitting.

Vitamin K- Needed for proper blood clotting in case Vitamin E doesn’t work.

Vitamin B1- Part of an enzyme needed for energy; important to lowering nerve function such as stage fright.

Vitamin B2- Part of an enzyme needed for energy; important for improved vision for reading the smaller printed notes.

Vitamin B3- Part of an enzyme needed for energy; important for digestive system after too many tacos and enchiladas.

Vitamin C- Antioxidant; part of an enzyme needed for protein metabolism; important for immune system health; aids in iron absorption as well as absorption of brass particles from your instrument.

In addition to the Vitamins listed above, be aware of additional supplements related to brass players in particular. Read on for related supplemental benefits-

NMAN- (Never Miss A Note) has been added to improve your sight-reading.

SCWTCB- (Stay Cool When The Check Bounces) This is particularly important to the single engagement musician from out of town.

LTE- (Lead Trumpet Enhancement) Every lead trumpet player will enjoy this supplement for it completely blocks out the grumbling from the second chair player about your ugly sound and ego.

OCB- (Orchestral Concept Blocker) This is absolutely require if you are faced with a situation where an orchestra player has joined your section.

NKITS- (New Kid In The Section) This amazing supplement filters out all the high notes a young player screeches before the job and all the clams the new player splatters during the job.

NLATL- (Never Look At The Leader) After taking just one pill a night this supplement will allow you to completely block out any and all directions from the leader of your ensemble.

AVFF- (Automatic Valve Failure Function) This alone will sell you on this product. Every time you miss a note, the Automatic Valve Failure Function kicks in and instantly freezes your first valve in a halfway down position so you will have something to complain about.

As unbelievable as this may sound, the benefits of the “Happy Pappy Popper Pills” are endless. Be sure to contact your local pharmacy to learn more about this miracle product.

Or maybe not……. for a lawsuit brought on by the Better Pharmaceutical Council has not yet been settled nor has the Governmental Study of Fraudulent Activities in Drug Sales been resolved.

Until these two, small issues have been finalized, only regular practice will insure success in your musical future.

PLEASE NOTE: This post in no way condones nor promotes the use of mind, body or thought enhancing medication for personal improvement.

And…….”Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires”

“Free Trumpet Sheet Music” Update

I wanted to keep everyone up to date with our free trumpet sheet music section.

At the present time we have 40 free arrangements which you can download at this time.

So far we have had 10,777 downloads from this free section.

Wouldn’t you like to make it and even 10,778?

Check it out at..

Branson Trumpet Ensemble

and enter “free sheet music” in the search box.

Christmas Arrangements For Sale!

It’s time again to stock up on your Holiday trumpet arrangements and to help speed your selection along, we have listed just a few!

This post includes only our Christmas Solos and Duets.

In our next post we will try to get in the trios, quartets and trumpet choir arrangements.

Yes, this has been a very busy year and we hope you can find what you are looking for.

Each link will take you to the page describing the arrangement as well as a recording so that you will know how your arrangement will sound.

Merry Christmas from Branson, Missouri and the Branson Trumpet Ensemble.


For Unto Us A Child Is Born- Solo Trumpet w/ Tracks

20 Of The Most Popular Christmas Songs For Trumpet

Trumpet Solo Tracks Christmas Sheet Music Bundle

Little Drummer Boy- Solo Track

Winter Wonderland- Solo Track

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas- Solo Track

Solo Duet Trio

Bring A Torch, Jeannette, Isabella- Trumpet Solo, Duet or Trio, w/Piano sheet music

Away In The Manger- Trumpet Solo/Duet or Trio (with Organ)


The Ultimate Christmas Duet Collection #2

Jingle Bells- Trumpet Duet

O Come All Ye Faithful- Trumpet Descants

O Little Town of Bethlehem- Trumpet Solo or Duet/w Organ

Christmas Duets for Trumpet- 5 easy duets

Christmas Duets for Trumpet – 5 advanced duets

Joy To The World- Trumpet Duet w/ Organ

“Let It Snow, Let It Snow, and so forth”- Trumpet Duet

O Christmas Tree- Trumpet Duet

Ding Dong Merrily On High- Trumpet Duet w/Solo Track

Christmas Time Is Here- Trumpet Duet /w Solo Tracks

Grownup Christmas List- Trumpet Duet /w tracks

Rudolph Gets Funky- Trumpet Duet

What Child Is This- Trumpet Duet

Trumpet Duet Christmas Sheet Music Bundle

Jingle Bells- Trumpet solo or duet with MP3 accompaniment

Silver Bells- Trumpet Duet

Dixieland Christmas- Trumpet Duet

Mute Holder Revisited

This very simple, cheap and easy device has saved us on more than occassion.
The number of must changes is tremendous in this show and sometimes we have only two or three beats to get a mute in. Having the mutes resting at the end of my bell makes the change possible.

Check out my first posting on this $2.97 mute holder which will make your life much easier.

Free Mute Holder!

Trumpet Case Updates- Hard Cases

Winter trumpet flugelhor.
My first review of available trumpet cases was done over two years ago and since that time, some new manufactures have come on the scene and some products have been discontinued. Because of these changes, I thought it was time to update my opinions as to which features and which manufactures seem to be offing us the best products.

Be sure to check back to my earlier posts for I covered many issues at that time which will not be included in this updated review. This post will only include products which I feel are the best choice for anyone needing a new trumpet case.

My recommendation for the “best single, hard case for your trumpet.

1. None
All of the single cases available that I have seen do not offer enough extra space for accessories such as mutes, music, etc. without increasing the size of the case itself. You would be better off getting a double case which will give you better protection as well as more storage space.

My recommendation for the “best double, hard case for your trumpet.

1. Yamaha Double Trumpet Case

$245.00 Dillon Music

2. J. Winter JW 775 Deluxe Wood Double Trumpet Case

$249.99 Woodwind Brasswind

My recommendation for the “best triple, hard case for your trumpet.

1. J. Winter JW 776 Deluxe Wood Case For 3 TrumpetsStandard

$289.99 Woodwind Brasswind

My recommendation for the “best trumpet/ flugle horn, hard case.

1. J. Winter JW 777 Deluxe Wood Trumpet and Flugelhorn Case

2. You might also consider the J. Winter JW 776 Deluxe Wood Case For 3 TrumpetsStandard and remove the back divider to make room for your flugle which I do on my Schilke triple case. This option guaranties that your flugle will fit easily in the case.

$304.99 Amazon

The only difference between the Schilke, Yamaha and the Winter cases is that the outer materials on the Winter cases are a little less impressive.

Make Your Own Practice Mute

The Internet has become a wonderful place to share ideas and this post will direct you to a helpful do-it-yourself instructional video you really need to view. A very big thank you to ARMYstrong419 for sharing this information with us. I have tried this and it works great. Sometimes the cheapest can be the best.

And for additional information