How Can I Learn to Play My Scales?

This question was just sent to our site recently and has been an issue through the ages for most musicians. The easiest answer and unfortunately the most often suggested remedy is…. “Practice playing them”! When we began studying our instrument, one of the features of most method book was the slow and gradual introduction of increasingly more difficult scales. This has been the practice for decades and most players adhered to this routine. Many years ago I started our youngest son on trumpet and began to introduce the different keys in a less orthodox way. His first key was C…

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Patriotic Transposition Study

Transposition sometimes is required for trumpet players. It most often occurs while playing in an orchestral setting but can surface in other venues such as reading out of a Fake Book, transposing from a hymnal or working with bad singers. To a younger player this can be a shock and for that reason I have included this study which uses a melody everyone should be familiar with and in a range most players will feel comfortable. Remember to use your eyes first and if your melody goes astray, your ears will guide you. Eyes first! Ears second! Patriotic Transposition Study

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What is a Flugel Horn and Do I need to own one?

The flugelhorn, also spelled fluegelhorn, flugel horn or flugelhorn has a long history in European countries but is relatively new to ours. Its popularity in the states probably dates back to the fifties through the use of such well known names in jazz as Shorty Rogers, Kenny Baker, Clark Terry, Chet Baker, Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan, Nat Adderley and Art Farmer. The purpose of the flugel was to give the player an alternative to the edgy, powerful trumpet sound. During the Bebop period (1945-1960) the trumpet was king, but when cool jazz started to gain a following in…

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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…

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The Perfect Lesson Plan #1 “Absolute Beginner”

When first beginning to play trumpet, your expectations are usually high and the amount of energy spent also indicates your desire to succeed. Unfortunately ones desires and expectations sometimes are higher than ones ability. Too many times we are told, “You can do anything if you try hard enough”, which unfortunately many times is inaccurate. I could try the remainder of my life to be able to fly but “it ain’t going to happen”! Before we begin on your lesson plan, I wanted to say that if you are interested in playing trumpet, I encourage you to begin, and with…

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How To Place Your Mouthpiece In Your Horn

Have you ever heard or read something that does not make any sense to you at all and then you set out to prove it wrong only to find that it is actually true? This happened to me this past week and even though it is an embarrassment, I will swallow my pride for the betterment of the brass world. This past week I read a post on one of the brass bulletin boards which stated that this person claimed that the rotation of the mouthpiece could actually change how the instrument responded when played. Just the thought of someone…

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…

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Selecting An Instrument To Study- Part 4: Social, Economic And Political Influences

You may wonder what social, economic and political influences have to do with the selection of our children’s instruments but you must realize that our surroundings have a great impact on many decisions in our lives. This posting addresses all three influences from an historic standpoint and it was written to share information relating to our changing views of the most popular instruments at the time. 1900 During this period in our history, our musical taste leaned heavily toward a new music called Ragtime. The well known composer Scott Joplin led the way to this early example of jazz and…

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Selecting An Instrument To Study Part 3- Late Bloomers

Whether you have played an instrument before or you are a first timer, learning or relearning an instrument can be exciting and fun. There are many advantages to being in the twilight years of your life. One advantage is that no one expects much out of you. I celebrated my sixty-ninth birthday while playing a seven day a week show in Branson. The trombone player asked me how old I was and when I told him, he stared intensely at me and said, “That’s amazing”. I’m not sure what he really meant but I took it as a compliment to…