The Most Important 24 Notes You May Ever Play

As most of you know, Branson is possibly the most dedicated city in the nation to honor of our service men and women. This week has been designated as Veterans Week and every store, show and business has welcomed thousands of our veterans to Branson to give recognition for their dedication to the protection of our country.

This evening I have the privilege of performing Taps at the formal Marine Corps. dinner and in their honor and for that reason, I thought it would be appropriate to dedicate this post to the preparation going into this performance.

The history-

The Story of Taps (reprinted from U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs The Story of Taps).)

The 24-note melancholy bugle call known as “taps” is thought to be a revision of a
French bugle signal, called “tattoo,” that notified soldiers to cease an evening’s drinking
and return to their garrisons. It was sounded an hour before the final bugle call to end
the day by extinguishing fires and lights. The last five measures of the tattoo resemble

The word “taps” is an alteration of the obsolete word “taptoo,” derived from the Dutch
“taptoe.” Taptoe was the command — “Tap toe!” — to shut (“toe to”) the “tap” of a keg.
The revision that gave us present-day taps was made during America’s Civil War by
Union Gen. Daniel Adams Butterfield, heading a brigade camped at Harrison Landing,
Va., near Richmond. Up to that time, the U.S. Army’s infantry call to end the day was
the French final call, “L’Extinction des feux.” Gen. Butterfield decided the “lights out”
music was too formal to signal the day’s end. One day in July 1862 he recalled the
tattoo music and hummed a version of it to an aide, who wrote it down in music.
Butterfield then asked the brigade bugler, Oliver W. Norton, to play the notes and, after
listening, lengthened and shortened them while keeping his original melody.
He ordered Norton to play this new call at the end of each day thereafter, instead of the
regulation call. The music was heard and appreciated by other brigades, who asked for
copies and adopted this bugle call. It was even adopted by Confederate buglers.
This music was made the official Army bugle call after the war, but not given the name
“taps” until 1874.

The first time taps was played at a military funeral may also have been in Virginia soon
after Butterfield composed it. Union Capt. John Tidball, head of an artillery battery,
ordered it played for the burial of a cannoneer killed in action. Not wanting to reveal the
battery’s position in the woods to the enemy nearby, Tidball substituted taps for the
traditional three rifle volleys fired over the grave. Taps was played at the funeral of
Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson 10 months after it was composed. Army infantry
regulations by 1891 required taps to be played at military funeral ceremonies.
Taps now is played by the military at burial and memorial services, to accompany the
lowering of the flag and to signal the “lights out” command at day’s end.

Preparing for the performance-

Mental mind set-

Performing Taps should be considered an honorable occasion for there is much more involved than just its 24 notes. Taps represents sacrifices and heart break as well as pride and honor among a few chosen, or have volunteered to serve our country. Some are able to hear its performance while many will only be there in the memories of their comrades. Because of this honor, your performance should reflect the seriousness of the occasion.

The performance-

One should not be casual about preparing for this presentation, which means having a copy of the original and most accepted version of the number. I have heard many versions and only a few were performed as the original music requested. One misconception is the misuse of the dotted eighth followed by a sixteenth. As you can see from the example offered below, the use of dotted rhythms and even rhythms alternate throughout the melody.

The tempo which you choose must be dignified yet not too somber for this is not your solo; it is a ceremony in which you are participating. Just as the tempo is important for the effect so are the dynamics and tone color of your playing. When I play Taps, I most often use the largest mouthpiece I have on my shelf which happens to be a Schilke 20. I choose this for tone and richness of the sound. No matter how loud I have to play, I will never have an edgy, cutting tone quality which tends to distract from the performance. The larger mouthpiece also tends to mask any nervousness in my sound as sometimes smaller mouthpieces can.

We have the choice of many different keys to play this melody but I have found that the conventional Bb concert still works best for intonation and timbre although the use of the first valve (Eb concert) comes very close.

The use of lyrics-

When performing a number which has lyrics, it is helpful to think of the words as you play for it tends to make your performance more musical. Individual notes have no emotions but words generate feeling and images helpful for a better performance. As you play the melody, mentally think the words and your notes will take on more expression. As an example- play the melody to the Lord’s Prayer. Then play the same melody as you mentally sing the words. When you get to “for Thine is the kindom, and the power and the glory forever. On the word forever, not only have you placed more impact on that word, but you have also forgotten any technical problems you may have had playing the top note. It is as if the words pull the notes out of the bell of your instrument.

In closing, I would like to share with you another person’s appreciation for the performance of Taps.

One of my good friends has been very active in the honoring of our Veterans and I have asked him to share with us his feelings while listening to the playing of Taps. His name is Mike Radford.

Mike Radford

“Whenever I hear Taps being played my heart goes to the vision of a mother standing on
the front porch of her home, watching as two uniformed men approach the house as she
falls to her knees realizing her child has been killed in action. My mind thinks of my Grandpa
Mitch who fought in WWI … hearing his cries in the night as he screamed in terror remembering
the horrors of fighting in 1916. As a little boy, his screams carved deep memories in my heart.
But my most vivid emotions, still raw… are of laying to rest my adopted brother Tim Rogers
who epitomized the term “Patriot.” His war injuries demonstrated the sacrifice of young
men and women from 1776 to 2012. We owe them everything as they gave up all their tomorrows
so we could remain free men and women in these wonderful United States of America.”

I have included a very small listing of his achievements and as you read, I think you will agree that we, as trumpet players, need to reevaluate the honor placed upon us as we perform this powerful and meaningful 24 note melody.

“Bob Hope Award”
for Excellence in Entertainment
Other recipients include:
President Ronald Reagan
The late Jimmy Stewart, Actor
Stephen Ambrose, Literature
Roger Staubach, NFL Hall of Fame

In 1999 Senator Bob Dole’s office asked Mike to spearhead Branson’s fundraising efforts to build The WWII Memorial in Washington, DC– Mike’s efforts helped Branson rank as the #1 city in the country. In 2000 he was named Ambassador of Patriotism by the Missouri House of Representatives and the Pentagon in Arlington, VA.

Download Taps here

Day is done, gone the sun,
From the lake, from the hills, from the sky;
All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.

Fading light, dims the sight,
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright.
From afar, drawing nigh, falls the night.

Thanks and praise, for our days,
‘Neath the sun, ‘neath the stars, neath the sky;
As we go, this we know, God is nigh.

Sun has set, shadows come,
Time has fled, Scouts must go to their beds
Always true to the promise that they made.

While the light fades from sight,
And the stars gleaming rays softly send,
To thy hands we our souls, Lord, commend.

What You Need To Know About Hearing Loss- Part 2

If you have read my first post on reasons for hearing loss, you may be interested in some information  I have collected which could help you to select some tools to help prolong your current hearing condition.

Are earplugs the solution to attacks on your hearing?

The use of ear plugs have saved untold numbers of people who are faced with the constant barrage of high volume noises in their daily work. Factory workers, sheet metal shop owners as well as rock musicians are all face with the same dilemma- the need to protect ones hearing in a very inhospitable area. Ear plugs are available in various forms and price ranges and for that reason I will describe the four basic styles of noise reduction.


I have included this style of noise reduction only because they fit the requirement of noise reduction. For all practical purposes, these would not be applicable for a musicians needs if the performer needed to interactively work with other musicians. If I were a drummer forced to practice in a small room for hours at a time, these might be just want is required. But for the rest of us, their use would be restricted to the rifle range.

The efficiency and cost would range from 20db/ $8.15 to the more effective and more expensive models which reduce noise levels by 30db and cost around $28.89.

Original Foam Earplugs

Certainly the most economical hearing protection on the market today is the foam style which fit firmly in your ear. The noise reduction is very impressive (29DB) and is readily available in most areas. The cost will run about $2.99 for four pairs of disposable plugs. This is a very small price for the protection of your hearing.

For the reduction of noise, they work well but for letting you hear and interact with fellow musicians around you, they are far from perfection. The noise level is reduced but also is everything around you.

The newer, more advanced foam earplugs have increased noise reduction as well as allow more normal sound to enter the ear. An example of this would be the Howard Leight MAX-1-D Disposable Ear Plug which reportedly filters out 33 DB of noise. l Price is $25.00 for a box of 200 disposable earplugs.

Silicone Rubber Earplugs

This style of earplug again will allow more local sounds to enter the ear and still restrict the more detrimental noises from doing damage to your hearing. These are reported to eliminate 26Db and cost around $4.99 a pair.

Their advanced design will improve comfort when wearing them for extended periods of time as well as allowing you to more easily hear the players around you. I have been using these earplugs for several years and have been satisfied with their performance.

Higher Grade Adjustable Non Custom Fitted Earplugs

As the price increases, so does the quality and the next category in earplugs seems to be worth the added expense. Although the amount of noise reduction is less, the added advantage of better balance within your ensemble is much better. These sell for $12.95 plus shipping. They do have the advantage that they are reusable.

Highest Grade Adjustable Custom Fitted Earplugs

You may be able to find a professional in your area who is qualified to custom fit a pair of these in your ear and I have no doubt that they are wonderful. But….I am sure they are out of the salary range of a retired university professor. Buyers beware.

IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY- If you get stuck at a concert without your earplugs, do as I do. Stuff your ear canal with Kleenex.

-Just remember-

“You can’t reverse hearing loss”

What You Need To Know About Hearing Loss- Part 1

Warning- The Following Information May Change Your Life!

We spend a great amount of money on equipment which we feel is necessary to become fine musicians and there is little doubt that good equipment can help us reach that goal. But how much concern do we have for preserving an essential element which we already possess?  And that essential element would be our hearing. As performers, we are expected to have what they call in the recording industry, “big ears”. This term has nothing to do with the size or shape of our ears. It has to do with how much we can hear and understand. Too often we neglect the importance of the preservation of our hearing. Just as an artist requires the use of his/her sight, musicians must rely on their hearing to become better performers and that is why I wanted to address this often neglected area of our art. If you are now about to stop reading for you have been told all of this before, please don’t stop reading. I will be repeating many of the same things that you have been told before by friends and family but try to block out what they have said. The chances are very good that you heard but did not obey and for that reason I want you to read everything in this post as if it were the first time you have been told. Trust me; this may actually change your life.

Good hearing is not only important to musicians, it is important to everyone. As I get older, I am thankful that my parents insisted that I protect my hearing. I admit that their encouragements were not always followed, but now at my mature age, I still have good hearing and when I visit with my friends both musicians and non musicians, I am thankful that hearing loss is not one of my many signs of aging.

*Signs and symptoms of hearing loss may include:

  • Muffled quality of speech and other sounds
  • Difficulty understanding words, especially against background noise or in a crowd of people
  • Frequently asking others to speak more slowly, clearly and loudly
  • Needing to turn up the volume of the television or radio
  • Withdrawal from conversations
  • Avoidance of some social settings

Factors that may damage or lead to loss of the hairs and nerve cells in your inner ear include:

  • Aging. Exposure to sounds over the years can damage the cells of your inner ear.
  • Heredity. Your genetic makeup may make you more susceptible to ear damage.
  • Occupational noises. Jobs where loud noise is a regular part of the working environment, such as farming, construction or factory work, can lead to damage inside your ear.
  • Recreational noises. Exposure to explosive noises, such as from firearms and fireworks, can cause immediate, permanent hearing loss. Other recreational activities with dangerously high noise levels include snowmobiling, motorcycling or listening to loud music. Personal music players such as MP3 players can cause lasting hearing loss if you turn the volume up high enough to mask the sound of other loud noises, such as a lawn mower.
  • Some medications. Drugs such as the antibiotic gentamicin and certain chemotherapy drugs can damage the inner ear. Temporary effects on your hearing — ringing in the ear (tinnitus) or hearing loss — can occur if you take very high doses of aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antimalarial drugs or loop diuretics.
  • Some illnesses. Diseases or illnesses that result in high fever, such as meningitis, may damage the cochlea.

Sound levels of common noises Decibels Noise source Safe range 30 Whisper 60 Normal conversation 70 Washing machine   Risk range 85 to 90 Heavy city traffic, power lawn mower, hair dryer 95 Motorcycle 100 Snowmobile, hand drill 110 Chain saw, rock concert   Injury range 120 Ambulance siren 140 (pain threshold) Jet engine at takeoff 165 12-guage shotgun blast 180 Rocket launch

Maximum sound-exposure durations
Below are the maximum noise levels on the job to which you should be exposed without hearing protection, and for how long.

Maximum job-noise exposure allowed by law
Sound level, decibels Duration, daily
90 8 hours
92 6 hours
95 4 hours
97 3 hours
100 2 hours
102 1.5 hours
105 1 hour
110 30 minutes
115 15 minutes or less

Hearing loss prevention consists of steps you can take to help you prevent noise-induced hearing loss and avoid worsening of age-related hearing loss:

  • Protect your ears in the workplace. Specially designed earmuffs that resemble earphones can protect your ears by bringing most loud sounds down to an acceptable level. Foam, pre-formed, or custom-molded earplugs made of plastic or rubber also can effectively protect your ears from damaging noise.
  • Have your hearing tested. Consider regular hearing tests if you work in a noisy environment. Regular testing of your ears can provide early detection of hearing loss. Knowing you’ve lost some hearing means you’re in a position to take steps to prevent further hearing loss.
  • Avoid recreational risks. Activities such as riding a snowmobile, hunting and listening to extremely loud music for long periods of time can damage your ears. Wearing hearing protectors or taking breaks from the noise during loud recreational activities can protect your ears. Turning down the volume when listening to music can help you avoid damage to your hearing.

Part 1 of this post addresses the essential facts related to hearing loss and in Part 2 of this subject, I will be sharing information on how we as musicians can protect what we have so that our musical history does not parallel that of the great composer, Ludwig von Beethoven.

*All the technical information listed above was taken from the following web site-
Hearing Loss

Please remember-

“You can not reverse hearing loss”.

A More Interesting Way to Learn New Music

When setting into the task of learning new music, we usually put the sheet music on the stand and continue to bang out the notes until we learn it or start bleeding from the chops.

Next time you are faced with this sometimes boring task, try this approach and see if it works for you.

I have selected this exercise as our example for it is an exercise one of my beloved grandsons needs to learn for his school; but the concept can be applied to any new music you undertake.

Printed sheet music- #102 – Trumpet in Bb
Practice track at 80mm
Practice track at 100mm
Practice track at- 120mm
Practice track at- 140mm

To utilize this example, start the track at the slowest tempo you are able to play perfectly and gradually increase the speed until you have it mastered.

10 Advantages with this method-

1. You are listening to the melodic line at all times.
2. You are resting as much as you play.
3. You are forced to see the notes at all times in order to know when to reenter.
4. You should be able continue practicing indefinatly for you should not tire.
5. You are forced to keep time and be aware of the eighth note beats.
6. When playing with the midi trumpet melody, out of tune notes will be obvious.
7. By playing and resting each measure you are resting will give your brain a short rest which will eventually increase you power of concentration.
8. By constantly viewing so many notes, your sight reading skills will improve.
9. Resetting your embouchure every four measures will improve your embouchures accuracy.
10. It’s more interesting!

Note- If you have problems hearing the click track, just adjust your left and right fader for I recorded the midi trumpet and piano in one channel and the click track in the other.

Also- I’m sure everyone would have chosen better chords, but who cares. It’s only an example! LIVE WITH IT OR TURN IT OFF!

The Different Parts of Your Trumpet

Many times those of us who have been behind a mouthpiece for many years forget that young players are just starting out on the trumpet and what seems obvious to us, may be new information to the younger player. For that reason I thought it would be helpful to the beginners in our audience to get a working knowledge of the parts of the trumpet.

Mouthpiece– This is the removable section which you place to your lips to create a sound. Throughout your career as a trumpet player, you will collect many of these, each one being purchased in order to make playing easier. Eventually you will realize that regular practice is more productive and cheaper.

Lead Pipe– Where you insert your mouthpiece. Make sure that you clean this section often for strange things begin to collect and eventually grow in this area.

Main Tuning Slide– This is the slide which raises (pushing in) and lowers (pulling out) the pitch of your entire instrument. Be sure to keep this slide greased so that you will be able to use it when called upon.

Main Tuning Slide Water Key– This is not a spit valve for the only moisture which comes out of this is condensed water, not spit, unless you have a salivary condition.

Brace– the only reason some trumpets have these is to make sure your main tuning slide tubes stay aligned.

Valve Casings 1, 2, 3– These tubes incase your valves and help direct the air flow through your instrument.

Third Valve Slide– This slide makes it possible for you to adjust for intonation problems when you have depressed the third valve. It is very useful when lowering the notes low C# and low D, which are usually sharp in pitch.

Second Valve Slide– This slide is used only to access your second valve casing for cleaning purposes.

First Valve Slide– If your slide has a ring or saddle attached to it, you will be able to adjust intonation when depressing your first valve.

Lower Valve Caps– The function of these is to catch and hold any excessive valve oil which drains to the bottom of your valve casing. It also enables you to more easily clean your valves when needed.

Upper Valve Caps– These caps allow you to remove the valve more easily for oiling or cleaning.

Finger Hook on Lead Pipe– This hook is there for the times you need to play while supporting your instrument with only your right hand (when inserting mute, turning pages of music, etc.).

Bell Section– This is the speaker for your instrument and should never be pointed at a friend at close range.

Small Mouthpiece vs. Large Mouthpiece

This debate has been present since the beginning of time. Which is the better mouthpiece? Small mouthpieces have definite advantages such as easier upper range and more endurance. Large mouthpieces have the advantages of easier flexibility and a darker and a more pleasant tone. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to get every advantage and not fight the disadvantages?

Advantages of a small mouthpiece-

As I stated before, the small mouthpiece can make the upper range a little easier but to do so you will have to give up other advantages the large mouth piece has to offer. If you are playing only high range work, the smaller mouthpiece would be my choice but most of us are not able to play only in this limited field. When we speak of a small mouthpiece, we are referring to two areas; the width of the cup and the depth of the cup. The distance between the inside edge (or bite) of the cup will determine how much meat will vibrate when you start a note. If the distance is great, you will be expected to utilize this area through the strength of your embouchure. The smaller the area between the bite (inner edge) of the cup, the less work your embouchure will have to deliver. If you pluck a guitar string and play its full length, you will get a lower pitch than if you depress the string to a fret along its finger board. A longer string and in our case, lip will vibrate at a slower speed and thus produce a lower note than if the string (lip) were shortened. Less lip in the mouthpiece cup will produce faster vibrations and consequently a higher pitch than a wider cupped mouthpiece.

The depth of each mouthpiece cup will also affect the sound and range of your playing. If the cup is shallow, you will experience more resistance to the air stream. A deeper cup will generally give you a darker sound than a shallow cup. High range specialists most often prefer a shallower cup for playing in the upper register for continued periods of time. You may wonder why we all don’t play on small mouthpieces all the time. Remember that for every advantage there will be disadvantages.

Advantages of a large mouthpiece-

When performing on larger mouthpieces, you should experience more ease in starting notes at soft dynamic levels than when playing on small mouthpieces. You should experience more flexibility and a darker tone color on the larger mouthpieces. An additional advantage the large mouthpiece has over the smaller is that with more meat in the mouthpiece, you will be able to develop more strength in your embouchure. The reason for this is that with more meat involved, you will be working with more material to strengthen. I have noticed many times when I am using a smaller mouthpiece for work, I will come to a plateau where no matter how much I practice, I do not seem to gain additional strength or endurance. After switching to a larger mouthpiece, I continue to build strength and endurance.

If you are not able to practice regularly, the smaller mouthpiece will help with you endurance. This may sound contradictory but with regular practice, the larger cup will allow you to continue to build, the smaller mouthpiece will not.

Please note that all of my comparisons have been directed only towards the cup diameter and depth. Other mouthpiece shapes and dimensions will also affect your range, endurance, flexibility and tone . At a later date I will address these differences but for now we will discuss only the width and depth of the cup.

Which mouthpiece would be best in my case?

People have shared with me their ideas as to what mouthpiece should be used and some beliefs have made since and some are downright stupid. Here is one of the dumbest ideas-

  • I start all of my beginning cornet students on Bach 1½ C mouthpieces 9VERY LARGE) so that they will have a big sound.

A Bach 1 ½ C mouthpiece is much too big for a beginner and Could be too big for most professional players. It is true that they would produce a big, dark sound but few would be able to fill that large a mouthpiece. because of their undeveloped air supply, they would soon tire their immature embouchure. Mr. John Haynie had what I considered a more practical approach to mouthpiece selection for younger students. His belief was that young people require small shoes at early ages and eventually grow into larger ones. So will they eventually grow into larger mouthpieces as they mature. If I remember correctly Mr. Haynie started young players on Bach 10½ C mouthpieces and as they grew, he suggested that they progress to larger mouthpieces. That sounds good to me also.

I am convinced that each person will be able to decide on a comfortable mouthpiece which would suite his/her individual needs. Too many times (and this is particularly true of trumpet players) players continue to search for the perfect mouthpiece which will do everything. As far as I know, the perfect mouthpiece has not yet been invented.

Playing requirements and tastes change and so do our requirements for our mouthpieces. If I were playing the same music day after day, I could easily settle on one mouthpiece but fortunately, we are expected to do everything and thus the mouthpiece switch continues. As an example of this I will share a situation which happened last month. I had been practicing for several months and because of the great condition my chops were in, I decided to up the size of my mouthpiece a little. For two weeks I practiced regularly on the bigger mouthpiece and all was doing well until I got a call to start with a new show which required more endurance and range than I was used to. Out came the old (smaller) mouthpiece and I played three weeks on that one. The season closed in Brason and I was back to the larger mouthpiece for the first of the year I begin playing with a fine brass quintet which requires better tone and more ease in all dynamic ranges. Life is full of changes and you have to be ready for them.

In closing, I would like to pass on some very fine advice given to us by the trumpet manufacture Vincent Bach from his pamphlet, Mouthpiece Manual. “Use the biggest mouthpiece you can handle”

Music Business Definitions‏

No explanations needed….

AGENT: a character who resents performers getting 90% of his salary.
ARRANGER: a guy who writes to support a drinking habit.
BALLET: an art form for people with eating disorders.
BANDSTAND: the area furthest away from an electrical outlet.
BIG BAND: nowadays, an aggregation consisting of two musicians.
BROADWAY PIT JOB: a prison sentence disguised as a gig.
CABARET: a venue where singers do songs from shows that closed out of town.
CATERER: a man whose hatred for musicians is unrivaled.
CHANTEUSE: a singer with an accent and no time.
CLASSICAL COMPOSER: a man ahead of his time and behind on his rent.
CLUB DATE LEADER: someone who changes his name from Kaminsky to Kaye.
CONTINENTAL VIOLINIST: a guy who rushes like he’s trying to catch the last train to Budapest.
CONTRACTOR: a man whose funeral nobody goes to.
CRUISE SHIP WORK: a gig that gives a musician two reasons to throw up.
DJ: the guy your son would rather have play his Bar Mitzvah.
DOUBLEBASS: the instrument the folks footing the bill feel is unnecessary.
DOWNBEAT: the magazine that would have you believe that all jazz musicians are working.
ELECTRIC PIANO: the instrument that enables its player to pay for the hernia he sustained lifting it.
HOTEL PIANIST: a guy who looks good in a tux.
JAZZ: the only true American art form beloved by Europeans.
JAZZ FESTIVAL: an event attended by folks who think Coltrane is a car on the B&O railroad.
LYRIC: that part of a tune known only by singers.
MELLOPHONE: an instrument best put to use when converted into a lamp.
METRONOME: the archenemy of chanteuses and cantors.
MOVIE COMPOSER: someone who can write like anyone except himself.
NEW AGE : a musical substitute for Valium.
NEW YEARS EVE: the night of the year when contractors are forced to hire musicians they despise.
ORCHESTRATOR: the musician who enhances a composer’s music, only to be chastised for it.
PERCUSSIONIST: a drummer who can’t swing.
PERFECT PITCH: the ability to pinpoint any note and still play or sing out of tune.
PIANIST: an archaic term for a keyboard player.
PRODIGY: a kid who has as much chance at a normal childhood as the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series.
RAGA: the official music of New York’s Taxi and Limousine Commission.
RARE VIOLIN: a Stradivarius, not to be confused with a rare violinist, which is someone over four foot eleven.
SIDEMAN: the appellation that guarantees a musician will never be rich.
STAFF MUSICIAN : harder to locate than a cavity in the Osmond family.
STEADY ENGAGEMENT: look up in Webster’s Dictionary under the word ”obsolete.”
24\7: the time signature of the national anthem of India. Also, a Don Ellis chart.
UNION REP: a guy who thinks big bands are coming back.
VERSE: the part of a tune that’s disposable, except to its composer.
VIOLA D’AMORE: a baroque string instrument and coincidentally the hooker Bach lost his virginity to.
WURLITZER : the Ford Pinto of pianos.
YANNI: a man blessed with great hair for music.

Practice- What?

As I mentioned in our previous post, several areas need to be addressed during your daily practice sessions.

Download- 60 Minute Practice Routine


Your warm-up will begin your lip development and I strongly recommend that the first portion should be done on the mouthpiece alone. I have included a short warm-up which includes buzzing on only your mouthpiece (5 minutes). Be sure to produce a full, rich sound on every note. Fill your lungs completely and begin each note with just the air. Do not tongue any of these notes.

Arpeggio Exercises

Begin these exercises slowly and as you become more comfortable with the keys, increase the tempo. Keep your dynamic level at a P level and be sure to fill your lungs before every line. All notes are to be slurred (5 minutes).

Lip Flexibility Exercises

Dynamics should follow the line so that the highest note is the loudest. Take full breaths for each exercise and hold the last note out (10 minutes).


Finger work

Make sure that you are in control at all times. Do not rush. Push each valve down soundly and continue at a controlled rate. On exercises you feel uncomfortable with, repeat it four times before moving on (15 minutes).

Advanced arpeggio studies

As in the first arpeggio studies, begin exercises slowly and as you become more comfortable with the keys, increase the tempo. Keep your dynamic level at a P level and be sure to fill your lungs before every line. All notes are to be slurred (10 minutes).


Melodic playing

You can down load these exercises from my site at the following….
Melodic Exercises (20 minutes).

The above schedule will require approximately 60 minutes to complete in actual playing time.

Practice- When?

What difference does it make when you practice? That is a very good question for little has been written on this subject. I will share some of my feelings on this in hopes that you can gain some insight into the affects of practicing at various times throughout the day.

What is the best time of the day to start practicing?

The best time of the day to start practicing is early in the morning. Your schedule will dictate if this is possible but if scheduling is not an issue and you could plan out your whole day around practicing, I would suggest that after your shower and breakfast, you should start your practice for the day.
Why is it better to start practicing early in the morning?

Repetitious actions such as warming up are much easier when you’re half asleep in the same way brushing your teeth in the morning is something we do but really never think about. I’m not saying that your warm up is not important but that chore does not require any more concentration than the every day act of brushing your teeth.

Is one practice session better than multiple sessions?

If you have only one period in the day to practice, that would be the best for you. If you are able to break up your practice into several periods, that would be better. It has been proven that most people can only fully concentrate for twenty minutes at a time. Because this is true, it would be more effective to break your practice sessions into twenty to thirty minute segments. You will be able to accomplish much more in this manner than you would if you practiced for a longer period.

What disadvantage is there to breaking the practice sessions into several twenty to thirty minute segments?

One big problem with multiple practice periods is the fact that many times we start the day with good intentions but because of conflicts and unseen distractions, we many times do not get back to practice the additional material. And for most players, after working all day at their jobs, be it school or work, they are more tired at the end of the day and our productivity and energy is at a lower level.

Can I practice at night?

Of course you can. If this is the only time in your daily schedule that you can devote to your instrument, that is what you should do. Practicing in the evening can be very relaxing after a busy day and I encourage you to do so. There are some issues which you should consider when practicing in the evening.

• Melodic playing is more pleasant to perform when you’re tired.
• Technical passages are more demanding and require more concentration.
• When the body is tired, your endurance will drain faster.
• High range playing can many times require more effort when you’re tired.
• Concentrating on finger exercises can be helpful.
• Before beginning your practice, do some deep breathing exercises to help you wake up.

When I’m away from my horn, is there anything I can do during the day to practice?

There are several things you can do during the day which will benefit your playing.

• Keep an extra mouthpiece in your car so when you drive down the road, you can practice buzzing.
• In addition to the practice on your mouthpiece you can also practice buzzing without the mouthpiece.
• Buzzing with and without the mouthpiece is also great practice for developing better intonation for if you are able to buzz a recognizable melody, you will be improving your intonation ability.
• Buzzing lip flexibility exercises work the embouchure in the same way that playing on the instrument does.

What would be an ideal schedule for each day of practicing?

That would totally depend on the individual. I have found for me that this works best-

• Mouthpiece warm-up after breakfast (twenty- thirty minutes)
• Arpeggio Studies (twenty- thirty minutes)
• Lip flexibility exercises (twenty- thirty minutes)
• Valve work (twenty- thirty minutes)
• Range and interval studies (twenty- thirty minutes)
• Melodic studies (twenty- thirty minutes)

Our next post will get down to the final issue of what material needs to be practiced on a daily basis.