Monday, December 17, 2018

DAVID FOSTER - Award-winning Musician And Composer

English: David Foster speaking at a ceremony f...
David Foster speaking at a ceremony for Andrea Bocelli to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. 

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Born November 1st, 1949, David Foster is an award-winning producer, composer and musical arranger, and has won 14 Grammy awards – and been nominated for 42 – over the course of his career. As a member of the musical group Skylark during the 70s, Foster gained the opportunity to work closely with many high-level celebrities and musicians, including John Lennon, Josh Groban, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Andrea Bocelli, Madonna, Gordon Lightfoot, and many, many more!

Foster was also asked to compose the score for the film St. Elmo’s Fire and gained several additional hit singles off the movie’s soundtrack release. Through his own record label, Foster produced debut albums for several well-known musical artists who have since moved onward to very lucrative musical careers, such as Josh Groban, The Corrs, and Michael Buble. His label is known as 143 Records.

Foster was married in 1991 to Linda Thompson, and although they are no longer together, Foster and Thompson worked together on several pieces such as the song “I Have Nothing” from the soundtrack to The Bodyguard in 1992. This song was nominated for both a Grammy and an Academy Award, and in 1996, Foster’s composition “The Power of the Dream” with Kenneth Edmonds became the official theme song for that summer’s Olympics.

As an attempt to get into television, Foster and his two step-sons began a reality TV show called The Princes of Malibu, where Foster played himself, trying to convince his sons to shape up and make their own way in the world. The show failed and was cancelled soon after its debut. More recently, Foster was featured as a guest on the television reality show American Idol, as a mentor to competitors. He was also a judge on the show Nashville Star, as well as Celebrity Duets, a show created and produced for Fox-TV.




Sunday, December 16, 2018

How to Play the TRUMPET - The Business Is the Buzz

Trumpet player
Trumpet player - (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



Some musicians, like guitar players, have it easy. They can make a great tone just by plucking a string. In fact, anyone who plucks Eric Clapton's guitar string will produce a tone nearly identical to Clapton's own. But if you want to play the trumpet, making a good tone is a little more complex. Trumpet players spend their careers practising and focusing on their tone. As a beginning trumpet player, it's important to recognize this fact and be diligent, yet patient in creating good tone.

Good tone is an essential, often elusive component of trumpet playing, and is best achieved by learning correct technique from the very beginning. One reason many trumpet players struggle with their tone is that of the way they learned to form their embouchure, or muscles of the lips area when playing. A poor embouchure set easily becomes a habit, and the longer it persists, the more difficult it is to change. We'll take a look here at how to form your embouchure to produce a nice, clear trumpet tone.

A short disclaimer here - learning to buzz and produce a nice trumpet tone by reading about it is like having someone describe the colours of a rainbow. The concept may come through, but the real thing needs to be experienced. That's why a good trumpet teacher or quality video lesson is recommended. Resources are available below. Now on with the details...

The way you produce a sound on the trumpet is by buzzing your lips together. The buzz is a concept that might be illustrated by going back in your memory, recalling a time when you were about 5 years old. Maybe you were frustrated or angry and you wanted to spit. You went - "pfft". Not an adult type of spit with lots of fluid and maybe a loogie (okay, sorry about that), but just a lips-together, relatively dray "p-p-p-p-p-p-p" kind of spit. Try it now without the trumpet by starting with a relaxed face. Then flex the corners of your lips and draw them back only slightly, stopping short of a smile position. Try to make a flat surface of the front of your lips. Now hold that position, keep the corners nice & firm. Take a deep breath, and blow, making a long, buzzing spit sound. Done correctly, this will sound somewhat like a bumblebee or mosquito, and might tickle the lips.

Your first efforts might result in a rough buzz sound with lots of sprays, but keep practising, and remember to keep the corners firm and the front surface of your lips flat. You don't want a puckered shape like you're kissing your Aunt Tilly. And even though I used the spit reference, you're not really spitting and you don't want a lot of sprays. Look at your self in a mirror and make sure that the underside of your lips, or the wet part, aren't visible when you make that buzz. Just like when you say 'mmmm..'.

Think about the mosquito buzz sound in contrast to a dirt bike. Sometimes the idea of spitting out a hair or a seed can help get the right concept. If you find that your buzz is pretty rough, really focus in on clenching those corners and keeping them nice & tight & firm.

The next step is to put a trumpet in front of the buzz. Keeping the corners firm, place the trumpet gently to your lips and play the buzz into the mouthpiece. Are you keeping firm corners? Without pressing any valves, you're likely to play one of two notes, C or G. Either is fine. Be sure though that you're not pressing your trumpet into your lips with brute force. You should be able to make a tone just holding the trumpet gently in place and using good, steady air. Pressing that horn into your lips is one common mistake that beginners make, and if it becomes a normal habit for you, it will really hold you back and hinder your ability to improve.



Practice making nice, long tones on any note that you can produce. Don't try to play too high or too loud, just aim for a consistent tone. Sounds simple, but that's a pretty tall order for a brand new player, so do your best with it.

This is just one note for now, but if you can start by playing one note really well here early on, you're way better off than playing 20 notes badly.

Back to the disclaimer, a written description on how to play the trumpet has limitations. The best investment a beginning trumpet player can make is in trumpet lessons, either in person or on video. A live personal teacher is great, but that can be expensive. Technology now allows for a good alternative in video trumpet lessons delivered online. Check your local resources and the internet for options that are right for you.



Friday, December 14, 2018

LEARN TO SING Correctly Every Time

Portrait of Harry Belafonte, singing, 1954 Feb...Portrait of Harry Belafonte, singing
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kids tend to find singing very amusing and never miss a chance to show off their singing talent.  For some kids, the desire to sing does not wear off by getting older. In some cases, it grows even stronger and it becomes a passion they wish to pursue as adults. In this case, singing becomes a bit more challenging. It's one thing to make singing mistakes as a kid and quite different to become embarrassed in a karaoke contest. In fact, many people give up singing as adults, simply because they are afraid of the harsh criticism they may get.

If you can identify with the above situation, you'll certainly be glad to know that you can, in fact, learn how to sing properly, every time. Sure, good genes are a factor if you want to become a star, but anyone can learn how to sing impressively well if they devote the time and energy required to master the technique. Hence, the most important step you need to take is to decide if you are really determined to learn how to sing and everything else will follow with studying and practice.

You will have noticed that the word "studying" was mentioned in the above paragraph, along with practice. You see, in order to sing properly, you definitely need to learn some of the principles of voice production. Singing is a highly physical activity and professional singers know that. That's why they seem to be singing with their entire body rather than just their vocal cords. Pro singers can manipulate three types of singing voices, which are usually common to all people. The chest voice, the middle voice and the head voice. 

The chest voice is the voice you use when you speak. With this voice, you can create a rich, full-bodied sound. The head voice is usually used for higher pitched notes, most frequently by female vocal artists. The middle voice acts somewhat like a bridge between the chest voice and the head voice. You can think of these different singing voices as the ABC of singing. Only after you've studied and learned your ABC does it make sense to practice. And if you practice with some solid guidelines in mind, be sure that you can learn how to sing correctly, every time!



Thursday, December 13, 2018

A Magical Feeling to CHRISTMAS MUSIC


During the Christmas Season, music is a key ingredient in creating holiday magic... for me and many others, I'm sure. Just the other day, I was out walking my little dog, Jolie, and enjoying the holiday decorations in my neighbourhood. The air was crisp and there appeared to be a few snowflakes in the air when suddenly, a nearby church began playing on their chimes, some familiar carols. I was thrilled!

I've always been a huge fan of Christmas music, and as a child, growing up in a minister's family, Christmas music was played and enjoyed throughout December! Singing the Advent hymns and carols up until Christmas Eve was always such a thrill for me and even now, the memories, images and smells rush back to me when I hear these melodies playing. When the bells started pealing as I walked down the sidewalk, it just was a magical feeling that transported me, musically, to another time and place. At that moment, thoughts of problems disappeared, thoughts of conflict and tragedy temporarily vanished, and I was totally in the moment with peace on earth goodwill to people everywhere.

Holiday music, no matter what holiday you celebrate, comes in the sacred and the secular varieties. There are literally thousands of songs, cantatas, musicals, oratorios, and symphonies that we typically hear during this season and, for me, they create a magical environment that is filled with memories of Christmases past and warm family holidays with laughter, smells of cookies, turkey, and pies baking, and visions of shiny bicycles and wind-up toys. Is there a person in the Western World that does not know "White Christmas," "I'll Be Home for Christmas," or "Silver Bells?" In our media-filled society, and with all the technological wonders like iPods and MP3 players, music is sung around the world and heard around the world. If anything, they probably hear them just a little sooner than they'd really like to. (I believe that playing Christmas music any sooner than November 1, is probably suspect, and what I suspect is commercialism gone awry!)



The power of a simple phrase of music to conjure up these kinds of images and feelings is nothing short of miraculous! Humans have known this for thousands of years, and that is why the key events and holidays in our lives have so much special and unique music associated with them! Take some time out of your schedule today and listen to some music that brings back happy memories for you. You'll soothe your anxieties, lower your blood pressure, boost your immune system, and improve your self-esteem.



Wednesday, December 12, 2018

SAXOPHONE Giants: DEXTER GORDON

English: Dexter Gordon in Amsterdam (2). 1980....
Dexter Gordon in Amsterdam  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A Big Man With a Big Sound
There have been many great tenor saxophone players throughout the history of jazz, but one of my favorites is Dexter Gordon.  Perhaps what I like best about Dexter Gordon is his big, beautiful sound.  He stood 6' 6'' tall, and he had a saxophone tone to match his stature with a warmth and body to it that was unmistakably his own.

Under A Doctor's Care
Gordon was born in L.A. In 1923.  His father's name was Frank Gordon, and he had the distinction of being one of the first African American doctors practicing medicine in Los Angeles.  As luck would have it two of his patients were jazz greats Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton.  Dexter began playing clarinet when he turned 13.  He soon switched to saxophone, and by his senior year in high school, this amazing talent was offered a job in the Lionel Hampton big band.  Never hurts to have an in.

Paris Without Regret
After the Hampton band Dexter did stints with Louis Armstrong, Fletcher Henderson and Billy Eckstine.  In 1960 Gordon started to record for the famous jazz label, Blue Note Records.  During this period he recorded many acclaimed jazz albums including one of his favorites, GO.
In 1962 Dexter moved to Europe to work and live and resided mainly in Paris.  Many notable jazz musicians of this era did the same because they were appreciated and respected more by the Europeans and experienced much less discrimination.  He remained in Europe for the next 15 years until returning to the U.S. In 1976.

Round About Midnight
Upon his return to the States Dexter made a much-heralded appearance at the Village Vanguard in New York City and finally achieved the recognition as one of the great jazz tenor players that he had deserved for years.

In 1986 Gordon was nominated for an Academy Award for his starring role in the jazz film, Round Midnight.  The role was tailor-made for Dexter as the movie was about an expatriate jazz musician living in Europe.





Musician of the Year
After coming back to the U.S. Dexter signed a deal with Columbia Records who promoted him heavily along with other jazz artists.  His newfound notoriety and his high level of jazz saxophone playing led to his being named Downbeat Magazine's Musician of the Year in 1978 and  1980.
Dexter Gordon died in 1990 at the age of 67 from kidney failure after a lifetime of producing some of jazz's greatest tenor saxophone music.

    By Joel Krett
    Joel Krett is currently playing tenor saxophone and harmonica with The Subway Show Band out of Morgantown. WV. and is an avid jazz fan.

    Article Source: EzineArticles