Monday, May 29, 2017

TRUMPET or CORNET - Frustration Keeps Us From Answers!

As a trumpet / cornet player continues to grow in their playing abilities, we all reach frustrating times with various skills that we either can't seem to master, or can't seem to get a grasp on quickly.  To master trumpet/cornet playing, a student must have patience and tenacity!  Both are required to help trumpet students through the frustrating times.

Most answers are simple than what our minds will let us accept.  There have been many times that I've practiced something and it seems to fly out of the trumpet.  Usually what goes through my mind is "it can't be that easy, I've been struggling so long with this!"

Photo by .christoph.G.

The quick answer is - yes, it can be that easy.  Most people let the simple solutions escape them because of built up notions of complexity.  Something that isn't performed easily within the first few tries, becomes more and more frustrating to the cornet/trumpet player.  From double tonguing, high notes, better tone, playing pianissimo, controlling rhythm, performing difficult passages in a piece of music, learning scales, etc.  These can all present challenges to each individual trumpeter or cornetist.

Working on major scales for younger students can be not only boring, but a daunting task because they are looked at as difficult in many ways.  The F sharp major scale is one that has most notes sharp (or raised half step).  What most students don't think about is that there are only 7 notes in each major scale.  The F sharp scale has 6 sharps, so why not focus on the one natural?  By practicing slowly and taking each note one by one, within a few practice sessions, this scale becomes easier.  Within a week, the scale can be memorized.  Within a month, it will play as easily for the trumpet student as the C major scale with no sharps or flats.  Again - tenacity and patience!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

A Study In BANJO Lessons

Ah, I remember the good old days when I had my first banjo lesson. Actually, it wasn’t exactly my first lesson. I had been using the internet to improve my “skill” for a while, and I was slightly conceited since I thought I had some idea about what I was doing. I watched videos of a real expert playing the banjo while the tabs were available as well. I learned a few songs and techniques that sounded interesting, but that was about the extent of my knowledge.

Brooklyn Museum - The Banjo Lesson - Mary Cassatt
Brooklyn Museum - The Banjo Lesson - Mary Cassatt (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I had my first real lesson, it broke down all those illusions I had of being a decent player. I tried to show off, but as soon as his deep eyes met mine I missed a chord. It was my first time to ever play any instrument in front of anyone, and I didn’t think I would get nervous. After all, I’ve always been a gifted public speaker. The only one in the room was my teacher, and I was having a terrible time.

I’m having a hard time seeing my future in banjo playing, especially since I can’t even whack up the ginger to play something in front of my own teacher. He’s a nice guy, and he can play the banjo like no other. He’s already taught me several exercise I can use for my next lesson. It’s also a great experience just to watch him play, since his skill far outweighs mine. I just hope I will sound at least slightly more decent the next time I have a lesson.

But if I always freeze up when I try to play at my lessons, I’m worried that my instructor will never be able to give me the help I truly need. It’s impossible to get feedback and constructive criticism if everything I play is absolute garbage. I think I will start recording my lone practice and playing it back for him. Hopefully I won’t freeze up just knowing that he will be listening to it soon…

Saturday, May 27, 2017

How To SING Like An Angel and Create Beautiful VOCAL Tones

Singing Cast
Singing Cast (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
One of the more challenging tasks of becoming a singer is creating beautiful vocal tones while singing. This is a work in progress and any "singer" who says that he has his tonal work figured out is probably not the best model for a beginning singer.

The first step in creating beautiful vocal sounds is by exploring your voice's unique tonal qualities. Here are three steps that will reveal to you the actual tonal quality of your singing voice:

1. Draw a breath and try to sigh for as long as possible. It pays to be relaxed when performing this vocal exercise.

Your muscles should be loose and flexible when you sigh, especially the muscles around the head, throat, and shoulders. Make sure that your posture is correct when singing.

2. The next exercise will help reveal your high and low notes. To explore your high and low notes, take a deep breath and imitate the sound of a loud siren.

Make sure that you imitate the low and high intervals of a siren. Listen to your siren imitation or you can even record it to so you can examine your voice later.

3. Lastly, imagine that you have become a millionaire overnight. Whoop as loudly as you can, and as many times as you want. The loud whooping sound also releases your vocal quality.

When you are done exploring your voice's tonal quality, try to find songs that match that tone. You may be surprised at the variety of songs that you can easily perform using that unique voice of yours!

You see, it is important that you always learn from listening to your own voice. Singing voices can always be improved with method, remember that. A non-singer with some talent can become a superstar with the right method. We can't all be like the late Whitney Houston or John Legends, so for those of us who need to learn how to sing, we must focus on the best techniques.T

The next step to creating beautiful vocal tones is to learn now to properly release your vocal power.

1. Before singing, gently massage all of the muscles surrounding the face, jaws, neck, and shoulder area. These are your "final frontier" muscles, since they will be fully responsible for making the final transmission/projection of your voice. If muscles around these areas are not relaxed, you will not be able to sing with ease.

2. People usually use their chin as a reference point when opening their mouth. This is not the way to do it when you are singing. Instead of using your chin as a reference point, I want you to release your jaw using your lower jaw hinge as a reference point. Your chin should drop straight down but the conscious movement should be centered on the lower jaw's hinge

The last step to producing angelic vocal tones is knowing how to position your voice box or larynx for optimal tone. Yes, believe it or not, it can be done!

The larynx or voice box is made of flexible, cartilaginous tissue that vibrates to create the sound that you hear when you sing or talk. This amazing organ is capable of producing hundreds of different sounds. You only have to know how to produce the sound yourself, and the voice box will be responsible for generating the sound that you want to hear.

The voice box works better if it generates sound from a low position on your throat. How will you do that? Should you push it down with your finger? Definitely not, as this might cause physical damage to your voice box.

Instead of touching your voice box, I want you to smell the air as if you smelled the most delicious food in the world. Why? Because when a person smells this way, even the throat muscles respond, and the movement automatically lowers the position of the larynx. At this position the larynx is ready to produce a wider range of tones, from low bass to high soprano.

There you have it. Now you have the tools to create beautiful vocal tones.

    By Jamie Richards
    My name is Jamie and I've been teaching countless students how to sing for more than ten years. In that time, I've gained a lot of knowledge about the best methods that novice singers should learn if they really want to learn how to sing.
    As a vocal coach and music teacher, it is my goal to help anyone who wishes to advance their singing skills, so I'd like to share my knowledge with you, free of charge.

    Article Source: EzineArticles

Friday, May 26, 2017

Repetitive STRAIN INJURY in Musicians and Especially SAXOPHONEPlayers

Sadly musicians have an increased risk of developing repetitive strain injury. Many factors contribute to this including less than ergonomic instrument design, high stress levels when performing and relentless lengthy practice sessions. My first piece of advice to any musician who thinks they've developed repetitive strain injury is don't panic! Whilst this infliction can be physically very painful and mentally crushing, it is a sign from your body that change is required. With the right energy and commitment the healing process can be a time of positive reflection and will only serve to benefit you in the long run.

Cantigas musicians
Cantigas musicians (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There are many more problems causing repetitive strain injury in musicians than a short article can cover so I am going to focus on one in particular which I've found prevalent. This is tension in the neck and shoulders. When we're worried about performing, scared of making mistakes or over worked and stressed this often manifests physically as tightness in the shoulders. Over time this puts pressure on the nerves and tendons running down your arms and into your hands.

For many musicians with repetitive strain injury, simply removing this tension can go along way to relieving the symptoms. The first step to achieving this is to sit and relax. Focus on breathing in the tension in your shoulders and then letting it go as you breathe out. As you do this, say in your head "my shoulders are relaxed". After practicing this for a few weeks everyday, you can begin to try and maintain the relaxation as you practice. It sounds simple, but you will find a great deal of concentration is required to really focus on letting go of the tension. This process alone can be very therapeutic.

You will probably find the tension comes back soon after you've begun practicing as your attention is diverted back to playing. Don't worry. Simply stop, do the relaxation without your instrument, and then come back to it. It will take time and patience, but after a while you will begin to feel more relaxed whilst playing and start to lessen your risk of repetitive strain injury. Naturally when playing for extended periods you may find the tension begins to come back. Not to worry, as long as you learn to recognise this and act appropriately, you will be able to look after your body.

As previously mentioned, repetitive strain injury in musicians is provoked by a number of factors. This article is a brief introduction and it would be advisable to see a number of medical professionals to gain many points of view. Regardless, it is important to remain as positive and calm as possible in order to achieve recovery.

    By Andrew N Hayes
    Making music for me all boils down to the moment on stage when you're tuned in with the band and your audience to create a higher energy visit my website at to start your journey

    Article Source: EzineArticles

Thursday, May 25, 2017

MUSIC of the 70s

We all associate songs and music with events in our life.  Many songs hold special memories for us.  We fondly remember the songs that were playing when we went to our first dance, the songs the school band attempted to play during half time at the high school football games, the songs that we heard on our first date, or the songs we heard on the radio while driving our first car.

Publicity photo of the Bee Gees.
Bee Gees.
(Photo credit: 
The music of the 1970's is probably the most impressive and most recognized of any era.  The artists of the 1970's provided us with numerous songs we loved to dance to and sing along with.  At that time most bands actually played their own instruments and didn't need to sequence part of it.

Remember how we used to listen to the music then?  At first we had eight track players in our cars, then we moved upward to cassette players.  Vinyl records were the most popular way to listen to our favorite music.  Every week you could go to your local variety or record store and pick up the new #1 song on a 45 record for under $1.00.  Of course, there was always the radio to listen to - most of the popular channels were on am radio.  We had many styles of music to listen to, including the bubble gum music of David Cassidy and the Partridge Family, soft rock of Barry Manilow, the great dance tunes of the Bee Gees and the Commodores, rock of Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin, the brass band sounds of Chicago, or the disco beat of Chic and Donna Summers.

The nostalgia of  the 1970's music lives on today.  We can listen to it on our local 70's'radio station, on cds, on mp3, download it on our computer, and burn it onto cds.  For those of us who prefer records, we can still purchase them at record stores, antique or second hand stores, or yard sales.  Of course, many of us have held on to our own record collections and record players and can pull them out at any time when we need to relive those nostalgic days of the 1970's.  Some bands are still performing after more than 30 years.  There's nothing like seeing your favorite 1970's performers live in concert!

The music of the 1970's is still popular with people of all ages - not just those who grew up with it.  It never grows old.  It only gets better with each passing decade.