Showing posts with label Trumpet. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Trumpet. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 2, 2019


Trumpet with paper straight mute inserted; bel...
Trumpet with paper straight mute inserted; below are (left to right) straight, wah-wah (Harmon), and cup mutes. - (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Trumpet players always like gadgets, and mutes are gadgets that we actually need. It's always interesting to experiment with the different sounds you can produce. There are so many mutes on the market, it's hard to keep them straight, no pun intended. If you are really into trumpet accessories, you can collect mutes for the rest of your life and never be finished. Every year, manufacturers come out with new brands and varieties.

When all is said and done, you will need three basic mutes...a straight mute, a cup mute, and a Harmon-style or Wah-Wah mute. The Harmon style mute is the one that is the most fun. My trumpet teacher used to tell us that if we left our mutes at home, we had left half of our horn at home. They were that important.

The first category is straight mutes. These are the basic mute used in trumpet playing the most often, and usually should be the first mute you purchase. If the music says "muted" or "con sordino", it means with a straight mute. Many parents will go and purchase the cheapest mute they can find. Metal straight mutest sound much better than others for most circumstances. Make sure you research mutes before you buy one. Whatever mute you decide to get, you want to try and match the rest of your section because they all sound different. The most popular brands used today are the Tom Crown, Leblanc Vacchiano, Jo-Ral, and Dennis Wick. I have around ten different straight mutes that all produce different sounds that I use for different circumstances.

Next, we have cup mutes and Harmon Style Mutes. These resemble a straight mute but have a cup at the end that changes the sound. The Harmon or Wah-Wah Style mute is a totally different sounding mute. I've also seen them called the Wow-Wow, and Jo-Ral calls theirs a Bubble Mute. The Harmon Brand mute is the one that started it all. In fact, regardless of the brand, they are usually called a Harmon Mute. The Harmon Brand is still a good mute, but most professional players play other brands.

A plunger is another one to keep handy if you play in a jazz band. You can purchase one made for trumpet playing, but I just use a normal sink plunger with the handle removed. A sink plunger is smaller than a regular toilet plunger and it works better for the trumpet. Save the toilet ones for the trombone players.

The last category of mutes I think a trumpet player should always have is a practice mute. With a good one, you can practice in a hotel room at 3:00am and not disturb anyone. There are numerous ones on the market today. That used to be very different. When I was in college, there were only a couple available, and only one of them was good. Practice mutes are a great thing to have, but they are not something that you should use all the time. The back-pressure is different than an open trumpet, and prolonged use could cause problems with your playing.

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.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

CONTRABASS TROMBONE - Music Instruments of the World

Contrabass Trombone - Music Instruments of the World

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Trumpet - Tone Versus Range

English: Trumpet mouthpiece front view large
Trumpet mouthpiece front view large  - (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In the trumpet world, high note playing is perceived as one of the more difficult tasks of learning to play.  Trumpeters tend to believe that they have to switch to a "jazz mouthpiece" to achieve high notes on a trumpet.  So then they have this belief that they play 2 different mouthpieces - one for tone, one for high notes.

What's interesting to me is that while some mouthpieces can tend to aid in the ease of producing faster air, that's all a high note really is.  Players who turn to shallower cups tend to play with a brighter sound in general (hence the jazz mouthpiece).  Once in a concert setting, they tend to return to a "C" cup or a "B" cup and regain a "classical" tone (hence the classical mouthpieces).

If a player learned to develop a clear upper register on a "C" cup, they wouldn't necessarily have to switch mouthpieces and confuse muscles, air stream, embouchure, or their minds with varying degrees of myths!

The mouthpiece that I've developed is close to a "C" depth, what I've changed for my playing is the rim size.  I have found that the rim size affects my comfort - not my tone.  There are other variables in the anatomy of a mouthpiece that will either enhance or hinder one's tone and range, such as backbore, throat size, etc.  But if we stay with a standard backbore and throat, such as in the Bach line of mouthpieces, we can change tone just by changing cup depth.

This is what most trumpet players don't want to face up to - if we just did the work without looking for equipment to do it for us, we'd come out with a lot more money in our pockets and a lot less frustrated!  My line of mouthpieces are great because they don't offer a bunch of hocus-pocus, empty promises, or claims that they will give you range that you don't already have... they do offer a more comfortable rim, and variable rim sizes in a kit form - something that most manufacturers don't do.

Friday, October 26, 2018

How to Play the TRUMPET - Even If You Already Play

Trumpet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There are some basics techniques that must be learned in order to learn how to play the trumpet. However, as with most arts, it's not always as easy as it seems. Most people figure that simply stated if they want to play the trumpet they have to learn two things: how to make a sound and how to play different notes. That's true, but that first one is a biggie. Being able to play notes on a trumpet is very different than playing musically, with an enjoyable sound. There's knowing how to play the trumpet, and then there's really knowing how to play the trumpet. It's that quality of the sound that trumpet players strive to improve and maintain, even after years of playing.

The basic sound of the trumpet is produced by vibrating the lips to make a buzzing sound. Other articles discuss making a good buzz, but here we'll look at how to really support that sound once a buzz is established. Three-pointers that support trumpet players over their entire trumpet career are:
  1. Keep the corners of the embouchure firm - this is the area that helps control your sound, your tone & your pitch.
  2. Take a deep breath - stand up straight or sit up straight, breathe deeply starting from way down in your abdomen. - A deep breath supports your tone and range
  3. Blow all the way through the trumpet - that might sound obvious, but the concept of blowing through the horn vs into or at it makes sure you're providing enough air supply.
These are your absolutely essential tools for playing the trumpet. Trying to play the trumpet without developing these skills is like trying to swim with your street clothes on. It's possible, but you'll work so hard trying to overcome that handicap you've put on yourself. On the other hand, having these simple skills is like getting that super sleek, racing swimsuit that should be illegal. It's not enough alone to make you a great performer, but it gives you a solid base to grow from and supports you rather than holds you back. Learning these fundamental ideas here at the very beginning will make everything come much easier as you progress. So let's take a look at each of these.

Firm Corners -

The corners of the embouchure (the shape of the lips and surrounding muscles when buzzing) should be kept flexed enough to keep a consistent embouchure shape. The tendency for many players is to draw the lips back into a smile when playing higher notes. That embouchure needs to look nearly motionless as the trumpeter plays throughout the range. The jaw might drop a bit in the lower register, but the corners should stay firm. A good way to monitor embouchure movement is by watching in a mirror while playing, forcing a consistent position.

Big Breath -

Air support is one of the most overlooked 'skills' by people learning to play the trumpet. It's overlooked because it's possible to play the trumpet with shallow air support. Developing trumpet players often consider it a success when they can get through a song without missing any notes. However, insufficient air support can lead to a weak sound, inconsistent intonation (pitch), limited range, and poor musical phrasing. A big breath of air is the foundation of a good trumpet sound. Even when playing softly, a big breath will provide the support necessary to control the overall musicality of a trumpet performance.

Blow The Air Through The Trumpet -

This one may seem obvious. "If the air doesn't go through the trumpet, where else could it go?" The phrase is meant to describe the way to take that big breath and really use it to produce music, blowing through the trumpet, not at it. The idea may be analogous to the difference between humming under one's breath and performing an aria. One is significantly more musical than the other. Even at low volumes, the air through the trumpet will be smooth and consistent.

These three pointers are important in really playing the trumpet, and getting past just playing all the right notes in a song. Even advanced trumpet players often step back, resolve to really learn "how to play the trumpet", and take a serious look at their embouchure consistency and air support. Trumpet players who learn these skills and use them habitually are less likely to have to step back later and correct their fundamentals.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The Evolution Of BRASS

Brass instruments in the Musical Instrument Mu...
Brass instruments in the Musical Instrument Museum, Brussels, Belgium. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Brass instruments are popular specifically in jazz and marching bands work because of the vibration of air against the inside of a brass tube. Another term for brass instruments is labrosones which means “lip vibrating instruments. One of the most popular of the brass instruments is the trumpet. 

Trumpets, though now crafted out of metal, were originally made out of the shell. They were not constructed in that medium, but rather whole shells were utilized (conch shells in particular) to create a horn sound. These original trumpets were used as ancient ritual musical in many ancient cultures. Like the modern trumpet, the sound was coaxed from the shell with the vibration of the player’s lips against the conical side of the shell or “mouthpiece.” 

Trumpets created out of can date back to as early as ancient Egypt and some specimens from this time still exist. It wasn’t until the 1800’s that the trumpet began to take on the look and sound that his has today. During that time, they began to add valves to the trumpet to give it the musical range we are familiar with. Earlier horns had no such range and could only play different pitches through the manipulation of the player’s lips.

The cornet and the trumpet are similar in history and design. In fact, it is impossible to talk about the history of one without mentioning the other. Both acquired keys during a similar period which allowed them both to increase their range. Keys and valves allow brass players to change pitch as they are playing a note. The valve can be opened and closed. When the valves are opened and closed to different degrees, different amounts of air flow through the instrument creating specific tones and pitches. Valves can be used alone or in coordination to emit different notes. Thought the trumpet is just one of many brass instruments, the community of jazz artists is tight-knit and embraces all players of all instruments. For example, this community is universally disappointed in the disappearance of one manufacturer, as explained below.

Couesnon, once a famous and well-admired producer of brass instruments, was in business for over 170 years. They had one particular horn, the flugelhorn that in the 1950’s because popular with American jazz trumpet artists. To the shock and dismay of brass and jazz enthusiasts, this cornerstone of brass horn culture stopped importing to the US in the late 1970’s and can now only be purchased through vintage instrument brokers.

Monday, September 24, 2018

The Role of the TRUMPET Within a Big Band

English: National Symphonic Band Trumpet secti...
National Symphonic Band Trumpet section rehearsing in the Asociacion Rosalia de Castro.
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The trumpet has always been an integral part of the traditional big band, both as a lead instrument and as a soloist.  The section consists of four players, with the first chair being labeled the "lead" chair and the second part generally considered the "jazz" chair.  Although improvised solos can be played by any of the four players, the second trumpet is usually depended upon to cover the solos within the section when needed.

It is the "lead" trumpet that carries the melody over all other musicians during full band sections.   This important position carries quite a large responsibility, mainly because it is he/she who is called upon to play the highest notes within the ensemble sections.

Melodic and Harmonic Roles

In traditional big band repertoire, the trumpet section provides both melodic and harmonic roles.  Melodies can be played by one or up to all four players at one time. Melodic roles are often coupled with instruments of similar timbres, such as the alto saxophone.  As a melodic instrument, the trumpet is generally in the middle range when matched with other instruments.  The upper register is used for full ensemble sections where the lead player must carry the melody over the rest of the band.

When fulfilling a harmonic role, the section is usually voiced in either three or four distinct parts.  Since the trumpets are set in the upper register of the ensemble, they have the responsibility of covering the upper extensions of the given chord.  In harmonic roles, the section often extends the basic chord tones (i.e. root, 3rd, seventh) that are played by the trombone and saxophone sections.  These upper extensions often take the form of a simple triad when played alone, but create sophisticated extended chords when playing with saxophone and trombones.

Mutes and Utility Instruments

Modern trumpeters today are expected to own and carry a variety of mutes to alter the sound of the instrument.  In every trumpeter's bag are a straight mute, a cup mute, a harmon mute and plunger.  Each of these "tools" is designed to alter the color and sound of the instrument by bringing out low (cup and plunger) or high (straight and harmon) overtones.  The use of mutes can significantly alter the overall sound of the section with a wide variety of colors.  Gil Evans was one famous arranger that used muted trumpets extensively in his arrangements and compositions.

In addition, most professional trumpeters today own a flugelhorn.  This instrument looks like a large trumpet but sounds much more mellow and with a limited high range.  Flugelhorns are used primarily for melody, but can also be used as harmonic pads with the big band.  Modern writers such as Maria Schneider utilize flugelhorns in this role quite often

Famous Big Band Trumpeters and Sections

Trumpet players and big band trumpet sections can be found throughout the history of jazz.  Maynard Ferguson, for example, made his debut with the Stan Kenton Orchestra during the 1950s.  Maynard played lead trumpet and was featured as a high note virtuoso at a young age.  He later went on to lead his own big and small bands for more than half a century.  High note artists such as Stan Mark and Lynn Nicholson were members of famous Maynard Ferguson trumpet sections.

Bill Chase led one of the more famous trumpet sections in the 1960s with the Woody Herman orchestra.  Known for his high range, Bill Chase provided the high note excitement for the band. In 1974, Chase met an untimely death in a plane crash near a small airport in Minnesota, Among the most famous trumpet sections of all time might have been in the Duke Ellington Orchestra.  Cootie Williams and Cat Anderson filled soloist and high note roles, respectively, for Duke's band for many years.  Duke often wrote entire compositions to feature Cootie (Concerto for Cootie) on trumpet.

The trumpet will always play an integral role within the realm of big band jazz ensemble music.   Because of this, skilled lead players and gifted soloists will always be in demand in the jazz and commercial music industry.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

FLUGELHORN Tips - Make Good Music With a Quality FLUGELHORN

English: Rotary valves in a flugelhorn. Españo...
Rotary valves in a flugelhorn.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Originally used to summon army wings, the flugelhorn is at present an important instrument for creating jazz, popular, and brass band music. This brass wind instrument closely resembles a trumpet and saxophone, but its bore is wider and more conical. Likewise, while it shares the same B-flat pitch of most trumpets, the flugelhorn is more adapted for producing more mellow music as compared to the trumpet's bright and aggressive tone.

Flugelhorn tips for buyers

Depending on your level of expertise, you can choose from different types of flugelhorn of various quality and price ranges. In general, however, flugelhorns are more expensive than trumpets. New students are advised to first buy a trumpet to practice on before switching to a flugelhorn. This switch should be easy given the two instruments' similarities with regards to playing style. If money is not a problem though, beginners can opt for a student grade flugelhorn which can set them back by an average of $700.

Regardless of the type of flugelhorn, you intend to buy, make sure that you try each one before making a purchase. This would help you get a good feel of the horn, especially if you are choosing between horns of different bore sizes. Flugelhorns with small bores play differently from those with larger bores and trying one of each would help you asses which one is better for you.

More flugelhorn tips

Aside from flugelhorn tips on buying a good instrument, it also pays to heed advice on how to play the horn. The best way to learn the instrument is to take classes from a professional player. Likewise, it is advisable to buy some CDs and other audio materials that feature the flugelhorn being played by renowned artists such as Frank Fezishin and Rachel Woolham.

Aside from listening to recorded albums, you must also try to watch live performances where the horn is played. You can attend jazz concerts or brass band recitals. The flugelhorn is also sometimes used for orchestra, so you can likewise check such productions.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Do You Want to Learn the FRENCH HORN?

French Horn - Photo Wikipedia
The French horn is the second highest sounding member of the brass family and produces a full and mellow tone. It is the best-known member of the horn family and the one you see most often in the orchestra.

It consists of a tube of conical bore coiled into a spiral shape. At the blowing end, its bore is around 1/4 inch wide ( 6.2 mm ) and it widens into a bell of about 11-14 inches wide ( 28 - 36 cm )
The French horn developed over the years in several stages as follows.

1.From the Hunting Horn or signaling instrument, which consisted of a tube bent round in a simple curve over the player's shoulder. The French horn was used regularly in 18-century orchestras in music that need an outdoor, haunting sound.

2. By use of Crooks:
These were extra pieces of metal tubing add to the horn to create extra length. They were detachable and there were seven different sized ones.

The reason for the addition of crooks was that composers wanted to write less limiting pieces for the French horn and the extra tube lengths created more notes and allowed the players to have music written in more keys.

3.By use of Three Valves:
These were introduced in 1830 with use of extra tubing built into the main body. They replaced the crooks as they served the same function. When the player presses the valves either separately or in any combination extra sections of tubing are added and hence different notes. This invention provided the instrument as we know it today which is a flexible instrument that has a range of notes spanning over three and a half octaves and the ability to play in any key. The French horn is usually pitched in the key of F

French horn players produce a sound the same way as any other brass instrument. The sound starts from a persons' lips buzzing into a mouthpiece. The air then vibrates through the tubing of the instrument. The less tubing the higher the pitch. The more tubing the lower the pitch. The pitch can also be changed by the tightening or loosening of a person's embouchure or mouth position. Hence when a player moves a valve or two or three in various combinations then this alters the tubing length and the note pitch. Placing the hand or a mute in the bell will also change the pitch.

French horn players read music written on the treble clef most of the time but the bass clef is used if the music is low and stays low.

The French horn is commonly found in orchestras and brass bands. There are no French horns in a marching band but french horn players play the mellophone which is also a brass instrument with three valves, operated with the right hand and fingering identical to that of a trumpet. A marching band needs a projection of the sound in the direction that the player is facing and a mellophone has its bell in the front.

Dennis Brain, born on 17 May 1921 and died 1 September 1957 was a British virtuoso horn player. Much credit was given to him for popularizing the horn as a solo classical instrument. He recorded Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Horn Concertos with Herbert von Karajan, a conductor, and the London Philharmonia Orchestra.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

TRUMPET CLEANING - Preventative Maintenance Makes It Easy

Old Trumpet
Photo  by Igor Gusarov 
A drab, dirty, and unpolished trumpet has never been inviting to play. Yet, most players, especially in high school, never do anything to care for their horn. The trumpet is one of the most visible instruments on the marching band field. Clarinets do not need to be polished, flutes are too small, mellophones are pointed straight ahead, and tubas are mostly hidden in the back. However, the trumpet is at the front of every show, with its dirty bell pointing up (hopefully) at the judges.

Your trumpet does not need to be unattractive in appearance. In fact, a few minutes every day and an hour every couple of months will keep your horn looking fifty times better than all the rest.

A preparatory note: if the trumpet appears to have the lacquer (finish) chipping off or wearing through, take it to a repair shop. Polishing the horn further will only harm the exposed metal.

Major Cleaning:
I recommend a major cleaning about three times per year. Once just after school ends, once after marching band ends, and once in the spring. A major cleaning should take an hour or less if you do it right.

First, disassemble the horn and place all parts on a soft towel or cloth. Take all parts of the valves apart, including the felt and valve caps. Keep all parts organized by valve number because some pieces fit better on a certain valve. In a bathtub or large sink, heat water until it is fairly warm. Add a drop or two of mild dish detergent, if desired. Take a spray nozzle and use it to spray through all of the tubings on the trumpet and slides. Let the horn soak in the water for twenty minutes.

Now assemble three cleaning tools: a mouthpiece brush, valve, brush, and snake. The snake is a small brush connected to plastic tubing that allows you to push the tool through the piping of the horn. Clean the mouthpiece, valves, and piping with the tools, pushing and twisting the brushes as you go to ensure that all grime is removed. Use the snake to clean the valve holes.

Rinse all the parts of the horn and place them on towels to air dry. Reassemble the trumpet. Place a fair amount of valve oil directly on the valves and work the valve up and down for at least thirty seconds to get the oil worked in. Use a very small amount of tuning slide grease on all four slides (including the second valve slide). If the slides are prone to sticking, skip the slide grease and add a very small amount of valve oil to loosen the slides up.

You can now choose to polish the horn or wipe it down.

After Practice Polishing:
Polishing the horn with a polishing cloth will reduce the number of times you need to give a major cleaning or polishing. This polishing can be extensive or very brief. Purchase two polishing cloths for your horn finish (brass or silver). Also, have another cloth that is just as flexible and small for general cleaning. Hold the trumpet with one hand near the mouthpiece, protected by one cloth. Use the non-polishing cloth to work between the slides, valve holes, and in any other hard-to-reach areas. Then, use the second polishing cloth to shine the instrument. You must apply some pressure to actually get any polishing done. Go over the same area five or ten times. Move down the horn so you are not touching any of the areas already completed. Spend the most amount of time on the outside and inside of the bell and the mouthpiece tube. They are the most visible parts of the horn.

Silver Polish:
Before marching band competitions or large performances, I always do a whole horn polish. This makes the most difference for silver horns, but can be done with brass polish on brass horns as well. This is an extremely messy process for both you and your horn.

Obtain some silver polish. I recommend using a kind that is not too liquid. The best types are those that are a semi-solid and are applied with a foam sponge. Get several small towels, hand towels work well enough, that can get very dirty. You will also need a pair of bad quality thin gloves and the three cloths used above.

You must polish only the outside portions of your horn, so do not remove any of the valves or slide parts. Also, do not polish your mouthpiece. Lay out a hand towel or two on the floor and stand the trumpet on its bell. Hold it by the pipe curve near the mouthpiece. Use one gloved hand to apply enough polish to thinly cover all easily accessible surfaces. Do not waste time trying to get polish between the slides or piping. You must work quickly so that the polish does not get cemented on. Work from the top down, ending with the outside of the bell. Then, lift the trumpet up; and complete the inside of the bell, making sure not to put polish very far into the bell. Set the trumpet back down.

Take about a one-minute break. You want to make sure that all the polish dries, but it will get hard if you wait too long. Take another towel and carefully wipe as much of the polish off as you can. Be sure that the towel remains relatively clean during the wiping process to avoid smearing used polish back on the horn. Remember to wipe off the inside of the bell.

Use the rag cloth to work out the polish that may be in the little crevices of the piping. Make sure to get off all of the polish; it will become a nightmare if left to bake on for a long time. Touch up some areas with the polishing cloths. Then you are done! Wash the towels and gloves so that they can be used for later polishing.

Caring for a horn properly does take some time. However, you only will need to give your trumpet a bath or use silver polish a few times per year if you wipe the horn down after every practice or two. One major benefit of keeping a horn clean is that the valves and slide will move faster and get stuck much less often. This helps keep the horn out of the shop and lasting longer. The second advantage is appearance. Such a benefit may seem obvious, but even the most beat-up trumpet can still look great if polished.

Resources and Products:
If you are in a high school band, hopefully, your trumpet section leader or director can point you in the right direction to get supplies. I recommend Blue Juice or Yamaha valve oil. I have found that the Blue Juice does a great job at keeping valves working quickly, but it needs to be applied often and sometimes gets gunk buildup. I have had good success with the Yamaha oil lasting a very long time and causing no buildup. It is not as fast-moving and will not unstick a valve quickly, but it is a good all-around choice. Silver polish is mostly your choice and can be purchased at grocery stores. 

Purchasing a trumpet "care kit" should get you the requisite cleaning brushes; Selmer makes one that should be fine for most. Finally, I like large polishing cloths of no particular brand. It is easier to get into small areas with a larger cloth.

William O'Brochta is a recipient of the William T. Hornaday Silver Medal for Distinguished Service to Conservation in the Boy Scouts of America and William T. Hornaday Badge. He is an Eagle Scout with nine Eagle palms and has earned sixty-five Merit Badges. William is currently an Assistant Scoutmaster for Troop 17 in Roanoke, Virginia working with Troop elections, new Scout advancement, and Eagle projects. He also serves as an active member of the Blue Ridge Mountains Council Conservation, Advancement, Eagle Board of Review, and Troop Committees. He has been involved in Scouting for more than ten years.

William attends Patrick Henry High School and the Roanoke Valley Governor's School and is ranked first in his class of 500. Currently, he is working on a three-year environmental research project dealing with using plants to remove pesticides from the soil. He has presented this research at the Society of Toxicology Annual Meeting. A musician, he plays trumpet and serves as Drum Major for the Marching Band.

Committed to community service, he has volunteered for six months for Habitat for Humanity in Hungary and helped Breakell, Inc. General Contractors achieve LEED Platinum energy efficiency certification.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Do You Want to Learn the TRUMPET?

English: Trumpet in C, german model by Bernhar...
Trumpet in C, German model by Bernhardt Willenberg Markneukirchen
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The trumpet is a brass instrument with the earliest one found in the tomb of the Egyptian King Tutankhamen. Many people play the trumpet in brass bands, military bands, big bands, orchestras or on their own. You are thinking of learning a musical instrument. Will this instrument be the trumpet? You need information to help your decision?

What is a trumpet?
A trumpet is made from brass and is cylindrical in shape consisting of 4 feet 7 inches of tubing wrapped into the compact shape with a cup shape mouthpiece and a moderate size ball at the end. There is a variety of trumpets in the trumpet family. The modern trumpets we are familiar with today have three valves and were first made in the 1820s. Earlier trumpets did not have valves.

How is the sound produced?
The trumpeter or trumpet player produces the sound by:
1. Pressing the mouthpiece to his or her mouth.
2. Blowing air through closed lips making the lips vibrate.
3. The buzzing sound produced from this action sets the column of air inside the tube of the instrument vibrate.
4. The player regulates the sound produced by altering the tension of the lips.

Low sounds are produced when the player's lips are fairly slack making all the air in the tube vibrate.

Higher sounds are produced when the player tightens his lips thus making only fractions of the air vibrate. These higher sounds are called natural harmonics. Each tube produces a different set of harmonics depending on the length. This produces a limited range of sounds in one or two keys. To get a wider range of sounds the modern trumpet player can press down the three valves in a range of configurations which will open various extra lengths of tubing thus changing the length of tubing.
What does the trumpet sound like?

The trumpet has both a piercing, brassy sound and a soft, muted sound. It is more brilliant and penetrating than the bugle or horn. The tone of the trumpet can be changed when a mute is placed in the bell of the instrument. A mute is a cone made of cardboard, fibre, felt or metal.

The trumpet player reads music using notes placed on the treble clef, plays music faster than other brass instruments and plays notes ranging over two octaves from F-sharp below middle C to C above the treble clef, however, some trumpeters can extend this range.

Example of A Trumpet Piece
The Last Post is a well-known piece of music played by a bugle or trumpet player. It is a bugle call used at Commonwealth military funerals and ceremonies commemorating those who have fallen in war. It is used especially on Remembrance day in Commonwealth Nations and also on Anzac Day in Australia and New Zealand.

A bugle call is a short tune, telling one of scheduled and certain non-scheduled events on a military installation, battlefield, or ship. It consists of notes from a single overtone series and hence no valves need to be moved. One key may be favoured over the others.
Please note that a trumpet can play almost any type of music including classical, jazz, rock, blues, pop, funk.

Example of A Trumpeter
Louise Armstrong also known as Satchmo or Pops was one of the greatest jazz trumpeters of all time is. He was also known for his singing with a raspy singing voice and had a foundational influence on jazz. He was born August 4, 1901, in New Orleans, Louisiana. and died July 6, 1971, from a heart attack.

There are many other well-known trumpet players including Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and Fats Navarro.

You have now had some basic information on the trumpet including what it is, how a sound is produced, what a trumpet sound is, types of music a trumpeter plays with an example and well-known trumpet players with an example.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Bach Stradivarius TRUMPETS and Imitators

Trompete der Firma Bach
Trompete der Firma Bach (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For years, the Bach Stradivarius Trumpet has been the mainstay of the performing trumpet world. Sure, there were other trumpets out there, and in the Jazz world, many of them were very successful. In the classical world, the Bach reigned supreme for many years.

Today, the Bach is still the dominant instrument, but it has had its setbacks. The Bach strike a few years ago had a major impact in the Bach reputation. The strike lasted for a couple years, and many horror stories were told about poor quality trumpets being made after the strike. Also, the price increased substantially after the strike ended.

The end result of everything...the Bach trumpets made now are as good as they have been in many years, and many people think they are even better. I played on several trumpets at a convention recently, and they played better than any Bach I have played in years. I would not hesitate to recommend them right now. Bach trumpets have always played much different from horn to horn. In the past, you might get a good one, or you might get a great one. You seldom saw a bad one. A friend of mine remarked recently that even though the current crop of Bach trumpets all still play differently, they are all great horns. That is a definite positive change.

Since Bach was the predominant trumpet on the market, many companies produced trumpets that shared many of the same features. Yamaha started things with their Heavywall series...the 6335HS. The large bore version was the 6345HS. The "H" is very important in that designation. They also produced 6335 trumpets of totally different styles that did not use the "H" in the model number. These trumpets played more like a Bach, than any other trumpet up to that time, but it still did not have the Bach sound that most people liked in the classical world.

Yamaha later brought out the Xeno line of trumpets which is still made. Their model number is the 8335S. These are quite comparable to Bach trumpets. Yamaha is also considerably more consistent in their manufacturing processes. Yamaha trumpets pretty much all play the same.

The most recent addition to the Yamaha line of classical trumpets is the artist series. These are truly exceptional trumpets. Yamaha recently hired Bob Malone to design their trumpets, and he has totally revolutionized the line. These horns are some of the best available today.

The B&S Challenger line is also another option today in Bach-like trumpets, and it's a good one. There are quite a few professional players using them today, and depending on the current exchange rate, the price is often close the price of a Bach.

The Getzen custom line is also another option. The custom series is comparable to Bach and Yamaha instruments. Getzen has always been known for their valves. Once you try Getzen valves, you'll probably always like them.

There are many other copies out there, but for truly good Bach or Bach-like professional horns, this pretty much rounds out my list. They all play very well.

    Harry Richardson has been a band director for 14 years with college degrees in trumpet performance and music education. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

TRUMPET - Music-Instruments of the World

Trumpet - Music-Instruments of the World

Friday, May 11, 2018

Observation Of The TRUMPET

English: Wynton Marsalis at the Oskar Schindle...
Wynton Marsalis Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Trumpets are among the oldest musical back to at least 2000 BC. Notes are played by blowing into a mouthpiece known as a "fipple", which directs air towards a bladed edge, located at the big hole you'll see at the top of most whistles. Trumpet instruments come in a variety of designs.

Trumpet players are able to get an incredible variety of sounds partly due to the various mutes that are available for them. They are the most likely to play music demanding the use of a mute (often indicated by the words con sordini oravec sourdine in the score).

Players know when they've got a horn they like, know when it performs at a high level, and know especially if it has a sound and feels they like. Playing the trumpet is intimate and personal.

Trumpeters with great endurance and/or range are said to have impressive chops. Some believe that Wynton Marsalis has done things with his trumpet that Louis Armstrong couldn't even imagine in his day.

Players can be heard across nearly all genres of music, including classical, jazz, rock, pop, ska, polka, swing, blues, and funk. Trumpet players are popular for wedding ceremonies as well as receptions and they do it with 3 fingers.

Trumpets pitched in the key of low G are also called sopranos, or soprano bugles, after their adaptation from military bugles. Trumpet players are arguably the "state of the art" among brass players.

They are quite in demand even during street festivals, carnivals, marriage celebrations, school band marches and almost everywhere where there's a requirement of a loud and clear musical accompaniment.

Jazz is a symbiotic, synergistic communication medium that expresses the mind, body, and spirit in music through all instruments. Jazz trumpet players have been at the forefront of the evolution of jazz as an art form.

A reviewer wrote this description: Playing the high register playing softly "pp" playing a nice rich tone playing vibrato Double Tonguing between different notes playing Legato (ties) without changing the fingering.

Brass instruments are almost universally made from brass, but a solid gold or silver trumpet might be created for special occasions. Brass horns are properly classified by the means by which they produce sound, not by the materials used in their construction.

Bach used the trumpet for high parts in his festive church music and wrote for trumpet along with recorder, oboe, and violin in Brandenburg Concerto (no. unknown)

Bass trumpet is played with a shallower trombone mouthpiece, and music for it is written in treble clef. Piccolo trumpets in G, F, and even C are also manufactured but are rarer.

Modern trumpets also have three piston valves, each of which increases the length of tubing when engaged, thereby lowering the pitch. Modern trumpets are built in various bores and the so-called "Medium" bore.

Common bad habits include pressing the mouthpiece to the lips, uneven pressure (Double buzz), inflating cheeks when blowing (although this is debatably a bad habit considering jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie was known for it), playing with poor posture, and closing the throat (tensing of the throat) muscles, resulting in partially choking the air flow.

    Jackie Spivey is the Author of this Article. He is an artist who has a very creative, eclectic collection of music that is available for your listening pleasure. You can listen to and/or download songs at JacSan Records. And learn much more about music at JacSanRecords Music Blog.

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Friday, April 27, 2018

The Advantage of a Custom Built SCHILKE TRUMPET

English: Schilke trumpet modell X3 in silver. ...
Schilke trumpet model X3 in silver. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Schilke trumpets have a reputation as being "open" horns, which is a quality that many professional horn players prefer. Schilke is known as the custom builder that are among the most reasonably priced on the market. Silver plated and gold plated models are available, and professional trumpet players can be very particular about the exact mouthpiece, mouth pipe, bell, and tubing design. They want to get the best possible sound for their particular likes and playing situations, whether it's a community band or a professional symphonic band or orchestra.

When trumpet enthusiasts talk about Schilke trumpets, they know that they are talking about one of the most respected brands of musical instrument in the world. Not everyone can afford a custom trumpet, but Schilke makes several non-custom models so that those who love playing trumpet, but who don't have the money for a custom built instrument can experience the great Schilke sound first hand.

There are a number of factors that go into getting a great sound from a trumpet. Of course, the particulars of the musician - embouchure, practice habits, venue for playing - definitely have an influence. But the qualities of the trumpet itself makes a difference, too. Silver plated bells are known for their richer sound, and the bore of the tubing has an influence on the sound a musician is able to get from a trumpet. Schilke maximizes the qualities that result in great trumpet sound, and for those who are extra particular and have the means, they make custom trumpets to create the best match between musician and instrument.

Depending on the type of music and the venue in which it is played, different models of the same instrument can make a difference to the sound quality. Schilke trumpets are experts at knowing what goes into getting the right sound for an auditorium, an outdoor setting, or any other arrangement of acoustics. When professional trumpet players feel like they are ready to buy a custom horn, Schilke is the brand they often turn to first.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Sailing the Double High C's (A TRUMPETER'S Dream)

Trumpet player
Trumpet player (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
High note jazz trumpet legends nearly single-handedly changed the desire of young trumpeters all around the world decades ago. Hearing one of these giants live was an amazing and inspiring experience, and created a desire in so many trumpet players that it could be considered near cult status for trumpeters.

Maynard Ferguson, Cat Anderson, Doc Severinsen are just a few that were extremely sought after players... they each had a command of the upper register up to and beyond Double C. 

The more players tried to ascend to these upper register notes, the more the mystery built. Advice in every aspect of trumpet playing can be found. Mostly confusing, and some very much incorrect.

In 2004, I had the pleasure and distinct honor of being a part of the great Maynard Ferguson's band, and got to share a lot of time with "Boss" (as we called him). While on his band, I got to ask questions, take notes, and learn from the master.

What most players who begin this quest do incorrectly is mostly overcompensated and fail to see what actually generates higher notes on trumpet. It is not sheer brute force that produces these notes with power, it is control and a balance between air and aperture.

To begin this journey properly, a player must master "whisper" tones... extreme soft playing that helps the aperture stay the size of a pinhole without pinching or straining the facial muscles. 

Starting with a second line G and holding it as soft as possible for extended lengths of time (2 minutes to 20 minutes) and allowing ample rest will start a player on the correct path. 

As the player develops more control, scales, etudes, and melodies can be incorporated into practicing that will have the player ascend to higher notes. Once control is established, playing louder is merely pushing a bit more with the air and allowing the aperture to open SLIGHTLY.

There is no fast solution to this. For many players this is a lengthy journey. Especially if the trumpeter has been practicing the "higher / louder / faster" method for months or years. Old habits will have to be broken... but once they are, the trumpet player will be amazed at how easily they can ascend to Double High C and beyond!