Glenn’s Trumpet Notes

News & Tips for Trumpet & Cornet Students

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Archive for December, 2010

Christmas Eve Duet: “O Come, All Ye Faithful” with Cornet and Piano

Posted by glennled on December 26, 2010

Glenn Ledbetter plays his 56-year old Super Olds cornet

Know how a song pops into your mind from nowhere, seems significant, and won’t go away? Early during the last week of Advent before Christmas Day, my wife “heard” me sweetly playing “O Come, All Ye Faithful” on my cornet on Christmas Eve. So on Thursday I practiced it, and on Friday night in our living room filled with family members, I played it at a moderate beat with plenty of vibrato and careful phrasing and dynamics. The first verse was solo, and on subsequent verses, she joined in on the piano, and everyone sang.

And then we sang lots of other carols, too, from the booklet of lyrics which she self-published a few years ago. That’s part of the way we celebrate on Christmas Eve (see my post of 30 December 2009, on the duet we played last year—“O Holy Night”—and more).

Late Christmas morning, some dear relatives who were not with us on Christmas Eve came over to visit, and after some delicious treats, we repeated the performance. They arrived happy and left happy. And so, as Dickens’ Tiny Tim said, “A Merry Christmas to us all; God bless us, every one!”

Posted in Musical Events at Home | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

And the Trumpet Shall Sound in the Church Orchestra

Posted by glennled on December 25, 2010

This past Sunday was different from any other in my long life. I’ve played in marching bands, drum and bugle corps, concert bands, orchestras, ensembles, operas, and musicals. As a teen, I led congregational singing, but until 19 December 2010, I had never played trumpet in a church orchestra.

Archangel Gabriel Wall Relief, Church of San Michele, Florence, Italy, 1359 A.D.

My wife and I have heard and joined in congregational singing with this orchestra at a local community church several times this year. It is the best of its kind that I’ve ever heard in the Greater Seattle Area. The compositions and arrangements are sophisticated and even challenging at times.

One Sunday in the church bulletin, there was an offer to consider new members in the orchestra. I auditioned and was accepted as a substitute trumpeter. There are three regular trumpeters and several subs like me. The lead trumpeter has been there well over 20 years and plays at least a dozen instruments. Another regular also has been there more than 20, and the other more than 15.   

The day I played, there were about 18 musicians in the orchestra; sometimes there are as many as 25-30. The choir numbered about 50. On this occasion, we were not playing “And the Trumpet Shall Sound” from Handel’s Messiah. Instead, this was the music:

  • “Festival of Carols” (a medley of four)
  • “Angels We Have Heard on High”
  • “The First Noel,”
  • “Come, Emmanuel,”
  • “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”

Bass Performance Hall, Ft. Worth, TX, by Tony Gutierriz/AP, 14 June 2002

I had not known that “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” was written as a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow after he had lost two wives and one of his sons had been severely wounded in the Civil War. He wrote the words on 25 December 1864. About four months later, the Civil War ended and peaced reigned over the land once more. Later, the poem was modified and became a carol. Its last two stanzas read as follows:

“And in despair I bowed my head;
‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said;
‘For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!’

“Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
‘God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!'”

Can you worship with a horn? Until last Sunday I was not sure—maybe concentrating on playing the music correctly would displace worship. No, to my pleasant surprise, it did not. It was a moving experience. You can worship with your horn just as surely as you do with your voice in song. And it’s especially poignant when you’re accompanying an excellent church choir like this one.  Volunteer and try it someday—you’ll like it.

Posted in Church Music | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Skyview Jr. High Winter Band Concert at Northshore Performing Arts Center (NPAC)

Posted by glennled on December 23, 2010

Mr. McGinn leads the Jazz Band

Mr. Shawn McGinn, director of bands and orchestra at Skyview Jr. High in Bothell, wore a tuxedo with cummerbund, and the students were all dressed in solid black. That tells you how classy this concert was! It was held last Thursday in the 600-seat Northshore Performing Arts Center (NPAC), and the house was packed.

Like all of Mr. McGinn’s school concerts, this one was well-organized and well-rehearsed. The students knew what was coming and what to do when the time came…and they did it well! It was a very entertaining and impressive evening event.

More than anything, I am impressed with the breath and depth of the music program he is building. It has to be one of the best within the Northshore School District, and it’s getting bigger and better all the time. At this concert, the opening act was a self-directed jazz sextet with vocalist, and that was followed by the orchestra, conducted by Mr. McGinn. Next he led the 7th grade band, after which he conducted the 8th-9th grade band and the jazz band.

Wow! There are about 180 students under his tutelage. They are at about six levels of proficiency. Makes you wonder when and where all

The Orchestra

 these groups practice. And remember, Mr. McGinn has been doing this for several years! That really pulls and stretches a teacher. Does this man have passion and drive? Does he have purpose? As an audience member, it’s a pleasure to witness all these people on stage, striving with their leader for excellence.

And just think: this is happening all over America and in some form or another, all over the world. Music is a giant. It pervades every culture. How did this come to be?—because the gifts of natural musical talent and ability are not rare. Yes, great talent is indeed quite rare, but many, many people worldwide are born with excellent musical talent and then develop outstanding abilities. It is quite common among us. Why? Is there some noble, universal purpose to this? For me, the answer is clearly yes—so we can express ourselves, so we can communicate with each other in infinite ways by infinite means, so we, too, can create beauty, so we can give and share among our communities. When we play our instruments and sing for others, even in the school cafeteria or NPAC or Husky Stadium, we are on the world stage.

Hear Ye, Hear Ye, Hear the Words of Aldous Huxley: After silence that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.

Jazz Band

 

 

7th Grade Band

8th-9th Grade Band

Trumpeter takes a solo

     

Another trumpeter solos

Another trumpeter solos

     

Opening Act: Jazz Sextet with Vocalist

      

Posted in School Concerts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Elementary Bands I-II Present Winter Concert to Parents at Skyview Jr. High in Bothell

Posted by glennled on December 20, 2010

Photos by Blackberry camera

Early last Wednesday, about 150 parents and relatives swarmed into the cafeteria at Skyview Jr. High (SJH) in Bothell, WA, to see and hear their kids play in the winter concert by the two elementary bands conducted by Mr. Shawn McGinn. It was a standing room only crowd! The 1st-year and 2nd-year bands are comprised of about 85 students in the 5th and 6th grades from three elementary schools which feed into SJH: Crystal Springs, Canyon Park, and Fernwood. As you know, I’m Mr. McGinn’s assistant for brass instruction with both these bands (see my post on 6 September 2010).

1st-year band

First, the 1st-year band played “Jingle Bells,” followed by “Mr. Dreydl,” featuring the flutes. The clarinet section then played “Ode to Joy,” and the brass section (4 trombones and 22 trumpets) played a duet, “London Bridge is Falling Down.” Finally, the percussion section laid down a rock beat.

1st-year brass

Before the 2nd-year band played, one of its members treated the audience to an amazing solo, playing Metallica’s hit song, “Seek and Destroy,” on his electric guitar. Afterwards, the 2nd-year band played “Apollo Fanfare” and their favorite, “Cameroon.”

2nd-year band

 

The whole concert was very impressive. The kids were well-rehearsed, well-behaved, and played very well. They’re learning their horns. Everyone is proud to be in these bands!

1st-year brass

Guitar soloist

2nd-year brass

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Magnolia Man (39) Takes Trumpet on Journey toward Jazz Quintet

Posted by glennled on December 17, 2010

What motivates a man to pick up the trumpet at 39 years old and start to play? In the case of my 14th student, it’s his love of jazz and specifically, his love and appreciation of  the music played by one of the greats, Miles Davis. My student owns and works out of his 2.5-story home in Magnolia in Seattle, and we practice there weekly in his warm, spacious basement. In “X” years, he’d like to be playing locally in a small band, perhaps a quintet. But for now, like any 5th-grade beginner, the Magnolia Man must first learn the basics, the fundamentals. We started lessons on 9 December.

“Everyone who got where he is had to begin where he was,” wrote Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and many other books. And so it was with Miles Davis, too. Miles, the son of a dentist in East St. Louis, got his first trumpet at age 13. He was a prodigy—it was his horn. At 18, he went to New York City. During 1957-1963, he collaborated with Gil Evans, often playing both flugelhorn and trumpet. That’s when I first became acquainted with his music, including the albums ‘Round About Midnight, Miles Ahead, and Porgy and Bess, and this remains my favorite period of his music. To my young ears, it was stunningly beautiful.

Miles was an innovator. He experimented with and led several major developments in jazz music, including bebop, cool jazz, hard bop, modal jazz, and jazz fusion. After he died in 1991, eight digitally-enhanced box sets of his recordings have been released. The 6-CD set, Miles Davis and Gil Evans: The Complete Columbia Studio Recordings, won three Grammy Awards: Best Historical Album, Best Album Notes, and Best Recording Package (Boxed). This was only the third time in Grammy history that that trifecta was ever achieved.

In 1959, his magnum opus, Kind of Blue, was released. And 49 years later (2008), the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) issued its fourth platinum certification for this album, signifying sales of four million copies. In 2006, Miles Davis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He is considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century.

I saw and heard him play only once. When I came back from Vietnam, there was a jazz place down in Pioneer Square, and one night I went there by myself to hear him play. Before going, I had read in a magazine article that he had the reputation of being cold, withdrawn, and distant. They said he would sometimes play with his back to the audience. He did, and I left, having drunk too many “stingers on the rocks” and feeling very alone.

For more about the life and work of Miles Davis, see http://www.milesdavis.com and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miles Davis.

I’ve found that my older students tend to identify with special trumpeters. With the Magnolia Man, it’s Miles Davis. With the downtown Seattle 50-year old, it’s Herb Alpert. When asked what trumpeters he admires, my Bothell 9th grader replied, “Dizzie Gillespie.” I should ask the Magnolia Man which of Miles’ periods, albums, and CDs he likes best. I’ll do that.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” says a Chinese proverb. Three cheers for the Magnolia Man! He’s on the path.

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Famous Unicycle Team Delights Crowd with Half-Time Show at UW-Texas Tech Basketball Game

Posted by glennled on December 13, 2010

How do they do that? That’s what I always wonder when I see people riding unicycles and doing their amazing moves and tricks. And that’s what made the half-time show so thrilling at the basketball game in Seattle between the University of Washington Huskies and the Texas Tech Red Raiders on Dec. 4. [I played trumpet in the Husky Alumni Pep Band at this game.] The half-time buzzer sounded, the two teams trotted off to the locker rooms, and out onto the court rolled about 40 dazzling members of the famous Panther Pride Unicycle Team (PPUT) from North Bend, WA in the Snoqualmie Valley. The riders range from age 7 and up.

How do they even get up on those things, much less keep from falling off? Well, as I learned from their website, www.pput.info, there are at least 11 different ways to mount a unicycle. And the Unicycling Society of America has defined 10 skill levels of unicycle riding (see http://www.unicyclingusa.org).

PPUT Photo

 Last July, PPUT competed at the “U Games” in the San Francisco Bay Area (see http://ugames.caluni.org). These games are the North American Unicycling Championships and are the largest gathering of unicycle enthusiasts on the continent. PPUT brought back 60 gold, silver and bronze medals!

They appear on TV (see http://www.king5.com/new-day-northwest/Panther-Pride-Unicycle-Team-99467054.html). They ride in various parades, including Macy’s Holiday Parade, Salmon Days in Issaquah, and Autumn Leaves Festival in Leavenworth. They do shows at basketball games for UW, Seattle Pacific University, Seattle University and others. They perform for corporate and group special events, local and statewide, and have tons of Flickr photos and YouTube videos (see http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/local /san_francisco&id=7561416&rss=rss-kgo-article-7561416).

See what happens when you play trumpet in the school or alumni band? You get to see marvelous shows like this–free! It broadens the mind and uplifts the spirit, that’s what it does.

PPUT Photo

I’m always amazed at how many people are engaged in so many volunteer activities like this, whatever they may be—from flying model airplanes to rock climbing to drum and bugle corps to Renaissance festivals and medieval fairs to dog shows and horse shows, et.al.—“you-name-it.” And very often these activities evolve into organized competitions from the local to national to world levels. Whatever the endeavor, we all appreciate, admire and honor excellence. 

The next time you’re in the library, find a directory of societies and associations—-it’s thick!—and open its pages. You’ll be amazed at the variety of human interests and avocations. And we’re just like everyone else—it’s fun to play trumpet and ride unicycles for free at basketball games!

PPUT Photo

   

 

PPUT Photo

                                       

PPUT Photo

PPUT Photo
PPUT Photo

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Husky Alumni Pep Band Inspires UW Basketball Team to Crushing Victory over Texas Tech, 108-79

Posted by glennled on December 10, 2010

7-ft N'Diaye at the line

While the UW Varsity Marching Band was away in Pullman for the Apple Cup football game—by the way, UW beat WSU, 35-28!—the Husky Alumni Band supplied the pep band for the home basketball game in Seattle against the Texas Tech Red Raiders from Lubbock, TX. It was no contest, as the Huskies won “going away” in dominating fashion, 108-79.

Husky Alumni Pep Band

What was the prime difference between the two basketball teams? the players? the coaches? the home court? the talent? the height, size, length? the quickness, speed, leaping ability? the offense, the defense? the bench depth? the experience level? Or was it something else, perhaps–some hidden ingredient? Maybe the secret advantage was the inspiration provided to the team and the crowd by that outstanding pep band, led by those 8 great trumpet players (including me)! Well, why not? why not make the claim? why not take the credit when something everybody wants to happen turns out just right? Our politicians do that every day!

And let’s give some extra credit to the fabulous half-time show, too, featuring the Panther Pride Unicyle Team from Snoqualmie Valley (see the next post on this blog). They must have helped the fans and Huskies some, too, huh?

Now if you want a better description of how the game was actually played, please go to http://www.gohuskies.com/sports/m-baskbl/recaps/120410aaa.html and watch the highlights on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDUwJMwtEFM&feature=player_embedded. Man, does this Husky team look tough! I think it’s the best team Coach Lorenzo Romar has ever assembled. We’ll see.

You remember last March, when the Huskies lost to West Virginia, 69-56, in the first round of the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Basketball Tournament? That game was “the men against the boys.” Their starters were taller, heavier, stronger, and just as quick and fast. We were no match.

Well, maybe it will be a different story this year against such teams. Maybe this year we will be the men. We have a better front line, and we have more depth. As the game against Texas Tech showed, we have a better Matthew Bryan-Amaning (“MBA”), a true center (Aziz

Justin Holiday at the line

N’Diaye), and a sterling Justin Holiday. Coach Lorenzo Romar says he has a 10-man rotation right now and is hard-pressed to narrow it to 8. Plus, Romar’s teams always seem to improve throughout the season. For example, N’Diaye is foul-prone; he fouled out last Saturday. We need him to rebound, block shots, and defend well. Let’s watch him improve. The Maui Tournament exposed our weaknesses, and we have about four months to work on them.

If we peak at the right time—post-season tournament time—we could be double-trouble for anyone! Next March, we want to at least break through the “Sweet Sixteen” into the “Elite Eight.” That’s what the Husky Alumni Pep Band is playing for. Come on, guys–let’s even aim to play in “The Big Dance!”—let’s be there, Reliant Stadium, Houston, TX, 2-4 April 2011. Book it!

           

Posted in HMBAA - Husky Alumni Band | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Perfect Christmas Gift: A CD of Christmas Music Featuring the Trumpet

Posted by glennled on December 9, 2010

So you like the trumpet and you like Christmas, right? Then put ’em together and either (1) give a CD to someone for Christmas or (2) add a CD to your own Christmas-gift wish list so that someone can give it you. Not just a CD of beautiful Christmas music—make it a CD that features great trumpeters playing great Christmas music!

Through the internet, I’ve conducted an informal poll, asking other trumpeters from around the world to name their favorite Christmas CDs featuring the trumpet. Here are the results (not in priority or genre order):

  • Canadian Brass, “A Very Merry Christmas CD” (2010)
  • Canadian Brass, “Christmas Tradition” (2007)
  • Canadian Brass, “A Christmas Experiment” (2007)
  • Canadian Brass, “Noel” (1994)
  • Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass, “Christmas Album” (2005)

    Herb Alpert's "Christmas Album" cover

  • Tine Thing Helseth, “My Heart is Ever Present” (2009)
  • Rick Braun, “Christmas Present” (1994)
  • Chris Botti, “December” (2006)
  • Doc Severinsen, “Christmas with Friends” (1991)
  • Doc Severinsen, “Merry Christmas from Doc Severinsen” (2000)
  • Phil Driscoll, “Heaven and Nature Swing” (2000)
  • Boston Brass, “The Stan Kenton Christmas Carols” (2005)
  • Wynton Marsalis, “Christmas Jazz Jam” (2009)
  • Playboy’s “Latin Jazz Christmas: A Not So Silent Night,” featuring Arturo Sandoval (2001)
  • Al Hirt, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” (2000)
  • Harry Connick, Jr., “When My Heart Finds Christmas,” featuring Roger Ingram (1993)
  • Philadelphia Brass, “Festival of Carols in Brass” (1991)
  • Philadelphia Brass, “Christmas in the Grand Tradition” (2010)
  • The Airmen of Note, “Cool Yule” (2009)
  • The Airmen of Note, “A Holiday Note from Home” (2005)
  • Tom Kubix Big Band, “A Jazz Musicians Christmas” (2002)
  • James Morrison, “Christmas” (2000)

If you have a favorite not listed here, please click on “Leave a Comment” below this post, give me the artist and title, and I’ll add it to the above list.

If you want to learn more about these favorites and even listen to excerpts from some of them, simply copy the bulleted item, paste it into a search engine box, and hit “search.” You’ll find lots of results that link you to websites featuring that item in some way.

And I wish you and yours a Very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, with God’s many blessings!

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