Glenn’s Trumpet Notes

News & Tips for Trumpet & Cornet Students

  • March 2011
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Archive for March, 2011

Why on Earth Write in the Key Signature of F-Sharp (Six Sharps)?!

Posted by glennled on March 28, 2011

I’ve decided there is something wicked about any composer or arranger who writes music in the key of F-sharp major! Why in the world would you choose to do that, when right next door, a mere half-step up or down the scale, are either the key of F (with one little flat, B-flat) or G (with one little sharp, F-sharp)? When I was young, I might have played in the key of F-sharp, but at my age, why should I want to or have to? Holy cow, come on!  😉

Last Sunday, I played trumpet again in that wonderful church orchestra about which I wrote in my post of 25 December 2010. During the two services, we played a total of 8 pieces. Wonderful worship services! Loved the music selection and most of the arrangements…except the one for “Let the Church Rise.” Great piece, but tell me—why six sharps for B-flat instruments including the trumpet? For C instruments such as the piano and flute, that is the key of Concert E, which has four sharps and is bad enough in itself. Mercy!

My theory is that Mr. Arranger must be bored or demonic or both. Must have played a string instrument or piano, I’ll bet. Hates brass. Must be on a crusade to force musicians to practice. Mean guy. The devil himself must be behind this…sneaking the key of F-sharp into church music for laughs. Spoiler…saboteur. Yes, Mr. Arranger is possessed.

Now listen, students, if you’re still reading this—this is called “venting” or “blowing off steam.” It’s also called “whining,” “avoidance,” and “blaming” others for your troubles. It’s refusing to take responsibility for yourself. Another name for it is “stinkin’ thinkin’.” Consider this: is the horn designed and built to play in six and even seven sharps or flats? Answer: yes. Then the question is, “Can we, can you, can I do it?”

The truth is that if you want to master the horn, you must practice enough to play well in any of the 12 key signatures. That’s just how it is. No shortcuts, no excuses. Come on, Glenn, get to work. Watch your self-talk. “For as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). 

“Just do it,” says Nike. “The Lord rewards those who help themselves,” they say. “If you pray to God to move a mountain, be prepared to wake up next to a shovel,” someone said. Go practice the scale, arpeggios, and etudes in the key of F-sharp, Glenn, and be better prepared the next time you’re called to play in this church orchestra. It’s what they do, and so can you. The fact is that they like certain arrangers who like certain key signatures with lotsa sharps. It is what it is. Get on board the train. 🙂

Posted in Church Music | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Super Band Concert in the Gym–Skyview Jr. High, Bothell

Posted by glennled on March 26, 2011

7th Grade Band (center), 5th Grade Band (left) & 6th Grade Band (right)

“Have you ever seen or heard anything like it?”  “No, never!”  “How was it?”  “Unbelievable!”

That’s how the proud audience of parents, relatives, and friends felt after the 5th, 6th, and 7th-grade bands performed their concert in the gynmasium at Skyview Jr. High School in Bothell last Thursday night.

1st-Year Elementary Band

The concert began with the 5th Grade Band playing “Furioso,” followed by the 6th Grade Band’s “American Spirit March.” Then the 7th Grade Band played three pieces: “The Firebird,” “Black is the Color,” and “Legend of the Alhambra.” Next, Mr. Shawn McGinn, Director of Instrumental Music, joined this band’s percussionists in performing a Latin piece, “Mario Brothers.”

For the finale, Mr. Ginn conducted the combined 6th-7th Grade Bands in the dramatic piece, “Second Storm.”

It is remarkable to witness the progress being made by all these young musicians [especially the trumpet and trombone players, I say]! Band is so fun! 

"Second Storm," played by the combined 7th (left) and 6th (right) Grade Bands


The combined 7th (left) and 6th (right) grade bands play the finale, "Second Storm"

Mr. McGinn joins the 7th-grade percussionists to play "Mario Brothers"

2nd-Year Elementary Band

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

Check it Out–Honk! Fest West in Seattle, 13-15 May 2011

Posted by glennled on March 24, 2011

Honk! Fest West 2010, Hubbub Club, Photo by Joe Mabel

Honk! Fest West 2010, Yellow Hat Band, Photo by Joe Mabel
Honk! Fest West 2010, Orkestar Slivovica, Photo by Joe Mabel

Several of my students want to play in a group someday but either are not yet ready or haven’t found one to join. You are not alone. Many people all over the Greater Seattle area have the same desire, and if you go to the 4th annual Honk! Fest West on 13-15 May, you’ll see hundreds of other musicians. Bring your own trumpet, if you want–you’ll find a way to play–or just come to listen and meet people. “No noise is illegal!” they say about this street fair.

Honk! Fest brings out musicians of all stripes and sounds. This year about 20 bands “large and small (anywhere from 8 – 60 members) will come from 7 states and one Canadian province, ready with old ditties, new tunes, fighting songs, protest marches, funeral dirges, swinging gospel, Balkan folk, tin pan jazz, and everything in between marching bands, samba lines, horn players, drum corps, and others,” according to the festival’s website, Among the 11 bands from the Seattle area are the Seattle Seahawks Blue Thunder Drumline, Seattle Sounders FC Soundwave, Tubaluba, Orkestar Zirkonium, and two bands from Garfield High School. Or maybe you’d rather hear the bands coming from Montana, California, Arizona, Illinois, Oregon, or British Columbia. At the Honk! Fest West website, you’ll find links to the websites of most of these bands, where you can see pictures and hear samples of their music.

On Friday, the main site is in Georgetown, and on Saturday, it moves to Fremont and Gasworks Park. The finale on Sunday is at Seattle Center and the International Fountain. For more details, visit the above website. Ask about the Pick-Up Band that will be formed during this event. Now mark your calendars, and maybe I’ll see you there, somewhere!

Posted in Festivals & Competitions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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