Glenn’s Trumpet Notes

News & Tips for Trumpet & Cornet Students

  • March 2011
    S M T W T F S
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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. 🙂

8 Responses to “Why on Earth Write in the Key Signature of F-Sharp (Six Sharps)?!”

  1. Dan said

    Glenn, think of it not so much as a burden, but an opportunity! Practicing your scales is one thing, but using what you’ve learned is another entirely. 🙂

    • glennled said

      Yes, Dan, that’s it. This is my opportunity! That helps my attitude a lot. Why didn’t I think of that?

      • I’ll take full responsibility! 🙂 Thanks to this outstanding arranger (he’s awesome!), I can choose any key we need to accommodate …. yip, you guessed it: the CONGREGATION! And because God has blessed us with a gifted WL/guitarist and well-trained orchestra members, it doesn’t have to be about US. Yeah!

        Thanks, Glenn, for your great spirit! Always a joy to have you play.

        Linda, Worship Director

      • glennled said

        How true, how true! it’s not about US! Likewise, it’s always a joy to worship with you, whether in the orchestra or the congregation. Blessings!

  2. Kara said

    You crack me up, Glenn! I always hated playing piano with lots of sharps—I can relate! Thanks for the chuckle. Kara

    • glennled said

      And did you ever regard that as an opportunity, as Dan suggested? Not a chance! Me, either—till now (yuk)! 😦

  3. Zeke Vim said

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

    Because they have a twisted, demented mind.

    • glennled said

      That’s what I thought, too, Zeke. But it turns out that, according to the conductor, she can order any piece of music in any key, and she happened to choose this one for the benefit of the guitar players and the congregation’s voice range. Hrmmph!

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