Glenn’s Trumpet Notes

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Veteran (76) Takes Lessons to Sound “Taps” on His Bugle

Posted by glennled on November 17, 2017

Sounding “Taps” sounds simple, doesn’t it? But it’s not. Just ask my 37th student who started with his first private lesson from me on 6 October 2017. He’s the captain of the Color Guard of VFW Post 3063 in Ballard in Seattle, and he wants to play “Taps” at various military memorials, ceremonies and funerals.

The B-flat bugle (without valves) can sound only harmonics, and “Taps” is comprised only four—G, C, and E on the staff and G above the staff. Moreover, there are only 24 notes in “Taps.” He signed up for five one-hour lessons. You might guess that that would be enough. Maybe so, if you’d played a brass instrument well in your youth. But if you didn’t, and you’re 76 years old? It’s not easy, my friend. Bugler[1] clip art

There are only a few beginning trumpet students in fifth grade who can hit that high G after 9 months of taking band classes at school. But of course, at that young age, band students don’t practice much at home, and their muscles are not yet fully developed.

So, since my man is determined to succeed and his wife is supportive, he can do it—if he is patient and practices regularly. First, he must gain control of the bugle. He must train his embouchure to hit, with consistent accuracy, the “sweet spots” in the slots for each of the four notes. He must learn to properly tongue those notes. Then, we’ll improve his tone and phrasing. He’ll learn how to breathe diaphragmatically and play with an open throat. When he sounds good in private at home, we’ll help him learn how to control his emotions when performing in public. He is my 37th private student and my first bugle-only student. Someday, he’ll master it.

Fortunately, he owns an outstanding bugle. That helps a lot. It’s the same one that I use–the Getzen Field Trumpet Model M2003E with B-flat and G tuning slides. I’ve mentioned it in numerous blog articles, and I featured it with photos at https://glennstrumpetnotes.com/2015/05/04/my-new-getzen-bugle-2-17-15/. You’ll find this model on the manufacturer’s website, http://www.getzen.com.

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