Glenn’s Trumpet Notes

News & Tips for Trumpet & Cornet Students

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Archive for the ‘New Students – Intro Posts’ Category

The first post for each new student introduces him/her to readers of the blog.

My Trumpet Students #42, #54, and “The Backyard Trio” in South Wedgwood Neighborhood of Seattle

Posted by glennled on July 19, 2020

The Backyard Trio plays “Bourbon Street” by Nick Homes
(L to R: Student No. 54, Glenn Ledbetter, and No. 42)

Last March, Covid-19 restrictions forced me to stop teaching trumpet lessons in my students’ homes, something I’ve been doing since 2009. We switched to online lessons. I now have six students doing this. But on 6 May, as the restrictions eased, I returned to the home of one student at the request of his parents. The mother is a nurse at the University of Washington Medical Center (where my oldest son was born). We held the lesson in their back yard and practiced social distancing! And that led to the later creation of “The Backyard Trio.” Let me explain.

R: Student No. 42

I’ve been teaching their son for the past two years (please use the Archives column on the left to find my blog post about him on 18 May 2018). He was my 42nd trumpet student, and his first goal was to make Jazz Band at Eckstein Middle School in the South Wedgwood neighborhood in Seattle. He made it! Not only that, but, as a 6th grader, he played a solo at the “Jazz Night” concert at Eckstein last year under the direction of Mr. Cuauhtémoc Escobedo (“Mr. E” or “Moc”). Please see my blog post, with photos, of 20 December 2019.

L: Student No. 54

Also playing trumpet at that concert and also pictured in that blog post was one of his best friends, who has recently become my 54th trumpet student. Our online private lessons commenced on 1 July. No. 54 says that when he first had a choice of instruments, he didn’t like the sound of the violin; the clarinet and saxophone required too much air; but the trumpet had a “cool sound and only 3 buttons.” He loves sports, including downhill skiing and mountain biking (two favorites), basketball (wing), baseball, swimming, water polo, and ultimate frisbee. Both he and No. 42 do water polo and ultimate frisbee. Both are multi-talented, and on trumpet, both have natural ability and pick up new things quickly. Next fall, they will be 7th graders, playing in two different jazz bands at Eckstein. They’re preparing for it this summer.

You see, the parents of both boys set this up. The mother of No. 54 found some duets for the boys to play. We all ordered “Jazz Duets (Easy)” for trumpets by Nick Homes online at http://www.jazzduets.com. The e-book contains 8 duets. Then, on Wednesday afternoons, we held a 45-minute Zoom meeting (https://zoom.us), with each of us in our separate homes. But as you know, there is a latency problem when teaching music online. Because of communications delays, you can’t play together simultaneously. So, each person, including me, has to play independently. We were playing duet parts separately and alternately. The lessons were very good but never “whole.”

The Backyard Trio (L to R: Student No. 54, Glenn Ledbetter, and Student No. 42

Then the mother of No. 42 suggested that all three of us meet in their backyard when the weather was nice. We would bring our own music stands, sit far enough apart in our straight-backed chairs, play our duets, and I would teach trumpet jazz. On 6 May, we did it for the first time, and on 15 July, we did it again. That’s how “The Backyard Trio” was born.

Now, we’d like to continue doing it (Covid-19, weather, and schedules permitting) through the remainder of the summer. Meanwhile, I also teach each boy a 30-minute online private lesson every week. We’re starting to move on to other songs now. Last session, I gave them the trumpet sheet music for “Bernie’s Tune” by Bernie Miller and “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” by Randy Newman. Let’s roll, boys. We’re “The Backyard Trio!”

Video and photos by Mom of No. 42.

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Two Buddies from Lawton Elementary School in Magnolia, Seattle Are My Nos. 52 and 53 Trumpet Students

Posted by glennled on July 16, 2020

Think about it—last fall, two good friends start 5th grade at Lawton Elementary School in Magnolia, Seattle and decide to join band together. They both have the same first name, and they live only about 10 blocks apart. What instrument(s)? They decide to play trumpet together. And then this spring, they both decide to take trumpet lessons—from me!

One boy (12) rented his horn from Ted Brown Music in the University District (please see https://www.tedbrownmusic.com/t-seattle.aspx). When band started, there were six trumpet players, but they met only once a week. He was not learning to read music, so his parents offered him private lessons. They found me on http://www.LessonsInYourHome.com, and so it was that I came to their home for the first lesson on 27 February 2020, and began teaching my 52nd trumpet student.

One thing led to another. My wife and I went away on vacation in Honolulu in March. When we returned, Covid-19 restrictions had been imposed, and we self-quarantined for two weeks.

My 53rd student (11) said that at the beginning of school last fall, he had a choice of violin, cello, trumpet, trombone, or clarinet. The clarinet was too long and had too many buttons. The violin would be uncomfortable on his shoulders. He says his arms are too short for the trombone. And the trumpet had only three buttons—aha, the winner! So, he, too, went to Ted Brown Music and rented his trumpet.

There were six trumpeters in the boys’ class. The music teacher, Timothy Burk, told them to learn the notes, and even though he and his friend were not doing that so well, they still were ahead of their classmates. When No. 53 learned that No. 54 was taking private lessons, his parents agreed to let him take lessons, also.

And so it began with our first half-hour lesson on 31 March—online—one boy at 2 p.m., the other at 3 p.m. Good players, both.

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New Student (#51) in Lynnwood Is in the Homeschool Connections Intermediate Jazz Band

Posted by glennled on December 18, 2019

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Classes for the Homeschool Connections Intermediate Jazz Band are held at Woodinville Alliance Church

 

My 51st trumpet student is my first homeschooled student. He now lives in Lynnwood, but until this year, he had been attending Harbour Pointe Middle School in Mukilteo, where he was a band member. When he and his parents decided to leave the public school system, he asked them, “What about playing trumpet in band?” They found the solution at Homeschool Connections (please see http://www.connectionsnw.org).

He participates in the Intermediate Jazz Band class on Wednesdays at Woodinville Alliance Church (http://www.wachurch.us/). There was an evening band concert on 2 December at Northlake Christian Church in Bothell (see http://www.northlakecc.org). It was called the Connections Christmas Concert, featuring the Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced Bands; Intermediate and Advanced Jazz Bands; and Jazz Combo.

My first private, half-hour lesson with him was on 20 November. I always listen to my students play before I choose an instruction book for them. From his middle school band days, he still has the Essential Elements, Trumpet, Book 1, so we decided to keep working out of that. In addition, I had him buy 101 Jazz Songs, Trumpet, published by Hal Leonard, so that he can have fun becoming familiar with some well-known pieces.

I found that his range topped out at D on the staff. So, on the first day, I taught him to play “G” above the staff, and before I left, he had played a note above high C above the staff. Also, he was making an “H” sound into the mouthpiece. Students who do that will not be able to play at fast tempos or learn double- and triple-tonguing. So, I taught him to make a “T” sound into the mouthpiece. He now has to work to make these techniques natural and habitual.

At this stage, my first job is to help him learn the fingering and embouchure positions for each note in the chromatic scale. We want him to develop instant recognition of the names and settings for each note within a two-octave range, low to high G. It is not enough to memorize things intellectually. We must learn by doing. That means “practice, practice, practice.”

I asked how he chose the trumpet. He said there was no demonstration at school where he could try playing various instruments. He chose trumpet from photographs!

According to the Homeschool Connections website, the Intermediate Jazz Band is taught by Robin Strangland. She plays and teaches French horn and plays trumpet in the Seattle Women’s Jazz Orchestra (SWOJO—see http://www.swojo.org). She started the Homeschool Band in this area in 1993. She and her husband run the Northend Jazz Camp. The Advanced Jazz Ensemble is taught by Kevin Hall, trumpeter. He is a Director of Jazz at Henry M. Jackson High School in Mill Creek. Twice, he has received the prestigious “Outstanding Soloist Award” from the International Association of Jazz Educators. He is a Festival Director for the Snohomish Valley and Mill Creek Jazz Festivals. You’ll find more information about both these instructors at http://www.connectionsnw.org/about-us/.

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Milestone: 50th Trumpet Student Attends Carl Sandburg Elementary School in Kirkland

Posted by glennled on December 16, 2019

Carl Sandburg Elem School, Kirkland, 12-13-'19

Carl Sandburg Elementary School, Kirkland

I don’t have a studio in my home where private trumpet students can come for lessons. I’m not affiliated with a music store or company that has practice studios, although I do occasionally use the rooms at Ted Brown Music in the University District, which rents studios. If I had my own or a company studio, I think I’d have reached this milestone–50 trumpet students–much earlier. So, since I started in 2009, I’ve been driving to people’s homes and teaching my students in their living rooms or basements or wherever.

My 50th student is a quiet, cute, petite girl with a charming smile who attends 4th grade at the Carl Sandburg Elementary School (CSES) in Kirkland. The Music Teacher there is Mr. Bryan Melerski. He conducted a recital at the school on 17 December at which my student’s ensemble played three pieces. Her group consists of trumpet, trombone, baritone, flute and clarinet players.

Our first lesson was on 19 November. She recalled how she chose trumpet. The trombone and baritone were too big for her to carry home. So she tried playing the trumpet first, then the flute and clarinet, and finally, the trumpet again. She made a good sound that she liked. Also, the trumpet had only three valves, and she liked pushing down the buttons. That was it—the choice was easy. She’s smart, earnest, and pleasant. She’s had piano lessons in the past, and her music knowledge is far better than other 4th grade students I’ve taught. Some techniques and skills just seem to come naturally to her. She shows good promise.

According to the CSES’s website, enrollment was 459 in October 2017, and there were 27 teachers, 70% of whom had at least a Master’s Degree.  The unexcused absence rate was 0.3%. Carl Sandburg (1878-1967) was a famous, popular American poet, journalist, biographer, and editor. He won three Pulitzer Prizes (1919, 1940, and 1951). Born in Illinois, he lived and worked in Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, Puerto Rico, Wisconsin, Michigan, and North Carolina, where he died at age 89. Numerous schools are named after him throughout America.

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My 49th Trumpet Student Aims for Juanita High School Jazz Band, Kirkland

Posted by glennled on July 18, 2019

My 49th trumpet student found me online and signed up for 10 one-hour lessons. We started with the first one on 3 July. His immediate goal is to make the jazz band at Juanita High School (JHS) in Kirkland, where, at age 14, he will be a freshman in September. I’m all in—let’s go for it!

1[1] (2)What experience does he have? It’s good that there’re some musicianship in his family. His mother played flute and piccolo, and his older brother, a junior at JHS, plays saxophone. He started band classes in fourth grade at Thoreau Elementary School. When he got to Finn Hill Middle School, he joined the jazz band and played there for three years. Last year, he and another trumpeter usually took the solos. Also, he’s a Boy Scout bugler.

Where to start? I listened to him play. He has excellent range—above high C. His tone is solid but meek. His articulation is accurate. Naturally, he has some weaknesses and bad habits—who doesn’t, especially at his age? That’s why he’s taking lessons! But his attitude is good, and his spirit is pleasant and positive. He has ambition and loves trumpet. He wants to earn the Boy Scout’s Bugling Merit Badge. He fits my tutoring motto—“Become Your Best!”

Next, we considered his equipment. He rents a student-level trumpet and, in time, plans to move up to an intermediate horn. He has a few mouthpieces; we identified the one that gives him the highest range. Later, after school starts, we will identify the one that is the most versatile, responsive and comfortable in the range where he’ll be playing most often.

Third, I asked him what improvements he could make that would enhance his chances of being selected for jazz band. His answer: “dynamics.” To me, that says he wants to improve his technique so that his sound will be more expressive of feelings. In other words, he wants to be able to make the horn “cry and sing and inspire.” Won’t that be fun to teach!

So—I asked his mom to buy three books:

 

  • Mel Bay’s Complete Jazz Trumpet Book by William Bay, published by Mel Bay Publications, Inc.
  • 101 Jazz Songs: Trumpet by Hal Leonard Corporation
  • 67 Bugle Calls by Carl Fischer, New Edition

Next week, we’ll have our fourth one-hour lesson. School classes start in less than six weeks on Tuesday, 3 September. Here we go!

Incidentally, he is not my first trumpet student at JHS. Two others are featured in my blog post of 4 June 2013, which contains photos of the JHS Concert Band, Symphonic Band, and Jazz Band at that time. To read about today’s band program at JHS, under the direction of Annemarie Smith, please see https://jhs.lwsd.org/activitiesathletics/performing-arts/band.

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My #48 Trumpet Student Plays Catch-Up This Summer as She Enters Mercer Island High School

Posted by glennled on July 12, 2019

At our first private trumpet lesson on 27 June, I learned from my 48th student that she has plans to join the Mercer Island High School Band (MIHS) as a freshman this fall. She took band and played trumpet in 5th grade but then quit. Now, she misses it and wants MIHSBand[1]to be back in it among friends. They, however, have three more years of experience than she does! Plus, she’s forgotten much of what she had learned. It’s a steep game of Catch-Up!

But she has some things now that she didn’t have in 5th grade—more maturity, motivation, and willingness to practice. Her Mom is realistic about it: she knows her daughter will need to continue private lessons throughout the school year. It’s a steep learning curve to catch up to your peers after a long layoff.th[7]

But if you like playing music, who wouldn’t want to be in the MIHS Band? It’s outstanding. I know—I lived on M.I. for 34 years, and my older son was a drummer in that band. He continues to play now in a group where he lives in New Zealand.

According to the MIHS website, “Currently, almost one of every four MIHS students is enrolled in the band program,” led by Directors Parker Bixby, Ryan Lane, David Bentley, and Carol Krell. There are more than 300 students in the band program.

The MI concert band program is comprised of four bands:

  • Concert Band—freshmen band students.
  • Symphonic Band—over 80 sophomore and junior members (auditioned).
  • Wind Symphony—over 70 sophomores, juniors, and seniors (auditioned).
  • Wind Ensemble—55 members (the premier performing ensemble at MIHS).

In addition, there is the MI marching band which performs during football season. Comprised of more than 280 members, it is one of the largest in the state. It performed in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, CA in 1993, 2006, 2013, and 2019.

Besides all this, there are jazz bands and steel drum bands at MIHS. During basketball season the Animal Band takes over. It’s really four bands, formed by splitting the 280-member marching band into four groups. At games, they’re very loud and very enthusiastic animals.

The musicianship level at MIHS is very high. Last school year, 18 band students were selected to the Washington All-State and All-Northwest Bands. The students selected for the All-Northwest group were from Washington, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Wyoming, and Alaska. During the past five years, more than 50 students made All-State and All-Northwest. Four students have been selected to the National Wind Ensemble. The band has performed at Seattle Seahawks football games and at the 2009 Major League Soccer (MLS) Cup match. In 2008, the band completed a successful 10-day cultural and musical exchange in China.

For a full description of MIHS Bands, please see https://www.mercerislandschools.org/Page/5453

For numerous videos of MIHS bands, please see: https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=mercer+island+band+boosters+videos&qpvt=mercer+island+band+boosters+videos&FORM=VQFRML

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New Trumpet Student #47 from Lockwood Elementary in Bothell Prepares for 5th Grade Band

Posted by glennled on May 9, 2019

th[4]He’s about to finish 4th grade at Lockwood Elementary School in Bothell and has a close friend who has registered for band next year—so he’s registered, too. That’s why he chose trumpet. His mother contacted me on 12 March, and we started weekly private lessons on 2 April. He wants to get a head start.

She bought him the instruction book which the band uses, Standard of Excellence, Book I, by Bruce Pearson. We’re working our way through the early pages and the inside back cover, concentrating on “the first six notes,” C through A of the C Major Scale. He’s learning the very basics: how to hold the trumpet properly, sit properly, buzz in the mouthpiece, understand the route of his air through the valves and slides, oil the valves, release the water that collects in the horn, breathe while playing, set his embouchure to sound each different note, read the time signature, recognize the shapes of quarter, half, and whole notes and rests, play different rhythms at different tempos, and so forth and so on.

Every page introduces new things to learn and master. There is so much to remember to do, all it once! Yet it looks so simple—the trumpet has only three buttons—it appears deceptively easy. He has shown me that he can handle it—and he will master it if he practices. He has the natural ability. He already has a head start. He’s getting better, step by step. And so far, he tells me, he likes playing trumpet. I’ve invited him and his family to attend my 10th Annual Trumpet Recital in Edmonds on 25 May as observers. Here’s hoping he attends next year as a participant.

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It Happens—My Young 46th Trumpet Student Drops Out

Posted by glennled on March 1, 2019

He’s a precocious 8 year old, and I was his second trumpet teacher—for one lesson only! He’s had two years of piano lessons (which continue) and just recently took up trumpet. After making a thorough study, online for months, of numerous instruments, he chose trumpet because of its sound. He likes Wynton Marsalis and Miles Davis. His parents trumpet-clipart-photo-book[1]rented him a Yahoo trumpet from Ted Brown Music in the University District of Seattle. The trips to his first tutor’s studio proved to be too far a commute for the mom, so he dropped after two lessons. Then she found me at http://www.lessonsinyourhome.com. I drove to his home on 21 February with high hopes despite his youth.

He already knows the fingerings of the notes in the C-major scale within his range, which is two octaves–truly exceptional for his age and the very short time that he’s been playing. His tone is solid. He’s rolling his lips inward toward his teeth as he climbs into the upper register—something that many fifth graders find unnatural and difficult. He is eager to learn more and does so quickly. To me, he’s an ideal student.

For the next lesson, I asked him to practice two pages in his instruction book (Standard of Excellence by Bruce Pearson) and improve on three things: tonguing, lip placement, and breathing. He was making an “H” sound into the mouthpiece and needs to change to a “T” sound. In the lower register, he was letting his lower lip creep out of the mouthpiece so that he could make the buzz with the inside of his lips. Indeed, he should roll his lips outward in the lower register, but both lips need to remain inside the mouthpiece cup. He was breathing through his nose and needs to breathe through the corners of his mouth. When we parted, I told him he is going to be a star. Smiles, shining eyes.

He’s very bright, self-motivated and disciplined. His mom says he practices piano often and on his own initiative, sometimes for up to two hours. He’s played in four piano recitals. In addition, he sings in a choir and loves it. He’s a happy boy. His two older siblings play piano and drums. His father studied voice at the famed Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois.

But alas, his mom says they now need to stop these lessons for budgetary concerns. Oh, ah, hmmm…well, no worries. He’s a musician, just finding his way. Godspeed.

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My 45th Student Is Only 70 Years Old

Posted by glennled on February 2, 2019

IMG_2674

Olds Ambassador cornet in its original case with 1962 Indiana state trumpet competition medal pinned inside the lid (left)

Why does the above headline read, “only 70 years old”? Well, because my student #26 was an 81-year old retired engineer (see my blog post of 18 February 2016), and my student #38 was a 76-year old retired Army veteran (see my blog post of 17 November 2017). The 81-year old played a Kanstul cornet, and the veteran played a Getzen bugle. My new student (#45) plays an Olds Ambassador cornet, and as you may remember, I still play a Super Olds cornet given to me by my parents when I entered high school in 1954.

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Olds Ambassador cornet, c. 1961

On 27 December 2018, I had my first private lesson with Victor Snyder at his home in the Bryant neighborhood in Seattle, east of the University of Washington. In fact, in 2015, he retired from UW, where after 20 years of employment, he was the Associate Director, Career Counseling Center [now, Career and Internship Center]. Now that he’s retired, he wants to play cornet again.

The first time Vic played his cornet was when he was a 7th and 8th grade student at St. Pius Catholic School in Tell City, Indiana. In 1962, while in the 8th grade, he won a state solo competition, was graded “superior,” and was awarded a medal by the Indiana School Music Association. He performed “The Pals” polka by George D. Barnard (see photo). The next year, as a freshman, he started taking band at Tell City High School but then dropped it. Nevertheless, his mother saved his cornet and his music, thinking that since he was talented, he might someday take it up again. I’m sure that would make her happy and proud again.

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“The Pals” polka by George D. Barnard can be played as either a solo or duet with piano accompaniment

After high school, Vic earned a Bachelors degree at Kent State University in Ohio, served a tour in the U.S. Navy including being stationed on Whidbey Island in Washington, and then earned a Masters degree at the University of Washington in 1976.  The next time he played his cornet was in 1989, twenty-seven years after winning that medal. He took private lessons for about half a year. The tutor assigned him only exercises in Arbans Complete Conservatory Method: Trumpet, but he wanted to play songs, too. As everyone knows, Arbans is a wonderful instruction book and even contains many old songs, but it is designed for advanced students, not beginners or re-starters. He became bored and frustrated and stopped the lessons.

Now, Vic is taking up the horn once again, simply for his own pleasure. Eventually, he might join a combo with a friend and/or play with a community band and such—or not. He’s really doing this to please himself. He found me through http://www.takelessons.com. His weekly lessons are one-hour long, and he often practices twice a day. He’s working his way through two exercise books that are more appropriate for his current performance level:

  • Rubank Elementary Level, Cornet or Trumpet by A. F. Robinson.
  • Progressive Beginner Trumpet by Peter Gelling.

The skills are coming back, but in addition, Vic is learning much more than he ever did. He knows that I host an annual recital in my home in late May or early June. Perhaps by then, he will be able to play “The Pals” again, but if he wants to play something else, we’ll find the right thing. I’m betting that his mom, who passed away in 2005, would be proud to hear him once more—after all, he’s only 70 and has many more miles yet to go.

Please click on any photo to enlarge it.

 

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My 44th Trumpet Student Came and Went

Posted by glennled on December 25, 2018

dc8Mgnjgi[1]My first weekly trumpet lesson with my 44th trumpet student was on 4 December. Two weeks later, he dropped. But no worries—all is not lost. He’s also taking piano lessons (and has for the past two years), but taking lessons on both instruments is just more than he and his family want to handle at his young age (10). Besides, his sister is taking piano and guitar, too, so there’s a lot of music being played in their home.

He’s a 4th grader at Wedgewood Elementary School in Seattle. At our first lesson, I asked him what attracted him to trumpet. “It’s size and weight,” he answered. He walks to and from school daily, and he simply did not want to carry something like a cello. When we started, he already had Bruce Pearson’s Standard of Excellence, Book 1, Trumpet, so we began with that, learning how to make notes on a brass instrument. During our last lesson, I gave him the music for the first four bars of “Happy Birthday,” which he managed quite well.

We parted amicably, and I encouraged him and his mother, saying that he can still become a good trumpet player if he wants to take band in the 5th grade. In my experience, it’s very rare that a fourth-grade trumpeter will stay with private lessons. They burn out. They simply need to grow and develop just one more year, and then most of them will make it. There are many good reasons why almost all elementary schools start band classes in the fifth grade. The kids are bigger and stronger, their hands have grown, and they have more maturity, discipline, and motivation. My 44th student pleasantly accepted this, and indeed, he may join band class next year. He certainly has had a good head start. Good luck, warm regards, so long for now, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 

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