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.

Young Trumpet Student from St. Joseph School in Seattle

Posted by glennled on June 22, 2017

1280px-Seattle_-_St._Joseph's_School_01

St. Joseph School, Seattle

My 36th trumpet student took private trumpet lessons with me for only three months (Feb-Apr) but may come back again…let’s hope! He is one of four children in a very active household and plays both basketball and soccer. He attends St. Joseph School, an all-city, Catholic, K-8 grade school established in 1907 in the North Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle.

As a third-grader, No. 36 was one of the youngest trumpeters I’ve ever tutored. [So far, No. 18 was the youngest—please see my post of 26 October 2011.] He is a wonderful, multi-talented kid with strong self-confidence, happy disposition, and high intelligence…just a joy to teach! But alas, the family is SO busy that Mom had to cut back somewhere for now. When he’s a little older, she says, he may take up the trumpet again. At St. Joseph, Band is first offered to sixth-graders, and then 7th- and 8th-graders can take Advanced Band.

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Three New Trumpet Students (Nos. 33-35) in Four Weeks!

Posted by glennled on May 2, 2017

“Good things come in threes”—isn’t that the old saying? Well, I’ll buy it. During the four weeks between late March and late April, I started giving private trumpet lessons to three new students! Progressive Beginner Trumpet (a)

On 21 March, my 33rd trumpet student had his first lesson with me. He’s a talented 5th-grader at Terrace Park Elementary School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington, where the band director is Zoyia Perry. My new student has a positive attitude, smiles readily, asks questions, and is anxious to learn and improve. Any instructor could hardly ask for more! To start with, we are using the instruction book, Progressive Beginner Trumpet by Peter Gelling. Will he achieve his potential in trumpet, or like some other multi-talented kids, someday choose another specialty? I vote for trumpet!

My 34th trumpet student started lessons on 29 March. He’s a sixth-grader in Beginner Band (for Middle Schoolers) at Evergreen Middle School, where Eric T. Peterson, the band director, runs a high-level, ambitious music program. This student found himself falling somewhat behind his peers and naturally, became discouraged. His parents hired me to help him, and I’m enjoying that. I’ve found that he can play, but he’s formed a few bad habits that work against him. Until now, he simply hasn’t had enough individual instruction about trumpet playing, which is something almost no one can learn on their own. We’re using the same book, Gelling’s Progressive Beginner Trumpet, to replace the bad habits with good ones and to learn things he missed in elementary band. We’ll see in time whether or not he chooses to stay with it. Hope so. He can do it! A few years ago, another of my middle school students (No. 4) wanted to quit, but Mom said no (please see my post of 18 November 2009). Now she tells me he’s majoring in music at college and plans to become a band director!

There is an 11-year old girl, a 5th-grader at Machias Elementary School in Snohomish, who is getting an early start on trumpet. At Machias, the band director is John Smith, but band classes do not begin until the 6th grade—so she rented a trumpet now, and we began lessons a few days ago on 28 April. By the end of her first lesson, she had sounded all the notes in the first four bars of “Happy Birthday.” Smiles all around! She’s buying the book that the band will use next fall, Standard of Excellence, Book I, Trumpet, by Bruce Pearson. And you can bet that she’ll be ready!

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My 32nd Trumpet Student Faces Unique Embouchure Challenge

Posted by glennled on May 1, 2017

A 20-some-odd-year-old engineering student at the University of Washington from Saudi Arabia is my 32nd trumpet student—imagine that! His first lesson was on 17 March, and he wants to concentrate on jazz. He simply loves the beautiful sound of the trumpet, especially as played by Miles Davis. Davis’s “So What” is a big favorite of his. Balanced Embouchure, coveEdited

His intensity and enthusiasm are special, but we soon found that he faces two obstacles that never trouble most trumpeters. First, he has what’s called a “protruding upper lip.” People whose mouth is structured this way find that when they form their embouchure to buzz into the mouthpiece, their upper lip suddenly pops outward, creating a little, triangular “button” that causes the soft top lip to roll out and disrupt the air flow. This makes it exceedingly difficult both to sound a good, round, fat, solid tone and also to reach notes in the higher register.

Musicians with this embouchure usually are switched to a brass instrument with a larger mouthpiece, such as a trombone, baritone, or tuba. But that is not always necessary. The Balanced Embouchure (2001) by Jeff Smiley is the only instruction book I have found so far that directly discusses this condition and presents specific exercises for trumpeters who do not want to switch. Smiley’s excellent book is available at http://www.trumpetteacher.net.

To complicate things further, he had surgery on his lower jaw a couple of years ago and was left with no feeling in his lower lip. We determined that he could form that lip correctly to make a proper-looking embouchure, but his lower lip cannot feel the buzz. Imagine having to contend with that!

These two conditions present him (and me, as his instructor) with a unique challenge. Engineers carry a heavy academic load. We’ll see whether he wants to continue with the trumpet under these unique, tough circumstances. Will he eventually play jazz, even if it’s simply for his own pleasure? Well, either way, we know he’ll never stop enjoying it. And that’s good.

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31st Trumpet Student Comes from New Jersey to Bothell, Washington

Posted by glennled on September 22, 2016

picture4Last April, a family from Cherry Hill, New Jersey (just across the Delaware River from Philadelphia) moved cross-country when the Dad took a new job in Bothell, Washington. At Cherry Hill, the son attended Rosa International Middle School, which offers the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. He’s been playing trumpet since 4th grade and took private lessons back there, starting in the 6th grade. Now that he’s an 8th grader at Skyview Jr. High School in Bothell, he has become my 31st trumpet student. Our first private lesson was on 28 July.

Listening to music at a young age, he especially liked “Star Wars” and decided, “I can play an instrument, too.” He likes percussion—“rhythm is fun”—but so do lots of other kids. So his attention turned to saxophone, flute, and trumpet. Then he realized that the sound of the saxophone usually blends in with other sounds, and the flute isn’t very versatile. On the other hand, the trumpet can either blend in or stand out and often gets to play the melody. It can play all styles from classical to jazz—“It all works!” And it looks simple–only three buttons instead of all those keys. Only later did he learn how the embouchure complicates playing a brass instrument. So that’s how trumpet became his choice, and obviously, he’s happy with that decision.

He takes private lessons because he likes to excel at whatever he’s doing and wants to play in the lead group of the trumpet section. But he has no ambition to become a professional. He will eventually choose some other career. Meanwhile, being in the concert and jazz bands is fun, and he’s looking forward to playing in the marching and concert bands at the new North Creek High School. After that, he’d like to play in college, too.

That’s my privilege and challenge: to help him play well, be a leader, and enjoy doing it!

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30th Trumpet Student Entering 6th Grade at Seaview Elementary School, Edmonds

Posted by glennled on August 20, 2016

Sunny summertime is just the perfect time for practicing trumpet, right? There’s nothingimagesF6I5OUG0 a new 6th grader at Seaview Elementary School in Edmonds would rather do than practice trumpet throughout the summer, right? Gotta take private lessons and get prepared for second year band, right? Well, maybe so. His Grandpa thinks so. But then again, maybe not. So, after one lesson on 11 July, my 30th trumpet student decided to put his horn back in its case and take the summer off. “Different strokes for different folks.” Maybe later…

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29th Trumpet Student is Law Professor from University of San Diego

Posted by glennled on August 5, 2016

You’re a 67-year old law professor at the University of San Diego (USD) with a 56-year old imagesG5V7PQYStrumpet sitting in your closet. Your parents bought it new for you when you were in about 5th grade in St. Louis. You played it until the 9th grade. After graduating from Yale, you earned a J.D. degree from the University of Texas School of Law, taught a law course in Miami, took a job teaching law at Southern Illinois University (SIU) in Carbondale, IL, got married, and had a family. It’s there at SIU that you held tenure. Later, your son played your trumpet for a few years before he specialized in piano and sports and gave the trumpet back to you. And there it sat in the house while you taught law for 34 years. Then, in 2011, USD offered both you and your wife positions on the law school faculty. You’re now in your 40th year of teaching up to 7 different law courses. You’ve been a Visiting Professor at a dozen university law schools, including Seattle University in the summer of 2012. At USD, you are now the J. Lawrence Irving Distinguished Senior Teaching Fellow and Professor-in-Residence. (Please see http://www.sandiego.edu/law/faculty/profiles/bio.php?ID=638). And you took your trumpet with you to San Diego and kept it there until you brought it with you to Seattle in July this year.

Mark Lee, Law Prof, USD

Prof. Mark Lee, School of Law, University of San Diego

In all those years, you had periodic yearnings to play trumpet again. When you both decided to rent a house and vacation for a few weeks this summer in Seattle—where your son, wife and baby daughter live—she suggested that while you’re here, you do something you’ve always wanted to do but never did. You chose to bring along your trumpet and re-learn how to play it. So you found me on the internet, and we had our first private lesson at a studio in the Ted Brown Music store in the University District on 7 July.

I’ve asked Prof. Mark R. Lee why he chose trumpet when he was a kid. He says he’s always loved the trumpet’s pure, crystal-clear notes. They sometimes give him chilblains, he says, a cold feeling running up and down his spine, as if he’d been exposed for hours to cold but non-freezing weather. For him, the “Triumphal March” in Verdi’s opera, Aida, can produce that feeling.

He says he’s now taking lessons and practicing his trumpet simply for his own pleasure Marching Band Clip Artand enjoyment. He is a competitive person and generally likes to perform at the highest level he is capable of, but as for trumpet, he has no ambition or plans to play in an orchestra or band. If he did, he would prefer to play classical music, but he also loves marches and musicals. He’d love to play The Music Man, and to his surprise, he’s come to enjoy opera.

His trumpet is a Penn stencil horn. In other words, it’s a medium-to-high-quality horn made by an undisclosed trumpet manufacturer and engraved “Penn” on the bell. He says his parents paid $300 for it—quite an expense for them at that time, about 1959. He let me play it, and I was surprised at how free and open it is—little resistance and a solid tone with smooth valve action.

My 29th trumpet student and his wife return to San Diego in early August. Any time they come back to Seattle for a few weeks to see that granddaughter, I hope we will go for another round of lessons. Learning is fun, right, Professor?

Prof. Lee’s Penn stencil trumpet is shown below. Please click on a photo to enlarge it.

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My 28th Trumpet Student—Senior Band Member at Prestigious Washington Middle School, Seattle

Posted by glennled on April 13, 2016

th38GNGQ82My 28th trumpet student is a cohort—in fact, a Highly Capable Cohort. He lives in West Seattle, but he commutes to Washington Middle School (WMS) on Jackson Street in the Central District, where he is among other cohorts (i.e., friends, colleagues, companions, associates). HCC was formerly known as APP (Accelerated Progress Program). HCC students have achievement test scores at or above the 95th percentile and cognitive test scores at or above the 98th percentile. Wow, I’m impressed!

We started his trumpet lessons on the last day of February in this Leap Year. We meet at a practice studio at Ted Brown Music in the University District (see http://www.tedbrownmusic.com). He’s been playing since 4th grade and is now a 7th grader. He’s also in his third year of piano lessons. Trumpet is his primary instrument, but when the family inherited a piano, he started playing it out of curiosity and for pleasure. And he takes piano lessons, too. Obviously, he enjoys learning.

What attracted him to the trumpet? Its power, he says. It sounds triumphant. But it also can sound sweet, and it can scream. And finally, it has only 3 buttons! Now that he’s been playing for four years, he wants to improve his range, tone, and articulation, as well as improve his all-around playing ability. His trumpet is a Getzen Model 700S Eterna II, manufactured in 2012 (see http://www.getzen.com/trumpet/). He plans to attend Garfield High School, which is renowned nationally for it music program, and he wants to play throughout high school and college. He often wears University of Washington shirts, and the WMS school mascot is the Junior Husky. (Someday, we might end up playing trumpet together in the Husky Alumni Band.)washmidschool_logo

At WMS (grades 6-8), there are four concert bands, conducted by Kelly Barr-Clingan, Director of Bands and Jazz and an active trombonist and vocalist. Please see http://washingtonmsmusic.com/wmsmusic.com/Welcome.html. My student plays in the Senior Band, and he enjoys movie sound tracks, especially Star Wars. Last year, he was a member of the All-City Junior Band. Last summer, he marched in three community parades: Renton River Days, West Seattle Hi-Yu Festival, and Queen Anne Days.

On 26-28 May this year, the Senior Band, Senior Choir, and Senior Orchestra are giving four performances in the Vancouver, B.C. Heritage Festival. The trip is organized through Worldstrides, a leader in educational trips for students (see https://worldstrides.com/itineraries/vancouver-heritage-festival/). On 14 June, WMS will present its Spring Concert at Garfield High School, featuring all the senior groups. More than half of the school’s population is enrolled in the 13 daily music ensembles. In addition, there are four after-school music offerings. Wow, I’m impressed!

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New Student #27 Readies for Edmonds-Woodway High School Band

Posted by glennled on February 21, 2016

thMAGS9S7MEvery one of my trumpet students is serious about playing trumpet—after all, they’re paying for private lessons. But some are more serious than others, and my 27th student is one of those. She started in fifth grade band but due to circumstances beyond her control, she had to drop out for two years. Now in the eighth grade, she has moved to downtown Edmonds from Des Moines, Washington, and is now in the trumpet section of the Wind Ensemble at College Place Middle School.

trumpet02

She likes the fact that the trumpet has only three keys. That, and its light weight and smaller size compared to a tuba, for instance, are what first attracted her (and me) to the trumpet when we were in the fifth grade. It looks deceptively simple, compared to a bassoon, flute, saxophone, or clarinet, where you must use all fingers on both hands. Then the band teacher starts using the French word, “embouchure,” and suddenly, it’s not so simple any more. You find out you must hold your lips just right to buzz into the mouthpiece correctly, and every note has its own unique slot, and to sound different notes, your facial muscles must be set just right, and the aperture must be just the right size for a given note, and your lips must be flexible to make a good, solid tone, and if you aren’t doing all this just right, your tone will be out of tune (sharp or flat), and you must breathe out of the sides of your mouth using your diaphragm, and to play the different notes in a song, you must learn the music alphabet and symbols so that you can read the music language, and there are a bunch of Italian words you must learn, and to play a song, you must change your fingering and your embouchure precisely at the same instant, and to play fast, you must have trained your fingers and embouchure so well that they can change correctly and quickly on sight, automatically, without thought, and to play high notes softly is not easy, and you must simultaneously watch the conductor, read the music, listen to the other musicians, and play, all the time, and it’s hard to play solo under all that pressure because you and the conductor and the audience want you to play perfectly and beautifully…and so forth.

So, although anyone can learn to play trumpet, you have to get serious about it sometime in order to reach your full potential and “Become Your Best!” Fortunately, my 27th trumpet student is serious. Seeing that quality in her daughter, her mom is very happy to support her with private lessons. And seeing the same in her, I am very happy she chose me as her trumpet tutor. She wants to be ready for high school band at Edmonds-Woodway next fall. Our first lesson was on 6 February. We’re starting to plow into the exercise book, I Recommend (1985) by James D. Ployhar. Here we go!

Please click on any image to enlarge it.

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My New Cornet Student Is Only 81!

Posted by glennled on February 18, 2016

1PC-Evolution-font-b-Marching-b-font-Band-font-b-Trumpet-b-font-Player-Fashion-WaterproofUntil now, I’ve never had a trumpet or cornet student who is older than I am! Holy cow, we’re 156 years old! Bob was born in 1934, and is my 26th student. We held his first lesson in his living room on 2 February.

He’s a fan of Joseph W. Marcinkiewicz, author of the instruction book, The Buzzone: The Art of Playing Efficiently and Comfortably. Marcinkiewicz advertises it on his website as “the definitive text for the brasswind player.” Well, blow me down! I had never heard of it. So I bought it. (You never stop learning.)

Bob played cornet all throughout grade school, high school and college but dropped it as he began his career, married, and raised his family. His love of music, especially classical, had convinced him to become a music educator, but he ultimately decided to become an engineer so that he could support his family at the lifestyle level he wanted to. In 1989, 27 years ago, he retired as an engineering manager from U S WEST, a Bell System Operating Company, and now lives with his wife in Snohomish. In retirement, it was time for Bob to do something different. That became travelling in a fifth-wheeler, consulting, listening to music, reading, studying, and today, tutoring mathematics at all levels.

Since college, Bob has been off the horn almost 60 years! Five to 10 years ago, he bought a Bach trumpet and played it for about a year, but its sound was too brilliant for his taste, so he got rid of it. Music gives him “mental stimulation and enjoyment,” he says, and now he wants to become a performer again, not just a listener. (Please see my article, “Hear ‘Your Brain on Music’ by Dr. Larry Sherman,” posted on 2 February 2012.)

Bob’s ambition is to play in a church orchestra by next fall. He has bought a Kanstul cornet, model 1530 (silver) with a 0.470″ bore. Bob’s dream would be someday to play

“Napoli: Variations on a Neapolitan Song,” composed by Herman Bellstedt. The song on which the variations are based is “Funiculi, Funicula” by Luigi Denza in 1880. For a thrill and to appreciate the magnitude of Bob’s dream, copy this link and listen to Ole Edvard Antonsen play it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elo0SPMo6qg. Way to go, Bob—let’s roll!

Never having had private lessons before, Bob realizes that he won’t reach his goals without professional training. He chose me off one of the websites where I advertise myself as a trumpet and cornet tutor. Why cornet (which was very popular in the 19th century), when in the early 20th century, the whole world turned to the trumpet as the “instrument of choice?” Because that’s what he played all through school, and that’s the darker, smoother, mellower sonority that most pleases his ear. Bob remembers that in his school days, he used too much pressure on his mouth. After playing, the mouthpiece’s mark on his lips would stay there for hours. That led him to The Buzzone by Marcinkiewicz. Bob wants to strengthen the muscles in his embouchure so he won’t have to use such heavy pressure to reach the high notes—hard pressure will cut your stamina and endurance and can cause pain or injury.

Zigmant Kanstul launched Kanstul Musical Instruments in 1981. Located in Anaheim, California, one mile east of Disneyland, Kanstul’s 36 craftsmen manufacture a complete line of brass musical instruments. To view Bob’s new cornet, please see http://kanstul.net/detail.php?pass_search=1530.0000&pass_instrument=Cornet.

Marcinkiewicz Co., Inc. makes hand-crafted trumpets, cornets, flugelhorns, trombones, and several unique horns such as pocket and piccolo trumpets, as well as mouthpieces for them all. The factory is in Canby, Oregon. See http://www.marcinkiewicz.com.

Please click on any photo to enlarge it.

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She Came, She Went–Trumpeter Deserted Band for Choir!

Posted by glennled on September 27, 2015

Woman singing clip art

My 20th trumpet student, a 6th-grader in 1st-year band, took private lessons from me for a few months starting on 8 November 2010. Apparently, she has a great voice, because she made the Northshore School District’s Honors Choir in 2011. And when she had to register for 7th grade classes at Skyview Jr. High School in Bothell, she chose choir, not band.

Today, when I was compiling a list of all my trumpet students since 2009, I found I’d never written a blog post here about her…until now. She must have been “out of sight, out of mind.”

But now I remember. That next year, when I would occasionally see her in a school breezeway, I would tease her about leaving and try to re-recruit her. She would just smile broadly and walk on by. It reminded me of John Benson Sebastian’s song, “Did you ever have to make up your mind? You pick up on one and leave the other behind…” Here’s The Lovin’ Spoonful singing it (1966): http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=did+you+ever+have+to+make+up+your+mind&FORM=HDRSC3#view=detail&mid=670FAA7BDA3F05CECD73670FAA7BDA3F05CECD73.

She had come to a fork in the road, and “now she’s gone, gone, gone, o-o-o-o-oh.”  Just kidding. Best wishes for the Good Life, Young Lady! See you in the movies.

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