Glenn’s Trumpet Notes

News & Tips for Trumpet & Cornet Students

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Posts Tagged ‘brass’

First Christmas Concert—Elementary Band Performs at Skyview Middle School, Bothell

Posted by glennled on December 26, 2018

 

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Dan Carlson, SMS Band Director, conducts “Good King Wenceslas”

 

The 2018-19 Skyview Elementary (5th Grade) Band performed its first concert at Skyview Middle School (SMS) on 12 December with more than 100 family and friends in attendance at 8 o’clock in the morning. Dan Carlson, Director, is in his first year at SMS. Jane Lin is the instructor for percussion, Tyler Rogers teaches woodwinds, and I teach brass for the eighth year.

The full band performed three pieces from its instruction book, Standard of Excellence: Comprehensive Band Method, Book 1 by Bruce Pearson. They were “Good King Wenceslas,” “Jolly Old St. Nicholas,” and “Jingle Bells.” In addition, each instrument section got to perform individually its own chosen selection. First, the percussion section played “Hot Cross Buns,” followed by the woodwinds (“Merrily We Roll Along”), and concluding with the brass (“Lightly Row”).

The next day after this concert, the band met in the SMS cafeteria for a pot-luck party to complete its fall schedule.

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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My 8th Year Teaching Beginning Brass at Skyview Middle School, Bothell

Posted by glennled on October 27, 2018

 

Girl TrumpeterOn the first of October, it was back to school for me at Skyview Middle School trombone-clipart-A_man_playing_the_trombone_110127-132560-479009[1]in Bothell, where I began my 8th year as a paraprofessional, teaching the beginning brass section of the elementary band. Trumpets and trombones, 5th graders from four elementary schools in the Northshore School District—Fernwood, Canyon Creek, Crystal Springs, and Lockwood—about 20 students this year. Mr. Dan Carlson is the new Band and Orchestra Director. Meanwhile, a huge one-to-two year remodel of SMS is underway, temporarily complicating access and logistics but promising major improvements and benefits for years to come. The kids make it all worthwhile.

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Photo Gallery of Spring Band Concert, Skyview Middle School, Bothell

Posted by glennled on June 19, 2018

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Charlie Fix, Band and Orchestra Director, Skyview Middle School, conducts 5th-Grade Band at Spring 2018 Concert

 

A full house gathered on 30 May to hear the 5th and 6th grade bands perform their 2018 Spring Band Concert under the direction of Charlie Fix at Skyview Middle School in Bothell. A few 6th grade musicians sat in with the 5th grade band to give it more balance and depth. Fifth grade band members come from three elementary schools: Fernwood, Canyon Creek, and Crystal Springs. Sixth grade band members attend Skyview Middle School. Fifth grade section instructors had the honor of conducting special pieces by their respective band sections: Glenn Ledbetter (brass), Matt Simmons (woodwinds), and Jane Lin (percussion); Mr. Fix conducted the flute section. The next day, the 5th graders had a farewell party in the school cafeteria. Please click on any photo to enlarge it.

5th Grade Band

 

6th Grade Band

 

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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 38th 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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My 7th Year Teaching Brass at the “New” Skyview Middle School in Bothell

Posted by glennled on October 9, 2017

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This fall, for the first time, Skyview Middle School opened its doors—the same doors that belonged to Skyview Jr. High School ever since it was built 1993. SJHS served 7-8-9 grades, whereas the newly re-named SMS now serves 6-7-8 grades. And that has changed lots of things for band classes.

First-year band students (5th graders) still come early in the mornings, before regular classes start, but their lessons now begin 15 minutes later than in previous years. These classes remain 40 minutes in length. The schedule for second-year band students (6th graders), however, is more complex—different times on different days, but not before school, as in past years— these classes are part of the school curricula and are scheduled during the regular school day.

How do I know all this, and besides, who cares except the students and their parents? Well, I do. I’m teaching beginning brass again for the seventh year in the same building, in the same classrooms, as before, under the leadership of Mr. Charlie Fix, Band and Orchestra Director. IMG_5896 (2)

This year, Mr. Fix wants more variety, depth, and balance in the sound of the sixth grade band. In the past, few students switched instruments before the seventh grade. But this year, when he offered them the early opportunity, lots of sixth graders chose to switch. We now have more bassoons, alto and tenor saxophones, French horns, euphoniums, baritones and tubas than ever! Regrettably (for me), I lost some good trumpeters, but it’s good for both the kids and the band to have everybody playing the instruments they like best.

 

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Photo Gallery of the Last Spring Band Concert at Skyview Jr. High School in Bothell

Posted by glennled on July 4, 2017

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Beginning Elementary Band at Skyview Jr. High School, Bothell

On 1 June 2017, Skyview Jr. High School in Bothell held its last Spring Band Concert—because it is no longer a junior high school—from now on, it’s Skyview Middle School!

Three bands performed: Beginning Elementary Band (5th grade), Advanced Elementary Band (6th grade), and Skyview Concert Band (7th grade). The 43-member Beginning Band played five pieces, including “Trombone Mambo” by Michael Story and “Cango Caves” by Ralph Ford. The Advanced Band (45 members) performed four pieces. In four movements, “A Prehistoric Suite” depicted four different species of dinosaurs. The Skyview Concert Band (35 members) concluded the concert with three pieces, starting with “The Star Wars Saga” by John Williams, arranged by Michael Story.

Mr. Fix presented certificates to those members of the Advanced Band who recently made the Northshore School District’s 6th-Grade Honor Band, including five of my trumpeters and two of my trombonists. Please see my post of 5 March about the 2017 Honors Concert.

Below is a gallery of photos of the three bands. Please click on any photo to enlarge it.

Elementary Beginning Band (1st Year)

 

 

Elementary Advanced Band (2nd Year)

 

Skyview Concert Band (3rd Year)

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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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2017 Northshore School District’s Sixth Grade Honors Concert in Kirkland

Posted by glennled on March 5, 2017

 

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Right to Left: 2017 NSD Honor Band, Choir and Orchestra

Almost 300 6th-grade, honor musicians from 20 elementary schools in the Northshore School District performed for a packed audience of parents, relatives and friends at Northshore Jr. High School in Kirkland on 15 February 2017. First, Robin Enders conducted the 96-member Honor Orchestra, then Melissa Headrick conducted the 95-member Honor Choir, and finally, Kate Labiak conducted the 98-member Honor Band.

The orchestra played three pieces, finishing with the Finale from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, arranged by Richard Meyer. The choir performed four songs, including the very entertaining “Jim-Along Josie,” an American folk song arranged by Reginald Unterseher. The band also performed four pieces, concluding with “Dance Celebration” by Robert W. Smith.

As you know, I teach beginning brass at Skyview Jr. High School; i.e., 5th and 6th grade elementary brass players who come to Skyview and rehearse from 7:50 to 8:25 a.m. five days every week under the guidance of Charlie Fix, Director of Orchestra and Band at Skyview. This year, he selected five of my trumpet players and two of my trombone players to make Honor Band! And, in addition, this is a first—two of our trumpet players and one of our trombone players made Honor Choir!

Enders is Director of Orchestras at Explorer Middle School and Mariner High School in the Mukilteo School District. Her middle school orchestra was a national award winner in 2015. She has been a violin coach with the Cascade Youth Symphony Orchestras. Headrick teaches at Wilder Elementary School in the Lake Washington School District, among many other music leadership activities. Labiak teaches instrumental music at College Place Middle School in Edmonds School District. She also leads many music activities, including conducting one of the four orchestras (Symphonette Orchestra) with the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestras program since 2003.

Please click on any photo to enlarge it.

 

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Snow-Delayed Holiday Season Concert Performed in January at Skyview in Bothell

Posted by glennled on January 8, 2017

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It snowed on 9 December, so Skyview Jr. High School in Bothell, WA cancelled all its classes. That killed that morning’s holiday season concert which was to be presented by students from nearby Fernwood, Crystal Springs, and Canyon Creek elementary schools. Belatedly, on Friday, 6 January 2017, under the direction of Charlie Fix, the two beginning bands (5th and 6th grades) played a mix of Christmas and other music for the audience of about 150 parents, relatives, and friends.

The 1st-year band performed “Good King Wenceslas,” “Jolly Old St. Nicolas” (a duet), and “Jingle Bells.” The 2nd-year band performed “Spirit of the Stallion” by Brian Balmages and “Glorioso” by Robert W. Smith. The “Stallion” piece is noted for its challenging 26 time-signature changes! Each band also featured performances by the separate instrument sections. For example, the 1st-year brass section played “Mary Ann,” and the 2nd-year brass played “Home on the Range.” I teach beginning brass, Candice Palmberg teaches flutes, Matt Simmons teaches woodwinds, and Jane Lin teaches percussion and also is the music teacher at Crystal Springs Elementary.

Please click on any photo below to enlarge it.

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