Glenn’s Trumpet Notes

News & Tips for Trumpet & Cornet Students

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Posts Tagged ‘lesson’

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.

IMG_2667 (2)

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.

IMG_2666

“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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My 43rd Trumpet Student—5th Grader at Northwood Elementary School, Mercer Island

Posted by glennled on July 14, 2018

My newest trumpet student—No. 43—will enter fifth grade this fall at Northwood Elementary School on Mercer Island, where I lived for 30 years before moving to Edmonds. He plans to join the beginning band, and to get a jump start, we began lessons on 16 June. I now have two M.I. students (please see my blog posts of 18 November 2017 and 21 May 2018). dc8Mgnjgi[1]

How and why did he choose trumpet? He heard his cousin play trumpet, and he liked the sound of it. (That cousin has since moved from M.I. to California.) It was that simple and easy. His two older brothers play piano, and he also started piano lessons earlier this year.

What’s the M.I. 5th grade band program like? According to the Northwood website, Carol Krell is the Director, and the band is supported by the Mercer Island Schools Band Boosters (please see http://www.mercerislandschools.org/site/Default.aspx?PageID=5624 and http://www.misbb.wordpress.com). The first school band lesson will be on the evening of 12 September. Band classes begin on 17 September, meeting twice per week from 8:15 – 9 a.m. Each student has one class with a specialist on their instrument, and one full band class. The instruction book will be Essential Elements 2000, Book 1.

Where is my student eventually headed? To the Mercer Island High School Band! And then he’ll get to do some very cool things like this: on New Year’s Day 2019, the MIHS Band will march in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, CA prior to the Rose Bowl Football Game. I did that as a member of the Varsity Marching Band playing cornet, University of Washington, 1 January 1961, when the UW Huskies beat the top-ranked University of Minnesota Golden Gophers, 17-7. May my newest trumpet student have as much fun in band as I did!

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42nd Trumpet Student is 4th Grader at Bryant Elementary School in Seattle

Posted by glennled on May 12, 2018

He likes trumpet because of its sound—it’s “jazzy” to him.  My 42nd trumpet student is 10 years old and a fourth grader at Bryant Elementary School, located in the Ravenna-Bryant neighborhood of northeast Seattle. When he first tried out several different instruments at boyplayingtrumpetbw_pthe music orientation session at school, it was easy to make a sound on many of them, but not so the trumpet. Making notes by buzzing into the mouthpiece was a challenge, and he likes challenges. The fact that it has only three valves did not matter. Ten valves would have been ok. The trumpet’s jazzy sound is what he liked. And as soon as he’s old enough to attend nearby Eckstein Middle School, he wants to play in the school Jazz Band. Our private lessons will help him qualify. We held our first one on 2 May.

At Bryant Elementary, he attends a 30-minute music class once a week. There are about 10 trumpeters in this class, according to Elizabeth Harris Scruggs, the Instrumental Music teacher. “It’s a pull-out class,” she said, “meaning students miss 30 minutes of regular class to come to instrumental music.” There is no full 4th grade band—“just a few classes with either one or two different instrument types (for example, saxophone and clarinet). However, at the end of this year, they will all combine for the first time for a rehearsal and a concert to see what playing in a full band is like.” The Spring Concert will be on Wednesday, 6 June at 6:45 p.m. Fourth-graders will participate, along with the general music, instrumental music, and choir groups.

Next year, my student will be able to join the fifth-grade elementary school band. Neither of his parents play an instrument, but his older brother plays saxophone at Eckstein Middle School.

His other interests and activities include swimming, basketball, Frisbee, chess, and dance. He has taken lessons in ballet, tap, and hip-hop dancing since he was 4 years old. On 16 June, he will tap dance in a recital at Shorecrest High School in Shoreline.

Bryant Elementary opened in 1918—100 years ago—and was recently remodeled. The school and the neighborhood are named after William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878), an American poet, journalist and editor whose most notable work is Thanatopsis.

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No School Band for 12-Year-Old Trumpeter on Mercer Island

Posted by glennled on November 18, 2017

What do you do when you’re 12 years old, and you love trumpet, but you move from one school with a band to another school without a band? You take private lessons from me! That’s what his mom decided for her son, who was a fifth grade band student at Clyde Boy_Playing_Cornet_Music_Clipart_Pictures[1]Hill Elementary School in Bellevue last year and is now a sixth grader at St. Monica Catholic School on Mercer Island, which has no band. He’s never had private lessons before, and now he’s my 39th trumpet student. Our first lesson was on 2 November. No one else in his family plays an instrument.

He’s sharp, learns quickly, and will soon be back in the form he had achieved last year. From there, the sky’s the limit.

I asked why he chose trumpet. Answer: mainly for its beautiful sound. Also, it can be loud and stand out among all the other instruments, which it often seems to lead. He likes its appearance, too, and with only three buttons, it looks easy to play. Isn’t that a good summary of what first attracted all of us trumpeters?

Someday, he’ll be at another school with a band, and he’ll be ready for it.

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42-Year Old Trumpet Student in Seattle

Posted by glennled on November 16, 2017

My 42-year old trumpet student used to play guitar by ear in a band, but then the band dissolved, and later, he fell in love with the trumpet after listening to great trumpeters trumpet-player-silhouette-clipart-10[1]like Miles Davis and Chet Baker. Now that he and his wife have moved into an apartment with a basement, he finally has room to make music again. That’s when he found me on the internet. His first private trumpet lesson was on 3 October.

He told me his goal is simply to play along with some of those great trumpeters for his own pleasure. I asked if he wanted to learn to read music. “Yes.” Ok, so we started with the instruction book, Progressive Beginner Trumpet by Peter Gelling (for more information, search the title on http://www.Amazon.com and elsewhere).

He has a great attitude, despite his discovery that playing trumpet it not as simple as it looks. Will he flame out, or will he make it? Dum-de-dum-dum…stay tuned. He’s got the ability, if he has the will. He’s coming along quite nicely because he’s practicing and improving regularly. And it’s my great pleasure to help him. My 37th trumpet student is still smiling, so I am, too, for him.

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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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