Glenn’s Trumpet Notes

News & Tips for Trumpet & Cornet Students

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Posts Tagged ‘lesson’

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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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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