Glenn’s Trumpet Notes

News & Tips for Trumpet & Cornet Students

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Posts Tagged ‘mouthpiece’

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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“Taps” at 7th Annual Wreaths Across America Ceremony at Evergreen-Washelli, Seattle

Posted by glennled on December 30, 2016

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Wreaths Across America, Veterans Cemetery, Evergreen-Washelli, Seattle, 12-17-2016

When the 7th Annual Wreaths Across America (WAA) ceremony commenced on Saturday, 17 December 2016, at Veterans Cemetery, Evergreen-Washelli, in north Seattle, the temperature was 27 degrees (F). Members of the VFW Post 1040 Honor Guard teased me (with a little too much glee) that the mouthpiece of my Getzen bugle would freeze to my lips when I sounded “Taps.” But I’m an old dog. That was Nev-va Gonna Hop-pen!

The local ceremony is hosted by the Navy Wives Club of America (NWCA), Totem 277 (Seattle to Burlington), and Lorraine Zimmerman again was the emcee. The ceremony is now held annually on the 3rd Saturday in December.

The guest speaker was Michael Schindler, Navy veteran and CEO of Operation Military Family Cares, a non-profit organization based in Edmonds, where he and his family live (see http://www.OMFCares.org). He spoke about each of the three elements of WAA’s mission:

  • REMEMBER our fallen U.S. veterans
  • HONOR those who serve
  • TEACH our children the value of freedom

Afterwards, I told him that his speech was worthy of being delivered on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. Here are a few excerpts.

“Fewer than 7% of Americans living today have worn the uniform—and less than 1% today are on the frontlines actively standing guard over our freedom. So it is our duty as parents, teachers, as leaders to help our youth understand the need for sacrifice…Imagine for a moment if we taught and required our youth to SERVE first…that “giving up” of time [to serve and honor] becomes an investment in others. And ultimately an investment in themselves. That is value [added to a person’s life]…Today it is our obligation to teach our children that freedom requires sacrifice…If you choose to wear the uniform, you will become one of American’s Greatest Assets—and your investment of time, sweat, tears, will result in a reward that is priceless—freedom.”

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Color Guard marches past Honor Guard

For more information about WAA, please see my past blog posts regarding this annual ceremony. Simply use the Archives in the left column of this blog or search for “Wreath” in the search box in the upper right column to find my posts of:

  • 5 February 2016
  • 28 April 2015
  • 9 January 2013
  • 16 December 2011

Photos are by Tonya Christoffersen, courtesy of NWCA, Totem 277. Please click on any photo below 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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Challenging Chair Placement for 8th-Grader in Kenmore

Posted by glennled on November 13, 2010

My newest (10th) trumpet student is unhappy with his current chair placement within the trumpet section of his junior high school band in Kenmore. He wants to move up toward the top. (I like students with goals and determination!)

We’ve now had two private lessons, and “we’re workin’ on it.” Now in his third year of playing, he was essentially self-taught. Not knowing anything different, he adopted a very unconventional way of placing the mouthpiece on his lips. As the band music became progressively more complex and demanding, his unusual embouchure became a major problem for him—but he didn’t realize it.  He and his parents were smart enough to seek help. The fact is that he simply was not gonna get to the top playing that way—so “we’re workin’ on it.”

He’s accepting the challenge he’s facing. A wise man said this about challenges—“Every setback is a setup for a comeback.”

Once he turns the corner, catches on, and gains control of the new sounds he’s producing, he should advance quickly because he already has very strong practice habits and, for his age group, he already knows fingering and rhythm. I think he’ll soon be producing a better tone and will extend his range higher into the upper register. Then watch out, those of you trumpeters who are now sitting in the higher-placed chairs—move over, here he comes!  🙂

Posted in New Students - Intro Posts, Student Competitions, Honors & Awards | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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