Glenn’s Trumpet Notes

News & Tips for Trumpet & Cornet Students

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Posts Tagged ‘Seattle’

My Trumpet Student Stars in Bizet’s “Carmen” at Seattle Opera

Posted by glennled on November 1, 2011

Anita Rachvelishvili (Carmen) with ensemble; © Elise Bakketun photo, courtesy of Seattle Opera, http://www.seattleopera.org.

My trumpet student, John (51), may cringe when he sees that headline, but that’s too bad—to me, he’s a Star! No, he doesn’t play in the orchestra. No, he doesn’t sing a major role in any opera. No, he doesn’t sing in the opera chorus. He’s simply a “super”—an “extra.”

In Carmen, just finished at the Seattle Opera House, he was a banderillero at the bullring in Seville, Spain. Wearing the traditional black and silver costume and carrying his bright yellow banderilla, he lead the parade of bullfighters into the ring. Banderillas are sharp,

Planting the banderillas

barbed sticks which are planted into the bull’s shoulders to weaken it for the kill.

On 4 October, he appeared in full costume on King 5 TV during a segment of the New Day Northwest show, promoting Carmen for the Seattle Opera (see http://www.king5.com/new-day-northwest/The-Seattle-Opera-Performs-131056473.html  toward the end of the segment). He was on stage only twice per performance in this opera.

John has been a faithful and competent extra in enough operas so that the opera company gave him a couple of complimentary tickets for the Friday night performance on 28 October. The seats were outstanding—right in the center section on the Orchestra Level (main floor) of McCall Hall . He kindly offered them to me and my wife, and we quickly and gratefully accepted. We usually attend one or two operas per season. We just saw Porgy and Bess last August (see my post of 15 August 2011).

Georges Bizet, 1838-1875

Carmen is now our favorite, supplanting La Boheme by Puccini. Both are consistently among the top 10 operas performed annually throughout the world. Carmen was first performed 136 years ago in Paris on 3 March 1875. It struggled to survive, and Georges Bizet, composer, died on 3 June just after its 30th performance. He could never have guessed its prominence today in operatic lore. In 1962, I was lucky enough to play second trumpet in a production in the old Meany Hall at the University of Washington. The Dean of the School of Music, Dr. Stanley Chapple, was the conductor.

John, originally from New York, commenced trumpet lessons with me almost two years ago (see my post of 7 January 2010). Carmen is John’s fourth opera, all in Seattle. In 2008, he was a soldier in the grand processional march in Verdi’s Aida. In 2009, he was a lackey/servant in Verdi’s La Traviata.  In 2010, he was a Normano guard/soldier in

Poster, American Production, 1896

Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor. He did it the first time because it sounded like so much fun. It was, so two of his good friends decided to do it also. He says he keeps doing it because he loves opera—the acting, singing, orchestral music, and (sometimes) dancing. “Being on stage with some of this incandescent talent is a very special experience [and that gives him] “the best seats in the house! Someone asked me what I get paid to do it, and I told them that when I interviewed for the role, I asked if I had to pay.”

When Carmen ended Saturday night, another “super” (a Microsoft corporate Vice President) hosted an after-hours party at Ten Mercer in Lower Queen Anne, about a block from Seattle Center. John contributed some wine. “Just about everyone showed up, including all the principals,” he says, and “we didn’t get outta there until 2:30 a.m.”

Somehow, I think that if he could, Georges Bizet would have been there, too, happy and proud.

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My Youngest Trumpet Student—Girl, 3rd Grader, Age 8!

Posted by glennled on October 26, 2011

How do some kids know what they want so early in life? Some spark in them seems to say, “Other kids may wait, but I’m ready, I can do this now.” Most kids join beginning band in 5th or 6th grade at age 10 or 11. But my newest (18th) trumpet student is only 8 years old and attends Tukwila Elementary School, which has a music program but no band for 3rd graders to join. So the parents arranged private lessons. She has spunk!

At first, she was interested in drums, then electric guitar, and finally either clarinet or trumpet. Her mother plays flute, her father recorder, and girl cousin (18) trombone. Standing in the Kennelly Keys Music store near Southcenter Mall, she looked them over. When she held the trumpet in her hands, that did it!

We started weekly lessons in Seattle in mid-September. I love her bright smile and determined, “can-do” attitude. She’s proving that she’s indeed a quick learner. It’s fun to see her make steady progress and eagerly tackle whatever comes next.

Helping her get a two-year head start on other kids her age made me wonder about how good she will be by the time they start to learn what she’s already learning now. So I asked, “When it comes time to join band, do you think you will do that?”

“Yes!”

“Your cousin–did she march in the high school band?”

“Yes.”

“Would you like to do that some day?”

“And play at football games?—Yes!”

“Maybe someday you will be famous.”

“Are you famous?”

“Well, uh, no, not much. Now it’s time to play…let’s hear what you practiced.”

Posted in New Students - Intro Posts | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

First Cornet Student Makes Seattle Schools’ All-City Honors Elementary Band

Posted by glennled on April 10, 2011

All-City Honors Elementary Band, Seattle Public Schools, 9 April 2011

My very first trumpet student played in the concert performed last Saturday by the 2011 Seattle Public Schools’ All-City Honors Elementary Band and Orchestra at Whitman Middle School in Ballard. He’s now a 5th-grader at Lowell Elementary School (see my blog posts of 25 May 2010 and 14 August 2009). Actually, he plays a cornet.

The 150-member band representing 43 schools packed the large stage, and the audience was full, too. He was one of only 17 trumpet players in this honors band. Think of that—one of the best trumpeters of his age in Seattle—that’s impressive! The band’s guest conductor was Joel Orsen, a graduate of the University of Washington, who now teaches at Whitman Middle School and plays in the Highline Community Symphonic Band and the Seattle Sounders FC Soundwave. The talented band sounded very solid when playing three pieces: “America the Beautiful,” “Aura Lee,” and “Grand March: The Australian Land.”

All-City Honors Elementary Orchestra, Seattle Public Schools, 9 April 2011

First on the program was the Honors Orchestra conducted by Elisabeth Stoyanovich, who teaches strings at Whitman and is Music Director of the Bainbridge Island Youth Orchestra. At this level, the orchestra was comprised solely of strings. There were 97 students representing 39 schools—a great honor, indeed!

Posted in School Concerts, Student Competitions, Honors & Awards | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Check it Out–Honk! Fest West in Seattle, 13-15 May 2011

Posted by glennled on March 24, 2011

Honk! Fest West 2010, Hubbub Club, Photo by Joe Mabel

Honk! Fest West 2010, Yellow Hat Band, Photo by Joe Mabel
Honk! Fest West 2010, Orkestar Slivovica, Photo by Joe Mabel

Several of my students want to play in a group someday but either are not yet ready or haven’t found one to join. You are not alone. Many people all over the Greater Seattle area have the same desire, and if you go to the 4th annual Honk! Fest West on 13-15 May, you’ll see hundreds of other musicians. Bring your own trumpet, if you want–you’ll find a way to play–or just come to listen and meet people. “No noise is illegal!” they say about this street fair.

Honk! Fest brings out musicians of all stripes and sounds. This year about 20 bands “large and small (anywhere from 8 – 60 members) will come from 7 states and one Canadian province, ready with old ditties, new tunes, fighting songs, protest marches, funeral dirges, swinging gospel, Balkan folk, tin pan jazz, and everything in between marching bands, samba lines, horn players, drum corps, and others,” according to the festival’s website, http://honkfestwest.com. Among the 11 bands from the Seattle area are the Seattle Seahawks Blue Thunder Drumline, Seattle Sounders FC Soundwave, Tubaluba, Orkestar Zirkonium, and two bands from Garfield High School. Or maybe you’d rather hear the bands coming from Montana, California, Arizona, Illinois, Oregon, or British Columbia. At the Honk! Fest West website, you’ll find links to the websites of most of these bands, where you can see pictures and hear samples of their music.

On Friday, the main site is in Georgetown, and on Saturday, it moves to Fremont and Gasworks Park. The finale on Sunday is at Seattle Center and the International Fountain. For more details, visit the above website. Ask about the Pick-Up Band that will be formed during this event. Now mark your calendars, and maybe I’ll see you there, somewhere!

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Washington All-State Band & Orchestra Concert at Benaroya Hall

Posted by glennled on February 21, 2011

Last night, the Washington All-State Band and All-State Orchestra played their annual concert, sponsored by the Washington Music Educators Association (WMEA), at Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle. I was not there. I wanted to be there. Someday, I want to go see and hear one of my trumpet students play on the concert stage in the Washington All-State Band or All-State Orchestra.  Who will it be?

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Mercer Island Sophomore Trumpeter Returns to Music Fundamentals

Posted by glennled on February 6, 2011

Mercer Island was my home for 33 years. One of my two sons (now living in New Zealand) played drums in the MI High School Band. And now my 15th trumpet student is a sophomore in that same school and plays trumpet in that same band. Also like my drummer son, she

Drum Major, MIHS Marching Band

has ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). It’s easy for her attention to drift from one thing to the next, and it’s hard to stay focused on something for a long time.

She first learned to read music and play trumpet when she was a young girl, but then she transferred to another school and did not play for three years. To her dismay, when she returned to school at M.I. and resumed playing trumpet in the band, she found that she had forgotten much of what she’d once known about how to read music. Now she manages to play ok but wants to improve. Marching band season is over, she’s moved into concert band, the music is more complex and difficult, and she wants to play it well. She realized she must return to the basics and re-study the fundamentals…with a trumpet tutor.

I am the lucky man who is privileged to help her. We started her private lessons on 18 December 2010. She already plays with such a sweet, solid tone. Now all we need to do is help her learn all those notes over a two-octave range, learn all those music notations, strengthen and train her embouchure, and develop her hand-to-eye coordination and muscle memory. As that happens, her confidence and pride will soar. She will play as well as, or better than, most of her classmates. And, in turn, she will enjoy music and her band membership even more!

She  says she had a great time when the 300-member MIHS band went to England a month ago to march in the colossal 2011 London New Year’s Day Parade (see www.londonparade.co.uk), joining some 10,000 performers from 20 countries who marched in front of about half a million spectators along the 2-mile route. The parade, which began in 1987, is broadcast by over 700 TV stations worldwide and is watched for some three hours by about 200 million viewers. This was the M.I. band’s first appearance in this, the 25th annual parade. Roughly 200 M.I. band students made the trip. The kids and community raised about $80,000 in support of those students who could not otherwise have gone. Go to the links below to watch videos of the MIHS band’s performance in London. Other USA bands participating came from Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

Almost one out of every four students in Mercer Island High School is enrolled in the band program! The program consists of four concerts bands, the marching band, jazz bands, and the “Animal Band” (see http://www.misd.k12.wa.us/schools/hs/hsband/bands.html). The successes, awards and accolades won by these bands are numerous; for example,  over 50 students were selected to participate in the All-State and All-Northwest honor ensembles during the last five years.

Next year, they will march again in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California. Hmmmm….now if only the UW Husky football team can just win enough games next season, maybe they’ll get to play in the Rose Bowl game itself. Go, Huskies! And then she and her fellow M.I. band members can watch our own Seattle team play there. It’s so much fun to be in band!  🙂

There are at least four videos of the MIHS Marching Band’s performance in London on YouTube:

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And the Trumpet Shall Sound in the Church Orchestra

Posted by glennled on December 25, 2010

This past Sunday was different from any other in my long life. I’ve played in marching bands, drum and bugle corps, concert bands, orchestras, ensembles, operas, and musicals. As a teen, I led congregational singing, but until 19 December 2010, I had never played trumpet in a church orchestra.

Archangel Gabriel Wall Relief, Church of San Michele, Florence, Italy, 1359 A.D.

My wife and I have heard and joined in congregational singing with this orchestra at a local community church several times this year. It is the best of its kind that I’ve ever heard in the Greater Seattle Area. The compositions and arrangements are sophisticated and even challenging at times.

One Sunday in the church bulletin, there was an offer to consider new members in the orchestra. I auditioned and was accepted as a substitute trumpeter. There are three regular trumpeters and several subs like me. The lead trumpeter has been there well over 20 years and plays at least a dozen instruments. Another regular also has been there more than 20, and the other more than 15.   

The day I played, there were about 18 musicians in the orchestra; sometimes there are as many as 25-30. The choir numbered about 50. On this occasion, we were not playing “And the Trumpet Shall Sound” from Handel’s Messiah. Instead, this was the music:

  • “Festival of Carols” (a medley of four)
  • “Angels We Have Heard on High”
  • “The First Noel,”
  • “Come, Emmanuel,”
  • “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”

Bass Performance Hall, Ft. Worth, TX, by Tony Gutierriz/AP, 14 June 2002

I had not known that “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” was written as a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow after he had lost two wives and one of his sons had been severely wounded in the Civil War. He wrote the words on 25 December 1864. About four months later, the Civil War ended and peaced reigned over the land once more. Later, the poem was modified and became a carol. Its last two stanzas read as follows:

“And in despair I bowed my head;
‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said;
‘For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!’

“Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
‘God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!'”

Can you worship with a horn? Until last Sunday I was not sure—maybe concentrating on playing the music correctly would displace worship. No, to my pleasant surprise, it did not. It was a moving experience. You can worship with your horn just as surely as you do with your voice in song. And it’s especially poignant when you’re accompanying an excellent church choir like this one.  Volunteer and try it someday—you’ll like it.

Posted in Church Music | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Magnolia Man (39) Takes Trumpet on Journey toward Jazz Quintet

Posted by glennled on December 17, 2010

What motivates a man to pick up the trumpet at 39 years old and start to play? In the case of my 14th student, it’s his love of jazz and specifically, his love and appreciation of  the music played by one of the greats, Miles Davis. My student owns and works out of his 2.5-story home in Magnolia in Seattle, and we practice there weekly in his warm, spacious basement. In “X” years, he’d like to be playing locally in a small band, perhaps a quintet. But for now, like any 5th-grade beginner, the Magnolia Man must first learn the basics, the fundamentals. We started lessons on 9 December.

“Everyone who got where he is had to begin where he was,” wrote Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and many other books. And so it was with Miles Davis, too. Miles, the son of a dentist in East St. Louis, got his first trumpet at age 13. He was a prodigy—it was his horn. At 18, he went to New York City. During 1957-1963, he collaborated with Gil Evans, often playing both flugelhorn and trumpet. That’s when I first became acquainted with his music, including the albums ‘Round About Midnight, Miles Ahead, and Porgy and Bess, and this remains my favorite period of his music. To my young ears, it was stunningly beautiful.

Miles was an innovator. He experimented with and led several major developments in jazz music, including bebop, cool jazz, hard bop, modal jazz, and jazz fusion. After he died in 1991, eight digitally-enhanced box sets of his recordings have been released. The 6-CD set, Miles Davis and Gil Evans: The Complete Columbia Studio Recordings, won three Grammy Awards: Best Historical Album, Best Album Notes, and Best Recording Package (Boxed). This was only the third time in Grammy history that that trifecta was ever achieved.

In 1959, his magnum opus, Kind of Blue, was released. And 49 years later (2008), the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) issued its fourth platinum certification for this album, signifying sales of four million copies. In 2006, Miles Davis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He is considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century.

I saw and heard him play only once. When I came back from Vietnam, there was a jazz place down in Pioneer Square, and one night I went there by myself to hear him play. Before going, I had read in a magazine article that he had the reputation of being cold, withdrawn, and distant. They said he would sometimes play with his back to the audience. He did, and I left, having drunk too many “stingers on the rocks” and feeling very alone.

For more about the life and work of Miles Davis, see http://www.milesdavis.com and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miles Davis.

I’ve found that my older students tend to identify with special trumpeters. With the Magnolia Man, it’s Miles Davis. With the downtown Seattle 50-year old, it’s Herb Alpert. When asked what trumpeters he admires, my Bothell 9th grader replied, “Dizzie Gillespie.” I should ask the Magnolia Man which of Miles’ periods, albums, and CDs he likes best. I’ll do that.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” says a Chinese proverb. Three cheers for the Magnolia Man! He’s on the path.

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Bright, 4th-Grade Beginner Has Head Start in Magnolia

Posted by glennled on November 14, 2010

A piano sits in the living room—Mom wants live music in the home. Her 10-year old son (in 4th grade and my 11th student) has a head start. He’s a smart, friendly kid with a bright spirit and smile. And he likes music! He’d already had some music education before I arrived on the scene, so there are some basic things I don’t have to teach him. We can focus on the trumpet itself right away. He’s taking band at Lawton Elementary School in Magnolia in Seattle, but they meet only once a week. So when we ended our first lesson together last Wednesday, he got the usual assignment: practice for 30 minutes at least four times a week (or 20 minutes, five times a week). He seems eager to play the horn. They’re going to have some lovely, lively music in their home!

Posted in New Students - Intro Posts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Eagles Concert at Seattle’s Key Arena

Posted by glennled on May 28, 2010

A full house of about 12,500 fans packed Key Arena in Seattle on Wednesday night to hear one of the greatest bands of my lifetime, the Eagles. The audience was mostly “Yuppies” and “Boomers” in their mid-30’s to 60’s, and Glenn Frey, guitarist and emcee, jokingly called it their “Assisted Living Tour.”

Indeed, Tim Schmit, bass guitarist and soulful crooner, got sick while in Seattle and had to be treated at Swedish Hospital. That resulted in a two-week delay from the original concert date. The delay caused about 800 ticket holders to take a refund, but then those tickets quickly resold. Floor tickets cost upward of $250.

The old guys appear to be in great shape—no over-the-belt paunches hanging off these fellows! Man, they are good! The primary four are Schmit, Frey, Don Henley, lead singer, guitarist and percussionist, and Joe Walsh, exceptional guitarist and rebellious rocker. They started recording 38 years ago in 1972. They’re backed by about 10 other musicians: masterful guitarist, Steuart Smith, a pianist, keyboard artist , violinist, two drummers, three saxophonists, and one trumpeter.

Man, does this band have depth and power! They deliver strong voices, rich, tight harmonies, interesting rhythms and syncopation, and meaningful lyrics—just a consistently solid, fluid sound by a polished, impassioned team of musicians. Everyone appreciates excellence and mastery in any field of human endeavor, and these guys have delivered hit after hit after hit. That’s part of what prompts Henley to introduce “The Long Run” as their “theme song after 40 years of doing this.” 

When we dig deep inside ourselves and, through hard work and practice, develop our God-given natural gifts, talents, and strengths into masterful skills and abilities, and finally, produce a useful, needed, sought-after product, we spread joy to the world. The Eagles are among the best bands in my lifetime to have done that. The crowd ate it up and would have stayed all night.

Among my favorites (not in priority order): “Hotel California,” “I Can’t Tell You Why,” “Lyin’ Eyes,” “In the City,” “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” “Desperado,” “Take It to the Limit,” “Get Over It,” “Pretty Maids All in a Row,” “Take It Easy,” “Heartache Tonight,” “Seven Bridges Road,” “Life in the Fast Lane,” “Wasted Time,” “New York Minute,” and “One of These Nights.”

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