Glenn’s Trumpet Notes

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Posts Tagged ‘Taps’

“Taps” for Laurence Joseph Mensing (70), Career Army Specialist

Posted by glennled on February 22, 2019

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Once in awhile, a memorial service stands out as special among the many others at which I have sounded “Taps” during the past 10 years for a deceased veteran and his family and friends. Such was the case on Sunday, 10 February at Purdy & Watkins Funeral Home at Floral Hills in Lynnwood.

It was between snowstorms that we gathered in the chapel at 1 p.m. to remember and honor Laurence Joseph (“Larry Joe”) Mensing, who passed away in Mountlake Terrace on 21 January 2019. His son, Joe, had contacted me through Bugle Across America (BAA) for “Taps.” The officant was Anne Jenny, herself a veteran. Two of Larry Joe’s younger brothers and a niece spoke about his important impacts upon their lives. Their IMG_2701testimonies were emotional, even tearful. He was clearly adored and honored by his family and friends. One brother, with choked, cracking voice, said Larry Joe was his best friend and talked about how the Army had changed his older brother into a dignified gentleman. Another brother, pounding the podium and mourning the loss, said that all his life, he wanted to be just like Larry Joe. The niece said Larry Joe was known for pranks and teasing, and from a young age, she was always certain that he loved her.

Born and raised in Montana, Specialist (SPC) Mensing had joined the Army in 1968 and served almost 24 years. Afterwards, he was an active member of the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, and Veterans of Foreign Wars. He met his wife, Yoko Makishi, while stationed at Fort Buckner, Okinawa. They were married 45 years and had four children and six grandchildren. She preceded him in death. “After retiring,” reads the program, “more than anything ‘G-PA’ ala ‘Pa Pa’ loved spending time with family and friends.” He was the family leader. IMG_2720

The Army Honor Guard consisted of 9 soldiers; I had never seen so many at such a ceremony. They fired the three-volley rifle salute, and as six of them held the flag level above the casket, I sounded “Taps” on my beautiful Getzen bugle with the BAA engraving on the bell (see my blog post of 4 May 2015).

Later, as I watched the audience file out of the chapel, there were lots of red eyes and wet cheeks. They could not hold back. He was that beloved. On leaving, I went up to Joe, who held the flag in his arms. We shook hands, and I thanked him for the honor and privilege of sounding “Taps.” Like the others, his eyes were wet and red. RIP, Larry Joe. You were Special.

Please click on any photo to enlarge it.

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Who Was Arthur F. Church?

Posted by glennled on February 5, 2019

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A bugler’s headstone among the 5,000 graves in Evergreen-Washelli’s Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Seattle, including seven Medal of Honor recipients

 

For seven years (2011-17), I always stood in one spot to sound “Taps” at the annual Wreaths Across America (WAA) ceremony, held each December at Evergreen-Washelli’s Veterans Cemetery in north Seattle. That one spot is among about 5,000 veterans’ graves. It’s right next to one gravestone that had become quite special to me. I had developed a fond image of the man buried there. But this year, the ceremony was moved farther west within the cemetery (please see my blog post of 15 January 2019). I missed my old spot near my departed comrade from “Auld Lang Syne” (old times gone by). I knew his name but not his story.

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WWI U.S. Army recruitment poster for the horse cavalry

I first sounded “Taps” at the WAA ceremony on 10 December 2011. Prior to the ceremony, as the Honor Guard (rifle team) of VFW Post 1040 lined up along the sidewalk leading uphill to the Chimes Tower, I searched nearby among the hundreds of gravestones for a spot to stand. It’s important to be close to them but not so close that the ejected shell casings might hit you. Also, you want to be visible by the ceremony’s participants and audience.

I made my choice, positioned myself there, and waited for my cue. During the ceremony, I started to read the round-top gravestones nearby. To my left, I saw this inscription: “Arthur F. Church, Idaho, Bugler…”

Imagine that—how rare, how unusual! In my life, I’ve learned to pay close attention to such coincidences. Immediately, I was curious. Churchwas he a Christian believer? Idahosince 1851, when the first settlers built cabins on Alki Point, hundreds of thousands of people, including me, have moved to Seattle from everywhere. Born 28 October 1889America entered WWI in April 1917, when he was 27. Died 10 January 1945only four months afterwards came WWII’s Victory-in-Europe (V-E) Day. He was only 55 when he died. Had he been wounded in the war? Buglers were special targets; kill a bugler, and you disrupt your enemy’s communications. And there I was, 66 years later at age 71, standing near his marker, near his grave, near his remains, waiting to sound “Taps” at a ceremony meant to honor all those like him, who served.

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Glenn Ledbetter sounds “Taps” near headstone of Arthur F. Church, Bugler, in Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Evergreen Washelli, 2012

So, every time I’ve played “Taps” at any subsequent military ceremony near the Chimes Tower, that’s where I’ve always stood—next to Arthur. And lately, I’ve begun to ponder—Who was Arthur F. Church, Idaho, Bugler, 109th Infantry, 28th Division?

After much searching on the internet, I learned a lot about him. I read about the regiment and the division, his active duty in the military, his family including two brothers, one sister, and six half-siblings, his two wives but no children, his work, his troubles with narcotics and the law, his early death, and more. Let me focus on bugling because that’s what we have in common.

I had imagined that he might have been a career musician, perhaps even playing cornet in a military band. But it appears that Arthur was drafted into the Army toward the end of WWI and served only one year. He enlisted on 24 May 1918, and was discharged on 20 May 1919. The Armistice (cease fire agreement) that ended WWI was signed on 11 November 1918. He already was a married man. He had married Florence Strike in Wallace, Idaho on 2 April 1917. Did he play a brass instrument before entering the service? I don’t know. In any case, the Army made him a bugler, and apparently, that’s all the bugling he ever did.

Census records in 1920 and 1930 indicate that after the war, he lived as a lodger in Seattle and worked as a miner and a hook tender in the regrading industry. Other public records describe him thus at age 34: height 5’6″, weight 144 lbs, dark brown hair, brown eyes, medium build, ruddy complexion, with gold-crowned, upper left molar teeth and scars on the back of his head, right hand, and right thigh. Arthur seems to have had a “hard-knock life,” as the song goes in the musical, Annie.

Did he serve in Europe? Was he ever in combat? Did he ever sound bugle calls in battle—“To Arms, Charge, Retreat, Commence Firing, Cease Firing,” and more?  Or did he, like me, sound only those used in the daily routine and at ceremonies—“Reveille, Mess, Sick, School, Church, Assembly, Drill, Dress Parade, To the Color, Officers’ Call, Adjutants’ Call, Tattoo, Taps, Funeral March,” and more? Either way, it was important. As the soldiers said, “How else would we all know when to wake up and go to chow?”

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Bugle that sounded end of WWI, courtesy of National Museum of American History, Washington, D.C.

There is a book that covers all the calls that every 1918 U.S. military bugler had to know. It’s by V.F. Safranek and was published in 1918 in New York by Carl Fischer, 158 pages. It’s entitled, Complete Instructive Manual for Bugle, Trumpet and Drum. Now we know what Arthur F. Church, Bugler, knew.

In addition, I own two other excellent bugle call books:

  • 67 Bugle Calls As Practiced in the Army and Navy of the United States, New Edition published by Carl Fischer in 1998. It is based upon John Philip Sousa’s A Book of Instruction for the Field Trumpet [Bugle] and Drum, also published by Carl Fischer in 1886.
  • Infantry Bugle Calls of the American Civil War, authored by George Rabbai and published by Mel Bay Publications, Inc. in 1998. Forty-nine bugle calls are included, as well as narration, spoken commands, and anecdotes and stories from the accounts of infantry soldiers.
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American WWI buglers, including Leo Foster (right)

Arthur’s father is buried in Port Townsend, WA. His mother, older brother, and at least three of his half-siblings are buried at Evergreen-Washelli.

On 4 September 1945, Evergreen-Washelli applied for a military, upright marble headstone for Arthur. It was approved, shipped, and installed amongst his fellow veterans, as shown in the accompanying photos. Why does the inscription reference the state of Idaho? It might just be a clerical error because his Company D, 109th Regiment, 28th Division was neither created nor stationed in Idaho. They’re out of Pennsylvania. Neither was Arthur born in Idaho; he was born in South Dakota. But perhaps it was simply because Arthur probably was living with his bride in Idaho when he was drafted.

The next time I sound “Taps” near the Chimes Tower in Veterans Memorial Cemetery, I’ll again stand next to Arthur F. Church, whose gravestone bears the cross above his name.

Let me express my gratitude to Mary Ann Fuller, my primary information source, and to Karen Sipe for additional information presented in this article. Please click on any photo to enlarge it.

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“Taps” at 9th Annual Wreaths Across America Ceremony at Evergreen-Washelli Cemetery in Seattle

Posted by glennled on January 15, 2019

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ET1 Kyle Rushing (saluting) dedicates the Navy’s ceremonial wreath at Evergreen-Washelli’s Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Seattle

 

About 200 people gathered on 15 December 2018, at Veterans Cemetery, Evergreen-Washelli, in north Seattle at the 9th local Wreaths Across America (WAA) ceremony to remember our fallen military personnel who are buried there. The annual, half-hour img_2457event was emceed by Lorraine Zimmermann of the Veterans Memorial Wreath Foundation (VMWF). The guest speaker was Doyle Burke, retired Washington State Guard Command Sergeant. Then 7 wreaths were dedicated by representatives of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Merchant Marines, and POW/MIA.

Using my favorite Getzen bugle, I sounded “Taps” immediately after the Honor Guard of VFW Post 1040, Lynnwood fired the rifle salute. It was my seventh such performance. The ceremony concluded with the Parade of Wreaths. Finally, those in attendance placed wreaths on many of the gravestones of those servicemen and women who are buried there. The event’s message was “We collectively thank our military and their families for our freedom!”

For more detailed information on WAA, please use the Archives (see left column) to find my posts about previous local WAA ceremonies:

  • 9 January 2013
  • 16 December 2013
  • 28 April 2015
  • 5 February 2016
  • 30 December 2016
  • 29 December 2017

Mark your calendars for plans to attend the 10th annual ceremony on 14 December 2019. Volunteers and donors may contact Lorraine Zimmermann at https://www.facebook.com/Veterans-Memorial-Wreath-Foundation-362631617642740/.  Following is a photo gallery of scenes at this year’s ceremony. Please click on any photo to enlarge it.

By Gayle Caya, Courtesy of VMWF

 

By Tonya Christoffersen, Courtesy of VMWF

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“Taps” Concludes Veterans Day Ceremonies at St. Matthew Catholic School in Seattle and Cottage Lake Elementary School in Woodinville

Posted by glennled on December 18, 2018

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Veterans Day ceremony, Cottage Lake Elementary School, Woodinville, with Kelsey Brady on piano, 11-09-2018

 

Some schools take Veterans Day very seriously and conduct superb ceremonies for the students and their guests. On 9 November, I sounded “Taps” at two such schools—St. Matthew Catholic School in Seattle in the morning and Cottage Lake Elementary School in the afternoon. Each ceremony was different, and both were outstanding. The chief organizer at St. Matthew was Kara Herber, 4th grade teacher, and at Cottage Lake, Kelsey Brady, music teacher. Ms. Herber found me through Bugles Across America (please see http://www.buglesacrossamerica.org/). Brig. Gen. Raymond W. Coffey, USAVR, referred Ms. Brady to me.

Ensign Shirkydra Roberts, U.S. Navy, was the principal speaker at St. Matthew. Please see her IAME website, https://impactaspiremotivate.com/. IAME stands for “Impact, Aspire, Motivate Enterprises.” General Coffey commands the 10th Region of the U.S. Volunteer-Joint Services Command, a ceremonial unit that conducts military honors at various events in the region. Please see my blog posts of 11 July and 17 December 2018, and 19 June 2014.

I closed each ceremony with the sounding of “Taps” on my wonderful Getzen bugle (see my blog post of 4 May 2015 ). Please click on any photo to enlarge it.

St. Matthew Catholic School

Cottage Lake Elementary School

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“Taps” at 4th Annual Skyline Memorial Walk in Seattle

Posted by glennled on November 7, 2018

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Window cleaners on the job, north tower of Skyline Towers of First Hill, a Presbyterian retirement community

 

Today, at the fourth annual Skyline Memorial Walk, some 225 names of deceased family members and friends were read aloud as the bell was tolled. Then “We Remember Them” by Sylvan Kamens and Rabbi Jack Riemer was also read aloud. And finally, I sounded “Taps” on my Getzen bugle, here for the third straight year (see my posts of 10 Nov 2016 and 19 Nov 2017). Rev. Elizabeth Graham, Chaplain at Skyline Towers Retirement Community in downtown Seattle, presided over the ceremony which attracted about 20 residents, mostly women. The group then took the Memorial Walk in the courtyard outside the meeting room where they found, among the lovely plants, individual signs bearing the names of the departed.

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On the job at Skyline Towers Retirement Community in downtown Seattle

Rev. Graham said that about two weeks ago, a notice was sent to all the residents and staff, inviting them to identify loved ones whom they would want to be remembered at this ceremony. Here is an excerpt from “We Remember Them,” honoring and paying tribute to those who have passed:

“At the rising sun and at its going down; We remember them…At the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of autumn; We remember them…When we are weary and in need of strength; We remember them…When we have joy we crave to share; We remember them…For as long as we live, they too will live, for they are now part of us as, We remember them.”

Afterwards, looking up, I saw two courageous men high up the side of the building, dangling off thin lines, working, defying gravity, cheating death, earning a living, serving others, producing something of value—clean windows. We will remember them, too. For as John Donne wrote in 1624,

Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

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Three “Taps” on Memorial Day In Lynnwood, Seattle, and Mercer Island

Posted by glennled on June 6, 2018

 

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Skyline Towers Retirement Community, Seattle

This Memorial Day was a first for me—I played bugle calls at three different ceremonies, first in Lynnwood (11 am), then in downtown Seattle (1:30 pm), and finally, on Mercer Island (2:30 pm).

In downtown Lynnwood, VFW Post 1040 hosted its annual Memorial Day ceremony at Veterans Park. We used the bugle calls, “Assembly,” to commence the program, “Echo Taps” to honor those who died in military service, and “To the Color” to hoist the flag to full mast at noon. Gavin Itzka, trumpeter, Skyview Middle School, Bothell, played the echo part of “Echo Taps.” The VFW Post 1040 Honor Guard fired the rifle salute, and the Nile Shriners Legion of Honor Color Guard presented the colors. The Northwest Junior Pipe Band, under the direction of Kevin Auld, played six pieces, including “Scotland the Brave,” “The Marine Corps Hymn,” and “Going Home,” paying tribute to all veterans, firefighters, and police officers. Boy Scouts Troop 49 of Lynnwood and Cub Scout Pack 331 of Edmonds placed the flags throughout the park, distributed the programs, and presented the Armed Forces flags as the “Armed Forces Medley” was played through the sound system supplied by Sound Church of Lynnwood. Lt. Col. Dan Matthews, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), gave an inspirational keynote speech. For more information about these organizations, please see:

 

The ceremony at Skyline on First Hill in Seattle, a Presbyterian retirement community, was quite unique. It’s called the “Sparkle Release” memorial ceremony because, as the names of Seattle-ite servicemen and women who were lost in the past year are read by Rev. Elizabeth Graham, the attendees release into the wind brightly colored threads meant to attract birds who then use them in building their nests. “It’s about rebirth and hope for the new life that is to come,” said Rev. Graham. The courtyard setting and the Seattle skyline view IMG_5592from in between the two Skyline buildings are spectacular. The south building is Skyline Terraces, for assisted living, and the north building is Skyline Towers, for independent living (please see my blog posts of 10 Nov. 2016 and 19 Nov. 2017). At the conclusion of the ceremony, I sounded “Taps” on my Getzen bugle.

From there, I hustled across the I-90 floating bridge to Island House Retirement Community in downtown Mercer Island, where about 50 residents had gathered for their Memorial Day ceremony. Sounding “Taps” was incorporated into the program. As I sounded those 24 notes, several veterans in the audience, wearing their VFW and American Legion caps, stood and saluted in honor of their fallen comrades in arms.

Please click on any photo to enlarge it.

 

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“To the Color” and “Taps” for Fifth Annual Memorial Day Ceremony at Edmonds Community College

Posted by glennled on May 31, 2018

 

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March from Black Box Theatre to Boots-to-Books Monument at Edmonds Community College. Photo courtesy of ECC Veterans Resource Center.

 

Memorial Day at Edmonds Community College (ECC) is celebrated on the Wednesday before the national holiday, which is always held on the last Monday of May. And so we gathered on 23 May at the Black Box Theatre for ECC’s Fifth Annual Ceremony—a time to remember those who died while in military service to our country. The event is sponsored by the ECC Veterans Resource Center, led by Chris Szarek, Director. Please see http://www.edcc.edu/veterans.

The ECC Music 119 Class, accompanied by Linda Kappus on piano, sang “The Star Spangled Banner.” Angelita Shanahan, vocalist from the Hero’s Café, led the audience in singing “America, the Beautiful.”

Three musicians performed solos: Toby Beard, bagpiper; Peter Ali, Native American flutist; and me. I sounded two bugle calls on my Getzen bugle: “To the Color” and “Taps.” Peter ad-libbed during the slide show inside the theatre and outside at Boots-to-Books Monument. Toby called the event to order in the theatre with a tune to open the program; played another tune while leading the march from the theatre to the monument; and finally played “Amazing Grace” at the monument.

The colors were presented by the U.S. Joint Volunteer Service Command Color Guard.

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8th Annual “Wreaths Across America” Ceremony at Evergreen-Washelli in Seattle

Posted by glennled on December 29, 2017

Air Force Master Sgt. Shanda De Anda salutes the wreath on which she just placed a flag (2)

Air Force Master Sgt. Shanda De Anda salutes the USAF wreath. Photo by Alan Berner, The Seattle Times.

On Saturday, 16 December 2017, a crowd gathered at Veterans Cemetery at Evergreen-Washelli in north Seattle to participate in the Wreaths Across America (WAA) ceremony, along with 1,422 other participating locations nationwide. The ceremony is held annually on the 3rd Saturday in December.

Locally, it was the 8th annual WAA event, hosted by the Navy Wives Club of America (NWCA), Totem 277 (Seattle to Burlington), with Lorraine Zimmerman the emcee.
The guest speaker was Col. Anthony D. Babcock, USAF, Commander, 62nd Maintenance Group, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.

At Arlington National Cemetery, more than 75,000 volunteers placed 244,700 wreaths (one for each marker there). It was the largest crowd since the tradition began in 1992. A network of hundreds of volunteer drivers trucked nearly 500 truckloads of  more than 1,565,000 remembrance wreaths to every state in the union.  Other dedicated volunteers committed countless hours to conduct this coordinated event that helps accomplish WAA’s mission to “Remember, Honor, and Teach.” Please see the WAA Official Facebook page and its website, http://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/, as well as http://www.arlingtoncemetery.mil.

VFW Post 1040, Lynnwood, supplied the Color Guard and Honor Guard (rifle team and bugler). I sounded “Taps” on my Getzen bugle at the close of the ceremony. The Post’s website is http://www.vfw1040.org.

For an 11-photo slideshow with captions by Alan Berner, The Seattle Times, please see https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/seattle-area-fallen-veterans-honored-in-wreaths-across-america-ceremonies.

For more information on both WAA and this local event, please see my past blog posts of:

  • 30 Dec 2016
  • 5 Feb 2016
  • 28 Apr 2015
  • 9 Jan 2013
  • 16 Dec 2011

These photos are courtesy of Alan Berner, The Seattle Times. Please click on any photo to enlarge it.

 

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“Taps” at Annual Skyline Memorial Walk in Seattle

Posted by glennled on November 19, 2017

IMG_5975What’s it like, when Veterans Day rolls around each November and Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day are fast approaching, to live in a retirement community? If you’ve lost a spouse or child or family or friends or pets, it might be quite lonely. Why not remember, honor, and celebrate those who have passed? That’s the idea behind the 3rd Annual Memorial Walk at Skyline at First Hill, a Presbyterian retirement community in downtown Seattle near St. James Cathedral and Harborview Hospital.

The Memorial Walk is in a lovely courtyard between the facility’s two wings: Skyline Towers (for independent living) and Skyline Terraces (for assisted living). Adjacent is a IMG_5972room where the ceremony was conducted on 8 November. In the weeks prior, residents were asked to submit the names of people they want to be remembered. This year, some 200 names were reverently read aloud to the attendees. Afterwards, people wandered through the courtyard, remembering again.

For more information and photos, please see my post of 10 November 2016. Simply click on that month in the left column of this blog. For the second year in a row, I was honored to sound “Taps” on my Getzen bugle at the close of the ceremony.

Please click on any photo to enlarge it.

 

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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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