Glenn’s Trumpet Notes

News & Tips for Trumpet & Cornet Students

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Posts Tagged ‘tone’

41st Trumpet Student Comes from Queen Anne Elementary in Seattle

Posted by glennled on March 28, 2018

What do you do as a parent when your child is in 5th grade, wants to play trumpet, and attends a school where there is no band program? This parent rented a horn and started teaching him some music on her own last January. But he quickly adapted so well and got so good that she soon realized that what she was teaching him using the piano at home was not teaching him the trumpet. little-einsteins-quincy[1]

So she found me on the internet through Lessons In Your Home, http://www.lessonsinyourhome.com. We began with his first lesson on 6 March, using the instruction book, Progressive Beginner Trumpet, by Peter Gelling (see  https://www.amazon.com/CP69122-Progressive-Beginner-Peter-Gelling/dp/1864691220). When I first listened to him play, I found that he already has a solid tone, strong sense of rhythm, and a range up to C on the staff—things that it takes many 5th graders in band about 6 months to develop.

My 41st trumpet student is an enthusiastic, eager boy who will turn 11 this summer and is multi-talented—he loves sports, too! His eyes are bright, and his smile is ready and wide. Some techniques come quickly and easily to him. His mom says he loves music—he whistles and sings a lot. She says he needs challenges, responds to goals, and likes structure and assignments. (That sounds like a good formula for success, doesn’t it?) But at Queen Anne Elementary in Seattle, he attends a 45-minute music class only once a week. There are a few trumpeters besides himself, but “it’s not exactly band.” It’s a music program that the school started just this year.

So, here we go! Taking private lessons involves a lot of practice, and practice requires a lot of repetition. That can get old—gotta keep it fun. Along with his excellent disposition and talent, does he also have patience and tenacity? How can I help him handle obstacles and frustration? The instruction book we’re using is well-suited for him. And my motto is printed on my business card—“Become Your BEST!” Let’s make it happen.

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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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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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25th Trumpet Student Catches Up With 7th-Grade Band

Posted by glennled on September 21, 2015

silly-trumpet-hi

My 25th private trumpet student wanted help this summer to prepare for entry into the 7th-grade band at Skyview Jr. High School in Bothell this fall. You see, last year he was a sixth-grader in the 1st-year band, whereas most of his classmates had started one year earlier and were then in 2nd-year band. This fall he is one of them. But they have had two-year’s experience, whereas he has had only one. Along with some other band students, he’s skipping 2nd-year band. Summer lessons were his way to catch up, as much as possible, with his peers.

His first trumpet lesson with me was on 8 July. That’s when I learned he is of Vietnamese ancestry. His grandmother, who lives with his family in Bothell, got out of South Vietnam in 1975. Welcome to America! I was there as a Navy man in 1965-66. That’s how I qualify for the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars), and that’s how I became the bugler for VFW Post 1040 in Lynnwood. I have a special tie with this student.

He’s a good player with a bright future. He says he likes the sound of the trumpet, and it’s lightweight and easy to carry. He learns quickly and has a nice, solid tone. Best of all, he has a great attitude and practices often! He’ll do fine in 7th-grade band—indeed, I predict that he’ll become one of the leaders in the trumpet section.

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Tenacious, Motivated 24th Trumpet Student

Posted by glennled on May 5, 2015

Fernwood Elementary School, Bothell

Fernwood Elementary School, Bothell

For his first lesson at his home in Bothell on 26 February 2015 , my 24th trumpet student played for me from the instruction book, Progressive Beginner Trumpet by Peter Gelling. He’s a sixth-grader at Fernwood Elementary and in 2nd year band at Skyview Jr. High School. I asked him what first attracted him to trumpet. “It’s loud,” he said, so it stands out among the other band  instruments as a leader, “and I like that.”

What does he like about playing in the band? He likes being amongst his friends, and he likes playing music, although it does not come easy for him. He wants lessons to improve his tone and play higher notes. He’d like to continue in band at least all the way through high school. He knows the music is only going to get more complicated, so he wants to be able to handle it.

His Dad is confident that his son will master the trumpet because he has determination—once he sets out to do something, he sticks with it and gets it done.  Mom was a versatile musician in high school. She played tuba, trombone, saxophone, and oboe, and became a drum major in her school band.

That’s what I like—motivated trumpet students who are determined to become their best!

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Teacher’s Satisfaction—One Trumpeter Promoted, Another Switches to Trombone

Posted by glennled on April 12, 2012

One of my private trumpet students just got promoted by the band director at Skyline Jr. High in Bothell to 2nd-year (6th grade) elementary band. She’s a 6th grader who just started band this year, so she’s been playing among 5th-graders in the 1st-year band. She’s advanced far enough on the fast track that she now belongs among her own age group. I recommended the promotion to the band director, and he accepted it.

Another 1st-year band trumpeter has been struggling with her tone (airy) and articulation (splatters). This week, I told her that because of her embouchure, I thought she might produce a better tone with sharper slotting on an instrument with a bigger mouthpiece. I asked her to try playing a trombone for me, and she was willing. So in a small practice room, she blew on a school-owned trombone—and out came some big, fat solid tones over a wide range. I called in the band director, and we were all so excited. Given a choice of baritone or trombone, she chose trombone.

And again, I experienced the teacher’s thrill—I helped two students get a taste of success.

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

“Taps” for Japanese-American WWII Veteran at Evergreen Washelli in Seattle

Posted by glennled on August 21, 2011

Yesterday, I played “Taps” as part of the military honors accorded a Japanese-American veteran who served in World War II after having first been interned at the Minidoka War Relocation Center in Hunt, Idaho with his family. Born in 1923 in Seattle, he was 18 when the U.S.A. entered the war. Within a year after internment, he enlisted in the Army. He served as a translator of Japanese for the Military Intelligence Service during the reconstruction of Japan. He died 25 December 2010. His wife, also born in Seattle, died 14 July 2011. They were married 61 years.

The graveside service at Evergreen Washelli Cemetery in Seattle was led by the head minister of Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Church. Near the end of the service, the Honor Guard carefully unfolded the American flag and dramatically displayed it to the family and friends. That was my signal to sound “Taps.”

I now own my version of “Taps.” Before, I had been experimenting with slight variations in the way I would play those 24-notes. But as of yesterday, I realized that I’ve now worked out every detail of how I play it. I’ve chosen the key signature, tempo, rhythm, phrasing, and dynamics. I know when to breathe, I know when to use vibrato, I know how long to hold each fermata, I know when to make the notes swell and when to let them fade. Whether loud or soft, I keep the tone solid.

The Honor Guard then folded the flag and presented it to a gentleman in a dark suit. Afterwards, he thanked me.

“Are you his son?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“A good life?” I asked.

“Yes, a wonderful life, a wonderful man!”

I said I served in the Navy and thanked him for his father’s service. I said I would like to know more about his story. “It’s my honor and privilege to play for him today.”

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6th-Grade Soloist Prepares to “Nail It” at Christmas Choir Concerts!

Posted by glennled on November 15, 2010

When you’re chosen to accompany the choir at a Christmas concert, you’ve gotta practice your trumpet and be ready—especially when you’re a 6th grader and the music is written in the key of A (with three sharps) and the ending note is High A above the staff! And that’s how it came to be that I now have my 12th trumpet student. Besides being in band, he’s also a member of the choir at Canyon Creek Elementary School in Bothell. The choir will perform at the 600-seat Northshore Performing Arts Center (NPAC) in Bothell and the Seattle Center on 14 and 15 December, respectively.

At age 12, he’s a talented, enthusiastic, confident, responsible boy with a warm smile and pleasant, happy attitude. His trumpet tone is strong and solid, and he has an excellent sense of rhythm. For the concerts, he simply needs more practice of the right exercises to strengthen his embouchure and extend his range further into the upper register. Since he’s a quick learner, I think he’ll do very well when he plays at the Christmas concerts next month. We have about five more weeks of lessons to prepare…and that’s just enough time to “nail 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!  🙂

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May Concert Features Christmas Music

Posted by glennled on May 12, 2010

Last night I went to hear one of my trumpet students play in the spring music concert at his elementary school. In his introduction, the principal alluded to the 1st place finish by Garfield High School’s jazz band in the Essentially Ellington jazz competition in New York City on Monday. It was their second victory in two years and their fourth (a record) in the 15-year history of this nationwide competition. He endorsed music education and wished his elementary students success in their music endeavors.

Six groups performed: Beginning Strings, Advanced Orchestra, Beginning Brass, Beginning Winds, Beginning Clarinets, and Advanced Band. He’s in Beginning Brass, along with four other trumpeters and one trombonist. The band director commented that they were going to play some Christmas music. It was a typically cool night on an overcast day in Seattle, but Christmas in May?! Yes, we heard the brass ensemble play “Good King Wenceslas” and “Jolly Old St. Nicholas,” as well as “Crusaders March” and “Frere Jacques,” in the school cafeteria with the stage. My student and another played lead trumpet, and I could clearly distinguish his strong, confident tone and clean articulation. Way to go!

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