We’re going to have a bit of fun this week and listen to recordings of 8 famous trumpet players! There are SO MANY great trumpet players out there, but these 8 will give us a good start. We will hear 2 per day and vote on our favorite. Here are all the links to the recordings:
Healthy, high-quality trumpet playing is more important than these etudes. Warm up properly. Take care of your chops. Craft your sound. Be diligent with fundamentals. Being an outstanding trumpet player and musician is more important than playing the etudes over and over.
Address any issues or weaknesses in your playing outside of practicing these etudes. Ask for help and find exercises to address your weaknesses.
RECORD yourself as often as possible. Don’t wait to get “good” at the etudes to start recording yourself. Start now. You will gain a healthier perspective on your playing and notice things you otherwise might have missed.
START WITH MUSIC. Listen to recordings and begin crafting your musical interpretation of the piece at the beginning of the process. What emotions are being expressed? Is there a story being told? Make up your own title or backstory to establish as much musical context as possible.
ALWAYS SOUND GOOD. It doesn’t matter if you’re sightreading or if you’ve been working on the etude for months. Always produce a wonderful sound. Play slowly enough to produce a great sound. Speed is easy once habits of tone are established.
DIRECT THE LISTENER’S ATTENTION TO THE MUSIC. If you play like a robot, the listener will judge you like a robot and focus on mistakes, technical deficiencies, etc. If you deliver an emotional and musical experience, the listener will be absorbed in the music, and small mistakes will become irrelevant.
Arpeggios are collections of intervals. Make sure you are hearing each one.
Always go slow enough to produce a great tone.
Practice short sections slurred. Also try on the mouthpiece or singing to train your ears.
This is the most music musically interesting etude. DO NOT leave any emotion or expressiveness on the table.
FULLY understand the rhythms and be able to play everything in time. Once you can do that, give yourself the freedom to add rubato.
VIBRATO: Make sure the core of the tone is established, and then add tasteful vibrato around the core of the sound.
The chromatic scale in the cadenza is a musical event, not just a technical one.
SUBDIVIDE. Dotted eighth and sixteenth notes are not triplets.
Play this etude with a sense of sustain to establish your best tone. If you choose a shorter style after a good tone is established, that’s up to you!
It’s a march, so groove is everything. Practice with a metronome or drum app regularly.
Practice short sections slurred to make sure you are efficiently centering all intervals.
This piece is repetitive, so use dynamics to your advantage.
I’ve been teaching lessons on Zoom for 5 or 6 months at this point, and I have grown to LOVE the platform and its effectiveness for teaching music lessons.
If we take a few minutes to learn how to sound and look your best on Zoom, you and your teacher will have a wonderful lesson experience. Remember: when you improve your sound on Zoom, your teacher will be hearing a more musically nuanced product and he/she will be able to give you more musically nuanced feedback.
Understand that your computer/device is now an important part of your instrument. Your sound is being transferred from your instrument through your computer to your teacher. Understanding how the mic on your computer processes your tone is just as important as understanding how to make a good tone on your instrument. Any musician who has worked in a recording studio (or recorded from a home studio) will tell you that understanding the microphone is just as important as playing well.
Allow your teacher to SEE you playing your instrument. Don’t sit in front of an open window (backlighting = bad — you will look like a shadow). Angle the camera slightly above you so your teacher can see hand position, posture, etc. Make sure the bell of your instrument isn’t blocking the camera (I’m looking at you, trumpet players).
Understand how the ANGLE and DISTANCE from microphone affect the sound. Every instrument will be different. ANGLE refers to where you point your bell in relation to the mic. For example, directional instruments like trumpets and trombones probably should not point directly at their microphone. DISTANCE refers to how far your bell (or sound source) should be from the mic. Louder instruments might need to be farther from the mic than softer instruments.
Use ORIGINAL SOUND on Zoom. To activate this setting on a computer: 1. Click the little arrow next the mute button 2. Click “Audio Settings” 3. Click “Advanced” in the lower right corner 4. Make sure box labeled “show in-meeting option to enable original sound” is checked 5. Go back to original Zoom meeting window and click box in upper left until it says “Turn OFF original sound” (this means original sound is ON, which we want)
RECORD yourself on Zoom to understand what your teacher hears. Zoom has a record function! Open Zoom. Click “New Meeting” to host a meeting by yourself. Start video and audio so you can find the best lighting/camera angle. Press RECORD. Play the exact same thing with several different angles and mic distances. Also, talk on the recording to verify that your teacher can hear you speaking clearly. Listen to the recording to determine the best angle and distance for your instrument.
I promise, any effort you make to understand your Zoom audio will allow your teacher to be more nuanced/helpful/detailed with his/her comments. Have fun with your online lessons!
Here are a few notes from the April 24th masterclass with Dr. Joe Cooper, trumpet professor at Oklahoma State University. These are some of the specific suggestions he gave the student performers. I wrote them in a more general way for us all to apply to our own playing.
Always work smarter, not harder
Eliminate tension/inefficiency in right hand position – fingers should curve comfortably and naturally
Use tongue level (raise tongue toward roof of mouth) and air attacks to address ranges that begin to feel uncomfortable or inefficient
Tongue lighter on spots that have a lot of articulation
Phrase more horizontally, less vertically
Think more musically during technical passages
Isolate and break down the most challenging spots into small units to practice separately
Exaggerate different character changes in any piece of music
Know what the piece is about (to you) and express those musical ideas
Create as much tension (musical, not physical) and release in your performances
A huge THANK YOU to Dr Cooper for his time, expertise, and inspiration. Thank you to all 4 student performers for their excellent recordings, and thank you to all other students who listened and attended the class!
Today’s blog post is going to help us understand how to figure out minor scales. There are a few different ways to think about this process, and this post will focus on one method: figuring out minor scales by starting with its parallel major scale. Scales are parallel if they have the same root note (the first note of the scale). For example, C Major and C Minor are parallel because they both start and end on C. This method should be easy if you already know some (or all!) of your major scales.
There are three types of minor scales:
The example below starts with the key of C. It’s an easy key to manipulate since there are no sharps or flats in C Major.
The first step is converting major to natural minor. We do this by lowering the 3rd, 6th, and 7th notes of the scale by one half step. When lowering by a half step, naturals become flats (and sharps become naturals). Play C Major and C Natural Minor on your instrument, and you’ll immediately be able to hear the difference in musical flavor between major and minor.
The second step is converting major to harmonic minor. For this scale, only lower the 3rd and 6th notes. The 7th is not lowered.
The third step is converting major to melodic minor. This type of minor scale uses different pitches when ascending and descending. Only lower the 3rd note when ascending (6th and 7th notes stay the same as major). When descending, lower the 3rd, 6th, and 7th notes.
The example below shows this process in two different keys: C and A.
I suggest starting with one or two easy keys to get used to the process of lowering notes and become familiar with the sound of each type of minor scale. After that, challenge yourself to learn as many of the 12 keys as possible!
Many thanks to the Anderson High School band directors for inviting me to teach 2 weeks of daily masterclasses to their trumpet section (10 total!). And a HUGE thank you to the students for their attention, questions, and enthusiasm!
We covered a massive amount of material, which is summarized below with a link to all handouts passed out during the 2 weeks.
Adam Rapa is a trumpet player known for his super-human performances. In this video he is performing an arrangement of Carl Maria von Weber’s Clarinet Concerto No. 2.
As if it wasn’t hard enough to play a clarinet concerto on the trumpet, this arrangement also changes the time signature from 4/4 to 7/8!
Rapa is playing a 4-valve Bb trumpet, which allows him to play some of the clarinet notes that go below the traditional range of the Bb trumpet. The brass and percussion accompaniment by the Belgian Brass is outstanding!
Ottorino Respighi’s Pines of Rome was composed in 1924 and has been a major staple in the symphonic repertoire ever since. The beautiful off-stage trumpet solo in the second movement is frequently included on professional auditions.
An arrangement was written for brass ensemble and performed here by the All-Star Brass in 2014. The brass playing here is nothing short of amazing (the piece is hard enough to be played by a full orchestra!).
The three trumpet players are Jens Lindemann, Ryan Anthony, and Phil Snedecor.
The first video is the 2014 All-Star Brass recording. The second is the original version for full orchestra as recorded by the New World Symphony.