Posts Tagged ‘trumpet’


Set the Bar High

June 11, 2014

One of the first questions I ask new students is this:

If it’s completely up to you, what will you be doing once you graduate?

Shockingly, some of the answers given begin with phrases like, “I guess it would be okay if….”, or, “I’d be fine with…”

Similarly, after a student plays something in a lesson, I will ask what he/she thought of the performance. Often the responses include, “okay”, or “pretty good”, and the students seem satisfied.

These are big problems.

If your goal is to be average, how will you ever achieve greatness?

It’s time to start thinking big.

First-your career. Ask yourself what you really want to be doing. Not what you’d be okay with, or even what you presently think is realistic. It can be a job that already exists, or something no one has ever done before. Now instead of following a career path that someone else has for you, or worse, having no plan and hoping for the best, you have a direction. Follow that direction. You’ll be amazed where you can end up.

Second-your playing. Remember this:

Good enough isn’t.

Whether you’re working on technique or music, the goal must be the same- playing great. Be completely honest with yourself in the practice room. Never let yourself off the hook. If you work intelligently and diligently on a daily basis, you can’t help but get better and better.

It can be simple…even comfortable to set your career and playing goals low enough to be able to reach them relatively easily. It’s much more difficult, and even painful, to be honest with yourself about what you really want out of your career and playing, and then hold yourself accountable.

I promise- it’s worth it.


Summertime (and the practice is easy)

June 4, 2014

Now that school is out, for most of us, it’s time for what can be the most enjoyable and productive time of year.  Do I sense doubt?  Stick with me.  During the school year, you are generally responsible for three types of music:

1)  Music your teacher assigns for lessons

2)  Music you will perform (school ensembles, recitals, etc.)

3)  Music you want to learn.

During the summer, numbers 1 and 2 don’t exist in the same way for most people.  This leaves more time for the area most people ignore when they get busy during the school year- #3.  So get to it.  Make a list of music you want to learn.  It can be anything- solos, transcriptions, tunes, excerpts, stuff you think everyone already knows except for you but you’re too embarrassed to admit it, etudes, etc.  Then get to work.  How many times have you heard something and thought, “wow, that’s cool…I’d love to be able to play that”?  Well, this is your chance.  Make a list of:

Music I Want to Learn

Of course, you must balance your musical practice with technical practice.  Summer provides a great opportunity to tackle the technical weaknesses that you are busy hiding during the school year hoping no one notices.  As I put it so delicately to my students here at Indiana, summer is the best time to make a list and practice:

What I Suck At

With these two lists you’ve got a full summer’s worth of stuff to practice.  When school starts in the fall, you can go back with confidence in the new music you’ve learned and the new skills you’ve integrated.


Shiny Stockings

April 11, 2013

This week, with my nose firmly back to the grindstone, I pay tribute to the great Count Basie. I consider myself quite fortunate to have seen Count Basie several times before he died.  More than any other big band, Count Basie’s Band was about the ensemble.  This is not meant to take away from the fantastic ensemble playing of any other band, or from the spectacular soloists on the Basie Band.  But the ensemble writing and playing of the Basie Band holds a very special place for me.  Here’s Shiny Stockings:

Very soon will be an update on the fantastic March I had, which included being featured with Vince DiMartino in front of the U.S. Navy Band at the National Trumpet Competition, and playing the film score to West Side Story with the Houston Symphony Orchestra.


This Week in Trumpet Ensemble News

February 12, 2013

It’s almost time to jump in the car and start the drive to Pennsylvania for the West Chester Trumpet Festival, which you should all be attending.  But I wanted to get one more chart done and a snippet recorded.  This week’s music comes to you from my good friend Greg Jasperse.  Greg is an unbelievably talented singer and songwriter.  Among the many pieces he’s written are several that are wordless.  The first time I heard one I knew that he was really writing trumpet ensemble music, he just didn’t know it yet.  He did send a few scores at my request, which I have transcribed for trumpet.  Here’s a clip of a piece he calls “Voicedance”, which we’ll call “Dance of the Trumpets” for now:

Dance of the Trumpets

Please let me know what you think.  If you like it, thank Greg for writing a beautiful piece of music.  If you don’t, blame me for not playing it well enough.

This week is going to be great.  At the West Chester Trumpet Festival, (did I mention how good it is?), the U.S. Army Blues is playing on Friday night.  Soloing with the band will be Sean Jones, Scott Belck, and me.  On Saturday night, Tromba Mundi will be performing a World Premiere of a piece written for us and wind ensemble with the Messiah College Wind Ensemble.  There are also masterclasses, I’ll be giving one on Friday, and exhibits during the day.  The full schedule is here:  Trumpet Fest Schedule.

Coming soon- thoughts on the Grammies.  (I think Grammys or Grammy’s just looks wrong.  It seems obvious that it should be Grammies, so I’m going with that)