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Saturday, May 27, 2006

Tips & Advice - #1. Warming Up (introduction)

This is the first of my new series of posts called "Tips and Advice" (see previous posts). This week I'm going to be talking about warming up. I anticipate this topic will be covered in several postings. This is the first - "Introduction" - to be followed by a number of other headed posts. Anyway, lets get going....

The topic of warming up has aroused some debate among trumpet pedagogues. Many argue that warming up is a waste of time, citing players who can play straight "from cold" with little or no problem as evidence. However I would like to suggest that WARMING UP IS NOT A WASTE OF TIME!

Why? Why is this you ask? Well I'll use the example of the 100 meter athlete. In their chosen profession the runner is required to put their leg and arm muscles under considerable strain, working them hard to reach the line first. Most, if not all of these athletes would agree that warming up by doing stretches light jogging, is of utmost importance in order to avoid injury. This seems obvious to us. If the athlete stretches he loosens his muscles allowing him not only to move more easily, but also to avoid injury. Many brass players however, ignore the fact that they are athletes too. It's true! Think about it. A brass player puts enormous strain on the lips when playing, stretching them and pushing them to the limit in order to finish the piece with style and panacea. If we accept this then, it is sensible for the trumpeter to warm up his lips before he commences heavy playing. Indeed, a good warm up stimulates blood flow, and loosens muscles allowing them to be used without ease without risk of damage.

But how should you warm up? This is a typical question which is all to often answered incorrectly by tutors who attempt to impose their own methods (or that of a well known player) onto the student. In fact, it is important to recognise that every player will necessarily have a different style of warm up, and it is their [the pupil's] job to work out what suits them best. Of course, this can only be achieved by experimentation and guidance from other more experienced players (whether that be through reading or tuition). Indeed, despite my earlier comments it is crucial for teachers to guide their pupils in sensible warm up technique in order that they may understand the best way to employ the exercises they have at hand. Many players have very poor warm up routines which do more harm than good, and this is often because of a lack of guidance.

General advice. Warm-ups should strike a balance between ensuring that all muscles to be used in playing are suitably loosened, whilst not over straining the lips before they have even started. Herbert L. Clarke outlined that one of the best ways to do this is to play quietly. Not many people do this, but all the best players will tell you that they always practice quietly because it affords them control, accuracy and allows them to play for longer. Seriously, play over your old exercises quietly (no more than pp) and you will start playing better. I've also found that reducing pressure has improved my playing (especially in stamina and range). A good way to reduce pressure on the lips is to remove your little finger (right hand) from the hook when playing. This will seem hard at first, but once your muscles adapt you will find playing becomes much easier because your muscles are stronger (they no longer reply on pressure to hold the shape).

Final Points. Lastly, i should like to point out that there is one other great benefit of a sensible warm upBy following a regular warm up routine everyday, you will find that you become more consistent in your playing. You will have less days when you come to the horn and say "oh, I can't play today because it feels stiff". The same exercises everyday will train your lips to respond in the same way everyday - this will help your playing (and practice patience!) no end.

In the next installment i'll be dealing with the free buzz and mouthpiece buzzing so keep checking back. Remember, any questions, post a comment!

Tine Thing Helset - an upcoming young trumpeter

Hi all. Sorry for the lack of posts over the last few days. I've been away. However, now i'm back i thought i'd introduce you to a up-and-coming Norwegian trumpeter called Tine Thing Helset. I saw her on the Eurovision Young Musician of the Year competition the other night. She was playing the Hayden Concerto and it sounded brilliant. Unfortunately, i haven't been able to find out that much about her because all her biographic details are in Norwegian. I have managed to uncover that she is [appears to be] 17 years old, but if anyone has any more information please let me know. Remember, when she's a famous soloist you heard it here first!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

More on trumpet players and strokes!

Hearing about this link between trumpet playing and strokes I decided to do a little bit of detective work. Here's what I found out:

A little bit about strokes

It seems that there are 2 main types of stroke:-
  1. The first occurs when a blood clot moves into the brain - this accounts for 85% of cases.
  2. The second is when a blood vessel in the brain bursts - this is responsible for 15% of cases.

Apparently, young people are more prone to the second type because their blood vessels may not have developed fully yet. However, fully grown adults suffer both kinds.

Strokes and trumpet playing

All this stuff about trumpet players having strokes has all come about thanks to some research done at the University of Munster, in Germany. They identified five cases where people had suffered damage to blood vessels to the brain by playing the trumpet. This damage then led to the people having a stroke.

Dr. Evers - one of the researchers - highlighted a case of a 17-year-old who had suffered a number of "mini-strokes" whilst playing the trumpet. However, he then went on to say that in most of the cases studied the patients had had a predisposition to having a stroke.

I hope that's cleared up some of this stroke talk. See this article for the full report.

Roddy Trumpet - an amazing resource!

This is the best site i've found in ages. It's called 'Roddy Trumpet' and it's got sooooooooooo much trumpet related stuff I don't know where to start. It's got the usual sound and video clips, and method advice areas. But it's also got great, original sections like the "Trumpet Celebrity Interviews" page, where the author has compiled a large archive of interviews with some of the best pros in the business.

The best bit of the site for me however, is the complete 'Cat Anderson Scream Trumpet Method' online. For anyone who doesn't know, Cat Anderson was lead trumpet with Duke Ellington for a long time and is well known for his amazing high notes (just go listen to Rockin' in Rhythm). I don't know where he found this, but it is literally a copy of Anderson's book which you can read for free.

This is a really good site. Click here to visit.

Trumpet Think - audio and video tutor

Here's a useful site called 'Trumpet Think'. I'm actually surprised I haven't come across it before. Basically, it's a collection of articles about different aspects of trumpet playing, including:
  • Warming up
  • Air
  • Corners
  • Lips
  • Resistance and strength
  • Tuning
  • Tonguing

The best bit is however, that each of these articles has a related video or audio clip, played by (I assume) the author. It's definitely worth a look. Click here to visit 'Trumpet Think'.

Free Trumpet Audio - Purtle.com

I've just found quite a good site called 'Purtle.com' where you can download free trumpet sound files, including:
  • lectures by Claude Gordon (advice on diaphragm, tonguing and much more)
  • mp3's of some brilliant old trumpet solo recordings (they sound good don't worry)

You have to have Quicktime installed to listen to some of the lectures, but all the rest are in a ready-to-use mp3 format. I advise listening to Del Staigers "Carnival of Venice" - it's mad! Click here for the link.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

New Schedule - trumpet 'Tips and Advice'

As I have almost finished my exams (my final exam ever in my life is this Monday! YES!) I am thinking about the coming months postings. I've decided on a new theme - 'Tips and Advice'.

Basically i've seen these sites with "advice" sections on theme, but they take forever to read and some are difficult to understand. Well over the next few months I intend to produce a series of postings relating to different aspects of trumpet playing, including:-
  • warming up
  • tonguing
  • high-notes
  • screaming! (yes the above is a different thing)

...and many more.

I don't pretend to be a professional but i've spent the past 3 years ironing out some pretty major faults in my playing which I never thought would be possible. I always think, I bet I could have got better faster if someone had explained things more clearly to me in the first place. This is what I intend to do. I'm going to stick to the K.I.S.S method - "Keep It Simple Stupid".

So keep coming back to see my postings. It's all coming up soon on 'Trumpeter's World'.

Well done Huw!

As the final performer in this year's BBC Young Musician I think Huw Morgan was excellent. I absolutely love the Tomasi (despite what the commentators said) and I think Huw's performance had control, style and was just right for me. I don't care if he bottled the last note because I would have too. In fact I think he's more the professional for knowing not to just "hit and hope" because that would have wrecked what was a brilliant performance. I'm sure Huw has a great chance tonight, and even if he doesn't win I think we'll see him doing something trumpet related in the future. So well done Huw, you did us trumpeters proud!

Please let me (and others) know what you though of Huw or any of the performers tonight by leaving a comment for this post.

BBC Young Musician Tonight!

Just a little reminder to the BBC Young Musician of the Year award tonight. It's actually on right now on BBC2. We all want the trumpeter to win right?

See below for links and other Young Musician info.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Trumpet Player Online!

Ok, check out this great site i've just discovered. It's called 'Trumpet Player Online!' and it's probably one of the oldest and largest trumpet resources on the internet. It's got quite a lot of stuff, including:
  • player pages,
  • links to interesting articles and sites,
  • all the latest trumpet news
  • much more besides....

I know I always say this but you should check this out - click here for the link.

PS: i'm adding this site to my permanent links section (see right)

Trumpeter reaches BBC Young Musician final

Trumpet player, Huw Morgan, 18, has managed to make it all the way to the concerto final of this years BBC Young Musician of the Year award. The final - televised on BBC2 - is one of the highlights of the musical year, and takes place at The Sage, Gateshead, on Saturday 20 May 2006. Huw, who is currently principle of the NYO said: "I'm absolutely thrilled to reach the Final is to realise a dream. It's a wonderful privilege, which I hope will lead to lots of opportunities in my musical career."

For more on the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition visit the official site here. Hugh Morgan also has his own blog site - click here to visit.

Free Online Metronome

Trumpeters! I don't know about you but I think practicing with a metronome is invaluable for advancing your playing (especially with regarding to accurate, even tonguing). However, they can be expensive to buy. Well not anymore, because i've discovered a free online metronome. It has all the functions of a normal metronome and you can use it straight from the site - no annoying download! I really recommend a visit - click here.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Beauty in Music

Guys, ever fed up that there's never any hot music players around? Well check out 'Beauty in Music' online. It's a site full of pictures of attractive(?) female musicians. Not all of them are exactly Alison Balsom, but there are a few. Unfortunately however, there are only 2 trumpet entries (come on lady trumpeters!) but the site is definitely worth a look nonetheless. Click here for the link.

Comment on my blog! - a request for feedback

Although i've had this site up and running for a while now, it's only recently that i've had enough time to really start doing regular posting. I try to bring you only the most relevant and best content out there. I know there's so much junk when you search for "trumpet", and so i will continue to sift through the rubbish and find the good stuff!

However, I would appreciate some feedback on my efforts. What do you think of my blog? Does it post articles you find useful/relevant? What could I do to make it better/more useful for you? What would you like to see more of?

I would really appreciate any comments on any aspect of the blog. If you visit please leave an entry on my guestbook (click link to the right) or leave a comment for this post. Thanks guys.

Brass Review - a great site

In my continuing efforts to bring you links to only the best trumpet and brass related sites I have discovered a site called Brass Review. It's brilliant. It has thousands of reviews for almost every trumpet instrument in existence, telling you what's hot and what's not. It used to be called Trumpet Review, but it's now grown to incorporate all brass instruments, whilst still retaining a focus on the trumpet. I really would recommend this if you are buying any piece of brass kit. I'm going to add it to my permanent links section (see right) so you don't have to worry about loosing this post. Click here to visit Brass Review.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

My Recital + free music

So I had my final recital today. I played 'Solo de Concours' by Charlier, 'Meditation' by Mihalovici and the Arutuian Trumpet Concerto. It was long - REAL long!!! I just had enough left to complete the cadenza at the end. I feel it could have gone a bit better but i'm now just glad it's over so I can have a bit more "fun" with my playing for a bit.

If anyone is in the area i'm playing the Arutunian again with the Birmingham University Symphony Orchestra on the 14th June at Halesowen (nr. Birmingham). I will be getting it recorded and so if you check back in about 3 weeks i'll have posted it up (I hope) for free download and comments.

Also, within the next few weeks i'll be posting some tracks from the University Big Band (in which I play lead trumpet). We recorded a CD last term and apparently it's almost ready. So watch this space for FREE TRUMPET MUSIC!

Alison Balsom Photo Gallery

I've just found this great site that has loads of pictures of hot trumpet player Alison Balsom. It has at least 30 pictures all available in different sizes. Check it out here - you know you want to!

Monday, May 15, 2006

BBC Young Musician Finals

Just a quick note to remind you that the final of the BBC Young Musician of the Year award 2006 will be shown on BBC 2 on the 20th May at 5.20pm. In addition to this the semi-final stages are being televised this week on BBC 4. I think there's still some trumpet guy left in it (he's the principal of the NYO) and he's playing the Tomasi Trumpet Concerto so it will be worth watching!

For more info on the competition visit the BBC's website here.

Are we risking having a stroke?

New evidence has been uncovered which suggests that playing the trumpet may put you at a higher risk of having a stroke. Research by scientists in Germany has discovered cases where people suffered damage to blood vessels to the brain by playing an instrument, and as the trumpet is one of the more demanding wind instruments they feel players may in danger.

But wait, don't panic (Mr Mainwaring!)!!! Don't throw out your beloved horn never to play it again. The scientists have also stated that in most of the cases studied, they had identified the individual had a predisposition to stroke. Oh right so now you tell us! Check out the article here.

Happy 80th Miles!

I'm not sure whether anyone's noticed but on May 26th it's the 80th anniversary of the birth of jazz trumpet legend Miles Davis (1926-1991) . I remember when i first heard Miles i didn't really understand his music - allIi wanted was crazy pyrotechnics. But onceIi got over all thatIi really began to appreciate what Miles does when he plays.

Miles Davis is probably one of the few trumpet players ever who could make the trumpet sound like an extension of their voice (the only otherIi know is Louis Armstrong). There is no-one quite like him and he changed the face of jazz forever.

If you wanna learn more about the man and his music try visiting www.miles-davis.com or check out the Wikipedia article here.

Airmen of Note complete audio archive

For some of you the 'Airmen of Note' will be well known, for others less so. The Airmen of Note are the premier jazz ensemble of the United States Air Force. It was created in 1950 to carry on the style of Glenn Miller's Army Air Corps dance band, but over the years has remained on musical course to continually challenge the frontiers of contemporary big band jazz.

This post is to draw attention to the recently launched Airmen of Note audio archive. The site aims to bring the sound of this great ensemble to the wider world, with 35 complete recordings that spanning the last 45 years of the band. It includes almost everything the Airmen of Note have ever recorded all available to download FOR FREE!

So check it out - click here.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Birmingham Cornetts and Sackbuts - Sacrae Symphoniae

Ok, so it's not strictly trumpet related, but i thought i'd plug an young up-and-coming British cornett and sackbut ensemble called Sacrae Symphoniae.

The group is based in Birmingham (UK), and aim to provide well-researched, historically informed performances of pre-18th century music. Their next performance is this coming Friday (19th May) at 6:00pm in the Upper Cloister Hall at Birmingham Oratory. Tickets for this concert are £5/3 and will be availablee on the door.

It's definitelyy worth a look if you're interested in any kind of early music, or if you just fancy a change from Mahler or Beethoven. For more information, visit the groups website http://www.sacraesymphoniae.co.uk/.

PS: if you don't know what a cornett and sackbutt are, then click here to learn more.

More Alison!

Ok, ok, i know i post loads of stuff about Alison Balsom. But you don't mind, right? I've just found her website. It's quite good and includes:
  • news
  • up-and-coming concerts
  • a discography
  • a biography
  • and a small picture gallery

So why not check it out here.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Are you a webmaster? - link me

Just a quick note. If you are a webmaster or own a website or blog then please link to my site. I will reciprocate by adding a link to your site.

If you want me to add a link to your site leave a comment on this posting! Many thanks

Dave - webmaster

Trumpet Topics - a great resource

I've just discovered this great page called 'Trumpet Topics'. It was put together by a man named Bryan Goff, who seems to have collected a lot of information on trumpet method and technique. In his own words:

"Topics is a page linked to mini-essays on various aspects of improving one's skills on the trumpet. The purpose is to offer "Tips" which I would like to share with others who, like myself, are lifelong students and lovers of the trumpet."

I really would recommend this site for a visit. It has loads and loads of exercises and drills, as well as lots of tips and advice - and best of all it's totally FREE! So check it out here.

PS: it's such a good resource i'm going to add it to my "Trumpet Links" section

Virtual Trumpet - play trumpet on your computer!

Ever feel fed up listening to those amazing pros who can play all night and still hit a Double-C at the end of the gig? Ever wish you could do that? Well now you can with the VIRTUAL TRUMPET

This is an downloadable piece of software which allows you to play a trumpet on your computer. Ok so obviously its not perfect, but you can "valve" through the entire range of the instrument (even false fingerings) and just mess about without getting tired! There's even a harmon mute setting, for those moody Miles Davis style solos.

So why not check it out by clicking here.

Alison saves the day at Classical Brits

The Classical Brit awards were hosted on the 4th of May at the Royal Albert Hall. Unfortunately, the awards didn't live up to their name as foreigners swept almost all of the awards. Luckily for us Brits however, a young trumpeter helped to save the day. Twenty-seven year old Alison Balsom (left), won the Young British Classical Performer prize, beating violinist Nicola Benedetti, who became the BBC Young Musician of the Year in 2004. Alison was awarded the prize for her impressive interpretation of Bach's work on her latest album Bach: Works for Trumpet, which I suspect has a clever double meaning in it's title (what do you think?). Another British winner was the Welsh mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins, who won Album of the Year for the second year in succession.

The show has already been televised on Sunday 7th May. However, if you missed it don't worry because it's due to be repeated on ITV 1, Sunday 14th May, at 11pm.

For more info, check out:-

Thursday, May 11, 2006

TAFN -- Trumpet Players' International Network

I've just found this new site. It's called TPIN (Trumpet Players' International Network). It's housed at Oklahoma City University, and aims to be an electronic mailing list community of trumpet players. You can communicate with trumpet players all over the world at any time day or night! All kinds of "trumpet people" are represented on the network, and topics of discussions range from pedagogy to improvisation.

I haven't tried it yet (and as I have exams I won't be able to for a while), but i'll let you know when I do. If you have used this site before leave a comment and let me know!

Here's the site: http://www.tpin.org/

Jeff Helgesen's Jazz Trumpet Transcription

For anyone interested in finding good transcription of jazz trumpet solos, this is a great page. It includes:-
  • links to great transcriptions,
  • selected biographical information,
  • a list of recordings,
  • links to other sources of information on the web,
  • and links to purchase the albums mentioned.

It really is worth a look. Check it out here.

Amy Horvey - contemporary trumpeter

This is trumpeter Amy Horvey. Amy has worked internationally with a wide range of performance projects specializing in cutting-edge contemporary music. She currently plays trumpet in the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra and works as a trumpet instructor at Lakehead University. From April to October Amy is touring Canada with a program of new music for solo trumpet. To find out more visit her blog site here.