October 2017









What will you do to get good…


For most players playing in the upper register with a beautiful sound requires careful study and practice. In part, I believe many carry the baggage of having been younger players that wanted results fast and didn’t take enough time to develop good habits.

What good habits?

  • Listen for your “Best Sound”
  • Control of the air is important
  • Use only enough pressure to get a seal on your embouchure

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Listening for you “Best Sound” is the crucial first step. Whether you read Herbert L. Clarke’s instructions in his Technical Studies for the Cornet or Walter Smith’s in Top Tones for the Trumpeter; you should be thinking a soft dynamic and a sound that is NOT strained. I believe if you play two notes you can then begin the process of “Best Sound” by choosing which one of the sounds you prefer. The next notes should reflect your thought process; and it should begin the first time you play the trumpet each day. All of your time practicing or performing should be about producing the “Best Sound” you can do at that moment.

Next is Control of Air. Steady air is important for the quality of sound and support (increasing air flow) as you ascend a scale or arpeggio. As you play higher you need to relax and think “AH” like when you yawn. Think open round sound.

We all will press too much when at the last we need to get that note and we are running out of notes. The amount of pressure you use should only be the amount needed to get the job done. You need to have firm corners, holding the needed tension. The control of lips inside the mouthpiece, should be as if you say the word “would”- muscles going toward the center of the aperture. Increase the amount of slow air going into the instrument. The goal is not to be loud, but using enough air to help in producing a full round sound.

Here is an exercise from my Daily Routines for the Student Trumpet Player.












Start softly and end softly so as to keep the embouchure/lips relaxed. The fermata note is “full” sounding, not loud. This is a habit to be develop. Sound, air and control, while focusing on thinking of every exercise as musically as possible. Always tell a good story, not just play some more notes.

Start the exercise with 2nd line “G” and continue up by half steps. Stop when the sound is no longer effortless and beautiful. If you can play pedal tones, play the arpeggio down another octave to help to relax your lip muscles.

** For those of you that play piccolo trumpet, I also do this exercise on my piccolo trumpet. A loud full note would not be what I would use for a solo or in a Bach cantata; but in an orchestra or large brass ensemble I would be producing the biggest sound I could.


Pietro Baldassare an Italian composer of the 17th century wrote Concerto #1 in F

for cornetto. It is more commonly heard today performed on trumpet. Here are some wonderful performances to compare and learn from.


Ed Carrol, trumpet


Ludwig Guttler, trumpet


Guy Touvron, trumpet


Joachim Schafer, trumpet



Of Interest

Phil Cobb, Cornet- Jubilance by W. Himes




Maurice Andre, trumpet Schickhardt


William Campbell, trumpet Day-tude Goin’ for Gold by James Stephenson




Vicente Freijeiro, trumpet   Tomasi Concerto


Uan Rasey, trumpet “Chinatown” soundtrack (1974)





The Bellstedt Challenges continues…

The directions for Number 3 are “Be sure to play the ‘artificially’ fingered notes in tune with the others.” Enharmonic fingerings can be a challenge for both pitch and timbre. Adjustments with slides will be necessary, so maintenance of your instrument is important as always. Try to focus on the difference between pitch and timbre. A brighter sound is not the same as sharp, though the note may also be sharp. For some the tempo may also be an issue as many combinations of alternate fingerings use the third finger. As for the tempo, Moderato (quarter note equals 120) is good for most, but “eventually Allegro quarter note equals 144” can be an eye opener!


Results from working on Number 4

I wish I could say that “I can play number 4 perfectly and at the tempo marked”; but I really cannot play it like I would like or should. I found this study to be the hardest yet. This will take re-working some of my fundamentals in a big way.

The Allegro giusto really is about playing octaves. This part of the study I can do.

Allegro Giusto








When the Piu mosso gets going my entanglement begins. The tempo of quarter note equals 152 pushes my single tonguing to the edge. For a measure or two, I can play that tempo, but for eight measures I fall short. The articulation pattern slows me down too. The musical line is distorted if one clips short the second note of the slur. A smooth melodic line helps to create a melody or cadenza like display through the use of technique.



Piu Mosso- Triplet section









The dynamic given for the last three lines is an implied piano. A good sound, clear articulation and good intonation will be enhanced by lighter tonguing and a softer dynamic. The speed is indeed fast. Alternate fingerings can be an aid in getting the tempo but there is a trade-off in intonation, the clarity of pitch, and accuracy.

Piu Mosso – sixteenth note section









If it was only single tongued triplets things would be fine, though the articulation pattern slows the tempo when I try to play it. When the closing three lines start to become sixteenth notes and begin to include alternate fingerings, playing in tune or accurately at that tempo leaves me in the dust. I will need to get my tonguing to be either a very fast single or a clean double tonguing on the arpeggios.

I will spend the time to get this right, just as the author did. I know it must be possible, so my approach needs to be refined and maybe altered somewhat so as to produce different results.