April 2015

DSCN3360-001         John F. Stratton “OTS” saxhorn in Eb

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Spring is considered a time of re-birth and positive change. Are you working on fundamental things in your playing to achieve your goals?

1.) Practice

Looking for your “Best Sound”? It is a journey that takes time, thoughtfulness and perseverance. Each day as you begin your warm-up you need to engage your mind in the process. The foundation of your sound comes from you doing your listening homework. Have a sound image in mind as a role model. You can create a composite sound from many diverse listening sources. That model is what you compare to your present sound as you try to develop the sound of your inner musician. The process starts with one note played, an evaluation against your model and then small adjustment after small adjustment. Play two notes and chose the better one. Doing it over and over again will direct you towards your achieving a “Best Sound” reality. I know it sounds too simple to work, but it can work. Give it a real try. Start with an “F” major scale. Work to have the best “F” ever. Then play that “F” and add a “G”. Make them both the same great quality. Now keep checking back to your model sound and add notes as they match up. Should the “Best Sound” go away, go back and start all over again. Keep trying and you will be rewarded with an awesome “Best Sound”.

Two additional perspectives that you may want to consider as you search for your “BEST SOUND”

1.William Vacchiano talks about proper use of vibrato


For years, I have had my listening models in place. They are:

Gilbert D. Johnson (former principal trumpet Philadelphia Orchestra)

A Festival of Carols in Brass


Thomas Stevens (former principal trumpet Los Angeles Philharmonic)

Hovhaness: Avak the Healer


  1. Håkan Hardenberger master class: How To Anticipate Pitch and Breathe


2.) Listening

Here are two beautiful examples to internalize and increase you musicianship and sound profile.

Håkan Hardenberger – Ennio Morricone – Gabriel’s Oboe


Ryan Anthony – Ennio Morricone- Gabriel’s Oboe



3.) Of Interest





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New CD

Eric Berlin & Richard Kelley, trumpets-

Steven Paulus Concerto for Two Trumpets

MSR Classic: Fantastique MS 1506


Concerto for Two Trumpets is a lovely new work featuring two trumpets with versions for both band and orchestra written by Stephen Paulus. This outstanding work was nominated for a Grammy in 2014. Get past the old standards- try something new and dazzling! A wonderful premiere recording, several people just said “wow” when they heard it playing at my house and then stopped everything to listen to this fine performance.

Excerpts (Paulus)



Something else to consider- special on YouTube:

Eric Aubier from his new CD (see last month- OF INTEREST)

“Concerto Piccolo over B-A-C-H: I. Preciso” by Orchestre des Pays de Savoie, Nicolas Chalvin, Eric Aubier, Roustem Saïtkoulov,


Thomas Stevens- William Vacchiano (thanks! John Charles Thomas)

American trumpeters excel because they practice and work hard- but also because there have been wonderful teachers helping each generation of trumpet players to be better yet. Among those great teachers of the past is William Vacchiano. This is a series of conversations by Thomas Stevens, former principal trumpet of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and a Vacchiano student. These conversations were brought to my attention by my colleague in the Chestnut Brass Company, John Charles Thomas. Give it a good listening and understand some of your history as an American trumpet player.

Conversation #1


Conversation #2


Conversations #3- 7 also exist- keep listening>

4.) Re-Visit

Sometimes it is helpful to remember the hows and whys you play the trumpet. Yes – I practiced, but my teachers made a big difference and all the people I have gotten to play with or listen to have left a mark too! One of my main influences was Mr. James F. Burke, cornet soloist extraordinaire. See a tribute page, here him play, and listen to him give you some hints to help your playing.

CD-   The Magic Trumpet, James F. Burke, cornet

Website- A tribute page honoring Mr. Burke


The Magic Trumpet- performed by Mr. Burke – the piece and a short lesson on how to approach playing the piece. It reminds me of my many Saturday morning lesson in Bayshore, NY. and how very lucky I was to have him as my teacher!