100 reasons to be grateful

This is the 100th post on Trumpet Journey. As part of my Trumpet Happiness project, I’d like to shout out 100 things I’m grateful for. I’m not sure why, but being thankful helps me feel happier. 

I’m grateful today for:

  1. A cat that keeps company with me during my 5:00 a.m. warm-ups
  2. Parents who encouraged me and loved me
  3. Trumpet teachers

    Michael Johnson, trumpet teacher at the University of Alabama from 1971 to 2003.

  4. A teacher who enjoyed playing duets with me
  5. A trumpet teacher who knew all about how to play first trumpet in a major symphony orchestra
  6. A trumpet teacher who said funny, quotable things
  7. Band directors who encouraged me
  8. My first orchestra job which opened up a world of strings
  9. My first listen to Richard Strauss’s tone poems on a record I checked out from my public library in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I was slack-jawed.
  10. A mother who insisted that whatever I did, I had to have lessons
  11. A dad who recommended that I do what I love 
  12. A brother who let me have his old trumpet
  13. Same brother, who taught me how to play my first note
  14. Same brother, who taught me how to free buzz (a little incorrectly, but, still, pretty good)
  15. A bugle, given to me for a Christmas gift when I was probably 10
  16. A shameless inclination to show off when I was young
  17. An unquenchable desire to learn music from my very first memories
  18. A great piano that I could learn how to play on
  19. A grandmother and great aunt who would play piano a lot
  20. A trumpet teacher who inspired
  21. An inquisitive personality
  22. The U.S. Navy Band Brass Quartet

    U.S. Navy Band Brass Quartet performing National Anthem at Orioles Baseball Game


     
  23. A great junior high school band director 
  24. A great junior high school jazz band
  25. A diverse high school marching band
  26. Good competition at all levels
  27. Mentors
  28. A chance to study with two legendary orchestral players
  29. A chance to study with a legendary baroque trumpet soloist
  30. Two summers at National Repertory Orchestra, which gave me so much experience
  31. A long drive to Colorado on my own, on the back roads, where I got a chance to jam with a blue grass fiddler
  32. A principal trumpet job
  33. The U.S. Navy Band
  34. The Navy Band for letting me audition when there wasn’t an audition
  35. Listening to the Cleveland Orchestra every weekend
  36. The opportunity to study in The Netherlands
  37. The nearly four year long honey moon in Europe
  38. Galicia, Spain
  39. Sitting next to a trumpeter who had perfect pitch
  40. All of those thousands of little conversations trumpeters have during rehearsal
  41. All of those funny conversations waiting for a hearse to show up
  42. The gorgeous beauty of Arlington Cemetery
  43. A family who understood my insane practice schedule
  44. In-laws who understood my insane practice needs
  45. The right woman
  46. An intelligent woman–who is willing to proof my writing
  47. Poetry
  48. Navy medicine
  49. Two boys
  50. Two boys who challenge me every day 
  51. Two boys with big hearts
  52. Two boys with big ears
  53. Two boys with different personalities
  54. A friend who spent his time helping me learn how to play jazz
  55. Friends who have listened to me talk about my crazy ideas
  56. A terrible gig at the Kennedy Center that turned out to be my first commission
  57. A music contractor who lived around the corner from me who helped me get my first gigs in Washington
  58. The late J. Reilly Lewis
  59. Coffee
  60. The Navy Band “family”
  61. My lovely, old house–big enough for my family, close enough to work
  62. A housing bubble that helped me slide right into my house
  63. Practice mutes
  64. Trumpeters of the past who took the time to write methods, etudes and solos

    Jean-Baptiste Arban

  65. The baroque trumpet
  66. The cornetto
  67. The cornet (19th-century)
  68. The cornopean

    Cornopean  

  69. Leaving a party just to check out the Washington Cornett and Sackbutt Ensemble
  70. The Washington Cornett and Sackbutt Ensemble
  71. Long friendships from playing Renaissance music
  72. Running when I was young, walking now
  73. Learning how to keep track of my finances
  74. A friend who has refused to join Facebook, but who sends me emails all the time
  75. Ideas that have come to me when I am bored
  76. Melodies that have come to me out of the blue
  77. A recording device to capture ideas quickly
  78. Trumpeters willing to share their time, advice and stories on this blog
  79. Double record albums with artwork and information about the music and artists
  80. My first record player

    I loved my first record player.

  81. My parents record collection
  82. Duolingo
  83. Movie music
  84. People who have volunteered their time to help me
  85. Those hour long lessons which turned into two hours
  86. The late night trumpet hangs
  87. Suzuki piano accompaniments I got to play
  88. Bach. Oh my God, Bach. 
  89. Haydn, who deigned to write a for the trumpet
  90. Italian trumpeters who redefined the harmonic structure of music because of the limitations of their instruments
  91. Jazz trumpeters who redefined the direction of music
  92. An old professor who let me send Finale files to him across the country so he could give me advice
  93. Invitations to perform which seem to come out of nowhere
  94. Young Suzuki students who are just wonderful
  95. Patient and resourceful Suzuki teachers I have observed
  96. A Swedish woman who decided to start up Suzuki trumpet 
  97. A patient and thorough recording engineer
  98. A church choir that has taught me a little about singing and the choir experience
  99. A singer who was willing to re-text and offer solutions to my untutored vocal writing
  100. Readers from all over the world

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George Mason University Trumpet Day

As a member of the trumpet faculty at George Mason University, I am proud to announce our “GMU Trumpet Day,” which will take place on Sunday, November 12, 2017. 

All trumpeters are invited to come and the event is free, but please register so we can plan. You can register here.

There will be master classes, solo performances, ensemble performances, and coaching sessions from GMU trumpet faculty members: Dr. Dennis Edelbrock, Dr. Kevin Gebo, Prof. Kenny Rittenhouse, and myself, Stanley Curtis. I will be playing one of my new compositions, so I hope to see you there!

Here is poster which explains it all!

 

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Happy birthday, and the importance of Story, Song and Support

It all started three years ago with a little post about, well, starting this website. And now Trumpet Journey has grown to more than 90 published posts about all kinds of trumpet-related things. There have been many interviews, but also “Top Ten Lists.” There have been posts about jazz, renaissance and baroque music, orchestral playing, the jobs market, and even language learning. 

Of the 117,000 people who have visited Trumpet Journey, I am really happy to receive the occasional comment or question. Especially from places like The Netherlands or Italy. Or even India! (sorry, India, I haven’t gotten around to answering you, yet). 

15th-century manuscript with a bearded figure blowing a trumpet

15th-century manuscript with a bearded figure blowing a trumpet

I haven’t posted much of my own writing in a while, because I have been doing so many interviews. So, I’d like to shake off the dust and talk about the three “S”s. These are what I think are the three key elements that each great trumpet player has: Story, Song, and Support

Each of us has a unique story. That story may be an actual account of some event, or even the story of our life. But we also have our own stories that we keep coming back to, such as “beauty is great,” or “old things are cool” or “technology is what I’m about.” These are our thematic points that our choices point to. Choices about repertoire, style, equipment, venues, and even the clothes we wear when we perform can help create our own story and the story that each generation needs to hear. Many players perform to a story that is going on inside their heads. As listeners, we can sense that something dramatic is happening. 

Trumpeters like Jean-Francois Madeuf, Doc Severinson, and Philip Smith seem to have a really strong story. Their playing seems to spring effortlessly from their personal story. 

Authenticity (played on an authentic natural baroque trumpet–very rarely heard):

Showmanship–notice how Doc adjusts his story to suit the Lawrence Welk Show audience:

And this story telling in the orchestral realm. I remember hearing Philip Smith talking about the way he thought about this opening excerpt from Mahler’s Fifth Symphony. He said he pictured Death (as the shrouded skeleton) reaching out from a dark fog. Closer and closer he comes, until you see his grotesqueness clearly. Sound quality is not quite perfect in this example.

 

Then there is the song. This is how we play what we play. This song can be sung with heart-on-the-sleeve romanticism, laser-beam clarity, or rhetorical interpretation. This is our personal song we sing on the trumpet when we play. Each of our voices are different–and they should be. Our song is the meeting place of our phrasing, our interpretation, our experience and, of course, our tone. I learned a beautiful lesson about tone from a former colleague of mine, the great euphonium player named Roger Behrend. He said it helps him to think about tone in terms of color, texture and taste. So, for instance, if you are thinking about maroon, velvet and chocolate, you get an especially luxurious sound. Or, perhaps you’re thinking golden, rough and with the taste of jambalaya, like I do, when I hear this trumpeter:

Trumpeters that have a great sense of song are many, but for me, some of the most astounding “trumpet singers” have been, besides Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, and Maurice André. 

I found this unusual example of Maurice André playing the Hindemith “Trumpet Sonate.” While this is not normal repertoire for André, nor is it a standard interpretation of the renowned German composer’s piece, it so well shows André’s glowing song-making style.

 

But to keep the song going, which keeps the story fresh, we all need the support of our technique, our fundamentals, our use of air, and our “chops.” For most of us, this comes down to consistent, mindful practice over many years. We are also looking for the right equipment to help us get there. Equipment and practice routines seem to be the subjects of most the trumpet chatter out there on the web and in studios. We all want to be able to play better, faster and higher. I know I do. But I think we all understand the limitations of mouthpieces, technique and high notes without a great singing style. Or without a musical story to tell. Let’s let support be what it is: help for a greater cause. Nevertheless, there are some great examples of technique and equipment.

Wynton Marsalis’ amazing technique and unique equipment do not get in the way of his song or story.

Malcolm McNab is a paragon of fundamentals, and he spins them into the most amazing recordings.

And, or course, there are the high note players like Arturo Sandoval and the late, great Maynard Ferguson. 

Talk about support!!! 

I think all of these examples show exceptional Story, Song and Support, and hopefully will give us some inspiration to communicate with our audiences, too.

In a very meaningful way, Trumpet Journey has been one of my trumpet stories that I have been able to tell over the last three years. 

 

 

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Back from a Long Vacation

First performance of "Night Passages," my concerto for trumpet and orchestra

Premier performance of “Night Passages,” my for trumpet and orchestra (February 9, 2014; photo by Angela Anderson)

Except for four gratifying interviews with some great trumpeters (Tine Thing Helseth, Chris Sala, C.J. Camerieri, and Brant Tilds), I haven’t posted on Trumpet Journey since September of 2013. I did remain busy, however. I composed and performed a concerto for trumpet (doubling on flugelhorn and piccolo trumpet) and orchestra.

 

Bach historian Christoff Wolff and me after a Washington Bach Consort concert at Kenyon College

Bach historian and me after a Washington Bach Consort concert at Kenyon College

 

 

 

 

The Natural Trumpet Making Workshop (with teachers Dr. Robert Barclay and Richard Seraphinoff, standing)

The (with teachers Dr. Robert Barclay and Richard Seraphinoff, standing)

 

 

I also played a lot of baroque trumpet and cornetto, and did things like visiting the Natural Trumpet Making Workshop and the organ making workshop of Taylor and Boody.

George Taylor demonstrating making an organ pipe at the Taylor and Boody workshop in Staunton, Virginia

George Taylor demonstrating making an organ pipe at the workshop in Staunton, Virginia

 

 

 

But my lack of new posts hasn’t stopped readers from visiting my blog. Since September, 2013, there have been more than 46,000 new visitors logging on the Trumpet Journey site. Previously, I had only 16,000 visitors for the first year of Trumpet Journey’s existence. That’s a huge increase! Thanks, thanks, thanks!

 

In the next year or so, I hope to keep my focus on getting and flourishing in trumpet jobs. I will continue to publish my popular but controversial Top 10 lists. Of course, there will be more interviews. And I will finish publishing my dissertation. In addition, I hope to publish some of my compositions on Trumpet Journey (for free of course!). More interviews, more practice tips, more history, more baroque trumpet, cornett, more pleas for authenticity, and some silliness are to come.

Happy Birthday to “Trumpet Journey!”

(apologies to the great Louis Armstrong!)

(apologies to the great Louis Armstrong!)

Trumpet Journey is now one year old!!!!

Both it, and I, have done some growing in that year. On August 2, I made a commitment to post an article everyday until this birthday. I almost made it (but there are a few days missing).

I have reached out to thousands more since that article. In total this past year, nearly 16,000 unique visitors have come to my blog to find out something new about the trumpet. Here’s a map and a top-twenty list of the visitors, by country.

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 6.06.24 AMGlobal Map of visitors to Trumpet Journey

 

 

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 6.05.13 AMAll Visitors to Trumpet Journey by country, top twenty

By far, the most popular article has been by satirical take on How not to get a trumpet job, which was written at about 1:00 am on September 1 and viewed by around 12,000 visitors. I didn’t have a good image to go with the article, so I just drew the donkey playing the trumpet myself. Also popular were a report I did with trumpet job numbers and trumpet degrees and statistics on studying the trumpet at institutions of higher learning. I was really proud to be able to report these statistics, because it now means that trumpeters wanting to get a performing job have just a little better idea how difficult it is to get one. This hopefully will lead to better job preparation and/or creative entrepreneurship as a trumpeter.

Also popular were my top ten list of jazz players today and my plea for baroque trumpet playing without the use of fingerholes. There were two posts updating the research done on a 1995 ITG Journal article about early cornopean literature which lead to my theory that one of the pieces looked at may have been actually composed by Wagner. I will probably work to get this new research published in the ITG Journal soon.

Of course I am thrilled at the people who come to read my Trumpet Building Blocks PDFs to get practice ideas. Also popular is my Trumpet History Timeline.

Two big projects that I hope to get going in the next year. One is an enlargement of my “This Day in Trumpet History”. This is a little widget that you will sometimes see on my sidebar if there is an entry for that calendar day. It has little tidbits of trumpet history, especially birthdays and death anniversaries. I hope to add more dates to this for a little better sense of our trumpet heritage.

The other really big news is that I have been working with some college students on a new trumpet literature database that will eventually go online. It may not be able to go on the Trumpet Journey site (compatibility with WordPress may be an issue), but it will be a trumpet literature tool that is accessible and “contributable” by anyone with an internet connection. More on this later.

I am looking forward to many new interviews with interesting trumpeters. In November, I will publish a fantastic interview with Latin jazz specialist Brant Tilds, an American who now lives in Great Britain. I hope that reading about his unique career path will inspire many.

I will continue my serialization of my dissertation on Monteverdi’s Symbolic Use of the Cornett, which I think will take me well into October. I just love that any interested scholars will be able to access this in the future.

Thanks for reading. Here’s to another year. Keep journeying.

 

 

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