Trumpet Happiness, month…five-ish

I start this post out with an apology for my absence for the last three months. I had set out back in December of 2017 with the goal of blogging daily about “Trumpet Happiness.” But fatigue set in. My Trumpet Happiness project was to go for about a year (or a little more), with each month getting me closer to my goals for being a happier trumpeter. Along the way, I stopped. I needed a break. But on balance, I had to remember my Trumpet Commandments. Number 7 was: Choose the more imaginative or enjoyable way, when possible. I needed to step back and really incorporate some of the lessons I had been learning. I needed to take a fresh look on the whole process.

For most of March, and all of April and May, I have continued do things like:

  1. Prioritize sleep (mainly by eliminating electronic distractions and screen time right before bed).
  2. Focus on fitness. I have lost a notable amount of weight, become stronger, more flexible, and I have accomplished something that I haven’t seen in a long time: being able to jog for 30 minutes. The one setback in this area has been dealing with tendinitis in my left forearm (“tennis elbow”), and holding the trumpet can aggravate this a little. I’ll spend some time later in June looking into this challenge.
  3. My French study has developed nicely to the point that I recently was able to hold some brief conversations with a French acquaintance (at the ITG Conference).
  4.  I have been very consistent in meditation, but I have refined a morning mental ritual, which includes meditation. I will share this mental exercise in a later post, because I think it might benefit a lot of trumpeters.

As I’m perched at the beginning of June, I’m hoping to continue my journey and share it with you. Things like attending the 2018 ITG Convention, some wonderful performances, trumpet practice ideas and future goals.


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Black History Month: a Tudor African trumpeter

John Blanke, a successful black trumpeter under Henry VII and VII

February is Black History Month, and I wanted to feature black trumpeters this month. Black trumpeters are particularly under-represented in bands and orchestras, so I would like to start with a historic African trumpeter, who was successful in Tudor England.

Henry VII and VIII employed a black trumpeter named John Blanke. The speculation is that he came to England as one of the African attendants of Catherine of Aragon in 1501. He was paid 20 shillings a month and successfully petitioned Henry VIII for a raise with a confidently-penned letter. Henry VIII even sent John a wedding present when he later married.

Black trumpeters and drummers are recorded in other cities of the time. For instance, there was a black trumpeter on the royal ship Barcha in Naples in 1470, and a black trumpeter recorded as galley slave of Cosimo de’ Medici in 1555.



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