A light hearted, satirical approach to the instrument that we both love and hate simultaneously. At trumpetastic.com you will find all sorts of trumpet related news, articles, product reviews, events, blatant advertising and some completely useless stuff that will make you laugh or curse, depending on your take on playing the trumpet.
Category: Trumpet exercises and technique
New and old ways to tie yourself up in knots with the trumpet from range development to faster fingers.
This is Arban exercise number 20 in semiquavers with a backing track play-along to help improve your trumpet and cornet playing. This will help your production, intonation, endurance, range and sound. This is the chop-buster version, don’t panic it won’t bust your chops! It repeats and gets faster and will build your endurance quickly. Make sure you get lots of rest and do not play all of this in one go if it is too much.
Now try Chop Buster 2, this one repeats and goes higher. This exercise will build endurance and range quickly. Make sure you get lots of rest too.
At trumpetastic.com, we receive many requests from our young trumpet players for the notes and fingerings of various keys and scales. Our very own Ashley Buxton has kindly put together this excellent resource which should help answer many of these questions. You can download the pdf version and there is also a photo version here.
If you haven’t visited Nick Drozdoff’s blog yet, you really must. Born out of decades of experience as a professional trumpet player, notably with the Maynard Ferguson Band, Nick’s insights and teachings are second to none.
Take a moment to read this fantastic article by Nick:
Chicago area trumpeter and Maynard Ferguson Orchestra alum, Nick Drozdoff, has been a fixture in Chicago’s jobbing arena for many years since he left Maynard Ferguson’s band in 1981.
After many years running his own contracting business and completing his masters in classical trumpet, he began leading a double life in 1991 when he took on a “day gig” as a high school physics teacher. Drozdoff has a B.S. in Electrical Engineering, allowing him to easily slip into a high school physics class. Drozdoff taught physics and APC physics at Winnetka’s New Trier High School.
After leading a double career existence, garnering awards as a high school science teacher and developing endorsement deals as a jazz trumpeter at night, Drozdoff recently retired from his beloved day job to get back to his passion of music exclusively. Now he leads a double life by virtue of geography, with a home in Door County, Wisconsin and in the Northern Suburbs of Chicago. He regularly performs in both locations as he lives equal time in both places, depending on his performance and lecture/masterclass schedule.
Once in while, not terribly often, a trumpet player is born with a brain. One such player is Aussie commercial and jazz artist Greg Spence. I met Greg a few years back on one of his legendary Mystery to Mastery tours and was immediately struck by not only his awesome playing but also his ability to analyse and reflect on what it is we are trying to do with this 3 foot length of pipe.
I urge you to get involved with Mystery to Mastery and listen to what Greg has to say. Your playing will improve, period.
WHAT IS MTM? Mystery to Mastery (MTM) is the most modern, easy to use and logical approach to trumpet playing available. MTM offers you Step-By-Step troubleshooting advice.
MTM is for people who love the trumpet and want it to be easy.
A ground breaking and top selling method by Dancing with the Stars (OZ) lead trumpeter, Greg Spence.
Whether you want to play as a hobby or as a professional, MTM is here to help beginners to get off to the best start, and to help players of all standards troubleshoot limitations.
“What makes your book so incredibly rich is that it’s a collection of basic, gradual and pragmatic skills which can be made as complicated as one pleases. So regardless of one’s level (beginner or advanced) it is an unlimited recourse of training. I should have known it 40 years earlier!” Andre
“The Mystery to Mastery Method taught me how to go beyond the playing plateau that most players hit. Understanding how the body and the instrument work answered many questions other regular methods could not.
The Step-By-Step layout and gradual approach allows players of all styles and standards to recognise and overcome technical flaws. An absolute must for all brass players!”.
Greg with Wayne Bergeron at Melbourne International Brass Festival
From performances at Carnegie Hall with the Adelaide Symphony to backing Herbie Hancock with the Queensland Symphony and playing alongside Tim Minchin with the Western Australian Symphony to grooving with Olivia Newton John at the Sydney Opera House with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, add 15 seasons as lead trumpet for Australia’s Dancing With The Stars…
YAMAHA ARTIST and Dancing With The Stars/Strictly Come Dancing (Australia) trumpeter GREG SPENCE. Greg is a renowned clinician and freelance studio trumpeter. His impressive industry experience in performance and education places him at the forefront of modern trumpet teaching. Whether you are a complete beginner, advanced player or teacher looking to advance your skills, Greg’s insightful lessons, endorsed by world class players, will inspire and extend you in all aspects of trumpet playing and teaching.
There are innate traps that only the lucky few avoid when beginning their trumpet playing. Overblowing and lip pinching are the primary problems I see in 99% of my students. It is very easy to recognise these issues having done them myself for so many years.
Over the last 25 years, I have researched many methods and approaches for improving on the trumpet. Being self taught originally, I have fallen into most of the many traps that the trumpet can present you with.
I am inspired by my idols Maynard Ferguson, Raphael Mendez, Bobby Shew, Doc Severensen, James Morrison, Bill Chase, Lee Morgan, Maurice Andre and the likes.
I have dedicated my life to this wonderful instrument and in doing so have learnt amazing information from world renowned teachers such as James Stamp, Claude Gordon, Carmine Caruso, Dr Charles Colin, Max Schlossberg, Jerome Callet, Bill Adam, Arnold Jacobs and Jean Baptiste Arban. Although these methods are quite different in their approach, they all have an underlying message that has helped me to progress my playing way beyond my expectations and this same information will undoubtedly help you in your quest for trumpet mastery.
Above that, I dedicate this method book to Maynard Ferguson, Bobby Shew, Roger Ingram, Allan Vizzutti, Wayne Bergeron, Charlie Davis, Arturo Sandoval, Chuck Findlay, Gary Grant and Lew Solloff, all of whom I have had the pleasure of meeting personally and talking trumpet with. I have also been lucky enough to have had lessons with or been to masterclasses and workshops by all of the above mentioned Superstars.
The aim when writing these books was to compile and explain great information in the clearest, most concise way for players of all standards, then to combine basic to advanced exercises and to demonstrate them on CD. That is the real key to the success of this book – a step by step guide to help you understand, to hear and to copy!
I am very proud to have received brilliant feedback from players from all over the world. It has certainly made the hundreds if not thousands of hours that I have put into practise and research over the years very worthwhile.
Please enjoy the book and I am sure you will find plenty of information at this site to keep you motivated on your lifelong trumpet journey.
The Stratos Brass Embouchure Training System is an adjustable attachment for all brass instruments designed to improve your embouchure. The Stratos Embouchure System helps to reduce mouthpiece pressure by counteracting the natural urge to pull the instrument closer to your face. This will directly improve your range, power, tone, stamina and overall playing. The Stratos System is handcrafted in the UK from high-quality aviation grade polished aluminium and simply attaches to the leadpipe of any brass instrument.
Power Without Pressure
The Stratos Brass Embouchure Training System is a high-quality practice aid which reduces mouthpiece pressure and ensures a good jaw position. Excessive mouthpiece pressure restricts the flow of blood to the lips which results in reduced stamina. This is because the muscles at the sides of the lips are hardly being used and these muscles determine lip tension. The Stratos System encourages a balanced “floating” jaw position by reducing mouthpiece pressure and ensures the correct muscles are used. By using the Stratos System to encourage the correct position, musicians will develop an even tone throughout the entire range of their instrument.
The Stratos Embouchure System is incredibly versatile and can fit onto the leadpipe of any brass instrument. The system is easily adjustable to ensure the sprung cushioned cup sits comfortably against the musician. The Stratos System is handcrafted in the UK from professional aviation grade aluminium which is then polished to match the aesthetic of your brass instrument.
“I want one and I want it now”Jens Lindemann CM – International Trumpet Soloist
“STRATOS is particularly useful in my warm-up, to focus my mind on the basics of a good embouchure set-up. Really useful … a great bit of kit”David Pyatt – Principal Horn, London Philharmonic Orchestra
“As an educator and a trombone player, I was so amazed with the STRATOS as a beneficial aid for the chops (lips) that every brass player should have. I believe this to be an invaluable tool for busy educators like myself. I would recommend it to all brass students.”Lord Chris Jeans – International Trombone Soloist
Larry Meregillano is a Bach and Eclipse artist/clinician. He started his professional career playing in big bands in San Diegoin the early 1970’s. In 1976, he was hired to play in Tom Ranier’s Show band at Disneyland.
A year later, Mr. Meregillano joined the gospel group Truth and soon after went on to perform and tour with The Bill Gaither Trio. While traveling and recording with The Bill Gaither Trio, he also recorded with Sandi Patti, David T, Clydsdale, Ron Huff, Don Marsh and many others.
In 1980, Larry returned to California and became the lead trumpet player
for the world-famous Disneyland Band. In the late 1980’s, Larry was hired to play in the PTL Television Orchestra with Jim and Tammy Faye Baker. From there he joined Princess Cruise lines as Musical Director.
After many years, Mr. Meregillano moved to Orlando, Florida, where he performed with many bands at Walt Disney World, MGM Studios, Epcot Center, Universal Studios and Pleasure Island. He has also been the Musical Director and performer for many cruise lines including the world-famous Queen Elizabeth 2.
Larry has toured with the Temptations and The Four Tops, and has been a sideman for Rosemary Clooney, Joe Williams, Jack Jones, Bob Hope, Celia Cruz, Frankie Avalon and many, many others. Mr. Meregillano has recorded with many artists including Hubert Laws, Latoya Jackson, and Rick Dees.
Mr. Meregillano can often be seen playing with The Tom Kubis GWC Big Band and is a busy freelance musician playing recording dates, theater and stage shows in the Los Angeles area and around the country.
JN: This podcast is about the psychology of peak musical performance. And in order to talk about performing at our best, sometimes we need to talk about times when we weren’t at our best. So can you tell us a story of a time when you expected to play well but it didn’t work out as you thought it would? And then how you dealt with it.
LM: When I was 19 years old, I was a featured soloist in my father’s church. I had decided to change my mouthpiece just a couple of days before. So there’s always a learning curve when playing a new mouthpiece, and when I got up to play the solo, I couldn’t make it halfway through. There were a few hundred people there. My lips just collapsed.
So how did I deal with it? For all the hours and hours of practice I had put in to that point, I felt as though my trumpet had let me down, that I had let myself down. So I slammed my trumpet down in the case, marched out of the church and walked the 5 miles home. I was so upset (laughing). Today, I deal with things like that a little differently. But that was progbably the worst moment of my young career. I was so humiliated and so let down.
The problem with the trumpet is no matter how good a musician we are, if the physical elelments are not happening, we simply can’t get the music out of our bodies. No matter how much we study, how much we know the style, intonation, how music should flow. If we don’t have the chops to produce the tone, we are nothing. That’s why trumpet players are notorious for calling themselves slaves to the instrument. WE always have to practice every day, certain rudimental aspects of playing. Otherwise we could very easily make a fool of ourselves, no matter how high up the ladder we might be.
JN: What was the difference between your old and new mouthpiece in that story?
LM: I think I was playing a Bill Chase Jet Tone. Remember this was the 1970’s. Bill Chase was all the rage and I wanted to sound just like him. So ultimately, I just didn’t have enough time to make the adjustment physically in that particular case.
JN: Not everyone listening to this is a trumpet player, so not everyone knows that the slightest chance in any part of the mouthpiece can make a tremendous difference in how it feels to the player. It usually takes a little while for your body to get used to a new mouthpiece. So looking back at that experience, aside from the obvious of playing a new mouthpiece before you were used to it, what could you have done differently in that situation?
LM: The way I handle it today when I’m not 100%. The fact of the matter is the audience had no idea I was struggling. I should have been more gracious, put my horn down, smiled and got on with my day. That’s the way to handle it. As long as you’re doing your very best at any given time, you’ve done your best to prepare, you’ve done everything you can do to make a good performance, there’s no reason to feel bad about missing a few notes. I probably remember it worse than it really was.
So how I handled it then as a new pro player was a lot differently than today. Today I would just laugh it off. But then I internalized it. I got mad, I stomped 5 miles home.
JN: Perhaps there was some slight ego issues you had to work through.
LM: I don’t know if it was ego or if I was just so disappointed in myself. I had tried so hard, practiced several hours a day. But today, you realize that your worst is still at a level that’s acceptable. You just relax and roll with it. Collect your check and go. You split a note, you might miss an entrance. The best advice in such a situation is when you’re not feeling well and not up to par, hide what you can’t do. Let them think you can do it. You don’t have to show them if it’s not written.
Sometimes we’re just too hard on ourselves and we want to sound like Maynard Ferguson when all we’ve got is Herb Alpert. No disrespect to Herb Alpert, but I want to sound like Maynard!
JN: What’s the highest profile gig you’ve ever done?
LM: It’s hard to pick one out, but since this podcast is on the topic of performance anxiety and such, let’s go back to 1980. At the time, I was working at Disneyland and I was chosen to be the lead trumpet player of the Disney show that performed there for their 25th Anniversary. We took the show to New York City with part of the United Nations delegates. I got so nervous. Here I am sitting with the top guys on Broadway, all these high profile figures at a black tie event in at Lincoln Center. I’m 23 years old.
My mouth was getting dry, so I drank a bunch of iced tea before the show. Fortunately for me, the show didn’t last that long. I nailed it, but I don’t think I’ve ever had to go to the bathroom worse than I did during that gig. It was rather painful (laughing)
After the show, one of the top Broadway players came up to me back stage and said, “Larry, come move to New York. I’ll put you to work right away.” I’m just a kid, 23 years old. Scared to death of the Big Apple. I often wonder how my career would have ended up had I taken him up on his offer. But I was working quite often at Disney and I really didn’t need another job.
Another high profile gig was for the opening of Pocahantas, again in New York City. They had several acts on, and I was up there with a rock and roll band from Disney World. And there were 450,000 people there at this live concert. I’m having fun, no dry mouth, no issues at all. I just had a great time. I play a jazz solo, and I’m having fun until I look over my left hand shoulder and who’s watching me play but Wayne Bergeron? He’s just staring at me.
Wayne was lead trumpeter with the Disneyland band, this is early in his career, so that didn’t bother me too much. But then I looked over my right shoulder, and there stood Arturo Sandoval. He’s staring at me too. I suddenly started shaking in my boots.
So the huge crowd didn’t bother me, but those two people did. Interesting how that goes.
JN: What do you think the difference between this time when you’re playing in front of 450,000 people with no problems, and playing at your dad’s church where you fell apart in front of 300 people?
LM: I was 19 years old when I fell apart. By the time the first gig I mentioned came, I was 23. I had grown a lot, had a lot more experience. And at the second gig, I was in my 40’s. So as you grow as a pro musician, you just learn to adapt this mindset that you’re as comfortable as you are in your own living room. Doesn’t matter who you’re playing for.
In the 80’s, I was one of the trumpet players in the TV series, “PTL Show” with Jim and Tammy Baker. Every day, I’d have to remind myself that at the end of my microphone were as many as 68 million people listening on a live cast. There’s no taking back a clam. So it’s okay to have a little bit of edge, a little bit of stage fright. It’s motivation to heklp you concentrate on what you’re doing. So we’d get comfortable, laughing with each other and all of a sudden the producer is saying, “5,4,3,…” And you’d better play that note correctly.
JN: It’s just a matter of making those nerves work for you rather than against you.
LM: Absolutely. A little bit of nerves is good for you. You’re on edge, you’re concentrating, ready to go. The worst thing you can do is be in a situation like that and be lethargic. That does happen to us as professionals. Day after day, it can get lackadaisical, you’re not concentrating.
JN: Larry, you are now on the Hot Seat. Do you think you can stand the heat?
LM: I think so.
JN: It’s 5 minutes before you go on stage for an important performance… What are you doing?
LM: It depends on what I’m doing, whether it’s a Broadway show or an entertainer I don’t know. I’m looking at the book. What will I play, what are the key changes, how should I pace myself? I’ll do an instrument inventory, mutes, oils, right mouthpiece, etc. Most important is the mental preparation. You can rehearse the show in just a few minutes by flipping through the book. Make sure it’s in order. Every aspect of musical performance I’ll review prior to playing.
JN: What’s the best performance-related advice you’ve ever received?
LM: Think before you stink.
JN: Can you share one tip for our listeners to help deal with stage fright? (Physical, mental, etc.)
LM: I struggled with this for a long time. What I’ve learned is just relax. Luck is when opportunity meets preparedness. When you’re prepared, you have confidence you’re not going to clam up, that your chops are up to par, that you’ll play what you need to play. If I haven’t practiced before a performance, I’ll be nervous because I’m not 100% sure how it’s going to go. But when my guns are loaded and ready to go, I have confidence to know it’s okay. I can do this.
JN: Imagine you’re on stage. It’s the end of the performance and the audience is on its feet, applauding. They don’t want any more and they don’t want any less. Everything is perfect. What have you just done? Give details: Venue, repertoire, band mates, etc. Get Creative!!!
LM: One of the most poignant memories I have in my career was a Latin weekend at Disneyland and Celia Cruz was there. I was doing a trumpet battle with a friend of mine at this show. We went back and forth, Celia is calling for us to keep going. We kept answering each other and we ended up on a double high D together. And spontaneously, the entire crowd stood up on their feet, yelled and cheered. That was one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever had. That was a special moment, and I’ve had many that are similar to that.
JN: Larry Meregillano can be found on the web at trumpetlegacy.com. Larry, thank you for being on the podcast, and for bringing us one step closer to understanding the Secrets of the Musical Mind!
LM: Thank you for having me. It’s been a real honor!
What is the purpose of the pinky hook on the trumpet? Other than a quick mute change and left hand wah wah, absolutely nothing. No, it is not an octave key! I have actually seen a player snap off the hook because they were using it to press so hard on their poor abused embouchure. Check out these clips to see what I do with my little finger (oo–er).
When everything works well and the wind is blowing in the right direction, playing the trumpet should feel like riding on a cushion of air. Pulling 1 kg of metal onto your face will not help in the long run. This slightly better than average player says, “let the air do the work.”
This is an advanced exercise for trumpet players to help develop embouchure strength, pitch surety and control.
Play a strong low F to establish pitch.
Remove the tuning slide and play the same note. Hold the instrument lightly and finger as if playing normally.
Slowly, play up the F major scale trying to pitch and centre each note. This will be very difficult to start with especially the first 3 notes after the F. The G, A and Bb are outside the natural harmonics on the leadpipe.
As the notes begin to sound more easily, play the F major scale up and down slowly. (Always finger the notes as if playing normally)
Finally, replace the tuning slide and play the F major scale again slowly without the valves.
This exercise can be extended into other keys and also into playing melodies. I like to play ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ after the scale exercise.
Caution! This exercise is extremely tiring and should only be performed after a good warm up and rest for 5 minutes before continuing practising.
Never play this exercise in the ear shot of a fixer! They won’t understand and will think you can’t play.
Is the tired old practice routine becoming a chore rather than a pleasure? Spice up your life with these fantastic play along videos from fellow sufferer Ashley Buxton. Former Trinity College of Music and Queens Guards trumpet player Ashley has put together a series of brilliant play along videos to help put the buzz back into buzzing.
Check out this sample and subscribe to Ashley’s channel for new, regular videos.