Why are you playing music?

Now is the time to play music for your own enjoyment and to begin prepping for All State auditions and junior high auditions. Sometimes band directors and lesson teachers loose sight of playing music for enjoyment. Preparing for contests and festivals is one priority, but do you ever play to play? You should. Find / purchase some music you like. Play along with a video or recording. Learn about a great musician and play their music.
Playing music you like,pPreparing your scales, technical studies and flexibility skills will pay of in at least to ways for region and area auditions next fall. One way pay off is that you will spend less time learning notes, rhythms and technique, allowing you to focus on expressive performance. Second, you will probably audition better and with more confidence. Playing for fun is…fun.
For more ways to improve your brass playing visit my website.

Bobby Shew Interview

Here is a wonderful interview with Bobby Shew about how he started playing the trumpet. I had the opportunity to hear him play with Bill Watrous at Sam Houston State Univerisity. Wonderful player. And what a gentleman as well. Enjoy the video.

Some students stop because the process seems hopeless

No process works without a teacher or a coach who deeply understands the goal and especially the student.

Some people who are best at reaching big goals…are able to break down the process …into tiny, bite-sized pieces and then take pleasure in completing each part. if you constantly focus on the end, someone who is unable to relish the small steps often just stops because the process starts to seem hopeless.   A teacher or coach that deeply understands the student and the goal is important. Great message here from Penelope Trunk’s blog for students, teachers, parents and administrators.

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2017-18 Texas All State Trumpet Audition Information

This is information that I copied from the Texas Music Educators (TMEA) website. I suggest that you read the instructions posted here and work on the fundamental skills (Lip flexibility, isometric exercises, technical studies such as Arban or Clarke) that will help you perform these pieces successfully. Merely learning the etudes will not get you the results you desire if your goal is to advance in the All State audition process. There are free resources here on my website under the brass tab at the top of this page. If you have questions, please feel free to contact me.

Book – Editor Title Publisher Edition
Wurm, Voisin 40 Studies for Trumpet International No. 2025
Selection 1
Page(s): 22
Etude Title: No. 23
Tempo: Dotted Half Note = 58-74
Play from beginning to end.
Tempo range should be dotted half note (not dotted quarter note = 58-74 (revised 7/25/17)
Performance Guide:
This moderately technical etude is fun to play and needs to sound graceful and nimble throughout while maintaining a dance like “waltz” character. A slight emphasis on beat 1 and floating the rest of the measure will help with this so that the music always feels like one beat per bar. Practice slowly with metronome for rhythmic accuracy paying attention to tongued vs. slurred rhythms. Keep the airflow steady during slurred passages maintaining smooth note connections and a consistent tone. Daily practice of Clarke Technical Studies will be helpful for this. Always begin phrases with a full breath.

Articulated passages need to sound as smooth as slurred passages. Staccato markings should sound light and graceful, not overly short or harsh. Let only the tip of the tongue move as you articulate while keeping the flow of air as steady as if slurring or sustaining a single note. Additionally, it is imperative to keep the lips and jaw stationary while articulating. If the lips or jaw move, the tone and pitch will be affected and the line will sound rough. A helpful exercise for this is to practice blowing a fast articulation pattern on one hand while keeping the other hand on your chin and/or lower lip. Make sure the chin and lower lip stay perfectly still as the tongue moves to articulate. For extra practice with slurs and arpeggios refer to Arban’s pp. 48-51, 56, 144 and 146.

Selection 2
Page(s): 32-33
Etude Title: No. 35
Tempo: Quarter Note = 50-60
Play from beginning to end.
Performance Guide:
This etude should be performed with great lyricism and expression. The use of vibrato will be helpful in providing a vocal quality to the music. The performer may also use a little rubato, making some passages start slowly, speed up and then slow down within the structure of a steady beat. The grupetto or “turn” in m. 11 should be played like m. 9. Measure 26 should be treated as a cadenza. In keeping with the esspressione character of this etude, a legato style should be employed throughout. Keep grace notes and 32nds smooth and relaxed. Round out the ends of phrases so they sound polished and refined. Maintain a warm sound in all registers and dynamics, and never let the tone become edgy or aggressive – intense and dramatic, yes, but never edgy.

Very little information is given regarding dynamics; therefore it is suggested that the performer follow the shape of the melodic line and provide dynamics consistent with the direction of each phrase while still maintaining the character and color of the last printed dynamic. Keep the air moving through descending passages in order to maintain good tone and response. Keep your listener engaged by making the music express emotions or tell a story. Recommended studies for this etude include Clarke Technical Studies pp. 14-20 for work on smooth trills and Arban’s pp. 99-103 for exercises on the turn.

Selection 3
Page(s): 9
Etude Title: No. 7
Tempo: Dotted Quarter Note = 74-94
Play from beginning to end.
Performance Guide:
This etude is all about double tonguing in 6/8 time. While it may be possible to single tongue within the proper tempo guidelines, a double tongue is preferred in order to keep the music sounding light. Single tonguing will tend to make 16ths sound heavy and overly emphasized, while double tonguing will make them dance and move forward. Avoid extremes (too short or too legato). Strive for clarity of attack along with a steady airflow. In speech the vowel is just as important as the consonant. The same holds true for double tonguing. Make sure your tone remains centered and beautiful between the T and K. Refer to Arban’s pp. 175-178 for extra practice double tonguing. Play the exercises slowly making the T and K articulations sound exactly alike – same start, same tone, same pitch. Also try reversing the T and K, or using all Ks in practice.

Musically this etude should sound playful, not harsh or frantic. Emphasize the downbeat and let the rest of the measure float. Practice m. 16 slowly with double tongue using a metronome. Gradually speed up keeping the rhythm steady. Breathe quickly and efficiently where indicated. For quick breathing open up and get the tongue out of the way of the moving air. If you hear a hissing or slurping sound, you are breathing incorrectly and inefficiently. Say “Woe” or “Hup” backwards. The “P” at the end of “Hup” gets your lips back into playing position after the breath.

End Grain Block Wood Flooring DIY

16252110_10211260745419464_2016197405861658669_oWe have always wanted wood flooring in our living / family and bedrooms. One day, while watching This Old House, we saw an episode that showed a brief clip of them installing end grain block flooring. They called it Cobblewood flooring. We searched the internet and found a lot of information and history about End Grain Block flooring or End Grain Wood flooring, also called parquet flooring.  We saw everything from rustic installations to end grain parquetflooring designs in palaces and mansions. It has been used as street pavers, factory flooring to support  heavy machinery and reduce vibration. If you are going to do a project like this call us, we’ll tell you what we learned and maybe you will do better than we did.  It is well worth your time to watch all of the videos that you can on planning, preparing, installing, finishing and maintaining this type of flooring. In our opinion, it is a low material cost hardwood flooring. But the labor is intense. Continue reading

Can Music Help Make You a Genius?

Music classes are more important that you might think. For decades, parents have encouraged their children to play musical instruments in hopes that it will make them smarter. Is there any truth to that?

At Westwood Elementary School​ these Kodaly methods are used in all grade levels of music classes. Watch this 3 minute video. @westwoodsbisd @LarryShudra​ #westwoodelementaryschool @sbisdfinearts


Stay in Music Middle School

I encourage everyone to be in music. Parents, get your kids involved in music. There are lots of things that you can learn to do by yourself. But Music is the one thing that you have to do with others. You can’t be in an ensemble, band orchestra or vocal group by yourself. And it all starts in Middle School.  I just found these great videos that answer the questions that students and parents ask me about joining a music group in Middle School (Band, Orchestra or Choir).Click here to watch Stay in Music

I want all of my students to be in music in middle school. Music was a huge part of my high school life and I could not have done it if I did not start in middle school.

This video answers questions like:

Yes you can be in sports and music.

Yes you can be in music if you cannot afford an instrument. You might find that music is not as expensive as sports when you consider fees, uniforms, and sports equipment.

Yes you can make you schedule work with your academics.

I encourage you to enroll in music. Adults it’s never too late for you either. Contact me and I would be delighted to talk with you about music lessons, joining middle school music programs.