Weekly Trumpet Tips 9/29/15

Trumpet Shadow

The Shadow

Welcome to Weekly Trumpet Tips:

(1) Trumpet Timbre!

(2) Trumpet Jocks & Ego

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Tip #1 – Trumpet Timbre!

I am fortunate enough to be endorsed by one of the finest trumpet companies on the planet – Austin Winds, and when a new horn comes out owner Doug Mains usually let’s me in on the scoop of the horn.

Years ago (before playing Austin Winds) I was convinced (like most everyone else) that a trumpet’s tone is largely produced by the mouthpiece, player and what coating it had on it.  I believed that silver plate horns played brighter than a brass / raw brass instrument.

What I’ve learned about horns (first hand I might add) is that what signifies a horn’s tonality or timbre is actually influenced by its bell flare… NOT what color it is or what it’s plated with.  Let’s assume that a player is using the exact same mouthpiece set up (choose your favorite one)… if you line up horns from skinny bell flare to wide bell flare you’d notice a significant difference in sound.  The narrower the bell taper the more bright the sound.  The wider – the darker… just look at a Flugelhorn.

Mouthpiece’s DO also influence timbre… so if you’re able to do a test – use the same mouthpiece set up as a deeper cup, more open throat and open taper on the back bore will influence a darker sound.  The more shallow cups, tighter throat and tighter back bores offer a brighter sound.

Below is a video of this very fact… enjoy!


Tip #2 – Trumpet Jocks & Ego’s

This last week I had a young trumpet jock private message me on a social network commenting on the video I shared with you of me playing “Maynard & Waynard” with Wayne Bergeron.  I was fortunate enough to have this opportunity and will cherish it as one of my highlights as a trumpet player / musician – as I do any opportunity to perform with someone I admire.

I share this with you because I think it’s a significant enough learning lesson to pass on to anyone who has the opportunity to perform with one of the greats, etc.  The question was posed (I’ll paraphrase) as this:

 “I have watched many videos of you performing and I know you can play to double c and beyond, why didn’t you “go for it” while playing with Wayne?  Were you scared?”

My reply was something like this (I didn’t keep the conversation):

“Hello ___, first let me say that this opportunity to play with Wayne was a great honor.  Secondly, the show we performed was not about me!  I was not the guest artist – Wayne was… and to “go for it” made zero sense from a performance stand point.  My name is not on the chart and it was Wayne that selected me to perform with him, therefore I felt it best to play well (or as best that I could) and allow Wayne to set the pace as well as dictate.  I was a supporting character – not a spotlight stealing jerk… this may be a good lesson for you should you ever be given an opportunity such as this.”

So to any musician / performer that may read this – today, tomorrow, etc.  It’s not about the ego!  It’s not about who can play higher, louder, faster, etc.  It’s about making music and respecting the people you perform with as well as yourself.  Creation – NOT competition!

Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.

– Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi – 1207-1273, Persian Poet

Have a GREAT week!