Alex Carter Posts

Deciphering your ISSMA Sheets and Other Feedback

These past couple weekends have been going full tilt with ISSMA Solo & Ensemble events. You’ve all worked hard on your solos. The ensembles large, small, and mixed have all been rehearsed. During this long period of preparation from November until now, you have probably heard many thoughts about your solo from your band/orchestra/choir director, friends, or private teachers. How do we take the things they have said and apply it? Is there really anyone out there that can read judge’s handwriting on those ISSMA sheets? What if your judge accidentally compliments your Baroque style when you are CLEARLY playing a classical era piece? There are ways to take all the comments you receive and organize them into your plan of attack when going to state.

What’s Your Favorite Orchestral or Concert Band “Cover”?

One thing I love about music that is performed by orchestral or concert band musicians is that we get many different interpretations and sounds from them. There are so many different recordings that are great and while people usually have a favorite recording, it’s not quite the same as popular music where Stairway to Heaven is usually best done by Led Zeppelin or wanting to hear Lizzo perform her own material. This week I wanted to share some “classical” music, and the recordings that I personally enjoy and even strive to emulate.

Mute Madness!

Happy Thursday, everyone. Today’s topic is one of my favorite to talk about: Mutes. As stated by Philip Smith, former principal trumpet of the New York Philharmonic 1978-2014, “A trumpet player can never have enough mutes of varying types, shapes, sizes, and materials”. With that being said, as trumpet players (and other brass players who may be reading) we are often asked to use a device called a mute while playing certain music. This does not always mean making our sound softer per se, but changing our timbre. Today we’ll talk about the most common mute we are asked to use: the straight mute.

Mouthpieces and how to choose, “Unpopular Opinion Edition”

Raise your hand if you’ve had a band teacher or private instructor tell you that you needed to go from your 7C to a 5C, then to a 3C, then to a 1-1/2C and so on and so forth. Ok, now that we’ve all put our hands up, let’s get down to my unpopular opinion: There is no set progression for mouthpieces. They are not like shoes where you start with a size 5 and eventually get up to a size 12.

As discussed earlier on October 3rd, 2019; we talked about some factors that help us choose mouthpieces. Today we will briefly discuss a couple of those and other things to think about when testing mouthpieces.

What Books Should I Get For Lessons?

When I meet with a new student for the first time we always discuss what books they need to have for their lessons. Here are five method/etude books that are essential for good foundations to unlocking your full musical potential through the trumpet.

  • Complete Conservatory Method by Jean Baptist Arban

Widely considered by many to be “The Trumpet Bible”, this is usually the first book suggested by private instructors if you are serious about studying trumpet due to the amount of material that is covered. Any technical aspect of trumpet playing that you will need to succeed will be in this book including nice songs, wicked characteristic studies, and classic cornet solos such as Fantasia Brilliante, Norma Variations, and Carnival of Venice.

  • Technical Studies by Herbert L. Clarke

Mr. Clarke presents exercises that combine several fields and can be utilized for many things. The infamous second study can be played in several tonalities, or you can begin working on playing softer while going higher. The final etude from the fifth study is very challenging as well.

Interested in Studying Music? A Guide To Finding Your Path

Ball State University Jazz Combo

You’ve made the choice: you love music and want to pursue a career in the music industry! Great! So now what? At this point you need to determine which University, music program, and major are right for you. There are more music degrees than just performance or music education. Other music degrees include: Music production or recording technology, music therapy, music business, arts administration, music history, and music theory/composition. Some universities collaborate with local businesses to help offer a degree in popular music theory, analysis and composition. When researching your potential future, you have several resources at your disposal to find out information and some of the work can even be done at home with your parent/guardian.

Recital Reflections: Claiming small victories over performance anxiety

I have never liked recitals. Or auditions. Even playing my solo for Solo & Ensemble. I have always been more comfortable performing when there was at least one other person on stage with me. Some people will tell you if you get nervous it means that you aren’t prepared enough but I think that statement is not entirely accurate.

Mouthpieces and how to choose, “Lead Mouthpiece Edition”

lead-mouthpieces

When I was in high school and it came my turn to play lead trumpet in jazz band, I was like most high school students and began searching for a way to improve range and endurance. We all want to nail those high notes at the end of the show or the concert! How can we achieve this? Most students at that point get on the internet or go to a store and ask about mouthpieces to help them play higher. Enter the Bobby Shew Lead mouthpiece or the Schilke 14A4a. Too often have I seen students purchase these mouthpieces and after a couple weeks tell me that they aren’t working for them anymore and then ask me, “why not?” There are a number of reasons.