Tips Posts

Save Your Chops!

Indiana falls are beautiful. The chapped lips fall brings are not. This can happen for any number of reasons: perhaps the air is very dry. Practicing outside in marching band is especially hard on your lips. Heaters dry out the air when you are inside. Your “Chops” are one the most important pieces of brass and woodwind performance. If they are dry and cracked, it becomes incredibly uncomfortable to play your instrument at all. Here are some things to keep in mind to protect your lips!

Improving at Improvising

As jazz band auditions and rehearsals are starting for middle schools and high school students across the state I get a lot of questions about how to improvise on trombone. Becoming a successful improviser takes time, practice, and creativity. Here are some tips that will get you in the right direction to improve at improvising.

How to Ease back into Playing After Summer Break

I speak from experience when I say that playing after a long break is tough! If you haven’t picked your instrument up in a few weeks, it can be really difficult to play! Everything feels alien—your chops swell up, you get exhausted after a few notes, you lose your range, and etc. I get it, I get it—hanging out at the pool with your friends is more fun than playing concert F for 30 minutes a day. Here are a few tips to ease you back into playing after summer break:

It’s Vintage: Restoring a Ludwig Drum Set

Brian Travelsted in our repair shop recently restored a Ludwig drum set.  Below he tells the steps he had to go through to bring this great instrument back to life.

Every once in a while we will get a call from a customer that is somewhat out of the ordinary.  I recently visited a local summer camp that had a few drum sets that were in need of some work.  When I arrived to inspect the drums I was able to piece back together two drum sets that needed new heads and cleaned.  I was not expecting to find a vintage set of drums. The 1967 Ludwig Club Date that I found had all the original parts except for the cymbal arm and a hoop on the mounted tom.  While I knew it would be a challenge, I was determined to make these drums look and sound great again.  Below is a basic breakdown of the steps taken to get the drums back into excellent condition.

3 Reasons Why Marching Band Will Help You Win at Life

Marching band is as “Indiana” as the famed pork tenderloin at Nick’s Kitchen (Huntington, IN). We know form Google analytics that the Japanese and Indonesians cannot get enough of the Avon and Carmel marching band performances. Directors from all over the country come to learn from the extraordinary talent that make these programs run like clockwork. Marching band is an absolutely positive addiction.

I could cite any number of studies that show correlation between music education and academic achievement, creativity, and etc., I am not going to bore you with that—after all those are usually statistics that can be read in a variety of days. I do want to talk about what are real life benefits outside of the classroom. Here are three that I live every day:

Heat, High Humidity, and String Instruments

Regina in Encore Orchestral Strings has some great advice for all of the string players out there.  Keep reading!

We’re approaching the time of year where temperatures are averaging above 75 degrees Fahrenheit with high humidity levels in Indiana. We all know that cold winters present it’s own challenges, but the summer heat can create just as many issues. Wood is an organic material that will always react to the temperature, which is why we have to be careful about where the instrument is being stored.

We have seen fingerboards come unglued, necks pop out of place, and varnish essentially melt. With the high levels of humidity and scorching temperatures that we endure in Indiana, you want to be careful with how you store your instrument and where it is being stored. One of the most common scenarios that we hear about from our customers involves leaving an instrument in the car on a hot summer day.

No matter what the temperature outside is, it is safest to bring the instrument inside with you wherever you are. We recently had a cello come in that suffered quite a bit of cosmetic damage due to it being left in a hot car for an extended amount of time. Not only was the varnish ruined by the heat, but the cello itself was stuck to the inside of the case which caused even more damage to the back of the instrument. My best advice to give is to keep your instrument close to you… if you’re uncomfortable with the temperature where your instrument is being stored, more than likely the instrument is uncomfortable too!

Have a look to see what an excessive amount of heat can do to a cello:

Three Exciting New Trombone Albums to Check Out

With so much new content out there it can be difficult to sift through everything. Here are three new albums featuring trombonists that I can’t stop listening to. Read what the artists have to say about the works and follow the links for more information on the performers. Be sure to pick up your copies of these albums with the information listed.

Steve Davis – Correlations

Steve Davis has been one of my all-time favorite trombonists since I first heard him. His style and sound are heavily influenced by JJ Johnson, and his harmonic sensibilities draw additionally from players like Jackie McLean and Freddie Hubbard. Davis never plays more or less than the music demands. A sensitive and thoughtful player, he consistently bring something fresh to each track while paying homage to the masters.

Music In The Gig Economy – A masterclass with Richard Dole on navigating your freelance career as a musician.

Richard Dole is an active tenor/bass trombonist and educator in Indianapolis and the surrounding region. He has toured or performed with Aretha Franklin, Johnny Mathis, The Four Tops, The Temptations, Steve Lawrence/Edie Gormé, Barry Manilow, the Hollywood Concert Orchestra China tour, and in 2008 traveled with the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra to Egypt for a US State Department Tour.

Whew!  This makes him a perfect candidate for teaching a masterclass on how to navigate a career as a freelance musician.