Free Improvisation #62

Sovran Nature

These more up-tempo improvisations are a little more difficult than the pretty, mellow improv. There is a greater sense of abandon that has to happen in my mind to play faster tempi. I literally must think less to play faster.

And the end result is that, yes, there are more “errors”… uncentered notes, rhythmic fluctuations, and sometimes just an overall chaotic sound.

In this free improvisation, I feel like things were flowing and the quality of what I’m playing is higher than it’s been in a while. At least for the faster stuff.

Three Per Day

Because of my work day/work week structure, I have begun recording two or three improvisations in one session. This presents a very different challenge because I don’t want the improvisations to sound the same. Since I don’t “control” what comes out (otherwise it wouldn’t be free, right), it is a mental challenge to think thoughts that lead to different sounds via a more indirect path.

Sovran Nature is the first of the three from this session. The other two will be posted on subsequent Mondays.

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We Gather Together

New Trumpet Hymn

We Gather Together is one of those recognizable hymns that I don’t think ever because one of the top twenty. It’s still very pretty and uplifting. It is still sung in churches today. But you don’t hear many people playing it instrumentally. At least that’s how it seems to me.

I chose this hymn because I was feeling thankful and wanted this week’s hymn to communicate this sense of gratitude.

We Gather Together

Eduard Kremser
Theodore Baker

  1. We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
    He chastens and hastens His will to make known;
    The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing;
    Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.
  2. Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
    Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine;
    So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
    Thou, Lord, were at our side, all glory be Thine!
  3. We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader triumphant,
    And pray that Thou still our Defender will be;
    Let Thy congregation escape tribulation;
    Thy Name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!
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Trumpet Q & A No. 18

Answering your trumpet questions!

Great News!!!

Hello everyone. So this week we have some excellent news! The One Range book is now available. This is book is not an exercise book. It’s a strategy guide for your trumpet chops. The information in the book helps you to organize and design your practice sessions to get the most physical benefit. The subtitle of the books is “A Trumpet Chops Strategy Guide“.

Here are some links to where you can buy the physical version of the book:

We will have a more formal post about this later, but for now, I just wanted to add it here because the first thing I do in the Q & A videos is discuss the past week’s news.

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Entertainment Compromises the Message

Let’s Be Serious

There’s nothing wrong with being serious.

I’ve been teaching trumpet lessons since 1980. I have taught all ages. In fact, the age range of my students today spans from seven years old to mid eighties. I have never felt the need to “entertain” the students. I actually believe that when we give in to the pressure to entertain instead of teach, the message we are teaching is severely compromised.

I believe the same is true for musical performances. Not all performances need to be “entertaining”. In fact, sometimes a lot of the power of the musical message is lost when you choose things that emphasize entertainment over the sincerity of the music.

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Do the Right Thing

Do What’s Right

In this Behind the Wheel video I talk about how important it is to do the right thing, even in the context of being a trumpet player.

Every day we come to dozens of forks in the road of our lives. At each one of those forks, we get to choose what kind of life we are going to live.

Too often we are encouraged to do the wrong thing, to do what is selfish, thinking that it doesn’t matter because it’s such a small issue. But there are no small issues. Even the choices you make in your trumpet life are part of your overall life.

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Healing Prayer for Trumpet Quintet

Five Trumpet Piece

I’ve only ever written three trumpet quintets so far. It’s an odd instrumentation to compose for; odd in more ways than just the number of players.

One thing it does work nicely for is when you have four note chords (seventh chords mostly) with a doubling of the melody line. That’s something that stands out as this instrumentation’s strength. It adds a very rich sound to the music that wouldn’t be possible with three or four trumpet players.

Now that I’m thinking about it, there are two other pieces that I attempted to compose for five trumpets and ended up adding a sixth trumpet part because I simply couldn’t make it work. So yeah, these are pretty rare – for me anyway.

The Story Behind the Composition

The title, Healing Prayer, describes precisely what this composition is.

I don’t share private details, but I will say that someone in our family was not well and while I was praying for them to get better, this melody popped into my head. Instead of trying to dismiss the melody, I let it become part of the prayer. It’s difficult to explain.

But yes, that’s what this composition is. It really is a pray, a prayer for healing.

And guess what! The prayer was answered. So, that’s why the piece ends the way it does.

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And Spirit – Free Improv. No. 61

And Spirit – a free improvisation loosely based on the chord progressions of Body and Soul.

And Spirit

Body, soul and spirit, the triune being. Just like our Father in heaven is a triune being (Father, Son and Holy Ghost), so are we. I title this trumpet improvisation “And Spirit” because in my improv I am loosely following the chord progression for the jazz standard called Body and Soul.

Can this be called a “free improvisation” if I am following chords?

As many of you know, I am not only a performer, but also a composer. In modern classical composition, we talk about degrees of control. To discuss the same topic in the converse, we would say that we compose in varying degrees of musical freedom.

So yes, you can call it free improv even if it is slightly less free than other improvisations.

Trumpet Improv Number 61

Yep, we’ve reached way beyond the original goal. My plan was to record fifty of these free improvisations and publish them as a digital album. In the end, I wasn’t satisfied with all of them and decided not to publish.

I did take a break from doing the free improvisation videos, but later returned to them because I realized that I was benefiting from doing them. Even the bad ones benefit me as a musician. So I’ve decided to continue doing them indefinitely.

What Benefit?

It’s difficult to explain, really. I’ve been doing free improvisation for as long as I can remember. So it’s not the act of improvising that has changed. When I make the videos, the only difference is that I know people are watching. That changes it somehow. Changes it in a way that I can’t accurately describe.

But I realized recently that it’s having an impact on all of my improvisation, not just the free stuff. Doing these free improvisation videos is changing how I improvise over bebop tunes, or in a bid band.

And most importantly, the change is a good one!

If I were pressed to explain the nature of this change, I would say that it’s helped my improvisation become more musically complete. I have never been an improviser who just barfs notes. But these free improv videos are helping me make the characters in my musical stories come to life. And THAT is something extremely valuable.

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