The Physical Trumpet Pyramid is a method I developed in the mid 1980’s. It is the concept behind my Daily Routines and Chops Express books and the foundation for the physical side of my trumpet teaching. Interestingly, the original edition of The Physical Trumpet Pyramid was a flop (compared to what I had intended) and a key factor in motivating me to write more. Daily Routines was written only a year later and all the other books followed.
In 2008 we decided the pyramid book was an important part of our catalogue and we wrote the third edition. It is important to believe in what you sell and we believe in this third edition. It rings true, more so than the previous editions ever did.
The concept is a simple one. In the book, I refrain from explaining what to do with your lips, etc. Instead, I focus on how you should practice. In that way, the Physical Trumpet Pyramid book tells you how and why to practice a certain way, then the Daily Routines and Chops Express books give you the actual material to practice.
Some friends refer to the Physical Trumpet Pyramid as the teacher’s guide. Yes, I do recommend that all the teachers who teach out of the Daily Routines book should buy and learn the material in this book, but other people have benefited from the pyramid book as well. This is especially true for people who are self taught.
It is a rare occasion when I get to plug a CD that my mother is on. In fact, this is the first time ever. My mom, Ruth Lewis, sings with a number of local choirs in the Phoenix area. One of those choirs, the East Valley Chorale, recently recorded a CD titled Written in Red. It is very well done. I’m listening to it now, for the second time, while I do my morning chores.
I must say that I am proud of my mother. It’s not just that she stays busy. Of course that’s good for her too, but I am a firm believer in living a righteous life. She is one of the few people I can look up to as an example of someone who does just that. She has lived a life of selflessness, a life devoted to God, to her family, to her friends, and for that she has been blessed.
You know, now that I’m thinking about it, I’ll bet that most of the good she does in other people’s lives goes unrecognized. She is mostly a quiet woman who doesn’t boast about the good things she does for people. She just does them and often time she does them in secret.
I think my favorite track on the CD is How Great Thou Art. The arrangement begins with traditional four part writing and progresses to a more modern sort of Camp Kirkland sound. The entire CD presents a blend of traditional and commercial styles. All of it is sacred. All of it is pleasant to listen to.
On a recent trip to El Paso and Phoenix, Pearl and I stopped in Ozona for the night. In the morning we took a stroll over to the Davy Crockett museum (which was closed for construction, unfortunately) and we posed for pictures with the statue which serves as a local landmark for the area. At the bottom of the statue is the inscription, “Be sure you are right then go ahead.” Crockett was famous for this phrase, but for me at this point in my life it served as an exclamation mark to a very important life lesson I have recently learned.
The Bible says, “Ask and you shall receive.” (Luke 11:9) I believe God does indeed give us what we ask for, but I think a lot of people take that verse out of context. It’s important to look at the full story that this verse belongs to:
Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need. “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Think about it. What is the friend in this story asking for?
Consider an alternative scenario:
It’s 3 am. You are asleep at home with your family and your friend calls and says, “Dude, I’ve been up partying and playing Halo all night and I got some serious munchies. But I’m out of money. Can I come over right now to borrow money for some Jack in the Box tacos and a milk shake?”
What do you think your answer would be in this scenario? I think most people would be extremely annoyed with the friend. They say that a good friend is someone you can call on at any time for any reason, but that welcome is soon worn out when it is abused. Most people are likely to tell that “dude” no, and if he persists, they will hang up on him for sure.
Look at the difference between the alternative scenario and the story that Jesus told. The friend in Jesus’ story was actually doing a selfless deed. He was trying to find food….not for himself….but for someone who had been traveling and was probably hungry. Remember, there weren’t convenience stores or twenty-four hour fast food chains. It’s quite possible that someone who traveled in those days traveled by foot and had little or nothing to eat all day. The friend in Jesus’ story was trying to fill a need in another person’s life.
In His story, Jesus is telling us how to pray. He says that when we pray selflessly, our prayers will be answered. He is not saying that every little thing we ask for, regardless of the reasons why, is going to be given to us. That promise was never made and never even insinuated.
I learned long ago that praying selfishly does not get your prayers answered. I remember going to bingo with my grandparents when I was in elementary school. I prayed to God that I would win, maybe even win the jackpot! But I didn’t win. God didn’t answer that prayer because I was praying for something very selfish. To me it wasn’t about the money. I didn’t really understand money very well at that age. I wanted the thrill of being the one lucky person in the whole building to be singled out and praised for hitting the jackpot. It would have been so glorious! Looking back now, I thank Him for not giving me what I prayed for. It was a lesson in humility.
Now fast forward thirty years to my father’s last fishing trip with me and my brother, Gerald. By that time I had learned about which prayers we can expect God to answer. My prayer on that day was that my father would catch the most fish and that he would have a wonderful time with us. That prayer was answered. It’s worth mentioning that I didn’t catch much at all and that didn’t bother me one bit. It’s a different kind of pleasure that comes to us when we see selfless prayers get answered. There is a deeper sense of satisfaction.
Standing in Confidence
When it comes to day to day confidence, the same principle applies. If what we are doing is based on our own selfishness, it is almost impossible to stand tall and in confidence. As Christians, we know that we cannot do anything good without God. When what we desire is selfish, when we put our own wants and needs above others, we step outside of His will for us. We turn our backs on the gifts He wants to give us. In that sense, we are spiritually all alone.
But when we know in our hearts that what we are doing is based on selflessness, when we put other people’s needs above our own, then we CAN stand confidently knowing that God’s strength is behind us. When we are selfless, God lifts us up and gives us strength. When we are selfless, God makes a way for us. He clears a path and blesses us with everything we need to make that selflessness work. When we live this way, God answers all of our prayers and we can walk forward in our lives with the confidence of knowing He is with us.
I was reminded of this life lesson when I read the inscription at the bottom of the Davy Crockett statue. Be sure you are right, in God’s eyes. Be sure that what you are doing is going to selflessly bless people, then DO IT! Do it in confidence knowing that God is behind you all the way.
The concept behind my All-State Prep book was to give the aspiring student everything he or she needed to work on during the months after solo contest and before the next year’s audition music is announced. These are typically the months when students practice the least, which is unfortunate because it is the only time today’s high school students have to work on their playing in a more general way. It is the only time of the year when what they practice isn’t dictated by the band’s agenda.
Staying true to the objective, the etudes in All-State Prep are short. The idea was to limit the length of the etudes while staying focused on the skill to be learned. In that way, the book is a success.
Although the main focus is on preparing students for the All-State music, I have been using it with all of my students who reach that level of playing. It is not a book about competition. It is a book about preparation. Eventually it will be replaced in my lessons by another project we are working on, but for now it seems to be working well. All-State prep has served as a model for several future projects.
Orchestra Opens Rehearsal Night To Public Before Movie Debuts
MUSIC LOVERS…COME OUT AND LISTEN TO LEGENDS IN ACTION!
CONRAD JOHNSON 16 PIECE ORCHESTRA!
TUESDAY AUGUST 16, 2011 * 7:30-10:00 PM
In pre-preparation of the soon to be released movie “Thunder Soul” presented by Jamie Foxx…. chronicling the life of Houston’s own “CONRAD (Prof) Johnson and KASHMERE HIGH SCHOOL 1968-1988 Students, the legendary “CONRAD JOHNSON ORCHESTRA” has opened their rehearsal night to the public to memorialize and pay tribute to Conrad O. Johnson and Barry Lee Hall.
Hosted by: Obidike Kamau – KPFT 90.1 FMRadio Personality and TSU Professor
PAY NOW… by calling 713-547-0126 Representatives are standing by.