Carmen Prelude for Trumpet and LOW notes!

Carmen Prelude for Trumpet and LOW notes!

Written by benwright2021

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LOW NOTES! It’s been a huge part of my professional life since leaving school in the late 90s. Having held two 4th trumpet jobs and two second trumpet jobs, I have always been comfortable below the staff and continue to be so. 

In every audition, you’ll have to show you can play in the basement and Carmen is the most commonly requested excerpt that covers that range. There are others: Shostakovich 5 and Piano Concerto, Beethoven 5 second trumpet, Dvorak 8 second movement, Tanhauser, etc, but the focus here is Carmen.

When I was in The Kennedy Center Opera Orchestra, Tage Larsen and I became good friends and remain so today. I remember talking with him about low notes as we prepared for the CSO fourth audition and what he said stuck with me: “Lets face it, they want the notes that are at the bottom of our range or off of it (in the case of low Fs) to sound like real notes. You don’t want people who play other instruments on the committee to look at the trumpet players on the committee and say, Hey – is that supposed to sound like THAT?” So with all excerpts that require that half step below low F#, take special care – MAKE IT SOUND LIKE A REAL NOTE!!!!

 

With Carmen, there are multiple ways to get down to the low F in terms of the fingerings and the slides – this video clarifies what has worked for me over the years (simpler is better, as you will see).

Think of playing the low F like a basketball player being able to dribble between their legs – you don’t want to try that skill out in a game for the first time. You would develop it behind the scenes until it is pretty consistent, and THEN use it in a game situation. It may still feel challenging when it comes to doing under the pressure of someone defending you, but at least it is a skill you have already learned. Same thing here – get the pitch and sound right on the low notes, THEN practice it more or less in context.

A couple of things to remember – we tend to play flat when we play below the staff and our pitch often sags as we descend.  Bear those things in mind when going through these drills and your low notes will start singing with that spinning sound in no time!

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Sousa Hands Across the Sea Trumpet Part for Navy Band Audition

Sousa Hands Across the Sea Trumpet Part for Navy Band Audition

Sousa Hands Across the Sea Trumpet Part for Navy Band Audition

Written by benwright2021

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Do you ever wonder what, when, and how to practice?  Learning to practice efficiently has taken me years but would have been faster if my teachers could have been in my practice space to help. This is the idea behind Practice Window Training.

Practice Windows are 5-minute videos recorded during a practice session. The idea is to capture a short clip of how you actually practice – it is not a performance. Practice Window Training™ is a 20-minute lesson, watching the Practice Window together, to create a more efficient, productive, and satisfying practice experience.

During the fall of 2019, my former student Bret Magliola was learning the material for the Navy band audition that he eventually would win.  Hands Across the Sea came up and I MARGINALLY learned it in helping him prepare. This year,  as the Navy Band announced another opening, I used the Practice Window Training on MYSELF to finally learn the Sousa. It seemed like the thing to do in helping my current crew as they made their recorded round auditions. 

It was interesting for me to see how this worked in my own playing. I recorded the first session, was slightly perturbed at how inconsistent I was, and then got to work. Figuring out various things that were adding to those inconsistencies started to be kind of fun – I am not the kind of person to be satisfied with unanswered questions – especially when it comes to the trumpet.

Practice Windows are 5-minute videos recorded during a practice session. The idea is to capture a short clip of how you actually practice – it is not a performance. Practice Window Training™ is a 20-minute lesson, watching the Practice Window together, to create a more efficient, productive, and satisfying practice experience.

If you’d like to sign up for a practice window training with me click the button.

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Master the Petrouchka Trumpet Excerpt with these drills – Part 1

Master the Petrouchka Trumpet Excerpt with these drills – Part 1

Master the Petrouchka Trumpet Excerpt with these drills – Part 1

Written by benwright2021

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If you want to play in an orchestra, sooner than later, you are going to need to learn to play the Ballerina Dance from Stravinsky’s Ballet, Petrouchka. Why? It’s on every audition. The honest truth: this excerpt was tough for me in school. I didn’t really learn to play it well until I had won my third job. If you also struggle with this piece, fear not. If I was able to own it, so can you!

I used to “rent” this excerpt, simply running through and repeating the same mistakes. Owning this excerpt didn’t come until I thought bigger: I needed to improve the parts of my playing that were insufficient to make it sound good, namely my flexibility and clarity of articulation. Once I made inroads with flexibility and a lighter, clearer articulation — which had much more to do with how I was using my air than with articulation itself — this excerpt and others like it (Ravel’s G-major piano concerto, etc.) became much more consistent.

In this video and in its companion video Petrushka Drills part deux, I share all the exercises I’ve used to take ownership of this ubiquitous excerpt. They will help you to gain the skills you need to truly own it.

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Clarke Routine

Clarke Routine

Clarke Routine

Written by benwright2021

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Starting with my first teacher, James Bursen, who was a VERY patient man, H.L. Clarke’s Technical Studies for the Cornet were have been a mainstay of my practice and remain so today.

Being comfortable playing in every key is important to becoming flexible. Of course, when I was 10 and Mr. Bursen told me to memorize the first five studies, my jaw dropped open. In reality, once you know the patterns, the fingerings for different keys can be learned when you are not playing the trumpet. For me that often meant when I was bored, sitting in church or class – I’d just sing through them in my head and hope that nobody saw me twiddling my fingers! By the time I hit conservatory, I had a pretty exhaustive routine with varied articulations and multiple tonguing patterns. I THOUGHT I had it all figured out – then Michael Sachs threw some more stuff at me. Between that early inspiration, my teachers’ input, and what I have learned since this simple book that has been around for over 100 years gets a lot done when practiced regularly. 

Every student who takes lessons with me will eventually jump through the Clarke hoops. These simple exercises with the variations I demonstrate in this video, form a foundation for technique: dexterity, dynamics, flexibility, breath control, and more.

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