Trumpet Listening: Forrest Johnston

Forrest Johnston performs Otto Ketting’s Intrada

1) When did you start playing the trumpet? How good were you when you were 10 years old?
2) Forrest performs this solo work with a great deal of musical maturity. Can you hear that maturity? How would you describe it to someone who doesn’t know what musical maturity is?
3) Is there a problem with Forrest’s embouchure? [Warning: this is a trick question.]

One of the wonders of the internet and Youtube is that young players like Forrest Johnston are coming out of the woodwork (so to speak). To some people, this actually discourages them from wanting to try to become better at playing the trumpet. They see someone who, at such a young age, has already mastered facets of our art that we continue to struggle with.

For me personally, I only began playing trumpet when I was ten years old. When I was Forrest’s age, I was playing nursery rhymes from a beginning band book. I wasn’t playing as well as Forrest does in this video until I was in my late teens and early twenties.

But I think it is a mistake to look at things this way. It is a mistake to look at anyone’s age in this context. What we need to focus on, instead, is the message we each have to share with the world through our music. When we do that, when we no longer focus on “how good” we are and focus instead of sharing our story with the world, then we can see young students like Forrest Johnston as evidence that we CAN be great players. It is in deed within our grasp.

That’s how I see it. I can share my story, through my music, and it doesn’t have to take a lifetime to accomplish.

This reminds me of the story about the first runner to break the four minute mile. Before Roger Bannister, people just believed that breaking the four minute mile was impossible. They believed that the human body couldn’t possibly run that fast. It is believed by many today that the reason WHY no one ever broke the four minute mile was because no one believed they could.

But once Bannister broke the four minute mile, many runners followed. Once they saw it could be done, they believed!

Why not let young students like Forrest Johnston effect you the same way? When you see youngsters like him, instead of doing as others have done, jokingly saying that you now have a trumpet for sale (insinuating that you are quitting), why not view them as evidence of what is possible?

Jazz Listening: Donald Byrd

Donald Byrd quintet Cannes 1958

1) From what you can see in this video, was Donald Byrd an “upstream” player or “downstream”?
2) How would you describe Donald Byrd’s embouchure?
3) Toward the end of the song, the flute and trumpet take turns improvising. What is that called?

Trumpet Listening: Stephen Burns

HIKARI by Sômei Satoh featuring Stephen Burns on Trumpet and Kuang-Hao Huang on Piano.

1) This is a very difficult piece to perform. What makes it so hard to play?
2) How would you describe Mr. Burns’ embouchure?
3) Is he playing on a B flat trumpet or a C trumpet?

Trumpet Listening: Wynton Marsalis

Wynton Marsalis with Kathleen Battle
Eternal Source (Händel)
Bright Seraphim (Händel)
Cantata No. 51 (Bach)

1) Which finger is Wynton Marsalis using to play the fourth valve on his piccolo trumpet?
2) Listen to Wynton’s trills. How would you describe them to someone who hasn’t heard this recording?
3) How would you describe the interaction between the voice and the trumpet?

Jazz Listening: Kenny Wheeler

Kenny Wheeler – By Myself

1) Kenny Wheeler begins this tune by playing an extended solo cadenza. How does the band know when to join him?
2) What kind of instrument is Wheeler playing on?
3) How would you describe Kenny Wheeler’s embouchure?

Trumpet Listening: Maurice Andre

Maurice Andre performs Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No.2

1) How high does this trumpet part sound to you?
2) What kind of trumpet is Maurice Andre playing?
3) What is a Concerto Grosso?

Maurice Andre is widely regarded as being the best trumpeter of the 20th century. When you listen to this recording and watch him play in the video, can you hear and see why he was so highly regarded?

Jazz Listening: Woody Shaw

Woody Shaw Theme for Maxine (With short interview)

1) What did Woody Shaw mean when he said trumpet players were starting to sound like him? Why is that a bad thing?
2) What kind of instrument is Woody Shaw playing in this clip?
3) What makes Woody Shaw’s playing different from other famous trumpet players you’ve heard?

Jazz Listening (1/26) Freddie Hubbard

Freddie Hubbard from his Sweet Return album playing The Night Has a Thousand Eyes.

1) How long is this tune? Why do you think they play so long?
2) What was the solo order on this song?
3) What was your favorite part of Freddie Hubbard’s solo?

Trumpet Listening (1/26) Santino Torre

Santino Torre – Casta Diva – Dalla Norma – Di V. Bellini – (Banda Dell’arma Dei Carabinieri)

1) Look at this band’s uniforms. As you watch the video, consider the military tradition from which our modern bands are derived from. If you are in a school band, how is this band similar to yours?
2) What kind of trumpet is Santino Torre playing?
3) Look at Mr. Torre’s embouchure. How would you describe it to someone who can’t see this video?

Extra Credit Listening
Here’s another video of Mr. Torre’s playing. Enjoy!!!

Trumpet Listening (1/19) Adam Rapa

Adam Rapa with the Belgian Brass
playing C.M. Von Weber’s Clarinet Concerto Number Two

1) What kind of trumpet is Adam Rapa playing? Look carefully!
2) Does this concerto sound to you like it was composed 200 years ago? Why?
3) What is the instrumentation for the Belgian Brass? How is this different from other brass ensembles you’ve seen or heard?