Monday, June 28, 2021


What does a xylophone have to do with trumpet playing? Not a lot, except when taking a closer look at the mallets. 

The "ping" produced by the striking mallet on the toy xylophone is how clear and precise trumpet entrances need to be.

The mallet is the tongue. The note is focused, clear, popping, ringing, and pinging. 

Saturday, June 26, 2021


Mel Broiles had just demonstrated how one of those opera arias in Arban's The Art of Phrasing should sound. Then it was my turn. (Yes pressure!)

Trying hard to reproduce even some of his elegance and power, I whole-heartedly plowed through one of those famous Verdi arias. I gave it my best but expected a grimace and shrug of disapproval. Instead, he exclaimed, "Spoken like a gentleman!"

Later I wondered if it was sarcasm or genuine praise. Praise was hard to get. I took it as a compliment which has served as motivation lasting for years. How important are the words we speak!

Friday, June 25, 2021


"Every piece of music has an important octave in it." (William Vacchiano)

That simple statement should launch a search for all the prominant and voluptuous solo octaves on the planet, starting from Over the Rainbow all the way through Mahler 9! 

Have a nice octave day! 

Thursday, June 24, 2021


"You must be able to come "bustin' in" at any time."

Armando Ghitalla said in one sentence what was needed to chase away timidity. A mindset that has no fear. An eagerness to make the grand entrance. A confidence that your first note will be attention-getting. 

You must have a reputation for confident accuracy! As a colleague once said, "It must be automatic." 


Wednesday, June 23, 2021



Me to student:  "If you can play this one line of music without a mistake, it's yours!!" 

I felt I was safe, knowing well my student's tendency to miss notes. As soon as he saw the money, however, everything changed. That twenty-dollar bill accomplished more than all of my talking. 

He then proceeded to play the line of music perfectly with nary a miss.  Reluctantly, but happily, I handed him his reward. "WOW! Gas money, he said! Gee, thanks!"

Saturday, June 05, 2021


Just as a great conductor can communicate with one gesture, so too the most memorable lessons can often be condensed into a single sentence, or even a facial expression. Effective lessons should be unforgettable and motivating. The art of brevity!

Lesson #2:

"Your passion for music must be greater than your fear of the audience."

Overcome fear with overpowering musicianship. Purpose to enthusiastically communicate, rather than just deliver notes. Prepare to entertain. Drama beats trauma. 

Wednesday, June 02, 2021


Just as a great conductor can communicate with one gesture, so too the most memorable lessons can often be condensed into a single sentence. Brief but powerful advice, unforgettable, effective, and motivational. The art of brevity. 

Lesson #1:

"I want you to practice this week as if I were listening to every note!"

Not much else is needed for this command to be useful. You can insert the name of your choice. Then invite your great artist/teacher to listen in. Accountability matters in daily work. 

Benefits: fewer wasted notes, less boredom, better quality, more musical interest, and it's cheaper!