Friday, October 01, 2010

Back to the future...

Among the many irons in the fire of late, I've been rekindling my knowledge of trumpet related things. I lent my grandson one of mine, and having not been able to play for the last 20 some years because of my teeth, I'm amazed at some of what's changed in two decades...

First was the band book he came home from school with...including DVD.

This week I've learned there are no truly "full line" music stores here! They can all order this or that and have it in 3 days, but don't expect to walk in and get a mouthpiece today unless it's the very basest average of beginner models. Not to mention that the prices out of New York have doubled, but locally they've tripled or quadrupled if you call around.

You used to be able to go buy 2 or 3 to try and return the ones that didn't work for you. You still can out of New York; up to 15 of them...if you have the credit card balance to cover them all.

Not locally!

When I lent my grandson a beginner trumpet (more a matter of smaller bore than quality) I lent him the shallowest mouthpiece I could dig up to go with it. My own, the jewel it took me years to find "back in the day" is much deeper and has a wider rim because of the lips my Dad used to refer to with an ethnic slur that still bothers me.

Dillon doesn't have that problem and what I lent him is a bit much to make it easy on him...

I finally came up with the Bach 7C last night, the one I should have sent with him the first day, 3 weeks later, stuck somewhere it shouldn't have been (like many things around here). If I could find one locally I'd also have him try a "10 1/2C" (even shallower, makes higher notes easier, better for "thinner" lips and smaller lungs).

In my on-line explorations and reading I've found out that some of the idols of my youth used a mouthpiece I'd never heard of, a "Parduba 'double-cup'" that has a shallow cup for upper register, but at the bottom of it is a 2nd deeper cup to allow more air to fill in the tone throughout the range. Louis Armstrong used one through the 40's and later. It also turns out that Dad's idol, Harry James used one from '35 on. James had grown up playing in his father's circus orchestras and the legend had it is that all the playing and practice were what had built his range and tone...

My hope (fingers crossed) is that I can try a pair of those and find one that will let me pick up the horn again and play enough to satisfy "the urge" without putting so much pressure on the porcelain bridge I've already blown up once ($2500 in 1989) that I have to replace it again! (Both times I begged the dentist for a full plate I could "glue" in, knowing many of the old-timers had made that work and was told that this was so much better an option. For eating, yes, it has been, but there is more to life sometimes...)

Even better is that, pending background screen and such, I have a job starting in a few weeks, so I should be able to order those and not have to feel guilty about it! Part-time, 3 days a week...I had hoped for 4 but we'll see how it plays out. They said if I survive the holidays I'll become a "part time" employee instead of "seasonal"...I plan on surviving!

Other things I'm finding that amaze me are the forums available on "the net" that cover instruments, technique and such, along with fully written out transcriptions of some of the solos I spent hours taking apart spinning 33 and 78 rpm recordings of...Dad would have really been upset had he figured out how many times I spun some of his old shellac discs before I got my first cassette recorder and wired it into an old turntable so I only had to spin them once and could then wear out the tape I made!

In the mid 80's, when I had that first "bridge" and started playing again I was still spinning 33's to play with because so much was unavailable on CD. I'm looking forward to playing with some of those now, as 33's changed pitch as they played, starting out flat as the needle rode the outside edge of the disc and slowly going sharp as they spun faster when it moved inward on the album. (Sadly, during that stint in the late 80's, I used enough pressure as I worked into the upper register that I snapped the steel posts out of the root-canaled teeth supporting that porcelain bridge and not only had to have it rebuilt, but now it has even less support than it did then.)

If I get my desktop running again (driver issue) I'll fire up Deezer and see what mp3's are like as well...

Having that outlet was always a means of expression that came easily...so many times it was much easier to "bend a blue note" than to find the words for whatever was bottled up inside me.

Through all these years, I've never stopped "hearing" the music "in my head"...hearing what I'd have played to solo or counterpoint any given thing at any given time. My fingers still run through the fingerings as my mind flies...

Perhaps letting some of that loose will make way for more practical things!

May the weekend be lovely and kind for each of you!

alan






12 comments:

ryssee said...

Music=happiness. How cool it is to be able to play yourself, and now to be able share that with your grandson!
The internet era has given us lots of accessibility, but has unfortunately made local shopping horrible in many places. Specialty stores in particular are the victims of that.
By the way, I'm "butterfly-bridged" myself on a front tooth from a baseball injury. Haven't been able to bring myself to get an implant on that front tooth.

fineartist said...

You still have the music in you and that is one of the greatest gifts we humans are filled with. Right on Alan, I'd choose music over food any time...okay, ya gotta eat to live but without music who'd wan to.

A new seasonal/part time job...I knew you'd be back in the work force, it will give you time to rest from all of the work you do when you're not working.
love you, mean it,
Lori

GirlWhoShould (Lucy) said...

Good luck with the new job. There are still specialists including the old music store in my home town though many have died out over the years.

Anji said...

My sisters both played a range of brass instruments. I was allowed a turn on the trombone once, not with any result worth writing about.

You suddenly reminded me of my Granddad picking up my 'cello and getting a decent tune out of it - that day I discovered that he had played the violin as a boy.

Good luck with the new job - hope you survive.

Heidi said...

Goodluck and a big HUG!!

Ps..Blog address has changed. ( I deleted my other one)

www.smallsteps4me.blogspot.com

Debbie K said...

Dear Alan
I wish you all the luck in the world with your new job.
Its never too late to follow your dreams.
It would be music to my ears to know life is being kind to you & that you can rediscover your musical talents.
Take care
Debbie

Dr. Deb said...

I spent one day a week getting lessons at the local music store growing up. It was like a second home. Musicians trying out new riffs, instruments everywhere, music, accessories, records and song sheets. It's gone now, as are most, like you say. Sad, really.

Puffer said...

Good luck!

Samantha said...

Congratulations on the new job! My hope is that more than the money it will bring you, it will enrich you personally and give you new people to talk to, and most importantly, enrich your soul with satisfaction and happiness! Good Luck my friend!

Yes, yes, yes! Music does indeed = happiness! Well said!

I've dabbled with a number of instruments over the years, including among others the French horn. But the one I've always wanted, and will one day claim as my own is the piano. In part because that was always out of reach, and in part because something about it has always spoken to my soul.

One thing that has never failed me is the music within, and thankfully great ears and a soul tuned by God. I grew up listening to mostly country music, but found a great love for many, many other forms including Jazz and opera. From my earliest memories I had a set of pipes, sang in chorus until the unspeakable happened: Puberty.

That kinda derailed me for years I was so horrified. A friend basically embarrassed me into doing Karaoke at one point many years later. Stunned everyone, including myself, with a flawless "King of the road." So I'd adjusted some and found a range that would once again allow me to sing. Started doing Karaoke more often, started competing, WINNING, but it wasn't near what I wanted to be able to do. I didn't do it for the winning, I did it because of how it felt. Circumstances kinda prevented the range I wanted, but I made do. Except for one night, the DJ Eric "Rico Sauvé" decided HE was going to challenge me and picked out Alan Miles "Black Velvet" and claimed I couldn't possibly do it justice, let alone win with that.

Samantha said...

part 2...

I brought the house down. Standing ovation, people stomping on the floor, I'd pulled it off and pulled it off well. I'd transposed it just enough to fit the range I could pull off then.

Years passed, marriage happened, I stopped singing as I tried to make sense out of everything and then all hell broke loose. I eventually started singing in the car, started pushing myself on long drives, and of course other changes were taking place.

In 2005 at a holiday party I started singing along with some Tracey Chapman and lost myself in the moment. There I was eyes closed, belting out "Fast Car," and the DJ kept on going with the rest of the Album, and I kept right on going, knowing somewhere in the back of my head that he was doing it because I was really belting it out. Tracey was in effect accompanying me, not the other way around. I was singing like a woman possessed. All the power, feeling, range, emotion there coming up from deep inside me, making the songs my own. When it ended I was stunned by silence, and then thunderous applause from another standing, stomping ovation. Most of the women and a few of the men were crying while smiling like fools and clapping.

I spent the next several hours having people try to talk to me about singing in clubs, or getting some writers to do my own material. Everyone loved my voice, said I sang like an angel. Did my heart good to hear that, they didn't know my past.

And me, after getting over being embarrassed that I'd in effect taken over the party for a while and turned it into a recital, realized I'd come home.

I have range and power like I'd never even dreamed all those years ago, and could finally do real justice to the music that for so long had been just out of reach.

So while I still yearn to learn the piano, I know now my instrument, the one I was really born to play, is me!

And I play it well. So much so that recently at dinner with some new friends, one turned to me and said "You've been classically trained haven't you?" Not following her I said "In what?" "Voice," she said, "music, opera! You sing Opera don't you?! I can just hear it in the way you speak, you have a beautiful voice." Mind you I'd not sung a note that night, but she knew she said she could tell.

So all my years of search for the right instrument that would give my heart wings, I found the music that had always been in me could be shared. So well I too miss the old days of local small town music stores that had several of everything, and was a favored hang out spot for those of us in band. I have something more precious now.

I hope you get a mouthpiece or two that let you really fly, and that your bridge work doesn't bear the brunt!

Samantha said...

I brought the house down. Standing ovation, people stomping on the floor, I'd pulled it off and pulled it off well. I'd transposed it just enough to fit the range I could pull off then.

Years passed, marriage happened, I stopped singing as I tried to make sense out of everything and then all hell broke loose. I eventually started singing in the car, started pushing myself on long drives, and of course other changes were taking place.

In 2005 at a holiday party I started singing along with some Tracey Chapman and lost myself in the moment. There I was eyes closed, belting out "Fast Car," and the DJ kept on going with the rest of the Album, and I kept right on going, knowing somewhere in the back of my head that he was doing it because I was really belting it out. Tracey was in effect accompanying me, not the other way around. I was singing like a woman possessed. All the power, feeling, range, emotion there coming up from deep inside me, making the songs my own. When it ended I was stunned by silence, and then thunderous applause from another standing, stomping ovation. Most of the women and a few of the men were crying while smiling like fools and clapping.

I spent the next several hours having people try to talk to me about singing in clubs, or getting some writers to do my own material. Everyone loved my voice, said I sang like an angel. Did my heart good to hear that, they didn't know my past.

And me, after getting over being embarrassed that I'd in effect taken over the party for a while and turned it into a recital, realized I'd come home.

I have range and power like I'd never even dreamed all those years ago, and could finally do real justice to the music that for so long had been just out of reach.

So while I still yearn to learn the piano, I know now my instrument, the one I was really born to play, is me!

And I play it well. So much so that recently at dinner with some new friends, one turned to me and said "You've been classically trained haven't you?" Not following her I said "In what?" "Voice," she said, "music, opera! You sing Opera don't you?! I can just hear it in the way you speak, you have a beautiful voice." Mind you I'd not sung a note that night, but she knew she said she could tell.

So all my years of search for the right instrument that would give my heart wings, I found the music that had always been in me could be shared. So well I too miss the old days of local small town music stores that had several of everything, and was a favored hang out spot for those of us in band. I have something more precious now.

I hope you get a mouthpiece or two that let you really fly, and that your bridge work doesn't bear the brunt!

zilla said...

Yeah, when the band teacher announced it was time for Gina to upgrade her clarinet we could find NOTHING locally. We were referred to Wood & Brasswinds online, found something suitable and ordered it. That was a package I didn't want left on the front porch. I had no idea instruments were so freakin' expensive!

Best of luck with your new job. I hope you enjoy it and that they give you the schedule you want and deserve!