Q: What do I give a trumpet student for Christmas?


Once upon a time, the mom of one of my students asked me what she could get her son for Christmas that would be "trumpet related." That question grew into a handout which I passed out each Christmas to those who similarly inquired. It has subsequently grown into this document, which I periodically update. This time I asked for additional suggestions from the trumpet newsgroup and the trumpet players mailing list. These are things that all trumpet students should have as they learn and grow, but are sometimes overlooked because the need is not critical, i.e., like a mouthpiece. The holidays (and birthdays) are the perfect time to meet some of these needs.

Many of these items are likely to be found at your local music retailer, though at slightly higher prices; others can be found through the major mail order houses below, however, I don't believe that any one of these stores has all of these products:

I also encourage my students (and their parents) to include one of the recordings from the following list as a Christmas and birthday present each year for their trumpet playing progeny. The importance of trumpet students listening to recordings of trumpet players (to say nothing of getting out to hear quality players live) cannot be overstated. How can you sound like Maurice André if you don't know how Maurice André sounds?

Metronome: Korg MA 20. The best inexpensive model available because :

  • Takes AAA batteries instead of the expensive watch batteries that others take.
  • Plays 0-7 beat patterns.
  • 40-208 BPM.
  • Has a reference tone set of C4-B4, chromatically.
  • Calibration range of 413-420, 438-445.
  • Subdivides at all tempos to eights, sixteenths, dotted eight/sixteenths, triplets and swing triplets.
  • You can tap in any tempo and it will pick up that tempo.
  • Has its own built in stand to set it upright.
  • Priced between $20 - $30.

Tuner: Seiko ST-747. The best inexpensive model available because:

  • Fully chromatic.
  • Works with pickup or via small input mic (built-in).
  • Uses 9 volt battery.
  • LED display red for sharp or flat; green for in tune.
  • Analog-type LCD dial with needle shows distance from being in tune in cents sharp or flat.
  • Durable, small size.
  • May tune notes specifically, or tuner can be set to auto mode to detect and register pitch.
  • Most accurate small tuner available. Short of the top of the line Korg or Peterson, this is it.
  • Priced between $25 - $30.

Horn Stands: These are very useful for circumstances when one performs with at least two trumpets, such as in orchestra where one may need both B flat and C trumpets, or in jazz groups where one is playing both trumpet and flugelhorn. There seem to be three different kinds each having some degree of popularity, depending on the player and the need.

  • The most popular, probably, is the ubiquitous Konig & Meyer cone shaped trumpet stands that store in the bell. It is rather heavy to cart around, but convenient and relatively stable. It comes in the familiar 3 legged version (around $22-24, mail order) and a recently introduced five legged version ($23-26) for those who found the three legged model not stable enough.
  • A lighter weight and less expensive alternative is the Belmonte Pack-A-Stand which features spring-loaded legs that also fit inside the trumpet bell for storage ($15-16), but it is less stable than the K & M stand. There is also the trumpet Spider, perhaps the lightest but nearly as stable as the K & M. It does not, however, store in the bell, and would take up space in your mute bag or trumpet case ($23).
  • Heavier, non-portable, stands like the Hamilton are available for situations, like a studio, where the stand need not be carted around.

Music Stands: Konig & Meyer makes a couple of great folding music stands. The lightweight one is similar in weight to the cheap Hamilton stand, but has many more features and is more stable because of tubing with greater diameter. It has an adjustable rack, so you can tilt the music down and back. It has knurled knobs to adjust the height with two telescoping sections. The legs are also locked down via a knob, so are not prone to collapse like the Hamilton. The lightweight version comes in black and is $21 at IMS. The same stand, I think, is available through the Brasswind, called the Woodwind Deluxe Folding Stand. For about $40, K & M makes a heavy duty folding stand that has far greater stability while maintaining its portability. It also comes in eight (!) colors, including a wild (perhaps suitable only for flute players) multi colored "rainbow" version, available at Giardinelli.

Mute Holder: This wonderful piece of hardware is a must for anybody who plays mute-intensive gigs like 30s and 40s swing era dances or musical shows. Kick your mute under the trombone players' chairs for the last time. Available for either three ($15) or four mutes ($25), Bob's "Trumpet Player's Friend" is an inexpensive, well made, versatile clamp-on mute rack that folds up easily to fit in a case or gig bag. It clamps on the post of all music stands. Get it directly from Bob.


The New Harvard Dictionary of Music
by Don Michael Randel (Editor)
List Price: $39.95, Amazon Price: $31.96
Hardcover, 1024 pp. (August  1986)
Harvard University Press, ISBN: 0674615255

The following are the best books I know of about the psychology of music practice and performance. They are very useful in helping to focus all of one's mental energy into playing and in dealing with the stresses of a highly demanding art.

The Inner Game of Music
by Barry Green (with W. Timothy Gallwey)
List Price: $22.95, Amazon Price: $18.36
Hardcover, 1st ed., 225pp. (February 1986)
Doubleday & Company, ISBN: 0385231261

Effortless Mastery: Liberating the Master Musician Within
by Kenny Werner
List Price: $20.00
Paperback, 192pp. ( January 1996)
Jamey Aebersold Jazz, Inc., ISBN: 156224003X

A Soprano on Her Head : Right-Side-Up Reflections on Life and Other Performances
by Eloise Ristad
List Price: $13.50, Amazon Price: $10.80
Paperback, 203 pages (February 1982)
Real People Pr; ISBN: 0911226214

An International Trumpet Guild membership. Get four big long issues of the ITG Journal and the annual compact disk and sheet music for $40 (adult) or $25 (student, senior). This would be the perfect year because the CD this year is a CD ROM containing all the journal articles in the previous 25 years. A wealth of information. To join on line, go here.

Recordings: Classical

Maurice André, Trumpet Concertos. EMI Classics (USA) CDZB 7 69152 2
A two CD set including works by Bach, Handel, Haydn, Vivaldi, Albinoni, Telemann, Cimarosa, Torelli and others performed by the finest trumpet soloist ever. Bargain priced at $15.98 at Tower Records.

Maurice André, Baroque Trumpet Concertos. Seraphim Classics CDR 72435 7342322
Works by Stolzel, Telemann, Vivaldi and Torelli. Another bargain at $7.98 at Tower Records.

Maurice André, The Ultimate Trumpet Collection. Erato 92861
Works by Handel, Bach, and others, including the Hummel Trumpet Concerto. One more bargain at $9.99 at Tower.

Timofei Dokshizer, Trumpet Rhapsody. RCA CD (# 74321-32045-2)
The great Russian virtuoso performs the Arutunian Trumpet Concerto, and works by Hummel and Biber as well.

David Hickman, Trumpet. Crystal
Performances with piano accompaniment of a number of great 20th century pieces, including works by Kennan, Stevens, Turrin, and others. The contemporary 'classical' music for trumpet.

Chicago Symphony (Solti), Mahler: Symphony 5. Uni/London Classics #30443
Chicago Symphony (Solti),
Mousgorsky: Pictures at an Exhibition . Uni/London Classics - #30446
Chicago Symphony (Reiner),
Strauss: Ein Heldenleben/Also Sprach Zarathustra. BMG/Rca Victor #61709
Hear Adolph Herseth and the Chicago Brass in all their glory.

Phillip Smith: Orchestral Excerpts for Trumpet. Summit Records DCD 144
The principal trumpet player of the New York Philharmonic plays, unaccompanied, the most important and famous trumpet parts in the orchestral literature. Match a master.

Canadian Brass, Greatest Hits (either Volume I or Volume 2)
Canadian Brass,
Bach: The Art of the Fugue. Columbia MK 44501
Both light and serious music played incredibly well by the world's most popular brass quintet.

American Brass Quintet Plays Renaissance, Elizabethan and Baroque Music. Delos D/CD 3003
Virtuouso performances of early music by one of America's premiere chamber ensembles.

Recordings: Jazz, etc.

Louis Armstrong, Louis Armstrong--Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man-1923-1934, Columbia/Legacy, Smithsonian Institution Press 57176, 4 compact discs, and a wonderful companion booklet.

Louis Armstrong, The Majestic Years. Avid Records AVC 541.
If you play the trumpet, you are a student of Louis, whether you know it or not. Get the instruction straight from the teacher.

Clifford Brown, The Beginning and The End. Columbia/Legacy 66491
His few recordings are still among the most influencial in jazz 45 years after his death at age 25. This includes his first recordings and what is often claimed to be a performance only a few hours before his fatal car accident, but which is really about a year before his death. Still very good stuff. Clifford's solo on "Night in Tunisia" is essential.

Chet Baker, Chet. Riverside OJCCD-0087-2
One of Chet's coolest recordings. Beautiful lyrical solos perfect to begin transcribing. It is the one with the picture of the blonde draped over Chet's back on the cover.

Miles Davis, Kind of Blue. Columbia CK 08163
Perhaps the most famous and important jazz album ever. Miles takes bebop and sends it down a new road of modal harmonies. Very mellow. Even the parents will like this one.

Lee Morgan, The Best of Lee Morgan: The Blue Note Years. Blue Note CDP 791138 2
The best of Lee's work from when he took Clifford Brown's torch and took it into the middle of the 60s.

Freddie Hubbard, Hub Tones. Blue Note 84115
Freddie Hubband,
This is Jazz 25. Epic Legacy ZK 65041
Between the two, a great overview of one of the leading trumpet players of the 60s and 70s.

Woody Shaw, Rosewood. Columbia Legacy CK 65519
Pioneer of angular improvisations loaded with wide intervals and new harmonic sensitivities. A tragic genius.

Wynton Marsalis, The Majesty of the Blues. Columbia CK 45091
My favorite Wynton album, with very lively traditional playing. Wynton doing what Wynton does best.

Doc Severinsen, Tonight Show Band, Volume 1. Amherst
Doc Severinsen,
Tonight Show Band, Volume 2. Amherst
Great traditional style big band playing featuring an icon of the trumpet world. Each recording is a clinic on how to play this kind of music.

Maynard Ferguson, Chameleon. Sony Legacy 46112
The father of higher, louder, faster shows how high, loud, and fast it can get. Deep down, we all want to be Maynard.

Chase, Chase. One Way Records #26660
Higher, louder, and faster for a new generation. The rock music context from the late 60s shows its age just a bit, but the trumpet playing is forever. The other two Chase albums have been released on one CD and are equally good, at least from the trumpet playing aspect. Try
Barnes and Noble music for both these, each at $9.48.

Recordings: Something a little closer to the edge

Dave Douglas' Tiny Bell Trio, Constellations. Hat Art CD 7165
Douglas' trio consists of trumpet, guitar and drums playing jazz, dixie, eastern European folk music, classical transcriptions and all sort of eclectic stuff. The guy can play.

Russell Gunn, Ethnomusicology, Volume 1. Atlantic 83165-2
This is 1999. Jazz meets hip hop. No one is injured. A 1999 Grammy Award nominee--at least they got this one right.

Don Ellis Orchestra, Electric Bath. GNP Crescendo GNPD 2223
How can a recording made in 1968 be cutting edge? Because there hasn't been anything like it since. Loads of electrified quarter tone trumpet.

Miles Davis, A Tribute to Jack Johnson. Columbia CK 47036
What Miles would have sounded like had he chosen The Rolling Stones as his backup band. Angry hard-edged rock by the most intriguing trumpet player of the last fifty years.


Acknowledgements and gratitude to
Kevin Cobb, Jeff Helgesen, Al Lilly, David Lindgren,
Stanton Kramer, Mike Magers, John C. Thomas, and Luke Arredondo
for their contributions to this list.

Other great suggestions?
Jim Donaldson.


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