In her youth, Rosie was a state champion trumpet player. Rosie has a BA in Sociology, is a published author, researcher, programmer & policy advocate whose submissions have been referenced in Parliamentary Reports. After a very long absence from music Rosie returned to music during the pandemic & is now a composer & musician. Email: rosie@musicalescapism.com

40 Solo
26 Duet
14 Quartet
13 Jazz Band
12 Trio
10 Orchestra
8 Brass Band
5 Concert Band
5 Quintet
4 Sextet
2 Choir


Documenting Trumpet Exam Preparations

I'm inviting people into my preparations toward trumpet exams.

I was going to start busking today but I woke to greet the rain that we had been promised over the past few days and decided it wasn't the best day to be out and about so watched a couple of (American) National Trumpet Competition Masterclasses which were live streaming, then decided to start my journey to prepare for exams in trumpet.

After writing, rehearsing and recording my first batch of trumpet tunes, I pulled out the Concertos from my teenage years and discovered a strong urge to perfect them (not to mention the attendant technical works) and in doing so, prepare myself for trumpet exams. This should allow me entry into the part time jobs there is a demand for.

It will give me a reason to fill in some of the gaps that to this point I've been avoiding this time round and I've decided my preparation is a good way to bring people into what I'm doing with music now. With that end in mind, I've decided to blog my preparation from the perspective of the student that I am, to share the highs and lows rather than cut myself off and wait till I'm perfect which is both unhealthy and no way to engage an audience!

I'll decide which exam system to use as time goes on but in advanced grades the repertoire seems quite similar anyway but I'm using a new system based in the UK called the Music Teacher Board as my initial guide as their syllabus and marking guide is free online and they seem designed to fit with current and future expectations.

I find it helpful to have a specific goal to each practice or recording session. I find this especially important with learning how to record because the technology is something I've been struggling with, trying different equipment and often confused about why a mic is or isn't working or what is impacting the recording quality that unless I break it down I find myself overwhelmed and none-the-wiser from one day to the next.

Where my trumpet playing is concerned, I am still very much getting my lip back which means that I feel very limited in terms of what I can get done in any given day. I've found this very frustrating and trying to take on, not only re-learning trumpet but also learning to perform and record new repertoire with backing tracks which I've just written has meant I often feel overwhelmed despite loving what I'm doing.

Having taught myself music as a child and then putting my son through several AMEB exams (many years ago now), I've always had a very structured approach to learning but the pace with which I am trying to adopt my new career, driven by financial need, is a lot, even for me.

Other than my warm up scales, I haven't really been doing any technical work so today was a chance to hunt down some broken chord exercises and triple tonging from the free Arban PDF. But my main goal today was to have a go at recording the Andante from Haydn's Trumpet Concerto so after warming up with the Arban exercises, I decided to spend the rest of my practice on the Andante.

The main reason I play very little music that isn't written by me is because 1) I can't afford to buy music 2) The work required to create backing tracks to play along with; and 3) If I want to publish my performances I need to consider copyright. Thankfully, the older concertos and the Arban are all in the public domain so I was able to download both the score and a MuseScore arrangement of the accompaniment from IMSLP.

The accompaniment was arranged for piano accordion by Paul De Bra and I was able to use it to create a chamber orchestra arrangement which I quite like. I've uploaded it to MuseScore under a similar licence for others to use. It's actually the first scored arrangement that I didn't write myself that I've published.

Trumpet Concerto in E-flat major, Hob.VIIe:1 – Joseph Haydn Andante from the by MusicalEscapism

So how did I go with recording the Haydn today?

Recording an acoustic instrument like trumpet has its own issues. After struggling with a couple of cheap external mics I tend to default to the in-built microphone because the main problem with recording trumpet is getting a sound wave at a volume that fits within certain boundaries. This is a huge challenge with trumpet when I am playing with expression and dynamics as the mics seem to pick up high register well but not low register and the dynamic changes that sound good to the human ear seem to be recorded as much more extreme with the external mics I have at hand.

This means I can't just play something through once and if there are no major bloopers then Bob's your uncle and it's done. It can mean going over and over the same piece trying to get a reasonably even waveform, a process which stresses my embouchure. I spent the first little while just going over and over the first few bars establishing the best volume setting on the sound input for the mic ie not too soft, not too loud, just right. This gave me a sound wave that is within the required parameters.

Once you start recording it's difficult not to become perfectionistic, conscious of every 'imperfection', with narratives running through your head about what people will think if the articulation for example isn't precisely as written in the edition they are familiar with. Given I'd only pulled this piece of music out again for a proper look a few days ago I took this as an opportunity to practice these elements as today's goal.

Recording always throws spanners in the works including just the distraction of the added pressure of managing earphones, the Digital Audio Workstation I'm using to record etc. I usually get into the flow after a day or so but I wanted to share what I'd done today, not because it's perfect but because it's a starting point. With that in mind, here it is.

Next time I'll work on perfecting the top B flat, the timing, intonation and try to fix the extremes in the dynamics where it falls away with the diminuendos. I'll either do this by moving the bell toward the mic for those notes or try to fix them in the mixing.

14th Mar 2023

Becoming a musician at fifty

Regaining long lost skills means bringing the past into the present and moving beyond it to imagine new horizons.

145 visitors 830 visitors 2,375 visitors 14,896 visitors
247 hits last 24 hrs 2,152 hits last week 11,501 hits last month 114,560 hits