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Trumpet/SOOO confused about Jazz Improv.


Zel wrote at 2009-10-16 21:20:59
I use the Essential Elements Jazz: Trumpet book. it's good and includes a lot of music (swing, blues, latin) and accompaniments. This isn't an advertisement. it's experience. I play fourth trumpet in my jazz band because i get to play as loud as i can ^.^

TimmyS wrote at 2010-04-10 00:26:04
Clues to the Blues: Improvisation tips for trumpet in Rock and Blues context.   

Rock is essentially blues. Blues is based on a 3 chord pattern consisting of the I ,IV and V chords in each key.  The main challenge when starting out “improvising “ on Trumpet is figuring out how to avoid the sour notes while you’re sniffing it out.    

Rule #1: If you grab a sour note, the sweet note is never more than a half step away!

Rule #2: If you blow a rough line once and wince, they know you’ve effed up. If you go back and blow the same rough line TWICE MORE with confidence, and then blow the sweet resolving note, they’ll think you are effing cool.

Rule #3: This ain’t rocket science! Blues was pioneered by regular hardworking Men, and Rock and roll was at a time spearheaded by dropout junkies (all musical geniuses in their own way), so relax and enjoy the process!

Rock and blues melody and improve lines are based on the “Pentatonic scale” with passing “Blue notes” added for sexy twisto flavor. The beauty of the pentatonic scale is that it can be played against either the major or the minor chord, the 7th or 9th, of the letter named scale or key, without a lot of dissonant problems.

For a given key, you can either play the I chord’s blues scale across all 3 chords, or switch to the IV scale and the V scale as the changes flow by. Usually I get away with keeping on the I scale.

The trumpet is a Bb Instrument, which means that the written note sounds 1 whole tone below concert pitch. What follows is a list of blues scales written out by note name for the Bb trumpet with the concert pitch or key of the scale preceding in parentheses:

First a note on playing with Guitars: Guitars are concert pitch instruments. They are set up with a bias to play in the keys of E, and A,  a lot.

This throws the (Bb) trumpet into playing F# and B blues pentatonic scales. These scales share the notes of F#, A, B, E, either as a pentatonic tone or a blues passing tone.  These notes all can be fingered with patterns including the middle valve down. A good way to start feeling out a guitar based situation, when you don’t know the key is to push that middle valve down and start hunting for the groove!

OK! On to the scales… I’ve notated only the keys that it’s likely that a lazy guitar based rhythm section would use.          (Con. Key)  Tpt. Scale, Pent.With bluenotes

(Bb) :    C  Eb  F  F#  G  Bb  B  C

(Eb):     F  Ab  Bb  B  C  Eb  E   F

(A):       B   D   E  F  F#   A  Bb  B

(E):       F#  A   B  C  C#   E  F  F#

(D)        E   G   A  Bb  B   D  Eb  E

(B)         C#   E    F# G  G#     B  C  C#   

(G)      A   C   D  Eb  E   G  G#  A

(C)      D   F   G  G#  A   C  C#  D

(F)       G   Bb   C  C#  D   F  F#  G

Practice these scales and try to get some bluesy triplet-y phrasing. Take one scale at a time.  Break out the    notes of it and make up bluesy phrases and repeat them . Mix and match.  Put some simple blues rock on the stereo and see if you can make one of these scales blend with the tune. Try concert (A) or (E) blues first.  The next section will write out the appropriate scales to follow the I IV V changes of a standard blues song.  

Derek wrote at 2013-04-29 14:24:31
Try the free trumpet improvisation book Time To Improvise at its perfect for anyone interested in improvising, lots of fun songs and exercises on the C blues scale with cool backing tracks.


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I can answer questions regarding trumpets. I am a professional trumpet player, a former public school band director with a B.S. and M. Ed. in music education and I presently operate a brass and woodwind dealership and repair center. I prefer not to answer technical questions about trumpet playing in this forum. Please click on the View Profile link to view my "Frequently Asked Questions" before sending me a question.


I have been operating a brass and woodwind sales and repair business since 1984. I spent over 20 years as a public school band director / music teacher. I have also been a professional musician for over 30 years.

American Federation of Musicians, National Association of Band Instrument Repair Technicians

B.S. in Music Education, M. Ed. in Music Education

FAQ... WHAT IS A GOOD TRUMPET FOR A YOUNG STUDENT? It is always best to stick with a major brand, such as Bach, Besson, Bundy, Conn, Getzen, Holton, King, Olds, Yamaha, and a few others. There are some brands that may look fine and have impressive claims by the seller, but are of poor quality. Some of these poor instruments may even have a legitimate appearing "warranty." When the junk valves don't work well, they will send you replacement junk valves. Avoid trumpets of a color other than silver or gold, instruments that come with white gloves and instruments that are "band/instructor/teacher/director approved/recommended/certified." Quality instruments do not have a model year (2008, 2009...). Those things are almost always signs of a poor quality instrument which was made in some far off land. The valves will never work well, the instrument will have a poor tone, replacement parts usually are not available and repair shops often refuse to work on them. These instruments will cause nothing but frustration for the student and quite often lead to them quitting. The best use for these instruments is to make a pretty lamp out of them. It is much preferred to purchase a good quality used instrument over a cheap new one. When looking for a used instrument, the most critical consideration is how well the valves work. It is also important that all of the slides move freely. Minor dings don't matter, but major dents can possibly effect the sound. Make sure that none of the braces or joints are broken loose. Most students don't want an instrument that looks bad and embarrasses them when compared with those that other students have. This could lead to them to losing interest. With some careful and wise shopping it is possible to acquire a very good used instrument at a good price.

FAQ... HOW MUCH IS MY TRUMPET WORTH? Without actually seeing the instrument it is very difficult to place a value on it. A great deal of the value is determined by what condition the instrument is in. Values also differ greatly from region to region. Purchasing from, or selling to an individual is much different than purchasing from or selling to a dealer. Just like anything else... it's worth what ever someone is willing to pay for it. If you search completed items on eBay you can usually get a pretty good idea of the value. If you wish to sell your instrument, you may consider placing it on eBay with a relatively low starting price and no reserve price. With good pictures and a good description it will generally bid up to what it's worth. You may also consider donating it to a local school.

FAQ... WHEN WAS MY TRUMPET MADE / HOW OLD IS IT? In my opinion, with some exceptions, the age of an instrument is usually not very important. The condition of the instrument and how well it plays are what count in my book. If you really wish to know how old it is, you can usually find information with a good internet search. Example: Search for "Conn trumpet serial numbers."

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