Friday, July 31, 2009

Trumpeter And Warming Up!

A trumpeter is usually taught early on certain passages and routines for warming up, but is rarely told why it's good to warm up with this that or the other.

Much like an athlete, it's important for a trumpeter to warm up to prevent tension, set good air usage, help the fingers and tongue become flexible, and get everything to function optimally. Unfortunately, many warm ups cause more tension and strain than what they prevent. Improperly doing lip slurs, multiple octave scales, and other warm up activities, can cause more than what they cure.

My personal warm up consists of SOFT playing for several minutes (up to an hour) with my lips set closely together and using the corners in an inward kissing type motion. This prevents me from pulling the lips back in a smile formation - which causes the lips to thin and increase muscle tension vs. using air. My goal is to get the lips to buzz freely close together by using the air stream and holding the lips in the same position. Soft notes and high notes are very closely related!

If you'd like more information, please contact me at Brass Player Solution! I offer a course called "Back To Basics" for trumpeters! 4 weeks of 30 minute videos, and as an added bonus, a Q&A session each week scheduled to fit your scheduling needs.

Keith Fiala

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Trumpet - A How To Guide!

If you're looking for a good book that won't use extensive terms that are complicated to understand and you truly want to improve your trumpet playing, then check out "Secrets To Efficient Brass Playing."

I am currently developing a course that I'm calling "Back To Basics" that will help simplify what many have WAY over complicated in the trumpet playing world!

It is my belief that people tend to over complicate things for various reasons... trumpet playing / trumpet teaching is no exception. Whether they are doing it due to a lack of knowing how to communicate instructions clearly, trying to make themselves feel more intelligent than what the craft really calls for, or they themselves don't understand and therefore they're creating confusion to hide their ignorance, it's not really clear to me as to why things have to have so much clouded puff around them.

Trumpet playing is basically this - an instrument that amplifies the action of lips being vibrated together by air passing through them. Nothing more - nothing less. The rest of it is muscle memory, creating habits (good and bad), and practicing to memorize proper technique.

Where does natural ability fall in to that? Beyond the desire to want to... I personally don't see it.

Make your trumpet playing life easier - take a private lesson via webcam with me!

Contact me at Brass Player Solution

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Online Trumpet Lessons Taught By Keith Fiala

During our trip to Europe, one of the main topics of conversation was "what can we do to offer more". And the one thing that kept coming up was to buy a new computer and offer online lessons, as well as courses.

So - introducing Trumpet Lessons Online with Keith Fiala. If you really want to improve your range, endurance, tone, and your abilities, then take an online lesson with Keith.

Over the years, I have learned to take what was nearly impossible to me at one time and have learned to not only do it simply, but teach it in a simple manner as well.

Most tend to over-complicate explanations... making things sound much more scientific or advanced than what it really is. When you get right down to brass tax, all a high note consists of is fast air. Nothing less, nothing more. You make air move faster by compressing it and blowing it through a small hole we call an aperture.

If you would like more information on classes online, please contact Keith!
Brass Player Solution

Monday, July 27, 2009

Trumpet High Notes Screaming in Europe!

Where was I -

I had to take a break from posting over the weekend as I traveled to Jackson Hole, Wyoming to perform at a wedding with Memphis Train Revue. The weather was really great and another nice jolt that prompted the question again - why am I still in Austin, TX.

As we traveled through Europe, it became more and more apparent to me that my online presence needed to be boosted up even more. We decided that we needed to buy a new Mac, now we've decided that teaching webcam lessons would be a great thing as well. All in all, Europe was a great kick in the pants for me. Before we left, I had gotten complacent... a little too comfortable with things as they are. Now after playing to appreciative audiences, hanging with great musicians and seeing the world through rested eyes - I was ready!

We pulled in to Rotterdam, Holland to play our final gig at the North Sea Jazz Festival. Randy Brecker was going to perform with us one more time and we were all pumped!

The show was amazing! Randy played (this goes without saying) amazing and got us to step up just one more notch! What a rush!!!

After the show, I was fortunate enough to run back in to Frank Greene, and Terrell Stafford who had performed earlier with Village Vanguard! What great guys to hang out with!!!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Trumpet in Lucern, Switzerland!

We were only able to spend one night in Grindelwald - which was sad to say the least, but we are now heading in to 2 days off in Lucern. Neither of us have ever been, but we hear that it's gorgeous!!!

Upon first arriving, each new place feels overwhelming... not from the hustle and bustle of traffic or people going by, but more from all the sites and sounds to take in at once. Lucern is certainly no exception! Once settled in to the hotel, we decided to put on our walking shoes again and start hiking... we were literally just a block away from the river and the bridge that separates the town. On the other side of the river was a shopping area... outdoor mall European style! Just beyond that was neighborhoods... so we could see things through the eyes of the locals and not just another pair of American tourists.

We stumbled upon a music store nestled in the heart of the shopping area - as Anna was still on a good running shoe quest. All the shoes that she liked were nearly twice what we could get them for at home... all the ones on sale that she liked were "near" her size but not quite. We stopped in to the music store to investigate this horn - upon closer inspection and speaking to one of the shop keep's, the horn is Swiss made... called Spiri. Interestingly enough, it has a detachable bell, lead-pipe, and tuning slide that can all be purchased. Different bell flares, smaller lead pipes, and a "D" style tuning slide could all be purchased in addition to the horn as it comes from the factory. I was invited to play the horn - but being without my mouthpiece, I opted to wait until tomorrow morning...

As we walked, we noticed that no one seemed to be stressed, in a hurry, pissed off, etc. It was really nice to be in a relaxed environment and still be in a city.

Once again, pictures just do NO JUSTICE to the place itself, but we have experienced some amazing sites! One of the city's monuments is a lion that has been carved into the face of a rock wall that was once a gravel pit by an Italian artist that was commissioned by Lucerne to carve out this life like sculpture. If you look closely, you can see the broken spear in the lion's side!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

TJO Takes Some Time Off In Grindelwald, Switzerland!

If ever there was a place that would look like it was home to knomes, Hansel & Grettel, smurfs, any mythical story book type village, it would have to be Grindelwald, Switzerland. This little mountain village is every bit straight out of a fantasy! We couldn't believe our eyes!

The pictures posted here do this adorable place no justice... it was just an amazing experience to pull up into this fantasy land... I have always been partial to mountains and small mountain settlements. This was my dream come true!

I'll be posting more photos in the coming days!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Trumpet High Note Lessons Online Decision Made!

Visit Brass Player Solution

After struggling a second day with my old laptop, we made the corporate decision that we were going to HAVE to get a new computer. I'd been around enough folks with Mac's that we pretty much knew that it would be a Macbook Pro - as our iPhone was the only device that wasn't having any trouble loading, working, connecting, etc. We would also be able to offer online trumpet lessons via the built in webcam which was a goal for many months!

We were gearing up for our second day / performance in Montreux, but are going to start the day off at the castle right on Lake Geneva! This was a boat cruise on the lake and was an AMAZING way to pull up to the Castle!! Check out the pix - you can feel the spirits of the past era's that had been there centuries before!

After our tour of the castle, it was back to town so we could grab some lunch before our performance at the Jazz Festival...

Once again the crowd was very appreciative, and loved the band! It's really great having the opportunity to perform with musicians that are skilled and be appreciated as a group by people who are there giving back as much as they are receiving!

After the performance, we went back to the hotel room to change clothes, drop off the horn and head back down to the festival so we could gather some shirts, etc. We also got some good shots of the statue of Freddie Mercury right on the shore of Lake Geneva. He apparently loved Montreux... we can see why!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Montreux Jazz Festival - Here We Come!

We were up at 7:15 in the morning to get packed, eat breakfast and head to the bus by 9am.

On the ride to Montreux, we stopped at a truck stop along the way and were able to get out and literally smell the roses! In the middle of the mountains along the highway! Just beautiful! And I can't really remember ever saying that about a truck stop!

We stopped in Lausanne, Switzerland for lunch. This was a cute little lake shore town along Lake Geneva. Anna and I stopped in to a place that one of the locals we ran in to recommended for just a salad. Still VERY expensive... but the coolest toilets I've ever seen! Not to be disgusting, but when you stand up this little mechanical arm comes out, makes the lid spin around as it wipes the lid!

We have a 4:30pm hit time in Montreux and no real time to warm up properly... so, it's back to hurry and pray!

Great show over all! Very hot under the black tarp tent, but the crowd was fantastic! Fun to see lots of people from all over the world come together to enjoy music!

We got back to the hotel with enough time to check our email on the computer and hang out for a minute before heading back to the festival to walk a bit. My 5 year old laptop is dying a slow painful death and is even more frustrating now because it won't connect to the internet more than half the time. My iPhone does a much better job! A Macbook Pro is in our future!!! We will then start offering trumpet lessons online!

Friday, July 17, 2009

TJO & Trumpet High Notes in Geneva, Switzerland!

We did a 4 hour drive from Lyon, France to Geneva, Switzerland to play for the 4th of July celebration that was being thrown at the American Consulate!

The weather was a bit warm (but nothing like Texas) and we were greeted by friendly delegates from all over the world!
The band hadn't played since Friday (6/26/09) before we had left for Europe, but played well! The Delegates and invited guests were very receptive and enjoyed the show!

After leaving the stage, we literally had to jump back on the bus and head to the Boujulais Wine & Jazz Festival where Band of the West opened for us! This was a great band from Lyon, France that played very well together!

This was great to be able to hang out with Band of the West after the performances... music is amazing!

After the show, we headed back to our room in Lyon at the Hotel Ibis... where a cold shower and sleep was much needed. We're to leave at 8:15 the next morning to go to Montreux, Switzerland! The part of the trip I've been really looking forward to!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Trumpet High Notes For the Delegates!

We woke up at 7am to be dressed, packed, and ready for a L O N G bus ride to Lyon! While driving through Paris, one of our own delegates realized that he'd left items of value and importance in the hotel room safe. So, he and Colin had to take the subway train back to the hotel. We had to stop and wait at the "Bercy" stop along the subway route to wait.

2 hours behind schedule, we arrived at our hotel in Lyon at 5:40pm - sound check was scheduled for 6:30 and we're still 30 minutes away from Jazz A'Vienne.

As we're driving to the gig, Colin received a call saying that our first performance in Europe had been canceled due to a heavy thunderstorm. So, we adjourned to a Pizzeria for dinner before we were to attend the Roy Hargrove Big Band performance in the Roman Amphitheater ruins. What an incredible venue!!!!

To my delight, I found out that Frank Greene was playing lead trumpet and Greg Gisbert playing 2nd! What a treat to hear them!!!! And Roy sounded amazing as well.

Disappointed that we couldn't perform, but satisfied from hearing a great performance, we all loaded back on the bus to return to Lyon and head to Geneva, Switzerland in the morning to play for the 4th of July celebration at the American Consulate!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Last Day In Paris - Jazz Jam!

Wednesday July 1, 2009

After eating breakfast at the hotel, we met up with Sparky and Tim to visit the Louvre and other historic destinations. I was at the Louvre in 1985 with my High School Jazz band on a trip to Europe, but didn't remember much and had since lost most of the pictures taken... although the French people were much friendlier this go-round, I still am not crazy about Paris. It's another big city similar to New York / L.A. in many respects, but certainly worth a visit if you've never been.

Seeing amazing works of art from centuries past, eating lunch at the cafeteria and checking out the gift shop, Anna and I decided to part ways with Tim and Sparky so we could walk to Notre Dame. This was easily a 3 mile hike, but well worth it. We wound around the old streets and stayed off the main roads... finally feeling like we were in Europe and not N.Y.!

We stopped off at a street cafe (one of the thousands) for a beer and a slice of tort so we could officially use the restrooms. There is a charge if you are not a customer... well worth the very needed break!

We decided after giving our feet a break and getting a little bit more energy that we should venture in to Notre Dame! There was a service under way with a female Cantor with an angelic voice! VERY haunting - yet beautiful! We were captivated!

Since the Sgt. Recruiter area was somewhat familiar, we decided to walk back down that way to window shop a bit. Anna found a Parisian designer store with a purse that even I have to admit was way cool! The owner of the shop spoke some English and was very friendly... offered advice on where to eat that wasn't going to break us nor poison us with dirty bathwater like the previous night!

Upon catching the last train back to our hotel, we ran in to a group from Temple Jazz Orchestra and they told me about a jazz jam just around the corner... so I hurried and grabbed my horn! Tim Cates, Sparky Thomason, Dave Wild, Ben Irom, Vince Bryce and myself all got a chance to jam with the locals at a place called "The Cave". A cool little underground dive!!! What a treat!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Days Without A Show To Go!

Tuesday - 6/30/2009
Our first chance to sleep in since... man, who knows how long it's been!
As Anna was in the shower, I decided to warm up a bit. My chops are still swollen and a bit battered from the heavy week previously, but now I'm starting to get a little concerned about not getting enough playing time in. That old concern that I think each player has enter in their minds when they tour and gigs are days between. I am NOT one of those players that can go without touching the horn for a few days!

We had slept too long to make the hotel breakfast, so we decided to walk to the McDonald's to check email ONLY!!! Then off to a local cafe near the hotel for crepes. They weren't what we were hoping for, but we were sitting in a Paris cafe drinking a cappuccino and eating crepes.

We caught the M13 train to Auiliedes station, and picked up the "C" train to Versailles to see the palace!

We arrived at Versailles a little after 1pm, so we bought 2 passes at 10 Euro each. Audio walking tour of the Daughters Apartments and the Kings quarters. Amazing sights, but you could feel the power and presence within the palace!

We left the palace at 5pm and jumped on a train heading to a station that would put us right near Notre Dame as we were to meet the rest of TJO for dinner at a place called Sergent Recruiter. The trains are not air conditioned and we were head long in to rush hour time in Paris - it was hot! Long about the "Javel" stop, we noticed that the train was sitting for an extremely long period of time... the announcements were only in French, so understanding was not happening! As our time was running short, we opted to get off the train and hail a taxi... we were at least 6 kilometers from Notre Dame and had to meet the group! Our meet time was 6:30 and it was well past that!

Finally making it after attempting to hail many taxi's, we met up with everyone and had an okay dinner... very expensive and only so-so on the quality. The salad was great because they brought fresh veggies in a basket so you can make your own... the soup tasted like dirty bathwater and the main course was... hmmm.