The most recent release Roger has played on!
Roger's most recent releases
Roger with his Jupiter 1600i in DownBeat ad 31-2010

Helpful things I learned from Bobby Shew

Below this message are the two Bobby Shew works on "Developing the Trumpet Section."

Site Map:
Home  |   ABOUT   |   TEACHING   |   Book  |   Album  |   Schedule  |   Press Kit  |   Contact  |
  ABOUT: Bio |  Discography |  Products |  Endorsements |  Gallery |  Equipment |  Links | 
    TEACHING:  Lessons |  Clinics |  Links |

--  © 2002-2018, All Rights Reserved. -- Last modified January 27th, 2010.   Policies   

Bobby Shew's notes on
"Developing the Trumpet Section"

A  Basics to a successful section
     I. Ability to work as a team. 
       a. Ego-loss vs confidence. 
       b. Learning to listen with your soul. 
       c. Mental attitude re: learning. 
       d. Personal goals vs. the job. 
       e. Personal ethics vs. Group ethics.

B. Hats (individual specific duties)
   I.  Lead player
        a. Disbursement of power
        b. Relationship w/ sax, bone, rhy. sections.
        c. Ability to communicate freely and honesty w/ section.
        d. Quality of
         1. Sound
         2. Phrasing/Time feeel
         3. Consistency
         4. Flexibility
         5. Taste
   II.  Support players .
         a. Responsibility towards book.
         b. Respect for:
             1. Lead player
             2. Other section players.
             3. Leader
             4. Self 
                  c. Patience re: moving up/"big chance". 
                  d. Complete understanding of lead players "hat".

C. Sectional developmental activities
       I.   Practicing
        a. With the rhythm sect.
        b. Playing the book w/out rhythm.
        c. Recording sectionals for analysis.
        d. Individual work on trouble areas (personal responsibility).

       II. Rotation 
         a. Passing parts so that each member grows as a team. 
         b. Giving everyone some Jazz to play so' growth can occur. 
         c. Trying different styles.

       III. Precision
          a. Marking parts properly.
          b. Pacing of lead player.
          c. Blend
            1. Pitch
            2. Levels of intensity
            3. Mutes
            4. Flugels
         d. Selecting the right guy for the job.

       IV. Learning/Experience
        a. Listening to live bands.
        b. listening to records.
        c. Private study
        d. Practical experience.

Decorative line of musical notes

Bobby Shew's notes on
"Further Notes on Developing the Trumpet Section"

   Considering that quite alot of good material has been written on this subject, I'm not certain whether or not I'll be able to add much new data, but hopefully another point of view might be of some interest and hopefully can be used as a rough guide line to building a musical section. There are probably as many methods as there are teachers or trumpeters, but all trill be found to contain much of the same material and concepts or it just won't happen. Any attempts to be more contemporary still require a strong foundation built on roots that are no different than those established by Louis Armstrong and many others of that era of jazz.

   The section id only a part of the whole, and must not lose sight of this basic function. All efforts should be directed toward contributing to making the BAND sound good, not to show off one's own talents such as playing louder than the others, screaming out tons of high notes, looking good for the chicks in the front row, etc.. True acknowledgement will come for being a part of such a good team, and will come to the individual in a manner that he can take pride in. Each guy in the section has specific duties just as if he were a member of a football team; he has his own "hat" to wear, and it doesn't say "HERO" on it:
   It takes a great deal of hard work on each section member's part to have e really exceptional team and if you don't expect it to be exceptional, you maybe shouldn't be doing it.  So first approach it with the intention of your section being GREAT and then proceed with that attitude. This will help keep everyone thinking that way.Any wise lead player knows that his section can make him sound good or bad. Even if he is very strong and stable, a poor.section can turn a pleasant experience into alot of brutal work for thdt player. I have the greatest love and appreciation for those guys that have made me sound worthy all of these years. In addition, an exceptional lead player can and often must make a lousy section sound better than it is . Just realize that it will always work better if everyone in the group jumps in and helps get the job done as musically as possible, as easily as possible, and as much fun for all concerned as is possible. Therefore, one must learn to do this without being on a big ego trip. Admit to your weaknesses so that you can handle them and grow out of them, rather than hiding them so that you never confront improving them. Much confidence can grow out of honesty, and for sure musical integrity will come from it.

   As with most people, you will probably experience times of positive thoughts and times of negative ones. Ideally, it 'would be nice to have only the positive ones but I wonder if the game would be quite as interesting or as much a challenge. So Just accept the game and play it without taking it so seriously as to get up tight about yourself. If you resist the negative thoughts or try to fight them, you'll find, I think, that they'll only get bigger and harder to handle. You've gotta learn to deal with them without shifting the majority of your attention to them. I suppose one gray to do it is to not try to handle your fears in the middle of playing a chart; best to wait until after the gig:
   Your personal involvement with your horn and with music in general is of tremendous importance to your success and your happiness. I have often felt as if I were married to music; I am committed to it, and try to work with it and make it work for me, all the while keeping my level of affinity high by not blaming my failures Problems on the Art or the instrument.This kind of emotional involvement has taught me much about myself as a person. I believe that this kind of love for music will enable you to accomplish much in a shorter period of time, and will bring you a great deal of happiness.

p. 2

   You must, above all, maintain your belief in your potential, and never minimize your abilities at all. Don't get to the point of tolerating ceilings or limitations aS to how far you can go. Your own thoughts will be the only thing that can and will hang you up. As you develop and reach goals (and you've gotta learn to recognize WHEN  you do reach them), you'll have to put new goals out in front of you or the game is over. Keep looking forward to these new and bigger goals and ...AVOID GETTING HUNG UP ON YOUR PAST ACHIEVEMENTS. Once they're done, they're over with. It's OK to recall them for lots of good reasons, but if you get hung up, you'll find yourself sticking your abilities at that level and your outward growth will slow down. Surely you've seen or met guys who are musically stuck in a given era or style of music.
   The average person it seems, spends quite alot of his time minimizing his strength and abilities. Therein lie about 90% of your problems with your horn. So, the sooner you can become aware of this, the sooner you'll be able to eliminate it,. and therefore succeed in accomplishing everything you set out for. HOWEVER, there are a few sand traps along the road that will try to keep you from knowing, but these have no real power unless you give it to them as in the earlier mentioned case of resisting negative thoughts. One of the traps in setting goals is that you can skip a gradient approach to success and find yourself in over your head. If you set such an extremely high goal and standard for yourself that it keeps you frantically racing as if to put out a fire, you'll miss alot of the fun of being a musician, and can prevent you from being objective about your growth and from enjoying your PRESENT TIME abilities. More simply, if ALL you see is your "ultimate" goal, you'll be constantly putting yourself down as you play in present time because it'll always be compared to the ULTIMATE goal rather than to how you're actually playing at that moment. The ultimate hopefully trill always be changing anyway and I dream sometimes about becoming a "perfect" player, but as long as I keep creating new levels to climb to, I'll never be perfect and will therefore have plenty of good reasons to keep playing and studying.

Communication is the key ingredient in music of ANY type. It really doesn't seem sane to play to oneself of to the music stand or wall. So the person(s) at the receipt point is as important to the experience as you are. It's the emotional reaction to your creation that completes the action. The emotional communication takes precedence over style and technique. You need plenty of technique, but only enough to execute what you hear and feel. S0, study emotions ; it'll intensify your playing.

Another area of communication that's very important is in your ability to communicate with the other guys in the band. In fact, if you have trouble with this, it'll show up in your playing. You're in a sense "rapping" with people when you play. If the entire band maintains a high level of communication, the affinity will be high for each other, the "vibes" will be right, and the band will swing: It might be worth mentioning here that lots of people apparently misunderstand communication in thinking that they must just talk, talk, talk, when in reality, the art of listening is super important and can help to smooth out your relationships with other people. This then will increase your ability to listen in the section to your lead player of the rhythm section or Whatever. Do you see the point? It all fits in together and the picture starts to clear up end make sense.

p. 3

As mentioned earlier, each team member has his own specific role, job, or "hat" to wear in the section and/or band. It's easy to say teamwork, but very seldom does one see a truly great trumpet team. The following are a mild., first attempt at clarifying these hats in a basic manner.

The World Book Dictionary,in part, defines lead as: 1. a. to guide; to show the way by going along with or in front of: b. to serve to guide 4. to be a way or means of bringing something to a particular condition or result.

Clearly it can be seen that a lead player has a big "hat" to wear. It consists of 
a). being able to interpret the music in the correct style;
b). communicating openly with respect and affinity for the other members of his section;
c). being consistent enough to provide predictability for the rest of the band, especially phrasing and style;
d). being strong enough to "crack the whip" to get the band off of the ground and poppin' rather than merely playing the notes, but being sensitive enough to play gently when called for especially being able to tell the two apart);
e). being a good jazz player because the most musical tiny to play a lead part is as if it were a jazz solo in ensemble form.  This is how to make it swing.
f). delegation of power. 

Regarding a), this is just versatility and experience. An important point, though, is that if at arty time the lead player has difficulty with the style he must freely admit it and proceed to find out how it should be done even asking other guys in the section. It might be that another player could do a more stylistically effective job and it would be wise of the lead player to pass the part so the whole section and band sound better on the chart. Think of the right guy for the job.

On c), this comes through alot of experience and lots of listening to other than the "Top Ten" current bands. Try to get around to lots of rehearsals and concerts to hear live music and dig how the pros pull it off. Ask them if you can do it without being a pest. Alot of it is gaining the confidence and the horn/mouthpiece thing off of your mind so that you can play without being mentally distracted by your own thoughts.

As far as b), it's a common sense thing BUT takes alot of work on your part to pull it off. Avoid "games", jealousies, etc.; if they show up, don't wait for the other guy to straighten it out. All of this Junk can really spoil a dynamite band, and prevent you all from having one of life's greater pleasures playing good music pith some good friends.

The remainder (d) are mostly a matter of experience where you develop them, and require much space to go into further here but, I would like to express a point of view : I Would hope that anyone trying to become a lead trpt. player should hope to be able to string or cook ( mostly a tray of saying good time and relaxed way of executing the part )j, and not concentrate so much on just the high register. There are many kids waning up today that have lots of high chops but I rarely hear a student who can "lay it down". So there's work to be done, for sure!

p . 4

As was stated earlier, a smart lead player knows the true value of having an exceptional section in 1) making his job easier, 2) making him sound better, and 3) having a good time with the music. So a good support must learn to be totally unselfish towards the overall team effort and must develop a terrific set of ears. You must learn to get "inside the head " of your lead player and play right along with him, but,just under; never blow so hard that you can't hear everything your lead player does, even those little turns and things that are on the lighter side. Playing up to your lead player doesn't mean blasting as hard or harder.., the lead player will naturally be working a bit harder because of being the higher voice. As a section player you'll eventually find the "slot" where it feels comfortable. If the whole section is overblowing, the band will sound rotten, the pitch will make your spine rattle, and this is a perfect occasion to start having chop troubles. When in doubt, lighten up a bit until you can really hear everything and then play there : You must have personal and professional respect for your lead player and be willing for him to be right. He'll have to make the decisions and keep some degree of order in the section, come up with riffs,etc., and he'll need every bit of help you can give him Anyway way that's your gig : You have a big responsibility toward the band to see to it that you play the book the very best that you possibly can and you have a big responsibility towards your own personal integrity as a musician. One last thing on this..; without a doubt I it's understandable that every section player would like to have the lead chair, but when it's your time it will come . The message is : be patient, be prepared and be cool ! Just go ahead and have a good time, take your life with some leisure, and enjoy it as a musician.

On the subject of pitch, there are more frequent problems with pitch in jazz/pop/rock than with more classical forms, many of which are due to the excess volume that is required and the addition of electronics in the rhythm section. I think that the acoustic bass is easier to tune with because of it's sound quality ; the electronic bass (or fender) doesn't center as well. There are plenty of exceptions and if you're fortunate enough to work with a fender bass player that does it really well, savor every moment. Alot of it is just the overall volume of the rhythm section. It can make you pump your brains out. Thru a much trial and error you'll find your own easy of dealing with it. Just be aware that's it's possibly there, and remember to avoid blasting just to hear yourself. It makes the problems worse. Also realize that possibly all of the horn players will be is the same stew, so just back off and try to get thru it.

Another area that really needs more development is the area of alternate fingerings. One needs to master the science of acoustics to get the job done right however, here are a few things that might get you started. These also ray not necessarily apply to each person or situation,, but worth checkin' out. When you play a high D in an Eb key, it resonates or vibrates differently than the sane high D in a D chord or any other chord for that matter. In one key you night want to play it open (o) While it could work better with 1st valve in another key. With this we have the difference in intervals between the 1st part and the other voices in the chord. A high D played over an A should work better if played open because the A tends to be sharp and by playing the D open (also sharp) the intonation will line up better within the band. Also if the 2nd voice is voiced too close to the lead the vibrations are too close to each other and tend to eradicate at least in part, the tonal center of the horn.

p. 5

   Just as important is the fact that the A can also be played with alternate fingerings all of which do similar types of things to the intervals, which incidentally, is what you're doing when you tune up ....listening for the intervals of the voices around you. The lead player, surprisingly enough to zany beginners, gets the strength of his intonation help from the bass player. And it does well for the rest of the section to listen not only to their lead player, but to the bass as well. First policy, however, is go with the lead player. As you expand your ability to hear more things going on at the same time, you'll start to notice that the baritone sax and bass trombone will be further support for the pitch if they've tuned well to the BASS, (in addition to their section leader. Most people run off to a piano to tune up, but in most clubs the pianos won't be consistent and besides, the band will tend to scttle into it's own Pitca, mostly based on the bass. Believe me, there's alot more to working in a big band than meets the eye. It's not all shuckin' an' jivin' ham in' around busy being hip, etc.; it takes alot of responsibility to the job and yourself, so things like the above are worthy of your attention. Eventually you'll get to the point of being able to hear any one or all of the parts in the entire band while you're playing, and being able to control what you want to hear within reason.
   Suggest that each make up a chart of alternate fingerings. Figure the= out or, your ova if you rust, but at least explore the other areas of the horn. I've thought several ties ....wouldn't it be ridiculous if at some time in the past, someone,at random, came up with the set of fingerings that are "accepted by the very finest" and these having been carried on for ages being the only ones taught, and then discovering that the original chart had been his translated and we've been using the wrong set all these years : Aside from that, there are many more sounds to be developed on the horn and all seem to me to be a part of playing it COMPLETELY. Many jazz players use numerous alternate fingerings in their solos for added ease in executing certain licks or whatever. The quickest way to start figuring them out is using the harmonic series of any valve combination ,(all of them, in fact); don't forget to use 3rd by itself. After you've figured them out a bit, test them at a rehearsal, but keep quiet about at first; don't get into a group discussion and get other guys in the section favoring you or whatever. You just want to try them in a natural way to see if they really help. If they do, then let the other guars know what you've discovered; they'll hopefully be happy to receive it. Some will, others won't at first (or ever), but go straight ahead and do your job.

   Practicing has had a bad reputation with many young players (old ones,too) for as long as there was something to learn, and it's worth trying to figure out exactly why, because I've never been one for practicing at least in the conventional ways that we pick up from God knows where. I realized one day that we are never really taught how to practice or for that matter, how to even sit down and learn anything at alb.. Somewhere in the basics of education, probably in pre-school, children should be taught how to study so that the doors will always be open for them. As far as practicing an instrument, it all ties in with one's ability to study.
   When you sit down to put together a trumpet section, you had better plan on a considerable bit of sectional rehearsing, naturally depending on what level you're working with, but even at a professional level, lack of it can make or 'break your section. There are many things about ear training and just


playing in general that can possibly be learned only here. You wouldn't believe the difference in a section that has suddenly had a sectional after having been together for awhile without one. They shouldn't be a regimented experience. I don't believe in having the leader there or anyone as far as that goes. It should be a private meeting of the minds of the section and should be attentive, purposeful, and loose. NO conductor is best. In some cases, especially in lower levels of schools, it's cool, but as soon as you've got them going, get out of their way and let the kids take their own responsibility for themselves and their section. They'll possibly goof off a bit, but they'll get into it at their own natural speed and they'll end up being much stronger in the long run. A couple of embar concerts will do wonders for getting some sectionals going. At the higher levels, the familial relationship is vital in executing some of the professional level music, so it's good to start building the foundation for this kind of communication at an early age.
   As far as more technical things, a guy playing an inside part may never have the joy of knowing what it sounds like or what it has to do with the arrangement until he gets to play it in a sectional. It'll help each person learn to play better pitch, time, phrasing, all of it in fact. Also a good idea in school situations is to let everyone get a chance to play a lead chart and a jazz solo. Learning is EVERYONE'S right.
   If you're able, occasionally record the section and all sit down and listen to it; you'll find some interesting things, I'm sure. Just avoid getting too particular about yourself, or rather, whatever you dos avoid getting into a self put down trip. Nobody' s (fortunately) perfect but it's OK to try to be as long as you know that if you ever achieve it, the game's over. I prefer to play the game. I hope you do too!

Thank you.

Bobby Shew
1/21/76  NAJE

Decorative line of musical notes