Trumpet/Flugelhorn, Educator, Composition & Arranging, Conducting, Brass/Horns Contractor for live performance & recording sessions

Walt's Shed

Been a minute-Crossover Playing


Yeah, it's been a while since I posted a blog, but remember I actually promised to not stick to a schedule so promise kept.


Ive been thinking about this topic for a long time.  In Los Angeles there is an exceptional number of exceptional trumpet players who are exceptional at all aspects of music.  I'm not using the term exceptional lightly either.  I can remember playing my first gig with 2 "veterans" of the LA music scene.  On the gig it required a big band thing, 2 guys to play changes, a brass ensemble piece, an orchestral passage, and finally closed with a salsa chart arranged for a large orchestral ensemble.  

I expected it to be good, but damn was it good.  These guys were chameleons, changing their sound and their style when necessary.  It went beyond just playing with a good trumpet sound, it was about having the ability to change their entire concept of sound.  This immediately made me realize that to get to where these cats were I needed to adapt my practice regimine and accept that I could just do one thing well, I have to do it all.


 During my time at North Texas Mike Steinel used to always preach "who's your tonal model?"  Now as an idiot 19 year old who thought I knew everything I just blew it off but how right Mike was and how stupid and wrong I was!

Mike was so right!  Without a model to follow how do you know how to sound?  Articulation, tone, decay, time, etc.  these are all part of someone's sound.  In the case of Mike he was also taking about note choice and rhythmic placement of notes but let's stick to thee basic idea of this for a moment.  


Few things are more important than a concept of sound/tone and in the beginning a trumpet player really should find a singular trumpeter to emulate.  Perferably someone with a killer tone!  The student should listen in-depth, over and over to recordings and try to get my "inside" the tone.  The next step is to play along with headphones, again trying to get "inside."

Once the student has achieved this he or she then performs without the recording of the model and tries to emulate it as closely as possible.  As Charlie Davis says "hear the sound."  From there the student can record themselves and listen back to A and B their performance.  

Then take it out out the town! 


 Well now you've gotten to the point of where your tonal model is on point with what you do.  Maybe you're a killer lead player or you're the best cornet player in your town, but now it's time to learn to do it all.  

The process is essentially the same: listen, emulate, execute.  However, the goal now is to compartmentalism.  We need to learn new styles (in some ways new ways) of playing and be able to call upon them as needed.   This is why I subscribe to a planned practice routine that starts in your tonal home base (essentially your warm-up) and then move on to work on a new style and then finish up with a review of a new style you have worked on a day or two before.   

Really it's about intensive study and then constant review.   


  1. 15 min warm-up in your tonal base
  2. 1 hour listening and playing in new style
  3. 15 min review of a previous style
  4. Remaining time: technique


 In the end,learning numerous styles and being able to execute is vital to being a working freelance musician in any city.  The more gigs you can cover the more opportunity for you to work.  That being said, all styled playing is grounded in a strong technical study of the trumpet so don't just work on that smooth jazz tone, still take you time on the fundamentals!


Duple on his $200 dog bed  

Walter Simonsen1 Comment