A Valuable Air and Breathing Exercise

Posted by Getzen on September 14th, 2005

by Mike Vax

The most important aspect of playing any wind instrument is getting air through that instrument. I believe that one of the best ways to practice proper use of the air is to do it away from the instrument. When you are practicing with your instrument there are too many other things to do, therefore you don’t concentrate enough on your airflow.

I have some exercises that I really believe will improve the student’s conception and use of the muscles of the diaphragmatic area. These exercises are designed to make the student completely aware of how to obtain the best use of the air column.

Please remember that when breathing, we make use of the diaphragmatic area to facilitate the in and out of the air. The diaphragmatic area includes the muscles of the upper abdomen, but not really the lower abdomen. The diaphragm muscle is located just below the center of the rib cage. It follows around the contour of the rib cage and connects with the back muscles. This is why a player who is breathing properly will have their back expanding when they inhale. When doing the exercises discussed here, I try to think of the center of my diaphragmatic area. This is the area just below the sternum. I try to center all my thought and feeling right in this area. Also remember that the lungs don’t do anything by themselves. The diaphragm makes the move. You should not think of breathing from your chest area. The lungs are only reservoirs that hold air and filters to clean the blood, not the means of getting air into the body. The only sensation you should feel in your chest is that of “filling up” with air.

Now that we have learned how we breathe, let’s work on how to control the air to make it work for us as wind instrumentalists. The following exercise must be done with complete concentration. Forget everything around you and just concentrate on proper breathing.

There are five steps to this exercise. I call one time through all five of these steps one cycle of the exercise.

  1. Lie down on the floor on your back with your legs straight out and your arms at your side.
  2. Concentrate on isolating your diaphragmatic area from the rest of your body. At first, you can put a heavy book on it or have someone apply light pressure with his\her foot over the center of your diaphragmatic area. Later, you can just put your hand over the area and use that to push against. Work toward the point where you can really feel the location of the center of the muscle. When you can feel this area and have it isolated, you are now ready for the third step.
  3. Take air in slowly through a small hole in your mouth by raising the center of the diaphragmatic up towards the ceiling. With your hand on it you can actually see the movement. Keep taking air in slowly until you feel as if you are full, and then make yourself inhale even more air. In essence, stretching your lungs. Another way to think of raising the center of the diaphragmatic area is to pretend that there is someone standing above you with a string attached to your diaphragm and they are pulling on the string.
  4. When you are completely filled up with air, don’t hold this air in for a long period. Start slowly pushing it out through the same small hole in your mouth. You need to do this by keeping the diaphragm muscles flexed. Even though you have raised the center of the area to take the air in, you still keep the raised sensation going. Still think of raising it up toward the ceiling as you push the air out. Try to stay flexed and remember that flexed does not mean tense. Try not to tense up during the exercise. You flex the muscles for control, but try not to over do it and overtax your muscles. The only difference in the exhaling process is that you should now get a feeling that the upper abdominal wall is pushing in to force the air out. After you think that you have pushed all the air out that you possibly can, make yourself push out even a little more. Really empty your lungs. When you have done this you are ready for the final step.
  5. This is another relaxation step. It is not the deep relaxation of the first step, but simply a relaxing of the diaphragm as well as the whole body to let your diaphragmatic area rejuvenate itself and get ready for another cycle of the exercise

When you start this regimen, go through only 4 or 5 cycles at any one time. Doing any more may strain your muscles. As you progress, gradually increase the number of cycles. You will get the most out of the exercise if you do it twice a day. Ideally doing five cycles in the morning and five at night. Since the technique gives you a greater amount of oxygen than regular breathing, you’ll notice a nice energy boost in the morning and you will actually wake up faster. No more need for the coffee kick start.

If you do this exercise faithfully everyday, it will help your sound, endurance, flexibility, and even your range. Don’t be too impatient with the exercises since improvement will not happen overnight. Nothing worthwhile comes without hard work and constant practice. Remember too, your diaphragmatic area is always there with you so there is no excuse to skip the exercise. Also remember that your breathing while playing will not match exactly the way you do during the exercise. However, aspects of it will creep into your playing making your use of air much easier and more efficient as well as expanding your overall lung capacity.

Mail Bag

Posted by Getzen on March 19th, 2005

Ray Banks
Young bugler and Eagle Scout Ray Banks proudly shows off his new M2003ES American Heritage Field Trumpet.
(Click image for larger view)

Dear Getzen,

My son Ray Banks had his Eagle Scout Court of Honor on September 10, 2004. You may remember Ray from the NBC news story last veterans day about his Eagle Scout project working with Bugles Across America.

Out of his efforts, the Cadet Corps of Bugles Across America was formed. To help Ray celebrate his accomplishment we, his parents, presented him with a silver plated American Heritage Elite field trumpet with the BAA logo etched on the bell. He was thrilled to say the least and was able to use it for sounding Taps at his first funeral since his Court of Honor ceremony.

Altogether he and the squad of young buglers he recruited have sounded Taps at close to 40 funerals in the past year. In addition, they have played at many other patriotic functions and events in the area.

Thank you,

Bryce Banks
Greeley, CO

A Closer Look at Custom Series Bb Trumpets

Posted by Getzen on March 19th, 2005

In the world of professional trumpets there are a lot of great names to choose from. However, it’s not just the name that matters. What’s most important when picking a professional trumpet is finding one that suits you as a player. One that fits your playing style and needs as well as giving you the highest possible quality is the key. The only way to find this perfect fit is to go into the buying process armed with an open mind, a set of chops ready to play, and as much information on trumpets as you can find. In the spirit of this information gathering, the following is a detailed breakdown of the entire Custom Series Trumpet line intended to give players an idea of what to expect from each, an idea of what kind of player each was designed for, and to demonstrate why they should easily be at the top of anyone’s wish list.

With six models of professional Bb trumpets and a long list of available options and accessories to choose from it can be difficult to find a starting point within the Getzen Custom Series. After all, within the 3050, 3051, and 3052 trumpet lines there are more than a dozen different options to choose from. Players have the ability to change the basic model with anything from different bells, reverse leadpipes, and six different finishes just to name a few. A musician can even have almost any design or text they choose permanently etched onto their trumpet by taking advantage of our Custom Etching system. When all of this is considered, there are more than 1000 different Custom Series Bb trumpets to choose from. Combine that enormous list of professional trumpets with the three different tuning slides (round crook slide, square crook slide, & round crook jazz slide) available to choose from and you’ll agree it is safe to say there is a Getzen Custom Series trumpet that meets the needs and styles of almost every trumpet player out there.

When taking a more detailed look at Custom Series trumpets, it should be noted that each and every one is hand crafted by the highly experienced artisans of the Getzen ProShop. Each model is built around a world famous Getzen valve section with a heart of nickel plated, nickel silver pistons. What does this mean to you? It means you will have a lifetime of lightening fast and trouble free action from day one. There is no mythical “break in” period for Getzen pistons like those found with competitors’ monel pistons. Precision brazing, precision honing, and hand lapping ensure this. Also, every Custom Series trumpet is built with a hand hammered, one piece bell of either yellow or gold brass sheet. This allows for exceptional tonal production and superior acoustical efficiency within the bell thanks to the lack of a radial seam seen on standard two piece bells. In addition to these great features found on every Custom Series trumpet, each model also carries with it a few specific design attributes that make it ideal for different playing levels, styles, and needs. Don’t forget that this entire package is backed by more than 70 years of family tradition and is covered by the Getzen Platinum Lifetime Warranty against manufacturer defects guaranteeing you a top of the line, world class trumpet for years to come.

Bb Trumpet Bells

#137 Bell: Standard throat providing great projection and response with a more compact sound.
(available in standard weight yellow brass or heavy weight gold brass)

#172 Bell: Larger throat than a #137 with a darker, richer, and more rounded sound.
(available in either light weight yellow brass or heavy weight gold brass)

Trumpet Leadpipes

#125 Leadpipe: Some moderate resistance to lean against with exceptional tonal centering and slotting.

#125R Leadpipe: Reverse leadpipe construction providing great slotting, but with a more open, less resistant feel.

3001 & 3001LE

The 3001 & 3001LE Artist Model trumpets were designed with a very specific type of player in mind. Each trumpet features a #125 mouthpipe and a #137 one piece, hand hammered bell of yellow brass mounted to a .459″ bore valve set. Both the bell and the mouthpipe undergo a special heat treatment and annealing process. This combination works to create a brilliant tone with outstanding projection. The Artist Model trumpets provide a responsive feel along crisp articulations making them very attractive to players from the jazz, commercial, and lead arenas of play. For those players seeking a more open feel, the addition of the round crook tuning slide will open up the horn adding more freeness to its blow without comprising the trumpet’s responsiveness.

3003

3003 Genesis

The 3003 Genesis is built around a solid design that produces a very powerful, round tone. Heavy bracing, an ovate tuning slide crook, a .464″ valve set, and a large throat bell all combine to make it perform evenly and responsively throughout the entire register while maintaining a free and open feel. In addition to those great features, the Genesis includes our ground breaking Interchangeable Leadpipe System (ILS). The ILS allows players the ability to switch between a Standard or Open leadpipe depending on their specific needs. In essence, giving players the ability to have two trumpets in one. All combined, these great features make the 3003 one of the most versatile trumpets available.

3050

3050

The 3050 trumpet is designed for the serious high school or collegiate player. With it’s standard #125 mouthpipe and #137 one piece, hand hammered yellow brass bell it produces a full, brilliant tone with excellent intonation from low to high. The standard .459″ bore and square tuning slide provide moderate resistance allowing a player to “lean” against the horn. The addition of a round tuning slide will open the horn slightly. If even less resistance is desired, going with the optional .462″ large bore or #125R reverse mouthpipe or both will open it up even more. If the standard bell is too bright, the optional #137 gold brass bell will add warmth and darkness to the sound.

3051

3051

The 3051 trumpet is designed to be a great “all around” trumpet that will sound well in all settings from jazz to classical. The #125 mouthpipe and #172 one piece, hand hammered heavy gold brass bell combine to produce a very broad, rich, and warm tone with a great sense of freeness to the blow. The 3051 also provides a smooth, even play with excellent intonation and slotting from low to high thanks in part to the square tuning slide. As with the 3050, the addition of a round tuning slide, reverse leadpipe, .462″ bore valve set, or a combination of the three will allow players the ability to achieve the resistance level they desire from moderate resistance to a very free blow.

3052

3052

The 3052 features a .462″ large bore, a #125R reverse leadpipe, and a round crook tuning slide in addition to a #137 one piece, hand hammered yellow brass bell, providing a trumpet ideal for commercial and big band players that like a very free blowing instrument. The optional #172 light weight, yellow brass bell will significantly brighten the sound and increase the trumpet’s responsiveness. Adding a square tuning slide will allow the trumpet to slot tighter and add more stability in the extreme upper register without jeopardizing its freeness. For those wanting a bit more resistance, the options of a .459″ bore or a standard leadpipe setup are available.

How to Choose the Right Student Instrument

Posted by Getzen on March 19th, 2005

Adapted from NAPBIRT publication

At Getzen, we understand the early years are the most crucial in the education of a young musician. The availability of a quality instrument is key to the development of their skills. However, it is unrealistic to expect parents to spend several hundred or thousands of dollars on an instrument for a child that may or may not stick with it. There are several things parents need to consider before making the decision to purchase a new instrument for their son or daughter. Here are just a few questions and answers that may help you with this decision.

Q: My 12 year old decided to join the band. Should I buy a brand new horn or rent one from the local store?

A: Rental or lease programs are often great choices for many parents. With low initial investments, flexible payment plans, and included maintenance plans a rental program is very attractive for equipping the beginning player. They are a great way to get started until your student advances to the point of knowing that he or she is going to stick with the band. Also, many dealers offering rental programs work side-by-side with the local educators ensuring that you will be receiving a quality instrument that is approved by the school’s band director.

Q: Before I decide what to do, what should I look for in a student horn?

A: When considering what qualities to look for there are two things you need to remember. First, this is a tool for your child’s education. Making a decision based solely on price could be a considerable handicap to your youngster. The second thing you need to consider is that this instrument should be able to last at least three to four years. This is due to the fact that after that long, most students have advanced to the skill level that they are ready to move up to an intermediate or even professional level instrument. There are three basic issues that need to be addressed to determine the quality of an instrument.

  1. Playability – This is first and foremost on the list. The most important thing your child needs is an instrument that he or she can actually play… and in tune. Unfortunately, there are some “instruments” on the market today that are built so poorly that they cannot be played at all. It is unfair to expect a student to learn how to play if they are learning on an instrument that even a highly trained professional couldn’t perform on.
  2. Durability – As every parent knows, if it can be broken a child will find the way. This is true with musical instruments as well. When you consider the daily trips to and from school, rehearsals, concerts, parades, and pep band performances there is a never ending stream of potentially dangerous situations. That is why it is important to put an instrument in your child’s hands that is built to stand up to this. Strong bracing, tube joints, and solid bell construction are all key points to look at.
  3. Fix-ability – As mentioned above, kids will be kids and their instruments will need repairs. However, some low end instruments out there are so poorly built that repairs cannot be made. In fact, there are some instruments that reputable repair shops won’t even touch. The key question to ask when looking at a new instrument is “Can it be fixed?” You want an instrument that can be easily repaired at your local music store using parts that are readily available from the manufacturer or a company such as Allied Supply. Ideally, you want an instrument that is backed up and covered by a comprehensive manufacturer’s warranty. Something hard to find on professional instruments let alone student horns.

Q: I decided to buy a horn, now where should I go shopping for it?

A: While some parents find internet auction sites attractive for finding good deals on used instruments, a great deal of caution should be taken. It is difficult to determine the actual condition and quality of a used instrument without actually touching, playing, and looking it over in person. If you do decide to go with a used horn, have it looked over by a quality repair shop in your area. When shopping for a brand new instrument parents have basically three options. They can buy from their local music store, from an internet retailer, or from a discount store. There are pluses and minuses to all three. The least expensive of the three is generally the discount retailers. However, often times they lack any kind of service and only offer low, low end student instruments. When considering quality as well as price, online retailers are very attractive. Great deals can be found online for quality student horns, however, they lack some of the service advantages found at local music stores. At your local music store, your child can hold and play test the instrument before you buy it. You can also take advantage of the knowledgeable sales staff for advice and recommendations. The local store is also the ideal location to take the horn for future repairs and maintanence. In the end, parents have to weigh all three options and decide what is most important. Price, quality, service, or a balanced combination of all three.

If you’re looking for a brass instrument that meets these criteria, look no further than the Getzen 300/400 Series line of trumpets, cornets, and trombones. Our student horns are built by the finest American craftsmen to the highest possible standards while keeping retail prices low. With features not found on other student instruments such as hand spun bells, precision honed nickel pistons, hand lapped slide tubes, and manually straightened handslides it’s plain to see why they are slightly more expensive than some import “instruments”. However, as the old saying goes, you get what you pay for and every Getzen 300 & 400 Series instrument is built to last and is backed by our 5 year Gold Warranty and legendary Lifetime Valve Warranty. Most importantly though, each is built to perform and to grow along with your young musician.

Visit the Getzen Buyer’s Guide

Here We Go Again

Posted by Getzen on July 11th, 2004

Almost 40 years to the day after setting the cornet world a buzz with the introduction of the first 800 Eterna cornets and just a few years after unveiling the 3850 Custom cornet, Getzen is proud to announce that “We’re doing it again.” This time, however, it’s not a new Bb cornet that’s being released. Instead, we are introducing the new 3810 Custom Series C and the 3892 Custom Series Eb cornets.

The 3810 and 3892 Custom Series cornets have many of the great features found on all Getzen Custom Series cornets and trumpets. Both feature hand spun bells, nickel silver balusters, world famous Getzen pistons, and both are covered by the Getzen Lifetime Platinum Warranty. The 3892 comes standard with a seamless copper bell similar to the standard bell found on the 3850 Bb. As with the 3850 Bb, the 3810 C and 3892 Eb cornets are built around the concept of being free blowing instruments with excellent intonation while maintaining the traditional “cornet” sound.

With the wide spread acceptance and popularity of the 3850 Custom Bb cornet, players began approaching us to fill a void in the industry. That void was the absence of a high quality, orchestral grade C cornet and a fine Eb suited for British style brass band players. Now, after months of design work and consultation with professional musicians and music professors, we are confident in saying that the void is no more.

The 1893 Chicago World’s Fair – A Shining Time For Cornet Soloists

Posted by Getzen on July 2nd, 2004

by Patricia Backhaus

In 1893 the world came to Chicago to party. Why? It was time for the World’s Fair, or more correctly, the World Columbian Exposition to celebrate Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the Americas. The people of Chicago did everything possible to get the fair in their city. The bragged so much that the selection committee started to refer to the board members as coming from “the windy city” and that nickname has stuck to Chicago to this day. By all accounts, it was an incredible fair that included extraordinary architecture and a railway system that dropped people right at the front gates. Chicago proved to all of those in attendance that the bragging of the city was more than justified.

Now, if you were going to throw a party for the world, you would need to have the very best of entertainment and in 1893 that meant brass bands. It was a much simpler time then. After all, this World’s Fair gave many people their first look at things like electric lights. There was new technology on display everywhere including wireless telegraphy, kinetiscopes, telephones, new fangled phonographs, cameras and (could it be true?) flying machines! Even with all of these new and exciting items there was yet to be developed what we would call today a sound system. Musicians needed to be heard outside over all the commotion and, naturally, brass band music was perfect for the job.

Hundreds of bands performed at the fair. Leading the list was John Philip Sousa and his band. At the time, Sousa’s band was still a young group having only been organized about one year earlier, but they were an extraordinary musical ensemble and were fast becoming favorites of the crowds wherever they traveled. Of course at the fair though, they were just one of many.

All of the bands played for huge crowds and featured superstar soloists. There were trombone and euphonium soloists and the occasional piccolo player could be found, but it was the cornet soloists that captured the crowd. Why only these instruments? Why were the cornet soloists such a big deal? Since there were no microphones, the cornet was a natural leader. It could be heard above everything else going on during normal fair business. With their frequent performances, cornet soloists captured the hearts of the people. There is no single reason for this. Perhaps it was just because they were being featured so much or because their sound could cut through everything else. What ever it was, the cornet was the hit of the fair. And what about the trumpet players? Well, at this time in band history, the cornet was considered to be the artist’s instrument. Trumpet parts tended to be used for filling out harmonies or for playing fanfare figure. They weren’t seen as suitable for solo work.

We know many of the great soloists who appeared at the Chicago World’s Fair from newspaper accounts, concert bills, and programs. T.H. Rollinson will be remembered for Columbian Fantasia, a solo he wrote and played at the fair. The fair was centered around a huge fountain surrounded on all sides by the great, white exhibition buildings. This area was known as the Peristyle. Soloist W. Paris Chambers celebrated this central area with his Peristyle Polka. “The World’s Greatest Cornetist” Jules Levy appeared at the fair, as did P.G. Lowery, better known as “The Black Herbert L. Clarke”. The list of great players in attendance is endless and includes literally every great American cornet soloist of the day as well as quite a few outstanding European soloists.

Since buildings in 1893 didn’t have air conditioning, a good part of the performing sessions were spent outdoors in bandstands or park pavilions. That was just part of the life of a professional musician so they felt right at home during the fair. They appeared on bandstands and stages throughout the grounds. Hype was the watchword of the day and each small stage created glittering promotional prose to lure crowds in to hear and see the great soloists. The organizers of the events became very aware of the crowds coming to hear the musicians. Sometimes they would arrange to have two ‘rival’ performers appear at opposite ends of the exhibition buildings. Performances were scheduled in such a way that audiences would gather at one end of the hall to hear the first performer play after which the audience would have ample time to walk to the other end of the hall before the next performance began. This way, the people not only attended the concerts and had a chance to compare each band against the others, but they also had time to visit the exhibits throughout the hall.

Crowds loved this atmosphere of comparison. It was also an outstanding venue for the musicians giving them steady employment for weeks and a feeling of an “almost home” because they could stay in one hotel room or boarding house without having to pack up and move on every day. The fair also provided them with great exposure thanks to the huge crowds attending their concerts everyday. This was very important for their futures as professional musicians guaranteeing them more business after the fair ended. As I interviewed old timers who knew some of these great players, they were quick to point out that all of them were making their living performing. They performed for people anywhere and everywhere and did not have a “concert hall” mentality. If there was work somewhere, they would play. This is not to suggest that they were not great artists, but they were working artists in the truest sense.

Through their performances these musicians inspired many youngsters, and some adults, to practice hard in the hopes of becoming a celebrated cornet soloist themselves. Dreams to one day attain a high level of artistry associated with cornet playing at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair were a common phenomenon among cornet players of the era. After all, the cornet soloists were the rock band guitar players of their day. As time went on though, the shine of the cornet player or brass band player in general, began to fade. Unfortunately, popular musical trends change quicker than the weather. However, we are in the midst of a renaissance of sorts today with the popularity of brass bands again beginning to climb. As this happens, the cornet soloist will undoubtedly be the leader of the pack once again.

A Little Piece About Little Mouthpieces

Posted by Getzen on July 2nd, 2004

by Patricia Backhaus

The cornet – just a little trumpet? No, not at all. A real cornet is a conical bore instrument that is most similar to the F horn. Early versions of the instrument used a mouthpiece that was funnel shaped, like a horn mouthpiece. This helped to create the distinctive warm and throaty sound of the cornet. When you’re learning to play the cornet, it is important to remember this information. Many trumpet players try to make a cornet sound like a trumpet. However, it is a totally different instrument and worth of its own tone and color.

In my years as a cornet player, I have tried many different mouthpieces including the British Brass Band style. This was an interesting experiment for me and I still use that design for some solos. It does have a decidedly British coloring and sound. It is the mouthpiece I would choose for British or Australian style solos such as Percy Code repertoire or the solos of Harry Mortimer. Once at a conference I was playing a British style mouthpiece and a friend who was listening asked if I were trying to sound like a Salvation Army musician. Unfortunately, at the time I was not. This helped me realize just how much the sound depended on my mouthpiece and just how distinctive a sound that particular style had. I also showed me how important it is to focus on the “voice” I wanted out of my cornet at any particular time.

Since then, I have experimented with different ideas to find different sounds. I have experimented with turning down flugelhorn mouthpieces on a lathe to bring the shank down to a proper cornet size. The sound they produce is great, but forget any thoughts of performing solos requiring any kind of range. This mouthpiece just doesn’t provide it. However, this style of mouthpiece could be utilized on some of the very oldest of repertories where range is seldom an issue. Again, this is an issue of the desired “voice”.

For many, chances are pretty good that if you own a cornet mouthpiece, it is really a trumpet mouthpiece on a cornet shank. I believe that sometime in the 1920’s mouthpiece manufacturers were going toward this combination. Many cornet soloists were also playing trumpets and it was common to see ads for dual cases that allowed performers to carry both their trumpets and cornets. Switching back and forth between instruments was made much easier if both had similar mouthpieces. Because of this, by the 1930’s the true cornet mouthpiece was out of fashion in the United States. That meant that the traditional sounding cornet was also disappearing. However, the present day trend is to return to the old style of cornet mouthpieces and to return the cornet to the roots where it began.

There are many manufacturers that offer traditional cornet mouthpieces as either an aftermarket product or right along with a new cornet. Recently when I opened a new cornet from Getzen there was, or course, a mouthpiece in the case. Out of respect and curiosity, I tried the mouthpiece and it absolutely blew me away. It was exactly what I had been searching for for nearly 15 years. For me, it was the perfect combination of a funnel shaped cup and rounded rim. Finally, a mouthpiece that gave me the voice I had been searching. Granted, it may or may not be perfect for every situation, but it is the closest I have come to an “overall” cornet mouthpiece. This is just one example of a modern manufacturer realizing that the cornet is much more than just a little trumpet, so much more.

Mail Bag

Posted by Getzen on July 2nd, 2004

Gentlemen,

Please find attached a photo of the trombonists of the 76th Army Band (V Corps) holding the Getzen poster of Mr. Jeff Reynolds. The photo was taken last May at LSA Anaconda near Ballad, Iraq just outside “the wire” of our camp. I thought it would make for an interesting photo, so I had my wife send the poster down to us in Iraq.

Though pictured with other manufacturers’ horns, the unit owns several Edwards and Getzen trombones. One of my personal horns is also an Edwards. The environment in Iraq was harsh, so we took the oldest horns the unit had for the year we spent in Iraq. No sense in ruining the good ones in the desert.

Tom Bauer

Mail Bag - Trombones in Iraq
Taking a much needed break — Members of the 76th Army Band take a few minutes to offer a little thanks to Getzen and Edwards while stationed in Iraq. No, gentlemen, thank you.
Pictured from left to right: SSG Chris Eschenfelder, Syracuse, NY (kneeling); SSG Tom Bauer, Clemson, SC (standing); SSG Eric Burger, Davis, CA (standing); SGT David Bretz, Mineral Springs, AR (kneeling)

Getzen Manufactures High Quality Field Trumpets

Posted by Brett Getzen on December 2nd, 2003

M2003EEveryday in America approximately 1,800 World War II veterans pass away. These brave men and women risked their lives to defend the land they loved. Yet, as many as 75% of these heroes will not be given the honor of having Taps sounded at their funeral by a live bugler.Bugles Across America is an organization dedicated to changing this distressing trend by rallying an army of volunteers dedicated to providing live buglers for sounding Taps whenever and wherever they are needed. However, despite this growing availability of buglers willing to perform this solemn duty, another problem arose. The surprising lack of an quality instrument on which they could properly perform Taps.

That is why the Getzen Company is proud to introduce the all new American Heritage Field Trumpets. Together with B.A.A. and several of its members, Getzen has designed an instrument specifically designed for honoring our veterans. Made in America, for Americans.

The Trumpeter’s Solemn Musical Duty

Posted by Getzen on December 2nd, 2003

by Dan Erikson
Wisconsin State Director, Bugles Across America

Have you ever attended a military funeral and, after the three rifle volleys, Taps was played from a tape deck or CD player? If you’re an upper brass player, you probably thought to yourself, “I could have easily sounded Taps live. If only I had known.” Right now the United States loses 1,800 veterans a day. That’s right, per day! At the same time, it is estimated that only 500 military band members across the country are available to perform Taps at these funerals. That means that at least 75% of the brave men and women who fought for our country will not have the honor of having Taps properly sounded at their funerals by a live bugler. Instead, their families must settle for a tape deck or CD player. That is, if it works that day.

The great honor of sounding Taps was bestowed upon buglers back during the Civil War. It remains to this day as the trumpeter’s solemn duty. However, with the overwhelming lack of military buglers, civilian players must rise up and fill in the gaps. This is where a former Marine by the name of Tom Day comes in.

Tom just couldn’t sit idly by and watch as this proud tradition faded into the history books. “Every man and woman who dedicated some part of their lives to the service of our country has the right to and deserves a live bugler.” In 2000, Tom Day decided the best way to achieve this goal was to take matters into his own hands and he formed Bugles Across America.

Bugles Across America’s primary goal is to recruit live players around the country to sound Taps at military honor funerals as well as other public events at which veterans are being honored. In just three years, B.A.A. membership has grown to over 2,500 buglers worldwide. Members include current and former military band members, retired military personnel, as well as civilian men, women, and children. Since Taps can be sounded on trumpets, cornets, and bugles any high brass player that can sound it in a style and manner that properly honors our veterans is welcome to join the B.A.A. ranks.

Speaking of instruments, many players prefer to sound Taps on valveless horns in order to achieve a more traditional look. Unfortunately, these horns are generally regarded as very poor quality, bottom of the barrel instruments. The last high quality, valveless bugle or field trumpet was made for the United States Army Band during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. The Bach Company manufactured 24 or so of these Bb signal trumpets specifically for ceremonial duties at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C. The most notable of these horns was used to sound Taps at John F. Kennedy’s funeral. No horn of this caliber has been widely produced since then. That is, until now.

Acting as the Wisconsin State Director for Bugles Across America, I began to wonder why an American manufacturer wasn’t stepping up to fill the void by producing a high quality horn to properly honor our service men and women. With my close proximity to a major musical instrument manufacturer in South-Eastern Wisconsin, I felt it was time someone asked this question. A quick call to the Getzen Company, Inc. in nearby Elkhorn, Wisconsin was all the further I had to go. The was because Tom Getzen had a history of sounding Taps as a youngster himself. He understood the great importance of Taps and how meaningful it can be to family members as they say goodbye to their loved ones.

After some collaboration between several B.A.A. members and the Getzen Company, the American Heritage Field Trumpet was born and is now available through your local Getzen dealers or to B.A.A. members through Bugles Across America. Finally, those seeking a high quality, valveless horn for sounding Taps can rest assured that the instrument they desire is out there and can easily be found.

If you think you have what it takes to help repay a small part of the enormous debt owed to our national heroes, head to your local Veterans of Foreign Wars or American Legion post and offer your services. Help to make sure that the veterans in your area are properly honored with a live bugler. While you’re at it, you may even want to join the ranks of Bugles Across America.

Always remember that there is nothing like a live bugler sounding Taps to honor those that have served this country. Remember too that the 24 notes of Taps are the most appreciated and heart wrenching you will ever have to play.