An aspiring jazz trumpet player's blog about jazz improvisation and ear training.

September 1, 2008 Jazz Blog 3 Comments

Trumpet repairs, Mac, Twain's

It's been a while since my last update, so I thought I'd share some recent events.


If you've seen pictures of my trumpet, you know it isn't exactly in tip-top condition. There's a sizable dent on the bell near the front brace and there's a random assortment of smaller dings and dents scattered around the horn. The dents and the tarnished appearance don't bother me, though. If anything, I think they give my trumpet some character. The only thing I've really wanted to fix on my horn is the valve action, since I have to oil them every couple of days or they'll start to stick.

A couple of months ago, while taking my horn out of its case during my regular Thursday night jam session, I noticed that the front brace which connects the lead pipe to the bell had broken off. I think that was my trumpet's way of telling me enough is enough -- fix me! Since it's been a loyal companion to me for 21 years, and it only mildly punished me for leaving it in its case for 7 of those years, I decided it was time to do the right thing for my beloved trumpet. I'd have it repaired and restored to its former glory! So, I immediately procrastinated for a couple of months and then I brought it to one of the finest brass repair shops in the Southeast: Rich Ita's Brass Instrument Workshop. All of the dents will be removed, the valves will be realigned, and it will have its first chemical cleaning since... well, ever.

My trumpet should be should be ready this coming Saturday. Until then, I'm playing one of Joe Gransden's trumpets. It's a great 1961 Conn Connstellation 38B that's in fantastic condition thanks to Rich Ita. Joe plans on selling the Connstellation soon, so this is my opportunity to try it out and see if I want it as a backup horn. If I don't buy it, you can expect to see it on eBay in the near future. Joe's also going to be selling a pristine Mt. Vernon Bach, but that one's going to be a little out of my price range. If you're interested in either of these horns, let me know and I'll tell you if/when they go on eBay.


I've owned an underpowered MacBook for a couple of years now, but I didn't do much on it aside from testing websites and other software. A week ago, however, my employer sent me a brand new MacBook Pro and I decided it was finally time to make the switch from PC to Mac. What does this have to do with jazz or ear training? Nothing at all. But, it does help to explain why I haven't updated this site lately (that and my job has kept me very busy). It's taken quite a bit of time to get everything setup on the new Mac (thank goodness for Parallels), and I still haven't had time to figure out how I'm going to record new audio clips with the Mac.

The Mac is also relevant to this site because it's forced me to pay more attention to how my free online ear training program works on a Mac. On my Windows PC, the ear trainer sounds awfully close to a real piano. On a Mac, it just sounds awful. Each note has an electric buzzing sound and the cymbals sound pathetic. I've also noticed audio delays and dropped audio on the Mac. While I've always known the ear trainer sounded and worked better on my PC, it wasn't until now that I've felt compelled to deal with it. I fear that I won't be able to find a Java solution to the problem. If that's the case, I definitely haven't ruled out the idea of creating a Mac-specific version of the ear training tool. But that's not exactly how I'd like to spend my free time.


I know most of my readers don't live in the Atlanta area, but I want to mention how fantastic the Tuesday night jazz jam sessions have been at Twain's Billiards and Tap. The house band features some of Atlanta's finest jazz musicians, with Joe Gransden on trumpet, Tyrone Jackson on piano, Craig Shaw on bass, and Chris Burroughs on drums. Each week the turnout has been incredible. By 10 or 11pm, the place is packed. One of the coolest things, to me at least, is the mix of people in the audience. The audience spans all ages with lots of college kids (definitely rare for jazz shows in Atlanta) and even entire families. If you live in the Atlanta area, do yourself a favor and check out the Tuesday night jazz jam session at Twain's. Just be sure to stay past 10pm because you never know who will drop by as the night goes on.

Here's what happened last week when Marcus Printup and Russell Gunn joined Joe Gransden on stage:

Comment by Eric

Great looking horn man. Enjoy!

Comment by bali

Hi Rick!

I love your unique site and articles! I learned a great deal from them.

It's very sad that standard music education gives so little attention to this crucial subject. I think there are a lot of people who give up music because they feel that they don't have talent to create their own music (wheter it is improvising or composing) - of course nobody told them that ear training is the foundation for all that stuff.

I'm a guitar player and I fell in trap of the standard education. After two years of playing from tabulatures (which is even worse than standard notation), learning guitar exercises and a lots of theory, i still coudn't play a simple improvised blues solo.

After I heard about ear traning I thought that it will be my quick fix to my problem...:)

I have to experience on a day to day basis that this is a VERY INCREMENTAL process. You really have to work hard on this stuff, there is no exception. But i feel this is the most effective way to improve my overall musicality so i go on and on.:)

So, I want to say that your stuff is a great motivation for me. It's great that you share your musical path with us - very encouraging to see your development!

So thank you man!:)

One last thing: i haven't read about your sixth-year anniversary - I'm looking forward for your conclusions of this last year :)!


Comment by Rick

@Eric - Thanks. It looks and feels so different now that it's almost like having a new trumpet!

@ Bali - Not to worry, the 6th-year anniversary article is coming soon (I can't believe it's been six years already!). Thank you for the comment and for the encouragement.


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