George Graham.

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by dbacon, Dec 4, 2003.

  1. dbacon

    dbacon Mezzo Piano User

    Oct 24, 2003
    Scottsdale, AZ.
    OK David. Let me put it this way then. I see myself as a lead player that
    can play higher than normal. Not a high note player
    that can play lead. Lead players make more money. Of course range is part of
    the complete package. I just happen to have
    a bit more than most. Some of that is from learning. Some is from discovery.
    In my case, Arnie and I developed a range
    building exercise that I continued to do for another 11 or 12 years after we
    went our own ways. It certainly helped a lot to be
    working and playing lead for the next 15 years and get that strength really
    set not to mention playing every imaginable style.
    When you come to this town with the thought of working as a freelance
    musician, studios and everything else, you have to
    be prepared. There's very little room for mistakes, less than wonderfull
    tone, clams or anything else that would piss off the producer or contractor
    or a myriad of other folk. Maybe you can see from this that yes, range has
    it's importence but there
    is SO MUCH more to it than that. And then you need icewater in your veins.
    Other than that, there's nothing to it.

    George Graham
  2. dbacon

    dbacon Mezzo Piano User

    Oct 24, 2003
    Scottsdale, AZ.
    To start off with, I think the best thing for anyone who is interested to do right now, is to go to my web-site ( and read my biography. That will save me some of the humdrum stuff.

    Mark asks: How did you develop into such a player?

    Answer: Hummmmmmm.......I just thought it grew that way. Everyone comes from a different set of circumstances and experiences. Obviously, I was lucky. I do feel, at least in the "success" part, that it is a matter of being in the right place at the right time, and being able to deliver the goods. As my bio states, I grew up in a show biz/musical family. All my memories from early childhood were involved with knowing all my parents' friends, who were almost all successful studio musicians. Before I was 10, I was going to radio shows that my dad was involved with, and hanging out with them. You probably can refer to me as one of the original "studio brats." The trumpet player at the time was George Werth, who was one of the unknown "Hollywood Heavies." He played 1st trumpet at Disney Studios for MANY years. He also was my first teacher, when I was 12 years old. Actually, my dad had offered me Rafael Mendez as my first teacher, but I was too scared. I have to say, though, that George could play all the Mendez literature also. He just didn't perform any. He played some of it for me. Needless to say, George is now in his 80's, and still enjoys playing. Chops aren't so great, but his fingers are still fantastic. You can probably see from this that I have a profound appreciation and love for him.

    Later on, one of the teachers I studied with was Irving Bush. This was before he started his very long tenure with the L.A. Philharmonic. Even when he wasn't playing any more, he continued as the personnel manager for the orchestra. I remember an occasion that I was hired to play at the Hollywood Bowl with the Phil (the show I don't remember). Tommy Stevens was on vacation, as was one of the other players. Since there were 4 parts, Irving had to fill in on 4th. You just can't imaging the kick I got out of playing 1st and Irving playing 4th! That was the beginning of many years being hired as the "ringer"/lead player for the pop shows. Many of the classical guys are just "too good" for that kind of music.

    Let's backtrack. My bio touches on my school days. Even before I took up trumpet, I used to listen to the radio shows, and my attention was always on the trumpet players. I hadn't even started playing, and for some reason I would experience a feeling of fear that I wouldn't end up being a trumpet player. Weird, huh? I always felt that I had something special. I remember when I was present at a clinic given by Maurice Andre. After telling us all how many hours he practiced each day, he was asked "Do you mean that if I practice that much that I will be as good as you?" His reply was, "Probably not. I know that I have a special gift." I can't explain what that special feeling I have always experienced is. All I know, is that I always felt it. Perhaps that's the key. For the sake of argument, let's call it "Passion." I think that it is the most motivating force one can have. I don't think passion can be manufactured. I guess we just have to find out what we have a passion for, and then follow that path. Which raises the question, "Do I really have any business trying to be a trumpet player?"

    As early as my Junior High School years, I was already experiencing the glimmering of improvisation. The father of one of my clarinet player friends formed a little Dixieland youth band, and we would rehearse every couple of weeks, learning standard "literature".....such as Ja Da, That's A Plenty, Hold That Tiger, Saints Go Marching In, and so forth. We thought we were a lot better than we actually were. When we went to High School, we formed a little dance band, playing ballads, and 3 chord rock 'n roll. At that point it was called "Rhythm 'n Blues." Our heroes at that time were "Big Jay McNeeley," "Little Richard," "The Treniers," etc....Not to mention a myriad of pop singers (I won't even begin to name THEM). Three years of that along with all the various youth and school orchestras prepared me enough to qualify for membership in an Air Force Band. I took an audition at March Air Force Base and received a letter from the band commander that guaranteed that I would be in a band after basic training. I remember when we took our "aptitude" tests, that I scored highest in electronics. I spent 2 full hours arguing with the career guidance specialist that I did not want to be an airborne radio operator. He kept trying to get my copy of the letter out of my hands, but I wouldn't turn loose of it. Looking back now, I wonder what kind of career I would have had in radio and TV. Just think. I might have ended up being one of those jerk off studio heads.

    That's enough for now.

    George Graham
  3. dbacon

    dbacon Mezzo Piano User

    Oct 24, 2003
    Scottsdale, AZ.
    George and Arnie's Range Builder

    It's a three page exercise.
    The price is: $7.50 for one, $10.00 for two plus $1.50 S&H.
    Send to: George Graham
    PO Box 38
    Sunland, CA 91041-0038

  4. dbacon

    dbacon Mezzo Piano User

    Oct 24, 2003
    Scottsdale, AZ.
    I lived in Las Vegas for a while back in the 70's, playing on the Johnny
    Haig Relief Band. One of the trumpet players was a very good friend of
    mine...Lynn Nicholson. Lynn was blessed with a very inquiring mind, and he
    and I got into experimenting and making our own valve oil. I was the lead
    player on the band. The relief band's job was to play the night off for the
    various "house" bands, so we played a different show each night. Part of our
    schedule included 3 of the book (or production) shows. For those 3, we would
    each (of us trumpet players) play lead on one: Vinnie Tanno on Tuesday at
    the Stardust, Lynn on Wednesday at the Dunes, and I would play lead on the
    production show at the Tropicana on Friday night. On my show there was a
    series of piccolo trumpet solos about an hour in. Well, one of the Fridays
    Lynn showed up with a new oil he had made, and deposited a bottle of it on
    my music stand, much the same as a cat would leave a dead bird on your
    doorstep as a trophy (I'm a cat person). I oiled up the piccolo, and within
    10 minutes, to my dismay, it had "set." Since I did this just before the
    show started, Lynn now had the job of making my piccolo trumpet work, and he
    had only an hour to do it....which meant, for the 1st hour of the show, I
    had no 2nd trumpet player....and he had my horn completely apart, trying
    desperately to wipe down the valves and casings and re-oil them with my oil.
    I have to tell you that the Tropicana show required of the lead trumpet
    player 223 notes above high C. It really helped to have a 2nd trumpet.
    Happily, Lynn got it ready with about 30 seconds to spare, and I was able to
    play my piccolo trumpet solos. So much for experimentation on the job!

    George Graham
  5. dbacon

    dbacon Mezzo Piano User

    Oct 24, 2003
    Scottsdale, AZ.
    I start with my lips open. When I start the air, I bring my lips together
    only as much as it takes to get a sound. I never tighten
    them down so as to make it difficult to force the air through. Only I can
    determine by feel how much that should be. You have to find out for
    yourselves how that feeling has to be for you. This is NOT the only way it
    can be done. Just mine.


    > I think that a great many people are taking these ideas to extremes.
    > When George says he plays relaxed/open he doesn't mean that you could
    > roll a marble between his lips as he plays a high c.
  6. Tootsall

    Tootsall Fortissimo User

    Oct 25, 2003
    Yee HAW!
    So would that make George an "open" player? Just wondering.
  7. dbacon

    dbacon Mezzo Piano User

    Oct 24, 2003
    Scottsdale, AZ.
    George is certainly a correct player! Without a doubt one of the finest Lead trumpet players to ever play the chair!!

    I would say George is very correct with his approach to playing.

    Read Sam Burtis post about open/close embouchure.

    "So...consider the possibility of a THIRD position, one that is neither "closed" NOR "open". but able to be either and/or both depending on the circumstances of the music.

    Neither permanently closed nor permanently open...just correct."

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