This post can now be found HERE:



1. forScore (paid app)
More and more musicians are using their computers and iPads to read sheet music.   Sure, nothing beats the real thing, but nothing beats ForScore for organizing your performances and practice sessions.  This app allows you to organize pages from multiple files into set lists so you don’t have to flip through millions of pages to find that one etude you’re looking for.
Additional features include:
  • Built-in Metronome. VERY useful in rehearsals and practice sessions.
  • Half-Page Turns. this option (turn pages without missing a beat!)
  • Integrated Music Player. link music files on your iPad/iPhone/etc. to the score so you can practice with a recording!
  • Cloud Services. Link your DropBox, Google Docs etc. account and load files directly to your device from the cloud OR directly from your computer via iTunes

2. Waze (free!)
Most musicians drive to gigs/school, etc. Do you currently use Google Maps, Apple Maps?  Here’s why you should switch to Waze:
  • quicker routes.  many drivers report traffic data to be more accurate on Waze than google maps (Google maps actually gets some of it’s traffic data from Waze users–why not get it from the source?!)
  • Police Reporting.  I can’t recommend speeding.  But if you must, avoid tickets by getting live police reports from other Waze users!
  • More live reports. Pot holes, traffic cameras, stopped cars–these obstacles are all reported by other Waze users.  The data is out there–take advantage of it!

3.  Dropbox (free! with paid upgrade option)
If you are a musician and don’t use Dropbox, I am not sure how you do it.  Dropbox gives you a huge amount of digital storage — perfect for sheet music, photos/videos, recordings, etc. –that you can access everywhere.  The day I got Dropbox wa step day I stopped lugging around my computer on tour.

4. Google Docs (free!) 
Another great cloud service.  Google Docs allows you to store files just like Dropbox but also give you free access to their own web version of Word (Docs), Excel (Sheets), and a whole slew of other products comparable to Microsoft’s original suite (all free!).

5. Evernote (free! with paid upgrade option)
Yes, Evernote is a cloud service.  Why am I recommending 3?  They are all different. Evernote is unique in that you can scan PDF’s and the are all text searchable.   Tired of signing Multiple W-9 forms?  Sign and scan ONE W-9 and save it in Evernote.  Even if you have horrible online organizational skills, simply searching for W-9 will pull it up–even if it’s not in the file name.  Very useful!

6. Genius Scan (free version available)
Smart phones take great pictures. Why is Genius Scan better than your built-in camera app?  Genius Scan recognizes a black and white scan vs. color and enhances it accordingly.   I scan all of my documents with this app, even when I’m home. I don’t even own a scanner!

7. Tonal Energy – Tuner App (paid app)
There are many great tuner apps out there but Tonal Energy is different.  Here’s why:
  • intuitive tuner screen (tells you if you are sharp or flat and how much in numerical values as well as visually)
  • fantastic oscilloscope visualizes sound with amazing accuracy.  Some musical concepts are difficult to explain in words but easy to understand when visualized.  For example: students tend to understand how to slur properly when looking at the oscilloscope — it becomes more apparent that they aren’t using their air properly because they can literally SEE the dip in their sound.  A very cool tool!

8. iTabla (free version available)
iTabla is an app that produces a drone, or a steady pitch. iTabla produces a very unique, beautiful sound however–the sound of a Tamboura, the instrument used as a drone in traditional Indian music.  I personally love the sound of the drones on this app so much that it makes practicing long tones one of the must enjoyable, meditative things I do each day.
I hope you find this apps useful!  For more tips go VIP and sign up here.

Obvious to you. Amazing to others… ( a video by Derek Sivers)

If you don’t know Derek Sivers, you should.  He’s a musician that became a millionaire nearly by accident he created CDBaby.com for his own use–and then it grew to over $100 million in sales and he sold it because he wanted to be a musician).  He values freedom and happiness over “success,” and lives an amazingly inspiring life.  Check out a short video he made called “Obvious to you, Amazing to others…”

For more, check out Derek Sivers’ website: http://sivers.org

10 Rules for Students – John Cage

These 10 rules were popularized by the famously experimental composer, John Cage.  Get the most out of your education (which is not, by any means, limited to school!!).  Let me know what you think:

RULE ONE: Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for a while.

RULE TWO: General duties of a student: Pull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students.

RULE THREE: General duties of a teacher: Pull everything out of your students.

RULE FOUR: Consider everything an experiment.

RULE FIVE: Be self-disciplined: this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.

RULE SIX: Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail, there’s only make.

RULE SEVEN: The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.

RULE EIGHT: Don’t try to create and analyze at the same time. They’re different processes.

RULE NINE: Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s lighter than you think.

RULE TEN: We’re breaking all the rules. Even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities.

HINTS: Always be around. Come or go to everything. Always go to classes. Read anything you can get your hands on. Look at movies carefully, often. Save everything. It might come in handy later.

Dream Career – Principles and Tactics that Lead to Success in Music–and Everything Else

Soon, the International Trumpet Guild will be publishing an article of mine that I hope you find inspiring and helpful!  Perhaps you remember–last year I wrote an article for ITG Youth that many people have found very useful–it’s called Dream Career – Principles and Tactics that Lead to Success in Music–and Everything Else.  If you haven’t already, read it by clicking “continue reading” below.

I want to help you succeed.  Let me know how this helps you!


Continue reading

Jaw Pain

Happy Father’s Day!

Back around Father’s Day, 2005 (during my undergrad at Manhattan School of Music), I was MORE than thrilled to learn that for the first concert of the next semester I would be playing principal trumpet on Bruckner’s 4th Symphony with Kurt Masur conducting!  UNFORTUNATELY, I had recently started having jaw pain and it was quickly starting to affect my trumpet playing.  With a deadline in sight, I had to figure some things out.

Below is a letter I wrote to a trumpeter in a similar boat.  Many people have come to me about this so I am sharing the letter with you.  

I KNOW HOW SCARY pain can be when it creeps up while playing your instrument! Please let me know how this helps.

When playing, be sure you are consciously making your most a beautiful sound as effortlessly as possible.  Without hearing and seeing you play, I can only say that it is very common to “over” play the trumpet and not let the instrument “play itself.”
A great trumpet player is a master of wind.


The “ideal” amount of air is often more than we think but not too much—the perfect usage of air will yield an exceptionally pure tone, requiring little to no effort.

More tips:


The only pressure needed to play the trumpet is the precise amount needed to create a seal between the mouthpiece and the lips (so little/no air escapes), which is not a lot (though it does increase with range and volume).  Pressing any harder than this causes a chain reaction of tension:  First, by flexing our arms and shoulders, forcing the trumpet into our face, we blow much harder to compensate and meet this pressure, thus encouraging us to push the trumpet even harder into the lips, pinching them between the mouthpiece and the teeth.  This unrefined use of air causes an endless internal fight to make a sound while keeping a seal.  It hurts!  Plus, it doesn’t usually sound good.

While I am not a doctor, my guess is that this is happening to you, on some level (we all do it!), and it’s causing you to flex all sorts of muscles, including your jaw.  It is also very possible that you are grinding your teeth at night (your dentist should be able to confirm this).  I know quite a few trumpeters with teeth grinding or clenching issues (myself included), which is easily remedied by wearing a mouth guard at night (the cheap $30 one at drug stores works fine, a dentist will charge a few hundred dollars).

Some final thoughts:

Of course, don’t jump into extremely high or loud playing. Continue listening to your body so that you can become aware of what is causing the pain before it Becomes unbearable.


Your practice sessions should be a self discovery exercise where you dissect trumpet playing into it’s most basic parts.  As simplistic as it sounds, 99.99% of trumpet “issues” are air or sound concept related.  Keep it easy and beautiful and you will come back better than ever before!


Do stay in touch, I ‘m here to help.