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Podcasts at a Glance

Episode 126 - Live at IHS 2011
Episode 125 - Summer Camps
Episode 124 - First Horns
Episode 123 - Cool Cases
Episode 122 - Gordon Higginbottom
Episode 121 - Dream Horns
Episode 120 - How Much Practice?
Episode 119 - Top 5 for 2010
Episode 118 - Oil!
Episode 117 - Back to School
Episode 116 - French Horns on YouTube
Episode 115 - 2010 IHS Symposium
Episode 114 - Patterson Shoot-Out
Episode 113 - French Horn Nation Live
Episode 112 - Alto Horn Advocate
Episode 111 - Double Descants
Episode 110 - Ascending Horn
Episode 109 - High Notes
Episode 108 - Mouthpiece Recommendations
Episode 107 - Beyond Farkas
Episode 106 - Embouchure Tools
Episode 105 - Vienna Horns
Episode 104 - James Peterson
Episode 103 - N.A.M.M. 2010
Episode 102 - Mike McCool
Episode 101 - Top 5 for 2009
Episode 100 - Secrets
Episode 99 - Coping with the Tenor Horn
Episode 98 - Horn Hacks
Episode 97 - Listener Questions 5
Episode 96 - Patterson Leadpipe
Episode 95 - Humboldt Workshop
Episode 94 - Mouthpiece Wheel of Doom
Episode 93 - Single Horns
Episode 92 - Horn Matters
Episode 91 - Marching w/ French Horns
Episode 90 - DCI 2009
Episode 89 - French Horn Nation 2009
Episode 88 - 2009 IHS Symposium
Episode 87 - Tenor Horns on YouTube
Episode 86 - Listener Questions 4
Episode 85 - Gino Cipriani
Episode 84 - Complete Guide to Brass
Episode 83 - Mellos on YouTube 3
Episode 82 - ID'ing Old Horns
Episode 81 - History Revisited
Episode 80 - Quick Horn Changes
Episode 79 - Limited Practice Time
Episode 78 - John Meehan
Episode 77 - History of the Mellophone
Episode 76 - Getting It Back
Episode 75 - N.A.M.M. 2009
Episode 74 - Must-Have CD's
Episode 73 - Nirschl & Monette
Episode 72 - Pimp My Horn
Episode 71 - Top 5 for 2008
Episode 70 - Fingerings
Episode 69 - 4 Christmas Clips
Episode 68 - Gifts '08
Episode 67 - What We're Playing Now
Episode 66 - St. Paul's Brass Quintet
Episode 65 - CN's Tenor Horn Adventure
Episode 64 - Bonnie Ott Thompson
Episode 63 - Improv for Dummies
Episode 62 - All-American College Band
Episode 61 - Mellos on Facebook
Episode 60 - See the Girls Dance
Episode 59 - Marching French Horns
Episode 58 - Piston/Rotor Horns
Episode 57 - Bb Marching Horns
Episode 56 - Getting Back In Shape
Episode 55 - Vibrato
Episode 54 - Listener Questions 3
Episode 53 - Blazing Technique
Episode 52 - Range
Episode 51 - Tonguing & Articulation
Episode 50 - Flexibility
Episode 49 - Drum Corps Minis
Episode 48 - Holly Marino
Episode 47 - Chris Nalls
Episode 46 - The Brass Gym
Episode 45 - Carmel Kenton Project
Episode 44 - First Year Anniversary
Episode 43 - 3 Listening Assignments
Episode 42 - Music Librarian Karen Smith
Episode 41 - Kevin Gamin
Episode 40 - Intonation
Episode 39 - Jupiter Quantum 5050
Episode 38 - Churches and Pits
Episode 37 - Karl Hammond
Episode 36 - Griffin Gunter
Episode 35 - A Mello Catechism
Episode 34 - Mellos on YouTube 2
Episode 33 - Listener Questions 2
Episode 32 - Top 5 for 2007
Episode 31 - Corps Auditions
Episode 30 - Gifts
Episode 29 - Kelly Smith
Episode 28 - From the 50 Yard Line
Episode 27 - Coping as a Trumpet Player
Episode 26 - Summer With Teal
Episode 25 - What's In Your Case?
Episode 24 - G Mellos
Episode 23 - Mello for Woodwinds
Episode 22 - Listener Questions 1
Episode 21 - Mini Corps 2007
Episode 20 - Mutes
Episode 19 - The IYM Mouthpiece
Episode 18 - J.D. Shaw
Episode 17 - DCI Finals 2007 Recap
Episode 16 - Descants & Triple Horns
Episode 15 - Coping as a French Hornist
Episode 14 - Music in Motion
Episode 13 - Buying Mellos on eBay
Episode 12 - Mellos on the Web
Episode 11 - Warm-Ups
Episode 10 - The Great Mouthpiece Debate
Episode 9 - Yamaha Mellophones
Episode 8 - New Horns at WW&BW
Episode 7 - Mark Taylor
Episode 6 - The Mellophonium
Episode 5 - Mellos on YouTube
Episode 4 - Paula Hyman
Episode 3 - French Horns & Tenor Horns
Episode 2 - Our Horns
Episode 1 - Introductions


Buy John's Book! Mello Catechism

A Mello Catechism: A Guide to the World of Mellophones and Marching Horns.

A slightly irreverent but highly practical tome on all things Mellophone. Includes information on Mellophone history, mouthpiece choices, tone quality, intonation, coping with marching, and much more. 30 pages.

Available from
Horn Notes Edition

Episode 40:  Intonation

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Hosts:  Al Perkins, Mark Taylor, Dr. John Q. Ericson

  • First, a little housekeeping:
    • We've started a Flickr book.  If you want photos posted, send them to us and we'll add them.  We'd love to see photos of your section, your horns or any other Mellophone-related photos you'd like to share with the community.
    • Listener John Harding has passed on to us a fabulous article (with some photos) from "Jazz Journal" July 1958. The aritcle is about the elusive Dudley Fosdick. I've PDF'd the article - if anyone wants a copy, just drop us an E-mail and we'll send it to you.
    • Listener Richard Saylor pointed out to us that YouTube pulled all those wonderful Stan Kenton clips that we talked about in Episode 34. If you got to see them before they were pulled, count yourself as fortunate since these were outstanding videos.
    • And finally, in a month The MelloCast will be reaching it's 1 Year Anniversary! We hope to have a great Anniversary show lined up, but here's where you can play a part in the festivities. You can record your Anniversary greeting and we'll include it in the show. There are two ways to do it -- you can either record it at home as an MP3 or WAV and E-mail it to us, or you can call our MelloCast Anniversary Hotline at 212-457-5550 and leave your message. (This is not a toll-free call. Sorry.)
  • As for intonation: All players come to the Mellophone from another instrument. Their first unpleasant surprise is likely the typical poor intonation. You can't pick one up and expect to be as in tune as you would be on any other valved brass instrument.  (Why have Mellophones been produced so long with such poor general intonation compared to trumpets or euphoniums in the same quality range?!)
  • We all feel if the instrument makers took the time and money to work out the right lead pipe and bell tail, an in-tune Mellophone can be achieved.
  • Traditional Mellophones are never in tune with themselves.  The Conn 16E is HORRIBLY out of tune.
  • Modern marching Mellophones are not much better as a total group.  Some are better than others, but none are up to the quality of a beginner quality trumpet.  Are Mellophones just a low priority?
  • Good intonation is a combination of hearing the right pitch in your head and making corrections for the instrument as necessary with the lips and movable slides.
  • Intonation with yourself:
    • Practice with a tuner, drones, etc. to get your ear in the right place first.  Brass Gym type stuff is excellent for this.
    • Practice in tune, not where the note centers.
    • Know the bad notes on your horn.  Traditional bad notes include the low C# and D, as well as the C#, D, Eb and E (or the Fifth Partial) above 3rd space C.  Bad notes differ from horn to horn and player to player.
    • Know how to use your moveable slides and when.  Keep with your section.  Don't tune with your moveable slides all the way in or out.  (2nd space A is a good note to tune to for this.)
    • Alternate fingerings can work as well.  They blow differently, so be sure to practice with them.
    • Your mouthpiece can also make a difference with your intonation.  A deeper cup can result in a lower pitch center.  Also, as per Rudy Volkman, a larger mouthpiece could produce better intonation as the instrument should have a mouthpiece somewhere between the size of a trumpet and trombone mouthpiece.  Listen to Episode 10.
  • Intonation within a group:
    • All groups don't necessarily tune to A440.
    • Establish who you are tuning to.  Do you listen up or down?
    • Listen to your section leader, or someone who is good at keeping in tune.  Take responsibility.
    • Tuning to Bb Concert is not always best for the Mellophone.  Written C or G should be better.  If you can, when the group tunes to Bb Concert, try to hear the 5th and tune to a C.
    • Also keep in mind that intonation can change depending on the key you're playing in and what part of the chord you're playing.  This is a very advanced skill to hone.
  • Listening Assignment:  "Malagueña," by the Stan Kenton Orchestra.
    • These guys always managed to play in tune, especially on the studio recordings.
    • On the live recordings, such as Mellophonium Moods and Mellophonium Magic, you can hear some of the intonation issues.

Running Time: 47:43

Episode 39:  Scooter Scoops the Jupiter Quantum 5050

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Hosts:  Al Perkins, Scooter Pirtle

  • Through either a stroke of luck or a huge accident, Scooter was able to procure one of the new Jupiter Quantum 5050 Mellophones.
  • Jupiter is part of a large company in Taiwan called K.H.S. Music Company.  They make a full line of instruments.  Boston Brass is one of their endorsers.
  • Remember that these are student level instruments.  Jupiter's effort is to sell them to entire bands.
  • Drum Corps are being used for research and development for instrument lines.  Corps will purchase an entire line for a reduced rate, then sell them off at the end of the season to make a small profit.
  • The Quantum line is more expensive than Jupiter's top line, but still less expensive than other lines.
  • Jupiter is trying to be a major player in the Drum Corps world.  This year they will be used by Teal Sound and The Academy.
  • As for the Quantum 5050, you can read Scooter's full review here.  But here are some highlights:
    • The horn has a cornet-style of tubing, similar to the Yamaha.
    • The horn is "stubbier" than the Yamaha.  The horn is shorter.  Scooter has some pictures of the Quantum and the Yamaha 204 side-by-side.
    • Construction is as good as a King, but not quite as good as a Yamaha.
    • The valves are good, fast and quiet with a lighter spring gauge than the Yamaha.  Finger buttons are comfortable.  Ergonomically, the horn is better balanced than the Yamaha.
    • There's an adjustable 3rd valve slide with a ring.  The 1st valve slide was stiff.
    • The flare is a bit more gradual than the Yamaha, and as a result the tone is more nasal and very unfocused.  Still the Quantum's tone is much darker than the Dynasty or King -- almost like a marching French Horn.
    • Technique on the Quantum is excellent.
    • Intonation on the Quantum is not so good, particularly on lower notes.
    • Top space G to high C is much more open than on the Yamaha 204.  This could possibly be due to the fact that the horn is lighter than the Yamaha.
    • Volume-wise, the Quantum does flatten out.  This can also be a positive as it prevents over-blowing.
    • For the price difference, you can overlook some of the shortcomings.
    • IF put to the test, the Yamaha YMP-204 is still a better horn.
  • Listening Assignment:  "Hymn for Diana," from the 2007 show "The Chase" by The Academy.
    • This is actually a brass band piece.
    • Al recommends brass bands for Mellophone players who want to play beyond the field.
    • Other brass band pieces make it to Corps, including "The Essence of Time" from the Blue Knights' 2000 show.

Running Time: 47:46

Episode 38:  Churches and Pits

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Hosts:  Al Perkins, Scooter Pirtle, Mark Taylor, Dr. John Q. Ericson

  • First, big thanks to Kenton Scott, who answered Scooter's plea for a Mellophonium.  (Kenton is the guy to go to if you need a horn I.D.'d.)
  • Aside for marching and jazz, what else can you do with a Mellophone?  Two good options are Churches and Pit Bands.
  • Advantages to using a Mellophone in Church or a Pit:
    • Frequently the halls are not great acoustically, and a Mellophone (bellfront or traditional) will have a clearer sound than a French Horn, which might get muddied.  We credit this to the French Horn having far more overtones.
    • Mellophones have the flexibility of tone to play Horn and Trombone parts, especially with a larger mouthpiece.
    • Timbre-wise, the Mellophone can fill in for other instruments.
    • Convertible horns (horns that have slides to allow it to play in lower keys, like D or C) can give you more options, though it does take some practice.
    • You're less likely to miss notes.  John has found that a Mellophone has 30% better accuracy than a French Horn.
    • John feels that bellfront horns work just as well as traditional Mellophones in these situations.
  • Disadvantages to using a Mellophone in Church or a pit:
    • Intonation if you use a traditional horn.
    • Economics and opportunities, especially in pits.  If they know you, you'll be more likely to be used.
  • There is a lot of flexibility and opportunities playing in Church orchestras and Praise Bands.  You'll sometimes find more opportunities on Mellophone than you would on trumpet.
  • As for pits, visit your local Community Theater and make yourself known.  Large schools will also use musicians.
  • If you sing (like Al does!) you can sometimes get features in musical revues.
  • Listening Assignment:  "Over the Rainbow," arranged by Goff Richards, performed by Sheona White from the CD "The Voice of the Tenor Horn."
    • You can find this piece for horn with brass band or horn with piano.
    • It also comes with F and E-flat horn parts.
    • Al has used this a few times in musical revues.
    • We all love listening to Tenor Horn solos as it gives you a different perspective as to how this type of alto brass sound can fit into music naturally.

Running Time: 39:00

Episode 37:  Interview with Karl Hammond

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Hosts:  Al Perkins, Scooter Pirtle, Mark Taylor, Karl Hammond

  • Scooter has a plea for Conn 16E Mellophoniums.  If you have one in good, playing condition, contact him.
  • This week's guest is Karl Hammond, mouthpiece designer and owner of Karl Hammond Brass Mouthpiece Design.  Recently many corps have adopted his mouthpieces, including The Cadets, Phantom Regiment, Santa Clara Vanguard, The Bluecoats, The Troopers and Spirit from JSU.
  • We are at a renaissance of Mellophone mouthpieces.  Karl feels that there is a greater awareness now of the product.  Also, there is a greater demand now on the player.
  • This is not impacting his manufacturing cost as all of Karl's mouthpieces are made by his own hand.
  • Drum Corps was never Karl's original plan.  His sales and marketing guy, who marched Phantom and was on the Bluecoats staff, got Karl's mouthpieces introduced to Corps.
  • The 6MP developed over trying to create a standard section-wide mouthpiece.  He worked with the staff until they came up with what worked.  The Bluecoats were having issues with certain players sticking out, cracked notes, and too dark of a tone.  Karl sent a few models and, once they picked out what hey liked, worked from there.
  • Karl AGREES that the Mellophone is not made to be played with a Trumpet mouthpiece, though he doesn't plan on making them bigger.
  • The mouthpieces he makes are designed for the Yamaha Mellophone specifically.  There are only 2 models, the 5 and the 6.  Scooter feels the 5 and 6 models sound very similar, though the 5 is a little bigger.  There are also heavyweight versions of both the 5 and the 6.
  • Karl believes there are many small companies in the field doing top -notch work.
  • Previously Karl worked for Warburton and Schilke.
  • Mark consults with Karl about designing a mouthpiece for himself.
  • The rims on the 5 and the 6 are designed for players who switch between French Horn and Mellophone.
  • You can purchase Karl Hammond mouthpieces by contacting Matt at sales@karlhammonddesign.com.
  • Listening Assignment:  Selection from the Bluecoats' 2007 show "Criminal."
    • Bluecoats received very high scores in brass in 2007, sometimes beating the Blue Devils.

Running Time: 50:54

Episode 36:  Griffin Gunter from the 2007 Cadets

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Hosts:  Al Perkins, Scooter Pirtle, Mark Taylor, Griffin Gunter

  • This week's special guest is Griffin Gunter, Mellophone section leader of the 2007 Cadets.
  • Griffin is a trumpet player, but was asked to switch to Mellophone during his 3rd or 4th Winter camp, and has played it ever since.
  • Griffin started with the Cadets in 2005.  He has only marched with The Cadets, aging out in 2007. He saw is first show in 2000 and The Cadets stuck out to him as unlike anything he'd ever seen.
  • Griffin was under The Paula!
  • Each year you're not guaranteed a spot.  You have more credibility, but you're not guaranteed a spot.
  • After being in Corps, it's difficult to watch Drum Corps on video without being critical.
  • Last year The Cadets played Yamaha YMP-204's and Hammond 6MP mouthpieces.  They give the Hammond very high marks!
  • Section leader keeps everyone in line, makes sure music is memorized, etc.  Griffin says the 2007 Mellophone section was excellent all the way through.
  • This year's book was higher than usual, and had some noted Mellophone features.
  • Internally, the group was aware of the controversy regarding the narration, and they felt it improved as the season went on.  Regardless, they felt it was an amazing show.
  • In 2007 they had a drill sergeant on staff.  As a result, The Cadets felt they were the fittest Corps.
  • Though he's aged out, Griffin is looking forward to being a spectator for a few summers, but always wants to say involved.
  • Griffin (like Al) was in the Million Dollar Band at the University of Alabama (Roll Tide!).  Freshman year he played Trumpet, but switched to Mellophone for his Sophomore year.  There are a lot of Corps people in the MDB, more now than in the past.
  • One of Griffin's inspirations was David Welch.  (David's journal of his rookie year in 1984 with The Cadets is available at Amazon.  Get it now.)
  • If you're interested in auditioning for a corps, Griffin suggests reaching out to corps people and talking to them.  They can be found easily on Facebook or MySpace.
  • Listening Assignment:  "Adiemus: Cantata II," closer from the 2007 Cadets show.
    • Arrangement is, of course, by Jay Bocook.
    • We start the recording after the opening mallets, chorale and narration.
    • There is an incredible amount of movement during this number (and the entire show).  Griffin gives some advice about maintaining your tone while moving.  12+ hours practice a day helps.

Running Time: 34:43

Episode 35:  A Mello Catechism

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Hosts:  Al Perkins, Mark Taylor, Dr. John Q. Ericson

  • We're back with John to discuss his book.
  • There is a void of literature out there for the Mellophone, or the Descant for that matter.
  • The book is for anyone from rank beginners to band directors and Music Ed students.
  • There are other books that John has put out at the same time as this one.
  • The first chapter has big, fun pictures.  Most of the horns are John's.  (Admittedly, he left out the F Marching Horn.  Maybe in the 2nd Edition!)
  • Chapter 2 is about playing the horn.  First thing addressed are mouthpieces.  There have been new developments since.
  • Al is afraid the traditional Mellophone will eventually be completely phased out.  John, Mark and Al still love them, even though there is no practical use for them.
  • The Conn 16E comes closest to the traditional Mellophone.  Too bad there are so many problems with them!
  • The book has some warm-up exercises that John put together.  He's used it before, and it will work for any brass instrument.  He also puts in the Herbert Clarke Second Study.  It reinforces the middle-lower register.
  • The book is set up with Questions and Answers (hence the Catechism).
  • There is a picture of John playing with a bent mouthpiece (which doesn't quite come across).  The purpose was to show that a horn embouchure doesn't work well on the Mellophone.
  • Is it possible to major in Mellophone in college?  Probably not.
  • The third chapter is about issues for arrangers and Band Directors.
  • Should all players in a section use the same mouthpiece?  John doesn't think so.  Players come from different "places" and their embouchures are all different.
  • John is hoping to see the new Jupiter Quantum horns soon.  They're also supposed to have 2 different mouthpieces.
  • The book has a fingering chart for Mellophone and a Bb Marching Horn.  The Mellophone chart marks the 5th partial notes that "may be" out of tune.  (John says if trumpets were made as out of tune as Mellophones are, they'd never sell.)
  • The book is only 30 pages.  Light!
  • Listening Assignment:  "Maria" by the Stan Kenton Orchestra.
    • This recording is NOT from the "West Side Story" CD, but from "More Mellophonium Moods."
    • You can also view the YouTube clip.
    • We know that the "West Side Story" album was recorded at the same time the Christmas album was recorded.
    • We salute their ability to not only play the Mellophoniums in tune but to keep those bells up!

Running Time: 45:10

Episode 34:  Mellos on YouTube 2

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Hosts:  Al Perkins, Mark Taylor

  • Clip 1: Capital Regiment MelloCam
    • An interesting clip, even though you can't see too much.
  • Clip 2 and Clip 3: Central State University Mellophones playing a fanfare and Bond Fanfare.
    • These folks have great spirit!
  • Clip 4: University of Wisconsin Mellos playing "12th Street Rag"
    • The staging is good, but the arrangement is too low!
  • Clip 5: Mellophonium Pandemonium
    • This group from the Kilties was from the 2007 Mini Corps competition
  • The next group of clips are of the Stan Kenton Mellophonium Orchestra from the TV show Jazz Scene USA, recorded in 1962.  They are golden. (Note:  It has been brought to our attention on 3/1/08 that YouTube has pulled these Kenton clips.)  (Another note:  I've found them on "Daily Motion" and have re-linked them.)
  • Listening Assignment:  "Blues for Bloody Morag" by the Tubby Hayes Band, featuring Mellophonium soloist Jimmy Deuchar.
    • The Tubby Hayes Band was a "little big band"
    • Deuchar, from Scotland, plays trumpet with the band and, subsequently, plays Mellophonium with a trumpet mouthpiece.
    • He has sort of a "blatty" sound, but he plays trumpet that way, too.  Still, his improv is excellent.

Running Time: 30:18

Episode 33:  Listener Questions 2 (or "Can Al Read?")

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Hosts:  Al Perkins, Mark Taylor

  • Andrew wants to know the best kind of stand to display his horns.
    • Al says don't use a trumpet or flugel stand as they may not be strong enough.
    • Try a trombone stand.
    • A French Horn stand may be better as it has an arm to support the side.  You can see it on Al's "My Horns" page.
  • Brian has seen a lot of success with flute converts.  He has marched with French Horn mouthpieces and hates it.  Hey, sometimes it's a fact of life.
  • Amanda is a flute convert who feels that went via French Horn.  She feels the Flute to Horn conversion is easy.  She felt the mouthpiece transition from Horn to Mellophone was fairly easy.
    • Some folks make a point of using different sized mouthpieces on different horns during their regular practice sessions.
    • Mark says "play the mouthpiece that goes with the horn."
  • Bruno is also a flute convert.  His first year was rough but managed to play in the Raiders.  Year two went much better.  Now he's aiming for a World Class corps and wants to know what the corps wants as for the sound quality.
    • Listen to recordings of that corps.
    • The moral here is Don't expect miracles at first.  Each season will look better.
  • Brian is a student of Paula Hyman's!  He wants a Kerchner mouthpiece.  Where can you get one for a fair price?
    • You can only get them from the IYM website.  If you need it for a few years, you can probably sell it off on eBay easily.
  • Michael wants to know if there are good solo pieces that translate well to the Mellophone.
    • Don't use French Horn music.  Go for Tenor Horn music.
    • You can also use trumpet music if you don't need the accompaniment.
    • Check out the Hindemith Alto Horn Sonata.
  • Victor wants to know the difference between Mellophones and Marching French Horns.
    • A Marching French Horn is usually a B-flat horn recoiled (though there ARE Marching French Horns in F).  A Mellophone is half the length of a French Horn in F.  The bore and flare is different for each.
    • Read Scooter's Evolution of the Bugle.  It's outstanding!
  • Justin wants to know what brass instruments blend well naturally with the Mellophone.
    • Any brasses, really.
    • Mark says saxes blend well, too.
    • Just watch the scoring.  Be sure of which instrument is reinforcing which.  And don't write for Mellophone like a French Horn.  The center of the horn is higher on Mellophone.
  • Joe wants to know what key the King 1120 is in.  He also wants to know what's up with Mellos in E-flat, B-flat and G.
    • The King 1120 is in F.  The King 1121 is a later model.  The King 1122 is a Marching French Horn in F.
    • Old traditional Mellophones would come in all keys to be used for different functions.  Many came with a whole selection of slides to change the key.
    • G Mellos are for Corps, of course.
  • Listening Assignment:  Second movement, "Lebhaft" from Sonata for Alto Horn in E-flat and Piano by Paul Hindemith, recorded by Summit Brass, featuring Larry Strieby on horn and Theodor Lichtmann on piano
    • This is written for the E-flat Althorn, or Circular Alto.  Few, if any, have actually heard on its native instrument.  (Al's working on changing that!)
    • The piece requires much more endurance than it seems.
Running Time:  42:01

Episode 32:  Top 5 for 2007

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Hosts:  Al Perkins, Scooter Pirtle, Dr. John Q. Ericson

  • Everyone loves making lists at the end of the year, and we're no different.  So, here's our list of the top 5 events and advancements in the MelloWorld for 2007.
  • Honorable Mention:
    • The ProTec Case
    • The Middle Horn Leader Podcast (only 2 episodes so far)
    • John Ericson's "The Mello Zone" website
  • And now the top 5 for 2007:
    • #5 - The Middle Horn Leader's reviews of the Curry and Hammond mouthpieces.  We all agree that with the Hammond, Curry and IYM, we are looking at a renaissance for Mellophone mouthpieces.
    • #4 - "Firebird" from Phantom Regiment's 2007 show.
    • #3 - Don Elliott on YouTube.  John says Don Elliott makes the Mellophone cool.
    • #2 - John's Book "A Mello Catechism."  Al and Scooter feel it's revolutionary as it's the first book to be dedicated to the Mellophone.  Order yours today!
    • #1 - The MelloCast goes on the air.  John feels that this, along with Al's and Scooter's sites, are leading a new community for middle brass players.
  • What to expect in 2008:
    • Jupiter's Quantum line.
    • Maybe Mark, Al or John will do some recording on the Mellophone.
    • The Middle Horn Leader may encourage compositions for Mellophone.
  • Listening Assignment:  "Almost Like Being In Love," by Don Elliott from the "Mellophone" album
    • We've talked about this album a lot.  Though Don Elliott holds the Mellophone on many album covers, this one is the only album dedicated to the Mellophone.
Running Time:  46:13

Episode 31:  Corps Auditions

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Hosts:  Al Perkins, Scooter Pirtle, Mark Taylor

  • If you are even remotely interested in participating in a corps (junior, senior, World Class, or Open), now is the time to act. Nearly every corps has opportunities for brass players.
  • Corps are auditioning now for their 2008 seasons. You can find the corps nearest you by visiting Drum Corps World's link page and searching through the corps home pages. The corps will offer you all the information you can imagine about auditioning for their organization.  Many have their information on their own web pages.  Here is an example.
  • We'll focus on Junior Corps, but there are many All-Age corps that are a great place to participate and learn. If you have a career and a full-time commitment isn't possible, check one of these organizations out. Even if you're under 22 years old, these corps are a great place to learn about drum corps and will make your transition to the junior ranks much, much easier.
  • Some things to consider:
    • There is a substantial time and financial commitment
    • If you really, really want to perform with a corps, it will happen (never say never!)
    • Utilize the resources provided by the corps to prepare for your audition (visit their site and, if applicable, their online forum).
    • Corps are actively searching for membership. Often holding auditions in locations outside their geographic region (Blue Devil Example).
  • Camps
    • Most junior corps meet monthly beginning in November to prepare for Spring Training (generally in May when members "move in" to begin full-time rehearsals).
    • Audition camps are generally well-structured and cover the basics and fundamental performance techniques.
    • Brass players play in sections, but a lot of corps do incorporate auditions with staff for each performer.
    • Some corps are beginning the practice of "experience" camps that are weekend long clinics. This gives performers a chance to rehearse with a top corps and to see if its something they want to do for a summer. Cadets and Crossmen recently undertook these sorts of events.
  • What to prepare for:
    • Getting a lot of information thrown at you! The corps use the winters to clarify their technique programs for all of the new and returning members. How to stand, how to breathe, how to hold the horn, how to move, etc., etc. I can be overwhelming for a novice. Bear in mind that it all becomes second nature rather quickly.
    • Getting a thorough physical workout! Corps consider their performers to be musicians above the waist, and athletes below. There will be a lot of movement during visual sessions and you will most likely mark time whenever you play exercises in brass sectionals. You'll be tired, but the corps will let you know what you need to do to stay in proper condition.
    • Getting to audition in front of some staff. Most of the camp will entail playing in sections. You'll get plenty of feedback and it will typically be done in a very positive manner. Time is typically set aside for you to perform singularly for staff representatives. You'll perform some brass exercises and possibly a prepared piece. You'll also possibly be asked questions (can you commit to the schedule, do you have funds for dues and accommodations for winter camps?, etc.). It's rather informal, but it's helpful for you to be prepared. Don't underestimate the importance of these auditions.
  • Typical Questions:
    • Can I join a drum corps if I don't know how to play a brass instrument? Sure! Some corps will dedicate the time to teach you how to play. Others will not have that luxury and will need performs that are relatively adept brass performers. Remember that there are other positions that might be a great fit.
    • I missed the audition camp in November, should I even attempt to try out? Yes! Make contact with the corps and ask to audition. You may be asked to submit a video tape of yourself undertaking the components of the audition prior to your visit. Follow through and get it done. Many corps have openings through the spring training. It's not easy to join a corps in the middle of a season, but corps typically entertain members through the spring.
    • I want to march a top 5 corps one of these days, what can I do to prepare? March any corps. Open class corps or all-age corps are tremendous opportunities to learn how to participate in the drum corps activity. Even non-championship corps in smaller divisions offer tremendous experiences for members. Visit the corps and learn about what they have to offer. You may be very surprised!!
    • I can't afford to do it, can I get help? Yes! Many corps members solicit sponsors to help offset the costs. Corps work with members to structure dues in a manner that makes it easier to stay up-to-date.
  • Other good links:
  • Listening Assignment:  "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel," arranged by Greg Poehlmann.
    • Performed by Heather Arzberger on flute, Jeff Arzberger on piano and Al Perkins on circular alto.  (Recorded live, 12/16/07.)
    • Circular altos are European.  They're still made in Germany, Switzerland and Italy.
    • They're the same length as a Mellophone and use the same sized mouthpiece, but the shape and flare is that of a French Horn.  They also normally have rotary valves and they only come in E-flat.  I had mine surgically altered to play in F.
    • They suffer the same problems French Horns have, such as pitch focus and sound spread.
    • Still, they are a form of Mellophone.  Greg Monks is working on expanding information on them.
Running Time:  56:25

Episode 30:  Gifts for the Discriminating Mellophonist

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Hosts:  Al Perkins, Scooter Pirtle, Mark Taylor, Dr. John Q. Ericson

Yep, it's holiday time.  Need some gift ideas for the Mellophonist in your life?  You may want to listen to this episode!  Here's a list of musical and Mello-centric gifts to please your favorite Mellophonist.

  • Listening Assignment:  "Once In Royal David's City," from Stan Kenton's "A Merry Christmas"
    • This is another must-have CD.
    • There are many recordings of this by other groups, including Boston Brass and the Capital Bones Big Band, though the original Kenton recording is the sentimental favorite.
    • This was recorded at the same time as the Kenton West Side Story album.
Running Time:  47:51

Episode 29:  Kelly Smith, the Reluctant Mellophonist

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Hosts:  Al Perkins, Jeff Freelin, Kelly Smith

  • In the film "From the 50 Yard Line," one of the students in the Centerville Jazz Band we meet is Kelly, a trumpet player who reluctantly switches to Mellophone.  Throughout the film, we follow her progress and by the end she expresses how much she's enjoyed her experience as part of the Mellophone section.
  • Surely this is a reality -- band directors need to recruit Mellophone players and wind up having to twist a few arms.
  • Kelly started playing trumpet in the 6th grade, and started with Mellophone during her sophomore year.  She's been playing Mellophone for 2 years now, and plans on playing it next year.
  • In the film she states she doesn't like the Mellophone but is pressured into switching.  There is more to the story.
  • The Mellophone section was extremely supportive during her transition.
  • There were some problems adapting:
    • Mellophone slots differently than the trumpet and is very "partial sensitive."  You have to really know the pitch you want to reach, more so then on the trumpet.
    • The mouthpiece is a bit of a change from the trumpet mouthpiece.
    • The horn itself weighs about twice the trumpet, so it's not as easy to physically move around as the trumpet.
    • Then there's not being able to see.
  • Kelly still plays trumpet.  Mellophone helped her trumpet playing due it it's being so partial sensitive, making her more in tune to pitch.
  • Their section currently uses the IYM Larry Kerchner mouthpiece.  For her first year they used the 6V.  (Yikes!)  The horn players love the IYM, though Kelly is not too happy with it.
  • Jeff has never tried the IYM, though he's heard many good things about them.  Al likes them.  Kelly agrees that the weight does help with the bell-heaviness.  Jeff is concerned that the IYM could cause endurance problems.  Jeff and Al also like the Curry, and they're eager to try the Hammond.  (Jeff uses his Curry on his trumpet as well as his Mellophone.)
  • Centerville uses Dynasty horns, which have better slot-lock than the Yamaha's due to their larger wrap.
  • Jeff doesn't quite understand why sections insist on all using the same mouthpiece, as chops and people are always different.  Al feels because the players come from many different places (trumpet players, horn players, woodwind players) using the same mouthpiece is also not a great idea, even though many corps swear by it.
  • Sociologically, there are still issues surrounding the horn player vs. the trumpet player.
  • It was difficult to get used to a film crew following the band around for a season.  Al gives kudos to Doug, whereas there are 250+ students, the film deliberately follows a handful of students throughout the season, including Kelly, who got to resolve her situation.
  • Listening Assignment:  "Psycho," the Opener from the Centerville Jazz Band's 2006 show "The Man Who Wasn't There."
    • The show was rather dark, which was a concern of Doug's.  The band enjoyed it regardless (though they admittedly were confused by the whole show at first).
    • The music is from the film score to "Psycho."
Running Time: 26:17

Episode 28:  Interview with Doug Lantz, Director of "From the 50 Yard Line"

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Hosts:  Al Perkins, Mark Taylor, Doug Lantz

  • Making its way around the country is a documentary that covers a season with the Centerville Jazz Band (which is the name of their marching band) in Centerville, Ohio.  This remarkable documentary is currently making its way around the film festival circuit, and Al was fortunate enough to catch it.
  • Doug Lantz is the film's Director and Executive Producer.  He currently works for ABC, starting as a production assistant and worked up to sound engineer, cameraman and producer.  He got tired of chasing the next disaster and pursued his own story.
  • Doug played Trumpet in the Centerville Jazz Band.  He says music education helps produce better leaders.
  • There is a "share session" in the film, which is the film's emotional core.  This was the moment when the viewers truly cared about the students.
  • There are other films about marching band, including The Pride of Broken Arrow, which followed the staff more than the students.  There's also Drumline.  (American Pie Presents Band Camp doesn't count as a real band film.)
  • Doug stated at the screening, and in the film as well, that band is something you don't fully understand unless you're in it.  This film brings the viewer the closest to being there.
  • Doug hopes that once there is an awareness of the activity, then it would be less likely for these programs to go away.  Larger cities are closing their arts programs.
  • Mark says be wary of the French Horn players, as they can be surly.  Al agrees there are sociological issues that can arise.
  • During the film, the action leaves Centerville for a while and goes to Fairfax High School in Los Angeles, who did not have a music program for 18 years.  Due to an anonymous donation, this past year they started a music program, starting with Marching Band.  The grades of the students involved in the band greatly improved.  The segment is a good contrast to the Centerville story, showing that band students are basically the same and get the same emotional experience out of the activity.
  • Doug made a point of focusing on a handful of students so you could see their progress throughout the season.
  • The band is one of the only high school groups who accepts you as you are.  The only real judging factor is "can you play?"
  • Folks who go to football games frequently don't consider the band.  In the film they even show that the busiest time for the concession stand is halftime when the band is playing.
  • Doug found at Centerville that many of the band students, the drum line in particular, are VERY popular.
  • For many schools, the band is viewed just as an extension of School Spirit.
  • Doug uses "Bandology" bits, which ask people on the street about basic band terms that people just don't know (such as "8 to 5" or "battery").  Doug interviewed 200 people on the street for these segments.  In other events, such as gymnastics or figure skating, people know the terminology.
  • There is one small Mellophone incident in the film where they had to convince one of the trumpet players to play Mellophone (we want her on the show!).  Though a small segment, screenings show it's one of the most impactful segments.  Her segment also gets resolved at the end of the film.  It turns out she's a regular contributor for Tales from Band Camp.
  • Doug wanted the film to be more communal, not so much about the students' individual lives.
  • They gave cameras to the kids at band camp.  They learned quickly that it's not a good idea to give cameras to teenage boys.  These are the "Band Cam" segments in the film.
  • Doug did not know how the season was going to unfold, which gives an unexpected ending.  Everybody was very happy with the ending of the film.
  • Audiences who are not familiar with band are impressed with the technical aspect of Marching Band, including the show designers and charts.
  • After watching the film, many non-band people admit that they now pay closer attention to the band at football games.  They have a new appreciation for the activity.  Doug gets hundreds of E-mails like this!
  • Another thing Doug did was attach a pedometer to one of the students to gauge how many miles are marched in a season.
  • Screening dates for the film are listed on the website.
  • Doug's ultimate goal is to show people the importance of instrumental music programs.  He did an unofficial, unscientific study and found 20% of the schools across the country do not have an instrumental music program.  The film company is hosting benefits to which the proceeds go to band programs across the country.  They're also organizing instrument drives.  There's also a virtual "internet march" called March 4 Music to help with awareness of the importance of these programs (because we need more Mellophone players!).
  • Listening Assignment:  "5" Section from the Centerville Jazz Band's 2004 show "Countdown 5 4 3 2 1."
    • Al found the show on YouTube.
    • This is Doug's favorite show.
    • He was concerned that the 2006 show (shown in the film) was going to be too dark.  Bands are exploring darker topics lately.
Running Time: 42:06

Episode 27:  Coping with the Mellophone as a Trumpet Player

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Hosts:  Al Perkins, Jeff Freelin, Paula Hyman, Mark Taylor

  • Back in Episode 14 we talked about Coping as a French Horn player.
  • Paula and Jeff started as Trumpet players.
  • G Mellos slot a lot like Trumpets.  F Mellos are very different; they slot more like a French Horn, so pay attention to what you're doing.  Finding where the notes slot does take time to develop.
  • Mouthpiece also comes into play.  Some corps will use Trumpet mouthpieces, some will use deeper mouthpieces.
  • A lot of coping also comes from the writing.  Some books will have the Mellos as a true mid-voice, whereas others are an extension of the Trumpet (soprano) line.
  • Mellophone plays a completely different line than the Trumpets do.  You have to train your ear to be able to hear the inner parts.
  • When you play Mellophone, you can't see!  (Use the Force.)  Al feels that even though the trumpet is a lighter instrument, you have to hold it out further.
  • Mark says be wary of the French Horn players, as they can be surly.  Al agrees there are sociological issues that can arise.
  • Play the instrument!  Get used to the horn, preferably the horn you're going to be playing.  Each brand can vary radically.  Get a head start before the season starts.
  • Don't expect to pick up the Mellophone for the first camp and play the same way as you would the Trumpet.
  • Paula feels she would now be bored with the trumpet.  "We're the Mellophone section and everyone's listening to US!"
  • Because of the size of the instrument, it isn't as agile by nature as the Trumpet is.  You CAN develop Trumpet-like technique, but it will take some work.  Don't expect it right away.
  • Listening Assignment:  Ballad from Star of Indiana's 1987 Show "The Greatest Show on Turf"
    • The number is a combination of themes from the March and the Linda Ronstadt rendition of "When You Wish Upon a Star."
    • The soloist is none other than Jeff Freelin!
    • He was playing a King K-50 2-valve (piston) Mellophone bugle.
Running Time: 27:56

Episode 26:  Paula's Summer with Teal Sound

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Hosts:  Al Perkins, Paula Hyman

  • Paula Hyman is back to tell us about her summer as an instructor for Teal Sound.
  • Teal Sound is a Division II (now Open Class) Corps based out of Jacksonville, Florida.
  • For those who don't know, Division II means it's a young corps; they haven't been around very long and the members are frequently younger than Division I Corps.
  • With Teal, Paula was on Visual Staff and was the Head Tech for the horn line.  She was also the Trumpet tech.
  • Division II corps usually have their own shows or do a half tour.  Teal did a full tour (with some minor exceptions).  They performed in a lot of Division I tours.  The tour was primarily around the East Coast, with stops in Texas, New Orleans and then the journey to California.
  • Touring in a teaching capacity is a good way of staying involved.
  • It was interesting watching the kids grow and to see all work pay off.
  • They got a lot of exposure this past summer with lots of parades and clinics.  They eventually want to make it to Division I.
  • Paula will not be involved with Teal in the immediate future.
  • She'll send some photos of her experience soon and we'll post them on the MelloCast MySpace page.
  • This is her only time with Teal because she is going to be touring with Blast! starting in January on their new tour!!  She'll be playing Trumpet AND Mellophone.  Check the website for their tour information.
  • She WILL report back to us about her experiences on tour!
  • Listening Assignment:  Opener from Teal Sound's 2007 show "Voices of the Sun."
    • Show starts at the begging of the day with the sun rising.
    • Opens with a Mellophone solo.
    • We found the recording on YouTube, where you can see a recording of the entire show.
Running Time: 19:24

Episode 25:  What's In Your Case?

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Hosts:  Al Perkins, Mark Taylor

What kind of stuff do you keep in your case?  What are the basic "tools of the trade" that every good Mellophone player (and all brass players in general) should have?

  • Valve oil
    • Al Cass is popular.  Mark and Al use Parvo.
    • Parvo comes in different viscosities, depending on how tight your valves are.
  • Slide grease
    • Mark uses anhydrous lanolin.  In the past, Al has used STP Oil Treatment.  Mark also suggests gun grease.
    • Chuck at the Brass Lab in NYC sells his own recipe of slide grease called Brass Lube that's made up of anhydrous lanolin, STP and some other ingredients.
    • Do NOT use Vaseline.
  • Polishing cloth
    • Mark uses a chamois, which you can get at any auto supply store.
  • Slide brushes
    • Get a good set, as well as a snake.
  • Mouthpiece brush
  • Extra mouthpiece.
    • Al says carry a different one so you can have the option of a quick change. Keep a large and small bore mouthpiece on hand.
    • Mark says carry two of the same kind.
  • Metronome
  • Portable tuning device
  • Mouthpiece case/pouch
    • Lots of soft cases don't have a place for your mouthpiece.
    • Keeps it warm.
    • Prevents it from getting nicked or having the shank dented.
  • Mouthpiece shank dent tool
  • Mouthpiece puller
    • Neither Mark or Al have needed one in a long time, but if you're marching, it might be something to keep around.
    • Mark suggests running very hot water over the end of the lead pipe to expand the metal.
  • Gloves
  • Folding music stand
  • Cotton cloth
    • Try not to use a white cloth, as it'll stick out in concert situations.
    • Mark has used tea towels.  Al knows people who have used cloth diapers.
  • Lip balm
  • Water key corks
  • Valve stem felt washers
  • Palm Stop/Duck's Foot
    • Mark has one on his French Horn. Al has them on all of his TRADITIONAL Mellophones.
    • Mark has used the Clebsch Strap, which really doesn't work on Mellophones.  He found it helpful but restricting.
    • If you get one, make sure you get one that folds down.
  • Did we leave anything out?  Let us know!
  • Listening Assignment:  "A Watchman's Carol" by the Paul Desmond Quartet, featuring Don Elliott, from the album The Paul Desmond Quintet/Quartet
    • This is possibly the only album to really showcase Don Elliott's Mellophone playing.
    • Al likes how natural he sounds -- it's not too clinical.
    • Mark likes Elliott's jazz vocabulary.  His improvisation is very melodic.
Running Time: 37:59

Episode 24:  G Mellophones

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Hosts:  Al Perkins, Scooter Pirtle, Mark Taylor

  • We're late for last week, early for this week.  It happens.
  • Scooter gives a brief history of G bugles.  Originally a piston/rotor soprano that had a Conn 16E bell flare put on it back in 1964.
  • Whaley Royce was the first manufacturer, but Getzen and Olds soon made them.  Dynasty and King joined in later.
  • Scooter explains how the piston/rotor system works.
  • Mellos started to take over the French Horn sections in the early 80's.  The 82-83 Cadets started removing the French Horn players in lieu of Mellophones.
  • '77 to '89 the bugles still had 2 valves.  Most corps added the 3rd valve a voice at a time.
  • All literature was written in treble clef and, of course, all in G.
  • The horns were very light and very free-blowing.  Parts were very high with lots of edge.  Response is quicker.
  • Through the years the bore became more conical and the mouthpieces got larger.  As a result the tone got darker.
  • The Mello 6 mouthpiece fit the G Mello well, though probably not good for an F Mello.
  • In the mid-80's, Yamaha made a convertible G/F Mellophone.  They eventually moved away from it, mainly when G horns were no longer necessary.
  • Many Senior Corps still use G horns, as do many Mini Corps.  Pioneer was one of the last hold-outs -- possibly as late as last year.
  • Oddly, they are VERY hard to find now.  They're very rare on eBay.  Kanstul is the only company who makes G bugles today.  They also make 2-valve horns, but they're custom.  (Actually, this is not true -- Dynasty does in fact still make G bugles!  Thanks, Tom!)
  • Al finds the Dynasty G Mellophone extremely light, bright and powerful.
  • Scooter recommends going to the Middle Horn Leader and looking at the Evolution of the Bugle articles, which Al says is "stellar."
  • Scooter and Al think Mark should record on a G Mellophone!
  • Listening Assignment:  "Los Hermanos de Bop" by Future Corps from their (only) album "The Future of Corps."
    • Mellophone solo is by Paul Rowe.  His shakes are incredible!
    • We played a live clip from YouTube of Future Corps playing this clip back in Episode 5.
    • Future Corps uses exclusively Dynasty G bugles.
    • They were the only professional non-military Drum Corps-like organization.
    • Disney is no longer mello-friendly.  Recently Disney reduced much of their live music, which is sad. Bring 'em back!
Running Time: 34:31

Episode 23:  Mellophone for Woodwind Players

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Hosts:  Al Perkins, Mark Taylor, Dr. John Q. Ericson

  • With Corps auditions coming, it's not uncommon for woodwind players to learn to play brass to get in on the fun.
  • First and foremost, you need to get a good embouchure.  This will take some time to develop.
    • John says to shape your mouth like you're whistling.  Also concentrate on 2/3 upper-lip.
    • Al says to say the letter "M."
    • Mark says to pay attention to your corners and support them sufficiently.
    • John warns that flute players seem to have the most trouble learning brass, particularly with the corners.
  • Al says once the basics kick in, instinct will take over as they already know how to read music and play musically.
    • John warns that brass tunes differently than a woodwind.  Every note will need attention.
    • Accuracy is also now a big issue.
  • Air and breathing.
    • Brass takes more air than most woodwinds.
    • There is a difference between moving a lot of air and moving the air fast.  (Moving a lot of air is for volume, moving it fast is for range.)
    • Once you start marching, everything has to be readjusted.
    • John says to work on a good INHALE.
  • Be patient.  There's no way you're going to get through this without a lot of practice.
  • Mellophones are heavier than flutes and clarinets.  You don't have to lift weights, but be ready for it.  It's also bell-heavy.  Keeping the bell out straight can be a strain when you first start
  • Try recording your practice sessions.  Listening to yourself is good. It will also mark your progress.
  • Always try to play musically.  Don't worry about vibrato, at least not at first.  Playing musically will become more natural once you become "one" with the horn.
  • Fingering needs to be learned, but Mark and John think because the concept is different than woodwind, woodwind players can pick up on it easier.
    • Al would like to hear from woodwind players who have switched to brass about their experience in switching.
  • Shoot for a good tone, but what is a good tone?  Listen to the section you're going into.  If you're auditioning for a Corps, listen to recordings of that Corps.
    • John likes Don Elliott's sound, though he uses a big mouthpiece.
    • John thinks the "big" mouthpieces sound great but don't work on the field.  His students like the Curry 1HTF.
    • Al says the Great Mouthpiece Debate will never end.  He also feels that it takes a while to gain strength and range on a "big boy" mouthpiece, and it doesn't get it's due since no sections have committed to using it for an entire season.
    • But we digress...
  • Listening Assignment:  "Simple Gifts" from the Cadets' 2007 pre-season CD.
    • As always, by the awesome Jay Bocook.
    • We don't know if this is a parade piece or a warm-up.
    • Though not a Mellophone feature, just keep listening and you hear them prominently throughout.
Running Time: 33:11

Episode 22:  Listener Questions 1

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Hosts:  Al Perkins, Scooter Pirtle, Mark Taylor

  • Al follows up on the Best Brass practice mute, which is too small for the Mellophone.  The SshhhhMute is still the recommended practice mute.
  • Rodolfo Pou asks about buying a horn on eBay.  He's eyeballing a Yamaha YMP 203.
    • Yamahas are always good, but the big question is what are you planning on using the horn for?  Consider a traditional Mellophone if you want to assimilate into a concert band.
  • Ben Henderson from Tempe, AZ, is looking for the origins of the Mellophone and asks if Stan Kenton had anything to do with it.
    • The origin of the Mellophone is a little confusing.  We suspect it's the merging of a number of different instruments.  The best source for this information is Greg Monks's History of the Mellophone on Al's Mellophone Page.  And no, Kenton had nothing to do with it.  The Conn 16E was introduced many years before Kenton used them.
  • Bob Bohanek just got back from DCA and, on our recommendation, used a Wick 2 Tenor Horn mouthpiece and played 2 Tenor Horn solos (coming in 2nd).  He liked the Wick 2 and hopes others adopt it.  He also thinks it'd be a better mouthpiece for newer players.
    • That's actually not bad idea, as the larger mouthpiece would be less of a strain.  Go Bob!
  • Patrick McNeal from Bakersfield, CA was asking about the Kenton Christmas albums.  He feels the Capital Bones version is a little too clinical.
  • Ronald A. Stary, Band Director at Montevideo Senior High in Montevideo, MN, is asking about purchasing some demo models of DEG Dynasty M541's and wants to know if it's a good idea.  He also asked about using mouthpiece adapters with French Horn mouthpieces.
    • The Dynasty M541 is an excellent horn.  They feel great and have a bright tone.  As for being demo models, they still haven't gotten as much use as they would out on the field.  Go for it!
    • As for French Horn mouthpieces, we're not in love with the idea, but sometimes you have to.  John Ericson suggests using a smaller bore French Horn mouthpiece.
  • Dick Parks from northern VA asks about Dudley Fosdick and why we've left him out.
    • Fosdick could very well have been one of the first jazz Mellophone players ever.  There is little known about him, few recordings and we still haven't found any photos.
    • Fosdick played with a number of bands, including with Guy Lombardo.
  • Listening Assignment:  "Crazy Rhythm" by Miff Mole and his (Little) Molers, featuring Dudley Fosdick.
    • When this was recorded, everyone thought it was a trombone.
    • This recording is from 1928.
Running Time: 40:37

Episode 21:  Mini Corps 2007

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Hosts:  Al Perkins, Scooter Pirtle, Mark Taylor

  • Mini Corps is an off-shoot from brass ensembles.
  • Intent may have been to provide alumni members a chance to play parts of programs from years gone by.
  • Different approaches (static arc with accessory percussion, some movement and visual).  Predominantly jazz music.
  • Popularity is increasing quickly.
  • Challenge for members participating in competitive corps (budgeting time to prepare a field show and a Mini Corps).
  • The 2006 Drum Corps Associates (DCA) rules for Mini Corps were:
    • A Mini Corps is defined as a minimum of 11 participants and a maximum of 21 participants.
    • If a Drum Major is used, he/she is counted as one of the 21 participants.
    • There will be a one (1) point penalty for each participant under 11; no Corps allowed with over 21.
    • Any combination of DCA approved horns and percussion instruments may be used.
    • The time limit is 5 minutes minimum and 10 minutes maximum.
    • There will be a one (1) point penalty for each minute over or undlimit.
    • Time starts from the first note and ends with the last note.
    • Music scores (sheet music) DO NOT need to be presented to the judges.
    • NO tape music is allowed.
    • The 2006 contest area for Mini Corps was an elevated stage 40x50 feet.
  • Four judges evaluate Music (60) and performance (40).  Scores are averaged and any applicable penalties are deducted.  Maximum score is 100.
  • Venue - Indoor stage currently.  Outdoor performances have been utilized.  As stage that is 40x50 is specified, but DCA is dependant on the venue and the stage size may vary.
  • Some Mini Corps have formed their own organization: Mini Corps Associates.
  • Scooter posted lots of information and photos of Star United's 2007 win!
  • You can search YouTube for lots of videos of Mini Corps performances, including 3 from Star United's winning performance (Skylines, Horkstow Grange and Overture to Candide).  Look for Scooter in the Trumpet section!  You can also see other Corps' performances on YouTube, like the Renegades and Golden Eagles.
  • What does the future of Mini Corps hold?  There are strong elements wanting it to remain "park and play," but also strong elements wanting to turn it more visual.  But it's definitely evolving.
  • Warm-Ups were outside in the dark.  Scooter has a few tales of the warm-ups and lost members of the group.
  • Listening Assignment:  "Skylines" by Frank Sullivan from the 2007 Star United Mini Corps performance.
    • Written for "Blast!" as a piece to play but not perform (to avoid "road chops").
    • Features all sections and contains some inside references.
    • On the Drum Corps Planet's Box Center podcast, Kevin said after Star's first number, their win was obvious.
Running Time: 31:36

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