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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 and 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 60:  See the Girls Dance

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Hosts:  Al Perkins, Mark Taylor, Chris Nalls

  • This Saturday Mark Taylor debuts his new ensemble, "See the Girls Dance," at the Jalopy in Redhook, Brooklyn.
  • This ensemble is less of a jazz quartet but more of a chamber group with improvisation.
  • Instrumentation is currently Mellophone (no French Horn), Vibes, Bass and Drums.  He plans to expand the instrumentation in the future.
  • Mark considers himself more of a writer who performs than a performer who writes.
  • He hopes to have a steady gig with this group.
  • When notating his music, it's a cross between a score and a lead sheet.  All players get the score.
  • Mark still uses a Yamaha 203 and the IYM Mouthpiece.
  • Mark formed his initial band by combining people he's enjoyed working with in the past.
  • When putting a group together, Mark suggests that it can't be too large.
  • Chris puts out the challenge to the listeners to let us know if you know of any jazz Mellophonists (or any working Mellophonist) out there.
  • Listening Assignment:  "Zamindar's Demons" by Mark Taylor.
    • This was recorded at the New Languages Festival during the summer of 2007.
    • The piece is in 7, but the bass line is written so it feels like 2.
    • The actual title is a LOT longer.  Something like "Ozmian Zamindar and the Fire Demons of Praethor."  Mark?

Running Time: 35:23

Episode 59:  Marching French Horns

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Hosts:  Al Perkins, Dr. John Q. Ericson, Chris Nalls

  • Foregoing catalog descriptions, there are technically Bb and F Marching French Horns.  This is about F Marching French Horns.
  • F Marching French Horns have a French Horn mouthpiece and receiver.
  • The instrument does have its roots in Drum Corps.
  • The instrument is basically either a bellfront Descant horn, or a Mellophone with a French Horn receiver and mouthpiece with a slightly different taper off the leadpipe.  It has a Mellophone-sized bell.
  • Kanstul still makes these.  Blessing made them, too.
  • These are good alternatives for French Horn players.
  • There's really no reason why one can't march with a French Horn mouthpiece.
  • Sound-wise, they don't cut as much as a Mellophone, but the tone is decent with good intonation.  Chris says it has a "naked" French Horn quality.
  • Possibly the reason they are not popular as it's more difficult for Trumpet players to move to them.  John likes the idea of new players using the horn mouthpiece as it will be easier to convert them.
  • Chris feels it's the "perfect" instrument for marching.  The Bb Marching Horn tends to crack more.
  • Listening Assignment:  "The Piper o' Dundee" by Kenneth Downie, performed by the Yorkshire Building Society Brass Band.

Running Time: 23:11

Episode 58:  Piston/Rotor Horns

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Hosts:  Al Perkins, Chris Nalls

  • We get lots of E-mails about piston/rotor horns.
  • Scooter laid out the history of the bugle, including the piston/rotor bugle with his Evolution of the Bugle.
  • The piston/rotor bugle was en vogue from the late 60's through the mid 70's.
  • The right thumb operates the piston, and the left thumb or index finger operates the rotor.
  • The piston is the equivalent of a 1st valve, and the rotor is the equivalent of a 2nd valve.  There is no 3rd valve.
  • The left hand position can vary from corps to corps.  It is not comfortable.
  • The Olds Ultratone was one of the premiere piston/rotor Mellophones.  There were other manufacturers of course, such as Kanstul and Dynasty.
  • Maintenance was tricky as everyone had to know how to service rotors.
  • Sound-wise, they can put out a lot of volume.  They're made out of chrome, so there wasn't a lot of warmth to them.  Their sound was very distinctive.
  • They're sometimes still used in Alumni corps.
  • You can find them on eBay for a good price.
  • There were two different types of Piston/Rotor Marching French Horns.  One was more or less the size and wrap of a modern Mellophone, but the other is a lot longer.
  • Listening Assignment:  "Legend of the One-Eyed Sailor" by Chuck Mangione, performed by the 1975 Concord Blue Devils.
    • Soloist is Bonnie Ott.
    • She was legendary during the piston/rotor years.
    • This was one of the Blue Devils' signature pieces.

Running Time: 26:44

Episode 57:  Bb Marching Horns

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Hosts:  Al Perkins, Dr. John Q. Ericson

  • B-flat Marching Horns are not to be confused with Mellophones.
  • They are widely used in some places, usually instead of Mellophones.
  • First and foremost: they are, for all intents and purposes, a Bb single horn (or the Bb side of a double horn).  They also usually take a French Horn mouthpiece, but not all horns do.
  • They should read F horn parts.  We hear tales that some arrangers do publish Bb Marching Horn parts.
  • John particularly likes the Yamaha Bb Marching Horn.
  • The sound is similar to a Mellophone, but doesn't "cut" like a Mellophone.  Intonation is also pretty good (considering it uses a horn mouthpiece and lead pipe, it has been developed longer.)
  • Being that it basically uses the fingerings from the Bb side of a double horn, if you haven't had double horn experience, it will be strange until you get used to the fingerings.
  • One of the big exceptions to a lot of these rules is the Holton MH102 (which, by the way, has an 11.75" bell and has a receiver sized to a traditional Mellophone, or cornet, mouthpiece).  They're cool looking, but pretty unwieldy.
  • John has a fingering chart that he put on his website - it reads just like a Single Bb Horn.
  • Listening Assignment:  "Concertino" by Gareth Wood performed by the Black Dyke Mills Band from the CD "Concerto."
    • Soloist is Sandy Smith.
    • This is a widely used and performed solo.  There are shorter versions of it available.
    • Brass Band are usually named for their corporate sponsor.

Running Time: 28:41

Episode 56:  Getting Back In Shape

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Hosts:  Al Perkins, Dr. John Q. Ericson

  • So, you've taken some time off and suddenly you're in Band Camp, or starting marching season.  How do you get back in shape?
  • It's not unreasonable to get back into shape within a week.
  • Your first day won't be pleasant.  Don't rush things.  Take longer to warm-up.
  • Endurance, range and flexibility will suffer.
  • Pain is your friend.  If you're feeling pain, stop playing.
  • Do your normal warm-up.  When you hit a spot where things aren't happening they way you want them to, know that this is where you need to spend more time.
  • Stay low.  Don't push your range.  Don't shoot for high notes on your first day.  A high G is a good place to start.  Expand up a note daily.
  • Taking breaks is a good idea.  Just don't be in a constant state of "getting back in shape."
  • Buzzing (in short doses) is good to maintain your chops if you can't practice.
  • Warming down is crucial during this period.  Light, low stuff is good.  Al likes Flexus exercises in lower registers.  John likes chromatics.
  • Listening Assignment:  "Riverdance" performed by High Brass from the CD "Time for a Change."
    • This number features the Mellophones more than any of their other recordings.
    • Al thinks the melody was a little watered down, but it's great nonetheless.

Running Time: 23:42

Episode 55:  Vibrato

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Hosts:  Al Perkins, Dr. John Q. Ericson, Chris Nalls

  • US French Horns traditionally do not use vibrato.  It can be useful on Mellophone, and necessary on Tenor Horn
  • When do you use it?  When others are using it, and as a soloist.  But don't be the only one in your section using it.
  • So, how do you do it?  There are a number of techniques:
    • Jaw Vibrato: Anchor the mouthpiece more on your top lip, then do a "yaw-yaw" motion with your jaw.  Be sure to be able to control it.
    • Hand Vibrato:  Lightly shake the valves with your right hand.  Easy to control.
    • Throat or Diaphragm Vibrato:  Pulsing of the air stream.
  • Speed control is a challenge.  The tendency is get a "nanny-goat" vibrato, especially with Jaw Vibrato.
  • Use vibrato on ending notes and climax notes.  Listen to vocalists to see where they use it.
  • British style uses a lot of vibrato - some throughout, some on highlights.  Listen to the people around you.
  • Listening Assignment 1:  "A Time for Peace" by Peter Graham, performed by Sheona White from the CDs "Introduction" and "The Voice of the Tenor Horn."
    • The theme is taken from "The Essence of Time."  Peter Graham extracted the melody for this solo piece for Sheona White.
    • The 2000 Blue Knights used The Essence of Time in their show.
  • Listening Assignment 2:  "The Year of the Dragon, 3rd Movement" by Philip Sparke, from the CD Britian & Brass by The Brass Band of Battle Creek.
    • This is a good example of a "test" or "contest" piece.

Running Time: 35:47

Episode 54:  Listener Questions 3

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Hosts:  Al Perkins, Dr. John Q. Ericson, Chris Nalls

  • Mitchell Boles asks about getting used to a new instrument, including the mouthpiece.  John is a big proponent of the Curry 1HTF.  John also has some information regarding Holton horns.
  • Stan Plog asks where and how to find Conn Mellophoniums.  We all say to keep checking eBay.  Also, check music shops for old rentals.
  • Jonathan Serna, who is marching with the Madison Scouts, wants to know if any of us will be at the DCI finals.  We suspect Scooter will be there.
  • Andrew Miller, a trumpet player, is going to be a Mellophone staff member and is looking for warm-up ideas.  He also wants to fix tone and intonation problems.  Look through previous show notes - we've posted lots of good exercises.
  • Donovan Foote is playing an Olds Ultratone piston/rotor horn and is looking for bugle-specific books and mouthpiece recommendations.  No good books, but the Curry is a good mouthpiece, as is the Blessing 5 for a darker tone.
  • Mike Dyer's daughter is going to college and wants to know what kind of mouthpiece to use.  We say contact the band at the college and they'll be happy to tell you what's expected.  (Don't go to your local music store and ask for a Mellophone mouthpiece -- chances are they don't know.)
  • Listening Assignment:  "Miradita" performed by John Clark from the CD "Il Suono."
    • John Clark is a jazz horn player and Descant Horn, mostly on the high F side.

Running Time: 34:08

Episode 53:  Power Playing, Part 4: Blazing Technique

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Hosts:  Al Perkins, Dr. John Q. Ericson, Chris Nalls

  • We should mention that we want listeners to send us photos of your Mellophone section to feature in the 2009 MelloCast Calendar.
  • The first thing you need to do is relax.  Chris uses yoga techniques.
  • Next is concept.  There is no reason why you can't have cornet-like technique.  Technique IS easier on the Mellophone and Tenor Horn than it is on the French Horn, so Horn players do need to adjust their thinking (not to dis the French Horn).  Visualize the whole experience.
  • Clarity.  Start slow, build speed.  Focus.  Get a metronome.  Practice with it a LOT.  Chris has four exercises (here, here, here and here) that are great for building technique, speed and clarity.  Play them fast, play them slow, articulate them differently, go chromatically or through the circle of 5th's.
  • Also keep your horn clean and well oiled.  And keep a mouthpiece brush handy.
  • You can't develop technique without etudes and exercises.  Favorite books include:
  • Know your scales in as many octaves as possible.  Also your chromatic scale in as many variations as possible.
  • What's your favorite etude or technique book?  Send them our way!
  • John is working on a technique book.  It's not quite ready yet, but it's in the works.
  • Listening Assignment:  "The Debutante" performed by William Rushworth and the JJB Sports Leyland Band from the CD The Classic Horn Collection.
    • Shows that a Tenor Horn can have cornet-like technique.
    • This is a well-known cornet theme and variation piece.
    • Rushworth has smokin' technique!

Running Time: 47:00

Episode 52:  Power Playing, Part 3: Range

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Hosts:  Al Perkins, Dr. John Q. Ericson, Chris Nalls

  • When we say "range," we're really talking about high notes, though the lower register does center your range.
  • What constitutes "high?"  What is the center of your horn?
  • A high C should be comfortably accessible (in context).
  • Smaller, lighter instrument, smaller bore, smaller mouthpiece = easier higher notes.  The right gear can help if you're consistently in the upper register.  It's wise use of the tools available to you.
  • Al puts range expansion in context.  He does an arpeggio exercise every day that helps expand his range upward.  Chris does a siren series.  John recommends his book on playing high horn.  He uses buzzing to expand his range.
  • You need to have your aperture very focused.  Your lips should focus inward, almost slightly rolling your lips inward.
  • Arm pressure does not work long-term.  Air pressure is better.  It DOES have its uses, but don't rely on it all the time for high notes.
  • Consider your oral cavity and tongue position.  Use syllables.  Think OH for low register, AH for midrange and EE for upper register (or TOE, TAH and TEE).
  • Go higher than you need to.
  • There are also good range development exercises in Flexus.  He also likes the Doug Hill book Warm-Ups and Maintenance Sessions for the Horn Player.
  • Listening Assignment:  "Lullaby" from the The Children of Sanchez by Chuck Mangione.
    • There was a PBS televised recording of it.  Soloist Jerry Peel used a descant horn.
    • Both Al and Chris have played this on a regular double horn!

Running Time: 32:10

Episode 51:  Power Playing, Part 2: Tonguing and Articulation

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

  • Use lots of air.  You won't be able to maintain good articulation unless you're pumping a lot of air.
  • A lot of what we say will be theory.  In truth, much of it depends on the player's on physiology.  What gets the sound and attack YOU want?  It's important to listen to other players to know what sound you want to emulate.
  • Players tend to labor too much.  The Arban "Tu-Ku" approach may be too harsh.  Think a more French pronunciation.  Or use "Da."
  • Conceptualize articulation as pulling the tongue away, releasing the air.  Keep a steady flow of air, and the tongue is interrupting it.  Lighter, softer, more relaxed.
  • Articulation also is dependent on what range you're playing in.  Imagine whistling.  Focus on using behind the tip of your tongue
  • It's important to record yourself, as sometimes what you THINK you sound like is different from what you actually sound like.  Chris likes the Zoom H2, and Al likes the Zoom H4 and the Edirol R-09.
  • Legato tonguing is also very important, if anything to develop other types of tonguing.  Use a "loo" or "thoo" approach.
  • Chris uses the Remington study to work on gaining speed, as well as this other one.  The only real way to gain speed is start slow and work on it over time, and stay relaxed.  John says small, light movements of the tongue.
  • Double tonguing (like lip trills) can't be worked on too long in a sitting, as your tongue gets tired.  Work on it a little bit each day.  Be patient.  Mark says take the goal out of the equation.
  • Multi-tonguing involves developing the back part of your tongue.  Do basic exercises solely with a K-tongue.
  • Pat Sheridan teaches triple-tonguing with the syllables du-gu-dee.  Most other do du-gu-du or du-du-gu.
  • Watch the spaces between notes.  Define how long each articulation marking requires the space to be.  Example: Staccato doesn't mean short, just more space between them.  But don't stop supporting the air!  Maintain steady pressure.
  • Good books to use include Arban and Kopprasch.  Also, if you have to, it's better to practice on a mouthpiece with a lead pipe than just a mouthpiece by itself.
  • The bottom-line breakdown is:
    • Listen to the concept you want
    • Record yourself
    • Start slow, build speed
    • Make it work for you
    • Record yourself
    • Rinse, repeat.
  • Listening Assignment:  "Just a Minute (or Two)" from the CD Sonata by Gordon Higginbottom.
    • Not only does he single tongue the whole thing, but he gets faster as it progresses.
    • This piece is deceptively difficult because of the sustained single-tonguing, and nowhere to breathe!
    • Higginbottom is considered to be the first Tenor Horn virtuoso.

Running Time: 49:53

Episode 50:  Power Playing, Part 1: Flexibility

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

  • Flexibility is a foundation of all good brass playing.  It's important to blow smoothly from note to note through the harmonics while using a steady stream of air.  Air supply is key, and to start working on flexibility, you need to start with air.
  • To get ready, Chris blows steady air but flexes his embouchure and mouth to get from note to note.
  • As per Gunther Schuller, avoid "bumps" and "clicks."  Chris uses "siren" slurs.  Siren slurs start on a min-register note and slur up an octave smoothly and rhythmically while maintaining the same volume throughout, hitting each harmonic along the way.  Additionally, if you miss a harmonic along the way, that's the register to work on.
  • An excellent book for flexibility is Flexus by Laurie Frink and John McNeil.  Half the book is nothing but flexibility drills.  There are many similarities to the Caruso methods.  Laurie Frink was one of his students and continued his teachings.
  • Trumpetherald.com has a forum dedicated to different trumpet methods, and the Caruso method is one of them.
  • Is it better to do a regimented flexibility warm-up, or change it up?  Chris likes to change it up, but Mark sticks to a regiment (though understands changing it up).  John supports a somewhat set routine with variety within the routine, though following a general order.
  • Al follows Doug Yeo's method of practice, separating warm-up, work and playing music.
  • There is a public domain version of the Arban book online at the Library of Congress.
  • Mark likes to create his own flexibility exercises based on intervals and direction changes.  (He should write some of them down!)  John likes to do Rochut studies up an octave.  It's different for French Horn players, with the Kopprasch book being the bible.
  • Chris suggests seeing drum corps this summer and listening to them warm up in the parking lot.  Here's a video of the Blue Devils warming up!
  • Listening Assignment:  "Artemis and Apollo" from the album Adventures in Time by The Stan Kenton Orchestra
    • We first talked about this album in Episode 2.
    • We're all still amazed at how Ray Starling can work wonders with such a troubled instrument!

Running Time: 47:09

Episode 49:  Forrest Christenot and Drum Corps Miniatures

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Hosts:  Al Perkins, Chris Nalls, Mark Taylor, Forrest Christenot

  • Drum Corps Miniatures are pewter figures based on old toy soldiers.  They're sculpted in England and he casts and paints them here.
  • He collected toy soldiers, but, as a fan, wanted to get involved in Drum Corps.
  • He considers them to be "lifetime collectibles," as T-shirts tend to get old and shrink.
  • He made contacts through the toy soldier world.  He also went to corps shows to find something comparable, which there wasn't.
  • You can see some of Al's collection here.
  • For years he would travel from show to show to sell the figures.  This is no longer the best business model.
  • Forrest is in the process of re-doing his website, which is admittedly a little simple.  Soon there will be more about how the minis are made, and a collections page.
  • His ultimate goal is to document the activity from "way back."  His first piece was the Santa Clara Vanguard Bottle Dance.  He can also modify figures by painting them, such as the Phantom Regiment figures.  It helps that he has the Soprano and Mellophone pieces sculpted already, so they can be added to the same figure with minimal reconfiguring.  He hopes to have a Euphonium sculpted soon.
  • Drummer figures sell more.
  • He's trying to work with another sculptor.
  • His next figure will be the 1975 Scouts for their 70th Anniversary.  Then he plans on adapting the Santa Clara figures to play Soprano, Mellophone, etc.  He'd also like to do the 27th Lancers.  New figures come slowly as he's a one-man show.  Sadly licensing and copyrights do get in the way, and not every corps wants these made.
  • Listening Assignment:  "Fourth Ballet Suite" from Phantom Regiment 1996 show "A Defiant Heart."
    • This was their championship show.
    • Forrest commemorated this show with his Phantom 1996 figures.

Running Time: 54:59

Episode 48:  Holly Marino, Director of Fusion Core

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Hosts:  Al Perkins, Chris Finelli, Holly Marino

  • Holly started with an all-girl community drum corps when she was 10 years old with St. Ignatius in Hicksville, Long Island, first on soprano but eventually she switched to Mellophone.  The corps was later renamed to New Image.
  • After a break, she rejoined the activity in the late 1980's with New Image.  After a scare of dissolving the core, the members rose up to save it and renamed it to The Sound of Long Island.
  • Next she and her husband joined Bill's Boys.
  • After another break, she and her husband joined the Golden Eagles.
  • Next they joined Skyliners Alumni, and then the field corps.
  • And then she decided to form Fusion Core.
  • New York is a difficult place to have a drum corps.  Even the NY Skyliners are based in New Jersey.
  • Fusion didn't score too well last year and were out in the DCA semi-finals.  But they're retained most of their membership and have a more aggressive show this year.
  • Aside for being the Director of Fusion, Holly also plays Mellophone with them, too (which is what she loves to do most).
  • Last year was the first year she switched to an F Mellophone.  Her section uses Yamaha horns, but presently not matched mouthpieces.  Holly personally prefers the Curry.
  • If Fusion isn't enough, she and her husband have started a local junior drum corps in Catskill.
  • Listening Assignment:  "Loss" from Fusion Core's 2007 show.

Running Time: 44:58

Episode 47:  Chris Nalls - A Lifetime of Teaching Mellophone

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Hosts:  Al Perkins, Chris Finelli, Chris Nalls

  • Okay, we had some Skype problems this week.  Sorry about the choppiness.
  • Chris, a horn player, started on a Conn 16E in High School.
  • Horn student at San Jose State.  Played a King in their marching band.
  • From there he worked with the San Jose Raiders (though he also worked with them while he was with the Blue Devils), then worked with the Velvet Knights, right when they were aspiring to be the new Bridgemen.
  • Next he worked with the Santa Clara Vanguard 1983, 1985-1988 and 1997.  In 1987 they were awarded the Jim Ott award for Best Brass Section.
  • Chris is a big advocate of the Marching French Horn to fill the gap between the Mellophone and the Baritone.
  • As a long-time brass instructor, Chris is an advocate of playing on matched equipment.  He feels with mature players you can give a little more freedom, though.  (He prefers the Yamaha 204 and the Karl Hammond mouthpiece, btw.)
  • Next he spent 4 years with the Sacramento Freelancers as a brass instructor.
  • Next he left Drum Corps for a while to be a high school band director with Leigh High School.  Previously he was the Assistant band director for Homestead High School (where they used exclusively French Horns).
  • Then came The Renegades, where he is both a brass instructor AND performer at the same time.  They have a great book about the history of the corps, called The Renegade Journal.  It's great!  Chris was a "guest journalist."
  • By the way, playing now with the Renegades is Bonnie Ott (who will be soloing with them this year).
  • The Renegades play Kanstul G bugles.  They want to stay with the G horns to keep that sound alive.
  • He currently still plays with the Ohlone Wind Orchestra.
  • Listening Assignment 1:  "One More Time, Chuck Corea" from the CD "Blue Devils Alumni and Friends."
    • This is a French Horn ensemble arrangement by Chris.
    • It features an all-star horn section.
    • The last note, played by Chris, is the highest recorded note on French Horn to date - at least, that we know of.  (It's a double B, btw.)
  • Listening Assignment 2:  "Free" from the 1980 Blue Devils.
    • He played "Free" every year he was in the Blue Devils.
    • This is a great recording of the mid-section.

Running Time: 44:34

Episode 46:  The Brass Gym

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

  • First, congratulations to Kenton Scott and Horn-u-Copia for their 1000th member.
  • Al wants to mention Twitter and Flickr.  Send us your photos!
  • The Brass Gym is a part of a series of publications by Tuba virtuosi Sam Pilafian and Patrick Sheridan.  The first in the series was The Breathing Gym.  Sam and Pat have worked with a number of corps and marching bands on breathing and training of technique.
  • John is the editor of the horn version of The Brass Gym.  He had worked with Sam on use of air at ASU and knew generally about their warm-up materials but had only seen photocopies on bass clef.  Then they brought out the Brass gym for tuba and euphonium with euphonium treble clef as part of the series.  This opened the materials up in a new way and John was able to work with Sam and Pat to translate the materials for horn.
  • Changes included mostly putting things at pitch levels that work for horn, so the sounding pitch is different than the tuba/euphonium at times, but it fits our chops better.
  • Pat has a MBA and understands marketing.  For examples of his photo work, check out the gallery at http://bigbottomband.com.
  • The book itself starts with a pre-workout of breathing and stretching, pointing you to The Breathing Gym book and DVD, followed by buzzing.
  • The CD illustrates many of the exercises, but it's performed on Tuba.
  • As the book is laid out, they would use the book pretty much as written up to "Beautiful Sounds," then it bounces around a bit.
  • For the Mellophone, some exercises will need to be modified due to range limitations.
  • The Academy uses many of these exercises for group warm-ups.
  • John particularly likes the "Beautiful Sounds" exercise as it pulls everything together.
  • John hears rumors that they are working on a double tonguing book, a buzzing book, and a Band Gym.  Also in the works are trumpet and trombone versions of The Brass Gym.
  • You can order the horn version of The Brass Gym directly from John's website.
  • Listening Assignment:  "Compadre Pedro Juan" from the CD "Dos Amigos" performed by Sam Pilafian and Patrick Sheridan.
    • This entire CD is basically two tubas with some Latin percussion.
    • You can tell they're having a lot of fun!

Running Time: 41:16

Episode 45:  The Carmel Kenton Project

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Hosts:  Al Perkins, Scooter Pirtle, Mark Taylor, Mike Pote

  • This week's guest is Mike Pote, Associate Director of Bands for Carmel High School in Carmel, Indiana.
  • Due to having some strong horn players, Mike had the idea of doing some Kenton charts.  Once seeing the now removed YouTube videos of the Kenton Band, he decided to do an all-Kenton program.  Wanting to remain pure to the music, he decided to use Conn 16E's.
  • They started rehearsals using Yamaha YMP-204's (with IYM mouthpieces) and gradually brought in the 16E's.  Being that the players were excellent, they could deal well with the inherent problems with the horns.
  • The players used an article from The Middle Horn Leader as a resource to understand the instrument.
  • The original intent was to get the original "Adventures in Time" charts, but they're published in a "de-Mellophone" stage.  None of the Mellophonium charts are for sale.  So, Mike contacted North Texas State University, who owns the entire Kenton library.  Eventually he had to abandon the "Adventures in Time" plan.
  • The charts they ultimately performed were: "Waltz of the Prophets," for which he bought the existing arrangement and transcribed the Mellophone part; "Recuerdos," which never had a Mellophone part, but it did have a French Horn part; "Day Dream," which was a vocal chart, and Mike transcribed the Mellophone part; and "Malaguena," which had the original French Horn parts (which were performed on Mellophonium).
  • The presentation was perceived as a novelty - nobody quite understood the benefit of the project.  Ultimately everyone enjoyed it as a whole.  Dedicating a concert to one style and form of music is admittedly difficult to pace.
  • The intonation issues with the 16E's were worth it as they have a timbre no other horn has, including the Yamaha.
  • He used the Mellophoniums for two concerts.
  • Mike doesn't see this project having any lasting impact.
  • Scooter has a photo spread of this on the Middle Horn Leader.
  • Listening Assignment:  "Malaguena" performed by the Carmel High School Jazz Ensemble I
    • Mike tried to recreate the piano opening that was used on the Jazz Scene USA video.
    • For this project they also were able to borrow a bass sax and a recording tuba.
    • He elongated the end with a small drum solo.

Running Time: 46:51

Episode 44:  First Year Anniversary!

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

  • Scooter is back!  Kevin was a surprise guest who makes a short appearance.
  • Brad Kintcher gave us the opening "Happy Birthday" recording.  He does excellent multi-horn arrangements!  Check out his website and listen to the samples.  Thanks, Brad!
  • We turn the mics back on ourselves to see what we've been up to.
  • Scooter just finished working with Carmel High School's Kenton project (photos will be posted on the Middle Horn Leader soon).  He also attended North American Brass Band Association's national championships.  He now sees the Tenor Horn connection.
  • Al is impressed and moved by Scooter's article about him.
  • John is doing lots of recruiting these days.  The books are moving along and he got to show them off and speak about the Mellophone at the Southeast Horn Workshop.  In February he got to play "Misty" on Mellophonium.
  • John asks about our websites.  Al started with Al's Tenor Horn Page, which was up a couple of years.  There was a small Mellophone page off of it, and then Greg Monks donated his historical information. Scooter's site started as a print newsletter and only went to a web page a couple of years ago.
  • Al feels that the two sites work together with their content.
  • Who's idea was it to start the MelloCast?  Al takes credit.  He and Mark came up with the idea when Al was studying jazz with him.
  • Scooter recalls that Al got the format idea from a Walt Disney World podcast, WDW Today.  He came up with the Listening Assignment idea because the literature is so scattered that he hoped to help the listeners by presenting it to them.
  • John was impressed with Chris Smith.
  • What are our favorite episodes?  John likes Episode 7, the Interview with Mark Taylor.  His runner-up is Episode 39, the Jupiter episode.  He also likes Episode 40, the Intonation Smack-Down.
  • Al likes Episode 5, Mellos on YouTube, as it was the first episode where the podcast found its voice.  (Al keeps trying to find a reason to talk about this video.  It's so funny it hurts.)
  • Scooter also likes Episode 5 for the same reasons.  He also likes the performance episodes John was on board for.
  • John asked about episode stats.  Episode 4 with Paula Hyman is our highest rated episode at 678 listens to date.  Episode 10 (the Great Mouthpiece Debate) is next, followed by Mellos on YouTube (Episode 5), Our Horns (Episode 2), then J.D. Shaw (Episode 18).  The Jupiter episode (Episode 39) is doing well.
  • In the future, Al has more interviews coming.  He also wants to play more (he's breaking in a new circular alto).  Speaking of which, he wants to do a LOT more research on the circular alto.
  • Listening Assignment:  "Misty" by the Salt River Brass Band featuring Mellophonium soloist John Ericson!
    • John go a hold of the original Kenton charts and had it re-arranged for Brass Band.
    • John found his Mellophonium on eBay, and one valve drags a bit (you can hear it on the recording if you listen).
    • John thinks the recording is "pitchy," but Al thinks it's fine.
    • With luck, he'll get to do it again with a jazz band.
    • Pat Sheridan is the one speaking at the end.

Running Time: 54:00

Episode 43:  3 Listening Assignments

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Host:  Al Perkins

  • Al is doing two theatrical shows right now and time is limited for the next two weeks.  So instead of not doing an episode, this one will feature 3 listening assignments.
  • Listening Assignment 1:  "Symphonic Movement" from the 2007 Cadets show "This I Believe."
    • This clip is from their pre-season CD without narration.
    • How often do you get to hear Nelhybel on the field?
    • This clip features some awesome exposed Mellophone parts.
  • Listening Assignment 2:  "Mellophone Mambo" from Don Elliot's "Mellophone" album.
    • One of the more original numbers on the album.
    • The balance is terrible.  You can barely hear the Mellophone!
  • Listening Assignment 3:  "Finale from Violin Concerto" by Mendelssohn, performed on Tenor Horn by Owen Farr from his CD "Untold Stories."
    • Sounds hard?  It is.  Farr plays the snot out of it!
    • If you're a fan of Tenor Horn soloists (and you should be), you should get this CD.
    • This clip can be motivational ... or discouraging!

Running Time: 15:07

Episode 42:  Interview with Film Music Librarian, Karen M. Smith

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Hosts:  Al Perkins, Mark Taylor, Karen M. Smith

  • Karen took a music calligraphy class in College and went to Hollywood in the mid 80's as a music copyist.  When programs such as Finale and Sibelius took over (and just getting tired of being a copyist), she became a film music librarian.
  • As a librarian she copies, prints, organizes, tapes and books parts for recordings sessions, as well as working with music contractors to be sure they have what the musicians need.
  • As a librarian, Karen is not always at the recording sessions.  Back when the music was hand copied, she would have to always be at the sessions.  For some films now she would have to be there to receive E-mailed parts which she'd print and deliver to the musician directly.
  • She gets to work with a lot of Hollywood film composers, such as Hans Zimmer, Jerry Goldsmith, Michael Giacchino, John Williams, Lalo Schifrin, the Newmans (Randy, David and sometimes Thomas), Lee Holdridge, David Benoit, Alf Clausen, among others.
  • She has counted around 600 films she has worked on.
  • Karen is also the personal music librarian for a number of composers, including John Williams, Lalo Schifrin, Henry Mancini (formerly), Jerry Goldsmith (formerly), Johnny Mandel and Lee Holdridge. She has also been requested by the Frank Zappa estate. These composers have their own concert libraries in their own homes, and then concertize.  Karen makes sure the music is in good condition, the sends music where it needs to go, she'll make up the orchestra's books, all writing is erased (going and coming), keeps track of parts and, when necessary, prints new sets.
  • During the summer, Karen works as a librarian for the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, which is a very different experience than working on films.  Much more research is involved and everything is more precise.
  • She also maintains a little "corner of her world" by recording her own music.
  • Listening Assignment:  "Colors of the Wind" from the CD "Colors of the Wind" by Karen M. Smith and David Snyder.
    • Karen and David have recorded two CD's together, the second being a Christmas album (which Al thinks is better than their first CD).
    • Most of their arrangements were worked out while they played in church together.
    • Her third CD is another Christmas CD with the Resonance Flute Consort.
    • Her next CD will be with a flute ensemble again, this time (hopefully) performing film music arranged by the original composers.  Calls have already gone out to Randy Newman and Alf Clausen

Running Time: 52:48

Episode 41:  Interview with Kevin Gamin

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Hosts:  Al Perkins, Mark Taylor, Kevin Gamin

  • Kevin Gamin is one of the most familiar voices to the drum corps community, as well as the podcasting community.  He's the Managing News Editor for Drum Corps Planet and the host of the Box Center Podcast.
  • Kevin marched with the Glassmen from 1992 (started on soprano, switch to baritone) to 1996.  After a few years off, he joined the Empire Statesmen for 3 years.  This year he's performing with the Erie Thunderbirds Alumni Corps.
  • He's also the Managing News Editor for Drum Corps Planet, which is the premiere fan-based Drum Corps website.  As the Managing News Editor, he receives press releases from all the corps and puts the information on the site.  If he doesn't hear from anyone in a while, he researches their websites and puts the information on DCP.  He tries to update the web page daily.
  • The DCP forums are also a flurry of activity.  DCP owes it's existence to RAMD.
  • Box Center grew from DCP.  Originally, named "This Week in Drum Corps," it started around 2005.  At that time there were no podcasts about Drum Corps, so he started on where he basically read the weekly news that he got from DCP.  Now he does interviews and tribute shows.  There was an attempt at live shows, but the technology wouldn't cooperate the way he wants, so it's best to go with produced shows.
  • In the future, Kevin wants to do more tribute shows and play more clips.
  • Kevin plans on doing some live recordings from shows over the summer.  He also wants to interview show sponsors, runners, and tour managers - more from the administrative side.
  • Listening Assignment:  Opener -- "Canon in D" -- from the 2003 Phantom Regiment show "Harmonic Journey"
    • This was the first year Phantom used multi-key King horns.
    • Phantom developed the King line, which they still use.
    • King will remain a sponsor of DCI through 2010.
    • J.D. Shaw rocks!

Running Time: 31:21

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