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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 80:  Quick Horn/Mouthpiece Changes

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

  • One day you're playing French Horn, the next you're playing Mellophone, and the next you're playing Tenor Horn.  How do you maintain all three horns and mouthpieces?
  • A French Horn mouthpiece has a rim diameter of about 17.25mm.  A Tenor Horn mouthpiece is about 19mm.  A Mello 6 might be around 16mm.
  • Focus your practice on the instrument that is in the middle of it all -- not too big and not too small (or not too high and not too low).  Warm-up and practice technique on your main instrument.  Have your "home base" instrument - your place of comfort.
  • Long tones are your friend.  They will help you adjust your tone to the mouthpiece.
  • Mentally prepare yourself for the instrument you are about to play.  Visualize success.
  • If you play more Mellophone or Tenor Horn than French Horn, there ARE large-rimmed mouthpieces for the French Horn, such as the Denis Wick 4 and the Laskey 85G (18.5mm).
  • New developments in Mellophone mouthpieces make them more comforting to French Horn players.  The Hammond and the IYM were designed specifically for the French Horn player.
  • Take the time to warm up on the instrument you're about to play before playing it.

Running Time: 25:05

Episode 79:  Limited Practice Time

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

  • First off, Al mentioned the Make Music NY Outdoor Music Festival on June 21.  He and Mark are going to try to put together a Mellophone ensemble.  Interested?  Let us know!
  • Next, John gave a recap of his trip to the South East Horn Workshop.
  • On to the topic.  Many of us have very limited time daily to practice.  What are some techniques to use that time wisely?
  • 20 to 30 minutes 5 days a week is better than a marathon session.
  • Don't try to do everything each session.  Break it down to one thing per session.  Organize -- think ahead to the entire week.  Be efficient and focus.
  • Use etudes.  Good etude books include Maxime Alphonse, Gallay and Kling.  Also, don't forget Kopprasch, Arban and Clarke.
  • Take time to do at least one etude at each practice session, and really work it.

Running Time: 32:12

Episode 78:  Interview with John Meehan, Brass Caption Head for the Concord Blue Devils

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Hosts:  Al Perkins, Chris Nalls, John Meehan

  • John Meehan is the head horn instructor for the Concord Blue Devils.
  • John's father Jack Meehan is in the Drum Corps Hall of Fame.
  • John is the Brass Caption Head for the Blue Devils A corps, and writes the music for the B and C corps.
  • John grew up with Drum Corps.  He marched in Blue Devils C corps in 1980, 81 and 82; then the B corps in 83, 84 and 85; then the A corps in 86, 87, 88 and 89.  He started teaching in 1990.  He aged out in 1992 and started teaching with is father for the Santa Clara Vanguard.  After taking some time off, he joined the Blue Devils staff in 1994.  From 94 to 2006 he was the Mellophone Tech.
  • 2006 was John's first year as Brass Caption Head, where he does much less teaching.
  • Blue Devils now march 76 horns, which includes 16 Mellophones, which can split up to four ways.
  • In 1994 there were 4 Mellophones and 10 Flugelhorns.  By 1997 it was all Mellophones.
  • Mellophone is tricky to teach because the players come from different places - either a trumpet player or French Horn player, or sometimes neither.
  • John is working with System Blue to develop a new line of mouthpieces.  The Mellophone mouthpiece has a V-cup, but has bulk similar to the IYM.  They should be in use by summer.  System Blue will eventually cover other products.
  • He now does a lot of composing.
  • John's father developed an instrument with Ziggy Kanstul in the mid-80's that they call the Meehaphone.  It was to have darker than a Mellophone, but more stable than a French Horn.  It was sort of a field Descant Horn.  They say it was used from 87 to 91.  It had great projection and intonation except for the extreme high and low ranges.
  • Listening Assignment:  "Goodbye Yesterday" from the Blue Devils' 1988 show.
    • The 88 show is one of Wayne Downey's best use of the mid-voice.
    • The mid-voice is provided by the Meehaphone!

Running Time: 36:19

Episode 77:  The History of the Mellophone with Greg Monks

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Hosts:  Al Perkins, Chris Nalls, Mark Taylor, Greg Monks

  • Okay note-readers, I'll be honest -- this is possibly the most information-packed episode we've ever recorded.  Show notes will do it no justice.  I'll try to hit some of the highlights, but it's going to be a stretch.
  • We go way, WAY back to the Bronze Age!
  • One of the Mellophone's oldest ancestor is the French Post Horn, which was conical.  The original Koenig horn, not the later one that looks just like a Mellophone, was a cornet with the bell pointing down.
  • There is an alleged connection between the Mellophone and the Ballad Horn, which was patented by Henry Distin.  Ballad Horns were identical to Post Horns.
  • The original Mellophone WAS a Ballad Horn in a different key and with a larger bell.  The larger bell was so the sound would stand out from other instruments of it's kind.  It has nothing to do with looking like a French Horn.
  • In the 1880's, Mellophones came from two different areas.  In France, Cerveny (which Greg knows how to pronounce correctly!!) produced the Althorn (or Circular Alto).  Ligner produced the Althorn as an easier alternative to the French Horn (unless you're Al, at which point it's a BETTER alternative to the French Horn!).  France, at the time, was not playing Military Band music, but Orchestral music.
  • Meanwhile, in the Czech Republic where Amati and Leidl and other companies come from, came the traditional Mellophone we know, which they sold to the United States market.  The predominant purchasers were African American musicians for Ragtime and early Jazz.
  • So, a recap: the Althorn was marketed for Classical playing while the Mellophone was marketed for Ragtime and Jazz.
  • Even though the horn is conical, it becomes cylindrical with the valve casing.  The original Koenig horn and the Althorn, it remains cylindrical.
  • Mellophones started to phase out buy the First World War.  By the 1930's they started to fall out of favor in Jazz bands.  The modern Stage Band moved to the forefront.
  • The Bellfront horn, or Mellophonium, was a copy of the Marching French Horn, which dates around 1950.
  • Listening Assignment:  "Memphis Blues" by Lieut. Jim Reese Europe's 369th U.S. Infantry "Hell Fighters" Band, from their CD "The Complete Recordings."
    • Europe's band not only used Mellophones, but they carried the countermelodies.
    • His band also fought in the war.
    • Europe (the man) introduced Jazz to Europe (the place).
    • He was killed by his drummer.

Running Time: 49:16

Episode 76:  Getting It Back

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

  • It's happened to all of us -- everything is going along fine, and then one day you can't play to save your life.  How do you get it back?
  • A few years ago, Mark's embouchure caved in and he couldn't play at all.  He worked with John McNeil, who is one of the co-authors of Flexus.
  • He recently found in a beginning trumpet book was a way to try to make forming an embouchure as simple as possible (say the letter "M," firm up the corners and blow).  It's important to break it down into something simple, not to over-think it.
  • Long tones are critical.  The more you can eliminate, the more you can focus on what needs to be fixed.
  • Al likes to get out a metronome and play the simplest etudes he can find.
  • These problems can compound when they chip away at your confidence.  If your chops feel bad, it's doubly bad as it will impact your confidence as well.
  • When things go bad, don't push it.  Slow it down.  Do simple warm-ups.  Avoid those etudes for a couple of days.
  • It's also good to take time off.  Let your chops recover.  Avoid dystonia.  It's best to mix heavy days with light days.
  • We all have bad days.  Of course, one well-placed bad day can ruin your month.
  • Prepare for your peak.  If you have a performance coming up, be sure you peak when the performance comes.  Grated, that's hard to do if you perform nightly.
  • When things go bad, Mark tends to change his mouthpiece, which does not work.  Find a mouthpiece and stick with it.  Don't confuse your chops by switching up too much.  (But if you find something that's better, go with it.)
  • As for Fat Fingers (when the fingers just stop working right), do the same as an embouchure problem -- slow it down and build it back up.  Al uses chromatics, but they have to be clean and steady.
  • Listening Assignment:  "Riserva" by the Mnozil Brass, from their CD "What Are You Doing For The Rest Of Your Life."
    • These guys are not only phenomenal players, but outrageously entertaining.
    • There are videos of them all over YouTube.  John has linked to their version of Bohemian Rhapsody, which you have to watch often.
    • Though they don't use a Mellophone, one of their trombone players often plays a Bass Trumpet, which you can hear clearly on this clip.
    • Their lead trumpet, Thomas Gansch, is one of the most effortless players you'll ever see (and downright funny).

Running Time: 29:05

Episode 75:  N.A.M.M.

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

  • N.A.M.M. is the National Association of Music Merchants.  They put on a trade show in January in Anaheim, CA.  Chris took the opportunity to check out some Middle Brasses.
  • His first stop was Kanstul, who now has a new Tenor Horn, which is more of a student model.
  • Next was Jupiter, and Chris tried the new 5050, which is still weak, but as the Blue Devils helped develop the Dynasty horns, he's hoping that Phantom will do the same with Jupiter.  He also tried the "mystery mouthpiece."
  • Next was King, which was on the same level as the Kanstul and the Jupiter.
  • Mark came in late and brought up the Phatterboy Eb Flugel, which was commissioned from Taylor Trumpets by Pip Eastop.
  • Meanwhile Monette has come up with a G horn, called the Sattva, which is more of a trumpet with an extended lower register.
  • According to Chris, only the Yamaha comes closest to being a "pro" model Mellophone.
  • Chris also tried out the Hans Hoyer French Horns.
  • He tried the new Besson 950 Tenor Horn, which has very slight improvements.
  • Listening Assignment 1:  "Malaguena," arranged by Mark Freeh from the out-of-print CD "Freeh-Way" by the Rigid Containers Band.
    • Mark Freeh is considered one of the best Brass Band arrangers in the United States.  He's also a great bass trombone player.
    • The Tenor Horn part on this is nuts!
    • It's a great version that's not inspired by the Kenton arrangement.
  • Listening Assignment 2 :  "Malaguena," by the Xavier Cugat band.
  • And of course there's this.

    Running Time: 39:50

    Episode 74:  Must-Have CD's

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

    • Listening Assignment:  "Bohemian Rhapsody" performed by The London Horn Sound.
      • The group started as a trombone project, that was so successful that they did one with horns.
      • This arrangement uses horns, Wagner Tubas and a rhythm section.
    Running Time:  32:41

    Episode 73:  Nirschl and Monette

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

    • At a recent NABBA festival, Scooter found the W. Nirschl E-102 Marching F Mellophone.
    • As far as being a contender, this is not one of them.  You can read Scooter's full review here.  He ranks it only slightly better than the Conn 16-E.  Al says the Reynolds Mellophonium is even worse.
    • The horn has a notably small bell.  As a result, the tone is less "mellow."
    • Price-wise they're inexpensive, but they're very flawed.
    • The mouthpiece is a 6DV.  It's like a Mello 6 with an opened throat.
    • Meanwhile Monette has come up with a G horn, called the Sattva, which is more of a trumpet with an extended lower register.
    • The horn was designed for Ron Miles.  There are interviews with Ron on the website.
    • The horn has a 6" bell to compliment the increased length of the instrument and to get a broad, fat sound, but not so big that the sound spreads at higher volumes.
    • Both Mark and Scooter have asked Monette about building a Mellophone.  So far there are no plans for them to design one.
    • Mark has heard that Monette is thinking of designing a horn longer than the Sattva, but no word about what key it will be in.
    • Listening Assignment:  "The Flash" from Sandstorm Brass's only CD "Flash" by Carlo Mora, arranged by Sandy Smith.
      • We mentioned this in our Top 5 episode.
      • Sandstorm Brass was short-lived, but Sandy Smith is a Legend of the Tenor Horn.  He's played for many of the top Brass Bands in England.
      • Chris is impressed with their cleanliness..
      • This is a Must-Have CD.
      • You can find British Brass Quintet music on Just Music.

    Running Time: 22:06

    Episode 72:  Pimp My Horn

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

    • Scooter is back to talk about horn modifications, specifically those used by the 2008 Star United Mellophone Section.
    • Sean Conley is the section leader of Star United and the King of Horn Mods.  There are only so many things you can do to improve playability as they are flawed instruments to begin with.
    • The section had 3 Yamaha 204's and one King 1121, which underwent most of the modifications.  These included opening up the lead pipe and custom valve alignments.  This can help the tone quality through the ranges -- not so much for intonation.  Additionally, some bracing was changed, which impacts the way the horn vibrates. 
    • There is an area inside the receiver between where the mouthpiece sits and the beginning of the lead pipe.  That can sometimes be adjusted, which will impact the sound.
    • Everyone used CCaps.  They are heavyweight caps added to the bottom of the valves that add mass to the instrument.  The Middle Horn Leader has a list of all the variations in which they can be used.
    • In addition to the CCaps, they are also used with rubber spacers and washers to give variations.  Each valve can be adjusted separately.
    • Sam Range has posted his recipe for using the CCaps. Scooter uses it and loves it.  It can help the horn slot better when slurring.
    • Sometimes horn modifications have a placebo effect, which isn't a bad thing as it forces you to analyze how your instrument plays.  John says any physical change will change the way the horn plays in some way.
    • Al and John agree that on French Horn, the note to change to the Bb side is G# in the staff, and F below the staff.  Would a conductor be able to tell?
    • Mouthpieces also qualify as a modification, especially since some manufacturers (like Curry and Hammond) make higher mass mouthpieces.
    • O-rings on valve slides can also assist with intonation, especially if your mouthpiece makes your horn play sharp.
    • An Adjustable Gap Receiver will also change the way your horn plays.
    • Mobile braces will also change your playability.  It takes some experimentation, of course.
    • There are also water key mods, such as the Amado or the Saturn Key.  Be careful because they can malfunction.
    • Al had an E-flat slide for his Yamaha 203.  It definitely makes the horn sound fatter.
    • Since corps don't keep their horns beyond a year, there are fewer modifications done.
    • By the way, David Welch passed away earlier this week.  Visit his website at 38lemon.com.
    • Listening Assignment:  "Circus Maximus" by the 1991 Star of Indiana, arranged by Jim Prime.
      • Star veterans don't look back at this show with reverence.
      • No mods were made to any of the instruments (they were 2-valve King K-50's, by the way), yet they were all able to play in tune.
      • Their rehearsal schedule that year was very intense.
      • The opening statement was originally going to be herald trumpets, but they decided against it.
      • This was the only championship Star won.
      • Jim Prime is a master of making parts fit the instrument.  You'd never know everyone is playing 2-valved horns.

    Running Time: 45:27

    Episode 71:  Top 5 for 2008

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

    • 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 middle brass world for 2008.
    • Honorable Mention:
      • The antics of Mello Phi Fellow at Southern University.  DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME!
      • Mnozil Brass put out a new CD and DVD.  No Mellophones or Tenor Horns here, but they are totally outrageous!
    • And now the top 5 for 2007:
      • #5 - The Jupiter Quantum.  It would be higher on the list if it were a better horn.  Maybe now that Phantom is going to use them Jupiter will improve on them.
      • #4 - St. Paul's Brass Quintet.  Okay, they've been around longer than this year, but we discovered them this year!
        • John asks about ensembles that use Tenor Horn.  All brought up Sandstorm Brass, headed by Sandy Smith.  They put out one CD and vanished.
        • There are other British Brass quintets out there, as well as some quartets.
        • You can also find some unique groups, such as the Make Believe Brass Quintet and the American Brass Quintet Brass Band.
      • #3 - Bonnie Ott Thompson Joins the Renegades.  Go to the Renegade's website for a video of their latest Open House.
      • #2 - The Besson Prestige Tenor Horn.  They say it's a superb horn.  There are lots of strings about this on Al's Tenor Horn Forum.
      • #1 - 2008 Star United's Mellophone Section (featuring Scooter Pirtle).  Wow.  These folks were nothing short of amazing.
    • What to expect in 2009:
      • Renegades MiniCorps WILL be back!
      • Maybe some Mellophone recordings?
    • Listening Assignment:  "Rocky Point Holiday" performed by the 2008 Star United MiniCorps.
      • Chris says that they all "tricked-out" their horns with CCaps and the like.  We want to know the mods they did!
    Running Time:  22:30

    Episode 70:  Fingerings

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

    • It's not uncommon for Mellophone players to come from or go to French Horn.  With the use of triple horns, single Bb horns and marching Bb horns, keeping track of fingerings can pose a number of challenges.
    • Al feels that playing the same music from horn to horn can cause confusion due to motor memory.  Alternate fingerings also can get into the mix.
    • There's an aspect of "starting over" each time you sit down.  The more you play a specific piece on a specific horn, the less of a problem you'll have.
    • Once you shift your gears the logic of the fingering pattern will work.  Al used to play Strauss and Mozart on the Mellophone to aid in adjusting his thinking.
    • Too bad Mark's not here!
    • The problem is not so prevalent with Tenor Horn.  The first brain glitch is seeing the note and it coming out a step off due to it being in Eb.  Also, alternate fingerings are more important to stay in tune with others.
    • It is critical to know all of your alternate fingerings.
    • Bb horn gets confusing in the lower-middle register.
    • Al and John agree that on French Horn, the note to change to the Bb side is G# in the staff, and F below the staff.  Would a conductor be able to tell?
    • Chris uses the Gripmaster Via to aid in fingerings.
    • One of the best tools to help with fingerings are chromatics.  The Arban book is a good source for exercises.
    • Watch your fingers.  Get a Duck's Foot.  There are also Hornlsings or the Clebsch strap.
    • Listening Assignment:  "Shine" by the Lino Paturno Blue Four, featuring Michael Supnick on Mellophone.
      • This was found on YouTube.  It's not an interesting video.
      • We played a clip with Michael Supnick back on Episode 5.  The video associated is gone, but you can still see it here.
      • Supnick plays cornet, but he's an awesome Mellophonist.  We love him!!

    Running Time: 30:01

    Episode 69:  4 Christmas Listening Assignments

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    Host:  Al Perkins

    • Schedules are wacky this time of year, so we're presenting 4 Christmas Listening Assignments.
    • Listening Assignment 1:  "Angels We Have Heard On High" by the Velvet Knights from CD "Ornaments in Brass."
      • DCI released a CD of Christmas music back in the early '90's.
      • They also posted some of these cuts on the DCI website a year or two ago.
    • Listening Assignment 3:  "Once in Royal David's City" performed by St. Paul's Brass Quintet.
      • This was arranged by Mellophonist Rich Sterner.
      • This arrangement highlights Rich and the tone of the Mellophone.
      • This clip can be motivational ... or discouraging!
    • Listening Assignment 4:  "Jingle Bells" performed by Al Perkins from "Studies on Christmas Carols" by Arthur Frackenpohl.
      • The solos in the book are unaccompanied.
      • Al designed the arrangement, which was done by Heather Arzberger.
      • It was recorded live just last week!
      • You can see a video of one of the performances here!
      • The book is seemingly not available for Horn any more.  Bummer.

    Running Time: 13:25

    Episode 68:  Gifts for the Discriminating Mellophonist '08

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

    Go back and listen to episode 30, or more so, share this episode and Episode 30 with your loved ones!
    • Listening Assignment:  "The Holly and the Ivy" from Stan Kenton's A Merry Christmas.
      • Get it!  Get it now!

    Running Time: 23:23

    Episode 67:  What We're Playing Now

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

    • Frequently we veer from the path of what we usually play, and lately we're all taking up new and different instruments.
    • Chris has 3 horns going on right now.  First, he's playing Solo Tenor Horn with the Silicon Valley Brass Band.  He also plays on a regular French Horn with the Ohlone Wind Orchestra (playing the same horn and mouthpiece he's played on for 30 years.)  The third is the Yamaha 204 with the Renegades Mini Corps, as well as the Kanstul G horn (though the Renegades are moving to Bb/F instruments this year).
    • John was playing a triple horn for a while, but lately he's been playing a single Bb horn.  He LOVES the response on it!  He's also working with the Wagner Tuba.
    • Mark is still with the Yamaha 203.  He tries out different mouthpieces but keeps coming back to the IYM.  He's also started playing trumpet.  He was using the Curry 1HTF on it, but it gave him no range (and a tone like a flugel).
    • Al is almost exclusively with the Circular Alto now - currently playing the Cerveny with the Grand Street Community Band in Brooklyn.  He's also playing Eb Tuba some for his annual Christmas show.
    • Listening Assignment:  "And the Band Played On" by the Silicon Valley Brass Band.
      • Chris talked at length about the band and his experiences back on Episode 65.

    Running Time: 20:13

    Episode 66:  Rich Sterner from St. Paul's Brass Quintet

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    Hosts:  Al Perkins, Chris Nalls, Rich Sterner

    • The St. Paul's Brass Quintet is a semi-professional brass quintet based out of (and partially sponsored by St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
    • Though the publicity photos show Rich holding a French Horn, he plays Mellophone with the quintet.
    • Rich started as a trumpet player and studied music in college.  Ultimately he formed a brass quartet which eventually evolved into a quintet and was picked up by St. Paul's as a regular group.  But being a trumpet player, the quintet need the horn part covered, so he tried the Mellophone.
    • Up to now he has been playing a Holton traditional Mellophone, which you can hear on the recordings.  He also uses a Bach Mellophone mouthpiece.
    • People don't notice that he's playing the Mellophone, but Rich does educate the audiences to it.
    • Most of the arrangements are done by the members.
    • They have some CD's available, though Rich is not happy with the earlier ones.
    • Al feels that the tone of a Mellophone serves a brass quintet better than a French Horn due to the overtones and harmonics.  Chris likes to experiment with instrumentation
    • Rich has recently purchased Al's Dotzauer Circular Alto.  Rich feels it has changed the timbre of the group (for the better).
    • Arrangement-wise, they lean toward choral pieces and try to maintain that type of voicing.
    • Listening Assignment 1:  "Ain't Got Time to Die" by St. Paul's Brass from the CD "Concert in the Park."
      • This was arranged by Rich.
      • This arrangement is based on a choral piece.
      • The melody, played by Mellophone, cuts above everything.
    • Listening Assignment 2:  "You Are the New Day."
      • This is a rehearsal recording.
      • You're never quite sure who has the melody.

    Running Time: 27:35

    Episode 65:  Chris's Adventures with the Tenor Horn

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    Hosts:  Al Perkins, Chris Nalls

    • Chris has recently joined the Silicon Valley Brass Band playing the Tenor Horn.  (Chris also plays with the Ohlone Wind Orchestra, who just released a CD entitled Vaxuosity, featuring soloist Mike Vax.)
    • Back in Episode 2 Al made the statement that the Mellophone and the French Horn are very unrelated, but the Mellophone and the Tenor Horn are VERY related.  Chris has validated Al!
    • One of the biggest challenges for Chris has been getting used to the mouthpiece, which is significantly larger than any other one he's played on.
    • Playing in E-flat does take a little getting used to.  The Tenor Horn's center is different than other horns.
    • Tenor Horn parts get a lot of moving lines.  And playing the Solo part is just that.  There's not also a lot of down time!
    • Chris is currently using Al's Besson Sovereign 950, which is THE HORN to play.
    • Like the Mellophone, It's easy to find a BAD horn.  There are three good horns out there: the Besson, the Yamaha and the York.
    • In the Brass Band, all instruments read in Treble Clef (with the exception of the Bass Trombone).
    • Besson has recently come out with a new model - the Prestige.  4BarsRest put it up against the York and the Yamaha.  There's a big discussion about the Besson Prestige on the forums at Al's Tenor Horn Page.
    • Listening Assignment:  "Festival March Celebration" Composed by Leslie Condon.
      • This is an extremely representative Brass Band piece.
      • Stylistically, Brass Band literature is VERY diverse.

    Running Time: 23:02

    Episode 64:  Bonnie Ott Thompson

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    Hosts:  Al Perkins, Chris Nalls, Bonnie Ott Thompson

    • Al reminds everyone we STILL need photos for the 2009 calendar.  Also, be sure to order your CD's of this year's DCA Mini Corps presentation.  It's an outstanding recording!
    • To Quote The Middle Horn Leader: "Bonnie Thompson (Ott) was one of the first drum corps players to exploit the possibilities of the Mellophone bugle as a soloist with the Concord Blue Devils in the mid-1970s. Her flawless technique and musical interpretation provided an aspect of expression that made her a pioneer in the drum corps activity."
    • Bonnie started playing at 10 years old.  Her brother Jim was playing soprano for the Stockton Police Drum and Bugle Corps.  Bonnie was playing cornet in Elementary school and brought her into the line.  Stockton Police became The Commodores, where she marched from 1966 to 1973.  She then played for the Blue Devils from 1974 to 1976 where she played a piston/rotor Mellophone.
    • 1976 was an important year for the Blue Devils in many ways.
    • Some of Bonnie's favorites during those years include "Chase the Clouds Away," "Legend of the One Eyed Sailor" and "Channel One Suite."  Back then corps would repeat numbers.
    • Bonnie's brother, Jim Ott, was one of the best teachers and arrangers in the business, writing for many corps around the country including the Blue Devils and Spirit of Atlanta.
    • After aging out, Bonnie tried to teach a little, but eventually stopped playing left Corps, occasionally working with small local corps.
    • She now plays with the Renegades, and the Freelancers Alumni.
    • Bonnie feels great about being considered "legendary," being given distinction for paving the way for women in drum corps.
    • Bonnie is currently working on a project to catalog and present her brother's charts, either by digitally notating it or scanning.
    • Listening Assignment:  "Chase the Clouds Away" by Chuck Mangione, performed by the 1976 Concord Blue Devils.
      • They performed this number on 1975 as well.  The 1976 version features a Mellophone/French Horn duet.
      • It was arranged, of course, by Jim Ott.

    Running Time: 47:45

    Episode 63:  Improv for Dummies

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

    • A good, solid baseline place to start is by playing the melody.  Grab pieces of the melody and embellish them, or give them some ornamentation.
    • There's always a focus on chord scales.  It's not enough to just play them up and down.  Know the most consonant scale to deal with.  Then be able to play it up and down, and in diatonic 4ths and 5ths.  This helps develop "vocabulary."
    • "Vocabulary" is the collection of phrases you like to use to express yourself.  It's information you gather by what you listen to and play.  Until you build your own, copy phrases from others.
    • Don't be afraid to try.  Take the opportunity.  Just pick up the horn and play.
    • Chris has provided a lead sheet to try out.
    • Blues are great for learning how to improvise.  Learn about Blues Scales.  Playing blues is all about making melodic statements.
    • Play a lot.  Play with others.  If you're uncomfortable playing with others, find the Jamey Abersold Play-Alongs.  John recommends Ken Wiley's Jazz Lounge.  Chris likes "Band-In-A-Box."
    • It helps to become proficient at reading trombone parts, trumpet parts and concert lead sheets.
    • Good recordings to listen to is anything with Don Elliott, as well as Chuck Mangione, Clark Terry and Julius Watkins.
    • Mark recommends the book Patterns for Jazz.
    • Listening Assignment 1:  "Echano" by Chuck Mangione from the CD "Chase the Clouds Away."
      • Almost every band and corps has done something by Chuck Mangione.
      • Chuck marched in Drum Corps in Rochester!
    • Listening Assignment 2:  Improvisation by Chris Komer.
      • Everybody knows Chris Komer except AL!

    Running Time: 39:43

    Episode 62:  Jennifer Bliman, from the 2008 All-American College Band at Disneyland

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    Hosts:  Al Perkins, Mark Taylor, Jennifer Bliman

    • Jennifer recently graduated with her Masters from USC as a Horn major.  Up until this experience she had no Mellophone experience.
    • Halftime Magazine not only has an article about the band in their latest issue, but there's a picture of her on the back cover!
    • She is also a gymnast, which was a definite plus in this case.
    • The band has to dance as they play.  Repertoire was mainly Disney songs and pop songs.
    • The group as 4 trumpets, 4 trombones, 2 mellophones, 2 sousaphones, 2 percussion and 5 saxes..
    • She had auditioned for them in the past.  During the audition they didn't want to hear the Mellophone at all.  Also jazz sight reading.
    • The band performs one sit-down set every day, where she played French Horn instead of Mellophone.
    • Mark actually did a similar gig in Epcot back in 1983.
    • The rehearsal schedule at first was overwhelming, starting at 9:00 am and going to 5:00 pm.  Playing was first, then choreography.  Then they'd rehearse another hour or two at night.
    • The band performed 5 times a day, 5 days a week.  There was also one sit-down set per day.
    • Auditions are posted online (probably after the first of the year).
    • There are lots of clips on YouTube, including one where Jennifer does a backflip!
    • Listening Assignment:  "A Dream is a Wish" performed by the 2008 All-American College Band.
      • This is one of the few numbers with a brief Mellophone feature.
      • There are LOTS of clips of the band (and Jennifer) on YouTube; like this one, and this one, and this one.  In this one she does more gymnastics, and this one she does a great dance.

    Running Time: 25:26

    Episode 61:  Mellophones on Facebook

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

    • Social networking is all the rage, and as of today, Facebook is the Mac Daddy of social networks.  There are plenty of Mello-centric groups on Facebook.
    • We're all on Facebook
    • The most popular Mellophone group is "I Play Mellophone and Therefore I'm Awesome."  The next most popular (with half as many members) is "Mellophone Players of the World Unite."
    • There's also a group for Tenor Horn players.
    • There IS a group for the MelloCast.  Membership is very low.  There's also one for the Middle Horn Leader.  John has one for Horn Articles Online, which has many more members.
    • Groups are good for communicating with entire communities at once.  They also have good forum capabilities.  You can also link pictures.
    • Facebook is also available to so many different devices, like iPhones, Blackberries, etc.
    • (There is, by the way, a group for French Horn players who hate the Mellophone.)
    • There are also a lot of groups from various sections from schools and corps.
    • Facebook has almost taken over telephone conversation.
    • Al gets frustrated when people thinks he plays the Oboe or Tuba.  Mark once got someone who thought he had an accordion.
    • OMG!  The shiny Mellophones are in!
    • This week Chris's challenge is for you to send us your favorite Mellophone Facebook group.  (And join the MelloCast group!)
    • Listening Assignment:  "Channel One Suite" performed by FutureCorps.
      • "Channel One Suite" is always a crowd pleaser.
      • J.D. Shaw did a great arrangement of it for the Boston Brass Quintet.
      • The Renegades used it with music from the Matrix, and they also used it when they won the Mini Corps competition in 2003.

    Running Time: 31:51

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